Seeds of Light Foundation
from Narada Bhakti Sutras.
An aspirant cannot take to the deep study of philosophy and spiritual practice without preparation, without proper qualifications.
The aspirant must be endowed with aspiration, faith, devotion, tolerance, patience, perseverance, forgiveness, mercy, serenity, cheerfulness, courage, non-violence, truthfulness, purity (or Brahmacharya), spirit of self-less service, dispassion, renunciation and one-pointed mind. This is the preparation for the love of God.
The aspirant should have faith in the grace of God. He must have intense desire to attain God- realisation. He must have deep interest in the study of scriptures. He must have faith in the scripture and in the capacity of the Teacher. He must have the capacity to understand. He must be free from disabilities and must have all possible opportunities and favourable circumstances. Then alone he is fit to practise Bhakti. Then alone he will be profited.
Ramanuja, the founder of the Visishtadvaita school of philosophy mentions seven qualifications as being indispensable for those who wish to follow the path of devotion.
1. Viveka (discrimination in food).
2. Vimoka (freedom from desires).
3. Abhyasa (practice).
4. Kriya or the habit of doing good to others.
5. Kalyana, purity in thought, word and deed, non-violence, charity and other virtues.
6. Anavasada (cheerfulness)
7. Anuddharsa or absence of excessive hilarity.
Sandilya's definition of Bhakti is "absolute attachment to God".
The term Bhakti comes from the root "Bhaj", which means "to be attached to God". Bhajan, worship, bhakti, anurag, prem, prithi are synonymous terms.
Bhakti is love for love's sake.
The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectaton here. There is no fear also. Therefore, it is called "Parama Prem Rupa". Is the son afraid of his father, who is a Sessions Judge? Is the wife afraid of her husband? So also a devotee entertains the least fear of God. The fear of retribution vanishes in him. He feels, believes, conceives and imagines that his Ishtam (God) is an Ocean of Love or Prem.
Devotion or Bhakti is exclusive love for God. The devotee wants God and God alone. He is completely attached to God. He has no attraction or love for any object in this world. He is absolutely free from all mundane desires. He has no desire for the enjoyment of the next world. He does not want even Mukti (liberation from embodied life).
Supreme Love does not seek a return. It does not expect a reward. The lover wants his Beloved alone. The devotee is quite indifferent to the pleasures of this world. He has no interest in the affairs of this world.
Mark how love develops. First arises faith. Then follows attraction and after that adoration. Adoration leads to suppression of mundane desires. The result is single-mindedness and satisfaction. Then grow attachment and supreme love towards God.
In this type of highest Bhakti all attraction and attachment which one has for objects of enjoyment are transferred to the only dearest object, viz., God. This leads the devotee to an eternal union with his Beloved and culminates in oneness (Yoga, Union, Samadhi).
Bhakti is divided into two kinds, viz., Apara Bhakti or Gauna Bhakti and Para Bhakti. Apara Bhakti is the lower or initial stage of devotion of an aspirant following the path of Bhakti, while Para Bhakti is the highest stage of Bhakti.
The relationship of the devotee with the Lord in various stages is beautifully described here. Sri Hanuman says to Lord Rama, "When I think of myself as an embodied being, I am your servant; when I think of myself as an individual soul, I am part of you; but when I realise 'I am Atman' I am one with you. This is my firm conviction."
Love grows wildly in the ignorant man's heart. There is a luscious fruit of love in a corner of the heart, but the entire heart is strewn with thorns of hatred, jealousy and so many other vicious qualities that the charm of love is marred.
There are the bushes of lust, anger and greed, which hide within them the wildest animals. Love lies hidden far beneath and far beyond reach. It is as good as non-existent. But, in the case of a true devotee of the Lord, this love has been cultured, and the garden of his heart is cleared of the thorns of vicious qualities, of the bushes of lust, anger and greed. Love of God which is the sweetest of fragrances wafts from such a heart.
(Tu) is used to differentiate the highest Bhakti, which Maharshi Narada alludes to in this Sutra, from the lower type of devotion which is actuated by ulterior motives and desires or fear of God; etc.
You should know the difference between ordinary love, the love between wife and husband, children and parents, friends and relations.
The word (asmin) is used in this Sutra to denote the object of love. Narada's teaching is non-sectarian. He did not use the word, Brahman, Ishwar, Rama, Krishna, Siva, etc.
Parama-Prema-Rupa: There is no trace of selfishness or egoism or any motive or fear in this kind of supreme love. Do not mistake emotion or fanaticism for devotion or supreme love. It will pass away soon. Blind faith also is not supreme love.
The various objects which devotees worship according to their spiritual development are:
1. A Personal God, Vishnu, Siva, etc.
2. An idol or image of the Personal God which will remind him of the Personal God.
3. An Avatara like Lord Rama or Lord Krishna.
4. Guru or one's spiritual guide.
5. Humanity in general.
6. The whole world (Viswarupa - rupa means form) conceived as the manifestation of the Supreme Being.
7. The Antaryamin or the inner ruler or controller of all the objects in the world.
8. One's own Atman - God created soul.
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