Nārada Bhakti Sūtra


Nārada Bhakti Sūtra

Chapter 1: The Value of Devotion

NBS 1: Thus, I will explain the pure love (bhakti) for God here.

NBS 2: Devotional service manifests as the most elevated, pure love for God.

NBS 3: This pure love for God is eternal.

NBS 4: Upon achieving that stage of transcendental devotional service in pure love of God, a person becomes perfect, immortal, and peaceful.

NBS 5: A person engaged in such pure devotional service neither desires anything for sense gratification, nor laments for any loss, nor hates anything, nor enjoys anything on his personal account, nor becomes very enthusiastic in material activity.

NBS 6: One who understands perfectly the process of devotional service in love of God becomes intoxicated in its inflow. Sometimes he becomes stunned in ecstasy and thus enjoys his whole self, being engaged in the service of the Supreme Self.

NBS 7: There is no question of lust in the execution of pure devotional service, because in it all material activities are renounced.

NBS 8: Such renunciation in devotional service means to give up all kinds of social customs and religious rituals governed by Vedic injunction.

NBS 9: Renunciation also means being exclusively dedicated to the Lord and indifferent to what stands in the way of His service.

NBS 10: Exclusive dedication to the Lord means giving up all shelters other than Him.

NBS 11: Indifference toward what stands in the way of devotional service means to accept only those activities of social custom and Vedic recommendations that are favorable to devotional service.

NBS 12: One must continue to follow scriptural recommendations even after one is fixed up in determined certainty that devotional service is the only means for reaching the perfection of life.

NBS 13: Otherwise it is very easy to fall down.

NBS 14: For as long as the body lasts, one should engage minimally in social and political activities and in such matters as eating.

Chapter 2: Defining Bhakti

NBS 15: Now the characteristics of devotional service will be described according to various authoritative opinions.

NBS 16: Shri Vyasa, the son of Parāśara Muni, says that bhakti is fond attachment for worshiping the Lord in various ways.

NBS 17: Garga Muni says that bhakti is fondness for narrations about the Lord, by the Lord, and so on.

NBS 18: Śāṇḍilya says that bhakti arises from one’s removing all obstructions to taking pleasure in the Supreme Self.

NBS 19: Nārada, however, says that bhakti consists of offering one's every act to the Supreme Lord and feeling extreme distress in forgetting Him.

NBS 20: Bhakti is, in fact, correctly described in each of these ways.

NBS 21: The cowherd women of Vraja are an example of pure bhakti.

NBS 22: Even in the case of the gopīs, one cannot criticize them for forgetting the Lord's greatness.

NBS 23: On the other hand, displays of devotion without knowledge of God's greatness are no better than the affairs of illicit lovers.

NBS 24: In such false devotion one does not find pleasure exclusively in the Lord's pleasure.

NBS 25: Pure devotional service, on the other hand, is far superior to fruitive work, philosophical speculation, and mystic meditation.

NBS 26: After all, bhakti is the fruit of all endeavor.

NBS 27: Furthermore, the Lord dislikes the proud but is pleased with the humble.

NBS 28: Some say that knowledge is the means for developing devotion.

NBS 29: Others consider bhakti and knowledge interdependent.

NBS 30: But the son of Brahmā says that bhakti is its own fruit.

NBS 31-32: This is illustrated by the examples of a royal palace, a meal, and so on. A king is not really satisfied just by seeing a palace, nor can someone placate his hunger just by looking at a meal.

NBS 33: Therefore seekers of liberation should take to devotional service alone.

Chapter 3: The Means of Achievement

NBS 34: Standard authorities have described the methods for achieving devotional service.

NBS 35: One achieves bhakti by giving up sense gratification and mundane association.

NBS 36: One achieves bhakti by worshiping the Lord ceaselessly.

NBS 37: One achieves bhakti by hearing and chanting about the Supreme Lord's special qualities, even while engaged in the ordinary activities of life in this world.

NBS 38: Primarily, however, one develops bhakti by the mercy of great souls, or by a small drop of the Lord's mercy.

NBS 39: The company of great souls is rarely obtained, difficult to understand, and infallible.

NBS 40: The company of great souls can be attained — but only by God’s mercy.

NBS 41: [One can attain bhakti either by the company of the Lord's pure devotees or directly by the Lord's mercy because] the Lord and His pure devotees are not separated.

NBS 42: Strive, strive only for the company of pure devotees.

NBS 43: One should give up all kinds of degrading company.

NBS 44: Material association is the cause of lust, anger, confusion, forgetfulness, loss of intelligence, and total calamity.

NBS 45: Rising like waves from material association, these bad effects mass into a great ocean of misery.

NBS 46: Who can cross beyond illusion? One who abandons material association, serves the sages, and becomes selfless.

NBS 47: [Who can cross beyond illusion?] That person who stays in a secluded place, cuts off at the root his attachment to mundane society, becomes free from the influence of the three modes of nature, and gives up hankering for material gain and security.

NBS 48: [Who can cross beyond illusion?] The person who renounces material duties and their profits, thus, transcending duality.

NBS 49: That person who renounces even the Vedas obtains exclusive and uninterrupted attraction for God.

NBS 50: Such a person, indeed, is delivered, and he also delivers the rest of the world.

Chapter 4: Pure and Mixed Devotion

NBS 51: The true nature of pure love of God is beyond description.

NBS 52: [Trying to describe the experience of pure love of God] is like a mute's effort to describe what he tastes.

NBS 53: Nonetheless, from time to time pure love of God is revealed to those who are qualified.

NBS 54: Pure love of God manifests as the most subtle consciousness, devoid of material qualities and material desires, increasing at every moment, and never interrupted.

NBS 55: Having obtained pure love of God, one looks only at the Lord, hears only about Him, speaks only of Him, and thinks only of Him.

NBS 56: Secondary devotional service is of three kinds, according to which of the three material modes predominates, or according to which material motivation — distress and so on — brings one to bhakti.

NBS 57: Each earlier stage should be considered better than the one following it.

NBS 58: Success is easier to attain by devotional service than by any other process.

NBS 59: The reason devotional service is the easiest of all spiritual processes is that it does not depend on any other authority for its validity, being itself the standard of authority.

NBS 60: Furthermore, bhakti is the embodiment of peace and supreme ecstasy.

NBS 61: After consigning to the Lord all one's mundane and Vedic duties, one no longer need worry about worldly loss.

NBS 62: Even after one has achieved devotional service, one should not abandon one's responsibilities in this world but should rather continue surrendering the results of one's work to the Lord. And while still trying to reach the stage of pure devotion, one must certainly continue executing prescribed duties.

NBS 63: One should not find entertainment in news of women, money, and atheists.

NBS 64: One should put aside false pride, hypocrisy, and other vices.

NBS 65: Offering all one's activities to the Lord, one should feel desire, anger, and pride only with regard to Him.

NBS 66: After breaking through the aforementioned coverings of the three modes of nature, one should act only in pure love of God, remaining perpetually in the mood of a servant serving his master, or a lover serving her beloved.

NBS 67: Among the Lord's devotees, the greatest are those who are dedicated to Him solely as His intimate servants.

NBS 68: Conversing among one another with throats choked, hair standing on end, and tears flowing, the Lord's intimate servants purify their own followers and the whole world.

NBS 69: Their association makes holy places holy, works auspicious, and the scriptures authoritative.

NBS 70: The intimate servants of the Supreme Lord are fully absorbed in loving Him.

NBS 71: Thus the pure devotees' forefathers become joyful, the demigods dance, and the world feels protected by good masters.

NBS 72: There are no distinctions among such pure devotees in terms of social class, education, bodily beauty, family status, wealth, occupation, and so on.

NBS 73: Pure devotees are not distinguished by externals like social class, for they belong to the Lord.

Chapter 5: Attaining Perfection

NBS 74: One should not indulge in argumentative debate.

NBS 75: Such argumentation leads to excessive entanglements and is never decisive.

NBS 76: One should respect the revealed scriptures of devotional service and fulfil the duties they prescribe.

NBS 77: Patiently enduring till the time when one can put aside material happiness, distress, desire, and false gain, one should not waste even a fraction of a second.

NBS 78: One should cultivate such good qualities as nonviolence, truthfulness, cleanliness, compassion, and faith.

NBS 79: Those who are free of doubts should constantly worship the Supreme Lord with all their hearts.

NBS 80: When He is glorified, the Lord swiftly reveals Himself to His devotees and allows them to know Him as He is.

NBS 81: Devotional service is the most precious possession of a person who honestly uses his mind, body, and words.

NBS 82: Although devotional service is one, it becomes manifested in eleven forms of attachment: attachment to the Lord's glorious qualities, to His beauty, to worshiping Him, to remembering Him, to serving Him, to reciprocating with Him as a friend, to caring for Him as a parent, to dealing with Him as a lover, to surrendering one's whole self to Him, to being absorbed in thought of Him, and to experiencing separation from Him. This last is the supreme attachment.

NBS 83: Thus say the founding authorities of devotional service: the Kumāras, Vyāsa, Śuka, Śāṇḍilya, Garga, Viṣṇu, Kauṇḍilya, Śeṣa, Uddhava, Aruṇi, Bali, Hanumān, Vibhīṣaṇa, and others — speaking without fear of worldly gossip and sharing among themselves one and the same opinion.

NBS 84: Anyone who trusts these instructions spoken by Nārada and is convinced by them will be blessed with devotion and attain the most dear Lord. Yes, he will attain the beloved Lord.