In the last ten Posts, we have had a quick synoptic view of the contours of the subject matter that we will be discussing in the coming days.
We touched on the efficacy as well as the infirmities of the only tool we have, namely the mind, to explore the various nuances of Narada’s teaching. We found that we are easily deceived by our sensory apparatus which shows us what is needed to be known at the moment in the interest of the preservation and perpetuation of the body-organism but it goes only to hide the absolute reality that exists out there. In other words, the sensory apparatus has no capacity to know what actually exists.
We have come to know that a lot of processes go on within our mind-brain system beyond our conscious awareness of the activities that go on inside our brain to show a world that is projected for us to see. We have also discovered that ‘things’ out there in the world lack physicality and even the “me” who we think “I am” is only a ghostly imaginary entity.
We had a brief look into the way our mind fantasizes a “me,” an “other,” and how it conceptualizes a savior, a world etc. The mind imagines that its unhappiness in the world is due to some “lacks and limitations.” It tries to compensate for these lacks by conceiving a protecting Godhead in which those “lacks” don’t exist. Devotion is the way by which it gets connected to the God of its conceptualization and it hopes to get its wants fulfilled by deference to him.
[Note: It does not matter at this stage whether our readers have been able to get a grip on every one of the aspects discussed above. We will revisit them again and again in greater detail as we go on to discuss the different sUtra-s.]
We also learnt that Narada, in spite of his having mastered several subjects and possessed a vast knowledge-base, sought the tutorship of Sanatkumara to teach him Self-Knowledge, that is the jIva-brahmaikya.
So we can expect that the short cryptic aphorisms in his bhakti sUtra-s would compress and pack into them his vast vision and deep understanding. We do have to tease them out carefully giving as much importance to what is said and also to what is not said in an aphorism. (Aphorisms by their very nature require information from outside to be supplied in order to be able to apprehend and appreciate their complete meaning).
The principal texts that form the basis for our philosophical understanding will be (illustrative, not exhaustive):
Kena Upanishad – Parts 1 and 2.
Gaudapada kArikA on mANDUkya Upanishad
Some of Shankara’s prakaraNa grantha-s.
Swami Sachdanandendra Saraswati: bhaktichandrika – nArada bhakti sutrANAM vyAkhyA (Sanskrit), Adhyatmaprkasa karyalaya, Holenarsapur, 1999, p: 225 pdf.
James Swartz’ work on Narada Bhakti Sutra-s.
The teachings of Direct Path Teachers like Nisargadatta, Atmananda.
The teachings of Western Non-duality Teachers like Rupert Spira, Peter Dziuban.
Suppose the Supreme brahman has a voice. How would it explain to us about the way It manifests Itself in the world? Sage Vyasa, a superb story teller that he was, picturizes for us as though the Supreme Consciousness Itself was speaking in the form of Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita to explain Its immense and infinite manifestations. (The word manifest means to be visible to the senses).
नान्तोऽस्ति मम दिव्यानां विभूतीनां परन्तप ।
एष तूद्देशतः प्रोक्तो विभूतेर्विस्तरो मया ॥ — BG, X – 40.
Meaning: O destroyer of enemies, there is no limit to My divine manifestations. This description of (My) manifestations, however, has been stated by Me by way illustration.
While everything that Is, is Its divine manifestation only, certain manifestations are so transparent for It to shine forth without even a tinge of dimming. That means, those chosen few manifestations function as Its hands and legs without their body-mind having any sense of their own ego coming into play.
And to illustrate an example from the class of Divine Sages of that level, Krishna says:
देवर्षीणां च नारदः । — BG, X – 26.
Meaning: I am Narada among the Divine sages.
Shnakara comments: देवर्षीणां च नारदः देवाः एव सन्तः ऋषित्वं प्राप्ताः मन्त्रदर्शित्वात्ते देवर्षयः, तेषां नारदः अस्मि ।
Meaning: I am Narada among the Divine sages, i.e. those who were gods and became Sages by virtue of visualizing Vedic mantras. (Translation: Swami Gambhirananda).
Maharshi Narada is also an oft appearing character in many puraNa-s. Perhaps there is no puraNa where he does not make an appearance.
Before going into the teaching of such a highly knowledgeable and accomplished Sage like Narada, it behooves us to take a quick look at some of the situations and events in Narada’s life as described in different puraNa-s .
(To continue …. Part – 12).