Chapter 2: Defining Bhakti

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 17

kathādiṣv iti gargaḥ


kathā-ādiṣu — for narrations and so on; itiso; gargaGarga Muni.


Garga Muni says that bhakti is fondness for narrations about the Lord, by the Lord, and so on.


As Garga Muni taught the importance of attachment for hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā, so Śrīla Prabhupāda also stressed kṛṣṇa-kathā. One type of kṛṣṇa-kathā consists of words directly spoken from the mouth of the Lord, such as the Bhagavad-gītā. Lord Caitanya advocated that we repeat the words spoken by Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-upadeśa) to whomever we meet. Another kind of kṛṣṇa-kathā consists of words spoken about Kṛṣṇa, such as those spoken by Śukadeva Gosvāmī to Mahārāja Parīkṣit in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śukadeva speaks throughout all twelve cantos about the wonderful pastimes of the Lord in His various incarnations. In the Tenth Canto he describes the original form of the Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, Mathurā, and Dvārakā. All of this is kṛṣṇa-kathā.

It is a characteristic of pure devotees that they speak only on transcendental subjects. A devotee practices mauna, or silence, by refraining from all mundane talk, but he is always pleased to speak kṛṣṇa-kathā. As Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā (10.9),

mac-cittā mad-gata-prāṇā bodhayantaḥ parasparam

kathayantaś ca māḿ nityaḿ tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca

"The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me." Before beginning his Tenth Canto descriptions of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Śukadeva tells Mahārāja Parīkṣit,

nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād

bhavauṣadhāc chrotra-mano-'bhirāmāt

ka uttamaśloka-guṇānuvādāt

pumān virajyeta vinā paśu-ghnāt

"Descriptions of the Lord spoken by those who are free of material desires are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death, and they delight the ear and the mind. Therefore who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?" (Bhāg. 10.1.4).

Nārada Muni attributed his own Kṛṣṇa consciousness to the pure devotees (bhakti-vedāntas) whom he had served and heard speaking kṛṣṇa-kathā when he was only a five-year-old boy: "O Vyāsadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedāntists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step" (Bhāg. 1.5.26). And so the opinion of Garga Muni — that bhakti consists of attraction for kṛṣṇa-kathā — is approved and practiced by the mahā-janas.

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