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 move into Chapter 4 section 2, which has only two sutraani and is a continuation of the qualifications of a dedicated bhakti saadhaka, but now at the higher level of saadhana. I
Yaae vedanip sNNySyit kevlmiviCDÚanurag< l_ate.49.
Yo vedaan-api sannyasyati; kevalam-avichcchinna-anuraagam labhate ||49||
(further) he who renounces even the Vedas; who gains a pure unbroken flow of devotion…
There is a shloka in the Vivekachoodamani of Adi Shankara which echoes this sutra;
अविज्ञाते परे तत्त्वे शास्त्राधीतिस्तु निष्फला ।
विज्ञातेऽपि परे तत्त्वे शास्त्राधीतिस्तु निष्फला ॥ ५९ ॥
avijñāte pare tattve śāstrādhītistu niṣphalā |
vijñāte'pi pare tattve śāstrādhītistu niṣphalā || 59 ||
The study of the Scriptures is useless so long as the highest Truth is unknown, and it is equally useless when the highest Truth has already been known.
Whether in Bhakti marg or Jnaana marg, the highest end of saadhana is that the saadhaka, to become saadhu, must realise the message of the shaastra and in doing this find that these too can be renounced. In the case of Narada-ji's rendition, using the term 'Vedas', it is not just the words, but also all the ritualistic actions and studies also. This does not mean that the sadhu is no longer to engage in these things - but he must have found that place within whereby it is understood that there is no doership… no more "I" am doing saadhana, "I" am worshiping, "I" know this and that much… and so on.
The very rituals which have been used to bring one's focus to bear can, in fact become a burden to the serious seeker; it is possible to place a value in the actions of worship beyond their 'tool-worthyness'; it is more than possible to become vain in the gaining of knowledge and seek status from it.
The Shankara shloka tells us that even the tools are worthless to us unless we seek to apply them to their specific purpose and lift ourselves to realisation. Then, on attaining such, those tools are seen for what they are; the cabinet, once we have built it, means we no longer require the saw or hammer. However, the cabinet, now existing, can be put into use - even as a home for those very tools. The sadhu, knowing their true value, may still seek to keep the tools handy and use them every so often, but their purpose now is for maintenance and support.
What happens when we have succeeded in releasing our vanity? Why we can slide into the river of Love! The mind is ever immersed in the chant of OM. There is no difference between the sadhu and the True Self. This river of Love, once discovered, can never be lost again. The sadhu wishes to remain immersed there. This a rare state. In most cases it is not constant flow, for the vestiges of ego may still linger and thus the Love only comes in drips and drabs also, as the seeker still attaches to the body, mind and intellect. It is encouraging to the saadhaka, though, to be told by the great Master Sri Narada (and many others) that there is a place of fullest tranquility and aware connection which is worth working towards. It requires the practices laid out in the various methods of the Masters. The steps laid out in this text are but the method for the Bhakta who seeks to live the Divine Life of Devotion. Whichever path is chosen, the end result is that the seeker will cross the barrier which currently hide our True Nature from us…
Sa trit s trit slaeka<Staryit .50.
Sa tarati sa tarati salokaam-staarayati ||50||
...he crosses, indeed he crosses. He helps others also to cross.
The reason each generation has vedantins and bhaktas is because Masters have deigned to offer hope and guidance towards the ultimate goal of Self-Realisation. The Masters of the craft of meditation, who have the Supreme Knowledge, find the Love strong and need to share it. Having achieved the Liberty of Love Divine, having become oneself a Master, there comes an imperative to spread that Love in one form or other. Even those sadhus who remain in contemplation high in the mountains are sharing… for their thoughts are wholly engaged with the Divinity and thus are adding to the balance of Love in the world. Others may seek to serve others it what may seem mundane tasks. They no longer have ego about status of work and will seek a way to assist those who need it most. Still others become the Sat Gurus of the world, the true teachers of the Truth. These Sat Gurus do not push themselves forward in a force of ego. They do, however, ensure that those who would be taught are each in their own turn able to deal with the rigours of spiritual life. Their devotees may then seek to bring their Gurus to the awareness of a wider audience, but the Guru is unattached to such matters. All they care for is correct and thorough guidance of their devotees so that others may come to experience the Love Divine… and they, themselves, are examples of the Ocean of Love. All who have the privilege of sitting with such a Master cannot fail to feel the waves of the Love emanating from him. Or her. Realisation is not gender-based!