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!
Some reference was made in the previous sutra to renunciation - the letting go of those tools and crutches we use to prop us up through life. For the person who walks the (mostly solitary) spiritual path, there is a need for full renunciation. This is taken up by Sri Narada-ji now.
tiSmÚnNyta tiÖraeix;UdasInta c.9.
tasminnananyataa tadvirodhiShuudaasiinataa cha||9||
In the Lord whole-hearted, single-minded devotion, and in all else that are contrary to it (bhakti), complete indifference - (this is the nature of renunciation).
It is a device of Sanskrit writings that keywords are not generally repeated in succeeding sutras or shlokas until there is a change of direction in thinking. Thus the term 'nirodha' (adopting total restraint) which was used in sutra eight is not actually repeated here in nine, but is implied by the flow of the sentence, thus added in parenthesis in the translation for clarity.
|Image credit; Vivek Thakkar|
This is a useful moment to explore a little about the construction of Sanskrit**. The root verb here is रोध् /rodh. By simple addition of अ /a we get रोध /rodha, which is to restrain, barrier, suppressing, dam, preventing and more… but it can also indicate growing, sprouting. It is important to here emphasise once more that context is everything in Sanskrit. The root verbs live up to that term 'root', for who knows what will spring forth from them and in what direction according to the 'soil' of the sentence in which they are used?! With, for example, the prefix of वि /vi- which of itself indicates 'apart, asunder, away…', there comes a strengthening of the meaning of rodha such that it can mean to be anarchistic, defiant, antithesis, inconsistent, incompatible, to name but a few things. With the prefix नि/ni- which indicates 'down, in, into…', there is what may be described as a beautification of the root verb; thus nirodha is to fully take up restraint = renunciation.
अनन्य /ananya - to be unattached to all but one. By adding the suffix ता /-taa (with the character of 'X', having 'X'-ness), again there is a strengthening of emphasis, thus ananyataa is total and undivided focus on that object to which we are singularly attached.
As devotion for the Higher increases within us, the mind grows ever more fond of That and can quite easily begin to drop attachments to all that is lesser. In the bhakta who would take a place in The Divine, such devotion is absolutely imperative. It becomes that the attention is ever on that Higher Element. The external world looses its hold and no longer enchants or molests the devotee. The objects of life only hold charm according to the state of mind of the beholder. A bright sari is of no interest to the son or the husband, but the wife can be besotted. Likewise, the parents have no particularly interest in the toys and fancies of the children, but for these little ones, their toys are everything; or for the father, the tools in his shed or the car are his lure, whilst the mother and children look on indulgently as he focuses on these pleasures. It is clear, then, that the objects of themselves hold no value beyond the sense of charm created in the beholder according to their place in life.
The bhakta who is genuine in spiritual pursuit is not tripped up by lusts and hankerings after the things of the world. They may have them around for utility, but there is no attachment to them. The only attachment for such a person is Naaryaayana, the Higher Element which is the source of all life. This is again emphasised…
Renunciation of all other supports is whole-heartedness (in devotion).
You may wonder at the constant repetition - but here again we see a Sanskrit lingual device… when these texts were created they were entirely verbal. The written form only came quite late to the tradition (circa 4000 - 6000yrs ago, depending on the text). Learning in the Sanskrit culture was entirely by memory and this is why in gurukulas around India you will find rhythmic recitation of the sacred writings. This not only ensures the quality and accuracy of the teaching traditions (parampara), but the words become part of the being of those who recite - as long as they do it with knowledge and understanding and not simply by rote. We all learned the times tables in our childhood, but if we did not apply them and by not maintaining them, efficacy and power is lost, is it not?!
Here again, then, another iteration on ananyataa - when one has recognised that everything springs from That and everything in the world is imbued with That Essence all around one, how can anything other than That be our focus? A heart filled with this Divine Love, even whilst experiencing the world of objects, is never again lost in that world. Everything presents itself as the Lord to the bhakta, every experience is understood to be the play of that Love, like a 'hide and seek' for the devotee!
**It is not necessary to learn Sanskrit in order to learn from and appreciate Vedantic philosophy. However, there is no denying that to have some inkling of how the language itself is an intrinsic part of the thinking process adds a dimension of satisfaction to the learning. Be not put off by the use of Sanskrit here (there are certainly some words for which English is a poor substitute and we are slowly learning those), absorb what you can and grasp the essence. That is what is important.