19.22 : SHLOKAS 5 TO 8 OF 36-SELECTION FROM NARAYANEEYAM
Sloka No.5 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 91 - 5):
shreyo mArgeShu bhaktA-vadhika-bahu-matir-janma-karmANi bhUyo
gAyan kShemANi nAmAny-api tad-ubhayataH pradrutaM pradrutAtmA /
udyad-hAsaH kadAcit-kuhacid-api rudan kvApi garjan pragAyan
unmAdIva pranR^ityann-ayi kuru karuNAM loka-bAhyash-careyaM //
Tr.: Oh! Lord, Deign to bestow on me that state of mind, whereby, preferring the path of devotion as the best among the various paths for spiritual attainment, I fervently chant again and again Thy names and accounts of Thy achievements in Thy incarnations, so sanctifying and spiritually elevating, until with my mind melting with loving emotion, I shall sometimes laugh, sometimes cry, sometimes shout, sometimes sing aloud and sometimes dance in ecstasy, and move about like a mad man who has lost his link with society and its conventions.
Comment. It is by such devotion one comprehends ‘Who is He? What is He?’ (cf. Gita XVIII – 55). Usually when one asks God for something, that is what is meant by petitional prayer and most of our prayers are petitional prayers. But that prayer itself has to be supported by intense devotion. We never ask of God to give us that intensity of devotion; because we think we have it. This is where our free will comes in the way, without our knowing that it does so. We never ask God to give us bhakti. Bhakti means the decision to go back to the source, knowing full well that it is the royal road to the goal of spirituality. And He waits and waits (-- this is the ‘agony of God’, talked about in Christianity --) until we ourselves, by our own free will, decide to go back to Him. In the meantime He gives us some petty things we have always wanted, so that in due time we may begin to want what He wants to give us. It is in this context, one asks for bhakti to be granted to us by Himself.
The mind that attaches to God automatically liberates. The thesis here is that such a mind is already in the transcendental experience of bliss, it need not wait for the so-called mukti. Listen to Adi Sankara: (Sivananda-lahari: Verse no.81). It appears Narayan Bhattadri has echoed this sloka of Sankara.
kamcit-kAlam-umAmahesha bhavataH pAdAravindArcanaiH
kamcit-dhyAna-samAdhibhishca natibhiH kamcit kathA-karNanaiH /
kamcit-kamcid-avekshaNaishca nutibhiH kamcid-dashAmIdR^ishIM
yaH prApnoti mudA tvad-arpita-manA jIvan sa muktaH khalu //
Sometime in worshipping Your lotus feet, sometime in meditation and concentration sometime in offering obeisance, sometime in listening to stories about You, sometime in looking at Your form, sometime in singing Your praise - he who gains such a state in exhultation, having surrendered his mind to You, O Lord, he is verily liberated even when alive.
Sloka No.6 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 2 - 10):
tvad-bhaktistu kathA-rasAmR^ita jharI nirmajjanena svayaM
siddhyantI vimala-prabodha-padavIM akleshatas-tanvatI /
sadyas-siddhikarI jayaty-ayi vibho saivAstu me tvat-pada-
prema-prouDhi-rasArdratA drutataraM vAtAlayAdhIshvara //
Tr. For, Devotion to Thee stands (as a unique path) in that it bestows purity and enlightenment directly and immediately, without any pains, by submerging one in the flood of delight generated by hearing and remembering Thy deeds and excellences. Oh Lord of Guruvayoor! May I soon attain that tenderness of heart produced by intense love for Thy feet!
Comment. The two attributes of bhakti, namely ‘svayam siddhyantI’ (= leads to the goal by itself) and ‘sadyas-siddhikarI’ (= immediately successful), -- these two are what made Tulasi, one of the greatest exponents of bhakti as a philosophy, to extol it above jnAna or yoga, or vairAgya (detachment or dispassion). We may recall and enjoy his powerful metaphor in this connection. JnAna, yoga and vairAgya are all masculine in conception (according to the grammar of the language) and so they cannot ultimately succeed as bhakti can, over the enchantments of mAyA which is feminine. mAyA, says the poet of the Rama-carita-manas, is only a nartakI (dancer) whereas bhakti is the beloved of his hero Sri Ram. The ‘feminine’ bhakti can conquer mAyA whereas the ‘masculine’ jnAna, yoga,and vairagya, etc. however powerful they may be, tend to succumb to her charms!
Sloka No. 7 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 91 - 1):
shrI-kr^iShNa tvat-padopAsanam-abhaya-tamaM baddha-mithyArtha-dR^iShTeH
martyasy-Artasya manye vyapasarati bhayaM yena sarvAtmanaiva /
yat-tAvat-tvat-praNItAn-iha bhajana-vidhIn-Asthito moha-mArge
dhAvan-napy-AvR^itAkShaH skhalati na kuhacid-deva devAkhilAtman //
Tr. Oh Lord Krishna ! Service to Thee is what I consider to be the best option for Man afflicted with miseries caused by the wrong acceptance of ephemeral values as true and enduring. Only that way, the Lord removes our fear of the cycle of births and deaths, completely and for ever. Oh Lord of Lords ! Oh Soul of all beings! A person who steadily follows the path of devotion promulgated by Thee, will be able to dash forth through the world’s delusive paths, even with closed eyes, without slipping anywhere!
Comment. This thought is an exact echo of Srimad Bhagavatam 11th Canto, 2nd chapter Slokas 33-35. The confidence that one has in the Lord becomes the foundation for all spiritual growth. The purpose of including this sloka among the chosen 36 is to strengthen that foundation for oneself.
There is an interesting keyword here which is full of meaning. It is ‘sarvAtmanA’ at the end of the second quarter of the verse. It means ‘with heart and soul’. It has been translated, in the context, as ‘completely and for ever’. When the Lord removes our fears there is no half-hearted work there. It is total and complete. This word and this context should be aligned with ‘sarva-bhAvena’ in Gita XVIII – 62. He says there:
‘tameva sharaNam gaccha sarva-bhAvena bhArata’
meaning, Seek only Him for refuge, with all your being.
‘sarva-bhAvena’ means here: ‘convert all your emotions into devotion and direct that to God. Love Him as your master, your friend, your parent and your lover; seek Him in all these attitudes (bhAva).’ Cf. Gita IX – 18:
gatir-bhartA prabhus-sAkshI nivAsaH sharaNaM suhR^it /
prabhavaH praLayaH sthAnaM nidhAnaM bIjam-avyayaM //
meaning, ‘I am the goal, the supporter, the lord, the witness, the abode, the shelter, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the foundation, the treasure-house, and the seed imperishable.’ Thus when we surrender to him ‘with all our being’ (sarva-bhAvena), He removes our fears ‘totally and completely’ (sarvAtmanA eva).
Sloka No. 8 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 94 - 9):
yadyal-labhyeta tat-tat-tava samupahR^itaM deva dAso’smi te’haM
tvad-geh-onmArjan-AdyaM bhavatu mama muhuH karma-nirmAya-meva /
sUryAgni-brAhmaN-AtmAdiShu lasita-catur-bAhum-ArAdhaye tvAM
tvat-prem-Ardratva-rUpo mama satatam-abhiShyandatAM bhakti-yogaH //
Tr. Oh Lord! Whatever comes into my possession, I offer it unto Thee. I am Thy servant. Let me repeatedly do with utmost sincerity and interest such devotional duties as cleaning Thy temple, Thy altar! Let me perform the worship of Thy four-handed form conceived as manifesting in the solar orb, in fire, in holy men and in the Atman!. Let my mind be ever in communion with Thee through devotion, which consists in the melting of heart into a continuous stream of love ever flowing towards Thee!
Comment. The sun and fire have always been considered holy in all religions and in Hindu culture and literature, starting from the time of the Vedas, they each take the first place in physical representations of the Absolute. The very first prayer of the Rig veda is to ‘agni’, the God of fire. He is the symbol of the Divine Will, Power and Force. He is the messenger who connects the offerings of the humans with their divine destinations. He also brings the messages and presents from the Divine to the human world. The last prayer of Man before he leaves the body should be to ‘agni’, according to the very last verse of the shukla Yajur Veda. The Sun is another major visible expression of Divine Light, representing the infinite power, majesty and glory of the Almighty . But mark it, it is not the visible sun or the visible fire that is worshipped or considered as the Absolute. Behind the physical sun there is the concept of a surya-devata and behind the physical fire there is the concept of an agni-devata. That is where, as the poet says here, the Lord is reachable to us.