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 Nine; Section 2 Fruits of Love Divine; Modes of Approach to Bhakti
Here, the Guru waxes fully lyrical and a single sutra conveys no less than eleven ways to approach the Love Divine.
prmivrhasi´ @k-xaPyekadzxa _avit.82.
paramaviharahaasakti eka-dhaapyekaadashadhaa bhavati ||82||
Love for the glorifying of His qualities; Love for His Divine Form; Love through ritual; Love through remembrance of Him; Love through spiritual service;Love through friendship with Him; Love Him as your own child; Love Him as your spouse; Love Him as the Totality; Love Him as yourself (Oneness); Love Him as if in the pangs of separation. Love is One only, expressed in eleven modes.
Glorifying - exactly as Narada-ji has been doing throughout this text and he and many other great sages did when they travelled around their country; talk only of the Lord, chant his name regularly and loudly. Narada is known for only ever chanting 'Naaraayana, Naaraayana, Naarayana…' everywhere and at every moment when not engaged with others for purpose of teaching or transaction. In the modern world, this might be viewed, at best, as eccentric and, at worst, lead to incarceration! We can still live internally this way however. Watch your thoughts and when they are not to be engaged with the purpose running life, let them be only thinking upon the Higher.
Divine Form - every Hindu home will have at least one murti (statue) of their chosen form of the Higher; but we must build a murti within ourselves also and it is to this that we can more readily attach our wandering thoughts. This is why the Higher appears in a recognisable form for us throughout the ages - although It Itself has no form. It knows we are weak and useless critters if we do not have something to visualise!
Ritual - the performance of puja is beneficial to help us feel closer to the Lord. We can attend temple/mosque/church etc and have the priests perform the service as an intercession on our behalf; but in sanaatana dharma, each household can, and should, perform their own family pujas. This is why there is a murti kept in a sacred space in each home.
Remembrance - japa; the repetition of the many names given to the Higher; this is different from the glorifying part, insofar as this is purely for the seeker and held private, whilst the glorifying permits us to interact with others in the process.
Service - in the way of servant and master. This is where the karma-yoga comes in handy! Let each act be as if offering it to a revered one; let there be purity and sanctity in one's daily living, knowing that the Master sees all.
Friendship - talk with your Lord; bare your entire being before Him… allow for His answers.
Child - many devotees find it easier to relate to Baby Krishna or Baby Rama and thus pamper Him, with sweets and milk and fruits offered in puja.
Spouse - it is understood that in the Lord, there is no gender, but also that if one is male, then the female can be visualised and vice versa. Thus, if it suits and it is the method which appeals most, Love the Higher in the form of husband/wife; but not in the carnal sense. Rather, in the sense of familiarity, comfort, solace and so forth.
Totality - complete surrender before the Higher, but also being prepared to defend It, is what is required in this concept of Love. Here, we can see the need for jnaana-yoga emerging. To accept the concept of a Totality of Existence means we have to have taken up the philosophical side of devotion and no longer wish to simply perform blind ritual.
Oneness - absorption into the Totality; now we find that Bhakti differs not from Jnaana in the ultimate goal; absolute dissolution of the small ego and immersion in the Sat-Chit-Aananda.
Separation - have we not all, at some point in our life, experienced the pain of being separate from someone we love dearly. A parent, a sibling, a friend… the angst can feel like a physical pain in our hearts. If one is truly engaged to the Lord, this is how we must feel at any moment we forget to chant His name or look in His direction and give a smile.
In this way Bhakti builds towards the very same goal as Jnaana; it is a process of bringing our ego into line and replacing it with the Self which we must at first recognise, in our limited way, as a physical God and which, through that process and adding in knowledge, raise ourselves ever closer to Divinity, a glorious enlightenment of our being-ness.