Bhakti Sutras 11 to 20

11.Indifference to obstacles consists of only accepting or undertaking activities during the course of ordinary life, those enjoined in Vedas, favorable to Bhakti.

The main consideration for Bhakti related activities is only in the occupation of the mind, around which the entire philosophy of Bhakti is built, failing which one fails to measure up to the fundamental requirements for Bhakti. This involves giving up activities not conducive to Bhakti and doing all those activities that are suitable to Bhakti. The mind is like a harassed ghost that does not know rest and if left idle will devour on with all its undulating engagements suitable and unsuitable thus making the soul a slave to its dubious designs. The Vedic scriptures suggest one to engage in the propitiation of devatas through agnihotram (fire-sacrifice) and other sacrificial activities so that the mind and senses are controlled through the service of Prakriti so that they can then later be easily engaged in the service of Purusa through chanting and meditation. This two pronged approach is suggested all through the Vedic scriptures and easy to implement. Performance of our nitya-niyama such as performance of Sandhya-puja and other sanskaar puja fall under the category of service to prakriti and thus toning the mind to be able to serve a higher purpose that is to temper it for the service of Krishna. Usually the modern man complaints of not being able to take the Lord’s names with full focus. This can be easily handled if one truly engages the mind and senses initially in the service of Prakriti and then with Her kind permission approach the Purusa.

12.Even after firm establishment in divine resolve, the scriptures are to be respected.

Here Sri Narada Muni exhorts the importance of the Vedic injunctions and clearly indicates that if one is to establish oneself fully in Bhakti, there is no scope of swerving an inch from the word of the Vedic injunctions because the Vedic scriptures are directly the word of the Lord which cannot be compromised under any condition. One who judiciously follows the injunctions is said to walk the path of the Divine order and such a person will never face any challenge from Prakriti. He will neither trip nor fall. There will be a time in the life of such a person where he will be exempted by Prakriti and he will be released from the clutches of material nature thereby making him fully available to the service of Purusa. Although such a person may appear ordinary from the material point of view, he is truly superior having been liberated and placed at the hands of the Purusa. To attain the Lord one has to undergo two steps that is first be released from the clutches of Prakriti and attain liberation and then attain the Purusa or become God-realized by adhering to the processes of Bhakti. The processes for pleasing Prakriti and Purusa are to be practiced simultaneously.

13.Otherwise there is an apprehension of a fall.

One who does not serve Prakriti and Purusa simultaneously while attending to Bhakti activities will experience a fall without fail.

14.Even ordinary life is only up till then, though physical activities such as taking food continue as long as one wears the body.

Here Narada Muni stresses the importance of carrying out the Vedic rites even if one is not performing Bhakti related activities in addition to activities like consuming food that is an additional activity to maintain the body before the body finally wears out inspite of trying one’s best to continue the body. What to talk of taking up to Bhakti in the absence of obligatory rites? Taking up to Bhakti surely does not give one the right to neglect Vedic activities.

15.Definitions of Bhakti are taken up in the succeeding Sutras as per different views.

16.It is love of worship and such similar acts says the son of Parasara, the great Vyasa.

Vyasa preempts the secret of Divine love stating that when one worships anything with love, that is in short the summary of the Bhakti process. This shall however unravel as one continues to serve Prakriti and Purusa without slackening one’s interest in serving either. Only then will the seed of Bhakti fructify.

17.Fondness of spiritual conversation and the like says Garga.

According to the great scientist of the Bhakti ever-known Sri Garga, the family priest of the Vrishnis, one who indulges in spiritual conversation is indeed serving Bhakti Devi.

18.This is Bhakti as far as they do not clash with the contemplation of the Self replied Sandilya.

In response to Sri Garga’s opinion, the great Vedantist and Jnana yogi Sandilya, the family priest of the Nanda household said that the matters of Bhakti should not clash with the contemplation of Atman, our original nature. It is seen that in Kaliyuga there is a perennial fight between Jnanis and Bhaktas and each establish their process of attainment as superior to the other. This is indeed unfortunate and unless one forsakes such animosity neither the Bhakta nor the Jnani is likely to achieve one’s respective goal; the Jnanis goal being Realization of Atman as Brahman and the Bhakta’s goal being service to one’s Ishta Devata.

19.But Narada exhorts “It is offering of all acts to Him and feeling the highest pang of separation on the occasion of losing remembrance of Him”

Sutra 19 is the summary of the Sutras 16, 17 and 18. Sutra 16 by Vyasa refers to one’s attitude of work; Sutra 17 of Sri Garga represents one’s speech while Sutra 18 represents one’s mind. In any case Sutra 19 by Narada Muni surmises that in the above three cases one should never forget the Lord and in case one forgets the Lord, one should feel intense pang of separation from Him, failing to have remembered Him. This is the essence.

20.So it is, so it is.

The exhortation represents that there is no higher truth than what has been discussed above.

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