Narada Bhakti Sutras

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chapter 4 Sutra 3, 4


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 3 -
Prakaashathe kvaapi paatre

Word Meaning
Prakaashathe - Pure devotion (inexplicable devotion) shines
Kvaapi paatre - in very rare people.

Sutra Meaning
Pure devotion shines in very rare people.

Narada here after saying that devotion is inexplicable says that there are very few people who really follow and implement devotion in their life.

It is one thing to say that I am devotional and it is yet another thing to implement devotion in our life. A real devotee will never speak about his devotion as his actions will speak about the devotion. We all are quite familiar with the nayanmars and alwars who never spoke about the Lord but their actions and even breath spoke about the Lord - they knew nothing but the Lord alone. Thus whatever comes out of them will be the Lord and his manifestation or worship alone. That is real devotion when the seeker is ever contemplating on the Lord never bothering about whether he is speaking that he is a devotee or whether others consider him as a devotee - for him, there exists nothing but the Lord alone.

Such a devotee who ever contemplates on the Lord thereby being a real devotee of the Lord is very rare indeed to find in the world. The Lord himself proclaims this in Gita thus:

Manushyaanaam sahasreshu kaschit yatathi siddhaye
Yatataam api siddhaanaam kaschit maam vetti tattvatah

Out of thousands of people, very few strive for perfection. Out of those striving thousands, very few know me in reality.

Thus Narada is here proclaiming that real devotion shines in very few or real devotees are few compared to the innumerous people of the world and innumerous seekers of the world.

Sutra 4 -
Gunarahitham, kaamanaarahitham, prathikshana vardhamaanam, avicchinnam, sookshmatharam, anubhavaroopam

Word Meaning
(Bhakthi is)
Gunarahitham - without any qualities
Kamanaarahitham - without any desires
Prathikshana vardhamaanam - increasing every moment
Avicchinnam - unbroken
Sookshmatharam - subtlest
Anubhavaroopam - and of the nature of immediate experience.

Sutra Meaning

Pure devotion or bhakthi is without any qualities, without any desires, increasing every moment, unbroken (or without any limitations), subtlest and of the nature of immediate experience.

Narada here enumerates some of the nature of pure devotion. This isn't contradictory to the first sutra of this chapter wherein he said that bhakthi is indescribable. The nature of bhakthi that Narada defines here proves that bhakthi is definitely indescribable.

Bhakthi is without any gunas or qualities. Surely pure love or devotion is bereft of any qualities. If it had quality associated with it, then it wouldn't be pure and supreme. The love that we find in the world of a man towards a woman and vice versa is not pure because it has qualities. The qualities of such a love are the beauty of the person, his talent and many others such factors. We find many of the people of the world seeking qualities in a lover. The qualities sought depend on the individual's interests. Some people want partners with a sense of humor whereas others seek a sense of intelligence or charm. The list of qualities is innumerous depending on the innumerous people of the world and their innumerous qualities. But pure love is that which has no qualities - this is because in pure love nothing is sought. Wherever there is seeking, it is not pure love - it is only a business transaction or trading for one thing or the other. We have already seen Narada explaining in the first chapter that bhakthi is of the nature of supreme love and immortality. This is possible only when such love is without any qualities.

As pure love is without any qualities, therefore it has to be without desires. Wherever there is desire, there is some seeking. This seeking or desire is only due to qualities. But pure love being without qualities is therefore without desires. Since bhakthi is without qualities, therefore it is indescribable. We can define only that which has qualities or attributes. The attributeless and quality-less entity or emotion can never be expressed or described. Therefore bhakthi was mentioned as anirvaachyam or indescribable.

Though bhakthi is without qualities, but still it grows each and every moment. Wouldn't growth lead to bhakthi having quality? No, the growth mentioned here is not normal growth. But the growth mentioned here is the tendency of the devotee to always be in devotion. Wherever the devotee is, whatever activity the devotee does, he will be wanting to be in that state of pure love. This goes on increasing until the devotee doesn't have to put an effort to be in devotion but he is naturally ever in pure love. Thus the growth mentioned here is the thirst to be always in devotion even as a fish in land will die to get water. Bhakthi as is without qualities is also unlimited or unbroken. This means there is breakage or limitation for pure devotion. There cannot be any limitation of space or time for love. If there is sincere love in a devotee, then he will always strive to be in devotion. This is one of the ways in which we can judge ourselves as to whether we have pure love towards our Guru or Istha devatha.

Many of us claim that we are spiritual and are always thinking about God or Guru. But is our Guru bhakthi or Ishwara bhakthi pure? If yes, then we will always be thinking about the Guru or God. If we are always thinking about the Guru or God, then we are never separated or broken from them. If we claim that we are not able to spend time with Guru or God, then that itself means that our love is broken and hence is not pure love.

Radha and the Gopis though they were far away from Krishna were always immersed in thought about Krishna. Their love was so pure that they never felt separated from Krishna.

Didn't Radha and the Gopis cry not able to see Krishna?

Their cry was in order to always remember Krishna and not like the worldly cry of people. The Gopi Gitam (or Gopika Gitam) first itself is a prayer wherein the gopis tell that "O Krishna! You are not the son of Nandagopal but the in-dwelling Self of all beings". It is forgetting this statement of Bhagavatham that most of the so-called devotee and devotee organizations (like ISKCON and others) proclaim that gopis had only devotion and no knowledge (and that knowledge is not essential). Pure devotion cannot be without knowledge as we have seen in the second chapter itself.

Bhakthi is also indescribable because it is subtlest. Narada uses superlative tense in order to differentiate between the sookshma shareera and other subtle things. Bhakthi is subtlest as it is beyond all subtle feelings or emotions but still itself being an emotion. Since it is subtlest, therefore it is beyond the mind and its feelings; thus it cannot be expressed in thoughts or words (words are just expressions of thought and thought is of the mind - since pure love is beyond all subtle things, therefore it is beyond thoughts of the mind).

If bhakthi is subtlest, can't we ever experience it?

Narada answers this question by telling that though bhakthi is subtlest and indescribable, still it can be experienced as aparoksha anubhava or intuitive experience. Thus bhakthi is not a just a textbook word which cannot be experienced but a devotee who strives the path can very well experience it.

We will continue with the next sutra in the next day.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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