Narada Bhakti Sutras

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sutra 21 and 22


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 21 –
Yathaa vraja gopikaanaam

Word meaning
Yathaa – As
Vraja gopikaanaam – in the case of gopis of vraja.

Sutra meaning
Bhakthi is as found in the case of the gopis of vraja.

Narada mentions here that the definition of bhakthi which he gave in the previous sutra is the right definition only. Why is the definition the right one? Because it is what is found in the case of the gopis of vraja.

We all know that gopis are known for their devotion & they are the first name that comes to our mind when the word “devotion” or “bhakthi” is mentioned. Since we find the definition of bhakthi of Narada perfectly in the gopis, therefore devotion as defined is the right definition.

Gopis were ever thinking about the Lord alone. All their activities were offerings to the Lord – each moment, they would think about the Lord alone. Even though they were doing all activities, still their mind was fixed on the Lord alone. Even while serving their husbands, feeding their children etc. they were totally fixed unto the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus they were always remembering the Lord through offering of all activities & the fruit to the Lord. We also find in many stories and in the puranas the explanation of the lives of gopis wherein they were dying each and every moment without seeing and seeking the Lord. AMMA mentions a story on the same. Once the gopis were all doing their respective activities at home. At that time, somebody told that Krishna is there near the river. Thus all gopis left whatever they were doing and went to see the Lord. One gopi was suddenly stopped by her husband at the door – he obstructed the path of the gopi by holding his hand. The gopi started struggling not able to go and meet Krishna. Like a fish struggling to live on land, she was struggling to live without being able to meet Krishna. As the fish dies on land, the gopi left her life at that place itself as she was unable to go and meet Lord Krishna.

This story clearly explains as to how the gopis were devoted to the Lord in the negative aspect as well. They couldn’t live even for a single moment without seeing or remembering the Lord. This is what Narada mentioned as “tad vismarane parama vyaakulathaa cha” (being desperate when the Lord is forgotten). Thus the gopis always offering their activities to the Lord, always remembered the Lord & were desperate when the Lord was forgotten (they were not able to meet or remember the Lord).

As we have learnt in other threads as to upapatti linga or examples which prove the import of a work, Narada here is giving an example which caters fully to his definition of bhakthi. This way of proving one’s stand through examples is also known as the upamaana pramaana – proof through analogy. Narada would be giving logical proofs for the definition of bhakthi in the next few sutras but here he is giving a valid example for the same.

Since gopis are known for their devotion in the various puranas, Narada mentions them to prove that the definition of bhakthi is valid in the case of gopis & therefore the definition of bhakthi that he has given is the right definition.

Even though we have already seen and learnt in many places the definition of bhakthi of Lord Krishna in the bhakthi yoga (there is an exhaustive article on the same titled Bhakthi Darpanam at, let us try to see and compare it with Narada’s definition.

Mayi aavishitha yo maama nityayukthaa upaasathe
Sraddhayaa paraya upethaa te me yukthathamo mathaah

They are considered to be dear devotees to me who have fixed their mind unto me, ever steadfast in me and always considering me as the final goal in life.

The definition of “fixed their mind unto me” and “ever steadfast in me” point out the same import as Narada’s definition of the positive aspect of bhakthi as “offering all activities unto the Lord thereby constantly remembering the Lord”. The words of “considering me as the final goal” points out the negative aspect of never forgetting the ultimate reality of Lord.

Thus Narada’s definition of bhakthi is the same as the Lord’s definition of bhakthi in the Gita.

Sutra 22 –
Tatraapi na maahaatmya jnaana vismrithi apavaadah

Word meaning
Tatra api – there (in such a state of pure devotion) as well
Apavaadah – chances of (allegations of)
Maahatmya jnaana vismrithi – forgetfulness of the glory of knowledge
Na – are not there

Sutra meaning
There (in pure devotion), there are no chances of forgetting the glory of knowledge.

Narada mentioned that pure devotion is constant thought of the Lord and becoming helpless when the Lord is forgotten. We can have a doubt that in such a state, glory of knowledge or knowledge itself can be forgotten in such a state. Here knowledge can be either interpreted as Lord or as the knowledge that there is only Lord here (knowledge of the ultimate reality of Lord). The second meaning of “knowledge that there is only the Lord here” or “Vedantic Jnaana” is more appropriate in this context.

As we have been learning again and again that knowledge and devotion are not different from one another, this is what Narada is here emphasizing through this sutra. We might think that when there is pure devotion, there cannot be any scope of knowledge or jnaana. This is a completely wrong notion. Pure devotion is not mere attachment to a Lord but attachment to the Lord who alone is present as the substratum of the illusory world. The Lord towards whom a bhaktha develops bhakthi is not a mere form but the Lord is Brahman of the scriptures. If we really have to know about the Lord, we have to gain knowledge of the Lord through study of scriptures. It is only the scriptures which can speak about the indescribable reality of Brahman (synonymous to Lord of the bhakthas). Scriptures are the mirror in which we see our own very nature of the Lord even as the face is seen in the mirror alone. Without scriptural knowledge, our concept of Lord is limited to hear-say. Whatever we hear from some person whether that person is a realized saint or an ignorant person is not valid as such. Any words are valid only if they are not contradicted in the scriptures and are supported in the scriptures. The words of the Guru is valid not because he is a Guru but because it is as per the scriptures. The Guru’s very words are experiences based on the scriptures. The scriptures are not mere books but they are the revelations of the various saints. Scriptures are apaurusheya or without any author – they have just been revealed to the saints during times of deep contemplation. The very concept of a brahma jnaani or Guru is mentioned in the Mundaka Upanishad as srotriya or learned in the scriptures and brahma nista or one who is established in Brahman. Thus a Guru is judged only based on the scriptures – he is a real Guru whose words are not against the scriptures but are mere resonances of the truth imbibed in the scriptures.

Pure devotion is not possible until the nature of the Lord who is the object of devotion is known. The nature of the Lord is known only through scriptural study. It is thus we find in the various Upanishads, gita and the puranas the various saints speaking about the ultimate reality of Lord in many ways. As we have been learning, Srimad Bhagavatham among other puranas put forth the reality of Lord through various stories. Thus pure devotion cannot be against knowledge. It is only ignorance about pure devotion which causes a person to think that pure devotion is against knowledge or greater than knowledge. Only those who are ignorant about the scriptural teachings of bhakthi and jnaana compare and contrast bhakthi and jnaana. Pure bhakthi is the same as jnaana and jnaana is the same as bhakthi. Jnaana is knowing the nature of the Lord as the creator-protector-destroyer-substratum of the illusory world. Bhakthi is pure devotion or attachment to such a Lord. When we have jnaana or knowledge about the Lord as the one and only real entity, we will develop pure devotion towards such a Lord. Pure devotion or constant remembrance of the Lord is possible only when we know the nature of the Lord as the only real entity – any real entity alone can give eternal bliss and put an end to all sorrows-sufferings. Hence it is seeking of the Lord alone that can satisfy all our desires by putting an end to the desires. This is possible only when we have pure devotion to that Lord who is capable of putting an end to all desires. Thus wherever we have knowledge, devotion is also there.

As knowledge and devotion are mutual, therefore pure devotion doesn’t have forgetfulness of the knowledge or nature of the Lord. Narada will be explaining this through a logical reason in the next couple of sutras.

If we take the word of “maahatmya jnaana” as “glory of the Lord”, still we will come up with the same conclusion only. Glory of the Lord is knowing the Lord as the substratum of the illusory world. As the Lord mentions in Gita, the glory of the Lord is the entire world which is pervaded in and out by the Lord. This world is temporary and changing. The world is situated in the changeless Lord. Hence knowing the glory of the Lord is knowing the Lord as the substratum of the illusory world. This is knowledge or jnaana of the scriptures. Thus jnaana is not forgotten in pure devotion as pure devotion is possible only when jnaana of the Lord is there.

Thus Narada through this particular sutra puts forth that jnaana and bhakthi are one and the same only – and not contradictory to each other.

We will see the next sutras in the coming days with which the first chapter of Narada Bhakthi Sutras will end.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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