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!
Chapter Five, Section Two. We looked what must be done to work toward a state of true bhakti and we found that how we approach this will very much depend on our personality. We learned that in addition to the trigunas, there are also three types of devotion and that the rise is dependent on working through them. This is taken up further;
%TtrSmaduTtrSmat! pUvRpUvaR ïeyay _avit.57.
Uttarasmaad-uttarasmaat puurva-puurvaa shreyaaya bhavati ||57||
With each succeeding one, each preceding one becomes the nobler.
This sutra confirms that, in order to progress, we must develop our inherent nature, improving it by taking small steps. In doing this, the step we leave behind does not disappear, but will add to the complex and subtle picture of the step above; just as climbing a ladder, as we move from one rung to another, we do not forget the rung we left as we lifted onto the next one, we remember all that we saw from that height and it adds to our view from the next level of height gained. We become the richer for knowing the full picture and what it took to make it.
The arthaarthi bhakta is one who, despite spiritual longings, is anchored in tamasika nature and thus when praying and sitting in saadhana, the thoughts will be for the limited joys of the world; 'Lord, please bring bread, clothing, new car, better house…' and so forth. The thing to be noted here is that this is a tamasika who has recognised that they can pull themselves out of slothfulness by making a spiritual effort and are therefore to be commended. That Sri Narada has mentioned the steps demonstrates that by funding a will to make supplication to the Higher at all is a very positive thing and this seeker is to be encouraged. Yeshu also pointed to the fact that any sinner can better themselves by resolving to turn their face towards the Higher. The arthaarthi is one who favours the more elaborate and decorative forms of worship, perhaps by making daily puja and waving of lights and such. In applying themselves well, however, they may find that their mind starts to wonder more about the details of who or what they are worshipping and asking favour of, in which case a more proper inquiry begins and they will move up to the next stage of bhakti.
The jijnaasu is of rajasic quality. Being of restless nature, such a personality will now want to question and investigate. The intellect is sparked into strong and alert vigilance. However, as yet, the deep spiritual yearning has yet to be developed. Currently this person will seek only book knowledge, albeit to high degree. There is a craving to understand the Higher, but there may be a lack of heart in the matter. This can make such personalities aggressive in their researches and discussions. Certainly, the jijnaasu studies hard, questions keenly, debates strongly; they may even make a daily saadhana, but this is likely to be tinged with a level of curiosity to simply prove his or her own theories or be an attempt to emulate (copy) what they have read in books, but without the actual experience. The jijnaasu is the one who will be found attending all discourses and functions wherein the glories of the Higher are given at intellectual level. That said, at least they are engaged in proper philosophical pursuit and this is likely, at some point when they have honed themselves sufficiently, to lift them to the next 'spiritual rung'.
The aarta is one who has a full spiritual awareness and has come to understand that this is a key purpose of life… to work only for complete liberation from the cycle of life and death and to reach the state of eternal bliss (moksha). Everything which is approached in daily life is done so with some level of discontentment if it does not serve this goal. Things of the world no longer hold any appeal to this personality. Oh they may well have to engage with the world, but they will be developing a level of detachment whereby the vicissitudes of life have no hold. The mind no longer seeks physical stimulation, but longs only for the spiritual experience. This goes even beyond the intellectual desires, for these too are but part of the world of objects. This personality will fund the strength to purify themselves to a high degree, becoming an empty vessel, ready to receive the nectar of spiritual transcendence. Book knowledge alone cannot satisfy the aarta - it becomes imperative to make the knowledge personal, to 'own' it through experience. Yes they may engage in puja and prayer, they may also attend discourses and enter debates, but they will do so only with the lessons learned from having passed that way previously. Their vision is wider and deeper as far as bhakti is concerned. Thus the aarta is one who, recognising the validity of what has been learned till now, seeks to meditate devotedly upon Aatman and seek union with that, making it their own experience.
In the text thus far, Narada-ji has related how it is virtually impossible to describe the joy and beauty of True Love Divine, but to give hope, has advised we poor seekers that it is not something unattainable. Quite the contrary, by utilising the 'secondary' devotions, which are much more recognisable to us, we can indeed lift ourselves towards the ultimate spiritual experience. Having done so, the text will now proceed with some examples of the whys and wherefores of devotional practice.