Narada Bhakti Sutras

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chapter 4 Sutra 13, 14


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 13 –
Stree dhana naastika charitram na sravaneeyam

Word Meaning
Na sravaneeyam – Don’t hear
Stree dhana naastika charitram – stories (gossips) about women, wealth and non-believers of Ishwara or Brahman.

Sutra Meaning
Don’t hear or spend time on stories about women, wealth and non-believers of Brahman.

Narada in the previous sutra mentioned that a person doesn’t need to renounce everything but he just needs to do sadhana as well as renounces phalam or fruit of actions. Now Narada is entering into the sadhana to be done in order to be established in paraa bhakthi. From this sutra till the 16th sutra (last sutra) of this chapter, Narada explains about what to do and what not to do as part of sadhana towards being established in paraa bhakthi.

Even like in the first chapter and third chapter, Narada first mentions the “not-to-dos” or prathikoolas that to be renounced in this and the next sutra.

Though Sankara and tradition mentions the two-fold obstacles of kaamini and kanchanam (women and wealth), it was Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who publicized and made the normal folks aware of this.

Sankara beautifully mentions this in the first few slokas of Bhaja Govindam thus:

Moodajaheehi dhanaagama trishnaa
Kuru sadbuddhim manasi vitrishnaam
Yat labhase nija karma upaattam
Vittam tena vinodhaya chittam

Renounce the thirst for wealth in your mind; be dispassionate in the mind and fix the mind unto the reality; whatever wealth you get by regular daily activities, be content with the same.

Naaristhanabhara naabhivesham
Dristvaa maa gaa mohaavesham
Etat maamsa vasaadivikaaram
Manasi vichinthayam vaaram vaaram

Don’t get deluded into the full bosom, navel and private part of the women; repeat in your mind always that these are only made of fat, flesh etc.

Narada following tradition thus says in this sutra that we should never get into contemplation of women, wealth or dis-believers of Ishwara. The more a person contemplates on women and wealth, the more his mind will be distracted. When the mind is distracted, it will not be able to apprehend the underlying reality of Lord or Brahman. Therefore vision of the unreality and negligence to apprehend the reality will lead such a person into more and more sorrow (thereby taking births again and again in order to get deluded in the ocean of samsaara). Narada adds naastika or disbelievers as well to the list. Any person who doesn’t believes in the underlying reality of Consciousness behind the illusory names and forms of the Lord will never be able to get out of sorrow. The very basis of bhakthi as well as jnaana is faith in the ultimate reality which is so evident yet beyond apprehension (anoor aneeyaan mahato maheeyaan – that which is subtler than the subtlest and larger than the largest).

Any person who doesn’t believe in the reality of Brahman cannot progress in the spiritual path as there is no goal to be empirically realized or achieved by such a person. Therefore we should always try to avoid hearing or discussing with disbelievers of the ultimate reality of Ishwara or Brahman.

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

Sutra 14 –
Abhimaana dambaadikam tyaajyam

Word Meaning
Tyaajyam – Renounce
Abhimaana dambaadikam – qualities like ego, pride etc.

Sutra Meaning
Renounce qualities like Ego, pride etc.

We saw in the previous sutra Narada proclaiming that we shouldn’t listen to stories or gossips about women, wealth or naastikas who don’t believe in Brahman or God. In this Sutra Narada mentions another “not-to-do” in order to attain paraa bhakthi. We always have to renounce qualities of the mind which not only distract the mind but lead us from the reality of Lord to the unreality of world.

Let us analyze just one quality of the mind to prove this. Abhimaana is sense of Ego which is nothing but getting attached and associated with things and people around us. Ego starts with association of the Self or “I” with the body-mind-intellect and then extending itself to people and things around us. It is Ego sense that makes us feel some people as our friends and others as our enemies. It is Ego that makes us feel some things are happiness providers as we like them and others are sorrow providers as we hate them. Due to this dual notion arising out of considering duality as real and getting association with the duality, we will end up in sorrows and sufferings when something good or bad happens to people and things around us. Not only that Ego leads us to sorrow, it veils the reality that Lord alone exists here. Instead of focusing on the non-dual Lord we will be focusing on the dual world. Instead of concentrating on the real Lord we will be focusing on the illusory names and forms. Instead of spending time in devotion to the reality of Lord we will be focusing on attachment and aversion towards worldly entities. This in turn will thereby lead us away from the Lord and lead us to sorrows-sufferings in the world.

Such a person who is lead away from the Lord and getting attached to things will be taking birth again and again in the world in order to get rid of all attachments and realize his own nature of Lord. Until liberation from worldly bondages and realization of one’s own nature of Lord a person has to be born again and again. A person with Ego will not be able to have devotion towards the Lord which is the way out of the bondages of the world (going through birth and death again and again). Therefore Sankara beautifully says in Bhaja Govindam,

Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam
Punarapi janani jatare shayanam
Iha samsaare bahudustaare
Kripaya pare pahi murare

Again birth and again death; again in the wombs of a mother; this ocean of samsaara (consisting of births and deaths) is tough indeed to cross over. But with devotion and surrender to the Lord, a person easily crosses over it.

Thus a person without abhimaanam alone can realize his own nature of Lord by overcoming samsaara. Thus we have to renounce qualities of the mind like ego, pride etc.

The Lord proclaims thus in Purusha uttama yoga:

Niramaana mohaah jithasanga doshaah
Adhyaatma nityaa vinivritta kaamah
Dvandvairvimukthaah sukhadukha samjnaaih
Gacchanthi amoodaah padam avyayam tat

A person devoid of ignorance, without sense of ego and delusion, devoid of the faults of getting attachment to things, being focused in the spiritual path, devoid of all desires and devoid of the dual notions like sukha-dukha etc. will attain the immutable state (of blissful Lord).

The above sloka of Gita propounds as to what all we have to renounce in order to progress in the spiritual path towards realization of the ultimate reality of Lord.

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

Prostrations to all.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chapter 4 Sutra 11, 12


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 11 –
lokahanau chinthaa na karyaa, niveditha atma loka vedatvaat

Word Meaning
Lokahanau chinthaa na karyaa – do not worry about worldly losses
Niveditha atma loka vedatvaat – as oneself, worldly as well as vaidika activities are offered to the Lord.

Sutra Meaning
Don’t worry about worldly losses as oneself, worldly as well as vaidika activities all are offered (surrendered) to the Lord.

Here Narada beautifully gives one of the main characteristics of a devotee. We often think that devotion to Guru or God is just in terms of words like ‘Grace of Lord’, ‘Thanks to Lord’ etc. They also consider themselves to be offering everything to the Lord. But what is real offering and surrender? Is it mere words of ‘thanks to Lord’? No it isn’t. A person who is a real devotee will have offered everything to the Lord.

The Lord’s very last statement in Gita is

Sarva dharmaan parityajya maamekam sharanam vraja

Renounce all activities and take refuge in me alone.

When a person thus has renounced all activities, then there is no worry about worldly losses including one’s relationships. But there are many who think that their husbands, their parents, their family is greater than renunciation. These people substantiate their stand by telling that the Lord himself says in Gita to offer everything unto him and not to directly renounce everything. But is this the right interpretation? No, not at all. Real offering is not different from renunciation. The moment a person tries to justify the nature and actions of his loved ones, there is no real offering. For a person who has offered all his actions to the Lord, there is nothing like ‘my husband’, ‘my family’, ‘my relatives’ etc. If a person has such ‘mine’ attitudes, then he hasn’t really offered everything to the Lord. Therefore renunciation at the mental and physical plane is inevitable for such a person.

I personally know of people who when questioned about their near-one’s actions have replied that ‘my father is also Brahman’, ‘my mother is also Brahman’, ‘my husband is also Brahman’. What utter ignorance is such a state? They think they have gained knowledge and thereby try to justify their ‘selfish’ actions unto the scriptural definition of bhakthi and jnaana. Though such people can take refuge in their mental stand, they will never be able to realize their very nature in many births to come. The moment we say that ‘my father is Brahman’, we are not renouncing ‘my father’. A person who sees everything as Brahman will never use the words of ‘my father is Brahman’ – because for him there is no my father but Brahman alone exists. Vidyaranya following Sureshwaracharya equates such people who think they are realized and thereby do actions as they like to dogs and pigs!!!

That is real devotion wherein a seeker is not bothered about the losses he might occur by facing the fact about other people’s nature as well as their actions. It is for this reason that Mahatmas are never bothered about making true statements whether it is about the President or the Prime Minister or even Indra!!!

The Kanchi Seer Jayendra Saraswathi once visited Kerala during the Kaladi festivals. On the dais with him were the ministers of the Kerala government. They all spoke about brotherhood, loving nature etc. Last came the chance of Kanchi acharya to speak. The seer smilingly proclaimed – ‘all who spoke before me spoke about brotherhood but brotherhood is not just mentioning of words but it should be in deeds’. This was a direct blow to the orators of Kerala government. The ministers could do nothing but just hold on to their smiling face. The Kanchi seer was able to make such an open statement about the ministers that they were merely using words and not translating them into actions because he didn’t fear any worldly loss.

Many people criticize the current Kanchi seers for having violated the Vedic tradition. But we have to understand that tradition is uplifted by the seers and it is not the opposite. The seers are the pillars of tradition and they are not dependent on tradition. Even when the seer was arrested and when he was released, he was still smiling as can be seen in various videos and photos of the incident. This is possible only because the seers are real devotees of the Lord not worried about worldly losses as everything has been offered to the Lord including vaidika dharma and activities.

People who merely use words of ‘Lord’s grace’ and twisting scriptural statements to one’s own benefits in order to justify their and their beloved’s actions are not real devotees but they are fox in the form of Lion!!! They are but a disgrace to all seekers as they seem to be behaving as if they are learned and realized whereas they are utterly ignorant about even the nature of the Lord. Yoga Vasistha terms such people as donkeys who are carrying the load of Veda!!!

We have to learn from this sutra as to what is the definition of a real devotee. Only then will we be able to be a real devotee thereby getting bliss of the Lord and spreading it in the world even as great Mahatmas like Ramana, AMMA etc. do.

Sutra 12 –
Na tatsiddhau lokavyavahaarao heyah kinthu phalatyaagam tatsaadhanam cha

Word Meaning
Tatsiddhau – Once such divine love towards Ishwara has been achieved or attained
lokavyavahaarao na heyah – worldly activities are not (need not) be renounced.
Kinthu – But
Phalatyaagam tatsaadhanam cha – we should do sadhana towards maintaining the divine love and renounce all craving for fruits of actions.

Sutra Meaning
Once a person gains divine love or paraa bhakthi towards Ishwara, worldly activities need not be renounced. But we should do sadhana to maintain the divine love and renounce all craving for fruits of actions.

In the previous sutra Narada mentioned that a person need not worry about loss of worldly possessions as a seeker would be renouncing everything from one’s possession to the entire world by offer it to Ishwara. We can thereby have a doubt as to whether we need to renounce everything or just offer it to Ishwara. Narada clarifies this in this sutra.

Gaining glimpses of divine love is possible once a person does sadhana and is always trying to remember the Lord. But such glimpses don’t take us to realization until it becomes steady like a ever-shining lamp. Jnaana is gaining knowledge about Brahman. But jeevan mukthi or moksha is jnaana nistaa or being established in the knowledge about Brahman.

Similarly the goal of merging into Ishwara also can be split into two – gaining bhakthi and being established in bhakthi. It is possible that even after gaining bhakthi a person falls down by forgetting Ishwara thus unable to always establish himself in Ishwara. If the great Sankara himself forgot the truth of Advaita when Siva appeared in the form of Chandaala (depicted in Maneesha Panchakam) then what to speak about other seekers? We will not enter into the debate of whether Sankara really forgot the truth or whether it was another of his play. The point is that though we may have attained divine bliss yet we may forget it due to vasanas and environment around us.

Thus the easiest way to always be established in Ishwara is renouncing the world and taking the path wherein our duty is only to remember Ishwara. Narada’s previous sutra explanation of renouncing everything kind of gives us the view that sanyaasa is essential in order to realize Ishwara. But the sanyaasa that Narada as well as Krishna mentions in Gita is internal karma sanyaasa and not external wearing of ochre (though internal sanyaasa is impossible for many of us without external sanyaasa due to our passions and attachments). Thus Narada in this sutra clarifies his view by telling that we don’t need to renounce activities. If a person thinks that he can renounce everything by taking sanyaasa then he is wrong.

Sanyaasa is defined by scriptures as “atmanah rakshaartham jagat hitaaya cha” – uplifting the Self to moksha and doing welfare to the world. Thus there are activities for sanyaasins as well. It is well known that on the day of Guru poornima a sanyaasin has to do pooja in the form of a ritual. Out of the 48 samskaaraas (if my memory doesn’t fail me) 8 are for sanyaasins. A sanyaasin cannot wear any other dress than the ochre-robe. Thus wearing the ochre robe is an activity for the sanyaasin which in turn means there is no complete external renunciation.

Thus whoever thinks that sanyaasa is renouncing and getting into a mission (thereby wearing an ochre robe) is completely wrong about it. Real sanyaasa is renouncing of the fruits of actions or phala tyaagam. When a person doesn’t desire fruits while performing actions then he ceases to be the doer of the action. When a person ceases to be the doer of the action then he ceases to be the enjoyer as well of the action. A person who is neither the doer nor enjoyer of an action has renounced the action as he is a mere witness to the action. This is real sanyaasa when a person is a mere witness of actions by offering it completely to Ishwara.

This is what Ramana beautifully summarizes as:
Ishwara arpitham na icchayaa kritham
Chitta shodakam mukthi saadhakam

Work offered to Ishwara and done without craving for the fruits leads to purification of the mind and thereby to realization.

There are many people who are extremists in the case of sanyaasa. Few people think that they can remain married yet unaffected by activities (though having a lot of passion which in turn resulted in their marriage itself). Few others think that sanyaasins are great as they have learnt the scriptures, renounced everything and are greater than people living in the world. But these folks are wrong as both of them think that they are great. We all are familiar with the statement ‘vidhya dadaathi vinayam’ or knowledge brings humility. Paramartha beautifully gives the story of pillow-game to show that a jnaani after realizing Brahman would be as if ashamed that he thought he was achieving something but there was nothing to be achieved at all. The moment a person thinks he is realized, he is living like a saint and he can live like Janaka or Balakrishnan Nair then he is in utter ignorance thinking all the while that he is realized!

A real jnaani whether he is a sanyaasin like Chinmaya or Paramartha or a grihastha like Balakrishnan Nair or Nochur Venkatraman would always be offering activities to Ishwara and doing them without seeking any fruit. Try mentioning to him about stopping an activity, he will be ready to do it if that is what is required. If we try out the same thing with an ajnaani who thinks he is a jnaani, there will either be a revolt or a kutarka that ‘why should I renounce actions and attachment? Why can’t I live like Janaka’ etc.

Narada thus through this sutra says that real sanyaasa is not external renunciation but renunciation of doership as well as craving for fruits of actions.

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

Prostrations to all.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God