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Bhakti Sutras of Narada

by Swami Sivananda

1. The Nature of Divine Love

Salutation to Para Brahman and Rishi Narada!

Now, we will explain Bhakti.

Notes and Commentary

Atha means now. It is something used in the sense of sequence. It is a word that is used when a subject is begun, to invoke the Divine blessing. Sutra means an aphorism or terse saying impregnated with deep significance. Just as flowers and pearls are arranged or studded on a thread, so also philosophical ideas are studded or spread or arranged in the aphorism. Rishis always have expressed their ideas in the form of laconic Sutras. That is the beauty in the writings of Rishis or seers. That is the sign of God-realisation. The six Darsanas or schools of philosophy are embodied in the form of Sutras only. Without a commentary it is difficult for laymen to understand these Sutras.

Bhakti is defined in the following Sutra. Those who have understood the magnitude of human sufferings in this sense-universe and those who have realised that this world is unreal, impermanent, illusory, perishable, full of troubles, difficulties, miseries, pain, sorrow and tribulation and those who desire to free themselves from the round of births and deaths with its concomitant evils of old age, diseases, etc. , should know what Bhakti is, how to develop Bhakti, who is God or Lord or Isvara, the relationship between God and man and the methods to realise God, or to approach Him or to attain God-Consciousness.

2. Definition of Bhakti

It is of the form of Supreme Love towards God.

Notes and Commentary

The term Bhakti comes from the root "Bhaj", which means "to be attached to God. " Bhajan, worship, Bhakti, Anurag, Prem, Priti are synonymous terms. Bhakti is love for love's sake. The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectation here. There is no fear also. Therefore it is called "Parama-prema-rupaa. " Is the son afraid of his father, who is a Sessions Judge? Is the wife afraid of her husband? So also a devotee entertains not the least fear of God. The fear of retribution vanishes in him. He feels, believes, conceives and imagines that his Ishtam is an Ocean of Love or Prem.

And it is of the nature of Nectar.

Notes and Commentary

God, Immortality (Amritam), peace (Santi), Absolute, Infinite (Ananda), Intelligence, Consciousness (Chit), Eternity, Bliss (Ananda), Nirvana, Freedom (Mukti), Perfection (Siddhi), are synonymous terms.

Devotion gives Immortality. Bhakti is an embodiment of Amritam or nectar. Nitya Sukha (eternal bliss), Immortality, Parama Santi (supreme peace), Nitya Tripti (eternal satisfaction), Akhanda Sukha (unbroken joy) can be had only in God. That is the reason why aspirants attempt for God-realisation. Worldly pleasure is not constant. He who smiles and laughs for five minutes weeps bitterly for hours together. No man in this world is perfectly happy. A multimillionaire is full of cares, worries, anxieties and fear. He is afraid of enemies. He is guarded by sepoys. He has to take injections for getting sleep, as he is always worried. He is worse than a prisoner. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world, who could pave a road of several miles with golden sheets expressed to a priest who went to behold his glory and opulence: "O reverend priest! I am the most miserable man in the world. I can't eat anything; my stomach, kidneys and liver are filled with germs and diseases. I am always restless". Maitreyi puts a question to her husband: "O my Lord! Can the wealth of the three worlds give me immortality?" Yajnavalkya replied: "Certainly not, my beloved. " Yama also says to Nachiketas: "Wealthy people, on account of delusion and pride, lose their memory, intellect and understanding, and go round and round in this impermanent and unhappy world and come again and again in my clutches. Wealth and woman are my two snares to entrap the worldly-minded persons whose minds are filled with lust and greed. You are above these things. You have shunned all my temptations. You have selected the Sreyo-Marga".

This is a world of diversity. Intellects are different. Faces are different. Religions are different. Sounds are different. Faiths are different. Colours are different. Faculties are different. Tastes and temperaments are different. But one thing is common in all. Every one of us wants Nitya Sukha (eternal happiness), infinite Knowledge, Immortality, freedom and independence. These things can be obtained by God-realisation alone.

3. Fruits of Bhakti

By attaining which man becomes perfect, immortal and fully contented.

Notes and Commentary

These are the fruits of Bhakti. Sutras 4, 5 and 6 describe the fruits of Bhakti. All weaknesses and Doshas (faults) vanish. People put a question: "How can we love God whom we have not seen?" Remain in the company of Bhaktas; hear the Lilas of Bhagavan, His Aisvaryas (Divine powers) or Vibhutis, His Madhurya (grace and beauty); serve Bhaktas; sing His Name daily and do Japa of His Mantra; stay for one year in Ayodhya, Vrindavana, Chitrakuta, Rishikesh or Pandharpur. You will develop love for God.

Yat prapya na kinchid vanchati, na sochati, na dveshti,

na ramate, notsaahee bhavati. (5)

By obtaining which he does not desire anything, neither grieves nor hates anything, does not indulge in sensual pleasures, nor becomes zealous (in endeavours for self-advancement or self-aggrandisement).

Notes and Commentary

Why does desire manifest? On account of Avidya or ignorance or imperfection or lack of bliss. When one gets Darshan of God, all desires are burnt up. When the boy Dhruva had Darshan of Lord Hari, the desire to obtain kingdom that prompted him to worship, disappeared. Devotion is a fire like Jnanagni (fire of wisdom) that burns up all mundane desires.

How can a trace of earthly desire remain when the devotee attains God, the embodiment of bliss? Darshan of God comes in various ways viz. , in dreams, in physical form with four hands, with conch, mace, discus and lotus-flower in the hands, in the form of cosmic consciousness (Visvarupa Darshan) which Arjuna had, in the form of Hiranyagarbha consciousness or full knowledge of Brahma- loka, etc. Note how Arjuna expresses his experiences of cosmic consciousness: "Nor source, nor midst, nor end; infinite force, unnumbered arms, the sun and moon Thine eyes; I see Thy face, as sacrificial fire, blazing, its splendour burneth up the worlds. " God sometimes gives Darshan to encourage His devotees by coming down in Vimana (or celestial car). Akasa Vani, dazzling lights in space or sky are some other encouragements which God gives to push His devotees on the path vigorously and rapidly. The devotee should not stop his Sadhana on account of false Tushti (satisfaction) when he gets His Darshan. He should ever rest in God. He should have perfect Nishtha in God always (Svaroopa-sthiti). He should not leave off his practices till he merges himself in the Lord-Maha-Bhava or Tanmaya State (Parama Prem).

The devotee who realises God is freed from grief also. Can darkness remain in the presence of light? How can sorrow manifest when one is immersed in the Ocean of Bliss and Prem? Grief is a mental creation. It manifests when the mind is attached to body and illusory connections. When the mind is obliterated, when there is Self-absorption and self-effacement by merging in the bosom of God, how can grief approach the devotee? Absolutely impossible. The devotee does not hate anything. Hatred is due to ignorance. How can the devotee hate anybody when he sees Lord Hari in everything? He feels that the world is manifestation of the Lord and all movements and actions are His Lilas. He has no Ghrina or dislike for faecal matter, dirt, Chandala, scavenger, cobbler, beggar, prostitute, thief, etc. He says: "I see everywhere my sweet Lord. It is Hari who is playing the part of prostitute, thief, dacoit, scavenger". He has an all-embracing, all-inclusive, exalted mental state. This cannot be adequately described in words. It has to be felt. Mira, Gouranga, Hafiz, Tulasi Das, Kabir, Ram Das all enjoyed this state. Tulasi Das says: "Shiyaram maya sab jaga jane, karahu pranam jory juge pani-Know everything as Siyaram, Sita and Rama, and with folded hands do prostrations to all, to everything. "

In Purusha Sukta you will find a description of the Purusha: "The Purusha has one thousand heads, one thousand eyes, one thousand feet. " There is an echo of these ideas in the Gita (XIII-13): "With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads and mouths everywhere, with ears everywhere, He exists in the worlds enveloping all". Lord Krishna gives advice to Uddhava and prescribes an easy way for reaching Him. "Know, Uddhava, that Brahmin, Chandala, ass, dog, king, beggar are all My forms. When you meet any object, do prostration and feel My presence". Nama Dev said to the dog: "O Vittala, my dear in the form of dog, do not run away with the dry bread. It will affect your soft throat. Pray, let me apply ghee to the bread". He ran with ghee in a cup to the dog. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa prostrated before an outcaste girl: "O Mother Kaali! I see Thee in this girl. " Pavhari Baba prostrated before a thief with a bag of utensils: "O thief Narayan! Pray, accept these things, I never knew that thief Narayan was in my cottage". Ekanath, a Maharashtra Bhakta gave his ring voluntarily to a thief when he entered the house: "O thief! Take this ring also. Your kartavya (duty) is to steal the things. Thou art Vittala (Krishna). Keep up this Lila. " Have you understood the sublime state of these exalted Bhaktas who have a new angle of vision? A day will come to you also. Exert. Struggle. Pray. Worship. Meditate. Plunge yourself in Bhajan with zeal, earnestness and fervour.

Give up this unquenchable thirst for sensual pleasure, woman, money and worldly prosperity which is the greatest obstacle in the path of devotion and turn your mind towards God. Here is an inexhaustible and imperishable spiritual wealth which no dacoit can rob and a Divine Bliss which is not mixed with fear or pain.

By knowing which he becomes ecstatic (with overjoy), quiet, and happy in his own Self.

Notes and Commentary

When one is happy in his own Self, then alone he becomes independent. If one depends for his happiness on perishable objects, he begins to weep when the centre of his pleasure is withdrawn. The husband weeps when his wife or son dies, when the bank in which he has deposited his money fails. Objects that are conditioned in time, space and causation are vinasi, perishable. They cannot give, therefore, eternal happiness to human beings. So in the Gita, Bhagavan Sri Krishna says: "The enjoyments that are born of contacts are only generators of pain, for they have a beginning and an end, O Kaunteya! The wise man does not rejoice in them. " (Gita: V-22. ) " That happiness which arises from the contact of the sense-organs with the objects, which is at first like nectar, and in the end like poison-Agre amritopamam pariname vishamiva" (Gita: XVIII-38. ) "With the self unattached to external contacts he finds happiness in the Self; with the self engaged in the meditation of Brahman he attains to the endless happiness. " (Gita: V-21. ) "The man who rejoices only in the Self, who is satisfied with the Self and who is content in the Self alone, for him verily there is nothing to do. " (Gita: III-17. ) Nothing can shake a man who rejoices in the Self (Atmarati); who is satisfied in the Self (Atma Tripti); and who is contented in the Self (Atma Santoshi); and who plays in the Self (Atma Kreeda).

It is Vasana (subtle desire) that draws a man outside towards external objects. Avidya (ignorance) has got two forces, the Avarana or veiling power, the Sakti that screens the man from his real Sat-chit-ananda Svaroopa behind, and the Vikshepa Sakti that makes the mind and senses outgoing. The restlessness of the mind is due to desire and Vikshepa Sakti. Avidya clouds the understanding and produces intoxication, destroys the intellect and makes the intellect perverted, stony and barren. Therefore man always thinks that he can get pleasure in external objects, mistakes the body, children and wife as Atman and takes the unreal world as real. When lust manifests, the intellect becomes blind and the most intelligent man becomes an easy prey to passion. A worldly-minded man vainly searches for his happiness in outside perishable objects. The idea that he should dive deep into the chambers of his heart by collecting all the dissipated rays of the mind, and by withdrawing the out-going senses to meditate on God never strikes him. He never believes in devotion, concentration and meditation. He cannot imagine a pure, unalloyed happiness that is independent of external objects, although he enjoys the bliss of the Self daily at night. He foolishly thinks: "If I have a bungalow in Mussoorie for summer, if I have a car, if I have my own cow for good milk, if I have a son, if I have a garden, I will be happy. " The tendency of the mind is such that it tries to seek happiness outside in perishable objects. This is due to the force of Avidya.

But the devotee gets the grace of the Lord. His intellect is calm and tranquil. All the outgoing energies become transmuted into spiritual energy. He gets help and strength from Mantra-Sakti, Sadhana Sakti and Upasana Sakti. Sattva flows from the feet of the Lord towards his mind. All desires melt away. The Vikshepa Sakti is destroyed. He has the firm, unshakable conviction that the real happiness is in God. His mind is always inward. He has Antarmukha Vritti. The senses do not wander about. They get absorbed in the mind and the mind gets absorbed in God. He is ever peaceful. He enjoys the happiness within. He delights in the bliss of God. He therefore stands adamantine even amidst grave troubles and calamities. So Rishi Narada uses the expressions "Stabdho bhavati" (the devotee becomes serene) and "Atmaramo bhavati" (happy in the bliss of the Self).

The devotee gets divine intoxication. Lord Gouranga was so much intoxicated with the divine nectar of Prem that sometimes he did not know when it was daybreak and when it was night. Mira, though a young Rani, danced in the streets amidst males and men of inferior class on account of this intoxication of Krishna-prem. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa remained in the thick jungle for four days without taking any food when he was under this divine intoxication. Words can hardly describe the nature of this divine intoxication. One has to feel it himself. Even if there is a mild intoxication, it will give immense strength to the devotee to face the difficulties in the battle of life. Therefore Narada says: "matto bhavati. "

4. Renunciation

It is not moved by desire, because of its nature being manifested in the form of control (of desires).

Notes and Commentary

Desire is an enemy of peace. Desire is an enemy of devotion. Without renunciation (Tyaga) Bhakti can never be cultivated in the heart. Vishaya-asakti (attachment to sensual enjoyments) is the obstacle in developing devotion. Energy leaks out. No improvement is seen in spiritual Sadhana. The devotee always complains: "I have not realised anything in the path of devotion. My mind remains in the same state. It always wanders about wildly in the sensual grooves. I am restless. What is to be done?" Desire is very powerful. It assumes various subtle forms. Desire is Maya's weapon to hurl down the Jivas into the mire of Samsara. There is no end for desires. It is unconquerable. Enjoyment does not bring satisfaction of a desire. Just as fire is increased by pouring ghee over it, so also desire is strengthened by Bhoga. Have you not studied the life of Raja Yayati in Mahabharata? He borrowed the youthful state from his son and enjoyed for thousands of years and cried out in the end: "Alas! My passion has not gone. There is no satiety. My heart is still burning with lust. " Bhartrihari weeps bitterly: "I have renounced the world, wife and kingdom. I live on leaves and water. I do penance. Yet lust is troubling me. " Such is the potency of desire.

That is the reason why Lord Krishna says in the Gita (III-39, 40, 41, 43 & II-55): "Enveloped is wisdom by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire, which is insatiable as a flame. The senses, the mind and the reason are said to be its seat; by these, enveloping wisdom, it bewilders the dweller in the body. Therefore, O best of the Bharatas, mastering first the senses do thou slay this thing of sin, destructive of wisdom and knowledge. Thus understanding Him as greater than the Reason, restraining the self by the Self, slay thou, O mighty-armed, the enemy in the form of desire, difficult to overcome. When a man abandoneth, O Partha, all the desires of the heart, and is satisfied in the Self, by the Self, then is he called stable in mind. "

First annihilate Asakti; then the Kamana (longing) will die by itself. Eventually preference also will be destroyed. When the attraction towards external objects ceases, then there yet remains the internal craving which is called Trishna (thirsting for objects). This is the most dangerous enemy of devotion. When the attraction towards objects, external as well as internal, ceases without any veil, then it is termed Mukta (free from) Trishna. The mere thought of longing that such and such a thing should come to oneself is Trishna. It is this strong chain of Trishna that you should unshackle yourself from, if you want to grow in Bhakti. Cut off the Trishna-Tantu (the thread of sense-hankering) by the sword of Vairagya. This is "Nirodha" or control of desire.

On the other hand, Nirodha (control of desires) means the resignation to the Lord of all worldly and scriptural observances.

Notes and Commentary

A worldly-minded man cannot work without expectation of fruits of his works. He reaps the fruits by going to heaven. He comes back again to this Mrityu-loka when the virtuous works are exhausted. He again does good and evil Karmas. Thus he is caught up in the never-ending wheel of Samsara or Avagamana-Chakra. Rishis, Seers and the Vedas therefore advise that the works should be performed without expectation of fruits and should be consecrated to the Lord as Isvararpana. Then the heart is purified and Bhakti develops. That is the reason why Lord Krishna advises Arjuna: "Whatever thou doest, whatever thou eatest, whatsoever thou offerest, whatsoever thou givest, whatsoever thou doest of austerity, O Kaunteya! do thou that as an offering unto Me. " (Gita: IX-27. ) Patanjali Maharshi, the exponent of Raja Yoga philosophy, also says: "Ishvara-pranidhanadva-Success is speedy in Yogic practice and attainment of Samadhi by surrendering the fruits of works at the feet of the Lord as an offering. " Ishvara-pranidhana is an important item in his Kriya-Yoga and Niyama.

Egoism, ambition and Vasanas are obstacles in the way of self-surrender. Subtle hidden Vasanas will try to come to the surface of the mind. Desires, which are suppressed for some time, will again manifest with redoubled force, if the aspirant is not careful, if there is some waning in his Vairagya and spiritual practice, and if he mixes with worldly-minded people. Generally the aspirant consciously or unconsciously, wittingly or unwittingly keeps up some desires for his gratification. He does not wish to part completely with his desires. Therefore the self-surrender does not become perfect and unreserved. So the grace of the Lord does not descend. Even if there is an atom of desire or egoism, there is no possibility of Divine Grace. Mira says: "I have given up my mind, my heart, my soul, my Chitta, my intellect, my all to my beloved Giridhar Gopal. " This is complete self-surrender. Mark the word 'my all'. The Lord becomes a slave of a Bhakta only when he has made absolute, ungrudging, self-surrender. He is very cruel and puts His devotee to severe tests and trials. Only when Surdas poked his eyes with the thorns and remained without food and water in the thick jungle, Lord Krishna appeared before him with sweetmeats and water. He did not hear the words of Draupadi, so long as she kept up her own strength and traces of egoism. When she cried aloud with perfect sincerity and total resignation: "O Dwarakanath, O my beloved! Come to my rescue. " Then He ran to the scene, she had abundant clothes, and her modesty was saved. Nyasa means renunciation. This brings Nirodha (control) of mind. It is renunciation of the fruits of works. Renunciation of egoism is Sarva-Tyaga (renunciation of all). All desires, selfishness, Raga, Dvesha, body-idea, Deha-abhimana, are hanging on egoism. Egoism is the pivot on which all these are centred. Kill egoism. Then the surrender becomes complete. Even if there is a tinge or grain of egoism, the Lord will not reveal Himself.

(Nirodha also means) concentrated (or single-minded) devotion to the Lord and indifference to all that is antagonistic to Him.

Notes and Commentary

"Ananyata" is single-minded devotion unto the Lord. The child thinks of the mother and mother alone. A passionate husband thinks of his wife and wife alone. A greedy money-lender thinks of his money and money alone. Even so the devotee should entertain in his heart the picture of his Ishtam and Ishtam alone. Then he can have Darshan of God easily. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: "I am easily attainable by that ever-steadfast Yogi who constantly and daily remembers Me (for a long time), not thinking of anything else (with a single mind or one-pointed mind), O Partha! " (Gita: VIII-14. )

The single-minded devotion can only manifest by constant and protracted practice in a quiet room, and Vairagya. Whenever the wavering and unsteady mind runs out, curb it, draw it and fix it again and again at the face or lotus feet of the Lord. It takes some time for the collection of scattered rays of the mind, and for establishing new habits in the mind. One should not be discouraged in the beginning. Patience, perseverance, attention, faith, strong will, fortitude, power of endurance are needed. These virtues should be cultivated. Satsanga, dietetic adjustment, milk and fruits, fasting, control of sleep, reduction in the hours of sleep, sometimes seclusion, observance of Mauna, Brahmacharya should be resorted to. The mind is naturally prone to love of ease, gluttony, laziness, seeking of comforts, gossiping, worldly talks, sight seeing etc. It should be gradually trained, tamed and disciplined by suitable methods. It is like a spoiled, indulgent child. It must be sometimes coaxed, while at other times, if it is unruly and disobedient, it must be threatened and whipped. Fasting is whipping. Mauna is whipping.

Udaseenata is indifference to sensual enjoyments and sensual objects. Objects are enemies of God. Sons, wife, property, cattle, house, friends, relatives are the enemies of God. You must cherish perfect indifference to these objects. You must destroy ruthlessly Moha for these objects and develop the state of Nirabhimanata (without 'mine-ness'). Moha is infatuated love towards body, children, father, mother and wife. Attachment to the body is deep-rooted. You must not think of the body and its wants too much. Thoughts of body, thoughts of food, thoughts of wife and children make you forget God. You cannot have thoughts of God if you have thoughts of Anatma things (non-sentient objects).

There is supreme joy and bliss in Udaseenata. You will find in the Mundaka Upanishad: "Two birds, inseparable companions, dwell upon one and the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit; the other looks on without eating. On the same tree, the Jiva immersed in worldliness and bewildered grieves on account of helplessness. But when he sees the other, the Lord, who is adored by all, and His glory, then his grief passes away. " Here one bird is the Jiva, the other bird is the Lord. The tree is this body. Udaseenata destroys all sorts of attachments and desires. Attachment is death. Udaseenata is eternal life. Lord Krishna says: "An Udaseena (indifferent man) is dear to Me. " (Gita: XII-16. ) Just as the spectators of a cricket or football match enjoy the game nicely, so also an Udaseena who is quite unconcerned with the world enjoys as a witness of this world-drama and passes beyond grief. In the Gita (XIII-9) you will find: "Unattachment, absence of self-identification with son, wife or home and constant balance of mind in wished for and unwished for events-this is declared to be the Wisdom. "

Remember, dear readers! that Udaseenata is not physical nudity. It is not the living on Neem leaves or cow's dung or groundnut. Performance of foolish kinds of austerities (Moodha Tapas) does not constitute Udaseenata. Lord Krishna says (Gita: XVII-5, 6): "Those men who practise terrific austerities not enjoined by the scriptures, given to hypocrisy and egoism, impelled by the force of lust and attachment, senseless, torturing all the elements in the body and Me also, Who dwell in the body, -know thou these to be of demoniacal resolves. "

Udaseenata is purely a mental state. Queen Chudala was a perfect Udaseena though she reigned over a dominion; but her husband was attached to his begging bowl and walking-stick though he lived in a forest. A man may be attached to his Kowpeen or a fountain-pen even, whereas a king like Janaka may be a perfect Udaseena though he is amidst luxuries and opulence. Worldly people attach much importance to external show only. This is a great pity. This is their horrible mistake. A man may be nude and yet his mind may be full of desires. Some hypocrites pretend to be Virakta Sadhus to exploit the householders. Householders should use their discrimination always. Udaseena Vritti comes from Mithya Drishti and Dosha Drishti in objects and from discrimination between the real and the unreal.

Single-heartedness means the abandoning of all other supports.

Notes and Commentary

Here is a definition of Ananyata-mind is clinging to persons, objects or places with leechlike tenacity. Wherever there is a little sensual pleasure, the mind is attached there, through Raga. All the pleasure-centres should be destroyed. Then alone the mind can be turned towards God with one-pointed concentration. The mind is always jumping like a monkey. Now it thinks of sweetmeats or fruits. Then it thinks of cinema-show for feasting the eyes. Then it wants to hear some melodious music. Then it wants to talk something with some friends. Just as a Chinaman is drawn hither and thither by his five wives, so also the mind is tossed hither and thither by the five Indriyas. It is always restless.

Through Vairagya and discrimination all these pleasure- centres should be destroyed. Then through constant, steady Abhyasa of Japa and Dhyana, it should be turned towards God. The struggle is doubtless, keen and hard. How difficult it will be to send up the waters of the Ganga above towards Badri Narayan! Still more difficult it will be for taking the mental energy towards God. It is easy to direct the mental energy towards sensual objects. It is but natural. It is the nature of the mind to run by itself towards objects without the least exertion. It is its Svabhava. Lord Krishna says: "With the mind not moving towards any other thing, made steadfast by the method of habitual meditation, and constantly meditating, one goes to the Supreme Person, the Resplendent, O Partha. " (Gita: VIII-8. ) "Fix thy mind on Me only, thy intellect in Me, (then) thou shalt no doubt live in Me alone hereafter. If thou art unable to fix thy mind steadily on Me, then by the Yoga of constant practice (Abhyasa Yoga) do thou seek to reach Me, O Dhananjaya. " (Gita: XII-8, 9. ) In the practice of concentration one should have the same patience and perseverance as that of the bird which tried to empty the ocean with its beak or blade of grass. Arjuna aimed at the bird above by seeing the reflection of the bird in the water. The arrow-maker was so much absorbed in his work that he did not notice the huge crowd of the Raja and his retinue. Such must be the nature of concentration on God in the Adhyatmic battlefield. Just as the bird that is tied to a post flutters about hither and thither and eventually rests on the post, so also the mind that wanders about here and there in sensual objects finally rests in God, through the practice of one-pointed concentration and devotion.

By indifference to all that is antagonistic to Him means the performance of those social and scriptural rituals and ceremonies that are congenial to Him.

Notes and Commentary

Lord Krishna says: "If also thou art not equal to constant practice, be intent on My service; performing actions for My sake, thou shalt attain perfection. " (XII-10. ) "Acts of sacrifice, gift and charity should not be relinquished, but should be performed; sacrifice, gift, and also austerity are the purifiers of the intelligence. " (XVIII-5. )

These rituals purify the heart and prepare the ground of Antahkarana for the growth of devotion. These actions should be performed without attachment and without expectation of fruit. The sacrifice which is offered by men without desire for fruit as enjoined by the ordinances, under the firm belief that sacrifice is a duty, that is pure. The three kinds of austerity viz. , physical, verbal, and mental Tapas prescribed in the Seventeenth Chapter of the Gita purify the heart rapidly. They are:

1.Physical: Worship given to the gods, to the twice-born, to the teachers and to the wise, purity, straight-forwardness, continence and harmlessness, are called the austerity of the body.

2.Verbal: Speech causing no annoyance, truthful and beneficial, the practice of the study of the scriptures are called the austerity of speech.

3.Mental: Mental happiness, equilibrium, silence, self-control, purity of nature, this is called the austerity of the mind.

This threefold austerity, performed by men with the utmost faith, without desire for fruit, harmonised, is said to be pure.

Without purification of the mind, there is no hope of cultivating Bhakti in the heart.

Agnihotra, Vaisvadeva, Brahma Yajna, Sandhyavandana in the three periods of time, Pancha Maha Yajnas-all are best calculated to purify the Chitta. They should be performed daily without any break. Observance of Chandrayana Vrata and Krichhra Vrata destroy sins effectively. They serve the purpose of Prayaschitta for expiating sin. The more the mind-mirror is cleansed, the better it is. Though these ceremonies are not necessary for an advanced Bhakta, yet they are very essential for neophytes.

Sraddha, Tarpan, observances and gifts on the occasion of eclipses should not be neglected. Consult the code of Manu or Yajnavalkya Smriti and you will get abundant information on this subject. Various kinds of Prayaschitta destroy various kinds of sin. If you find it difficult to consult the scriptures, consult Pundits and Acharyas and they will guide you. If you do not observe these rituals, you will be subject to Pratyavaya Dosha, the sin of omission. Jaimini lays great stress on Karmas (Agnihotra etc. )

Pradosha Vrata, Ekadasi Vrata are observances that propitiate Lord Siva and Lord Hari respectively. They should also be observed rigidly.

Let there be strict adherence to the injunctions of the Sastras till a firm conviction in God is attained (also till profound devotion is fully developed).

Notes and Commentary

That is the reason why Lord Krishna says: "The ignorant, the faithless, the doubting self goes to destruction; there is neither this world nor the other, nor happiness for the doubting self. " (Gita: IV-40. ) "Therefore, let the scriptures be the authority in determining what ought to be done and what ought not to be done. Having known what is said in the ordinance of the scriptures, thou shouldst act here in this world. " (Gita: XVI-24. )

The mind should not be allowed to have its own ways. He who follows the injunctions of the Sastras will evolve quickly. He will have no uneasiness in mind. He will have satisfaction. He will feel that he is in the right path and progressing rapidly in spirituality. He will feel the nearness of God. He will have peace of mind.

Scriptures are infallible. Vedas have come out from the mouth of God. They are revelations. They are traditionally handed down from Rishis and seers to their disciples in succession (Parampara). So long as there is world, there are scriptures and teachers to guide the people in the path of Truth and Righteousness. The number of teachers may be few in the iron age but they do exist. Books are not eternal. But the ideas in the Vedas are eternal.

It does not require much wisdom and reasoning to have a firm conviction in the existence of God. I do not know why these rationalists, socialists and materialistic scientists are unnecessarily racking their brains, fighting and doubting. It is really a great pity! It is their stiff egoism that makes them deny the existence of God. Whether they accept His existence or not, He is shining from eternity to eternity. The sun is always there whether the owls accept the existence of the sun or not. There are gross impurities in their minds which screen and cloud their understanding. There are sins in their Antahkarana which make their intellects perverted. They will have to wait for some time for grasping the Truth.

Just as a young plant is fenced in the beginning and protected, so also a neophyte in the path of devotion should be well-protected. If he mixes with atheists, he will lose his faith in God quickly. He must be always in the company of Sadhus, Mahatmas and Bhaktas. Their company is an iron fortress for him. If the injunctions of the Sastras are rigidly followed, nothing can shake one's convictions. Just as a nail is driven deep into a plank by frequent hammerings, so also the Samskaras and convictions become very deep by observing strictly the sacred laws of the scriptures. This is the meaning of this Sutra.

Otherwise, there is a danger of a fall (of going astray from the right path).

Notes and Commentary

Maya is very powerful. Mysterious is the power of Moha and desire! That is the reason why Lord Krishna says (Gita: II-60 & 67): "The turbulent senses, O Arjuna, do violently carry away the mind of a wise man, though he be striving. For the mind, which follows in the wake of the wandering senses, carries away his discrimination, as the wind (carries away) a boat on the waters. "

You are all aware how the Rishi Vishwamitra of great Tapas became a victim of the influence of the celestial nymph. Even Lord Buddha had to face Mara. This world is full of temptations. There is fear of fall at every moment. A beginner, a tyro is unable to resist temptation. He falls a prey to its influence quite readily. The Sadhaka must be very, very careful. He should observe the injunctions of the Sastras. They pave a long way in keeping him from falling. He should not test his spiritual strength at the very outset when he had made a little progress only. Reaction may set in. The Indriyas will revolt. The mind will become furious. He will become a victim to passion. Even at the present moment, such instances of Yoga-Bhrashtas are not lacking. When one is put to test he fails. Jaimini was tried by his Guru, Sri Vedavyasa. He failed in his Brahmacharya. Physical control alone will not suffice. No evil thoughts should arise in the mind. There must not be any unholy thrill or unholy vibration in the mind even. This is the highest standard of purity. The Gita (III-6) says: "He who, restraining the organs of action, sits thinking of the sense-objects in mind, he of deluded understanding is called a hypocrite. "

Some foolish young Sadhakas do some Sadhana for four or five years in Himalayan caves, see some dazzling lights during meditation, hear some Anahata sounds in the ears and think they are realised souls. They enter the world quickly for preaching, and mix with the householders freely and get hopeless downfall rapidly. What you have gained by rigid Sadhana in twelve years, will be lost in twelve seconds if you mix promiscuously with householders and if you do not take proper precautions. You should never come out to the plains till you attain Bhuma or Brahmi-Sthiti, till you become a full-blown Yogi or Jnani.

Therefore adhere to the injunctions of the Sastras till you develop supreme devotion. The observances will drop by themselves when you are established in highest devotion.

Till a deep conviction (in God) is attained, (also till deep devotion is gained), social customs and usages are also to be observed only to the same extent (as Sastric injunctions). But, eating, drinking, dressing, etc. , should be continued as long as there is a body.

(Sutras 12, 13, 14 deal with the observances. )

Notes and Commentary

The customary injunctions also should be followed like the scriptural injunctions. They are also helpful to the aspirant in the beginning. When he is fully established in supreme devotion and piety, he can safely dispense with the scriptural, as well as, customary injunctions. They will drop themselves when he advances in purity and devotion. But on the contrary, eating and drinking will continue as long as he lives.

5. Different Definitions of Bhakti

The marks of devotion are now described according to various views.

Notes and Commentary

Lakshana means mark, characteristic, or sign. All devotees unanimously agree in the essential characteristics of devotion. But some give prominence to certain indications, while others to certain other marks. That is all. There cannot be any fundamental difference in the essence. Nanamatabhedat means according to various opinions.

Intense attachment in the worship of the Lord and like performances is the characteristic of devotion, according to the son of Parasara (Bhagavan Vyasa).

Notes and Commentary

Puja is worship of God. Anuraga is intense attachment. Prahlada says: "O Hari! May not the ceaseless flow of love and attachment leave my heart, while I am constantly meditating upon Thee. " (Vishnu Purana I-20-19. ) Devotion cometh and goeth in the beginning. When it is fully ripe, the devotee has intense attachment to the lotus-feet of the Lord. Even for the infinitesimal part of a second his mind does not stir from the point or Lakshya: This is Anuraga.

According to Acharya Garga, attachment to the hearing of praises and greatness of the Lord is the mark of devotion.

Notes and Commentary

Here is a difference of opinion. It is the hearing of praises and greatness of the Lord that inspires a man to take to the spiritual path. Parikshit realised God through hearing Srimad Bhagavata from the sacred mouth of Sri Suka Dev. Man gets several knocks and blows in the daily battle of life. He gets failures and disappointments. This world becomes a hot furnace to him. He approaches the Bhagavatas and hears the praises of God. Then the mind gradually is turned towards God. The mind of the rogue Ratnakar was turned towards God after meeting Narada.

Maharshi Sandilya is of the opinion that the sign of devotion is a constant feeling of Bliss in the Self.

Notes and Commentary

God is an embodiment of Bliss. The devotee who always dwells in God must enjoy the Bliss of God. There is always divine aura and bloom in his face. The eyes sparkle and glitter with Divine effulgence. Those who surround the devotee experience the bliss, because he radiates joy all around (vide Sutra 6). If a devotee is always morose and unhappy, if his countenance is cheerless, if he is peevish, there is surely some error in his Sadhana. He is not enjoying the Bliss of the Self. Ananda is a very important sign of devotion. It is a fundamental sign of a Jivanmukta too.

But Devarshi Narada then is of opinion, however, that the sign of devotion is surrendering all actions to God and feeling severe grief in forgetting Him.

Notes and Commentary

The devotee gets parama-vyakulata when he forgets his Beloved. Lord Gouranga, Mira and the Gopis of Vrindavana exhibited this sign. This is Viraha-agni (pain from separation of the Lord). This feeling can hardly be described in words. It has to be felt. It breaks the heart of the devotee. This Sutra does not in any way contradict Sutra 18. An advanced Bhakta who always rests in God has no Viraha. He is always in divine bliss.

There are such and such instances.

The next Sutra will illustrate the view of Narada.

Just as it was shown by the Gopis, the cow-maids of Vraja or Vrindavana.

Notes and Commentary

The Gopis surrendered all their actions at the Lotus-Feet of Lord Krishna. They experienced acute agony even if they missed His presence even for a second. When they heard the sweet, melodious flute of their Beloved, they left their houses while milking the cows. With minds absorbed in Krishna they rushed forth to where their Lover was, without taking notice of each other. Some did not wait to see the boiling of the milk. Some did not take down boiled wheat from the oven. Some were giving food to others, some were giving milk to their own children. Some were serving their husbands and some were taking their own food. But they all left their work half-finished. They gave up their household duties, with clothes and ornaments all in disorder; they hurriedly went to Krishna. When Krishna disappeared they asked the trees if they had seen their Lover. They enquired of the creepers, the earth and the deer.

Even there (the love of the Gopis), there is no particular reason for forgetting the sense of greatness of the Lord.

Notes and Commentary

Why does a man undergo miseries and sufferings? Because he has forgotten God, owing to the influence of Avidya or Maya. That devotee, in whom there is descent of His grace, can never forget Him even for a second. Try to remember the Lord along with every breath, inspiratory and expiratory. Keep the Gita always in your pocket and a Japa-Maala around your neck. Repeat His Name always. Be in the company of Bhaktas. Study Bhagavata, Ramayana, or the Gita daily. Then you cannot forget Him.

Reduce your activities. Do Satya-vyavahara. Reduce your wants. Destroy the desires as they spring up in the mind. Do not try to fulfil them. Increase your Japa on Sundays. Do anushthana of 4 lakhs of Japa during Easter, summer and Christmas holidays. Do Akhanda Japa or Akhanda Patha of Bhagavata or Akhanda Kirtan for seven days (Saptaham). During these seven days live on milk and fruits and wear clothing washed by your own hands. Observe perfect mauna and celibacy. All the members of the house should follow these rules strictly. Then there is no possibility of forgetting Him. The Lord is quite close to you. Your house will be turned into Vaikuntha. The Lord says: "O Narada, I dwell not in Vaikuntha, nor in the hearts of Yogis, but I dwell there where My Bhaktas sing My name-Na aham vasami vaikunthe yoginam hridaya na cha, madbhakta yatra gayanti tatra tishthami narada. "

A love without it (the sense of greatness of the object loved-the Lord) is simply a passion of a woman towards her paramour.

Notes and Commentary

Passion is not love at all. It is an animal instinct. It is carnal love. It is of a beastly nature. It is shifting. If the wife loses her beauty on account of some incurable malady, she gets a divorce and the husband marries a second wife. This state of affairs is going on in the world. But Bhakti is Suddha Prem. It is divine love. It is unchanging. The devotee cherishes always the sense of majesty and magnanimity of the Lord. His Ishtam is the Lord of his very breath (Prananatha or Pranavallabha). It is this idea that keeps up his devotion, nourishes and strengthens it. If this idea of the sense of greatness of the Lord is lacking, then he has no devotion. His devotion is tantamount to the passion of a lustful husband and wife. There is no grandeur in his devotion. Remembrance of the tenth chapter of Gita wherein all the Vibhutis of God are described, will keep up the idea of the sense of greatness of God. Devotion is a sublime, sacred sentiment. It elevates the soul immediately to lofty heights of divinity. When a man comes to realise the Mahima of the Lord, all worldly desires die and all attachment and ties are broken and the man is keen and eager to have Darshan of the Lord.

In this love of the paramours there certainly does not exist any corresponding feeling of happiness (of the other).

Notes and Commentary

In mercenary love, there cannot be any real happiness between the two, the lover and the beloved. If the husband is in a dying condition, the wife takes the bank passbook and walks to her mother's house quietly. If the husband loses his job for some time, the wife shows a wry face, speaks harsh words and does not serve him properly with any love. This is selfish love. There is no real affection from the core of the heart. Even our sisters of ill-fame show for some time abundant love, sweet smile and honeyed words towards their customers, so long as they can extract money. Can you call this love and real happiness? Just tell me frankly. There are cunningness, diplomacy, crookedness and hypocrisy here. So there are always quarrels, fighting and Asanti in the house. Husbands and wives are not really united. There is always a tug-of-war. They pull on anyhow, dragging a dreary, cheerless existence.

6. Supremacy of Devotion

Bhakti is, indeed, greater than action, knowledge and Yoga.

Notes and Commentary

Arjuna puts a question to the Lord: "Those devotees who, ever steadfast, thus worship Thee and those also who worship the Imperishable and the Unmanifested-which of them is better versed in Yoga?" (Gita: XII-1. ) The Lord gives the answer: "They who with mind fixed on Me ever harmonised worship Me, with faith supreme endowed, they in My opinion are best in Yoga. " There again He says: "The Yogi is greater than the ascetics; he is thought to be greater than even the wise; the Yogi is greater than the men of action; therefore become thou a Yogi, O Arjuna. And among all Yogis, he who, full of faith, with the inner Self abiding in Me, adoreth Me, he is considered by Me to be the most completely harmonised. " (Gita: VI-46, 47. ) You will find in the eighth chapter (22) of the Gita: "He, the highest spirit, O Partha, may be reached by unswerving devotion to Him alone, in whom all beings abide, by whom all this is pervaded. " Then again in XI-54 you will find: "But by devotion to Me alone I may thus be perceived, Arjuna, and known and seen in essence and entered, O Partha. "

There is the keynote of devotion and surrender throughout the Gita. Bhakti-marga is easy for the vast majority of persons. God takes the form for helping the devotees. There are no pitfalls or snares in the path. The Lord is ever ready to guide the devotee. He actually takes him by His hands and embraces him in His sweet bosom of Love. He showers His grace on the devotees, as soon as He finds out that they are sincere and earnest. Success is sure in this path. Bhakti-marga is the easiest, safest, surest and quickest way for attaining the highest bliss or God-realisation. That is the reason why Narada Rishi says: "Bhakti is greater than Karma, Jnana and Yoga. "

"Those who mount dizzy heights by austere practices fancying themselves liberated but being really unenlightened, because lacking in devotion to Thee, O Lotus-eyed One! fall into a chasm not having loved Thy Feet. Never so, however, Thy own, O Madhava, stray away from the path, being tied to Thee by bonds of affection and guarded by Thee, they walk fearlessly their feet on the heads of all enemies. "

From its being itself the form of reward.

Notes and Commentary

Devotion is higher than the others, because it is its own reward. It is devotion for devotion's sake. It is love for love's sake. Therefore Narada says phala-rupatvat. That is the reason why it excels others. Those who follow other paths cherish some ulterior motives in view. So they fail to attain God.

Also from the fact that God hates the proud and loves the humble.

Notes and Commentary

This is another reason: Humility is the greatest of all virtues. All other virtues cling to the man who is endowed with humility. Gouranga Mahaprabhu was an embodiment of meekness. He sat in the place where shoes were kept, when he wanted to have an interview with a learned Pundit. Pride is a thorn in Bhakti-marga. It destroys devotion and all other virtues. Pride is ignorance. One can win the hearts of all by humility. A Bhakta should be humbler than the blade of grass which is trodden by the feet. That man only can sing always Hari's Name. It is difficult to develop this virtue. One has to kill himself and remain like a block of stone. The stiff egoism asserts again and again.

In the Bible you will find: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. " Lord Jesus speaks very highly of this virtue (humility) in his sermon on the mount.

Just as fire removes the sensation of cold only of those who approach it, so also God removes the bondage of those who worship Him with earnestness and approach Him through daily prayer, right conduct and meditation.

Krishna said to Radha: "There are those who think themselves separate from Me. I rob them of their all and then when they see Me, all the ties of the world disappear. There are those, the worldly-minded, who kill the Self in them. I am cruel to them, but even to them I am kind for I confer happiness upon them in their grief. All souls are my favourites; I play many games with them till they forget all that is selfish, till they love Me for the sake of love alone, as thou now doest, O Radha. "

7. Knowledge and Devotion

Some say that knowledge (of the object loved) is a means to the attainment of devotion.

Notes and Commentary

Some say: "Even in the worldly parlance, knowledge comes first. Through knowledge of a thing, one gets love for that object. A girl gets knowledge of her would-be husband: 'He can sing well. He is beautiful. He has passed his I. A. S examination. He is now a district magistrate and so on. ' Then she develops Bhava and Prem for him. A patient gets knowledge of the virtuous qualities of barley. Then he loves barley, and takes with delight barely bread. He knows it is cooling and Sattvic and so on. So also one gets Knowledge of God at first. Then he begins to love. Therefore 'Jnana' is the 'Sadhana' or means for devotion. "

Others say that there is a mutual dependence between devotion and knowledge.

Notes and Commentary

"Anyonya-asraya" is mutual dependence. The wife is depending upon the husband for her wants, clothing, food and attendance while she is sick. The husband is depending upon his wife for his food and other kinds of service. This is mutual dependence. The king depends upon the subjects for his revenue. The subjects depend upon the king for their protection, water supply, sanitation, lighting and medical treatment. This is also a case of mutual dependence. Even so, devotion depends upon knowledge and knowledge depends upon devotion.

In the Gita (IV-39) you will find: "Sraddhvavan labhate Jnanam-the man who is full of faith obtaineth wisdom. "

"To these, ever harmonious (worshipping in love), I give the Yoga of discrimination by which they come unto Me. " (Gita: X-10. )

"By devotion he knoweth Me in essence, who and what I am; having thus known Me in essence he forthwith entereth into the Supreme. " (Gita: XVIII-55. )

Love is its own reward-thus opine Brahma Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanatkumara and Narada himself- the sons of Brahma).

Just as is observed in the case of a royal palace, food and other things.

By it (by mere knowledge of things), a king does not find pleasure nor is there the satisfaction of hunger.

The followers of the path of devotion oppose those who hold the view that knowledge is means for attainment of devotion by the aid of the above illustration. They say: "Mere knowledge of food cannot appease hunger; so also mere knowledge cannot develop devotion. "

Therefore, the path of devotion alone should be resorted to by those who long for liberation.

The reasons for adopting the path of devotion are stated in Sutras 30, 31 and 32. In the following Sutras means for cultivating Bhakti are described.

8. How to Develop Bhakti

The means of attaining Bhakti are given thus by Acharyas (teachers of Bhakti).

Devotion to God is attained by relinquishing all sensual pleasures and all attachments to sensual objects.

Notes and Commentary

In the Kaivalya Upanishad it is said: "Na karmana na prajaya dhanena, tyagenaike amritatvam-anasuh-Neither by action nor by progeny nor by riches, but by renunciation alone immortality is attained. " Here are the nine means of cultivating Bhakti. Sri Rama says to Sabari: "Here (in the culture of devotion) the first means is, it has been taught, the company of the good; the second is conversation about My achievements; the third is recital of My virtues; the fourth means will be the occupation of expounding My words; the fifth is, O gentle one, constant and sincere worship of preceptor, thinking that I am he; the sixth means has been said to be virtuousness, self-restraint, observance etc. , and everliving attachment to My worship; the seventh is said to be religious service with every detail, reciting the Mantra specially applicable to Me; greater adoration paid to My votaries, consciousness of Me in all beings, indifference to external objects, together with internal peace, make up the eighth; and, O lady, the ninth is the consideration of My essence. O auspicious one, devotion in the form of Love is produced in any and every one who employs this means in the shape of the ninefold (secondary or instrumental) devotion, no matter whether one be a woman or a man or gone to the inferior creation. And as soon as devotional love is produced, one feels My essence, as it were, and one who becomes accomplished by the awareness of Me, attains Me. "

Lord Krishna says in the Gita: "Mindful of Me, their life hidden in Me, illumining each other, ever conversing about Me, they are content and joyful. " (X-9. )

"Merge thy mind in Me, be My devotee, sacrifice to Me, prostrate thyself before Me, thou shalt come even to Me. I pledge thee My truth: thou art dear to Me. " (XVIII-65. )

"United to the reason purified, controlling the self by firmness, having abandoned sound and the other objects of the senses, having laid aside passion and malice;" (XVIII-51. )

"Dwelling in solitude, abstemious, speech, body and mind subdued, constantly fixed in meditation and Yoga, taking refuge in dispassion;" (XVIII-52. )

"Having cast aside egoism, violence, arrogance, desire, wrath, covetousness, selfless and peaceful-he is fit to become the ETERNAL. " (XVIII-53. )

"Becoming Brahman, serene in the Self, he neither grieveth nor desireth. The same to all beings, he obtaineth supreme devotion unto Me. " (XVIII-54. )

And from constant adoration to God.

Notes and Commentary

Worship by fits and starts will not do. It must be constant. It must be tailadharavat (like flow of oil). If there is break, desires will try to enter the mind. Unholy thoughts and worldly temptations will ransack the Antahkarana. Rajas and Tamas will try to overcome you. There will be resurrection of old Trishnas and Vasanas. The devotee will have to be very vigilant and cautious. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says: "Sarveshu kaleshu mam anusmara-At all times think of Me. " (Gita: VIII-7. )

(Bhakti develops) even in the world from hearing and singing the virtues and attributes of God.

"Kalau Kesava Kirtanat-In the Kali Yuga, Salvation is attained by Kirtan or singing the praises of God. " People have not got good physique and unbroken Brahmacharya to practise Hatha Yogic Kriyas such as Pranayama, Kumbhaka, Kechari Mudra etc. They lack in bold understanding, gigantic intellect and strong will to understand and practise Vedanta. The easy way is Kirtan only.

But chiefly by the grace of the great ones and also by the touch (a drop) of Lord's mercy.

Notes and Commentary

Lord Krishna says: "This divine illusion of Mine, caused by the qualities, is hard to pierce; they who come to Me, they cross over this illusion. " (Gita: VII-14. ) In Mundaka Upanishad and Kathopanishad you will find: "This Atman cannot be attained by discourse, nor by intelligence nor by profound study. It can be realised by him only whom It favours; him this Atman favours with its manifestation. "Bhagavat-kripa-lesat"-even a drop of the Lord's Grace is quite sufficient to free oneself from the trammels of this Samsara. It is through the Grace of the Lord alone that a man can stick to the spiritual path and can break all sorts of ties and attachments.

"Though ever performing all actions, taking refuge in Me, by My Grace he obtains the eternal indestructible abode. " (Gita: XVIII-56. )

"Thinking of Me, thou shalt overcome all obstacles by My Grace; but if from egoism thou wilt not listen, thou shalt be destroyed utterly. " (Gita: XVIII-58. )

"Out of pure compassion for them, dwelling within their Self, I destroy the ignorance-born darkness by the shining lamp of wisdom. " (Gita: X-11. )

"Mahat-Kripa"-The grace of the great ones is also necessary. There is no difference between God and a realised Bhagavata. Both are identical. There is no hope of overhauling the old vicious Samskaras of a worldly man without the help of Satsanga of Mahatmas. Satsanga is a safe boat to take the aspirant to the other shore of fearlessness, the shore which is beyond darkness. The glory of Satsanga is vividly eulogised in Bhagavata, Ramayana and all scriptures. Books written by realised persons constitute negative Satsanga. When you study them, you are in holy communion with the authors.

Grace will descend on deserving aspirants only who are earnestly struggling in the path and who are thirsting for realisation. Nowadays people want to lead a life of ease and expect the grace of Mahatmas. They themselves do not want to do any kind of Tapas or Sadhana. They want a magic pill to put them in Samadhi at once. They want worldly comforts and realisation in one and the same cup.

Kabir, Tulsidas, Sankara and Guru Nanak have all written volumes on the glory of Satsanga with Mahatmas. Faith in God, in scriptures, attachment and devotion to God slowly develop in those who do regular Satsanga.

There is a complaint by householders nowadays that there are no good Mahatmas. This is a lame excuse. The company of Sadhus is a question of supply and demand. If there is a sincere demand, the supply will come at once. This is the inexorable law of nature. If you are really thirsty, you will find your Master at your very threshold. You lead a happy-go-lucky life; your mind is full of passion and unholy Vasanas. You do not care a bit for higher, divine life. You waste your time in idle gossiping and vain worldly talks. You have become a hopeless slave of passion, greed and name and fame. And yet you complain: "I cannot get good Satsanga. " Blame yourself first. Admit your faults. Repent sincerely for your mistakes. Do Prayaschitta. Fast, pray. Cry bitterly in solitude. Make yourself a deserving Adhikari first. Then come to me. I shall take you to the lotus-feet of blessed souls who will put you in the right path, guide you and elevate you to sublime heights. These "over-souls" or high souls are waiting to get hold of right type of aspirants. Mahatmas are in plenty. Real seekers are few. If you bring a charge: "There are no good Mahatmas, " Mahatmas also bring a serious charge: "There are no real seekers after Truth. "

9. Glory of the Company of the Wise

The company of the great ones is, again difficult of attainment, is unapproachable and always beneficial.

Notes and Commentary

Good things are always rare in this world. Musk, saffron, radium, sandalwood, learned persons, virtuous persons, heroes, philanthropists, etc. , are rare. When such is the case, what to speak of saints, Yogins, Jnanins and Bhaktas! You will have to equip yourself first with the necessary qualifications of self-restraint, celibacy, calmness of mind, keen desire for liberation, humility, obedience, spirit of service etc. , to make yourself fit for their company. If you get their company, the question of your salvation is solved. Sri Sankaracharya says in his Viveka-Chudamani: "Three things are rare in this world. They are (1) Human birth, (2) Desire for liberation, (3) The care of a perfected sage. "

The company of the Great ones is obtained by the Grace of God alone.

Because there is no difference between the Lord and His devotee.

Just as a river loses its name and form after it has entered the ocean, so also a devotee loses his individuality when he merges himself in the Lord. The mind that causes distinction is annihilated by devotion.

Try to get love of God alone, try to get love of God alone.

10. Give Up Evil Company

Evil company should be certainly avoided by all means.

Notes and Commentary

Vilwamangal attended once the nautch-party of Chintamani. His whole Antahkarana was poisoned. He was the virtuous son of a pious Brahmin. All his good traits disappeared. He fell in love with her. He ruined his life. There are thousand and one instances like this. In Andhra Pradesh, Vemana also was spoiled by evil company in the beginning.

Novels, cinemas, sight of pairing of animals, obscene scenery, vulgar music, nude pictures, anything that excites passion are all evil companies. There is nothing more dangerous than evil company. If the wife has no religious tendencies and is of worldly nature, her company also is tantamount to evil company. That is the reason why scriptures speak very highly of solitary places in the Himalayas and on the banks of the Ganga.

Because it is the cause of lust, anger, infatuation, lapse of memory, loss of intellectual power and complete destruction.

Notes and Commentary

Lord Krishna says: "Man musing on the objects of sense, conceiveth an attachment to these; from attachment ariseth desire; from desire anger cometh forth. From anger proceedeth delusion; from delusion confused memory; from confused memory the destruction of reason; from destruction of reason he perishes. " (Gita: II-62, 63. ) " It is desire, it is wrath, begotten by the quality of mobility; all-consuming, all-polluting; know thou this as our foe here on earth. " (III-37. ) " Triple is the gate of this hell, destructive of the self-lust, wrath and greed; therefore let man renounce these three. " (XVI-21. ) Tulasidasji says: "Wherever there is Kama, there is no Rama and wherever there is Rama, there is no Kama. "

These evil propensities, though they are ripples at first, ultimately expand into an ocean through evil company.

Notes and Commentary

Drinking, meat-eating, hearing vulgar music, company of prostitutes, attendance of nautch-parties, theatres and cinemas excite passion and throw the victim in the hell of fire. Cinema has become a curse in India. An officer spends half of his salary in cinema and runs into debts. All have developed a bad habit for some kind of sight-seeing. They cannot remain without it. The eyes want to see some kind of lights and sensational pictures. Cinema is a very good paying business nowadays. Various sorts of half-nude pictures and obscene sights are shown on the screen. College boys and young girls are unduly thrown into a state of mental excitement. Various sorts of evils are propagated. Cinema is an enemy of devotion. It is havocing the world. It should be entirely boycotted. It does immense harm to the people. It is a great drain on the resources of man. It is a great temptation. All bad films should be thoroughly investigated and censored. Films should be passed by a religious body before they are brought on the screen. Only films which contain religious stories that are calculated to develop the moral and philosophical aspect of man may be allowed to come on the screen. A bill should be passed in the Parliament to this effect. This is a most important matter. All thoughtful men should direct their attention on this point.

It is gratifying to note that highly educated males and females of India take part in the cinema. The college education will not do. If they want to impress the people and to do real spiritual good to the world, they should lead a life of Tapas and meditation and Brahmacharya.

11. Who Crosses Maya?

Kastarati kastarati mayam? Yah sangam tyajati, yo mahanubhavam sevate, nirmamo bhavati. (46)

Who crosses, who overcomes this Maya? Only he who abandons evil company, who associates with large-hearted men and who is free from "mine-ness. "

Notes and Commentary

Sri Sankara says: "Satsangatve nissangatvam, nissangatve nirmohatvam, nirmohatve nischalatattvam, nichalatattve jivanmuktih. " By keeping company with the Mahatmas, one becomes dispassionate. He gets Vairagya. He does not like the company of worldly men. Then he develops the state of "Nirmohatva. " He becomes free from infatuation or delusion. Then his mind becomes steady and one-pointed and rests in the Svaroopa or essence. Then he attains liberation or freedom.

Yo vivikta-sthanam sevate, yo loka-bandham-unmulayati, nistraigunyo bhavati, yoga-kshemam tyajati. (47)

He who resorts to lonely places, he who roots out worldly bonds or ties, transcends the three Gunas and gives up all ideas of acquisition and preservation of property.

Notes and Commentary

The poet who liked loneliness sang: "O solitude! Where are thy charms?" Lord Krishna lays great stress on this solitude-"Vivikta Sevi" (Gita: XVIII-52). "Vivikta-desa sevitvam" (XIII-10). Solitude has immense advantages. The mind gets one-pointedness by itself without any effort. In the world there are many distractions on all sides and a beginner finds it impossible to fix his mind on his Lakshya. One can reach a certain stage either in Yoga, Bhakti or Jnana in the world. For acquiring advanced stages, solitude is indispensably requisite. If you bring the examples of Raja Janaka and Ekanath, these are all solitary instances. Further, they were all Yoga-bhrashtas, born with a lot of spiritual Samskaras acquired through drastic Sadhana in their previous lives.

The ideas of this Sutra come in the Gita (II-45): "The Vedas deal with the three Gunas; be thou above these three qualities. O Arjuna! Free yourself from the pairs of opposites, and ever remain in the quality of Sattva, freed from (the thought of) acquisition and preservation, and be established in the Self. "

Yah karma-phalam tyajati, karmani samnyasyatitato nirdvandvo bhavati. (48)

He who renounces the fruits of his actions, and who renounces, goes beyond the pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain).

Notes and Commentary

What you call world is not this wall or stone or tree. The world is a play kept up by these pairs of opposites, which affect the mind through the two mental currents- Raga-Dvesha, attraction and repulsion, or like and dislike. He who conquers these pairs of opposites really conquers the whole world. Heat and cold affect the body; and pleasure and pain affect the mind. He who transcends the Dvandvas always keeps a balanced mind. This is an important sign or linga of a Jivanmukta.

Yo vedanapi samnyasyati, kevalam-avicchinna-anuragam labhate. (49)

He who abandons even the Vedas and develops an undivided and continuous flow of love towards the Lord.

Notes and Commentary

Continuous flow of love without any break even for a second is "avicchinna-anuragam. " Vedas can afford no interest for a man who has got this kind of incessant flow of Prem. That is the reason why the Gita (II-46) says: "All the Vedas are as useful to an enlightened Brahmin, as is a tank in a place covered all over with water. "

Sa tarati, sa tarati, sa lokamstarayati. (50)

(Verily) crosses (Maya), he crosses (this ocean of Samsara, all limitations); he helps mankind to cross (also).

Notes and Commentary

This world is compared to an ocean (Bhavasagara). Trishnas are the crocodiles. Vasanas are the whales or sharks. Indriyas are the rivers. The three Gunas are the waves. Raga-Dvesha are the ripples. Ignorance is the substratum. Egoism is the essence. Lord Krishna says: "Those verily who, renouncing all actions in Me, and intent on Me, worship meditating on Me, with whole-hearted Yoga, these I speedily lift up from the ocean of death and existence, O Partha! their minds being fixed on Me. " (XII-6, 7. )

12. Nature of Love

The nature of love towards God is inexpressible.

This is to be felt by the devotee himself. Even in the worldly parlance it is impossible to describe the taste of sugar-candy to one who has not eaten sugar-candy, the nature of sexual bliss to one who has not enjoyed it, and the nature of sun and sunlight to a blind man. Hence the term 'anirvachaneeyam' is used here.

Just as the taste of a dumb man.

(But) It manifests by Itself in a qualified person only.

The current of Prem or spiritual aura passes by itself from the teacher to the fit disciple. There is telepathic transference or communication between the teacher and disciple. The disciple should be a fit subject to receive the light. The seed will sprout only in a well-prepared ground. There is Sakti-sanchar through Sankalpa or sight by the teacher in the student.

Guna-rahitam kamanaa-rahitam pratikshana-vardha-maanam-avicchinnam sukshmataram-anubhavarupam. (54)

It (love) is of the form of a very, very subtle, unbroken feeling of experience that develops in volume and intensity at every moment, that is free from the three Gunas and desires.

It is very, very subtle. So the term 'sukshmataram' is used. It always grows and increases. There is always waxing. The play of Gunas has no place here. Sensual desires cannot exist when this unbroken love operates. Whatever the mind wants can be had in God. His one attribute Ananta (infinity) embraces everything.

Tat-praapya tadeva-avalokayati tadeva shrunotitadeva bhashayati tadeva chintayati. (55)

Having once obtained that, the devotee sees only his Ishtam or Beloved, hears only about Him, talks only about Him and thinks only of Him.

13. Secondary Devotion

Secondary devotion is of three kinds according to the qualities: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas or according to the distinction of the aspirants (the suffering, the seeker for knowledge and the self-interested).

The first is better than the second and the second is better than the third in both the divisions.

14. Bhakti Easy to Practise

The method of devotion is easier than other methods (in the attainment of salvation. )

Because there is no need of any other evidence, as it is proof of itself.

(The path of Bhakti is easy) because it is of the nature of peace and supreme bliss.

Loka-haanau chintaa na kaarya nivedita-atmaloka-vedatvaat. (61)

One should feel no anxiety about worldly concerns, as he has consecrated himself and scriptural functions all to the Lord.

15. Bhakti and Social Customs

Na tadasiddhau lokavyavaharo heyah kintuphalatyaagastat-saadhanam cha kaaryameva. (62)

Till Bhakti is developed, no social customs and ceremonies are to be neglected, but simply their fruits. One should surely perform them. The relinquishing of the fruits should be verily practised. (Vide Sutra 11, 12, 14, 18).

The seeker after Bhakti should not hear stories or description of women, riches, atheists and enemies.

Talks about women disturb the mind and excite passion. In the Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad it is said that the seeker should not look even at the picture of woman. Talks of wealthy persons will induce luxury in the aspirant. The acts of atheists will destroy the conviction of God.

Egoism, hypocrisy, etc. , should be discarded.

Egoism and its attendants hypocrisy etc. , are the enemies of devotion. They should be totally annihilated.

Tadarpitakhilaachaarah san kaama-krodha-abhimaana-adikam tasminneva karaneeyam. (65)

Having once surrendered all his acts to God, he (the devotee) should exhibit desire, anger, egoism etc. , only to God.

Triroopabhangapurvakam nityadaasya-nityakaantaa-bhajana-atmakam va premaiva kaaryam, premaiva kaaryam. (66)

Love that annihilates the three-fold forms of secondary devotion due to the qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas (vide Sutra 56) and makes one regard himself or herself as eternal servant or beloved of God alone is to be cultivated.

Devotees who have thus solely devoted themselves to God are the best (principle ones).

16. Glory of Bhaktas

Kantha-avarodha-romancha-asrubhih parasparam lapa-maanaah paavayanti kulaani prithiveem cha. (68)

Such devotees conversing together with a choking voice, with hairs standing on end, and with tears flowing, purify their families as well as the earth.

Notes and Commentary

You will find in the Gita (X-1): "Mindful of Me, their life hidden in Me, illumining each other, ever conversing about Me, they are content and joyful. "

They get svarabhanga (choking of voice) when there is ebullition of divine Prem in the heart, pulaka (horripulation or standing of hair on ends) and asrupata (tears in the eyes). God lives in the tears of a devotee.

Teerthee-kurvanti teerthaani sukarmee-kurvanti karmani sacchaastree-kurvanti saastraani. (69)

They add holiness to holy places, nobleness to acts and they elevate mere writings to the level of sacred scriptures.

Notes and Commentary

The stones on which they sat, the paths on which they have trodden, the villages through which they have passed, the lakes in which they have taken baths, the trees under which they have taken their food are sanctified. Their names are even now associated with these places and objects. Guru Nanak's name is linked with Panjasahab, near Taxilla. His fingers are shown in the Kund. Bodhi Tree in Gaya is associated with Lord Buddha. Hathiaharan tank near Sitapur is associated with Sri Rama. There are so many Hanuman Kunds, Sita Kunds, and Lakshman Kunds in various places of pilgrimage.

Tanmayaah (70)

In and around them they realise the presence of God everywhere and at all times.

Notes and Commentary

They have the experience that:

'Harireva Jagat-Jagadeva Harih'. Hari is this world and the world is Hari.

'Sarvam Vishnumayam Jagat-The whole world is full of Vishnu. ' This experience is described in the Gita (VII-19): "At the close of many births, the man full of wisdom cometh unto Me; 'Vaasudeva is all' sayeth he, the Mahatma, very difficult to find. " This is a grand realisation. The devotee is full of divine ecstasy.

Modante pitaro nrutyanti devataah sanaathaa cheyam bhurbhavati. (71)

(At their devotion) their ancestors rejoice, the gods dance with joy and this earth finds in them its protectors (guardians).

17. Bhaktas Above Caste and Creed

Nasti teshu jaati-vidyaa-rupa-kula-dhana-kriya-adi-bhedah. (72)

Amongst them there exist no distinctions of caste, learning, beauty, lineage, riches, observances and the like.

Notes and Commentary

These distinctions exist when a man is petty-minded. These differences are created by the mind on account of Avidya. They all melt away when one gets Darshan of God or Atman. Love is a great leveller. It develops equal vision (Sama Drishti). The advanced Bhakta becomes an ativarna- ashrami. He goes beyond Varna-ashrama. The petty rules of society and man-made laws cannot in any way bind him. He becomes absolutely free. He acts from his own viewpoint by resting on God. His will and Cosmic Will have become one. His voice is the voice of God. His words are infallible. God speaks and acts through him. The worldly people generally misunderstand him. His ways are mysterious and incomprehensible. He takes food from anybody's hands. He lives with a cobbler or barber sometimes. He dines with a scavenger. Narsi Mehta did Kirtan in the houses of cobblers and scavengers. Orthodox Brahmins excommunicated him. Narsi Mehta attended a feast. The other Brahmins ill-treated him and looked down on him with contempt. Each one of them saw a cobbler by his side. They understood the glory of Narsi Mehta and from that time onwards they began to adore him.

Yatastadeeyaah. (73)

For they all belong to Him.

Notes and Commentary

It is Lord Hari that has taken all these forms. The whole world is a manifestation of the Lord. "Lokavattu lila kaivalyam"-The whole world is the Lila of the Lord. God acts the part of a professor, thief, prostitute, king, beggar, saint, rogue, genius etc. , in this big world-drama. He who has this understanding, will have immense peace of mind. He will entertain no pride, Ghrina, prejudice, intolerance or hatred towards anybody. One must be well-established in this Bhava. This Bhava will come and go away. Address everybody as Narayan and receive him with this Bhava. Your whole nature will be absolutely changed. It takes some time. You will have to struggle hard.

18. Instructions to Devotees

Vaado naavalambyah. (74)

Vain discussion (about existence of God and His attributes) should not be undertaken.

Notes and Commentary

Vain discussions, heated debates, wrangling etc. , end in hostility. When arguments fail, people take to vituperation and fighting. Discussions entail wastage of energy and time. It is only mere lingual warfare and intellectual gymnastics (Shabda-vilas and Buddhi-vilas). Nothing substantial is gained thereby. Everyone wants to show his pedantry, skill in argument etc. Such a Pundit cannot dream of getting Darshan of God. He is very far from God. But a little divine talk can be had between people who are well-united in hearts and who are free from pride, for removing doubts and exchanging of ideas. This is salutary and beneficial.

Baahulya-avakaasatvaad-aniyatatvaat-cha. (75)

Because it leads to prolixity and uncertainty.

Notes and Commentary

Vain discussions will go on indefinitely for days together. Yet people will not arrive at definite, positive conclusions. They will be fighting over words, roots, conjunctions and other grammatical points. God is certainly not in Vyakarana, logic, or prosody. He is in the chambers of the heart. He is to be realised by purity and meditation and not by vain discussions. That is the reason why Lord Yama says to Nachiketas: "This Atman cannot be obtained by too much learning, or discussion or intelligence. He who gets the grace of God, who is chosen by the Lord as His favourite, gets the Darshan of Atman. He reveals to him His Nature. To him alone He manifests Himself. " Therefore give up hot discussions. Be humble. Do practical Sadhana.

Bhakti-saastraani mananeeyaani tad-udbodhaka-karmaanyapi karaneeyani. (76)

Books on devotion should be studied with attention and the observances or acts prescribed therein (to develop devotion) should be performed.

Notes and Commentary

You must not give leniency to the mind. You must rigidly follow all the rules prescribed in the Bhakti-sastras. Then only you will evolve quickly. You must keep up daily routine and programme and follow it strictly at all costs. If you are lenient to the mind, laziness will overtake you and you will procrastinate everything. That "tomorrow" will never come. Even if you are of advanced age, think you are a college-student and follow the daily routine. The benefits of keeping up daily routine and daily spiritual diary cannot be adequately described. This is the master key for success in spiritual life.

Sukha-duhkha-ichchaa-labhaadi-tyakte kale prateekshya-maane kshana-ardham-api vyartham na neyam. (77)

One should not waste even half a minute, as all the time one has for divine meditation is the little that remains after what is spent in experience of pleasure, pain, desire, gain etc.

Notes and Commentary

In youth you are enveloped in darkness. In adolescence you are carried away by lust and are given up to sexual pleasure. In old age you groan under the burden of Samsara. Much time goes away in sleeping, vain talk and idle gossiping. A portion is spent in disease and suffering. Where then is the time for doing virtuous actions and divine contemplation? Life is uncertain. You will be carried away by death without a moment's notice. Therefore a wise man should be very careful in spending his time profitably in meditation. Time is most precious. Every second must be utilised in the service of God, service of Bhaktas and meditation.

Ahimsaa-satya-saucha-daya-astikya-adi-chaaritryaniparipaalaneeyani. (78)

Virtues such as abstinence from all injury, truthfulness, purity of body and mind, compassion, faith in God and the Vedas and other excellences of character should be strictly observed.

Notes and Commentary

The principles of Yama and Niyama of Patanjali Maharshi's Raja Yoga philosophy are embodied here. These are the very foundations of Yoga. Practice of these virtues purifies the heart and prepares the Antahkarana for the reception of divine light. Compassion softens the hard heart. Truth purifies the heart. God is an embodiment of truth and he can be reached through practice of truthfulness alone. Truth alone triumphs. If one is well- established in the practice of Ahimsa in thought, word and deed, all other virtues will cling to him. Most of the vicious actions are done when one loses his temper. Brahmacharya is the highest of all virtues. No Brahmacharya, no realisation. Without faith in God, neither Sadhana nor realisation is possible. Faith is the fundamental qualification of an aspirant. It is not blind faith. It is faith based on reason.

Sarvadaa sarva-bhavena nischintitair-bhagavaan-eva bhajaneeyah. (79)

The Lord alone should always be worshipped whole-heartedly and with calmness of mind.

Notes and Commentary

Gita says: "Tameva saranam gaccha sarvabhavena Bharata-Flee unto Him for shelter with all thy being, O Bharata! " (XVIII-62. ) The whole heart, mind, intellect, Chitta and soul must be given to God without any reservation. This is "sarva-bhavena". When you meditate, you must be free from thoughts of fear, worry or anxiety.

Sa kirtyamaanah seeghrameva-avirbhavatianubhaavayati cha bhaktaan. (80)

Being invoked (praised), He soon manifests Himself and makes His presence felt by the Bhaktas.

Notes and Commentary

Lord Hari came out of the pillar in the form of Narasimha when Prahlada prayed with his full heart- "Sarva-bhavena. " Prahlada said to his father: "My Narayana is in your heart. He is in my heart. He is in this straw. He is in this pillar also. " Prahlada pointed out four places. But why did Lord Narayana come out of the pillar? Because Prahlada had his full concentration with full feeling "Sarva-bhavena" in the pillar alone. He wished that Lord Hari should come out of the pillar. This was his Sat-sankalpa.

19. Bhakti: The Best Means

Trisatyasya bhaktireva gareeyasee bhaktireva gareeyasee. (81)

In all the three periods of time i. e. , past, present and future, devotion alone weighs heaviest (most glorious), devotion alone weighs heaviest (most glorious).

(Among the three truths-Jnana, Bhakti and Raja Yogas- Bhakti excels. )

(Devotion of the Lord who is existing in the three periods of time in the form of Truth is the most glorious. Bhakti alone is the most glorious. )

Repetition of the word "Gareeyasee" adds force. It glorifies Bhakti to the highest degree.

Gunamaahaatmyaasakti-rupaasakti-pujaasakti-smarana-asakti-daasyaasakti-sakhyaasakti-kaantaasakti-vaatsalya- asakt-atmanivedanaasakti-tanmayataasakti-paramaviraha-asakti-rupa-ekadha-api-ekaadasadhaa bhavati. (82)

Devotion, though one in kind, assumes eleven-fold forms or aspects according as it manifests in the form of attachment to the attributes and greatness of God (guna-mahatma-asakti), attachment to His beauty (rupa-asakti), attachment to His worship (puja-asakti), attachment to His memory (Smarana-asakti), attachment to His service (Dasya-asakti), attachment to His friendship (Sakhya-asakti), attachment to parental affection towards Him (Vatsalya- asakti), attachment to Him as of a beloved wife (kanta-asakti), attainment to self-dedication to Him (atma-nivedana-asakti), attachment to self-absorption (tanmaya-asakti), and attachment to permanent self-obliteration (parama-viraha-asakti).

Notes and Commentary

The eleven modes or stages of Bhakti are described here. (This Sutra refers to various important types of Bhakti. It does not mean that there are only these eleven types. There are possibilities of as many types as there are human relationships. Even if externally they appear as different, they are all manifestations of Bhakti which in itself is only one. ) The highest is Madhuryarasa or Kanta-asakti where the lover and the beloved become one. Sufists also entertain this Bhava. The Bhakta begins with Dasya Bhava, attitude of a servant like Hanuman. This is the lowest rung in the ladder of Bhakti. Then he takes up a friendly attitude towards God like Arjuna. Fear vanishes now. He claims equality with his object of worship. Then he develops a Bhava of parental affection towards God. He takes Lord Krishna as his son.

The students of the school of thought of Sri Vallabhacharya's Sampradaya entertain this Bhava. All fears and expectations vanish. There is fear of downfall in Kanta-asakti, if the devotee is not careful. He is carried away by lustful propensities. He mistakes physical sensations for devotion. Emotion is not devotion. Many unhappy, unpleasant occurrences take place in those who cherish this Bhava. A high standard of purity is required in those who take to this Bhava. This Bhava is purely mental. Dressing like a female and showing gestures like a woman is mere hypocrisy. This is not necessary in this Bhava.

20. Conclusion

Ityevam vadanti janajalpanirbhayaa ekamataah kumara-
vyaasa-suka-sandilya-garga-vishnu-kaundinya-sesha-uddhava-aaruni-bali-hanumad-vibheeshana-aadayo bhakti-aachaaryah. (83)

Thus the teachers of devotion-Sanatkumara, Vyasa, Suka, Sandilya, Garga, Vishnu, Kaundinya, Sesha, Uddhava, Aaruni, Bali, Hanuman, Vibhishana and others-proclaim unanimously in this strain without fear of the carping criticism of men.

Some interpret the word Kumara as the four Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara). Sanatkumara is the Guru of Narada and the prince among Bhaktas. Sandilya is the author of Sandilya Bhakti Sutras. Garga is the Acharya who performed the Namakarana (naming ceremony) of Sri Krishna and Balarama. Kaundinya is the son of Sandilya. The full name of Aaruni is Uddalaki Aruni.

Ya idam narada-proktam siva-anusaasanam visvasiti sraddhatte sa bhaktimaan bhavati sa preshtam labhatesa preshtam labhata iti. (84)

He who believes and has faith in this auspicious (salutaory) teaching expounded by Narada, becomes endowed with devotion and realises the most beloved (Lord), attains the most beloved (Lord).

Siva-anusaasanam is interpreted by some as 'auspicious teaching' and by some others as 'by the command of Lord Siva' (as Lord Siva is the best among Vaishnavas).



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