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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Rasikananda Deva > Shrimad Bhagavata Mahatmyam > Chapter Two Narada Endeavours to Remove Bhakti's Distress

Chapter Two

Narada Endeavours to Remove Bhakti's Distress


Shri Narada said, "O young lady, why are you in so much anxiety?  Don't be melancholy unnecessary.  Just meditate on the lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna and by His mercy you will be free from all misery.1  Lord Krishna, who protected Draupadi from the atrocities of the Kauravas and who is the lover of the damsels of Vraja, has not gone far away.  Besides, you are Bhakti and more dear to Him than His very life.  On your request He even goes to the house of low born people.2  In Satya, Treta and Dvapara-yugas, jnana and vairagya were the means of liberation, but in Kali-yuga only bhakti can grant liberation.  Thinking in this way, Lord Hari, the transcendental personification of knowledge, manifested you.  You are the very dear beloved of Lord Krishna.

          "Once you approached the Lord with folded hands and asked Him what you should do. He said, "Go and nourish My devotees".  You accepted this order which pleased Him very much.  To assist you, the Lord sent Mukti as your maidservant and Jnana and Vairagya as your sons.3  You directly reside in Vaikuntha dhama where you nourish the devotees and you expand yourself on this earthly planet for their nourishment as well.4  You came and happily resided on this earth along with Mukti, Jnana and Vairagya from Satya-yuga to Dvapara-yuga.  But in Kali-yuga, Mukti contracted the disease of irreligious pretence and languished, and with your permission, went back to Vaikuntha.  Now whenever you remember her, she comes to this planet briefly and returns to Vaikuntha, but Jnana and Vairagya remain with you always because they are like your sons.  Being neglected by the people of Kali-yuga, they have become old and weak, but will soon recuperate, so you need not worry.  I will find a solution to rejuvenate their bodies.

          O beautiful faced one, there is no other age like Kali-yuga5 because you will be established in every house as well as in the heart of every person.6  Hear my vow.  If I do not preach your message, subdue all other religions and make devotional festivals predominant then I shall not be considered the servant of Lord Hari.  In Kali-yuga those people who follow you, even if they are sinful, will attain the abode of Lord Krishna without fear.7  The people in whose heart you reside become purified and they will not see Yamaraja, the Lord of Death, even in their dreams.  Even ghostly beings like pretas, pisacas, raksasas and daityas are not able to trouble those whose hearts are imbued with devotion.  The Lord cannot be controlled by austerities, study of the Vedas. by culture of knowledge, or by the fruitive activities described in the Vedas.  He is controlled only by bhakti and the gopis are the evidence (pramana) of this.8  On the strength of pious activities performed for hundreds of lives one becomes attracted to bhakti, which is the only essence in Kali-yuga.  On the strength of bhakti, Lord Krishna Himself appears to the devotee.  Those people who are envious of devotion are always miserable no matter where they go within the three planetary systems.  In the past, the great sage Durvasa suffered immense misery for offending a devotee.9  What more can I say?  All vratas, tirthas, yogas, sacrifices and talks of knowledge are not needed.  Bhakti alone can grant liberation."

          Suta Gosvami continued, "Narada's conclusion glorified Bhakti and nurtured her.  Then Bhakti spoke as follows. 'O Narada, you are very glorious and have unflinching faith in me.  Thus I will always reside in your heart and never leave.  O saintly person, you are most merciful.  Just in a matter of moments you have removed my misery.  But my sons have not yet regained their consciousness.  Please quickly bring them back to normal.'"

          Suta Gosvami said, "Upon hearing these words of Bhakti, Narada felt very compassionate and attempted to wake them up by shaking them with his hands.10  He put his mouth to their ears and said, 'O Jnana wake up, O Vairagya please arise."11  Then he chanted Vedic Mantras, the Vedanta Sutras, and the Upanisads.  He recited Bhagavad-gita again and again.  With great difficulty, they were revived, but overcome by lethargy, they yawned and were unable to even open their eyes.12  Their hair was a white as the feathers of ducks and their bodily limbs were emaciated and powerless.  Owing to hunger and thirst they were weak and sleepy.  Seeing this, Narada fell into anxiety and contemplated further ways to revive them from old age and sleep.  O Saunaka, as the sage Narada, deliberated, meditating on the Supreme Lord, he heard a voice emanating from the sky.13  'O Devarsi, do not worry, your endeavour will be successful.  O sage you must perform one specific noble act that will be revealed to you by some great saintly person.14  As soon as you complete that activity, Jnana and Vairagya will be released from the clutches of sleep and old age, and bhakti will reign everywhere.'15  These words were heard by everyone."

          "In astonishment Narada said, 'I cannot understand the meaning of this indirect statement.16  The voice did not clearly explain the path one must follow in order to achieve perfection.  Nor do I know where to find those saintly persons who will explain the process to me.  What must I do to implement this order?'"

          Suta Gosvami said, "O Saunaka, bidding farewell to Jnana and Vairagya, Narada Muni travelled to various holy places and met with the saintly people residing there.  He asked them to suggest a process by which Jnana and Vairagya could be revived.  Some listened carefully but could not give a definite answer.17  Others stated that it could not be accomplished, while still others remarked that it was not possible to determined a correct answer.  Upon being asked the question, several simply kept quiet while others wriggled away to avoid embarrassment.  They were all surprised to hear this question and none could offer a satisfactory reply.  They began discussing among themselves as follows, 'My dear friends, if Jnana and Vairagya could not be revived after the chanting of the Vedas, Vedanta Sutra and recitation of the Bhagavad-gita, then what can be the solution?  And if Narada Muni, who is the chief yogi and saint, does not know, then who can answer?'"18

          "In this way, wherever Shri Narada inquired, he got the same answer--that it is very difficult to accomplish.  He thus became very worried and decided to go to Badari where he performed penance with the intent to find the solution to revive Jnana and Vairagya.  shortly thereafter the Kumaras, headed by Sanaka, appeared there.19  They were effulgent like a million suns.  Seeing them Shri Narada again enquired, "O saintly people, it is by great fortune that I have attained your association.  Please be merciful to me and explain that noble process.  You are the best of yogis, most knowledgeable and scholarly.  Although you appear like five year old boys, you are the senior-most saintly persons.  You always reside in Vaikuntha and engage in chanting the holy names.  You are always intoxicated with the nectar of Lord Hari's pastimes, which are your only sustenance.20  You are always chanting the mantra harih saranam and therefore old age, which is caused by the influence of time, does not approach you.  Previously, just by the flick of your eyebrows, you whirled Lord Vishnu's gatekeepers, Jaya and Vijaya down to this earth.21  Later they were reinstated by your mercy.  I am most lowly and I feel most fortunate to have your darsana.  You are very merciful so kindly bestow your mercy on me.  Please reveal that process which the voice in the sky directed me to learn from saintly people.  Please explain in detail how to follow that path.  How can Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya become happy?  How can they be established in all classes of men?"

          The Kumaras replied, "O sage, Narada Muni, abandon your anxiety and be happy for the solution is simple.  O Narada, glorious crest-jewel among the renunciates, you are the guide of those who walk the path of devotion, indeed you are the sun of bhakti-yoga.  It is not very surprising that you have undergone this great endeavour for the sake of Bhakti.  It is certainly appropriate for a devotee of the Lord to properly establish Bhakti.22  Various sages have propagated many paths, but they are all troublesome and generally can only elevate one to the heavenly planets.  Until now, the process by which one can attain the original Personality of Godhead has remained concealed, and it is rare to find one who knows this practice.  We know the procedure the voice in the sky referred to and we will explain it to you.23  Please hear with an attentive mind.  O Narada, sacrifice of material objects, penance, yoga, meditation, study of the Vedas and the path of knowledge, generally only lead toward fruitive activities and grant residence in the heavenly planets.  Scholars have said that only jnana-yajna, or the sacrifice of knowledge, is the path of liberation.24  This constitutes the study of the Shrimad Bhagavatam which has been sung by great personalities like Sukadeva Gosvami.  Just by hearing the words of Shrimad Bhagavatam, Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya will be nourished.  This will relieve the misery of Jnana and Vairagya and will make Bhakti blissful.  As when a lion roars, wolves flee in fear, so merely by the sound of Shrimad Bhagavatam, all the vicious qualities of Kali-yuga are destroyed.  Bhakti is the flow of love of God and along with Jnana and Vairagya will enter every house and dance in the heart of every living being."

          Shri Narada said.  "I have tried to awaken Jnana and Vairagya by chanting the Vedas, Upanisads and Bhagavad-gita with no success.  How is it possible that they will re revived by hearing Shrimad Bhagavatam?25  After all Shrimad Bhagavatam is nothing more than the essence of the Vedas.  Your darsana never goes in vain and you always protect those who surrender to you, please, therefore, remove  my doubt with delay."

          The Kumaras said: "It is a fact that Shrimad Bhagavatam is the essence of the Vedas and Upanisads,26 but it is the fruit of the tree of Vedic literature, it is superior.  The vital fluid of the tree is spread from the root to the tip though it cannot be tasted.  When that same fluid accumulates in the fruit however, it tastes very delicious.  Similarly, ghee, which is relishable even to the demigods, is spread throughout cow's milk, but it cannot be savoured until it is extracted.  Sugar also exists throughout the cane, yet when extracted, it becomes more succulent.  The same applies to the pastimes depicted in Shrimad Bhagavatam, which is equal to the Vedas.  Shrila Vyasadeva has propagated it to establish bhakti, jnana and vairagya.  Once Shrila Vyasadeva, who knows the essence of all the Vedas and Upanisads, and is the compiler of the Bhagavad-gita felt dejected and was drowning in an ocean of confusion.  At that time you spoke the message of the Bhagavatam in just four verses.  Upon hearing these verses Vyasa was freed from his lamentation.  So why are you doubtful and astonished by this?  Recite Shrimad Bhagavatam to Jnana and Vairagya and their lamentation and misery will be destroyed."

          Narada said, "O saintly people, your darsana immediately shatters all the sins of the living entities and brings solace to those being scorched by the fire of material misery.  You are always drinking the nectar of Shrimad Bhagavatam, which you heard from Lord Sesa.  I have taken shelter of you for the purpose of preaching the message of bhakti, which is characterised by love of God.  Only one who has performed greatly pious acts27 for many millions of lifetimes may achieve the association of saintly persons like yourselves and thus get completely free from ignorance caused by material delusion and pride.  He then becomes established in proper discrimination."

Comments on Chapter Two

1.       This is the only panacea for anxiety.  When the mind is fixed on Krishna, it cannot experience agitation.  That's why devotees are always free from anxiety.

2.       Lord Krishna is called patita-pavana, the purifier of the fallen, and Dina-bandhu, the friend of the distressed.  He does  not care for haughty people; He is pleased by humility.

3.       The Lord is pleased with His obedient servants.  He grants liberation, knowledge and detachment to the surrendered souls even without their asking.

4        Devotional service is the internal potency of the Lord and descends from Him into the material world through disciplic succession.

5.       Kali means the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, but it also indicates the age in which the Lord is readily available--kam krishnam lati dadati iti kalih.  In other yugas people were healthy, intelligent, alert, and long lived.  They had a natural inclination for yoga, penance, study of the Vedas, yajnas and so on.  They did not pay heed to devotion, considering it too simplistic.  Without bhakti, however, liberation cannot be attained.  In previous ages people had to undergo the rigours of the respective processes for many lifetimes in order to realise this fact.  But in Kali-yuga there is natural propensity towards bhakti because people in general are not qualified to participate in jnana, yoga, and karma.  Therefore this age is glorious.  Moreover, Lord Chaitanya appeared in Kali-yuga to directly preach the message of bhakti and set the proper example.

6.       This statement predicts the appearance of Lord Chaitanya who predicted prthivite ache yat nagaradi grama / sarvatra pracara hoibe mora nama.  When Narada Muni says that he will establish bhakti, he means it will be done through a devotee.  Therefore this verse also hints at the preaching activities of Shrila Prabhupada who fulfilled the prophecies of Lord Chaitanya and Shri Narada Muni.  In fact in America Shrila Prabhupada once held a program which very few people attended.  When one disciple remarked that not many people had come, Shrila Prabhupada said, "That's not true.  The great sage Narada Muni was present."

7.       Everyone on qualified to take to the process of bhakti, regardless of birth or caste.

8.       In Vedic culture, the Vedas are considered to be the supreme pramana, though here Shri Narada asserts that the gopis are.  This is because the gopis are the topmost knowers and lovers of Krishna.  Besides, among the gopis some are known to be the Vedas personified, hence they are also called pramana.

9.       This refers to the story of Ambarisa Maharaja from the Ninth Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.

10.     Narada's attempt to wake Jnana and Vairagya by shaking them with  his hands indicates that knowledge cannot be revived by the process of karma.

11.     Narada's placing his mouth next to their ear presents the initiation ceremony in which the guru utters mantras into the right ear of the disciple.  Mere initiation, however, cannot make one learned or renounced.

12.     The lethargy and yawning of Jnana and Vairagya indicate that one can get only a meagre amount of knowledge by recitation of the scriptures mentioned.  They do not make one's consciousness crystal clear.

13.     The Supersoul guides the sincerely inquisitive person from within.

14.     A sincere, inquisitive person should accept the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master.  In this way the Lord helps from within and without.

15.     This statement predicts the appearance of ISKCON.

16.     Personal realisations which lack  the guidance of a bona fide teacher and the scriptures are unclear and insufficient.

17      Most people in the garb of saints do not clearly understand the Absolute Reality.  They follow hodge-podge philosophy and lacking realisation cannot give satisfactory guidance to their disciples.

18.     Here the word "Narada" means the giver of knowledge--naram jnanam dadati iti naradah.

19.     The Lord appears in the form of the spiritual master to the sincere seeker.

20.     These are the characteristics of a bona fide spiritual master.

21.     This story is in the Third Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.

22.     This is the duty of every devotee of the Lord.

23.     A guru is able to dispel all the doubts of his disciple.

24.     Here the term 'knowledge' is non different from devotion.  Knowledge related to the Personality of Godhead is one aspect of bhakti.

25.     A disciple should present his doubts to his guru submissively.  If he is arrogant a saintly person is not obliged to give the treasure of his knowledge to such an unqualified disciple.

26.     The Vedas and Itihasas mainly deal in dharma, artha, kama and moksa, but the Shrimad Bhagavatam speaks only of pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Krishna.

27.     The pious acts mentioned here are those related to devotion such as offering charity to a devotee.