THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT EXPLAINING SADHANA-SAPTAKA (7 PRELIMINARY STEPS TO BHAKTI) AND 9 ANGAS OF BHAKTI IS FROM "THE MYSTICISM OF POYGAI ALVAR" BY R. BALASUBRAMANIAN [VEDANTA PUBLICATIONS, 1976]:
"Mudal Tiruvantadi" by Poigai Alwar, Verse 11: "My mouth will not praise anyone but The Lord. My hands will not worship anyone but Vishnu Who (as Trivikrama) measured the world in three strides. My eyes will not see anything except the form of The Lord, and my ears will not hear anything except The Name of Shree Krishna, Who consumed the poison smeared on the breast of the demoness Putana".
Explanation by R. BalaSubramanian: In this hymn, Poygai Alvar refers to some of the modes of Bhakti. For the practice of Bhakti control of the mind isnecessary. If so, how is the mind to be controlled?
One must make proper use of one’s body, senses, and mind. The different organs of knowledge and action are given to us only for the purpose of knowing and adoring Lord Shree Vishnu and for serving Vaishnavas.
They should not be allowed to go outward in search of objects of pleasure. If they go outward, they will be entangled in the external objects of desire which are impermanent. One does not have peace of mind so long as one’s mind is trammelled and agitated by desires which crop up one after another.
Desires cannot be extinguished by their fulfilment. On the contrary, they grow by what they feed on. The mind cannot remain quiet when it is drawn outward by the senses.
Only when it is quiescent, concentration will be possible. For attaining concentration or one-pointedness of the mind, which presupposes control of the mind and the organs, it is necessary to turn the mind and the organs inward and make them dwell constantly on God, the indwelling Self in all beings.
If the mind and the senses are allowed to go astray from the thought of God, and if the body is allowed to indulge in bad conduct, the attainment of the goal which is God-realization through concentration of the mind is not possible.
The Katha Upanishad (1.2.24) says: “One who has not desisted from bad conduct, whose senses are not under control, whose mind is not concentrated, whose mind is not free from anxiety, cannot attain this Self through knowledge.”
Sadhana-Saptaka by OM VishnuPad Shree RamanujAcharya explained.
In the Vishishta-Adwaita and ShriVaishnava (Shri Ramanuja) Tradition purification of the body (kaya-shuddhi) is called viveka, and purification of the mind (sattva-shuddhi) is known as vimoka (विमोक - liberation from sensuality or worldly objects).
These are the first two steps in the sevenfold discipline (sadhana-saptaka) for the practice of bhakti.
It means that the body should be disciplined through food and exercise, and that the mind controlled by freeing it from desire and aversion. As a result of the purification of the body and the mind, abhyasa or continuous contemplation on the Lord, which is the third step in the ladder of bhakti, is made possible.***
***Note by Vishnudut1926: OM VishnuPad Shree RamanujAcharya explains Sadhana-Saptaka in the following way: Tallabdhi: vivEka vimOka abhyAsa kriyA kalyANa anavasAda anuddharshEbhya: sambhavAt nirvachanAccha
|This image is based on the following article - http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/nov99/0140.html|
Explanation by R. BalaSubramanian continued: It is necessary here to explain the connotation of the term "Bhakti". In the course of his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita (14.26) ShankarAcharya observes that Bhakti is service and that it is itself yoga, as it leads to the union with God (bhajanam bhaktih saiva yogah).
It means that to practice bhakti one must resort to service. Bhakti consists in rendering service wholeheartedly, unselfishly, and with the belief that the person to whom service is rendered is worthy of it.
A life of genuine service to God and His devotees is a life of Bhakti or Love.
9 kinds of Bhakti.
Bhakti as service to Bhagavan Shree Vishnu is of 9 kinds. There is 1st shravanam which is listening to the auspicious qualities of Bhagavan Shree Narayana.
Uttering the sacred qualities of Vishnu is kirtanam, which is the 2nd variety of bhakti.
Smaranam which is recollection of the auspicious qualities of Lord Shree Narayana is the 3rd kind of bhakti.
The 4th is padasevanam which is service to the feet of Bhagavan Shree Narayana.
The 5th one is called arcanam which consists in worshipping the consecrated Murtis of God in the sacred temples.
Obeisance to the Murtis installed in the sacred temples is called vandanam, which is the 6th kind of Bhakti.
The 7th one, called dasyam, consists in playing the role of a faithful servant to Lord Shree Vishnu.
Friendship with the Lord known as sakhyam is the next variety (8th).
And the last one (the 9th) is called atmanivedanam which means self-oblation to God. One can practise Bhakti in any of these forms for the purpose of attaining union with God.
Krishna says in the Gita (14.26): "And he who constantly worships Me through Bhakti-Yoga, serves Me, he transcending these Gunas, becomes fit for attaining Brahman".
Kirtanam, vandanam, and shravanam are the forms of bhakti emphasized by Poygai Alvar in the above-mentioned 11th Hymn from "Mudal Tiruvantadi".
There is bound to be difference among the devotees in their practice of Bhakti.
Modes of Bhakti differ as minds of men differ. A particular form of Bhakti which is appealing to one may not be appealing to another; and so there is difference in the modes of Bhakti.
Nevertheless, all forms of Bhakti are equally valuable. They are complementary in their character. They contribute to only one music - the music of spiritual life.
The differences among them which we notice are but variations in spiritual symphony".
"THE MYSTICISM OF POYGAI ALVAR"
#by R. BalaSubramanian#
[Vedanta Publications] ~1976~
OCR by Vishnudut1926, Moscow, December 2017
Picture in green with the explanation of
Sadhana-Saptaka designed by Vishnudut1926