Narada Bhakti Sutras

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chapter 5 Sutra 1, 2


Prostrations to all.

Sutra 1 –
Bhakthaah ekaanthino mukhyaah

Word Meaning
Ekanthinah bhakthaah – Devotees with one-pointed devotion
Mukhyaah – are the main (best).

Sutra Meaning
Devotees with one-pointed devotion are the best.

Narada starts this chapter about supreme devotion by saying that devotees who have one-pointed devotion are the greatest or supreme devotees.

What is one-pointed devotion?
One-pointed means focused on something. This is not normal focus but a focus so strong that the person is fully immersed on the thing. We can understand this easily by taking worldly examples. A mathematics scientist will always be focused on maths. An IIM aspiring candidate will be fully focused on the procedures to get into IIM. An alcoholic will be fully focused on alcohol irrespective of whether he is in office or home, during day or night. All these people are totally focused on one thing that the thing alone fills up most of their mind. Their mind or the thoughts in their mind are fully focused on the particular thing. This doesn’t mean that they will not think anything else but it only means that the thought about the particular thing alone will be having high priority in their mind.

Consider that we are driving a car from one place to another. We see a lot of other cars and people in the way. We even encounter calls on our phone. Yet all the while our mind is fully focused on driving. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t thinking about anything other than driving but that driving has the highest priority in our mind. Some people interpret ananya bhajanam (devotion without any other thoughts than the thought of the Lord) as the state of sanyaasa or wherein a devotee is fully in the Lord like an alcoholic is immersed in alcohol. This is not the right meaning of ananya bhajanam. As long as the world is perceived, it is impossible to be without other thoughts. As long as the mind is there, we will have many thoughts because mind itself is based on various thoughts (duality). But when a devotee focuses on the Lord rather than on other thoughts – other thoughts just like passing clouds – then it is called ananya bhajanam or one-pointed devotion. We can also interpret ananya in a different way from the perspective of practice – when a devotee is having various thoughts but considering all of them as nothing but the ultimate reality of Lord, then though he has many thoughts yet it is only one thought of the Lord that prevails in his mind. Though such a devotee is having many thoughts, yet his mind has only the one thought about the ultimate reality of Lord.

Thus a sadhaka who is ever focused on the ultimate reality of Lord alone will be without anything other than the Lord – thus there is nothing but the Lord alone for the devotee; such a devotee is the best devotee as this is para bhakthi wherein there is only the Lord and nothing else.

Such devotion is the highest because there is nothing else to achieve than this in life – when a devotee merges into the ultimate reality of Lord realizing that there is nothing here but the Lord alone, then that is termed as moksha or realization or eternal bliss – for such a sadhaka there is nothing to be achieved in life nor nothing to be done as there is only the Lord present (non-dual reality of Consciousness).

We will see Narada’s reason as to why such one-pointed devotees are the highest devotees in the world in the next few sutras. Narada’s reason might suggest that there is duality left for such devotees but such a view is only from the perspective of the ignorant seeker – for such a devotee whose mind has only the thought of the Lord has already merged into the Lord and thereby there is no scope at all for duality to exist from the devotee’s perspective. But we ignorant people might see or perceive such a devotee as doing various activities in the world. These activities of the devotee are suggestive that he is a para bhaktha or supreme devotee of the ultimate reality of Lord. We will see these in depth in the next few days.

Sutra 2 –
Kantha avarodha romancha ashrubhih parasparam lapmaanaah paavayanthi kulaani prithiveem cha

Word Meaning
Kantha avarodha – (When those devotees have) throats choked with emotion,
Romancha – hairs are standing in their body,
Ashrubhih – eyes covered with tears,
Parasparam lapamaanaah – converse with each other in broken words;
Paavayanthi kulaani – (they) purify their tribe (family as well)
Prithiveem cha – and entire Earth.

Sutra Meaning
When those devotees have their throats choked with emotion, hairs standing upright in their body, eyes covered with tears and converse with each other in broken words, they purify their tribe and the entire Earth.

Narada is giving one of the reasons in this sutra as to why such devotees who are one-pointed in their devotion to the ultimate reality of Lord are Supreme.

We also find as to how the supreme devotees would be behaving in the world when they hear about the Lord. Their throats will get choked, their eyes will be filled with tears, the hair in their body will be standing and they will not be able to communicate properly except with broken words. We find this so often in the case of Bhagavatha pravachanams (discourses on Bhagavatham). We find the person doing the discourse speaking fluently and all of a sudden words don’t come out of his mouth; he stops as if he cannot speak any more, his eyes become filled with tears for some time until he regains his balance. This is the state that Narada speaks about in this sutra. AMMA herself says that a devotee will not be able to remain steady when he hears the mantra of his Lord as the very utterance of the name of the Lord will make him ecstatic and into a different realm.

There are many people in the spiritual path who claim that unless a person cries when he hears about the Lord (and other features mentioned by Narada in this Sutra) he is not a real devotee and he lacks devotion. This is completely wrong. What Narada is here hinting is only from the perspective of an ignorant person. He is a supreme devotee who has merged unto the Lord – such a person will not even be able to speak or cry as he has no different existence apart from the Lord. Only a person who feels the difference between himself and the Lord will be able to cry when speaking about the Lord. Those who aren’t able to cry or bring few tears in their eyes when hearing about the Lord need not worry – real devotion isn’t bringing tears to one’s eyes but as Narada himself pointed in the previous sutra, real devotion is when a devotee has one-pointed devotion towards the Lord. Few of the one-pointed devotees while acting in the world might get dragged into the realm of the Lord thereby bringing tears to their eyes etc. Others may not have the same experience. Any experience whether it is bringing tears to one’s eyes or dancing while hearing the Lord’s names sung etc. are as illusory as the objects in the world. What is real is the ultimate reality of Lord alone – thus real devotion is when the devotee merges unto the Lord all the while performing activities in the world. Few such devotees might feel all these experiences and others might not. Just because a person feels these experiences doesn’t make him a real devotee.

I personally know a lot of people who claim to have had tears in their eyes while listening to the Lord’s stories. I know of a friend who very recently cried when seeing AMMA. This in no way proves them to be one-pointed devotees as they themselves will acknowledge. Real devotion is when internally a devotee is constantly focused on the Lord irrespective of external situations all the while performing activities at the external plane. Such a devotee offers everything whether it is worldly action or religious activity or spiritually activity like crying when hearing about the Lord to the ultimate reality of Lord – for him everything is an illusion in the Lord.

Narada also says here that such devotees purify the entire world. The purification mentioned here is by spreading the love and devotion of the Lord. Wherever the name of the Lord or the thought of the Lord is present that is a pure environment as such rays will instigate devotion in others. We shouldn’t take the meaning here that those who bring tears to their eyes purify their entire clan – because as explained earlier, those who bring tears to their eyes when seeing AMMA don’t have a pure family or tribe as most of their family are against spirituality itself. Thus the apt meaning is that a real devotee purifies his entire clan and the entire world as well.

Though it isn’t apt to speak about one’s family, yet from a witness standpoint I have to mention it here. When we initially met AMMA, all of my family people were against my father as he was following a Christian fisherwoman (that AMMA is). But as of today, all my family members (both my father’s side and mother’s side) have met AMMA and many of them are staunch believers of AMMA. This is what Narada is pointing out here – a pure devotee is one whose entire family will be forced to become devotees in one way or the other. My father’s devotion to AMMA is so strong that whoever comes to him for whatever reason (be it astrology or singing or teaching), he will speak only about AMMA and direct them to AMMA. It is this strong devotion that has forced our entire family or tribe to be devotees at one or the other plane of AMMA. As we have learned previously, a devotee (even if he is a gauni bhaktha seeking wealth or relief) is better than a non-devotee.

We might think that Narada’s words are his own opinion but this is not so. The Mandukya Upanishad speaks about a brahma jnaani and his clan thus: na asya abhrama vid kule bhavathi – there will nobody who will not know Brahman in his clan (in the clan of a person who knows Brahman). This is what has happened with my father and what Narada is also pointing out. We have already learnt many times that real devotion is not different from knowledge as both are the same only.

I am not here pointing out that my father is a supreme devotee and a jnaani – I am not in a state to judge others. But the factors that Narada is pointing out here are what have happened with my father and his entire clan. Imagine that state wherein an entire family is happy with going to AMMA though they are not blissful or peaceful – yet getting relief from all sorrows & being devoted to the Lord; there is nothing else that one could ask. JThis also doesn’t mean that such a family will be devoid of all negativities as that would make everyone a real devotee – but this is only about the family of ONE DEVOTED PERSON. It will take time (years and maybe lives) for a person to become really devoted to the Lord.

Let’s hope that by learning Narada Bhakthi Sutras, we will all become real devotees of the Lord thereby be a lamp shedding the light of the Lord in each of our families.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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