Advaita Bhakti through Contemplative Practice of Narayaniyam (ABCPN - 0)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at YAHOO.COM
Sun Nov 17 09:08:47 CST 2002

Note: This entire series is a repost of postings done on the advaitin list


This is only an Introduction.
Starting from this post I intend to make 13 posts on the subject of
symbiotic verbal expression of Bhakti as understood and practised by an
advaitin. For this purpose I have selected 36 verses from nArAyaNIyaM, the
great poetical work of Narayana Bhattatiri, who lived in the 16th and 17th
centuries. This work is an inimitably faithful epitome in 1036 Sanskrit
verses of Srimad Bhagavatam, in such a masterly fashion that the epitome
itself is considered as sacred as the original, which contains 18000
verses. In 1587 A.D.  Bhattatiri  took the paralysis of his Guru on
himself and then to get rid of his illness, he composed the nArAyaNIyaM
sitting in front of the idol of Krishna at Guruvayoor temple, where on the
100th day of the composition, he was blessed by the Lord with a darshan
and also a complete cure of his illness. In all the works of Bhattatiri,
the Absolute Transcendental is Krishna, the deity of Guruvayoor in the
state of Kerala, India. He is usually referred to as Guruvayoor-appan by
his devotees throughout the world. As sAdhakas towards the goal of advaita
we should not have any qualms in conceiving of Guruvayoor-appan, (or for
that matter any deity of a temple) as THE manifestation of The
Transcendental Absolute.

It is generally thought that advaita is just a philosophy and bhakti is a
way of life. In my personal experience of having seen my father Sri R.
Visvanatha Sastri live his life, I feel that the advaitic attitude is also
a way of life and (according to me, as I understood him) THE way of life.
It is the continuing PRACTICE OF THIS ADVAITIC ATTITUDE by my father that
convinced me that the expression of true bhakti has to be advaitic in
essence. In fact Adi Sankara says (Vivekachudamani–33). that contemplative
living in one’s natural state, that is the divine state, is bhakti.
‘svasvarUpA-nusandhAnaM bhaktir-ity-abhidhIyate’.
I have seen my father practise it (perhaps) all his life – he was already
45 when I was born, and when I was 29 he was no more.

The 36 slokas that I have selected from nArAyaNIyaM are mostly expressions
of bhakti but, with my experience of my father’s life, I can see how
Bhattatiri must have felt and lived. These slokas have a running thread of
the advaitic spirit and attitude. In fact Bhattatiri transforms philosophy
into scintillating poetry. His is a philosophy of advaita which is
devotional, almost like (in the devotional aspect) the one which Sankara
himself followed in his own life, though, Bhattatiri’s understanding of
the advaita concept has shades of the Vaishnava philosophy in it.   For
the past five years I have been contemplating on the  thread of these 36
slokas daily at all possible times of day and night. The Slokas and their
meanings are listed in these posts in the order in which I have sequenced
and remembered them. This is, however, not their sequential order in the
text. The sequence below is mine. It is so because I feel that this way it
gives expression to my feeling towards the Lord and to my  conviction that
it is leading me  – mark it, ‘leading me’ – to that distant goal of
realisation of NON-DUALITY.  The reader of these posts may or may not
resonate with this feeling of mine, but still I thought I will share with
you my experience.

Each of these posts, starting from the next, will dwell on three slokas,
in my sequential order. I am sure there can be several opinions on my
selection of the particular slokas as well as their sequencing, but what
is to be remembered is that it is a personal selection and I enjoy
contemplation on it. I consider it as a spiritual exercise in tuning my
mind to advaitic practice – my model being,  my FATHER.

(To be continued)
praNAms to all seekers of Spirituality

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