Again and again Sri Ramakrishna emphasized that for Kali Yuga, the path of devotion as described by Narada is indeed, the best and the easiest. This is but an echo of the experience and verdict of innumerable saints and holy men who have preceded him. The aphoristic statements of Narada are likely to appear to the superficial reader a group of eighty four recondite devotional sayings. The fact is quite different. For, one will find, on examination that all of them fall within a scheme with perfect inner coherence, if one studies them bearing in mind the relation subsisting between the various aspects of Divine Love.
Supreme Divine Love, together with the steps leading to it, is called Bhakti or devotion. The phenomenon of Bhakti therefore has a pre-mature stage, designated as Aparabhakti and a mature stage of subjective experience known as Parabhakti. Mature Divine Love may be viewed again subjectively and objectively. The transcendental aspect of it is an uncharacterizable, incommunicable, and ineffable experience of unsurpassed bliss and illumination always equated with Self-realization or God-realization. It is also called Liberation-in-Life, or Perfect Gnosis. The marks that may be observed in a person who possesses this perfect realization, when that realization expresses through his moods, thoughts, words, and deeds, are called the objective aspect of Parabhakti. The first chapter of the book describes these various aspects of Parabhakti in twenty four solemn and lucid aphorisms. In the second chapter this Parabhakti is extolled as superior to all spiritual disciplines, and all who are aspiring after liberation are exhorted to seek after that and that alone.
Aparabhakti, or the pre-mature stage of Divine Love, is further subdivided into Gaunibhakti and Mukhya-bhakti styled as Vaidhabhakti and Raganugabhakti by Sri Ramakrishna. The former division of this classification refers to a preparatory stage of discipline, and the latter to the most advanced stage resulting from the practice of that preparatory discipline; but both are only means to the highest-realization. While Parabhakti is of the nature of the actual realization of the goal itself, or the full maturation of the whole endeavour, Aparabhakti is a stage prior to the attainment of that maturation; and therefore it involves effort and gradual achievement; it is a process. The most advanced stage of Aparabhakti, called Mukhyabhakti or Ekantabhakti, supervenes upon the fulfillment of the duties enjoined on the novitiate in the disciplinary Path of Devotion, as a result of Divine Grace which then naturally flows into the devotee's heart. This stage prepares the mind of the devotee fully and perfectly for the final realization; and God then blesses him with divine illumination instantaneously. The third chapter sets forth at length with much psychological insight, the moral rules and spiritual discipline of Vaidhabhakti which the aspirant ought to practice with meticulous care, unflagging zeal and unbroken continuity. The fourth chapter characterizes the behaviour of the aspirant who, as a result of the above discipline, has come to have Raga-Bhakti in which God-realization is immediate and inevitable. The closing chapter, which is the fifth, depicts how the Mukhya-Bhakta lives in the world, how he satisfies all beings, what blessings society derives from him, and how God reveals Himself to him as his most beloved Self and how the Mukhya-Bhakti transforms itself into the Parabhakti.
From the above synopsis the logical sequence underlying the aphorisms is evident. The divine sage Narada declares to the entire humanity through his auspicious Gospel, with the anxiety of a great saviour, the existence of immortal divine bliss as the birth right of all; admonishes ignorant man to strive for it, leaving aside all allurements of sense life; instructs the seeking aspirant about the methods by which he may attain to the goal; heartens the seekers after the Divine with the shining example of the perfect devotees; and assures and gladdens all by his own experience and example how the Master and Lord of all universe is ever eager to confer upon the earnest and one-pointed lover of God his unconditional grace, by the power of which he attains freedom from Samsara and eternal bliss.
Swami Anupamanandaji Maharaj, a senior monk belonging to the Ramakrishna Order explains this important text book of devotion in his simple english along with a lucid relevant-to-modern-times commentary for the benefit of a many seekers of Truth. We are trying to reach out to more and more people across the world through this electronic medium by publishing these lectures as they are delivered in this website.
May Narada's Gospel of divine love in this setting be helpful to many to reach the goal of life, God-realization.