Quotations from Srimad Bhaagavatam on Bhakti (Loving devotion to the Lord)
Sage Vyasa divided the ancient Vedic lore into the four Vedas. He wrote the Mahabharata which is of epic proportions shedding light on every aspect of human life. He also authored some of the puranas which together with Mahabharata expound and expand the essence of the Vedas in a language and idiom intelligible to ordinary human beings. In spite of all this prodigious output, he felt in his subconscious that some thing was wanting, some thing lacking in what he had so far written. He expressed his feelings to Sage Narada who told him that in whatever he had so far written he had not adequately dealt with the leelas of Lord Mahavishnu and his incarnations. He had not sufficiently expounded the importance of bhakti as a path for attaining the Lord. He had also not narrated the stories of the Lord’s bhaktas in sufficient detail. This was the cause for his feeling of inadequacy in whatever he had written so far. Taking this cue from Sage Narada, Vyasa composed Srimad Bhagavatam describing in detail the divine leelas of the Lord and his incarnations and the nectar of wisdom and knowledge imparted by Him to His devotees during such incarnations.
Among the Puranas authored by Sage Vyasa, Srimad Bhagavata outshines the others, being the crest-jewel of the entire Puranic literature. This alone is capable of saving humanity from the fear of the Serpent of Time (kala vyala) as described in the Padma Purana:
कालव्यालमुखग्रासत्रासनिर्नाशहेतवे । श्रीमद्भागवतं शास्त्रं कलौ कीरेण भाषितम् ॥
sreemad-bhaavatham shaastram kalau keerena bhaashitam
[Sage Suka has narrated the bhagavata sastra to allay the fears of those who are caught in the jaws of kaalavyala (Serpent of Time)]
Bhagavata alone is described, time and again, as one without a second and incomparable as an instrument for freeing humans from the bonds of samsaara and help them attain liberation (mukti) :
एकं भागवतं शास्त्रं मुक्तिदानेन गर्जति
Ekam Bhaagavatam shaastram mukti-daanena garjathi
Srimad Bhagavata alone is enriched by the tejas (splendour, effulgence, power) of sri Vasudeva. Bhagavata is the incarnation of the Lord in the form of vangmaya ( body of literature) and it is here that He always resides, as it has been said in Paadma Purana:
स्वकीयं यद्भवेत्तेजः तच्च भागवतेऽदधात्
वाङ्मयी मूर्तिः प्रत्यक्षा वर्तते हरेः
वाङ्मयी मूर्तिः प्रत्यक्षा वर्तते हरेः
swakeeyam yad bhavethejah thachcha bhagavathe’dadhaath
thirodhaaya pravishtoyam srimad bhaagavathaarnavam
theneyam vangmayee moorthih pratyakshaa vartate hareh
[The Lord deposited his power (tejas) in Bhagavata and entering the sea of bhagavata, He disappeared into it. Therefore bhagavata is the word- form ( vangmayee moorthih) of the Lord visible to the naked eye of man ]
The ocean of nectar which is Bhagavatha is easily available even for the dull-witted (abudhaah) in this world but is difficult to attain even for the celestial beings (vibudhaah) of the other worlds, as it has been said :
श्रीमद्भागवती वार्ता सुराणामपि दुर्लभा
sreemad bhagavatee vaartaa suraanaamapi durlabhaa
[The episodes of Bhagavata are not accessible even to the devas ]
Given below is a collection of slokas from this great Purana specifically those extolling bhakti
Navadhaa Bhakti (Nine types of bhakti)
श्रवणं कीर्तनं विष्णोः स्मरणं पादसेवनम् ।
अर्चनं वन्दनं दास्यं सख्यमात्मनिवेदनम् ॥
Sravanam keertanam vishnoh smaranam paadasevanam
Archanam vandanam daasyam sakhyamaatmanivedanam [7.5.23]
Hearing stories about the glories of the Lord, singing His praises, remembering His captivating form and His exploits, serving His lotus-feet, worshipping Him by flowers and fruits, obeisance or prostration before Him , humble service to Him, friendship with Him and complete surrender to Him – these are the nine types of bhakti. The following sloka gives examples of devotees who excelled in each of these types of bhakti:
श्रीविष्णोः श्रवणे परीक्षिदभवत् वैयासकिः कीर्तने
प्रह्लादः स्मरणे तदंघ्रिभजने लक्ष्मीः पृथुः पूजने ।
अक्रूरस्त्वभिवन्दने कपिपतिर्दास्येऽथ सख्येऽर्जुनः
सर्वस्वात्मनिवेदने बलिरभूत् कृष्णाप्तिरेषाम् परम्॥।
Shreevishnoh sravane pareekshidabhavat vaiyaasakih keertane
Prahladah smarane tadanghribhajane lakshmeeh prithuh poojane
Akroorastwabhivandane kapipatirdaasye’tha sakhye’rjunah
Sarvaswaatmanivedane balirabhootkrishnaaptireshaam param
Pareekshit excelled in hearing, shuka in singing, Prahlada in remembering, Goddess Lakshmi in serving His lotus-feet, Prithu in worshipping, Akrura in obeisance, Hanuman in humble service, Arjuna in friendship and Bali in total surrender.
निशम्य कर्माणि गुणानतुल्यान्वीर्याणि लीलातनुभिः कृतानि।
यदाऽतिहर्षोत्पुलकाश्रुगद्गदं प्रोत्कण्ठमुद्गायति रौति नृत्यति ॥
Nishamya karmaani gunaanatulyaa-
nveeryaani leelaatanubhih kritaani
Protkanthhamudgaayati rauti nrityati [7.7.34]
Hearing stories about the deeds of the Lord, his unmatched qualities and His valorous deeds during incarnations when he takes a body in a playful manner, the devotee’s hairs stand on end in ecstasy, his eyes fill with tears of bliss, his throat is choked because of the intense emotion and he sings and cries and dances in joy.
शृण्वन् सुभद्राणि रथांगपाणेर्जन्मानि कर्माणि च यानि लोके।
गीतानि नामानि तदर्थकानि गायन् विलज्जो विचरेदसंगः ॥
Shrinvan subhadraani rathaangapaane-
rjanmaani karmaani cha yaani loke
geetaani naamaani tadarthakaani
gaayan vilajjo vicharedasangah [11.2.39]
The devotee should hear about the auspicious incarnations of the Lord and his exploits in this world and sing His praises and His divine names forsaking all shyness or inhibitions and carry on his life without attachments.
तरवः किं न जीवन्ति भस्त्रा किं न श्वसन्त्युत ।
न खादन्ति न मेहन्ति किं ग्रामपशवोऽपरे? ॥
Taravah kim na jeevanti bhastraah kim na shwasantyuta
Na khadanti na mehanti kim graamapashavo’pare [ 2.3.18]
Are not the trees living? Are not the bellows used in the smithy breathing? Are not the cattle in the village eating and excreting? [ All these activities are common to man and animals].
श्वविड्वराहोष्ट्रखरैः संस्तुतः पुरुषः पशुः । न यत्कर्णपथोपेतो जातु नाम गदाग्रजः ॥
Shwavidvaraahoshtrakharaih sanstutah purushah pashuh
Na yatkarnapathopeto jaatu naama gadaagrajah [2.3.19]
Man is considered better than the dog, the cat, the pig, the camel and the donkey. But one into whose ears the name of Lord Vishnu has not entered is no better than an animal.
Keertanam (Singing, chanting)
कलेर्दोषनिधेर्राजन्नस्ति ह्येको महान् गुणः ।
कीर्तनादेव कृष्णस्य मुक्तसंगः परं व्रजेत् ॥
Kalerdoshanidher-raajannasti hyeko mahaan gunah
Keertanaadeva krishnasya muktasangah param vrajet [12.3.51]
O King! Though the age of Kali is full of evils there is also a great good quality in this age. In the age of Kali by the mere chanting and singing (keertana) of the names of Krishna one is released from his attachments and attains to the highest Truth.
कृते यत् ध्यायतो विष्णुं त्रेतायां यजतो मखैः । द्वापरे परिचर्यायां कलौ तद्धरिकीर्तनात् ॥
Krite yaddhyaayato vishnum tretaayaam yajato makhaih
Dwaapare paricharyaayaam kalau taddharikeertanaat [12.3.52]
What one achieves in Krita Yuga by meditation, in Treta Yuga by sacrificial rites, in Dwapara Yuga by serving the Lord, the same goal is achieved in Kali Yuga by chanting and singing (keertanaat) the names of Hari.
तदेव रम्यं रुचिरं नवं नवं तदेव शश्वन्मनसो महोत्सवम्।
तदेव शोकार्णवशोषणं नृणां यदुत्तमश्लोकयशोनुगीयते॥
Tadeva ramyam ruchiram navam navam tadeva shashwanmanaso mahotsavam
Tadeva shokaarnava shoshanam nrinaam yaduttamaslokayasho’nugeeyate [12.12.49]
Singing the praise of Lord Krishna’s deeds and his glory is the only thing dearest to the heart of the devotee. For him it is the sweetest thing, it is ever new and he never tires of it, it is the greatest celebration for his heart and it dries up the ocean of his sorrows.
न यद्वचश्चित्रपदं हरेर्यशो जगत्पवित्रं प्रगृणीत कर्हिचित्।
तद्ध्वाङ्क्षतीर्थं न तु हंससेवितं यत्राच्युतस्तत्र हि साधवोऽमलाः
Na yadvachashchitrapadam hareryasho jagatpavitram pragrineeta karhichit
Taddhwaangkshateertham na tu hamsasevitam yatraachyutastatra hi saadhavo’malaah [12.12.50]
Words or speech, containing picturesque expressions, but which do not eulogize the Lord’s deeds and glory which purify the whole world, are considered only as kakatirtha infested by crows and not as manasarovar which is populated by swans. Those of pure mind are present only where Achyuta is praised.
स वाग्विसर्गो जनताघविप्लवो यस्मिन् प्रतिश्लोकमबद्धवत्यपि।
नामान्यनन्तस्य यशोऽङ्कितानि यच्छृण्वन्ति गायन्ति गृणन्ति सन्तः॥
Sa vaagvisargo janataaghaviplavo
Naamaanyanantasya yashonkitaani ya-
chchhrinwanti gaayanti grinanti santah [12.12.51]
Words or speech, though not properly crafted or not in accordance with the rules of poetry, are nevertheless heard, sung and chanted by the saints and absolve men of all their sins if such words contain the names of the Lord bearing the stamp of His glory.
भगवत उरुविक्रमांघ्रिशाखानखमणिचन्द्रिकया निरस्ततापे।
हृदि कथमुपसीदतां पुनः स प्रभवति चन्द्र इवोदितेऽर्कतापः॥
nakhamani chandrikayaa nirastataape
Hridi kathamupaseedataam punah
Sa prabhavati chandra ivodite’rkataapah
The toe-nails of Lord Krishna shine like the moon and the moonlight emanating from them dispel the sorrow or grief in the hearts of devotees. How can then grief arise in the devotee’s heart just as there cannot be the heat of the sun when the moon has risen?.
Paadasevanam (Service to the Lord’s feet)
सकृन्मनः कृष्णपदारविन्दयोर्निवेशितं तद्गुणरागि यैरिह।
न ते यमं पाशभृतश्च तद्भटान् स्वप्नेऽपि पश्यन्ति हि चीर्णनिष्कृताः॥
rniveshitam tadgunaraagi yairiha
Na te yamam paashabhritashcha tadbhataan
Swapne’pi pashyanti hi cheernanishkritaah [6.1.19]
Once the devotees’ minds, captivated by the good qualities of the Lord, dwell on His lotus-feet, all their sins are absolved and they will not see, even in a dream, Yama and his lieutenants armed with roaps in their hands.
श्रीर्यत्पदांबुजरजश्चकमे तुलस्या लब्ध्वाऽपि वक्षसि पदं किल भृत्यजुष्टम्।
यस्याः स्ववीक्षणकृतेऽन्यसुरप्रयासस्तद्वद्वयं च तव पादरजः प्रपन्नाः ॥
Labdhwaapi vakshasi padam kila bhrityajushtam
stadvadvayam cha tava paadarajaprapannah [10.29.37]
These are the words of Gopis of Vrindavan to Krishna:
Even Lakshmi from whom the other celestials endeavour to get a glance and who has been given a place on your chest wants to share with Tulsi and other devotees of yours the dust of your feet. In the same way we also want to take refuge in the dust of your feet.
तापत्रयेनाभिहतस्य घोरे संतप्यमानस्य भवाध्वनीश।
पश्यामि नान्यच्छरणं तवांघ्रिद्वन्द्वातपत्रादमृताभिवर्षात् ॥
Taapatrayenaabhihatasya ghore santapyamaanasya bhavaadhwaneesha
Pashyaami naanyachchharanam tavaanghridwandwaatapatraadamritaabhivarshaat [11.19.9]
Afflicted by the three types of sorrows and subjected to great suffering in the path of this terrible samsaara, I find no other refuge except the umbrella of your lotus-feet raining nectar.
खं वायुमग्निं सलिलं महीं च ज्योतींषि सत्त्वानि दिशो द्रुमादीन्।
सरित्समुद्रांश्च हरेः शरीरं यत्किंच भूतं प्रणमेदनन्यः ॥
Kham vaayumagnim salilam maheem cha
Jyoteemshi sattwaani disho drumaadeen
Saritsamudraamshcha hareh shareeram
Yatkincha bhootam pranamedananyah [11.2.41]
Sky, air, fire, water, earth, stars, all living beings, all quarters, trees, rivers, oceans and whatever else made of the five elements are the body of Hari. Therefore the devotee should pay obeisance to all these.
Sarvaswa Nivedanam (Surrendering everything)
कायेन वाचा मनसेन्द्रियैर्वा बुध्यात्मना वाऽनुसृतस्वभावात्।
करोति यद्यत् सकलं परस्मै नारायणायेति समर्पयेत्तत्॥
Kaayena vaachaa manasendriyairvaa
Karoti yat yad sakalam parasmai
Naaraayanaayeti samarpayettat [11.2.36]
Whatever is done by the body, by words, by the mind, by the senses, by the intellect, by the self or by innate nature – everything should be surrendered to Lord Narayana.
Bhakti saamaanyam (Bhakti in general)
शृण्वन् गृणन् संस्मरयंश्च चिन्तयन् नामानि रूपाणि च मंगलानि ते।
क्रियासु यस्त्वच्चरणारविंदयोराविष्टचेताः न भवाय कल्पते ॥
Shrinwan grinan samsmarayamshcha chintayan
Naamaani roopaani cha mangalaani te
raavishta chetaah na bhavaaya kalpate [10.2.37]
Hearing, singing or chanting, remembering and thinking about your auspicious names and forms, engaged in various activities, but at the same time the mind thinking of your lotus feet – such a person will never again be subjected to the cycle of births and deaths.
विपदः सन्तु नः शश्वत्तत्र तत्र जगद्गुरो।
भवतो दर्शनं यत्स्यादपुनर्भवदर्शनम् ॥
भवतो दर्शनं यत्स्यादपुनर्भवदर्शनम् ॥
Vipadah santu nah shashwat tatra tatra jagatguro
Bhavato darshanam yatsyaadapunarbhavadarshanam [1.8.25]
Kunti Devi to Krishna:
O Teacher of the World! Let us face trials and tribulations once in a while so that we can see you in our midst and such seeing will surely ensure that we never again take birth to face the sufferings of this samsaara
वाणी गुणानुकथने श्रवणौ कथायां हस्तौ च कर्मसु मनस्तव पादयोर्नः।
स्मृत्यां शिरस्तव निवासजगत्प्रणामे दृष्टि: सतां दर्शनेऽस्तु भवत्तनूनाम्॥
Vaanee gunaanukathane shravanau kathaayaam
Hastau cha karmasu manastavapaadayornah
Smrityaam shirastava nivaasajagatpranaame
Drishtih sataam darshane’stu bhavattanoonaam [10.10.38]
Let our speech be engaged in praising your excellences, ears in hearing your stories, hands in your service, mind in remembering your lotus feet, head in paying obeisance to all beings wherein you reside as antaryaami
श्रेयःस्रुतिं भक्तिमुदस्य ते विभो क्लिश्यन्ति ये केवलबोधलब्धये ।
तेषामसौ क्लेशल एव शिष्यते नान्यद्यथा स्थूलतुषावघातिनाम् ॥
Shreyasrutim bhaktimudasya te vibho
Klishyanti ye kevalabodhalabdhaye
Teshaamasu kleshala eva shishyate
Naanyadyathaa sthoolatushaavaghatinaam [10.14.4]
For those who keep aside bhakti which is the source all auspicious things and make great effort to attain pure knowledge, only the effort remains and nothing else. It is like pounding the husk to get the rice (which is a futile attempt).
आत्मारामाश्च मुनयो निर्ग्रन्था अप्युरुक्रमे।
कुर्वन्त्यहैतुकीं भक्तिमित्थंभूतगुणो हरिः॥
Aaatmaaraamaashcha munayo nirgranthaa apyurukrame
Kurvantyahaitukeem bhaktim ittham bhootaguno Harih [1.7.10]
Even saints who revel in their own Self and who have cut asunder all wordly bonds still have unselfish devotion to the Lord; such are the noble qualities of Hari.
न साधयति मां योगो न सांख्यं धर्म उद्धव
न स्वाध्यायस्तपस्त्यागो यथा भक्तिर्ममोर्जिता ॥
न स्वाध्यायस्तपस्त्यागो यथा भक्तिर्ममोर्जिता ॥
Na saadhayati maam yogo na saamkhyam dharma uddhava
Na swaadhyaayastapastyaago yathaa bhaktirmamorjitaa [11.14.20]
O Uddhava ! One can easily attain me by intense loving devotion to me; but not so easily by the practice of yoga , by following the sankhya philosophy, by adhering to dharma , by the repetition of the Vedas, by undertaking tapas ( penance) or by renunciation.
Bhaktasya lakshnam maahaatmyam cha (Mark of a devotee and his greatness)
सर्वभूतेषु यः पश्येद्भगवद्भावमात्मनः ।
भूतानि च भगवत्यात्मन्येष भागवतोत्तमः ॥
भूतानि च भगवत्यात्मन्येष भागवतोत्तमः ॥
Sarvabhooteshu yah pashyed-bhagavad-bhaavam-aatmanah
Bhootaani bhagavtyaatman-yesha bhaagavatottamah [11.2.45]
One who sees in all beings the divinity which is in himself and all beings in one’s own divinity is the foremost of my devotees
न चलति भगवत्पदारविंदाल्लवनिमिषार्धमपि य स वैष्णवाग्र्यः
Na chalati bhagavatpadaaravindaa-
llavanimishaardhamapi yah sa vaishnavaagryah[11.2.53]
The lotus feet of the Lord is sought after by the devas having no control over their minds. But one, whom all the riches of the three worlds cannot distract from the remembrance of the Lord’s lotus feet even for half a second, is the foremost of all the viashanavas.
विसृजति हृदयं न यस्य साक्षाद्धरिरवशाभिहतोऽप्यघौघनाशः।
प्रणयरशनयाधृतांघ्रिपद्मः स भवति भागवतप्रधान उक्तः ॥
Visrijati hridayam na yasya saakshaa-
Sa bhavati bhaagavatapradhaana uktah [11.2.55]
The utterance of the name of Hari will absolve one of all sins even when such utterance is made only when one is in great trouble. The one whose heart Hari never leaves and who has tied the lotus-feet of the Lord by the strings of his love is considered the chief among the devotees of the Lord.
क्वचिद्रुतन्त्यच्युतचिन्तया क्वचिद्धसन्ति नन्दन्ति वदन्त्यलौकिकाः।
नृत्यन्ति गायन्त्यनुशीलयन्त्यजं भवन्ति तूष्णीं परमेत्य निर्मलाः ॥
Ddhasanti nandanti vadantyalaukikaah
Bhavanti toosheem parametya nirvritaah [11.3.32]
The devotee immersed in the thought of the Lord alternately cries, laughs, becomes overcome by joy, talks incoherently, dances, sings, meditates on the Lord and finally becomes silent retiring into the infinite peace of the Atman.
न नाकपृष्ठं न च सार्वभौमं न पारमॆष्ठ्यं न रसाधिपत्यं।
न योगसिद्धीरपुनर्भवं वा वाञ्झन्ति यत्पादरजः प्रपन्नाः॥
Na naakaprishthham na cha saarvabhaumam
Na paarameshthhyam na rasaadhipatyam
Na yogasidheerapunarbhavam vaa
Vaajnchchanti yatpaadarajah prapanaah [10.16.37]
Those who have taken refuge at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna will have no desire whatsoever for a place in Heaven, emperorship over the whole of earh, a place in brahmaloka, lordship over Rasaatla, yogic powers or even liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.
न वै जनो जातु कथञ्चनाव्रजेन्मुकुन्दसेव्यन्यवदंग संसृतिं।
स्मरन्मुकुन्दांघ्र्युपगूहनं पुनर्विहातुमिच्छेन्न रसग्रहो यतः ॥
Navai jano jaatu kathanchana-avrajen-mukundasevy-anyavadanga samsritim
Smaranmukundaanghryupagoohanam punarvihaatumichhhenna rasagraho yatah [1.5.19]
One who is a devotee of Mukunda will never again return to the cycle of births and deaths like other persons. Remembering the embrace of the Lord’s lotus feet, he does not want to leave them where he experiences the highest form of bliss.
निरपेक्षं मुनिं शान्तं निर्वैरं समदर्शनं । अनुव्रजाम्यहं नित्यं पूयेयेत्यंघ्रिरेणुभिः॥
Nirapeksham munim shaantam nirvairam samadarshanam
Anuvrajaamyaham nityam pooyeyetyanghrirenubhih [11.14.16]
My devotees who do not want anything, who have control over their speech, who are tranquil and at peace, who have no enemies and who see the same divinity in all living beings – them I follow wherever they go in the fond hope that I may be purified by the dust of their feet.
सालोक्यसार्ष्टिसामीप्यसारूप्यैकत्वमप्युत । दीयमानं न गृह्णन्ति विना मत्स्वेवनं जनाः॥
Deeyamaanam na grihnanti vinaa matsevanam janaah [3.29.13]
My devotees are content with serving me with loving devotion; they do not accept even saalokya ( staying in the same world as the Lord), sameepya (staying near the Lord), saaroopya (having the same form as the Lord), or saayujya (unity with the Lord) which are offered to them
अहं भक्तपराधीनो अस्वतन्त्र इव द्विज । साधुभिर्ग्रस्तहृदयो भक्तैर्भक्तजनप्रियः ॥
Aham bhaktaparaadheeno hyaswatantra iva dwija
Saadhubhirgrastahridayo bhaktairbhaktajanapriyah [9.4.63]
These are the words of Lord Vishnu to Durvasa in Ambarishacharitam episode of Srimad Bhagavatam.
I am under the control of my devotees, it is as if I am not free. My devotees of saintly character have captured my heart. They are very dear to me.