Chapter 2: Defining Bhakti

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Narada Bhakti Sutra 30

svayam phala-rupeti brahma-kumarah


svayam -- itself; phala-rupa -- manifesting as its fruit; iti -- thus; brahma-kumarah -- the son of Brahma (Narada).


But the son of Brahma says that bhakti is its own fruit.


Narada now gives his opinion -- that bhakti is not dependent on anything else for nourishment. In other words, Krishna consciousness is the natural, transcendental state of the living being, and this state manifests automatically when we take up the process of bhakti-yoga. As Srila Prabhupada puts it in his lecture entitled "On Chanting Hare Krishna," "Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original energy of the living entity." The chanting of Hare Krishna, Srila Prabhupada says, "is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, surpassing all lower stages of consciousness -- namely, sensual, mental, and intellectual."

In His Sikshashtaka (1), Lord Caitanya declares that the chanting of the holy name of Krishna cleans the mirror of the mind. When the mirror of the mind is clean, one can see one's original, spiritual self along with the Supreme Lord. The initial activities of bhakti, therefore, clear away ignorance and false ego and reveal to the living entity his eternal state of devotional service. So bhakti is not produced by something else; rather, the practices of sadhana-bhakti remove the obstacles to our original loving relationship with the Lord.

Srila Prabhupada would sometimes say that Krishna consciousness is causeless. For example, "Revival of the dormant affection or love of Godhead does not depend on the mechanical system of hearing and chanting, but it solely and wholly depends on the causeless mercy of the Lord" (Bhag. 1.7.6, purport). This means that the Lord freely bestows bhakti upon the devotee. The Supreme Lord is not bound to respond to any religious act or austerity we may perform, as if in mechanical obedience to law. This theory, put forward by the Karma-mimamsakas, is rejected in bhakti-yoga. Krishna is svarat, supremely independent, and so is bhakti. In other words, one's advancement in devotional service does not depend on any of the various departments of human accomplishment, such as karma, jnana, or yoga. If a person happens to be lacking in any department -- even in devotion itself -- Lord Krishna can supply the requirements as He likes.

In a purport describing the free wandering of Narada Muni, Srila Prabhupada gives an eloquent expression of the independence of bhakti-yoga:

There is no reason or obligation for [Narada's] traveling, and no one can stop him from his free movement. Similarly, the transcendental system of devotional service is also free. It may or may not develop in a particular person even after he undergoes all the detailed formulas. Similarly, the association of the devotee is also free. One may be fortunate to have it, or one may not have it even after thousands of endeavors. Therefore, in all spheres of devotional service, freedom is the main pivot. [Bhag. 1.6.37, purport]

The Mayavadis sometimes twist a sutra like this one in an attempt to prove that the individual atma needs no assistance to attain self-realization. They say that the scriptures and gurus and even God Himself are just inventions that may help us achieve self-realization but that then must be thrown away, just as one may remove a thorn in his flesh with another thorn and then throw them both away. The misconception here is that the bhakti-sastras and pure devotees are finite products of the material world. In truth, the sastras are eternal manifestations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (3.15): brahmakshara-samudbhavam. Elsewhere it is stated that the Vedas are the "breathing of Narayana." The Vedic scriptures are sometimes manifest and sometimes not, but they exist eternally. Similarly, the Supreme Lord and His eternal associates sometimes appear within the material world, and after a time they disappear, but they are always manifest in the spiritual world, where they engage in unlimited varieties of pastimes. Srila Prabhupada writes,

Persons with a poor fund of knowledge conclude that a place devoid of material qualities must be some sort of formless nothingness. In reality, however, there are qualities in the spiritual world, but they are different from the material qualities because everything there is eternal, unlimited, and pure. [Cc. Adi 5.22, purport]

Lord Krishna, His expansions, and His devotees are not "dispensable," as the Mayavadis contend. On the contrary, it is the Mayavada doctrine that is a temporary creation, introduced at a certain time for a special purpose but intended to be discarded later. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja writes,

Sankara, who was an incarnation of Lord Siva, is faultless because he is a servant carrying out the orders of the Lord. But those who follow his Mayavada philosophy are doomed. They will lose all their advancement in spiritual knowledge. One who considers the transcendental body of Lord Vishnu to be made of material nature is the greatest offender at the lotus feet of the Lord. There is no greater blasphemy against the Supreme Personality of Godhead. [Cc. Adi 7.114-15]

The opinion of Narada Muni, here describing himself as "the son of Lord Brahma," is that bhakti is eternal and self-manifested, not dependent on any lesser process. When such devotional service is revealed to a sincere devotee, he realizes that its nature is like the Lord's -- sac-cid-ananda, full of eternity, bliss, and knowledge.

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
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