Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!27th
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!
Where to source this great devotion called Bhakti? How does it arise? These are the focus of chapter two, section two of the Narada sutras. They take the form of quotes and assessment of other Gurus.
tSya> }anmev saxnimTyeke.28.
tasyaaH jnaanameva saadhanamityeke ||28||
For this (devotion), Knowledge alone is the means - say some achaaryas.
There is some basis for this argument. Whilst it is possible to become enamoured of someone/thing based on outward appearance, enduring association building to Love requires that we learn about that other entity and, what is more, accept what we learn. Love expands and deepens with the completeness of Knowledge. The more the seeker learns of the Supreme, the Source of All from which has arisen all names and forms, the stronger becomes their devotion.
The risk, for those following jnaanamarga, as mentioned before, is that they get caught up with intellectualism, arguing for argument's sake and quibbling over semantics, losing sight of the purpose of their research. It is not a competition of one mind against another, but a process of self-investigation towards the goal of Realising the True Self. This requires a level of trust and Love which 'lubricates' the intellectual process. Thus it is clear that Bhakti is much improved by the inculcation of Jnaana, but that Jnaana is equally improved by Bhakti. There are some examples in shaastra of devotees who attain moksha through Jnaana only, and equally, examples of a few who attain moksha through Bhakti and without Knowledge - but, frankly, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. In general, the majority of seekers require a balance of head and heart in the pursuit of the spiritual goal and the next sutra addresses such seekers.
Mutually dependent - declare others.
Devotion and Knowledge are interdependent, is the premise here. Each encourages and supports the other. At times when one is lacking for any reason, the other can 'pick up the slack'.
Without devotion to an ideal one would not be inclined to make proper inquiry. Conversely, having made such research and having learned from it, our devotion is strengthened from the improved understanding. Then, as devotion strengthens, so does the desire to learn even more...and so it goes. This is the mutual dependence which many great teachers have indicated and which is referred to here. Further, there comes a point in the process where the two are but the one thing with two 'faces', as it were. It becomes almost impossible to separate them. Bhakti is the revelling in Knowledge and Knowledge revels as Bhakti.
Svy< )lêpteit äükumara>.30.
Svayam pfhalaruupateti brahmakumaaraaH ||30||
It (Bhakti) is its own fruit - so say the sons of Brahma (the creator)
First we had Knowledge touted as the ultimate means to Truth, which equalled devotion; then we heard that Knowledge and Devotion were required in equal balance; now we are given the argument that Devotion alone can bring about the Realisation. The basis of this argument is that, if one has come to understand what is the true nature of Love Divine, then what else is there to know? Love begets Love. It is impossible to Know the Love Divine and not become a fountain of that Love oneself. This is the 'fruit'.
Sri Narada is not content with these arguments, however, as we will find in the next sutra… next week.