Bhakti (Devotion) to the
Lord has been recognized by saints as the easiest path to liberation (moksha
or mukti
) from the cycle of births and deaths. The other two paths,
namely, the path of selfless action and the path of spiritual knowledge are
very difficult and require protracted and uninterrupted practice, taxing one’s
physical and mental powers to the maximum. 
The pithy  sutras (aphorisms) by
Devarshi Sri Narada,  who himself is the
most exemplary exponent and practitioner of the path of Bhakti, throws light on
the various aspects of this comparatively easy path to realization, especially
in this age of Kali.   This, it is hoped,
will surely be a beacon to those on the spiritual path. 
अथातो भक्तिं व्याख्यास्यामः  ॥१॥
Now  we shall
expound (the cult) of Bhakti (Devotion)
सा त्वस्मिन् परमप्रेमरूपा  ॥२॥
That (Devotion) is supreme Love directed towards God.
अमृतस्वरूपा च ॥३॥
It is (also) nectarean in character.  
यल्लब्ध्वा पुमान् सिद्धो भवति,
अमृतो भवति, तृप्तो भवति॥४॥
On attaining this Supreme Love, (which is,  in character, nectarean man attains siddhi –
perfection- and immortality
And gets thoroughly satisfied.
यत्प्राप्य न किञ्चिद्वाञ्छति न शोचति
न द्वेष्टि न रमते नोत्साही भवति॥५॥
On attaining  which (Devotion in the form of Love)  man neither craves for anything nor grieves (over
any loss), neither hates nor delights in (any object), nor does he feel any
urge  (for the acquisition of
यज्ज्ञात्वा मत्तो भवति स्तब्धो भवति
आत्मारामो भवति ॥६॥

which (Devotion in the form of Supreme Love) man becomes mad, silent and
delights in the Self alone.

सा न कामयमाना निरोधरूपत्वात् ॥७॥
Love has no element of desire in it, being of
the nature of nirodha (renunciation).
निरोधस्तु लोकवेदव्यापारन्यासः ॥८॥

consists in relinquishing all forms of action, secular as well as religious.
तस्मिन्ननन्यता तद्विरोधिषूदासीनता च ॥९॥

Exclusiveness of feeling towards God and indifference
to everything hostile to God is also called nirodha.
अन्याश्रयाणां त्यागोऽनन्यता ॥१०॥
consists in giving up dependence on everything
else (other
than one’s Beloved Lord)
लोके वेदेषु तदनुकूलाचरणम् तद्विरोधिषूदासीनता ॥११॥
To make one’s activities, both secular and religious, conform to
the will of God is what is meant by indifference to all that is antagonistic to
भवतु निश्चयदार्ढ्यादूर्ध्वं शास्त्ररक्षणम् ॥१२॥
The injunctions of the
scriptures should be scrupulously respected, that is to say, actions which are
agreeable to God and are enjoined by the scriptures should be diligently performed
even after one has made up his mind (to attain that Divine love which is beyond
the province of ethics).
अन्यथा पातित्यशङ्कया ॥१३॥

there is risk of a fall

लोकोऽपि तावदेव किंतु भोजनादि-
व्यापारस्त्वाशरीरधारणावधि  ॥१४॥
Worldly duties should
also be scrupulously performed till there is consciousness of the external world,
but (bodily) actions such as taking food etc. will continue to be performed
till the body persists.
तल्लक्षणानि वाच्यन्ते नानामतभेदात् ॥१५॥
Now we proceed to state the various definitions of
Bhakti (Love) according to the different schools.
पूजादिष्वनुराग इति पाराशर्यः ॥१६॥
According to Vedavyasa, son of Parashara, bhakti
consists in attachment to worship of God and other allied practices.
कथादिष्विति गर्गः ॥१७॥
According to Garga
(another great proponent of Bhakti) bhakti consists in fondness for hearing the
stories of the various sports of the Lord.
आत्मरत्यविरोधेनेति शाण्डिल्यः ॥१८॥
According to Shandilya bhakti consists in supreme
attachment to God, which isn not opposed to love of Self
नारदस्तु तदर्पिताखिलाचारता तद्विस्मरणे
परमव्याकुलतेति ॥१९॥
According to Narada,
however, bhakti consists in offering all activities to God and feeling
supremely restless and miserable at the slightest lapse in remembrance of God.
अस्त्येवमेवम् ॥२०॥
It is exactly as described above.
यथा व्रजगोपिकानाम् ॥२१॥
The devotion of the gopis of Vraja may be taken as an
example of this.
तत्रापि न माहात्म्यज्ञानविस्मृत्यपवादः ॥२२॥
Even in that state (of complete self-forgetfulness)
there is no absence (in the Gopis) of the sense of the Divine glory of (Sri
तद्विहीनं जाराणामिव ॥२३॥
[Love that is] bereft of this (knowledge of Divine
glory) is of the nature of the love of a paramour
नास्त्येव तस्मिंस्तत्सुखसुखित्वम्॥२४॥
In that love (the love of a paramour) there is no
deriving of joy from the joy of the beloved.
सा तु कर्मज्ञानयोगेभ्योऽप्यधिकतरा ॥२५॥
This (Divine love) is superior even to Karma (Action),
Jnana (Knowledge)  and yoga.
फलरूपत्वात् ॥२६॥
For this (Divine Love) is an end in itself.  
ईश्वरस्याप्यभिमानद्वेषित्वाद् दैन्यप्रियत्वाच्च ॥२७॥
God, too, has an aversion for pride and loves humility
तस्या ज्ञानमेव साधनमित्येके  ॥२८॥
Some are of the opinion that Jnana (Knowledge) is the
only means to attain that (Love or Devotion)
अन्योन्याश्रयत्वमित्यन्ये ॥२९॥
According to others bhakti and Jnana are
स्वयं फलरूपतेति ब्रह्मकुमाराः ॥३०॥
According to the sons of Brahma (Sanatkumara and his
brothers as well as Narada) , bhakti is an end in itself.
राजगृहभोजनादिषु तथैव दृष्टत्वात्॥३१॥
This is corroborated by the examples of the royal
palace and food etc.  
न तेन राजपरितोषः क्षुधाशान्तिर्वा ॥३२॥
Knowledge about the royal palace does not necessarily
please the King.  Similarly knowledge
about food (ingredients, how to prepare etc) does not satisfy one’s hunger.
तस्मात्सैव ग्राह्या मुमुक्षुभिः ॥३३॥
Therefore, they who seek liberation (from worldly
bondage) must adopt the path of devotion.
तस्याः साधनानि गायन्त्याचार्याः ॥३४॥
The Acharyas (Teachers and Prophets) have described
the methods of practice of Devotional Love.
तत्तु विषयत्यागात् सङ्गत्यागाच्च ॥३५॥
That (practice of Devotion) is realized through
renunciation of worldly objects and worldly attachment
अव्यावृतभजनात् ॥३६॥
Through ceaseless Bhajana (success in attained in the
practice of devotion)
स तु दीर्घकालनैरन्तर्यसत्कारसेवितो दृढभूमिः ॥३७॥
Practice becomes rooted when it is necessarily carried
on with rererence for a length of time. 
लोकेऽपि भगवद्गुणश्रवणकीर्तनात्॥३७॥
Even in society, when God’d glory is heard and recited
(practice of devotion is promoted)
मुख्यतस्तु महत्कृपयैव भगवत्कृपालेशाद्वा  ॥३८॥
But the primary means (of attaining Divine Love) , is
grace of Mahapurusha(great souls, who have attained Divine Love), or even an
iota of Divine grace. 
महत्सङ्गस्तु दुर्लभोऽगम्योऽमोघश्च॥३९॥
But contact with Mahapurushas is scarce, difficult to
attain and uet unfailing in its effect.
लभ्यतेऽपि तत्कृपयैव ॥४०॥
The contact with (Mahapurushas) becomes possible only
through His (God’s) grace.  
तस्मिंस्तज्जने भेदाभावात् ॥४१॥
Between God and his devotee there is no difference.
तदेव साध्यतां तदेव साध्यताम् ॥४२॥
Therefore cultivate this, cultivate this (contact with
devotees of the Lord)
दुःसङ्गः सर्वथैव त्याज्यः ॥४३॥
Evil company should be totally eschewed
बुद्धिनाशसर्वनाशकारणत्वात् ॥४४॥
For that (evil company) breeds lust, anger,
infatuation, loss of memory, loss of wisdeom and total ruin.
तरङ्गायिता अपीमे  सङ्गात्समुद्रायन्ति॥४५॥
These (lust, anger etc) though appearing in the form
of ripples in the beginning, later assume the dimension of the ocean (through
evil company)
कस्तरति कस्तरति मायाम्?
यः सङ्गांस्त्यजति,
यो महानुभावं सेवते
निर्ममो भवति  ॥४६॥
Who is it, who is it that
crosses Maya (which is difficult to cross)? He who renounces all attachments,
who serves great souls and who does not regard anything as his own. 
यो विविक्तस्थानं सेवते,
यो लोकबन्धमुन्मूलयति,
निस्त्रैगुण्यो भवति,
योगक्षेमं त्यजति ॥४७॥
He who lives in seclusion, snaps all wordly ties,
transcends the three Gunas and gives up all thughts of Yoga (supply of
needs)  and Kshema ( safety of one’s
यः कर्मफलं त्यजति,
कर्माणि संन्यस्यति
ततो निर्द्वन्द्वो भवति ॥४८॥
He who renounces not only the fruit of action but
action itself, and thus renouncing everything becomes indifferent to all pairs
of opposites.
वेदानपि संन्यस्यति
केवलमविच्छिन्नानुरागं लभते ॥४९॥
He who completely renounces even the Vedas, and who
attains unbroken, unbounded love of God.
स तरति स तरति स लोकांस्तारयति ॥५०॥
He crosses Maya, He crosses Maya, he takes others
across Maya.
अनिर्वचनीयं प्रेमस्वरूपम्  ॥५१॥
Divine Live indefinable in nature.
मूकास्वादनवत् ॥५२॥
It is like the pleasure of the palate enjoyed by the
प्रकाशते क्वापि पात्रे ॥५३॥
This Love manifests itself in some rare qualified
souls (devotees in the path of Love).
गुणरहितं  कामनारहितं
मविच्छिन्नं सूक्ष्मतरमनुभवरूपम् ॥५४॥
This love is devoid of
qualities, seeks no return, grows from more to more every moment, knows no
break, is subtler than the subtlest and is of the nature of experience.
तत्प्राप्य तदेवावलोकयति तदेव शृणोति
तदेव भाषयति तदेव चिन्तयति ॥५५॥
Attaining this Love, the loving devotee sees nothing
but Love, hears only about Love, speaks only of Love and thinks of Love alone.
गौणी त्रिधा गुणभेदादार्तादिभेदाद्वा ॥५६॥
The qualities are: Tamas (dullness,
heaviness), Rajas (restlessness, activity), Sattva (serenity, purity); and the
conditions are: Ârta (afflicted), Arthârthi (wanting something), Jijnâsu
(searching truth), Jnâni, (knower)
उत्तरस्मादुत्तरस्मात्पूर्वपूर्वा श्रेयाय भवति ॥५७॥
(Among these) every preceding type of Devotion is more
fruitful than every succeeding type.
अन्यस्मात् सौलभ्यं भक्तौ ॥५८॥
The practice of Devotion is the easiest of all forms
of spiritual practice.
प्रमाणान्तरस्यानपेक्षत्वात् स्वयं प्रमाणत्वात् ॥५९॥
The proof of Devotion is Devotion itself, it requires
no other proof.
शान्तिरूपात् परमानन्दरूपाच्च ॥६०॥
Devotion is of the nature of Peace and Supreme Joy
लोकहानौ चिंता न कार्या निवेदितात्मलोकवेदत्वात् ॥६१॥
The devotee should not worry about worldly losses,
having surrendered himself and his temporal and spiritual interests to God.
न तदसिद्धौ लोकव्यवहारो हेयः किंतु
फलत्यागस्तत्साधनं च कार्यमेव ॥६२॥
But until perfection is reached in Devotion, worldly
activities should not be abandoned, and Devotion should be practised renouncing
the fruit thereof (i.e. in a disinterested way).
स्त्रीधननास्तिकवैरि चरित्रं न श्रवणीयम् ॥६३॥
Talks about women, wealth, unbelievers and enemies
should not be heard.
अभिमानदम्भादिकं त्याज्यम् ॥६४॥
Pride, hypocricy etc should be abandoned.
तदर्पिताखिलाचारः सन् कामक्रोधाभिमानदिकं
तस्मिन्नेव करणीयम्   ॥६५॥
Having offered all
activities to God, if the devotee is still haunted by lust, anger, pride etc.
he should direct these towards Him (God)
त्रिरूपभङ्गपूर्वकं नित्यदासनित्यकान्ता-
भजनात्मकं वा  प्रेमैव कार्यम्, प्रेमैव कार्यम्॥६६॥
Dissolving the triple
consciousness (viz., worshipper, the object of worship and the act of worship),
Love alone should be cultivated – Love alone in the form of incessant service
of the Lord, or incessant wifely Devotion to the Lord. 
भक्ता एकान्तिनो मुख्याः ॥६७॥
Devotees who are exclusively attached to the Lord are
the best.
कण्ठावरोधरोमाञ्चाश्रुभिः परस्परं लपमानाः
पावयन्ति कुलानि पृथिवीं च ॥६८॥
Devotees of this type
conversing with each other with a voice choked with emotion, hairs on the body
bristling with joy and eyes wet with tears, sanctify not only their families
but the whole Earth.
तीर्थीकुर्वन्ति तीर्थानि सुकर्मीकुर्वन्ति कर्माणि
सच्छास्त्रीकुर्वन्ति शास्त्राणि ॥६९॥
Such devotees enhance the sanctity of sacred places,
add glory to actions and lend authority to the scriptures.
तन्मयाः ॥७०॥
[For] they are one with Him
मोदन्ते पितरो नृत्यन्ति देवताः सनाथा चेयं भूर्भवति ॥७१॥
On the advent of a devotee, his ancestors (in the
other world) rejoice, celestial beings begin to dance (out of joy) and the
earth is endowed with a protector.
नास्ति तेषु जातिविद्यारूपकुलधनकियादिभेदः ॥७२॥
Among them (the devotees) there is no distinction due
to caste, learning, external appearance, birth, possessions, occupation etc.
यतस्तदीयाः ॥७३॥
For the devotees are all His.
वादो नावलम्ब्यः ॥७४॥
The devotee should never enter into a controversy.

Because (in argumentation) there is room for excess,
and because it cannot determine anything.
भक्तिशास्त्राणि मननीयानि तदुद्बोधक-
कर्माण्यपि  करणीयानि ॥७६॥ meditated upon
(For the attainment of divine love) the teachings of
scriptures promoting Devotion should be constantly meditated upon and actions
which may increase the spirit of Devotion should be performed.
सुखदुःखेच्छालाभादित्यक्ते काले प्रतीक्ष्यमाणे
क्षणार्धमपि व्यर्थं न नेयम् ॥७७॥
Even half a second should not be wasted (without
bhajan) in expectation of that moment when pleasure and pain, desire and sense
of worldly gain, etc would be (totally) eliminated.
चारित्र्याणि परिपालनीयानि ॥७८॥
(The aspirant of Divine
Love) should scrupulously observe all aspects of sadachara (right
conduct) like Ahimsa (non-injury to others), Truth, Purity, Compassion, Faith
in the existence of God etc.

सर्वदा सर्वभावेन निश्चिन्तितैर्भगवानेव भजनीयः ॥७९॥

Every moment, with a whole heart, giving up all other
thoughts, one should practice bhajana (bhajana alone).
स कीर्त्यमानः शीघ्रमेवाविर्भवति
अनुभावयति च भक्तान् ॥८०॥
When chanted (with Love) God speedily reveals
Himself and blesses devotees with His percetion.
त्रिसत्यस्य भक्तिरेव गरीयसी भक्तिरेव गरीयसी॥८१॥
According to all the three forms of Truth (practised
through the body, speech and mind) the path of Bhakti (Devotion) is the best
path, it is the best [Or, in all the three forms of Time, Bhakti (Devotion) to
true God is the best path, it is the best)
गुणमाहात्म्यासक्ति रूपासक्ति पूजासक्ति  स्मरणासक्ति
दास्यासक्ति  सख्यासक्ति
कान्तासक्ति वात्सल्यास-
क्त्यात्मनिवेदनासक्ति तन्मयतासक्ति परमविरहासक्तिरूपा
एकधाप्येकादशधा भवति ॥८२॥
Although fundamentally
one, Divine Love has the following eleven types: (1) Attachment to virtue or
glory (2) Attachment to Form (3) Attachment to adoration (4) Attachment to
remembrance (5) Attachment as servant (6) Attachment as a friend (7) Attachment
as a wife (8) Attachment as parents (9) Self-surrender (10) Absorption in
meditation and (11) Supreme anguish of separation.
इत्येवं वदन्ति जनजल्पनिर्भया एकमताः
भक्त्याचार्याः ॥८३॥

All the Acharyas (Teachers) of Bhakti like Kumara(Sanatkumara and others),
Vedavyasa, Shukadeva, Shandilya, Garga, Vishnu, Kaundinya, Shesha, Uddhava,
Aruni,  Bali, Hanuman, Vibhishana
etc., without caring for
popular praise or blame, unanimously declare this (that Bhakti is the best
[Note: Group headings and English Translation from ‘Narada
Bhakti Sutras’ published by Gita Press, Gorakhpur]

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