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

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at YAHOO.COM
Thu Nov 21 08:22:43 CST 2002

This entire series is a reposting of postings done on the advaitin list

ABCPN - 2 (Note: Please read the Introduction (ABCPN – 0)
- if you have not already read it)

Sloka No. 4 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 91 - 4):
bhakter-utpatti-vR^iddhI tava caraNa-juShAM sangamen-aiva pumsAM
AsAdye puNya-bhAjAM shriya iva jagati shrImatAM sangamena /
tat-sango deva bhUyan-mama khalu satataM tan-mukhAd-unmiShadbhiH
tvan-mAhAtmya-prakArair-bhavati ca sudR^iDA bhaktir-uddhUta-pApA //

Tr.: It is by association with Thy devotees that bhakti germinates and
develops in men who have auspicious deeds to their credit, just as in this
world it is the relationship with prosperous men in various ways that
leads to the prosperity of people. Therefore Oh Lord, may I always have
contact with holy men, and through their outpourings of  narratives and
hymns dealing with Thy excellences, may I, with all my sins effaced,
become established in firm and whole-hearted devotion.

Comment. What is being prayed for is sat-sangh, the company of the noble
and the holy, which is the first step on the ascent in the ladder of
spirituality. Narada waxes eloquent on the mental attitudes of these noble
souls: (Bhakti sutra 68) When (they) with choked emotion, body covered
with horripulation and tears flowing down, converse with each other in
broken words, they sanctify their family and tribe, nay the very earth
itself they come to glorify. “kaNTAvarodha-romAnchAshrubhiH parasparaM
lapamAnAH pAvayanti kulAni pR^ithivIM ca.”
Hearing the narratives and hymns dealing with God’s excellences is
the ‘shravaNa’ regimen prescribed as No.1 of the nine manifestations of
bhakti, enunciated long ago, by the greatest devotee of all times,
Prahlada. ‘By hearing and singing the glories of the Lord, even while
engaged in the activities of the world’, says Narada again in Sutra 37:
“loke’pi bhagavad-guNa-shravaNa-kIrtanAt”.

Sloka No.5  (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 91 - 5):
shreyo mArgeShu bhaktA-vadhika-bahu-matir-janma-karmANi bhUyo
gAyan kShemANi nAmAny-api tad-ubhayataH pradrutaM pradrutAtmA /
udyad-hAsaH kadAcit-kuhacid-api rudan kvApi garjan pragAyan
unmAdIva pranR^ityann-ayi kuru karuNAM loka-bAhyash-careyaM //

Tr.: Oh! Lord, Deign to bestow on me that state of mind, whereby,
preferring the path of devotion as the best among the various paths for
spiritual attainment, I fervently chant again and again Thy names and
accounts of Thy achievements in Thy incarnations, so sanctifying and
spiritually elevating, until with my mind melting with loving emotion, I
shall sometimes laugh, sometimes cry, sometimes shout, sometimes sing
aloud and sometimes dance in ecstasy, and move about like a mad man who
has lost his link with society and its conventions.

Comment. It is by such devotion one comprehends ‘Who is He? What is He?’
(cf. Gita XVIII – 55). Usually when one asks God for something, that is
what is meant by petitional prayer and most of our prayers are petitional
prayers. But that prayer itself has to be supported by intense devotion.
We never ask of God to give us that intensity of devotion; because we
think we have it. This is where our free will comes in the way, without
our knowing that it does so. We never ask God to give us bhakti. Bhakti
means the decision to go back to the source, knowing full well that it is
the royal road to the goal of spirituality.  And He waits and waits (--
this is the ‘agony of God’, talked about in Christianity --) until we
ourselves, by our own free will, decide to go back to Him. In the meantime
He gives us some petty things we have always wanted, so that in due time
we may begin to want what He wants to give us. It is in this context, one
asks for bhakti to be granted to us by Himself.
The mind that attaches to God automatically liberates. The thesis here is
that such a mind is already in the transcendental experience of bliss, it
need not wait for the so-called mukti. Listen to Adi Sankara: (Sivananda-
lahari: Verse no.81). It appears Narayan Bhattadri has echoed this sloka
of Sankara.
kamcit-kAlam-umAmahesha bhavataH pAdAravindArcanaiH
kamcit-dhyAna-samAdhibhishca natibhiH kamcit kathA-karNanaiH /
kamcit-kamcid-avekshaNaishca nutibhiH kamcid-dashAmIdR^ishIM
yaH prApnoti mudA tvad-arpita-manA jIvan sa muktaH khalu //
Sometime in worshipping Your lotus feet, sometime in meditation and
concentration sometime in offering obeisance, sometime in listening to
stories about You, sometime in looking at  Your form, sometime in singing
Your praise - he who gains such a state in exhultation, having surrendered
his mind to You, O Lord,  he is verily  liberated even when alive.

Sloka No.6  (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 2 - 10):
tvad-bhaktistu kathA-rasAmR^ita jharI nirmajjanena svayaM
siddhyantI vimala-prabodha-padavIM akleshatas-tanvatI /
sadyas-siddhikarI jayaty-ayi vibho saivAstu me tvat-pada-
prema-prouDhi-rasArdratA drutataraM vAtAlayAdhIshvara //

Tr. For, Devotion to Thee stands (as a unique path) in that it bestows
purity and enlightenment directly and immediately, without any pains, by
submerging one in the flood of delight generated by hearing and
remembering Thy deeds and excellences. Oh Lord of Guruvayoor! May I soon
attain that tenderness of heart produced by intense love for Thy feet!

Comment. The two attributes of bhakti, namely ‘svayam siddhyantI’ (= leads
to the goal by itself) and ‘sadyas-siddhikarI’ (= immediately
successful), -- these two are what made Tulasi, one of the greatest
exponents of bhakti as a philosophy, to extol it above jnAna or yoga, or
vairAgya (detachment or dispassion). We may recall and enjoy his powerful
metaphor in this connection. JnAna, yoga and vairAgya are all masculine in
conception (according to the grammar of the language) and so they cannot
ultimately succeed as bhakti can, over the enchantments of mAyA which is
feminine. mAyA, says the poet of the Rama-carita-manas, is only a nartakI
(dancer) whereas bhakti is the beloved of his hero Sri Ram.
The ‘feminine’  bhakti can conquer mAyA whereas the ‘masculine’ jnAna,
yoga,and vairagya, etc. however powerful they may be, tend to succumb to
her charms!

(To be continued)
praNAms to all seekers of spirituality.

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