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 1 - Fruits of Love Divine; Greatness of Supreme Love.
Sri Narada was walking through a forest and came upon two sadhus singing the praises of the Lord. When they saw the great sage approach, they beseeched him to ask Bhagavan when He would give them darshan (vision) of Himself. Narada-ji meditated and came back to one man with the answer that he needed to take one hundred more births before receiving darshan. That fellow became dejected and wondered aloud as to what was 'the point of making such effort in this life then? May as well leave this forest life!' To the other bhakta, Narada-ji gave the message that he had even more than the hundred to return and that he would have to go back through some other forms such as leaves on tree and the like. This second fellow jumped with joy, surprising both the sage and his disgruntled companion. He told them he was delighted because, 'God at least knows who I am and that my efforts thus far are acknowledged. What is more, darshan will be mine with continued good efforts.' … in that moment itself, Bhagavan saw the Love in the man and gave darshan immediately.
It is examples such as this which prompt Narada-ji to now extol Bhakti-marg;
iÇsTySy _ai´rev grIysI _ai´rev grIysI.81.
Trisatyasya bhaktireva gariiyasii, bhaktireva gariiyasii ||81||
Of the three 'truths' (paths), devotion alone is the greatest; (indeed) devotion alone is the greatest.
The greatest Master of Bhakti makes an emphatic statement! This is to be expected, one might say. It could be seen as being rather totalitarian; but it also shows the very nature of devotion. There can be no compromise if we are to reach a goal, no matter what hurdle is put before us. Find a path and stick to it!
Interesting is the vocabulary used in this sutra, though. By using the term 'truths', the Guru could also be referring to the three states of consciousness (waking, dream, deep sleep), or the three periods of time (past, present, future). In doing this, for those who are prepared to ponder deeply on this teaching, it can be found that any who practice in any of the other saadhanas, at any time in their practice and in any state they find themselves, can approach bhakti. It can be the base from which their other saadhanas arise. It alone is a path that anyone can follow, at any time and in any physical or mental circumstance, regardless of environment or challenges. This is its special glory.
Thus we can see that Love conquers all! It behooves a Karmi, or a Jnaani, to keep touching base with the 'feeling' of the Lord, whereas a Bhakta can remain only on that path and still gain from it. That said, any great and beautiful philosophy has no enduring significance if it is not practiced in daily life. Grow into it and in the end come to experience it directly; if not all the promised joys arrive, we will at least find life a little lighter and brighter from the practice.
What does it mean, 'practice'? Narad-ji does not leave the student waving in the wind. The next section tells of different ways to approach Bhakti.