Ways of Divine Love - Narada's Aphorisms on Devotion

Fruits of Bhakti (Sutra 4-6)
On attaining  this supreme love, the devotee, irrespective of any distinction, becomes  perfect, immortal and fully satisfied like Nandanar, Kabir, Ravidas, Meerabai,  Ratnakara etc. He becomes perfect through achieving his object of God realization  or unity with the Supreme Being. He enjoys the ultimate peace and endless  satisfaction, untouched by the turbulence of external bits and pieces. He  becomes a Siddha, a perfect man, a complete man unlike the complete man of a  commercial ad. 

He who has attained  God realization becomes immortal in the sense that since he has no more desires  he will not fall in the trap of births and deaths. He is fully satisfied  because his absolute contentment rests not in fulfillment of sensory desires  but because of the absence of all desires in him except that of his love for  God. By attaining unity with the Supreme through divine love the devotee  does not desire any thing else as he is not conscious of anything other than  God. He has no grief because he has no particular attachment for any object or  person.

A devotee hates  none because he sees the Lord in everyone and in everything. He neither  indulges in sensual pleasures nor does he feel any urge for the acquisition of  material objects since he always works in a spirit of service to God without  any selfish motive. Thenceforward, he becomes the instrument of God without  desire or attachment, in accordance with His will, for the well-being of the  whole world. Knowing God thus, he is overjoyed and immersed in the enjoyment of  the Bliss of Atman.

Renunciation (Sutra 7-14)
Divine love is  neither of the nature of lust nor of worldly kind (na kamayamana). It is  a form of renunciation. Kama is not mere sexual lust but desire in general.  Divine Love is not the suppression but sublimation of all energies into, ojas  or spiritual energy which is utilized for divine contemplation.

When the  attachment to external objects is annihilated, although the attraction (kamana)  for them dies a natural death the thirst (trishna) for them still  persists. This is the most dangerous speed-breaker in the path of devotion.  When the thread of sense-hankering (trishna tantau) is cut as under by  the sword of determination (vairagya) it becomes the control of desire (nirodha).  Control of desire means the resignation to the Lord of all worldly and  scriptural activities. This does not mean a struggle with desire and  non-performance of activities but abandonment of egoism and attachment to their  rewards by consecrating all actions to the Lord as a sacred offering. Complete  surrender of one’s will to the Lord is union with Him.

In such  renunciation by consecration, there is a complete merger with the Lord and an  unresponsiveness towards everything that is opposed to it. Unification or  exclusive devotion implies the giving up of all supports. Though the sublimated  natural instincts remain in the true devotee, they do not have any reactions on  him when faced with external stimuli opposed to his predominant affinity with  Divine Love. He casts aside the support from ego and relies on God as his only  support and shelter.
After his spiritual realization becomes well established he continues to live  up to the spiritual ideas and teachings of the scriptures so as to avoid facing  the risk of a fall into the past habits and return to the previous state of  worldliness and ignorance. He performs only that much worldly duty as is  necessary for a rational member of the human society as also to keep up his own  health. A man of realization does not consider his body and mind as belonging  to himself but to God and the society which nourishes him.
Other Views on Bhakti (Sutra 15-24)
In these  aphorisms Narada gives us a few descriptions of Bhakti as given by sages who  preceded him and shows how his own view is more comprehensive than that of the  others. He says that according to them Bhakti expresses itself in dedication to  acts of worship, satsang or sacred talks, unhindered delight in the bliss of  the Atman and the like. But Narada is of the opinion that the essential characteristics  of Bhakti are the consecration of all activities to the Lord by complete self-surrender and  extreme anguish in the event of forgetting Him.

Narada mentions  the devotion of Gopis of Vraja towards Krishna as a typical example of such  expression of Bhakti as enunciated by him. Even here, he emphatically denies  the charge that the love of Gopis to Krishna did not recognize the Divine Glory  of the Lord. He goes to the extent of arguing that had Gopis lacked this  knowledge of the Divinity of the object of their love, their love would have  been similar to the base passion of a mistress for her paramour where the  former’s happiness does not consist in the happiness of the latter and is  utterly selfish and mercenary. According to Narada the love of Gopis to Krishna  is the highest form of Bhakti where the mind, intellect, emotion and will are  all fully integrated.

Knowledge and Devotion (Sutra 25-33) 
We have seen  above that intellect is found to be active in cognizing the glory and majesty  of God, the emotion in experiencing the delight of the Divine Bliss, and the  will in consecrating  all the activities by complete surrender to Him. The question arises here  whether the highest realization is mere augmentation and purification of these  faculties of the mind.

In these Sutras  Narada comes to the conclusion that Para Bhakti or the highest spiritual realization  is something more than these. He says that supreme devotion, Para Bhakti, is  higher than action, knowledge and yoga. In the case of action, knowledge and  Yoga, God-realization is the fruits of labor whereas in devotion, the Lord  becomes both the means and the end since love forges an eternal bond between  Him and His devotee.  Bhakti is both the  root and fruit of the tree of spirituality. It is not the result of any  practice as all practices enjoined by the scriptures are only to remove the ego  or the veil. Bhakti has no cause. It is not the effect of anything either.

Some saints are  of the opinion that knowledge (not brahma jnana) of the object loved is  necessary to accomplish devotion while others opine that there is mutual  dependence between knowledge and devotion. The knowledge of the loved ones  gives meaning to love and hence they are stated to be mutually dependent. But  devotion is based on faith and reverence.

Narada gives  various examples to indicate that mere intellectual knowledge of God is not  sufficient to develop devotion just as mere knowledge of food and its  ingredients cannot satisfy hunger. He concludes the discussion on Para Bhakti  by emphasizing that the path of devotion alone should be adapted by those who  desire salvation. He says that supreme love is the highest realization, the  summit of all values. (para bhakti paramaprema).

Receive Site Updates