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2- Narad's Encounter with Bhaktidevi and His Vow to Propagate Devotion

Jun 15th, 2024 | 7 Min Read
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Category: Bhagavat Purana


Language: English

Shaunakji inquires of Sutji how Narad and Sanat Kumars come to meet. Sutji narrates that Narad encounters Sanat Kumars at a place known as Vishalapuri. Narad journeys there to interact with the revered sages. Observing Narad's despondency, Sanat Kumars inquire about the cause. Narad explains that despite visiting various sacred sites such as Pushkar, Prayag, Kashi, Godavari, Haridwar, Kurukshetra, Shrirang, and Setubandh, he still finds no peace. He laments the surge of hypocrisy on Earth due to the influence of Kaliyug.

While wandering around, Naradaji reaches the banks of Yamuna in Vrindavan, the place of Shree Krishna's divine leela. There, he sees a great wonder. A young girl is sitting in a sad state. Two old men are unconscious with her. The girl is trying to wake them up. Other women are fanning and consoling the weeping young woman. When Naradji asks, the young woman tells her story. She says her name is Bhaktidevi, and the two older men are her sons, Gyan (representing knowledge) and Vairagya (representing detachment). The women fanning her are holy rivers. Bhaktidevi says that she was born in the Draviddesh, grew up in Karnataka, and was respected in some places in Maharashtra, but old age surrounded her in Gujarat. After coming to Vrindavan, she regained her youth! However, her sons, Gyan and Vairagya, remained old and weak. This strange turn of events left Bhaktidevi heartbroken.

Using his divine insight, Narad understood the situation. The rising influence of Kaliyug, an age of darkness, weakened people's devotion. But Vrindavan, a place filled with love for Krishna, could revitalise Bhaktidevi's devotion. However, her sons, symbolising knowledge and detachment, were less valued in a land focused on pure devotion.

Bhaktidevi, still troubled, questioned why King Parikshit, Abhimanyu's son and Arjun's grandson, allowed such darkness to fall upon his kingdom. Narad explained that Kaliyug began the day Shree Krishna returned to his divine abode. His absence marked the beginning of the Kaliyug.

Once, King Parikshit encounters Kaliyug taking shelter in his kingdom. Enraged, he asks Kaliyug to leave his kingdom or face death. Kaliyug, however, begs him for mercy. Parikshit, being a wise king, thinks:
Yatphalam Nasti Tapasa Na Yogen Samadhina,
Tatphalam Labhate Samyakkalau Keshavkirtan.
"The fruit which is not obtained even by tapasya, yoga and samadhi in preceding Yugas, the same fruit can be obtained very easily merely by doing Shree Hari kirtan in Kaliyug." (Bhagavat Mahatmya 1-1-68)

Thus, despite being devoid of any essence, the king allowed Kaliyug to enter his kingdom after seeing its one supreme virtue.

Nature of Kaliyug

The scriptures warn that during Kaliyug, even sacred practices can lose meaning. Brahmins recite the Bhagavat Katha in every house, but their focus might only be on earning money, which is why the true essence of the Bhagavat Katha is lost. Pilgrimage sites, once havens for spiritual seekers, could become filled with those who have committed sins, those who doubt the divine, or even those condemned to hell. This influx dilutes the essence of these holy places. Similarly, the very act of penance becomes meaningless as people perform it for showoff, and meditation's benefits are lost if approached with greed, arrogance, or hypocrisy. Even scholars focusing solely on producing more children might neglect the path to salvation. In essence, the core of all spiritual practices risks being lost during Kaliyug. This is not the fault of any person but rather the nature of this age. Even God tolerates this decline as part of the cosmic cycle.

Naradji sings the glory of Bhakti.

Naradji explains to Bhaktidevi, "Why are you regretting yourself unnecessarily? Why are you so worried? Think of the lotus feet of Shree Krishna; by his grace, all your sorrows will be removed. Krishna, who had protected Draupadi from the atrocities of Kauravas and had looked after the Gopis, has not gone anywhere. Besides, you are Bhakti and are always dearer to him than his life; on your call, God enter even the houses of sinners." Naradji further says that in these three Yugas – Satya, Treta and Dwapar – knowledge and detachment were the means of liberation, but in Kaliyug, only Bhakti can make one attain liberation. Thinking this, only Shree Hari has created you from His True Form; You are the beloved of Shri Krishnachandra Himself. Once, when you asked with folded hands, "What should I do?" the Shree Krishna commanded you to "nourish my devotees." You accepted that command of Him; due to this, Shree Hari was very pleased with you and gave you Mukti as a maidservant to serve you and these Gyan and Vairagya as sons. You nourish the devotees in Golok with your visible form only; in Bhulok, you have only assumed the form of a shadow to nourish them.

Then, Bhaktidevi, the Goddess of devotion, came to the Earth with Mukti, Gyan and Vairagya and lived there with great happiness from Satyayug to Dwaparayug. In Kaliyug, her maid Mukti was suffering from the disease of hypocrisy and was weakening. Therefore, she immediately went to Vaikunthaloka on the orders of Bhakti. In Kaliyug, she comes and goes only when Bhakti invokes her. However, Bhaktidevi kept Gyan and Vairagya with herself, considering them her son. Still, due to being neglected in Kaliyug, they have become old and demotivated.

Narad's promise to preach devotion

After consoling Bhaktidevi, Narad says he will think of any means to give Gyan and Vairagya a new life. 
Kalina sadrishah kopi yugo nasti varanane,
Tasminstvam sthapayishyami gehe gehe jane jane.
"There is no age like the age of Kali; in this age, I will establish Bhakti (devotion) in the heart of every man in every home."⁠ (Bhagavat Mahatmya 1-2-13)
Anyadharman tiraskritya puraskritya mahotsavan,
Tada naham harerdasoh loke tvam na pravartaye.
"If I do not propagate devotion in the world by leaving aside all other religions and keeping only the elements related to devotion in the forefront, then I am not a servant of Shree Hari." (Bhagavat Mahatmya 1-2-14)

In the current age of Kaliyug, individuals who possess true devotion, even if they are perceived as sinners, will ultimately attain Shree Krishna's divine abode. Those with pure hearts, filled with love and devotion for Shree Krishna, are shielded from the fear of Yamraj, even in dreams. Not even ghosts, vampires, devils, or demons can come near those in whose hearts Bhaktidevi resides.
Na tapobhirna vedaishcha na jnanena api karmaṇa,
Harir hi sadhyate bhaktya pramanam tatra gopikah.
"God cannot be controlled by any means like penance, the study of Vedas, wisdom and action, etc. He can be controlled only by devotion. Gopis of Vrindavan is the proof of this." (Bhagavat Mahatmya 1-2-18)
Nrunam janma-sahasrena bhaktau pritir hi jayate,
Kalau bhaktih kalau bhaktir bhaktya krishnah purah sthitah.
"Human beings develop a love for devotion due to the good deeds of thousands of births. In Kaliyug, only devotion, only devotion is the essence. With devotion, Shree Krishna Himself appears before you." (Bhagavat Mahatmya 1-2-19)

Naradji, while singing the glory of devotion, says those who denounce devotion experience nothing but sorrow in all three worlds. There is no need for many means, such as fasting, pilgrimage, yoga, yajna, recitation of scriptures, etc. Only devotion can give liberation. ⁠

Naradji's glorification of devotion rekindled Bhaktidevi's spirit, bathing her body in youthful vitality. She says, "Naradji! You are blessed. You have an unwavering love for me. I will always remain in your heart; I will never leave you. You are very kind. You have removed all my sorrows in a moment. But my sons have not yet gained consciousness; please make them aware and awaken them soon."

Hearing these words from Bhakti, Naradji felt compassionate and took Gyan and Vairagya by hand. He began to wake him up by shaking them. Then, putting his mouth near their ear, he said loudly, "O Gyan! Wake up quickly; O Vairagya! Wake up quickly." Then he woke them up by repeatedly singing hymns from Vedas and Vedanta and reciting the Gita. Due to this, Bhaktidevi's sons somehow got up with great effort. However, they kept yawning due to laziness and could not even open their eyes to see. Naradji got very worried seeing them sleeping again and started thinking, "What should I do now? How can their sleep and, more than that, their old age be removed?" While thinking in this manner, he started meditating upon Shree Krishna.⁠ At the same time, an akashvani (voice from the sky) said, "Muni! Do not be sorry.⁠ For this, you need to do one good deed about which sages will guide you, and as soon as you perform that good deed, the old age of Gyan and Vairagya will vanish in a moment, and devotion will spread everywhere."⁠
Everyone there clearly heard this akashvani, but Naradji was surprised and said I do not understand its meaning. After this, Naradji started travelling from place to place in search of saints to understand the significance of the akashvani.

Summary: JKYog India Online Class- Shreemad Bhagavat Katha [Hindi]- 14.06.2024