Edit: I forgot when I started this article… it must have been sometime in mid-September, but things got so hectic with work and life that I was literally sapped by the drudgery. And then, my son suddenly decided to arrive in to this world a week early. There is no finding time after that, is there? Now the little master (keeps my entire family on their toes!) is asleep now, and I thought it would be good to spend some time on this article.
“How is one to “just follow these rules”? There is always temptation. Although that leads to guilt and a truck load of insecurity, one would fall to temptation unless without the proper amount of will power or should I say, “wont power”….” – Sir Pumpkin Longshanks
I think it is apt that this article starts off with this comment I got on my previous article. I have thought over and over to present a good response to the comment in an article, but I finally came to a conclusion that none of my mental speculations and (lack of) literary skills would do at this stage.
I have decided to conclude this series with this post. Some may find this post nothing short of straight preaching (isn’t that what I have been doing all this while? )… but I cannot change the core siddhanta. I have simply passed on what I got and I don’t want to drag on more on the practicality aspect. Instead, I will simply give information on the one secret weapon which is the only help in our fight against the darkness that has taken our consciousness.
Right from our young age, we are told stories of “where there is a will, there is a way”. We are ingrained with a highly competitive attitude, with the idea that it is by our own effort that things get done. And we are led to believe that this attitude will bring us better education, fame, wealth, beauty (plastic surgery, anyone?), power and what not.
“You are what you think what you are”.
There is a difference in the way that monkeys and cats handle their little ones. I am sure several of you would immediately recognize it. The baby monkey is pretty small and weak, but it has to hold on to its mother by its own effort… which of course fails to save it several times on the run. But a cat holds its kittens by the neck and securely moves it.
We keep thinking that we would advance in spirituality by our own ‘miniscule’ effort, which is like the monkey trying to hang on to its mother. But what should really happen is that we realize that we should simply put ourselves in a role of surrendered service to Lord Krishna, and then He would see to it that we attain his side.
This is the essence of the ‘descending’ process of Bhakti yoga, where the advancement happens due to the mercy flowing down from God through the line of his devotees.
In this method, even the tiniest effort towards understanding and advancing in Bhakti will be permanently credited to one’s, let’s say, ‘spiritual account’. (Don’t ask me about whether it yields interest.J)
Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 9.22:
ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form — to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
There are several methods to make advancement in Spirituality, but there are recommended methods, to suit the time, place, circumstances. From Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.2.17), Padma Purāṇa (Uttara-khaṇḍa 72.25) and the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa (38.97):
dhyayan krite yajan yajnais
tretayam dvapare ‘rcayan
yad apnoti tad apnoti
kalau sankirtya kesavam
“Whatever is achieved by meditation in Satya-yuga, by the performance of sacrifice in Treta-yuga, and by the worship of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet in Dvapara-yuga is obtained in the age of Kali simply by glorifying the name of Lord Kesava.”
So, this ‘sankirtanam’ is the secret weapon. Actually it is no secret… it has been part and parcel of our culture and we simply have come to a point where we restrain ourselves even from such a simple sadhana out of fear of being shunned and joked at by the ‘modern, educated, civil society’. In fact, this chanting is the easiest way to make advancement in Spirituality.
Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.51:
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krsnasya
mukta-sangah param vrajet
My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.
Kirtanad eva krsnasya… chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna. And what better way is there to chant His name than the Hare Krishna Mahamantra? It is specifically mentioned in many scriptures, such as the Kali-santarana Upanishad, where it is said:
hare krishna hare Krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
iti shodasakam namnam kali-kalmasha-nasanam
natah parataropayah sarva-vedeshu drisyate
“After searching through all the Vedic literature, one cannot find a method of religion more sublime for this age than the chanting of Hare Krishna.”
Now, there are almost always people who will ask “Why not chant _____ mantra? Why only the Hare Krishna Mahamantra?”. Or something like “I think that just chanting coca cola coca cola or some other concocted mantra is enough because so-and-so baba to me so”.
Well, the injunction of the Vedas is to chant the Holy names of Sri Krishna, and this instruction has been well received and spread through the line of Acharyas, who had dedicated themselves to guiding the people towards their spiritual deliverance. Their devotion to the Supreme Lord is unmatched. They gave this knowledge freely to anyone who would take it, without any compromise on the philosophy.
And we, with our lack of purity, humility, realization, devotion and surrender, cannot even begin to compare this nectar with the “$100-a-session, only for wealth or business growth” kind of mantras that the so-called babas now churn out from their mental concoctions. There are now so many meditation classes, yoga classes, self-improvement seminars starting from the simple, free-of-cost ones to those that cost you a couple of thousand dollars to sit in… but all their effectiveness is unmatched to what we can get by putting just the simple effort of chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna.
Don’t worry about what kind of benefits you would get and how to follow all the rules and such… there is nothing to lose, so simply spend some time in chanting the holy names. All other things will fall in to their proper places with the mercy of Lord Krishna and his devotees.
I must admit here that I have not even become steadfast in my own sadhana, but as I have said at the end of my previous series, if anything, this whole exercise was probably meant to be for my own purification. Now before I conclude, here is something to read and get deeply engrossed in.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, during his presence in this world, gave us just 8 slokas, called Sri Siksastakam. Here it is:
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritaswadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam
Glory to the Sri-Krsna-Sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrishi tava kripa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrisham ihajani nanuragaha
O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names, like Krsna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
trinad api sunichena
taror api sahishnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
mama janmani janmanishvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki twayi
O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service, birth after birth.
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam vishame bhavambudhau
kripaya tava pada-pankaja-
O son of Maharaja Nanda (Krsna), I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.
vadanam gadgada-ruddhaya gira
pulakair nichitam vapuh kada
tava nama-grahane bhavishyati
O my Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?
shunyayitam jagat sarvam
O Govinda! Feeling Your separations I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.
ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah
I know no one but Krsna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally.