MenoSunday; Life Lived Lovingly

Very occasionally, regulars will know, a post copied from Aatmaavrajanam pops in here. Only because it is relevant - not as a 'spruik' for punters! Over there, two Wednesdays ago, the study of a text which is focused only on capital 'ell' Love was begun. It cannot be overlooked as a connection with this MenoSunday theme; also, as Sweet William recently pondered on getting a deeper knowledge of fellow bloggers, it seemed appropriate to demonstrate something of my 'professional' side to those who are newer to the YAMster.

As many will be reveling in frolics of the romantic nature today, (for which blessings and hugs!), let us think on the greater purpose of Love... (was going to edit it, but then thought just to leave it so you can get a proper feel for AV-Blog.)

Hari OM

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; 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. More, there can be no substitute for the study group/discussion aspect. Therefore, again you are reminded, do not sit with doubts or questions - voice them, either in the comments box, or through the contacts form on the 'P-O-O-P' page.

Before we proceed direct to the teaching today, please note. As this is an official text in the library of Sanskrit literature, it is appropriate to make an opening prayer. This is to acknowledge the seriousness of the work itself, the standing of the personage behind it, the intention of the student to gain maximum benefit from it and a bonding of the shishya with the aacharya. If you have watched any of the teachings on the Chinmaya Channel, you will have seen that all aachaaryas lead opening prayers, which may or may not be text-specific. This is, actually, an expression of the bhakti which will be addressed as we study the NBS. A standard chant for start of 'class' is this;

 सह नाववतु।

सह नौ भुनक्तु।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै।

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु

मा विद्विषावहै।
 शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः 
Om sahanaavavatu… Om, May we all be protected

Saha nau bhunaktu… May we all be nourished
Saha veeryam karavaavahai...May we work together with great energy
Tejasvi-naa-vadhiitamastu… May our intellect be sharpened (may our study be effective)
Maa vid-vishaavahai… Let there be no Animosity amongst us
Om shantiH shantiH shantiH… Om, peace (in me), peace (in nature), peace (in divine forces)

As a saadhana, you are encouraged to bookmark that chant and practice it; making effort to recite it at least once before embarking on each reading here (whichever day) and also any readings that you are doing at home. Now let us proceed.

Sri Narada, having advised Veda-Vyaasa that there was a need to relate the nature of proper reverence and relationship with the Divine began -

अथ अतः भक्तिं व्याख्यास्यामः 
Atha ataH bhaktim vyaakhyaasyaamaH
Now, therefore, the doctrine of devotion (we) shall expound.

As sutras go, this is not at all obscure. In Sanskrit, though, remember that every syllable, even each letter of the devanagari script, carries weight and potential for learning! When a Guru addresses the listener with 'now…' (atha), it implies that there has been discussion beforehand and expectation of certain things having been agreed/learned. In this case, the shishya is likely to have been hair-deep in high intellectual study, grasping all the import of Advaita, but finds that full spiritual satisfaction is a bit lacking and now requires some activity of devotion. Even if a student has come only from the path of bhakti, the aim is still to attain the fullness of relief from bondage to the world, it is just that in bhakti, one can at least use the bondage to the advantage of raising oneself ever higher, spiritually. Sri Ramanuja laid out seven qualifications for the pursuit of bhakti; discrimination in food (viveka), freedom from desire (vimukha), practice (abhyas), habit of doing good (kriya), purity of thought, word and deed, non-violence, charity and other such virtues (kalyan), cheerfulness (anavasada) and absence of excessive hilariousness (anuddharasa). If you have been following from the beginning here, it will seem quite familiar, as these are not so different from the saadhana-chatushtaya.

For many, an ethical and moral life is sufficient. However, the true spiritual aspirant demands much more; such a one wants only to feel the presence of "God' and to realise his or her fullest spiritual potential. Thus, in the sutra, the term 'therefore…' (ataH) is also used and says that the Guru has seen this need in the student, thus the promise is made to provide something which will expand the spiritual horizon.

 सा त्वस्मिन् परमप्रेमरूपा   
Saa tvasmin paramaprema-ruupaa
That (devotion) is indeed of the nature of Supreme Love in (directed towards) God.

Often in the hustle of life, we think of devotion in terms of loyalty and, perhaps, dedication to a person or activity; which is fine and true of itself. Here, though, we are looking at the application of our intellect and spirit to a goal many would say is 'airy-fairy'. Loyalty and dedication are certainly required, but there is something just that bit more in bhakti. A mind totally turned towards the Higher, demanding nothing, (not even moksha), is a mind filled with bhakti. Thoughts constantly flowing towards the Supreme is bhakti. Nobody else, nothing else. Only Naaraayana. This is the attitude of the bhakta.

We are so used to directing our 'love' to the beings and things outside, that the word is bandied about somewhat liberally. Here, Sri Narada wishes to make a distinction between that worldly, lower 'ell' love, and that of the Divine, pure devotion. In order to demonstrate that such Love is beyond any name or defined individual in the form of Brahman, Rama, Krishna, Yahweh, Yeshu etc, he uses the term 'asmin'… "that". Thus we already get an inkling that bhakti, for all its difference, has the same goal as any Vedantic jnaan teaching - to reach the Infinite Beatitude which is Universal Consciousness. Love of this nature transcends all. It can take us to the very thing which all Vedantins (and, indeed, people of all faiths) desire, which is union with the Divine. Each may have their own avenues and doctrines through which they are conducting this search, but in this highest of all Loves, we find sectarianism is dropped, boundaries destroyed, differences nullified. Love is the link which connects. Establishing oneself so directly in relationship with the Divine, we step into a realm of our own and give ourselves the opportunity for experiences beyond all explanation.

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1 comment:

  1. that is interesting and I wish we would start our work with this chant... it's important to be protected and it's great that it ends with peace for all...

    ReplyDelete

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