Narada Bhakti Sutras

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chapter 3 Sutra 12 and 13


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 12 –
Tarangayithaa api ime sangaat samutraayanthe

Word Meaning
Ime – These (kaama, krodha etc. mentioned in the previous sutra)
Tarangayithaa api – though are like ripples
Sangaat – by association (more and more association)
Samutraayanthe – will become an ocean

Sutra Meaning
Kaama, krodha etc. though are initially ripples only – still they become ocean with more and more association (attachment).

In the previous sutra, Narada mentioned that dussanga will lead to kaama, krodha and finally to destruction of oneself. Here he says as to why dussanga has to be renounced fully and kaama, krodha etc. have to be totally removed. These passions of the mind are initially like ripples in water. But these ripples once they build up, they become waves and lead to an ocean. Ocean here represents the state where the mind is totally disturbed and a person is totally immersed in. Once a person is in an ocean, it is very tough to come out of it as we ocean stretches in all directions and finding the shore is very tough. The waves, turbulence, fishes like shark etc. add to the ocean being very dangerous.

A desire or attachment to a thing let’s say to laddoos is like a normal ripple which will affect the mind for a moment and then go away. But once this desire is experienced and enjoyed, it leaves a trace even as ripples do leave a trace in water. This trace grows on and on once the seeker gets more association with laddoos. These traces finally become a vasana or latent tendency coming out of which is as tough as coming out of a chakravyuha. The most common vasana that we find in the world is that of smoking, drinking, sex and TV soapsJ. It is very tough to come out of these vasanas – even if a person wants to come out of such addicted vasanas, it will be very tough and almost impossible. Thus once we keep on adding desires or doing a desire again and again, it becomes like an ocean (unconquerable and fully deluding a person into it).

Therefore Narada here says that these emotions of the mind though seem to be small like ripples, they have the potential to become like an ocean if a person gets more and more association and attached to it. Therefore a wise person should always renounce dussanga which will in turn remove kaama, krodha etc. so that there is no scope of these becoming an unconquerable ocean.

Narada winds up the topic of dussanga and as to why a seeker should avoid dussanga with this sutra. Next he enters into an enumeration of the qualities necessary in a seeker to cross over Maya which we will see in the coming days

Sutra 13 –
Kastharathi kastharathi maayaam

Word Meaning
Kah tharathi – who will cross over
Kah tharathi – who will cross over
Maayaam – Maya

Sutra Meaning
Who will cross over, who will cross over Maya?

Though this is just the first half of the 13th sutra, the rest of the sutra and the next three sutras answers this question as to who will cross over Maya. Narada enumerates the list of qualities that are necessary in a seeker to cross over the ocean of samsaara also termed as Maya. This enumeration is quite exhaustive and bold (so bold that he speaks about renouncing even the Vedas). These are a very simple of judging as to where we stand in terms of the spiritual goal of crossing over Maya and realizing our very nature of non-dual reality of Lord.

What is Maya?
Maya is the ocean of samsaara characterized by avidya-kaama-karma (ignorance-desire-action). Maya is the illusory power of Lord that creates names and forms in the Lord. Maya is composed of the three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas. Every being in the world is subject to the Maya of the Lord in the form of delusions. The very basic delusion is that of considering oneself as different from the Lord; the other delusions consist of identifying oneself with the body-mind-intellect complex, considering external objects are real and craving for sensual pleasures.

As the Lord himself speaks, Maya is very tough indeed to conquer. Conquering Maya is almost impossible without knowledge and devotion of the ultimate reality of Lord. As water seen in desert deludes a person into thinking that water is there and thereby makes him run towards water, similarly Maya makes a person believe that the world is real thereby making him seek sensual pleasures all the while thinking that they will end his thirst for eternal bliss, satisfaction and contentment. Only when a seeker has conquered Maya or crossed over the ocean of samsaara, can a person rejoice in eternal bliss – that bliss which is being consistently sought out in the world.

Maya in Vedanta is thus tough to conquer and cross over like an ocean; only few are able to cross over it and crossing over requires many qualities and practices to be followed (though it all boils down to just one basic practice of constantly remembering and surrendering to the ultimate reality of Lord).

We will see Narada enumerating the qualities and ways following which a seeker will be able to cross over Maya from the next day.

Sutra 13 –
yah sangam tyajathi, yo mahaanubhaavam sevathe nirmamo bhavathi

Word Meaning
Yah sangam tyajathi – he who renounces attachments
Yah maahanubhaavam sevathe – he who does service to Mahatmas
(Yah) nirmamo bhavathi – and he who is without “I” & “mine” concept
(He crosses over Maya)

Sutra Meaning
He who renounces attachment, he who does service to Mahatmas and he who is without the sense of possessiveness (in the form of “mine”), he crosses over Maya.

We saw in the previous mail as to Narada raising the question as to who will cross Maya in order to enumerate it and answer it in an elaborate way. Here he starts enumerating the qualities necessary in a seeker who wishes to overcome Maya or the delusion that causes the non-dual reality of Lord to be seen as the dual illusory world. Though the final sadhana that a person needs to do to realize his own very nature of Brahman is nothing but constant contemplation of the Lord at all times, still there are various ways or means in order to achieve this constant contemplation or nidhidhyaassana of Vedanta.

The first and foremost thing that a seeker needs to do as the sadhana is renouncing all attachments. We saw in the previous sutras that all sanga or attachment or association (at physical as well as mental level) has to be renounced in order for the seeker to concentrate beyond the names and forms to the substratum of Lord. Sanga or attachment with worldly things and people are to be totally renounced including attachment to parents, wife etc. This doesn’t mean that we have to run away from our house, go to a forest and start meditating. This only means that internally we always have to be devoid to attachment to people and things. Even as an actor seems to be attached to his role externally but internally is unaffected, similarly a seeker has to externally be attached to things all the while internally unattached and ever established in contemplation of the Lord. This internal detached and external attachment means that if we have to leave everything this very moment, we shouldn’t think even for a second whether we should/can do it. When a seeker attains such a level of detached attachment, then alone will he be able to follow the spiritual path giving it the utmost priority than everything else.

We may doubt as to if a person is unattached to everything, then how can there be sanga to the Lord. This is being clarified by Narada by telling that a person should serve Mahatmas. Attachment to Mahatmas or satsanga is advisable for a seeker. Mahatmas are physical embodiments of the ultimate reality of Lord – any service to the Mahatmas has serves only two purposes; one being purification of the mind through such selfless activity and two being constant in touch with a saint whose mind is immersed in Brahman. If we come in contact with a cricket fan, he will be always speaking about cricket. Even though we might not like, still we will be contemplating on cricket. A Mahatma is one who is ever established in Brahman; thus any association with such a Mahatma will make us as well contemplate on Lord.

Detached attachment and serving the Mahatma is possible only when we have got rid of the notion of “mine” or mamata. As long as we have the notion of “my friend”, “my parents” etc we will not be following detached attachment. When we aren’t following detached attachment, we will not be able to serve a Mahatma due to ego issues and due to attachment to other “mine”. This is nothing but an indirect way of telling that we shouldn’t be attached to anything. Attachment causes “mine” and “mine” adds to more attachment. As we have seen in earlier sutras, attachments will lead a seeker into delusion of samsaara (though they might seem to be ripples, they can easily become an ocean of trouble). If we analyze the troubles in our lives, we will find almost all of them as caused due to attachment and association with things or people. More than ourselves, it is the notion of “mine” that causes trouble in the world.

As AMMA beautifully says, marriages in western countries are volatile; because there is a too much notion of “mine” as well as lack of belief or faith on one another. This leads a person to easily break marriages or relationships – this trend is now found in India as well as we are fond of following what America or London is doing. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go to America or follow them – we should imbibe their good qualities like sincerity, openness, friendliness, helping attitude etc. rather than going behind the bad qualities. The divorces that is happening in the world is a testimony to the fact that the notion of “mine” and attachments lead a person to sorrow and sorrow alone. Thus Narada here says that a seeker should be devoid of the sense of “mine” whether it is towards people or things.

We will continue with Narada’s enumeration in the next sutra the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chapter 3 Sutra 10 and 11


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 10 –
dussangah sarvatha eva tyaajyah

Word meaning
Dussangah – association with wrong people
Sarvathaa eva – has to be always
Tyaajyah - renounced

Sutra Meaning
A seeker has to always renounce association with wrong people.

As we have been learning, there is always the positive and negative aspect to any sadhana. Since Narada had mentioned the positive aspect of sanga (mahat sanga or satsanga) in the previous sutras, he is now explaining about dussanga. Here he says that a seeker should always renounce dussanga or association with wrong or bad people.

The reason as to why dussanga has to be renounced will be given by Narada himself in the next sutra but let us try to see what is dussanga. We generally consider mixing with drunkards or lowly people as dussanga. If a software engineer (since most of us are in this professionJ) has to drink tea from a normal thatched shop of a poor person, then he considers it as affecting his ego and status. Thus for software professionals, talking to poor people and being with their company is considered as bad association.

When I once had the chance to drink tea from one such shop nearby my office in Chennai, the shop-keeper was surprised. Interestingly, he was also a malayali – he was surprised that I was having tea from there as almost all infoscions considered it bad to be seen in that place. We tend to drink tea only if it is served in cup-saucer and charged at the rate of 20-30 Rupees! Drinking tea from such a hotel is considered good and keeping-up our status. This is one way we define association with people as good and bad depending on status and money.

Yet another way is with respect to our profession. I remember friends just hanging up the phone or putting me on mute when their bosses call up --- and that too not even mentioning that “will call back later”!!! There are many others who tend to close their messengers and mail boxes lest their bosses might see the spiritual and personal mails – then they might be considered as “strange” by the boss which would in turn affect their promotion and hike.

I am not here claiming that “I haven’t done anything of that sort” – this is not the point that we have to learn from this. The main point is that here the association with boss and trying to pacify the boss is considered as good whereas any distractions from this is considered as bad at that time.

We can go on enumerating many more such conceptions of good and bad association. But ultimately what is good and what is bad depends on one factor alone – the supreme goal of realization. Anything that is a hindrance to the spiritual path to realization is bad association. Association need not be just with people alone but can be with things as well. Any person or thing that leads us away from the Lord is bad alone.

My father doesn’t let me learn Vedanta – is he to be considered bad then? JOf course yes. Please don’t attack me saying “you are imposing wrong knowledge here”. This is not my statement but this is the statement of Bhagavatham illustrated beautifully in the story of Prahlaada. Prahlaada’s father Hiranyakashipu wanted him to chant his name rather than Vishnu’s name – Prahlaada didn’t heed to it. Only when we are bold like Prahlaada to resist anything that is a hindrance to the spiritual path, will we be able to realize in this birth itself.

It is quite easy to say “everything is Brahman, it doesn’t matter whether I marry or not, it doesn’t matter whether I heed to my father’s words” etc. But the real test comes when we are able to resist anything and everything for the sake of the ultimate reality of Lord. Unless a person does that, he will be facing obstacles in the spiritual path which will not let him realize the Lord.

The dussanga here mentioned by Narada is anything that is a hindrance to the spiritual path even if it is one’s father or mother or even Guru (as was the case with Mahaabali). As to how dussanga or association with people/things that hinder the spiritual path (by making us divert and deviate from the ultimate reality of Lord), we will see it in the next day through the next sutra.

Sutra 11 –
Kaama krodha moha smrithi bhramsa buddhi naasha kaaranatvaat

Sutra Meaning
(Dussanga has to be renounced) because it will cause desire, anger, delusion, loss of memory and destruction of intellect.

Narada had mentioned in the previous sutra that dussanga has to be renounced. Here he says as to why dussanga has to be renounced.

The reason he gives is a straight take (Jcopy) from Bhagavad Gita 2nd chapter verses. The saints of vedic times were compassionate enough that they didn’t impose any IPR on their worksJ.

The Gita verses are thus:

Dhyaayatho vishayaan pumsah sangah teshu upajaayathe
Sangaat sanjaayathe kaamah kaamaat krodhobhijaayathe

Krodhaat bhavathi sammohah sammohaat smrithi vibhrama
Smrithi bhramshaat buddhinaasho buddhinaashaat pranashyathi

Contemplation on a particular object causes attachment to the object. Attachment in turn causes desire or kaama. Kaama in turn leads to anger when the object is not possessed. Anger in turn leads to delusion of considering the object as one’s own. Delusion in turn leads to loss of memory (not knowing what the seeker is doing). Loss of memory leads to destruction of intellect & the seeker doing things out of his mind. This destruction of intellect leads to the downfall of the seeker.

As we know, one such anger moment will lead us to spoil all our energy and relationships. JRelationships doesn’t matter for a seeker because he knows only the Lord exists – such a seeker who knows that the Lord only exists will never enter into anger.

Haven’t saints like Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana got angry??? They were not internally angry but only showing off in the world. As long as we are acting in the illusory world, we will have to adjust ourselves externally so that others don’t misuse us. Internally we should always remember the Lord. Such internal control and external anger is possible only for the seeker who can decide as to when he should get angry and when he shouldn’t.

Dussanga or false attachment and association will surely lead us to kaama or desire to possess the object at all times. This will in turn lead to anger when the object is lost or not possessed. And finally will lead to destruction of the seeker itself. Thus Narada says that we should always avoid dussanga else it will lead us to destruction.

The only sanga that is accepted for the seeker is satsanga or association with those things/people which will lead him to remember the Lord again and again. All other sangas are dussangas as discussed in the previous posting. We will see as to another reason why dussanga is to be avoided in the next sutra in the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Monday, March 19, 2007

Chapter 3 Sutra 8 and 9


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 8 –
Tasmin tat jane bhedha abhaavaat

Word meaning
Tasmin tatjane bhedha abhaavaat – because of non-difference between the Lord and his devotees.

Sutra Meaning
Because of non-difference between the Lord and his devotees.

In the previous sutra, Narada had mentioned that association with Mahatmas is very tough indeed but yet a seeker is sure to succeed because of it. In this sutra, Narada says as to what is the main cause for the seeker to get association with Mahatmas though it is very tough to get.

Association with Mahatmas is possible only by the grace of the Lord. Paramahamsa Yogananda searched for his Guru for many years but it was not until he had the full grace of the Lord that he met his Guru. This doesn’t mean this grace has to be extended as is done with Vaishnavas and fate-believers. The grace of the Lord is ever present as AMMA says. Even as the Sun is always present, similarly the grace of the Lord is ever present. But if we close our windows and doors, then we will not be able to apprehend the ever present sunlight. Similarly we have to open the door of our heart in order to feel the ever present grace of the Lord. This opening of the heart is through the bhakthi sadhanas mentioned previously and mainly due to total & unconditional surrender to the Lord. As long as we have the ego notions of “I” and “mine”, we will be shutting the door of our heart thereby not letting the grace of the Lord in our heart to come out. But once we open our hearts, we will be able to grasp the ever present grace of the Lord. Thus what Narada means here is that we have to open our hearts if we need to get the grace of the Lord and thereby association with Mahatmas.

This opening of our heart is what Sankara mentions in Vivekachoodamani as “mahaa purusha samsrayah” or “surrender to a man of wisdom”. If we have total and unconditional surrender to the ultimate reality of Lord, then the grace of the Lord will be apprehended through the presence and association with Mahatmas. As mentioned in the previous sutras, we already have Mahatmas around us but we should have the open mind and heart to seek them beyond fear and society restrictions. If we bother to mind about the world and people around us, we will not be able to get the ever-present bliss which is our very nature of Lord.

Narada also mentions here that there is no difference between the Lord and his devotees. The Lord himself proclaims thus in Gita

Samoham sarva bhooteshu na me dveshyo asthi na priyah
Ye bhajanthi tu maam bhakthyaa mayi te teshu cha api aham

I have equal attitude towards all beings; I neither am angry nor am attached to beings; but those who worship me (knowing that everything is but the Lord alone), they are in me and I am in them.

A devotee who has totally surrendered unto the ultimate reality of Lord has no separate existence apart from the Lord as he has merged into the non-dual reality of Lord. A Mahatma is such a real devotee who is none other than the Lord alone. Since there is no difference between the Lord and his devotees, therefore grace of the Lord will clearly bring out the grace of the Mahatmas. The grace of the Mahatmas is achieved through the seeker being guided and attracted to those Mahatmas. We find Paul brunton among many other Europeans coming from Europe to the secluded Tiruvannamalai to meet Ramana Maharshi!!! It was nothing but the grace of Ramana that made them to be attracted to Tiruvannamalai and brought them there. Thus if we become ready to apprehend the ever present grace of the Lord, we will automatically be taken to the Mahatmas around us.

We will continue the next sutra in the next day.

Sutra 9 –
tadeva saadhyathaam tadeva saadhyathaam

Word meaning
Tad eva saadhyathaam – that alone is to be accomplished;
Tad eva saadhyathaam – that alone is to be accomplished.

Sutra Meaning
That (paraa bhakthi) alone is to be accomplished; that alone is to be accomplished.

Narada after explaining about bhakthi sadhanas and the easiest way to bhakthi sadhana as sanga with Mahatmas, here ends the topic by a strong statement that bhakthi alone is to be accomplished by a seeker.

Upanishads start with the disciple asking the Guru “kasmin u bhagavo vijnaathe sarvam idam vijnaatham bhavathi” – O Guru! Tell me that by knowing which everything becomes known. And then the Guru speaks about the ultimate reality of Brahman from which everything has come, in which everything resides and unto which everything merges. The Guru doesn’t stop with explaining as the substratum of everything but goes beyond by telling that everything is Brahman alone (Brahman is above, Brahman is below etc. etc.). Finally the Guru ends the teaching by telling “brahma vid brahmaiva bhavathi” or a knower of Brahman verily becomes Brahman.

The above paragraph is a summary of the Mundaka Upanishad which is in the form of a dialogue between the shishya of Shaunaka who was a grihastha and the Guru Angiras.

We find a similar way of exposition even in the Narada Bhakthi Sutras as well. We learned in the very first few sutras as to Narada propounding that the Lord is that by knowing whom there remains nothing else to be known (the exact word was that by knowing the Lord a person becomes blissful and content). Then Narada started explaining about the way to achieve paraa bhakthi which makes a person siddha and amritha or immortal. After initially explaining the ways in which bhakthi is defined and showing that bhakthi alone is superior (in the second chapter), Narada explained the sadhana or the path to achieve paraa bhakthi. Now he ends this session of paraa bhakthi by telling that bhakthi alone is to be accomplished in life. Since we all are embarking on a journey towards immortality and eternal bliss, this can be achieved only through realization of the Lord which is nothing but paraa bhakthi or total merge into the Lord.

Thus paraa bhakthi alone is to be sought and accomplished by human beings as it is the ultimate and final goal of human beings. This sutra emphasizes that a seeker should have paraa bhakthi as the final goal in life whatever be the temporary goal in life like promotion, marriage etc.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Chapter 3 Sutra 6 and 7


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 6 –
mahat sangasthu durlabho agamyo amoghascha

Word meaning
Mahat sangah tu – But association with Mahatmas
Durlabhah – is very difficult,
Agamyo – Mahatmas are beyond apprehension
Ch – and
Amoghah – (sanga with them) is infallible (will surely give effect).

Sutra Meaning
But association with Mahatmas is very difficult to attain; Mahatmas are beyond apprehension; yet sanga with them is sure to lead us to paraa bhakthi.

In the previous sutra, Narada said that bhakthi is very easily achieved through association with Mahatmas as well as through a little grace of the Lord. When we have grace of the Lord with us, the Lord appears to us in the form of the Guru or Mahatma. The Guru thus is an embodiment of the Lord or the Lord in human flesh. The Guru then directs us towards the ultimate reality that everything is but the Lord alone. Externally the Guru leads us to the contemplation that everything is the Lord and internally leads us to realize the Lord in our hearts (which is our very nature of Self or Consciousness).

There can be doubt regarding Narada’s statement that sanga with Mahatmas can very easily lead us to paraa bhakthi; the doubt is that if it is so, why aren’t everyone realizing as we find Mahatmas always around us? We find AMMA, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sai Baba among other Mahatmas who are amidst us; but still many people don’t seek them and whoever seek them are not realizing it either. Why is this so?

Narada is answering this doubt in this sutra. Though Mahatmas are many and everybody has a chance of being associated with them, association with Mahatmas is very difficult and not that easy as we think to be. If we go through the “Autobiography of the Yogi”, we will clearly find as to how much Paramahamsa Yogananda had to struggle and wait to reach his Guru though the Guru of Yuktheshwar Giri was ever there. Though we have many Mahatmas amidst us, we fear to seek them. This fear is either due to lack of faith or due to society. Initial seekers are aware of the society of which they are part of. When in early days we used to go to AMMA and follow her, our relatives used to mock at my father telling that “you are a brahmin but following a fisherwoman”. This is but a simple example – though we may not be harmed and attacked by people still we fear such a situation arising. It is because of this fear that majority of people don’t seek Mahatmas. Moreover if we seek the Mahatma secretly it is not real seeking; a real seeker who believes in the Mahatma will not be worried about the outcome of people knowing about his devotion. If any person hides his Guru’s name and hides his seeking any Mahatma, such a person is but a fearing fool. Such seekers will never realize the ultimate reality of Lord because of always fearing about what others might say.

Thus though everybody has an opportunity to seek Mahatmas, there are only few brave people who seek these Mahatmas beyond all distinctions and limitations. Therefore Narada says here that though Mahatmas are always available, getting association with them is difficult (not because of fate but because of our own fear – Paramahamsa Yogananda had destiny to meet his Guru at a certain age only but he didn’t leave his effort – he was constantly searching for his Guru without considering as to what his fellowmates might think – it was this unlimited seeking of his Guru that lead him to his Guru).

Not only that association with Mahatmas is difficult, it is tough to judge them as well. We always try to judge people by their action. Though it is essential that we judge the Mahatmas as per scriptures lest we fall into a wrong Guru who would not only lead us to the Lord but will lead us into destruction, still we can never judge a Mahatma fully. The Mahatma’s state is that state wherein there is nothing but the ultimate reality of Lord alone exists; such a state is beyond the apprehension of the ignorant seeker. Even as a person who hasn’t been to the Moon cannot apprehend such a state, similarly the state of realization which the Mahatmas are in cannot be judged by us who are ignorant and yet to realize the ultimate reality of Lord.

Therefore we should always be cautious enough not to judge the Mahatma once we ascertain them to be Mahatmas as per the scriptures. It will not at all affect the Mahatma but will affect our progress in the spiritual path.

If it is difficult to get association with Mahatmas and it is tough to apprehend their state, why should we seek them?
Narada answers this beautifully by telling that association with Mahatmas is sure to lead us to ultimate devotion. Knowledge of the scriptures or nava vidha bhakthi may or may not lead us to the Lord because of the attitude and effort involved in it, but association with Mahatmas is sure to lead us to the ultimate reality of Lord. Therefore it is but essential that we have to seek Mahatmas wherever they are instead of not having belief in them or fearing the society.

We will see the next sutra in the next day.

Sutra 7 –
labhyathe api tat kripayaa eva

Word meaning
Labyathe api – surely (association with Mahatmas) is achieved
Tat kripayaa eva – through grace of the Lord alone.

Sutra Meaning
Surely (association with Mahatmas) is achieved through grace of the Lord alone.

Why so?
We will continue the next sutra in the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chapter 3 Sutra 4 and 5


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 4 –
loke api bhagavad guna sravana keerthanaat

Word meaning
Loke api – in the world as well
(bhakthi is achieved through)
Sravana keerthanaat – listening and singing
Bhagavad guna – the glories of the Lord

Sutra Meaning
In the world, devotion to the Lord is achieved through listening and singing his glories.

In the previous two sutras, Narada mentioned the positive and negative aspect of the sadhana to paraa bhakthi. Here he makes the positive aspect clear by telling that a devotee has to always listen and sing the glory of the Lord.

The first main point we need to understand here is the word guna in the sutra. In Sanskrit, guna means quality or attributes or glory. What is the glory of the Lord?? The Lord is proclaimed in the scriptures as one who is Nirguna (without any gunas). Praying or contemplation of such a Lord who is without any gunas is not possible for most of the people. The Lord explains this quite clearly in the 12th chapter of bhakthi Yoga when Arjuna asks as to who is greater – the nirguna bhaktha or the saguna bhaktha.

The Lord says:

Klesho adhikatharah teshaam avyakthaasaktha chetasaam
Avyakthaa hi gatirdukham dehavadbhih avaapyathe

It is very tough indeed to fix the mind on the unmanifested or nirguna brahman. Such a fixing of the mind would only lead to sorrow for people who think they are embodied.

As long as a person thinks he has a body, he will try to see the Lord as well with a body. Ramana used to bring out this point quite clearly in many places of the “Talks with Ramana Maharshi”. Thus worshipping the Lord as Nirguna and Niraakaara is out of question for initial devotees who still haven’t got through the body-consciousness (that I am the body). Therefore for such a people, the Lord himself says that Saguna bhakthi is appropriate. And this saguna bhakthi if followed rightly will lead the seeker to the same goal of moksha.

Saguna bhakthi is nothing but seeing the Lord everywhere and as all-knowing. In vedantic terminology, Saguna bhakthi is bhakthi towards Ishwara (associated with the power of Maya) who has two-fold qualities of sarvajnatvam and sarvavyaapitvam (all-knowing and all-pervasiveness). Thus if a person contemplates on the Lord as all-pervasive and all-knowing, then he is singing the glories of the Lord. Listening to the glory of the Lord thereby is listening to the scriptures focusing on the all-pervasive and all-knowing Lord alone.

If we really analyze the saguna form of the Lord, we will find that the saguna form itself indirectly points to the nirguna aspect of the Lord. If the Lord is all-pervasive, then there is nothing here other than the Lord. The Lord also can be all-knowing only if either everything has come from the Lord or everything is the Lord himself – both ways, the Lord will end up being the only entity present. This aspect of the Lord wherein we find that the Lord alone exists, one without a second points to adviteeya nirguna brahman.

Thus we find that the saguna form which the scriptures speak about is in fact indirectly shouting towards us that it is nirguna only internally. It doesn’t matter as to whether we worship the Lord in saguna aspect or nirguna aspect (as the only entity present and everything as an illusion in the Lord), but it matters as to whether we are always listening and singing the glories of the Lord.

Listening and singing means that we have to always be thinking and contemplating on the Lord alone. Whatever is it that we are listening, we have to remind the mind that everything is the Lord alone. Whatever we are singing, whether it is carnatic or western or film music, we have to remind the mind that everything is singing about the all-pervasive Lord alone. Avyaavritta bhajanam that Narada spoke in the previous chapter is nothing but always listening to and singing the glories of the Lord.

As to how we can easily listen and sing the glories of the Lord, Narada will be explaining it in the next sutras which we will see in the coming days.

Sutra 5 –
mukhyatastu mahatkripayaiva bhagavad kripaa leshaat vaa

Word meaning
Mukhyatah tu – But (bhakthi is achieved) mainly
Mahatkripayaa eva – by the grace of Mahatmas only
Bhagavad kripaa leshaat vaa – or by a small grace of the Lord.

Sutra Meaning
But (bhakthi is achieved) mainly by the grace of Mahatmas or by a small grace of the Lord.

In the previous sutras, Narada spoke about the positive and negative aspect of sadhana to achieve paraa bhakthi or ultimate devotion to the ultimate reality of Lord. In this sutra, Narada is mentioning as to how the sadhana can be easily achieved.

Sadhana becomes automatic and natural when the seeker is in contact with Mahatmas. Sankara himself speaks about Satsanga in very high terms (indirectly leading to jeevan mukthi) in Bhaja Govindam thus:

Satsangatve nissangatvam
Nissangatve nirmohatvam
Nirmohatve nischalatattvam
Nischalatattve jeevan mukthi

Satsanga leads to asanga or the state where the seeker is not at all attached to anything. Such an asanga state leads to removal of delusion (nirmoha state). When moha or delusion (that the world exists & I cannot live without other people) is removed, it leads to a nischala state of the mind wherein the mind is in equipoise and calm like an ocean without waves. When the mind is stable and calm, that is the state of jeevan mukthi – liberated while living.

When the mind is calm without disturbances, then the seeker gets extreme peace and happiness. This peace or happiness is termed moksha or mukthi in Vedanta. Thus such a seeker though living and acting in the world like a normal worldly person, ever rejoices in eternal bliss inherent in the Self.

Yoga Vasistha speaks about four sepoys to the door of moksha (through whose grace alone a seeker can get moksha) which are: shamah or calmness of the mind, vichara or self-enquiry, santosha or contentment and satsanga or association with good people.

When we are in the presence of a Mahatma, the positive and negative aspects of sadhana are automatically followed. The Mahatma’s radiant vibration and works cannot be away from the ultimate reality of Lord. Thus without any effort, we will be contemplating on the ultimate reality of Lord or avyaavritta bhajanam will ensue. Since the Mahatma is ever established in the Lord, we will automatically be attached or associated with the Lord in the Mahatma’s presence. Even as the moon and stars cannot be present when the Sun is there, when the thought of the Lord is there in the mind of a seeker all other thoughts will vanish. Thus sanga towards vishaya and the world will vanish in the presence of a Mahatma and the only thought or sanga that will remain behind is the thought of the ultimate reality of Lord.

Moreover since the Mahatma is one who is experiencing the Lord each moment, we can get a glimpse of the Lord only through the grace (and teachings) of the Mahatma. Therefore a seeker requires grace of the Mahatma in order to progress in the spiritual path.

The Mahatma or guru itself is achieved only for the rare few in the world. Majority either don’t get an option or are not believing in the existing Sadgurus like AMMA and others. This is due to lack of the grace of the Lord. As Avadhutha says in Avadhutha Gita that advaita vasana is got only through the grace of the Lord, getting a Guru or being associated with Mahatmas itself is possible only through the grace of the Lord. If the grace of the Lord is present fully, then the seeker will instantly realize his very nature of the Lord. But this isn’t possible for most of the people and hence Narada here mentions that the sadhanas as well association with Mahatmas is possible only through the grace of the Lord.

Though we have many Mahatmas amongst us, we rarely get association with them – either due to their schedule being busy or we not getting the confidence and faith. I know many friends who want to have association but aren’t willing to surrender or have faith in the Mahatmas. Sankara himself says that manhood, desire for liberation and surrender to a man of wisdom are three things rare in the world. We will see Narada explaining as to why many people don’t get association with Mahatmas.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Chapter 3 Sutra 3


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 3 –

Avyaavrittha bhajanaat

Word meaning
(Para bhakthi is through)
Avyaavrittha – continuous and uninterrupted
Bhajanaat – devotion to the Lord as well.

Sutra Meaning
Bhakthi sadhana also includes continuous and uninterrupted devotion to the Lord.

In the last day we saw Narada proclaiming the negative aspect of sadhana to achieve supreme devotion towards the ultimate reality of Lord. In this sutra, Narada is speaking about the positive aspect of sadhana.

What is essential for a seeker to become a real and supreme devotee of the Lord?
Continuous thought of the Lord which is termed by Narada here as devotion. Though devotion or bhajanam in this sutra can be interpreted as any service to the Lord or his supreme devotees but we can take the direct meaning itself which is apt in this case.

Thus the positive aspect of sadhana is to continuously think about the Lord. The devotion should be continuous and uninterrupted. Even as a mother thinks about her child and a lover thinks about his love always, similarly a devotee should always think about the Lord. The means of easily achieving this constant contemplation is doing seva to the Lord or the world or the Lord’s devotees.

Seva is generally taken as social service but this is not true. There may be many people who do social service; even Sneham and other organizations started by infy people (even Sudha Murthy’s charitable institution) does social service. But these social services are not seva.

Why these social services are not Seva?
Seva is any activity done remembering the Lord and as an offering to the Lord. Sudha Murthy among many other people might be remembering the Lord but it is very important to remember the right Lord. After learning Java, if I go to an examination and say I remembered Java but failed because I was remembering core Java whereas the questions were from EJB (part of J2EE) – the social services done remembering a Lord who is there in heaven or just for tradition sake is not SEVA. We should clearly understand that SEVA is not serving the needy because it is not done for other’s sake – it is for one’s own betterment. An attitude of serving the people will reduce ego and expand our horizon through the thought that everything that is present is the Lord alone. Thus the Lord who should be remembered while doing any activity in order for it to become SEVA is the Lord who alone is present as the entire world – the Lord alone exists and he is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute.

Bring this attitude of remembering such a Lord who alone exists, then any activity becomes SEVA. Remove this attitude and the greatest of social service will cease to be SEVA and thereby will only lead us more and more into the ocean of samsaara. It is very easy to get wrong understanding but to remove the wrong understanding, get the right understanding and following it is very tough indeed in the current day. This is mainly because each and everyone has access to the so-called human-Gods and to half-learned/half-understood scriptural knowledge.

Merely going to a Mahatma and having learnt a part of the scriptures for a year or two doesn’t make a person learned nor does it lead a seeker in the right direction. Svetakethu had to spend 32 long years at a Gurukula after which alone was he instructed by his father into brahma vidya – devendra had to spent more than 100 years to get the knowledge about the ultimate reality of Brahman.

There are many people who interact with me saying “I have learnt the scriptures” and then raising questions as to “how to control the mind, these people are criticizing and misusing me” etc. These are people who after hearing the discourse of the 2nd chapter of Gita say that “Krishna has told to do action and hence we have to be involved in the world”!!! What foolishness and ignorance???

We have to again and again remember that such little and wrong knowledge will not only lead us to the reality whereas it will also lead us in the wrong direction. Such people are dangerous not only to themselves but to others as well since they will be leading others as well in the wrong direction. If such people who after learning one single chapter of Gita (we cannot call it learning as it is but wrong knowledge) advise me (as a seeker who has been learning the scriptures since a long time -- Jno egoistic attitude meant), then it is very much possible that many other seekers will become the target of such little-learned-pundits.

If we don’t know and remember the Lord as the all-pervasive and only-present Consciousness, then whatever activity we do will only lead us away from the Lord. It is only that action wherein the Lord as the non-dual reality of Consciousness is remembered and the action which is offering as an offering unto such a Lord – can be rightly called SEVA. Such a SEVA is devotion towards the Lord because the devotee is always thinking about the Lord whatever the activity that he is doing be.

Narada will be clarifying this devotion as well as enumerating other sadhana to ultimate devotion in the next sutra which we will see in the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Chapter 3 Sutra 1 and 2


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 1 –
Tasyaah saadhanaani gaayanthi aachaaryaah

Word meaning
Tasyaah – its (bhakthi’s)
Saadhanaani – means or sadhanaas
Aachaaryaah – various bhakthi acharyas (who have propounded bhakthi clearly)
Gaayanthi – sing

Sutra Meaning
Bhakthi’s means are sung by various bhakthi acharyas.

Here Narada begins this chapter by telling that acharyas sing about the means of bhakthi as different. Narada emphasizes that saadhana for bhakthi is not just one but many. As Vedanta speaks about jnaana saadhana as sravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana (listening, reflecting and contemplating) similarly bhakthi also consists of many sadhanas or means. Narada himself will be speaking about these in the next sutras.

The acharyas that Narada speaks about here are the ones that he enumerates at the end of this work and has spoken about in the previous chapter as gargi, paraashara, shaandilya etc.

We will see the sadhaanas starting from the next sutra tomorrow.

Sutra 2 –
Tat tu vishayatyaagaat sangatyaagaat cha

Word meaning
Tat tu – the sadhana of bhakthi is
Vishayatyaagaat – through renouncing all sense objects (vishayas)
Cha - and
Sangatyaagaat – through renouncing attachment to everything

Sutra Meaning
Bhakthi is achieved through (sadhana of bhakthi is) renouncing sense objects as well as attachment to the sense objects.

As we have already seen in the first chapter that any sadhana was have two parts – one being the positive part or things which are to be followed or practiced; and second being things that are to be not done or negative thinigs.

Here Narada speaks about things that have to be renounced as part of the sadhana to bhakthi. The positive way will be explained by Narada in the next sutra.

The things that a devotee needs to renounce are just two – sense objects and attachment. Here sense objects or vishaya means possession or attitude of possession of objects in the mind. If a person is holding on to possessions, he is attached to them. Thus possession of sense objects and attachment goes hand in hand. Sense objects here doesn’t mean just the external objects alone but people as well (as people are also objects of our sense organs). Generally humans tend to get attached to people than things. Attachment to people is more dangerous because people are not inert like things. Since things are inert, we can catch hold of them or get hold of them. But people aren’t inert and they respond to our feelings; therefore we cannot get hold of them always. The so-called love which exists behind two lovers also isn’t that pure (like between God and devotee) that it ever lives. There will surely be some or the other thing that will break the relationship. All relationships are based on attachment.

We see lakhs of people daily but aren’t bothered much about all of them. We are worried and bothered only about a few people because of attachment to them. As the Lord propounds in Gita, the more a person contemplates on a thing/people the attachment towards that grows more. If we are attached to people in the world or things in the world, we will not be able to contemplate fully on the Lord.

If we love a person and that person is not with us, we will not be able to concentrate on whatever we are doing. We will internally be contemplating on the lover thinking as to how he/she is. Thus attachment caused out of possession will hinder the progress of the spiritual seeker as he will not be able to contemplate on the Lord. Therefore the first and foremost sadhana for a devotee is renouncing possessions and attachment to things/people. This doesn’t mean we have to renounce everything and go the forest; but it only means that internally we should be dispossessed and detached whereas externally we may possess things and be attached to them. This attitude of dispossession and detachment is possible when we realize the futility of all things and relationships in the world. The world itself is temporary and will vanish any moment. The people that we find around will one day or the other vanish – we cannot for ever depend on them. Instead we should depend always on the Lord and his devotees – this way, we will be made by the Lord and his devotees to contemplate on the Lord instead of illusory objects of the world.

Thus a devotee has to get rid of possessions and attachments in the mind. He should instead be attached to the Lord at all times. He should remember that the Lord is always there to protect him. Instead of depending and seeking help from the illusory world and people, the devotee should seek help from the Lord.

Saint Augustine thus beautifully says in “the confessions” that man ought to root himself so firmly on the Lord that consolations from other men are not needed.

We will see as to the positive aspect of sadhana in the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God