Narada Bhakti Sutras

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chapter 2, Sutra 1 and 2


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 1 –

Saa tu karma jnaana yogebhyo api adhikatharaa

Word meaning
Saa tu – Bhakthi is definitely
Adhikatharaa – superior
Karma jnaana yogebhyo api – than karma, jnaana and yoga

Sutra meaning
Bhakthi (paraa bhakthi or pure devotion) is definitely superior to karma, jnaana and yoga.

This particular sutra might seem to be contradicting whatever we have learnt as to jnaana and bhakthi being the same. Here we have to properly understand the karma, jnaana and yoga that Narada is pointing out.

Action is always inferior to bhakthi because action is performed with a particular desire. Action since is limited will lead to limited fruit alone. Thus the effect or fruit or phala of karma is always limited and finite. We have already learned that bhakthi gives the fruit of ananda or bliss. Bliss is infinite and unlimited. Thus it is very clear that bhakthi is greater than karma. Moreover karma is performed with kaama or desiring something whereas bhakthi is performed with any particular desires. Bhakthi or pure devotion is mere remembrance of the Lord instead of karma which is propelled by a particular desire.

Karma or action is based on duality – the difference of the doer and the fruit to be achieved being there. But in the case of para bhakthi, there is no such difference. Thereby bhakthi is based on advaita or non-duality whereas karma is based on duality. Katha Upanishad proclaims that there is no duality whatsoever here and whoever sees duality as if existing goes from death to death. Thus karma which bases itself on duality is inferior to bhakthi which bases itself on adviteeya bhagavan.

We have to remember that the karma which Narada speaks about is sakaama karma. Even if we take the case of nishkaama karma or desireless action, that will lead only to chitta shuddhi or purity of mind – cannot directly lead to eternal bliss whereas bhakthi directly leads to eternal bliss or amritatva.

Yoga is the process of control of the mind thereby taking the seeker to the state of Samadhi or absorption. As per the yoga system of patanjali, yoga leads a person to that state wherein the seeker is completely alienated from prakrithi or insentient entities. This is what Yoga system calls as kaivalya. The Samadhi which Vedanta speaks about equivalent to Samadhi of Yoga is Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This itself is not eternal but is temporary. Hence the emphasis in Vedanta of Sahaja Samadhi or natural absorption in the ultimate reality of Lord. Since the fruit of Samadhi is not eternal, therefore it is inferior to Bhakthi.

What Narada speaks about here is intellectual knowledge alone and not aparoksha anubhava or brahma atma aikya jnaana of Vedanta. We have already discussed and seen in the previous chapter that Narada himself is pointing out that bhakthi and brahma atma aikya jnaana are one and the same. Hence the jnaana that Narada points out here is not brahma atma aikya jnaana but mere intellectual knowledge. Intellectual knowledge can never lead to eternal bliss because it is limited by the limited intellect. Intellectual knowledge is the knowledge apprehended by the intellect. Since the intellect is something which is born, it is limited. Since intellect is limited, the knowledge achieved through the intellect also has to be limited. Hence intellectual knowledge or jnaana is also inferior to bhakthi as it leads to only limited fruit and not unlimited infinite bliss of the Lord.

We will see the two reasons which Narada gives to substantiate this particular sutra in the next day.

Sutra 2 –

Word meaning
Phalaroopatvaat - Because of its fruit (fruit or effect of bhakthi being eternal unlike the other means).

Sutra meaning
Since Bhakthi gives the fruit of eternal bliss, therefore it is superior to other means (which give limited fruit alone).

We learned in the previous sutra that bhakthi or pure devotion is greater or superior than the other paths of intellectual knowledge, action and yoga. We also learned that the main reason for the same is because of the fruit of bhakthi being eternal while the fruits achieved through the other fruits are temporary alone. This is what Narada is giving as a logic over here.

Once again let us reiterate and analyze the various paths and the comparison of the paths with respect to the fruits achieved through each path.

The path of action is determined by the eternal law of karma (the law is eternal from the empirical view point and not from the ultimate view point). The eternal law of karma is that of action and reaction. Whatever is the particular action that determines an equivalent reaction or phala. This might seem to be the same as Newton’s third law which states “each and every action has an equivalent and opposite reaction” but we should remember that this eternal law of karma has been there since eternal times (from the vedic periods itself). It is this law of karma that determines the birth and death of an individual. If a person does good actions, he goes to higher worlds starting from mahar loka (land of manes), svarga (heaven) etc. On the other hand, if a person does bad actions, he goes to the below worlds of athala, suthala etc. This is what Katha Upanishad propounds by telling that “yathaa karma yathaa srutham” – the births depend on one’s actions and knowledge. If a person has knowledge of the ultimate reality of Lord (at least intellectually if not aparoksha), he will go to the higher worlds as the fruits of bad actions are burnt in the fire of knowledge.

The highest that a person can achieve through karma is the post of Brahma-Creator in the brahma loka. This is not that easy to attain and it is temporary as well. We find the mention of different brahmas being created and destroyed in the ultimate reality of Brahman. We also have in the hanumad ashtottara shata naamavali that hanuman will be next Brahma.

Thus the position of Brahma is also not eternal though the timeframe of Brahma is much higher than human timeframe. Since Brahma’s position is also not eternal, therefore action cannot give eternality or immortality as the highest action can give is the position of Brahma. Therefore we can conclude that action has limited and finite fruit alone.

Yogic sadhanas can lead us only to either Samadhi or yoga siddhis. Patanjali himself accepts the siddhis as temporary and obstacles to Samadhi. Samadhi of Yoga system is knowing oneself as the purusha distinct from the prakrithi and its effects of world. Thus in Samadhi as well duality persists. Duality wherever it is will create notions of fear (dviteeyaad vai bhayam bhavathi – fear arises out of the notion of duality – thus says Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). Since yoga system’s fruit of Samadhi is based on duality, therefore it cannot give eternal bliss but only gives limited and finite fruit.

As we have seen in the previous mail, jnaana here denotes intellectual knowledge and not brahma atma aikya jnaana because Narada himself had proved that brahma atma aikya jnaana and paraa bhakthi are one and the same in the previous chapter. The maximum intellectual knowledge can lead us to is intellectual satisfaction or fame or money. All these being limited by the intellect (where the knowledge is developed) has to be limited alone. Hence the fruit of jnaana as well is limited knowledge in the form of either limited happiness or limited satisfaction or money or fame.

Thus the fruits of jnaana, karma and yoga are limited and finite whereas the fruit of bhakthi is amrita or ananda (infinite and eternal bliss). Hence bhakthi is superior to jnaana, karma and yoga.

A professor is superior to an assistant professor because the fruit or output of their profession is more in the case of professor (in the form of money). Extending this to the various paths, bhakthi is superior to the other paths because of its fruit being eternal/higher than the limited fruit of the other paths.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


Post a Comment

<< Home