Narada Bhakti Sutras

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


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