Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
The Narada Bhakti Sutra is our guide for a while… the nature of Love (with the capital 'ell') and a full exploration of it. As always, you are encouraged to seek out the full text from Chinmaya Publications (links in side-bar); but for those who prefer e-readers, this version is recommended. Whilst awareness and interest can be raised by these posts on AV-blog, they cannot substitute for a thorough reading and contemplation...and practice!
Sri Narada has, in this first section of the text, stated clearly what is the nature of Love Divine; that it is Supreme; that to have such devotion for this Supreme Love means coming to know that it is also Immortal; that the devotee, gaining this insight can themselves join the Immortal; and that such a devotee no longer knows the extremes of emotion and experience…
There are those who, not having this devotional experience, who might say that the fellow is 'losing out on life', to not have any sorrow or joy. However, what they can not know is that the devotee has something much, much better to replace those things and instead of a life depleted, now lives life completed. This is pointed out in the final sutra of this section.
yJ}aTva mÄae Évit StBxae Évit,
yajGYaatvaa matto bhavati stabdho bhavati.
Having known such (devotion), one becomes intoxicated, silent and revels in The Self.
Throughout history, in all societies, there have been those who have entered the realms of spiritual fervour in such a way that, from the 'outside', they look completely mad. These are the saints and sages who know only that bliss of union with the Higher and are forever extolling their joy in That. They seem always to be smiling; some may even go so far as to be dancing or singing and behaving other than the social norm. All too often, they are mistaken for the truly insane - but this is an entirely different frame of reference.
|Sri Narada Muni|
This is, perhaps, the key difference between one who follows, wholly, the path of Bhakti. There is not quite enough of restraint and inwardness developed as might be from Jnaana. It is not to be faulted though; such devotion, unstinting, loyal and ecstatic, does bring, in its advanced stages, the level of stillness and silence which is required to truly reside in the Divine. As Gurudev puts it in his narration, "The devotee at this stage becomes unconsciously lifted into the states of deepest meditation, when the Divine Form alone has the exclusive chance to be in his heart. When thus the devotee's mind and body become, as a result of continuous singing and dancing, quiet, he discovers within himself the meditative poise indicated in the sutra. During such moments of utter meditation and without the help of any other saadhana, a true bhakta comes to plunge deeper and deeper into his own inner quietude to reach ultimately the realm of The Self, the Aatman, and revels there."
Thus the 'introduction' to Love Divine has been covered. In the next section consisting of some eight sutras, the unique characteristics of Bhakti are elaborated upon.
sa n kamymana inraexêpTvat!.7.
saa na kaamayamaanaa nirodharuupatvaat||7||
She (that Love-Devotion), being of the nature of devotion, holds no element of desire within.
It is worth noting that the feminine is applied to Bhakti. Conversely, the masculine is generally applied to discussion on Jnaana. It is not that only women can be one and men the other - however, it is widely acknowledged that the thinking patterns between the genders is, on the whole, different. It takes effort for each to come into the realm of the other and evolve proper understanding. At these higher levels of thinking, no matter what one's gender may be, strong logic and intellect and the ability to stand back from emotional involvement is required consistently in order to follow Jnaana-marg; whilst Bhakti-marg is softer, more forgiving and permits one to work spiritually without too much taxation of the higher brain functions. Jnaana questions, Bhakti accepts. Both require that, eventually, the devotee be prepared to walk alone.
Here, it is made clear that Love is its own fulfilment. Once that approach to Bliss is achieved, all sense of desire for anything outside of it falls away.
Thus renunciation for the bhakta takes place with nothing other than living in Love. Whilst a jnaani has to have explanations and logics for how and why renunciation is required and to be achieved, the bhakta simply lives it. The ego-self, the individuality of the bhakta, comes to turn away more and more from the usual anxieties and efforts in living daily life and truly desires but one thing - to be in union with the Divine.
Of course a jnaani would point to that one remaining desire and say even that must go - which would be true from their standpoint; but to the bhakta, the Ultimate has been reached. How does this renunciation in Bhakti look?
This renunciation, indeed, is in the total giving up of all secular and religious activities.
In mundane, current-world, experience, if we seek something for some time (a home for example) we may exert all efforts in attaining it and once we achieve that goal we are - for a short time at least - so thrilled, we can think of nothing else. It occupies the whole of our existence and we give up much to spend time enjoying that home and making the most of it. This, of course is a very limited example, because then further desires and trouble arise as we seek to keep that home.
With Bhakti, however, once the goal is reached, no other desire or distraction can shake us from it. Having come to live in the Love Divine, we come to see that actually we did so all along, but had been blind until that moment. Now everything of the external merges with the internal and we know all things and beings to be Naaraayana, the Supreme Itself. What room, then, for any other desire? At this point, all the practices and rites which may have helped lift the devotee to this highest state now become obsolete. It is not that a devotee who has risen to the fullest will not practice these things - it is that the acts themselves are no longer necessary for that individual to retain connection with the Higher. The devotee may well join in with others for celebration and such like, but does not, for his or her own self, require the 'tools' to open a door to the Divine.
For the rest of us, who still consider ourselves mere mortals and troubled by the swings and roundabouts of life, the practices and rites are still very much required for focus and surrender to devotion.