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!
We now move into section three of chapter one in the Narada Bhakti Sutra. These divisions are not, strictly, present in the original writings; they have been presented as a way of grouping related concepts and sutraani. The flow of the text is such that there is a logical progression of understanding, though every sentence is completely devoted to Devotion (Bhakti). 'Sections' are merely adaptations for clarification. The first contained pure aphorisms - statements of what is Bhakti. The second described the unique qualities of Bhakti. Now, in the third, we find definitions of Bhakti.
tLl][ain vaCyNte nanamt_aedat! .15.
Tallakshanaani vaacyante naanaamatabhedaat ||15||
Its (Bhakti's) characteristics are being described now, due to the existence of different opinions.
This sutra declares itself quite clearly. There have ever been, and will ever be, varying views on matters of philosophy. Sri Narada, the ultimate authority on this subject, is acknowledging this. The essential, core, characteristics never change, in fact. However, each teacher will find one or other aspect to emphasise, for precisely the reason that he or she wishes to differentiate their teaching from another's. Whilst at an academic level this is fine and even appropriate, it can be very confusing for students. Particularly those who are only making initial researches and wondering at the apparently very different forms of devotion. Bhakti, that Divine, capital 'ell Love, is an elusive critter! It refuses to be fully 'penned' by our paltry attempts at language. That our words fail in its definition does not prevent our continued striving to use this medium in the communication of Love; this inevitably leads to variances and emphasis on this or that aspect. Therefore, Sri Narada here is asking the serious student to consider all the varied views as they stand in order to achieve as close to a full picture as is possible.
pUjaid:vnurag #it paraZayR>.16.
Puujaadishvanuraaga iti paaraasharyaH ||16||
"In the worship of the Lord with deep Love and firm attachment," thus declares the son of Paaraasharya (Sri Veda Vyaasa).
It is worth noting at this point that "Veda Vyaasa" is more a title than a name. This will be discussed separately at a later date. The term vyaasa means 'collector' or 'gatherer', thus in this context the person is a collator of the Vedas. The latest of the vyaasas was Krishna Dwaipayana, son of Paaraasharya and great-grandson of the mighty sage, Vashistha. As a general rule then, when 'veda vyaasa' is used, this is the person being referred to. Here, though, Sri Narada actually states 'the son of…' so there can be no ambiguity as to the source of this particular aspect given for Bhakti.
According to VV, there must be the deepest and most anchored attachment to the Lord in order to be said as expressing Bhakti. By stating 'in the worship…', it is indicated that every action must be considered as worship; one cannot develop the deep and abiding devotion spoken of here without continued thought and practice. Through our deeds, our thoughts, our speech - in every aspect of living - the Lord must not be forgotten. In this way, life itself becomes the altar of devotion, our bodies become as temples. Bringing together all the power of emotion and adoration for the Higher into our daily focus is the aspect of Bhakti which is emphasised by VV. In order to ensure we know the value of this worship, the use of technical 'aids' in the form of lamps, bells, chants and so on bring a focus and add a beauty and grace. To have devotion/bhakti, we must have focus; with action focused on bhakti, our lives become puja/worship in the every day.
Kathaadishviti gargaH ||17||
"A great attachment to listening to the stories of His glories, etc (is bhakti)", according to maharishi Garga.
Garga Muni is said to be the sage who named Sri Krishna. Given that one of the greatest stories of the Sanatan Dharma literature arose as a result of the life of this avatar, it is fitting that Garga-ji considered listening deeply and contemplatively (shravanam) upon such texts as being Bhakti.
Note, here, that both these Masters talk of attachment. In Vedanta do we not seek non-attachment? Yes we do… however you are reminded that we are looking at Bhakti as a 'tool' through which we can work towards that final non-attached state. As we are, in our current condition, the idea of letting go of much in life can cause some tension in some… even palpitations for others! We do not realise how attached we have become to anything until asked to let it go for more than just a moment or two. In order to build release, there has to be something to which we can attach a greater value and affection. In VV's case, he asks us to consider everything we do as worship and in that worship, serve and Love. In Garga's case, replacing the nonsense of much which is touted as 'entertainment' with the pure enchantment of stories of manifestations of the Higher is the suggestion. In this way, supplanting ever-more pure and spiritually gratifying attachments for our baser, materialistic ones, sets us on the path to the goal of moksha - the great liberation.
If VV considered the physical aspect of Bhakti as devotion, then Garga thinks of speech as the prominent aspect of Bhakti. From these two things alone you may begin to understand that there are also methods of devotional practice to suit different temperaments and circumstances. Those folk who are restless and need to be 'doing stuff' would find action as worship very beneficial. Those who like to access their emotion through listening and chanting are likely to be drawn to the recitation of the scriptures.