The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes The Path of Bhakti (Bhaktiyoga) and The Power of Time which is chapter 29 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the twenty-ninth chapter of the Third Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 29 - The Path of Bhakti (Bhaktiyoga) and The Power of Time

Devahūti said:

1. Oh Lord, the accurate description of the Mahat and other principles and of the Prakṛti and Puruṣa as described in the Sāṃkhya-Śāstra has been narrated—the accurate description by which the real nature of these (Sāṃkhya) principles is correctly understood. It is said to be the source of the Bhakti Yoga. Please tell (explain) to me in details the path of the Bhakti-yoga.

3. Oh revered Kapila, please tell me the different types of births (existences) of this world of living beings, by hearing which a man becomes free from attachment to everything (and everywhere) in the world.

4. Please tell me about the nature of your all-powerful Kāla or Time. He is regarded as the controller of the great (gods like Brahmā). It is because (of the fear of) Time that people take to good actions.

5. You have certainly manifested yourself as the Sun shedding light on the Yoga, in order to awaken the people who are ignorant and hence full of ahaṃkāra (pride) about unreal objects (like their body etc.) and are exhausted due to the attachment of their minds to actions (karmas) and are hence fast asleep for a long time in the unending darkness of saṃsāra.

Maitreya said:

6. Oh prominent Kuru! The great sage hailed with joy the beautiful speech of his mother. Being pleased with her and out of compassion (for her), he spoke to her.

The Lord said:

7. Oh mother, the path of Bhakti is regarded as having many branches; for the objects of men differ according to their natural dispositions and attributes (like sattva etc.)

8. He who becomes my devotee with the intention of doing injury (to others) or out of hypocrisy and jealousy or under the influence of anger or with an outlook full of differences (or with incorrect outlook of things), is called a Tāmasa type of devotee.

9. He who, with a desire of worldly pleasures or of fame or authoritative power, worships me in my images and entertains notions of difference, is a devotee of rājasa type.

10.[1] He who wishes to purge all (his) karmas, or desires to dedicate them to the Supreme Lord or worships the Lord with the simple objective of worship (and expecting no return for it) but entertains the idea of difference[2], is called a devotee of the Sāttvika type.

11-12. Just as the waters of the Gaṅgā continuously flow into the sea, similarly by merely listening to (the description of) my qualities the mind incessantly flows to me who reside in the hearts of all (beings). This close and intimate devotion to the Lord (Puruṣottama), without any ulterior motive, is definitely regarded as the characteristic of the nirguṇa type of Bhakti yoga.

13. Even if the kinds of liberation (muktis), viz. residence in the same region with me (sālokya), equality in wealth, power and glory like me (sārṣṭi), staying near me (sāmīpya), similarity of form like me (sārupya [sārūpya?]) and even union with God (ekatva) are offered to these persons (the nirguṇa- bhaktas) they do not accept anything except my service.

14. That only is called the absolute[3] (and the highest) Bhaktiyoga whereby one transcends the trinity of guṇas (and the saṃsāra caused by them) and attains to my state (Brahma- hood).

15. The mind of the man (my nirguṇa devotee) becomes purified by careful performance of daily religious duties without any motive, by performance of disinterested worship with ardent faith (as prescribed in the Pañcarātra āgama) without involving the least injury to beings[4].

16. by beholding at my image, by touching, worshiping praising and bowing to me, by regarding me (as residing) in all beings, by firmness or fortitude and non-attachment.

17. by paying great respect to the great, by showing compassion to the afflicted, by friendliness towards one’s- equals and by observance of yama and niyama.

18. by listening to the philosophic discourses about ātman, by eulogizing the name (of God), by straightforwardness and by association with the noble (Souls) and by giving up ahaṃkāra.

19. As soon as such a devotee listens to (the description of) my attributes, he is easily attracted to me.

20. Just as fragrance being carried by (the chariot in the form of) the wind from its source (reaches the nose) and captures the smelling organ, similarly the mind which is constant and unperturbed and absorbed in yoga, attains to (and. realizes) the ātman.

21. I am always abiding in all beings as their Soul (antaryāmin). A man who disregards me (the antaryāmin) performs a sham idol-worship.

22. He who foolishly neglects me, the controller of the world dwelling as a Soul (ātman) in all beings, and worships merely the images, is (as if), offering oblations in ashes (instead of in the fire).

23. The mind of a man who possesses ahaṃkāra (about his body identifying it with the Soul) and who hates me in another body regarding me as different (in every person) and contracts enmity with other beings, never attains tranquillity.

24. Oh sinless, I am not at all pleased with a person who slights all beings (even though) I am worshipped as an image by him, with (ritualistic) offerings of various articles (like sandle-paste, flowers, fruits etc.).

25. So long as a man does not realize in his heart that I, the Supreme Lord, am present in all beings he should perform his religious duties and worship me in an idol.

26.[5] If a person makes even a slight difference between himself and the Supreme Self (Paramātman)[6], I, who am Death, create a big fear for him who entertains the idea of difference.

27. Hence he should worship me by gifts and respectful behaviour, friendliness and equality of outlook—me who dwell in all beings as their Soul.

28. Oh auspicious mother, sentient beings are superior to non-sentient ones. Those who bear Prāṇa (have vital functions of respiration etc.) are superior to the sentient beings. To them are superior the possessors of citta. Those who possess the function of the sense organs are higher than the possessors of mere citta (mind).

29. Even amongst the possessors of sense-organs those who possess the sense of taste are higher than those who possess the sense of touch. To these are superior those who possess the sense of smell. Higher than these are the possessors of the sense of hearing.

30. Beings which know the difference in colour and forms (i.e. have the eyes) are higher than those possessing the sense of hearing. To these are superior, the beings who have teeth in the lower and upper jaws. Higher than these are the multipeds. Quadruped animals are superior to multipeds and bipeds are higher than the quadrupeds.

31. Among the bipeds, four Varṇas (castes) are superior and the Brāhmaṇas are the highest among them (the castes). Among the Brāhmaṇas, the reciters of the Vedas are higher. Superior to these are those who understand the meaning of the Vedas.

32. He who can solve doubts and difficulties (of Vedic interpretation) is superior to him who simply knows the meaning (of the Veda). To him is superior the performer of one’s prescribed religious duties. But a person who has renounced all association and does not desire the fruit of his religious acts is higher than the previous one.

33. Superior to him is the man who has dedicated all his actions and body to me and who does not entertain the notion of difference. I do not know anyone superior to a person who has dedicated his body to me, deposited his karmas in me, and has no ego of being the agent of any action and who sees all as equals.

34. One should understand that the glorious Lord himself has entered all beings as their jīva (individual Soul) and should pay great respects to them mentally and bow down to them.

35. Oh daughter of Manu, the Bhakti-yoga (the path of Bhakti) and Yoga (of eight stages) have been explained to you by me. By following one of them, a man will attain to God (the Supreme Man).

36. This is the form of the glorious Lord, the Supreme Soul, the Brahman. It is both Prakṛti and Puruṣa (and still) is also beyond them. It is the unseen destiny (daiva) which is the cause of all karmas (in the form of saṃsāra).

37. The divine form (of the Lord) which is the cause of the differences in the appearances of things, is called Time. From it, fear is caused to beings, which entertain the notion of difference and which preside over the Mahat and others.

38. He enters into all beings (bhūtas) and supports them all. He eats them up (annihilates them) by their means. He is called Viṣṇu, presiding deity of sacrifices who confers the fruit of the sacrifice (on the performer). He is the Time, the ruler of rulers.

39. Nobody is dear or inimical to him. He has no friend or relative. He is always alert and enters into the negligent people in order to destroy them.

40. It is out of his (Kāla’s) fear that the wind blows. It is due to his fear that the Sun shines. God Indra showers (water) out of his fear. Heavenly bodies shine out of his dread.

41. It is due to his fear that trees, creepers, plants and herbs blossom forth and bear fruits in the proper seasons.

42. It is out of his fear that the rivers flow and the sea does not overflow his fixed limits. Being afraid of him, the fire burns and the earth (burdened) with mountains does not submerge (in the sea).

43. It is due to his control that the sky affords space for living (breathing) creatures and the Principle Mahat expands its body into the world enveloped in seven sheaths.

44. It is out of his fear that (Brahmā and other) gods who preside over the guṇas (like sattva etc.) and who can control this mobile and immobile world (creatures), carry out their duties of creation etc. in every Yuga.

45. He is endless but puts an end (to all). Time is beginningless but marks the beginning of all. He is immutable. He causes beings to be born of parents and causes the end of antaka (god of death) by means of death.

Footnotes and references:


Bhāvāratha Dīpikā and later Siddhāntapradīpa and Bālaprabodhini state that there are 81 types of saguṇa- bhakti. Bhāvāratha Dīpikā details them as follows: 1-3 Tāmasa bhakti—actuated by injury (hiṃsā), religious hypocrisy (dambha) and jealousy (matsara); 4-6 Rājasa bhakti—motivated by the desire for objects of enjoyment, for reputation and for authority; 7-9 Sāttvikī bhakti—generated by a desire to purge all sins, to dedicate karmas to God and to worship as a duty with no ulterior motive. Each of these is subdivided into nine according to the ninefold path of bhakti consisting of Śravaṇa, Kīrtaṇa etc.


Bhāgavata Candrikā & VS. read a-pṛthag-bhāva: (i) The knowledge that he is like the body of the Lord (Bhāgavata Candrikā); (Who sees identity or oneness in my forms.


ātyantika—That which takes place finally, i.e. sāyujyatā (absorption into God).


nātihiṃsreṇa [nātihiṃsra]—Some hiṃsā (injury) to subtle beings is inevitable while washing the temple, cooking food for offering to God, collecting flowers and fruit etc. for worship. But this injury is condonable.—VC.


Kramasandarbha. & VC. take udara = stomach. Kramasandarbha., VC.: One should treat a hungry man like himself and feed him properly.

Padaratnāvalī: Mṛtyu in the from of Nṛsiṃha creates great fear (viz. throwing a man in the darkest hell) for the man who regarḍs all the antaryāmim (inner Souls of beings) as different.


Or: who regards body as coming in between his individual Soul and the Supreme Soul—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā

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