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premarUpA

 

Chapter 1

ambA lakShmIramR^itasahabhUrabdhirAjanyakanyA
padmA vishvambharasahacharI padmasadmA rameti |
yo nAmaivam prapibati bhavannAmanAmAmR^itaugham
tasyaivAhurjanani sulabhAm samsR^itishrAntishAntim ||

Rahasya sahasranAma describes ambA as premarUpA. What is prema? Bhagavan nArada defines it thus:

guNarahitam kAmanArahitam pratikShaNavardhamAnam |
avicChinnaM sUkShmataraM anubhavarUpam ||

prema or love for the divine can never be expressed in words or analyzed through the sensory faculties: anivarchanIyam premasvarUpam. For the sake of the ignorant who mistake lower emotions for prema, nArada lists six lakShaNas of prema:

1. guNarahitam

One loves an object based on its visible, perceivable qualities. The same is not true in the case of bhakti or prema towards the Lord. Lord is complete with auspicious qualities such as aishvarya, yashaH, shrI, dharma, j~nAna and vairAgya. It is this set of qualities that attracts many towards the Lord. However, prema which has these qualities as lakShya rather than the Lord himself, cannot be referred to as bhakti. These qualities lead to shraddhA which gradually turns into premarUpa bhakti.

2. kAmanArahitam

Prema which involves a desire of any kind cannot be bhakti. Many worship the Lord for various desires and some for mokSha or salvation. shAstra rejects both these attitudes as ashuddha bhakti. A true bhakta showers prema on the Lord without any desire, be it bhukti or mukti.

It is said:

bhuktimuktispR^ihA yAvat pishAchI hR^idi vartate |
tAvat bhaktisukhasyAtra kathamabhyudayo bhavet ||

Till the ghost of desire for bhukti and mukti lingers in one's heart, how can true premarUpI bhakti arise?

Moreover, mokSha kAmi is the greatest of kAmi-s.

3. pratikShaNa vardhamAnam

There can be no limit for true prema towards the Lord as it is ever increasing.

4. avicChinnam

prema is uninterrupted like the stream of bhagavatI ga~NgA. Once the heart is filled with the nectar of bhagavad bhakti, the flow of this amr^ita is continuous without any break. Bhakti which appears in the mind only on ekAdashi or during a visit to the temple cannot be termed prema.

5. sUkshmataram

bhakti or prema is distinguished from other emotions by this statement: prema is subtler than the subtlest. It can never be equated to other longings directed towards the phenomenal world. Also, due to it highly subtle nature, it cannot be exactly described in words through upamAna.

6. anubhavarUpam

If prema cannot be described, how does one know about it? nArada has the answer, anubhavarUpam, only through direct experience.

Thus, prema is the homogeneous and integral experience of divine Love, devoid of attachment to attributes and selfish tendencies, highly subtle in nature and ever expanding.

aj~nAtabhaktirasamaprasaradvivekam
atyantagarvamanadhItasamastashAstram |
aprAptasatyamasamIpagataM cha mukteH
kAmAkShi naiva tava spR^ihayati dR^iShTipAtaH ||

Chapter 2

vINAgAnaprakaTitaparapremasAraM munIndram |
bhaktyAchAryaM bhavabhayanudaM naumyahaM nAradAkhyam ||

namastripurasundaryai

trirUpabha~NgapUrvakaM nityadAsya nityakAntA bhajanAtmakam prema kAryam premaiva kAryam || [nArada bhakti sUtra]

laukika bhakti is generally of three kinds:

1. bhaya bhakti

Some visualize ambA as a ferocious entity with great might and worship her out of fear with the thought, "If I do not worship her, she may harm me and my family". This is the main intent behind the worship of mArI, plegamma, masANamma and other such deities who are worshiped through pashu bali, madya nivedana etc. This so called bhakti, arising primarily out of fear, does not deserve to be called bhakti. Where there is true bhakti, there is not an iota of fear. When Lord sankarShaNa appeared in front of prahlAda in a ferocious form, all deities including ramA were frightened beyond measure. But prahlAda, the true bhakta that he was, approached the Lord fearlessly, touched his feet and even sat on his lap when lifted up by the Lord! That is the real example of bhakti, characterized by immeasurable prema or love for the divine.

2. kAma bhakti

Some are not scared of ambA but worship her primarily with the objective of fulfilling their desires. They read or hear from different sources that worshiping parAmbA grants all desires and with the main objective of achieving desires, worship her by reciting mantras, sahasranAma, chakrArchana etc. The desire can be anything, from getting a promotion to attaining good health. Those who perform kratus for the sake of fruits such as svarga prApti etc., also exhibit this category of bhakti. This way of bhakti, tainted by desires, is called kAma bhakti.

3. sAtishayatva bhakti

We visualize ambA as the great empress, we hear that her family comprises of divinities of immeasurable prowess such as mantriNI, daNDinI, kAmeshvara etc. We visualize her beautiful form and meditate on her divine abode called maNidvIpa. But as time progresses, these superficial attributes may supersede the recognition of the true nature of ambA, who is all-capable and complete even without any of these assumed attributes. When these aspects such as qualities, form and abode become the limiting factors in knowing the true nature of parAmbA, such bhakti comes to be termed as sAtishaya bhakti.

True bhakti, called parA, is untainted by these three attitudes of bhaya, kAma and paricChedaka buddhi. Thus, prema is possible only after trirUpa bha~Nga, the destruction of these three attitudes. This expression however has a deeper meaning. In the world, when we talk of love, there are three aspects to it: the love itself, the lover who is the Lord in this case and the loving one, who is the upAsaka. When true prema for nR^ikesari shines in the heart, these three distinctions disappear and only pure love remains. The sense of separation between the Lord and the upAsaka ceases and only true prema, which is the light of the Self, shines. When rahasya sahasranAma speaks of ambA as premarUpA, an uttamAdhikAri should interpret that to refer to parA bhakti or prema and understand clearly that ambA is AtmasvarUpiNI.

Now, it becomes clear that parA bhakti is not possible for all. So, what can I, as a gauNa bhakta, do? Is there no way to attain parA bhakti? Is there no way I can understand parA bhakti? The compassionate sage nArada teaches two attitudes which can help us in this direction.

nityadAsatva bhAva: A loving slave is completely dedicated to his master. He is happy with the little food given to him. He does not care for clothes, or salary. Every smile of his master is like a sunrise to him. A little word of praise is enough to send him to the seventh heaven. At the smallest command of his master, he is ready to give his life. By such selfless love to the master, the sense of "I" slowly begins to diminish, leading to a higher state of awareness. The best example for a bhakta who exhibited nityadAsatva bhAva towards the Lord is Anjaneya.

nityakAntA bhAva: When a lady marries her husband, she becomes one with him and finds joy in his joy. She changes every aspect of her personality to please her husband, without expecting anything but love from him. She craves for his attention and goes to the extent of fighting with yama to stay with him. Such an attitude towards the Lord
where selfless love is exhibited like a loving wife is called nityakAntA bhAva. bhagavatI jAnakI is the greatest example of this attitude.

Some misinterpret the following verse:

kalau kalmaShachittAnAm pApadravyopajIvinAm |
vidhikriyAvihInAnAm gatirgovindakIrtanam ||

"In the age of Kali, people are of sinful nature, live on sinful means and are devoid of varNAshrama dharma. For such people, the only refuge is the recitation of the divine name of the Lord". karmAndhas interpret the verse thus to negate the necessity of bhakti involving smaraNa, kIrtana etc., for those following varNAshrama dharma. This is untrue as the Lord says in the gItA shAstra:

kiM punarbrAhmaNAH puNyA bhaktA rAjarShayastathA ||

"Arjuna, when the sinners attain such great merits through bhakti, what to speak of the greatness of those AchAraniShTha brAhmaNas, who are engaged in bhagavadbhakti?"

prAyashchittAnyasheShANi tapaH karmAtmakAni vai |
yAni teShAmasheShANAm kriShNAnusmaraNam param ||

Chapter 3

ya eko vibhAti svataH shuddhachetAH
prakAshasvarUpo.api nAnevadhIShu |
sharAvodakastho yathA bhAnurekaH
sa nityopalabdisvarUpo.ahamAtmA ||

vande guruM sha~Nkaram

In Sruti, the explicit reference to bhakti occurs in shvetAshvaropaniShad:

yasya deve parA bhaktiH yathA deve tathA gurau |
tasyaite kathitA hyrathAH prakAshante mahAtmanaH ||

That bhakti is veda pratipAdyA is clarified by sage shANDilya:

bhaktiH prameyA shrutibhyaH ||

Venerable commentators on this sUtra point out various mantras from the Sruti which expound bhakti tattva. The Veda Stuti in shrImadbhAgavata purANa states that the purport of the Sruti is to expound not only Karma and j~nAna but Bhakti as well.

In manuShya prapa~ncha, anurAga is of three kinds:

1. Sneha: that which is expressed towards inferiors like son, daughter, disciples etc. [nimnagAmI]
2. Prema: that which is expressed towards equals like friends, spouse etc. [samAnagAmI]
3. shraddhA: that which is expressed towards superiors like parents, guru etc. [mAnyagAmI]

anurAga again can be:

1. kAmamUlaka: here the cause is svArtha and goal is anAtma vastu like indriya bhoga etc.
2. premamUlaka: here the cause is parArtha and goal is Atma vastu.

When a kAmI gets rid of svArthaparatA, parArthaparatA sets in and he becomes a premI. With growing prema towards the Divine, there is a proportionate decrease in svArtha. The spring of anurAga in his heart begins to flow on premabhUmi instead of kAmabhUmi. As ajn~na is the root cause for svArtha, only a premika is the adhikArin for superior bhakti. This is stated by the Lord in shrImadbhAgavata purANa:

mitho bhajanti ye sakhyaH svArthaikAntodyamA hite |
na tatra sauhR^idaM dharmaH svArthArthaM taddhi nAnyathA ||

sneha and other vR^ittis discussed above are laukika or associated with objects of the perishable world. Hence, there can be no enduring joy obtained from these forms of anurAga. When anurAga is turned towards paramAtman who is eternal and imperishable, enduring and limitless joy is obtained. Through the peaks of himashaila, jAhnavI flows in the form of three streams: [with different name, color, quality etc.] mandAkinI, alakanandA and bhAgIrathI. The different streams, on reaching the plain, merge and flow as one serene stream that destroys all sins, called ga~NgA. Thus, shraddhAdi vR^ittis, when made devoid of svArtha and diverted towards the plain called bhagavadbhAva, attain the form of parAnurakti, which is termed as bhakti.

Definition and lakShaNa of Bhakti are discussed variously, my favorite being the one from Sri Madhusudana Saraswati:

dravIbhAvapUrvikA manasaH bhagavadAkArarUpatA savikalpA vR^ittiH bhaktiH [shrI madhusUdana saraswatI]

manogatiravicchinnA yathA ga~NgAmbhaso.ambudhau |
lakShaNaM bhaktiyogasya nirguNasya hyudAhR^itam ||
ahaitukyavyavahitA yA bhaktiH purushottame || [bhAgavata purANa]

yA prItiravivekAnAM viShayeShvanapAyinI |
tvAmanusaratassA me hR^idayAnmApasarpatu || [prahlAda stuti, vishNu purANa]

sA tvasmin paramapemarUpA [nArada]

sA parAnuraktirIshvare [shANDilya]

alaukikeshwarAnurAgarUpA [a~NgIrasaH]

drutasya bhagavaddhArmAddhArAvAhikatAM gatA |
sarveshe manaso vR^ittiH bhaktirityabhidhIyate || [bhagavadbhaktirasAyane]

sarvopAdhivinirmuktaM tatparatvena nirmalam |
hR^iShIkeNa hR^ishIkeshasevanaM bhaktiruchayte || [nAradaH]

ananyamamatA viShNau mamatA premasa~NgatA |
bhaktirityucchyate bhIShmaprahlAdoddhavanAradaiH || [pA~ncharAtrAgame]

svarUpAnusandhAnaM bhaktirityabhidhIyate || [vivekachUDAmaNau]

Bhakti is classified into two: gauNI and parA. gauNI is again of two kinds: vaidhI and rAgAtmikA. vaidhI is classified into nine [shravaNa etc.] and rAgAtmikA into fourteen [hAsya etc.]. Thus, it becomes evident that during sAdhanA, the form of bhakti is gauNI, the siddhAvasthA of which leads to parA bhakti. Thus, gauNI is sAdhana and parA is sAdhya. So, the importance of gauNI as sopAna for parA bhakti is unquestionable.

vaidhI bhakti employs the assistance of Guru and the shAstras to discard niShiddha sAdhana and embrace vihita sAdhana. This leads to rAgAtmikA bhakti where an intense emotion [kAmarUpA sambandharUpA vA] towards the Lord begins to flow like tailadhArA. This leads to intense dispassion towards anything other than the Lord, preparing the Yogi to attain parA bhakti.

shriyaH patirya~jnapatiH prajApatiH
dhiyAM patirlokapatirdharApatiH |
patirgatishchAndhakavR^ishNisAtvatAm
prasIdatAm me bhagavAn satAM gatiH ||

nR^isimhAmAdim sharaNam prapadye

Chapter 4

nIlA tArA yasya pArshwe tam vande gaNanAyakam

It is said in the shAstra:

sa vai puMsAM paro dharmo yato bhaktiradhokShaje |
ahaitukyapratihatA yayAtmA suprasIdati ||

When the bhakti of an upAsaka towards the Lord is:

1. ahaitukI: free from the desire for the fruits
2. apratihatA: unceasing or continuous

then such bhakti induces the prAdhAnya of sattva guNa in the mind, paving way for the rise of tattva jnAna. The word adhokShaja is of special significance here. adhokShaja means he who is not perceivable through the sensory faculties like akShi i.e. avA~Ngmanasagochara, signifying the Atma tattva. This interpretation is especially true in the case of parA bhakti. Thus, sAdhya and sAdhana are both indicated in this verse.

The utility of Bhakti in attaining vairAgya and jnAna is stated elsewhere:

vAsudeve bhagavati bhaktiyogaH prayojitaH |
janayatyAshu vairAgyam jnAnaM yattahaitukam ||

For most, bhakti is prescribed towards a chosen saguNa mUrti. When the goal is mokSha, one would have to evaluate the mUrti or mantra chosen as the upAsya, for it is said:

mumukShavo ghorarUpAn hitvA bhUtapatInatha |
nArAyaNakalAH shAntA bhajanti hyanasUyavaH ||

Though the specific reference here is to shrImannArAyaNa, similar verses can be found regarding ambA, parameshwara, gaNapati, Aditya etc. According to mantra shAstra, every mantra has a specific effect, degree of which is based on the sincerity and efforts of the upAsaka. The same statement can be applied to the deity representing the mantra due to abheda between mantra and devatA. Not all devatAs and hence not all mantras are described as mokShada mantras in the shAstras based on this concept. It may be too secular to make the statement: all mantras grant mokSha, it is just the intent of the upAsaka. Though this may be true to a certain extent, one needs to consider the following points:

1. The mantra a person obtains from a Sadguru [no, we are not talking of crash courses or diksha packages] is based on the pravR^itti and intent of the sAdhaka. A Guru knows what mantra would work for a person at that moment based on his state, which naturally is the force shaping his intent.

2. Alternately, some mantras have the capability to change the intent of the upAsaka while accelerating chitta shuddhi, when recited without a desire for fruits.

3. Though intent of the upAsaka is important, how can reciting the mantra of a yakshi like maNimekhalA or udayasundarI grant Chitta Shuddhi or vairAgya? If someone claims to know of an upAsaka who did achieve jnAna through the upAsanA of yakShi, that would only indicate the uttamAdhikAra of such an upAsaka and he probably never required an upAsanA Krama to begin with.

4. Every mantra is said to have one chief purpose, called mukhya viniyoga and other auxiliary purposes. Those mantras which have mokSha as the mukhya viniyoga are termed as mokSha pradhAna mantras. Various scriptures list various mantras in this category and the pramANa accepted here should be in accordance with ones tradition. While vaiShNavAdi sampradAyas hold bhairavAdi mantras as tAmasika, tantra ascribes mokSha dAtrtva to these forms. Thus, the pramANa here is the Guru and sampradAya.

5. Finally, every mantra has a specific effect of the energetic body. For example, svarNAkarShaNa bhairava mantra activates kuhu nadi. How can activating kuhu nadi activate Kundalini, cleanse the nadi chakras and take one towards mukti? Many times, lots of mantras are credited with the power to grant puruShArtha chatuShTaya but such statements should be taken with a pinch of salt and pepper and interpreted as glorification of the mantra. Here again, to be able to distinguish between yathArtha and glorification, one should take refuge under the Guru, the lineage and the instructions from realized masters like Shankara who prescribed worship of pancha devatas for those seeking Chitta Shuddhi. This is especially true for those who are not uttamAdhikArins.

6. For the purpose of mano laya, any mantra, like the hamsa mantra, when recited with awareness, can instill stillness of the mind, forcing the mind to explore its own nature, resulting in the true awareness of its non-existence. For this purpose, any mantra can work. There is no deity here or bhakti and the approach is primarily nAstika in nature. This is certainly a valid method for enlightenment [the paribhasha of which is hardly universal!] and hence adopted by Astikas but cannot be equated with the approach of mantra shAstra or shrIvidyA tantra. There are similarities but they are not exactly the same.

In the current context, as sUta is specifically speaking of those worshipping the Lord for vairAgya and jnAna, he suggests the practice of niShkAma bhakti of vAsudeva through the eight or twelve lettered mantras, illustrated as mokSha mantras almost universally. Thus, the prescription here is to indulge in bhaktipUrvaka upAsanA of a chosen deity ascribed with mokSha dAtrtva, if the goal of the bhakti is mokSha. Whatever form or mantra is adopted for practice, the upAsaka is warned not to indulge in nindA or look down upon other vibhUtis of the Lord, each manifested by the Supreme with a specific purpose [hyanasUyavaH].

It is said:

yamAdibhiryogapathaiH kAmalobhahato muhuH |
mukundasevayA yadvattathAtmAddha na shAmyati ||

The mind is not calmed down completely by yamAdi yogas but certainly through bhakti towards parameshwara. This verse should again not be interpreted as nindA of yoga mArga but instead as prashamsA of the simplicity and universal accessibility of bhakti mArga in comparison.

So how really does one practice bhakti? Yama has the answer, which we shall examine in detail:

etAvAneva loke.asmin pumsAm dharmaH paraH smR^itaH |
bhaktiyogo bhagavati tannAmagrahaNAdibhiH ||

Also, the fact that bhakti can lead one to Atma jnAna after which naraka, svarga or mokSha are all same without any difference is stated by Bhagavan Shankara:

nArAyaNaparAH sarve na kutashchana bibhyati |
svargApavarganarakeshvapi tulyArthadarshinaH ||

Various sAdhana pathas are adopted based on adhikAra or qualification. strI shUdrAdayaH cannot indulge in various karmas and certain other paths are not universally suitable for upAsakas of all pravR^ittis. But the path of bhakti is suitable for all categories of upAsakas indicated here by the word "sarve", to which our attention is specifically drawn by shrIdhara svAmin.

nIlo.api rAgamadhikam janayan purAreH
lolo.api bhaktimadhikAm dR^iDhayan narANAm |
vakro.api devi namatAm samatAm vitanvan
kAmAkShi nR^ityatu mayi tvadapAN^gapAtaH ||

Chapter 5

One can pose the following practical question: Yes, bhaktireva garIyasI, but how can I develop bhakti? Uddhava answers this question:

dAna vrata tapo homa japa svAdhyAya saMyamaiH |
shreyobhirvivdhaishchAnyaiH kR^iShNe bhaktirhi sAdhyate ||

By performance of vihita karmas like dAna, vrata, tapaH, japa etc., gradually gauNI bhakti develops, further leading one towards parA bhakti. A blind person is incapable of distinguishing between black and white and similarly, those unaware of the shAstras are incapable of distinguishing between vihita and avihita [prescribed and banned] karmas as shruti and smriti form the two eyes of a dvija:

shrutismr^itI ubhe netre viprANAM parikIrtite |
ekena vikalaH kANo dvAbhyAmandhaH prakIrtitaH ||

The shAstra also says:

mukhabAhUrupAdebhyaH puruShasyAshramaiH saha |
chatvAro ja~jnire varNA guNairviprAdayaH pR^ithak ||
ya evaM puruShaM sAkShAdAtmaprabhavamIshwaram |
na bhajantyavajAnanti sthAnabhraShTAH patantyadhaH ||

The system of varNa and Ashrama originates from the parama puruSha as explained in mahAbhArata:

brahmaNo mukhataH sR^iShTo brAhmaNo rAjasattama |
bAhubhyAM kShatriyaH sR^iShTaH UrubhyAM vaishya uchyate ||
varNAnAM paricharyArthaM trayANAM puruSharShabha |
varNashchaturthaH pashchAttu padbhyAM shUdro vinirmitaH ||

Thus, those who do not adhere to their svdharma based on the varNa and Ashrama cannot be called as bhaktas of the parama puruSha and they attain adho gati. The pramANa here is bhagavadvAkya itself:

varNAnAmAshramANAM cha yA maryAdA mayA kR^itA |
tAM ye samanuvartante prasAdasteShu sambhavet ||

My grace is obtained by those who follow the varNa and ashrama dharma that is established by me.

The Lord also declares those not following varNAshrama dharma as pAtakis elsewhere:

shrutiH smR^itirmamaivAj~nA yastAmullaMghya vartate |
Aj~nAcChedI mama drohI madbhakto.api na vaiShNavaH ||

But is mechanical performance of vihita karma with disregard to bhagavdbhakti of any use? The Lord says: dharma, tapaH, satya etc., when devoid of bhagavadbhakti [i.e. performed with an objective other than bhagavatprINana], cannot grant chitta shuddhi or j~nAna:

dharmaH satyadayopeto vidyA vA tapasAnvitA |
madbhaktyA petamAtmAnaM na samyak prapunAti hi ||

Only when bhakti becomes ripe in an upAsaka and anugraha of the Lord begins to shine luminously in his heart, he attains anAsakti in laukika and vaidika karma vyavahAra:

yadA yasyAnugR^ihNAti bhagavAnatmabhAvitaH |
sa jahAti matiM loke vede cha pariniShThatAm ||

devarShi nArada rejects even the upAdhi nivartaka jnAna devoid of karma vAsanA, if without bhagavadbhakti:

naiShkarmyamapyachyutabhAvavarjitam
na shobhate j~nAnamalaM nira~njanam |
kutaH punaH shashvadabhadramIshvare
na charpitaM karma yadapyakAraNam ||

Hence, even the great knowers of the Self who are free from samsAra granthi, engage in niShkAma bhakti of the Lord:

AtmArAmAshcha munayo nirgranthA apyurukrame |
kurvantyahaitukIM bhaktiM itthaMbhUtaguNo hariH ||

Though j~nAna, vairAgya etc. are attained through bhakti, a true bhakta never practices bhakti for these or even for mokSha. They are devoid of even mokSha kAma:

na ki~nchit sAdhavo dhIrA bhaktyA hyekAntino mama |
vA~nChantyapi mayA dattaM kaivalyamapunarbhavam ||

sharvANi sarvajanavanditapAdapadme
padmacChadacChaviviDambitanetralakShmi |
niShpApamUrtijanamAnasarAjahaMsi
haMsi tvamApadamnekavidhAM janasya ||

Chapter 6

shvetaM varAhavapuShaM kShitimuddharantam
sha~NkhArisarvavaradAbhayayuktahastam |
dhyAyennijaishcha tanubhiH sakalairupetam
pUrNaM vibhuM sakalavA~nChitasiddhaye.ajam ||

shrImAtre namaH

Sri Kapila recommends satsanga as an important factor in developing bhakti:

satAM prasa~NgAnmama vIryasamvido
bhavanti hR^itkarNarasAyanAH kathAH |
tajjoshaNAdAshvapavargavartmani
shraddhA ratirbhaktiranukramiShyati ||

By involving oneself in satsanga [company of the good and the devoted], one gets to hear the lIlAmR^ita of the Lord, leading one gradually towards shraddhA, rati and bhakti, which result in eternal bliss through avidyA nivrR^itti.

The Lord states the following to nArada:

satsevayA dIrghayA.api jAtA mayi dhR^iDhA matiH |

"O Narada! By the merit of continued service done by you to my devotees, you have attained dhr^iDha bhakti in me".

The following is stated by prachetasa:

tulayAmi lavenApi na svargaM nApunarbhavam |
bhagavatsa~Ngisa~Ngasya martyAnAM kimutAshiyaH ||

Neither svarga nor freedom from rebirth are comparable even faintly to the pleasure of the company of bhagavad bhaktas. That being the case, what to speak of material possessions like kingdom etc.?

yatpAdasamshrayAH sUta munayaH prashamAyanAH |
sadyaH punantyupasR^iShTAH svardhunyApo.anusevayA ||

One attains purity by drinking the sacred water of Ganga. But even this takes a while and not immediate as, though ga~NgA was born from the lotus feet of the Lord, she is not stationed there. But by taking refuge at the feet of the great sages who are immersed in Bhakti, sanctity is attained immediately as they are ever stationed at the lotus feet of bhagavAn and the Lord is ever stationed in their heart.

aho vayaM janmabhR^ito.adya hAsma
vR^iddhAnuvR^ityApi vilomajAtAH |
dauShkulyamAdhiM vidhunoti shIghram
mahattamAnAmabhidhAnayogaH ||

shAstras state that the birth of a person in a particular varNa are determined by his pre-doings and birth itself brings certain merits and de-merits. Though births such as mlecCha or viloma are considered as associated with sin, there is an easy way to cleanse oneself of it: serving the saints and bhagavatas, which inculcates bhakti. When the father is of a higher varNa than the mother, the resulting offspring is an anuloma santAna. The varNa of such a santAna is mishra. The offspring resulting out of the union between the mother of a higher varNa and the father of a lower varNa is pratiloma santAna and the varNa is said to be hIna. Sage sUta himself is a pratiloma santAna owing to his mother being a brAhmaNI and father a kShatriya. But, as he states in the above verse, by service to bhAgavatas and j~nAna vrddhas, he absolved himself of all sins and attained the status of a great R^ishi.

bhaktistu kA yadi bhavedratibhAvabheda-
statkevalAnvayitayA viphalaiva bhaktiH |
prItistvayi trijagadAtmani kasya nAsti
svAtmadruho na khalu santi janAstrilokyAm ||