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!
We have seen some arguments in favour of jnana, bhakti and combination of these as being the means best to develop spiritually. At the conclusion of these three, there comes now this point of view;
rajg&h_aaejnaid;u twEv d&:qTvat!.31.
raajagRhabhojanaadishu tathaiva dRwhtatvaat ||31||
Because it seen demonstrated as such in the examples of palace and dinner etc.
What kind of example is this, do you wonder? Think on this. You have an opportunity to attend a royal dinner. It is an opportunity few would refuse. Going along is one thing, being seen at court is certainly a boon. To sit down to a meal with many others in that hall brings its benefits. However, does the King even know your are there?
Yes, insomuch as the list he glanced earlier contained your name. He knows that all who sit before him are his loyal subjects. However, the seats at the top table are reserved for those who have proven themselves directly worthy of his more intimate recognition. The knights and dukes and duchesses and dames have all rendered selfless service to His Majesty and been rewarded in accordance with their actions.
All in the hall have demonstrated loyalty through following the law of the land (jnaana), by voicing their allegiance (bhakti), or both.
It is one thing for the chef to prepare the menu (scripture) but what matters is that the ingredients and preparations are matched carefully to produce the finished dish which is put before the diners at this banquet. Likewise it is one thing for administrators of the law to know what is written, but applying that law faithfully and to the benefit of all, not to abuse or misuse or think 'how do these words apply to me, I can work my own law' and then go into argument with other law-keepers over who has the better variance… forgetting the original author of the law and the key purpose it is meant to serve. It is not for their intellectual 'biggiying' and gratifying… it is actually to bring them out of that!
Sitting down at the meal which has been thoughtfully prepared, how do we eat it? Paying no attention, letting it enter our bodies, then eliminating it with no regard to the benefit it brings in terms of nutrition and health? Or with thought and thanks for the food and its preparation? Likewise the scriptures can be read, but if we pay no attention to the digestion and absorption of the 'nutrients' therein, we have wasted our 'meal'. We sit to a meal for the satisfaction of our hunger and it is to satisfy our spiritual hunger that we read philosophy and scripture. If we understand the Love and skill in the preparation of our meal, our enjoyment of it increases and our gratitude flows, this combines jnaana and bhakti. Similarly, knowing that the shaastra has been handed down for our fullest benefit, and treating what we read and hear there with respect and Love, we can only grow from it. This is the combination aspect.
Further, although the meal may be its 'own satisfaction', (bhakti alone), it is bettered for being acknowledged by the King from his table is it not? Having attended, having taken a great meal, the 'dessert' we desire is the King's favour. The tradition, at such tables, would have been to raise a toast to the King, bringing his eyes upon you and perhaps a smile or a nod. The bhakta who is fervent in their devotion will be rewarded with a warmth in their heart and a glow only true faith can bring.
Merely sitting at the table and gobbling the food down then leaving the hall will bring little benefit. Sri Narada explores this further.
n ten rajpirtae;> úauxazaiNtvaR .32.
Na tena raajaparitoshaH xudhaashaantirvaa ||32||
Because of it (jnaana alone) neither the favour of the king nor the appeasement of hunger can happen.
Making it very clear here, Guru says that simply by accepting the invite, nor by gobbling the meal do we gain anything. The king, despite our name being on the list, will not be likely to greet us personally and will certainly not favour us with a promotion to his team. By eating the meal, we do not necessarily quell our hunger - we may be picky eaters and chose only the sweet parts or avoid the greens…
We restrict ourselves from the full opportunity provided.
We must learn to 'court the king'. We need to demonstrate our worthiness of being in his presence, either by being of good service to him and the country, or by giving service in the kitchen and dining room, supporting those who directly serve the king and country. We must demonstrate our worthiness for spiritual advancement by going out and speaking the words of wisdom and by living them and in doing that we also serve; in the serving we must be humble, and at all times be singing the praises of 'the King'.
What is Narada-ji attempting to convey? That simply having book knowledge, by showing up for devotional services to be 'seen' as a devotee, or to be 'seen' serving only when there are watchers - whilst useful enough - will not give one the desired and true result. Any one of the three paths can yield results, but none will if we do not have pure and unadulterated devotion to the purpose. Therefore he concludes this section with;
tSmaTsEv ¢aýa> mumuúaui_a> .33.
Tasmaatsaiva graahyaaH mumukshubhiH ||33||
Therefore, that Supreme Love for God alone is to be sought after by seekers of complete Liberation.
Now the Guru puts the stamp on what he considers the most necessary requirement to attain moksha. Bhakti alone. It is true, when one looks carefully at all those who attain any form of success in whatever field, not only sheer knowledge, or sheer determination or 'connections' will bring them the fullest results; the most successful people of the world are those who clearly seek to serve the word which is giving them their living and this involves Love. How much more, then, the spiritual pursuit?!
Even as Vedantins, spiritual seekers of high intellect and clear logic, it avails us of nothing if we do not have the Love of spirit to drive us forward in our researches. It is this Love which opens up the flower of our hearts so that the words are not dry and fall on barren ground. To move forward in any vocation, Love must be present.
By using the term 'mumukshu' it is also being made clear that the true seekers have courage, the ability to root out their own imperfections and acknowledge their flaws and understand fully the singular path upon which they now choose to travel.