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 Six, Section Two - Obstacles to Practice.
Now for the final sutra of this section and chapter.
iÇêp_a'gpUvRk< inTydasinTykaNta_ajnaTmk< àem kayR< àemEv kayRm!.66.
Tri-ruupa-bhanga-puurvakam nitya-daasa-nitya-kaantaa-bhajan-aatmakam, prema kaaryam prema-eva kaaryam ||66||
Going beyond the three factors of experiences, Love consisting of constant service - as in the case of a devoted servant or wife - alone should be practised.
Well, of course, there will perhaps be one or two who feel some discomfort at the examples used here, but it must be remembered in the context of the time at which it was written and, also, that in Sanskrit culture, the wife holds a high status, actually. Today we still value those who 'serve' but the context is a little different. The concept however is not. Do we not know that those who are dedicated in all the caring services, the military forces, within the community and family support groups and such like, all require dedication and devotion to that very service? Is it not understood that such service can sometimes be given to the extent that it is at personal cost to themselves - yet still they give and serve?
In such a manner, says the Guru, cultivate Bhakti. Devotion to the Highest is the only path; Love (of the capital 'ell' variety) is the true path and is its own fulfilment, for in sitting with the Highest the three distinctions which provide experience - subject, object and the relationship between them - merge and melt into the Highest, losing any separate distinction.
The Divine Love can be achieved by serving the Lord either as nitya dasa - the way servant would attend the master; or as nitya kanta - the way a wife is solicitous to her beloved.
The indications here are about loyalty, respect, love and dedication. This is the essence of this suutra. Be aware that there are different psychologies at work; those purely in service can hold loyalty and respect but will not necessarily feel a love-attachment. They will be serving because there is at least some financial return, but also because they are good at what they do and also feel good about it. The 'wife' on the other hand, will have the love-attachment and it may even blind her to any faults in the 'husband'. We can all of us find ourselves in 'wife' situations with other people. It permits us to build connection and to not judge, but to be unconditional and giving for the benefit of the other.
In this day and age of 'self-empowerment', we can sometimes view this level of relationship as being somehow of poor quality. Not necessarily so! Mothers - and fathers - of any worth, know the kind of self (ego) sacrifice which is being spoken of here. They do not think twice about it, the child comes first.
This is the level of dedication required for Bhakti Yoga. There must be a sense that one is never separate from the object of Love. In Jnaana, single-pointed meditation is the key; in Bhakti, it is this expression of pure, unquestioning, full-trusted Love which is the focus and conduit to connection with the Higher.
It is this 'prema' which is expressed in the glory of all the sages who have Realised the Fulfilment of Bhakti. It is this glory which will be explored in the next chapter.
Think upon the two different ways of expressing Love; think about which fits best with your own psychology. Learn about yourself and whether you can serve best as the loyal and respectful or as the hopelessly love-lorn in pursuit of Union with Self.