Navavidha Bhakti (नवविधाभक्तिः)

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In the Bhagavata Purana (Skandha 7, Adhyaya 5) when Hiranyakashipu asks Prahlada to recite some of the excellent passages learnt well by him from what his teacher has taught him through the years, he elaborates on the nine forms of bhakti as follows:

श्रवणं कीर्तनं विष्णोः स्मरणं पादसेवनम् । अर्चनं वन्दनं दास्यं सख्यमात्मनिवेदनम् ॥७.५.२३॥[1]

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pādasevanam । arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyamātmanivedanam ॥7.5.23॥

Meaning: There are nine forms of devotion to Vishnu -

  1. श्रवणम् । śravaṇam refers to listening to the names, stories etc. of Vishnu
  2. कीर्तनम् । kīrtanam refers to singing of his name and glories
  3. स्मरणम् । smaraṇaṁ means to remember him (his name)
  4. पादसेवनम् । pādasevanam refes to rendering service to him
  5. अर्चनम् । arcanaṁ means to worship him
  6. वन्दनम् । vandanaṁ refers to paying obeisance to him
  7. दास्यम् । dāsyaṁ refers to the intent of dedicating all of one's actions to him
  8. सख्यम् । sakhyam refers to the ability of one to confide in him as a friend
  9. आत्मनिवेदनम् । ātmanivedanam refers to offering oneself and one's belongings completely to his service and care.

Prahlada further states that offering oneself completely to Vishnu and performing this nine-fold devotion is regarded as the highest type of learning. In fact, complete dedication as described above, is in fact the precedent to real devotion.[2]

इति पुंसार्पिता विष्णौ भक्तिश्चेन्नवलक्षणा | क्रियेत भगवत्यद्धा तन्मन्येऽधीतमुत्तमम् ||२४||[1]

iti puṁsārpitā viṣṇau bhaktiścennavalakṣaṇā | kriyeta bhagavatyaddhā tanmanye'dhītamuttamam ||24||

श्रवणम् ॥ Shravanam

Shravanam refers to listening to the names, stories etc. of Vishnu. Process of transformation within the heart is described beautifully in the following five verses of the Bhagavata Purana.

श्रृण्वतां स्वकथां कृष्णः पुण्यश्रवणकीर्तनः । हृद्यन्तःस्थो ह्यभद्राणि विधुनोति सुहृत्सताम् ॥ १७ ॥

नष्टप्रायेष्वभद्रेषु नित्यं भागवतसेवया । भगवति उत्तमश्लोके भक्तिर्भवति नैष्ठिकी ॥ १८ ॥

तदा रजस्तमोभावाः कामलोभादयश्च ये । चेत एतैरनाविद्धं स्थितं सत्त्वे प्रसीदति ॥ १९ ॥

एवं प्रसन्नमनसो भगवद्‍भक्तियोगतः । भगवत् तत्त्वविज्ञानं मुक्तसङ्गस्य जायते ॥ २० ॥

भिद्यते हृदयग्रन्थिः छिद्यन्ते सर्वसंशयाः । क्षीयन्ते चास्य कर्माणि दृष्ट एवात्मनीश्वरे ॥ २१ ॥[3]

Meaning: The reason is that Krishna, hearing and glorifying (whose episodes) is meritorious and who is the well-wisher of the good, exists in the hearts of the listeners to His narratives and shakes off all evil

When Evils are all but destroyed by continuous services of the devotees of the Lord (or the study of the Bhagavata) firm devotion to the Lord of excellent fame, is generated.

Then, mind, not being affected by perturbations (qualities or aspects) like Passions (rajas) and Ignorance (tamas) and by desire, avarice and others, and being stabilised in goodness, is quietened (soothed).

Thus the knowledge of the reality of the Lord is produced in the person whose mind is pacified and who has freed himself from attachment through the devotion of the Supreme Lord.

As soon as the Supreme Lord is seen within oneself, his knot (of ego) in the heart/mind is cut asunder, all doubts are solved and his actions (good or bad, of the previous period which are not exhausted by enjoying the fruits) are annihilated.[4]

शुश्रूषोः श्रद्दधानस्य वासुदेवकथारुचिः । स्यान्महत्सेवया विप्राः पुण्यतीर्थनिषेवणात् ॥ १६ ॥[3]

Meaning: Oh Brahmanas ! Love about the narratives of Vasudeva will be generated in (persons) desirous of hearing (or devoted to service) and full of faith, by performing holy pilgrimages and through the service of the great (holy) people.[4]

कीर्तनम् ॥ Keertanam

Keertanam refers to singing of his name and glories.

भगवत आदिपुरुषस्य नारायणस्य नामोच्चारणमात्रेण निर्धूतकलिर्भवतीति ॥ १ ॥

हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे । हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे ॥

इति षोडशकं नाम्नां कलिकल्मषनाशनम् । नातः परतरोपायः सर्ववेदेषु दृश्यते ॥[5]

Meaning: At the end of the Dvapara Yuga sage Narada approached Brahma and requested him to enlighten him on the path he should follow to alleviate the detrimental effects of Kali Yuga. Brahma said that by way of taking the name of the supreme Lord Narayana, all the tribulations of Kali Yuga will be washed away. These sixteen names to be chanted are as -

“Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare”[6]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 7, Adhyaya 5
  2. The Bhagavata Purana (Part III), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 1, Adhyaya 2
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Bhagavata Purana (Part I), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.
  5. Kali Santarana Upanishad
  6. Bijoy Ghosh (2018), A Critical study of the Vaisnavaite Upanisads of later origin, International Journal of Sanskrit Research.