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Srimad Bhagavatam

SB 1.6 - Nārada's attempt to see the lost form of the Lord

Nārada desired to see that form again but despite his attempts to concentrate his mind upon the heart with eagerness to view the form again, he could not see the Lord, and thus became aggrieved. There is no mechanical process to see the form of the Lord. It completely depends on the causeless mercy of the Lord. One should simply await the opportune moment and go on discharging his prescribed duty in devotional service of the Lord. Nārada thought that he could see the form of the Lord again by the same mechanical process which was successful in the first attempt, but he could not see the form again. The Lord is bound only by unalloyed devotion, and when He is pleased with our sincere attempt of devotional service, He may be seen out of His own accord.

Seeing Nārada’s attempts, the Personality of Godhead, spoke to him just to mitigate Nārada’s grief. In the Vedas it is said that the Lord is beyond the approach of mundane words and intelligence. And yet by His causeless mercy, one can have suitable senses to hear Him or speak to Him. The Lord was pleased with Nārada, and thus gave Nārada necessary strength to hear Him. It is not possible for others to perceive directly the touch of the Lord during the probationary stage of regulative devotional service. It was a special gift for Nārada. Because Nārada had bhakti arising from vaidhi-sādhana, he had realization of the sweetness of the Lord’s fragrance, beauty and speech in his present body. The complete experience with all other types of sweetness (touch, taste etc) would be experienced in the future in his spiritual body. A devotee in love with God feels always the pangs of separation and is therefore always enwrapped in transcendental ecstasy.

SB 1.6 - The Lord increases the hankering to increase prema

The Supreme Lord said that during this lifetime, Nārada would not be able to see the Lord anymore. Those who are incomplete in service (avipakva), and who are not free from material taints (kaṣāyāṇāṁ), can hardly see the Lord. The Lord is the supreme pure and there is no trace of materiality in His person. When one is free from the modes of passion and ignorance, one becomes free from lust and covetousness, and thus his devotional life begins. But Nārada was already pure. So what material dirt could be covering his heart? Śrīla Prabhupāda hints that Nārada was still covered by goodness. Jīva Gosvāmī mentions that some persons purify themselves, but remain with sattva-guṇa, and thus are attached to living in the forest. The balanced mode of nature is goodness, and one has to go beyond goodness to see God. The best thing is to live in a place where the transcendental form of the Lord is worshipped. The temple of the Lord is a transcendental place, whereas a forest, where one goes to meditate on the Lord, is a materially good habitation. Thus one is advised to worship the Lord in the temple. Viśvanātha Cakravartī says that lax practitioners with contamination cannot see the Lord. However, Nārada did see the Lord and so was not a faulty practitioner. And in his current life, Nārada can turn every place into Vaikuṇṭha just by his presence. He engaged many devotees like Prahlāda, Dhruva and others in the service of the Lord.

The Lord said that Nārada had seen Him only once in person, and this was to increase Nārada’s desire for the Lord. The Lord shows Himself one time only to a person practicing in his present body (sādhaka-deha) who has developed prema. The infant state of prema in the sādhaka’s body matures to a youthful state in the siddha-deha by an increase of prema arising from longing in separation. That youthful prema allows the devotee to see the Lord constantly and serve Him directly. The more one hankers for the Lord, the more one will be freed from all material desires. A living being cannot be vacant of desires. When his desires are material, he becomes entangled, and when he thinks, feels and wills for the service of the Lord, he becomes gradually free from all entanglement. The more a person is engaged in the loving service of the Lord, the more he acquires a hankering for it. Material service has satiation, whereas spiritual service has neither satiation nor end. By intense service of the Lord, one can experience the presence of the Lord transcendentally. There was no material desire in Nārada, and yet to increase his intense desire for the Lord, he was so advised.

SB 1.6 - The eternal nature of devotional service

By service of the Absolute Truth even for a few days, a devotee like Nārada attains firm intelligence in Kṛṣṇa. When Nārada would give up his current body, he would become the Lord’s associate. Serving the Absolute Truth means rendering service to the Lord under the direction of a bona fide guru, who is a transparent via medium between the Lord and the devotee. By such training, the devotee gets intelligence in transcendental service, which leads him to become one of the associates of the Lord in the transcendental world, after giving up the deplorable material worlds. Intelligence engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s devotion cannot be thwarted at any time. By His mercy, one’s remembrance would continue at the time of creation as well as at the time of annihilation. Since the Lord is eternal, anything done in His service is permanent. Transcendental service rendered to the Lord accumulates birth after birth, and when the devotee is fully matured, he is eligible to enter into the association of the Lord. Such accumulation of God’s service is never vanquished, but increases till fully matured.

SB 1.6 - The transcendental sound vibration

Then the Lord, personified by sound and unseen by eyes, stopped speaking. That the Lord was not seen but only heard does not make any difference. He produced the four Vedas by His breathing, and He is seen and realized thru the sound of the Vedas. Similarly, the Bhagavad gītā is the sound representation of the Lord, and there is no difference in identity. The Lord can be seen and heard by persistent chanting of the transcendental sound.

Nārada bowed his head and offered obeisances to Him. Then Nārada began chanting the holy name and fame of the Lord ignoring all formalities of the material world. Such chanting and remembering of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord are benedictory. Nārada simply awaited the time when the Lord would award him mercy by making him an associate. A devotee, after initiation takes very seriously chanting the glories of the Lord and traveling all over the world so that others may also hear the glories of the Lord. Such devotees are never envious of anyone, nor are they proud of being eligible to go back to Godhead. They chant and remember about the Lord, and according to personal capacity distribute the message for others’ welfare without motive of material gain.

SB 1.6 - Nārada's change of body

In due course of time, Nārada, who was fully absorbed in thinking of Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-mater), being completely freed from all material taints, met with death, as lightning and illumination occur simultaneously. A devotee, who is guaranteed to pass on to the kingdom of God, where life is eternal, fully cognizant and blissful, has no hankering for material things. And in due course of time, when a pure devotee is completely prepared, the change of body occurs. A devotee simultaneously changes his material body and develops a spiritual body exactly like illumination following lightning immediately. It is said that the intelligence even when identified with the Lord completely, being non different, still has the ability to make distinctions. But this case was different. Intelligence could not make a distinction. Suddenly the two things – disappearance of the material body and attainment of the spiritual body – simultaneously made their appearance. Even before death, a pure devotee has no material affection, due to his body being spiritualized like a red hot iron in contact with fire.

SB 1.6 - Destroying prārabdha-karmas

As soon as he quit his material body made of five material elements, Nārada got his spiritual body, which was invested with three transcendental qualities – eternity, freedom from modes, and freedom from reactions of karma. This body was befitting an associate of the Personality of Godhead. A devotee’s body becomes at once surcharged with the transcendental qualities as soon as he is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. Dhruva and Prahlāda were able to see the Lord face to face in the same body. This means that the quality of a devotee’s body changes from material to transcendence. Only the devotee is exempt from the law of karma by the causeless mercy of the Lord.

The bodies of the Lord’s associates are pure, without prārabdha-karmas, and eternal. The prārabdha-karmas were not destroyed just now (when Nārada gave up his sādhaka body) but previously, for that is accomplished by sādhana. Prārabdha karmas do not remain with the devotees who have developed prema-bhakti. For those practicing pure bhakti, destruction of prārabdha karmas takes place during sādhana-bhakti. Even an outcaste who chants the name of the Lord once gives up his body. Since we do not see anyone giving up their body simultaneously with chanting, ‘body’ here means his prārabdha-karmas which are experienced in the present body. By the association of bhakti the body becomes free of the three guṇas as seen in the case of Dhruva. Thus giving up the body means giving up the body made of three guṇas. Sometimes the Lord shows devotees, literally, giving up their bodies in order that the opinion of others are not negated. Thus Nārada, who had developed prema already, gave up his body. However he had already destroyed his prārabdha karmas during his practice of bhakti.

SB 1.6 - The awakening of Brahmā and others

At the end of the millennium (kalpa) when Brahmā withdrew the universe with his breathing, and Lord Nārāyaṇa lay down within the water of devastation, Brahmā began to enter into Him along with all the creative elements. Nārada also entered thru the Lord’s breathing. Nārada is also known as the son of Brahmā, as Lord Kṛṣṇa is known as the son of Vasudeva. The birth of Nārada as the son of Brahmā is a transcendental pastime. The Lord and His liberated devotees like Nārada appear in the material world by the same process. After 4 billion 300 million solar years (at the end of previous kalpa and the beginning of this kalpa), when Brahmā awoke to create again by the will of the Lord, all the sages like Marīci, Aṅgirā, Atri and so on were created from the transcendental body of the Lord, and Nārada also appeared along with them.

Brahmā’s day is 4,320,000,000 solar years. His night is also the same duration, during which he rests within the body of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. When the sages appear from the different parts of the body of Viṣṇu, Nārada also appears. It is said that the sages are born from the senses of Brahmā. Their birth is actually an awakening from sleep only. This means that Nārada appears in the same transcendental body, just as a man awakes from sleep in the same body. Nārada appears and disappears in his own transcendental body, which is without distinction of body and soul, unlike conditioned beings. Unlike the other sages, Nārada can travel outside the universe because of his devotional service. He is a special soul and stayed in the Lord’s body for 4000 yuga cycles. Sages like Nārada and Marīci do not take physical births, but like Brahmā awaken themselves.

SB 1.6 - The liberated spaceman

By the mercy of Mahā Viṣṇu, Nārada can travel anywhere within the three worlds and also outside of them because he is fixed in unbroken devotional service of the Lord. Nārada can enter all planets in both the material and spiritual spheres without restriction, as much as the Lord is free to move personally in any part of His creation. Unlike Marīci and other sages with material bodies involved in karma yoga, and the Kumāras involved in jñāna, Nārada is above karma and jñāna. Those who are karma-yogīs do not go beyond the universe. Those who have attained Brahman do not go into the material universe out of fear of bondage of karma. But Nārada is a liberated spaceman, and the prime authority in devotional service. He travels singing the glories of the Lord, vibrating the instrument called vīṇā, which was gifted to him by Kṛṣṇa. The seven singing meters ṣa (ṣaḍja), ṛ (ṛṣabha), gā (gāndhāra), ma (madhyama), pa (pañcama), dha (dhaivata) and ni (niṣāda) are transcendental and specifically meant for transcendental songs. These seven notes are sometimes compared to the sounds of animals: sa – peacock; re- bull; ga – goat; ma – heron; pa – kokila (cuckoo); dha – horse; ni – elephant. Nārada fulfills his obligation to the Lord for His gift of the instrument, and thus always sings the Lord’s glories.

SB 1.6 - The Lord immediately appears where His names are chanted

As soon as Nārada begins to chant His holy activities, Kṛṣṇa at once appears on the seat of Nārada’s heart. The Absolute Lord is not different from His transcendental name, form, pastimes and the sound vibrations thereof. As soon as a pure devotee engages in hearing, chanting and remembering the Lord, the Lord at once becomes visible to the transcendental eyes of the devotee by reflecting Himself on the mirror of the heart by spiritual television. The pure devotee can experience the presence of the Lord at every moment. The Lord, like any other individual being, likes to hear and enjoy His personal glories enumerated by others. The difference is that the Lord is the greatest personality of all and absolute in all His affairs. And the Lord appears to give mercy to the devotees and not for His own glorification. Nārada chants the glorification of the Lord not for his personal benefit but because the glorifications are identical with the Lord. Previously, despite his repeated attempts, Nārada could not see the Lord. That was because of the presence of the mode of goodness in him. But now in his spiritual body, whenever he chanted, the Lord appeared as if called for.

SB 1.6 - Chanting is the main anga of bhakti

Those who are full of cares and anxieties due to desiring contact of the senses with their objects can cross the ocean of nescience on the boat of constant chanting of the transcendental activities of Lord Hari (haricarya). Materialistic men are always busy thinking and discussing subjects of sense gratification. Such sensual activities, being carried out under the influence of māyā, do not give them any satisfaction. On the contrary, they become full with cares and anxieties. That which cannot give them satisfaction is accepted as an object for satisfaction. If one wants actual happiness, one must change the subject matter to discussing about the Lord. The Lord descends on earth and manifests activities almost like worldly men, but at the same time He does things in an extraordinary way. He does so for the benefit of all conditioned souls so that they can turn their attention to transcendence. Nārada, by his personal experience, has stated that by discussing the Lord’s activities, one can cross over the ocean of nescience. Because kīrtanam is the main aṅga of bhakti, it is mentioned. However, all limbs of bhakti will be effective.