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 Eight; Section 2 - Obstacles and Remedies; Cultivate Devotion. The first section of this chapter exhorted the need for discretion for the sadhaka when in comes to stating one's position against another's stance. Now, the chapter shifts into 'how to' mode.
_ai´zaôai[ mnnIyain tdud!baexkkmaRi[ kr[Iyain.76.
Bhakta-shaastraani mananiiyaani tadud-bhodaka-karmaani karaniiyaani ||76||
Books on devotion should be reflected upon and their instructions must be pursued diligently.
A clear, unambiguous instruction! Here, the paths of bhakti and vedanta-jnaana are very similar indeed.
There are many texts upon the subject of choice and in the case simple love, the place to read is the Puraanas (stories of saints and sages); but in the case of Divine Love, the place to read is the Upanishads. Depending on the level of attainment thus far for the student, something can be found from each of these sources in order to rise higher.
In the Puraanas there is sufficient inspiration to live the path of devotion. The enchanting life-histories of great devotees add steam to the mounting enthusiasm of a bhakti-sadhaka. It was told to us in earlier suutras that the measure of a Bhakta's advancement is taken in terms of their identification with their Beloved Lord. The very essence of love is seeking our identity with the Lord in a spirit of selfless service to that Beloved. The bhakti texts explain one's total identification with the Infinite. These are to be read and reflected upon, again and again… not just a single reading, note! As one develops, there is always something more to extract in meaning and value.
Key among the texts would be the Srimad Bhagavatam in which we find the history Sri Krishna in Vrindavan and the tale of the devotion of the gopis, highest among them Radha-ji. We read of the submissions and sacrifices made in the state of Love. To contemplate deeply upon the examples given is to deepen our love, broaden our embrace and heighten the desire to reach for the Eternal Truth ourselves.
In the spiritual vocabulary, 'manan' suggests the reflections upon the Upanishad declarations (i.e. mananam - cogitation/reflection/contemplation). More specifically, it means to reflect upon the declarations of the Rsis. By incorporating the word here as 'mananiiyaani', it is expanded to embrace the bhakti texts whilst pointing to the need to consider jnaana through Upanishads as worth following also - when one is ready.
This suutra could stand alone in answer to the question of the eager student as to "HOW to grow into this Love Supreme?!" For not only is it said that one must read and contemplate, but that it necessary to 'carry out the instructions' … that is to say, put into practice what is learned. Actions which will engender and nourish Love are to be played out; they must be carefully chosen, diligently cultivated and sincerely practised. Thus we find in this single sentence the completeness of saadhana! Both mental and intellectual qualities are called upon, quickly followed by the physical transformation of the concepts with, perhaps, all the necessary readjustment of one's behaviour in the world. Applying the mind (vichaara) and the transformation in action (aachaara) is the essence and motivation given.
In starting the new life of devotion no seeker should wait 'for the right time', or a more favourable circumstance to trigger it. The time to start is the minute you think of it. Here and now!