Chapter 2: Defining Bhakti

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Nārada Bhakti Sūtra 26

phala-rūpatvāt

SYNONYMS

phala — of the fruit; rūpatvāt — because of being the form.

TRANSLATION

After all, bhakti is the fruit of all endeavor.

PURPORT

Bhakti is more than a process leading to a result: it is the constitutional nature of the living being. As Lord Caitanya states in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 20.108), jīvera 'svarūpa' hayakṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa': "It is the living entity's constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa." Even in the beginning stages, bhakti is both the means and the end. To explain this, Śrīla Prabhupāda gives the example of a mango. In its unripe stage, a mango is a mango, and when it becomes ripe and relishable, it is still a mango. So even neophyte activities of bhakti are within the realm of love of God and are pleasing to Kṛṣṇa. But activities of karma, jñāna, and yoga are not pleasing to Kṛṣṇa unless they are dovetailed with bhakti.

When one begins devotional service, the emphasis is on performing obligatory practices ordered by the spiritual master. But even at this stage bhakti-yoga is based on the soul's dormant inclinations. Śrīla Prabhupāda explains in The Nectar of Devotion (p. 20):

[The practice of devotional service] is not for developing something artificial. For example, a child learns or practices to walk. This walking is not unnatural. The walking capacity is there originally in the child, and simply by a little practice he walks very nicely. Similarly, devotional service to the Supreme Lord is the natural instinct of every living entity.

Nārada has defined bhakti as superior to other processes because it is both the means and the end, whereas other processes must ultimately lead to bhakti to have any value. This is one important reason why bhakti is superior, and now Nārada will offer further evidence.

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