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Practical Spirituality – The Secret Weapon
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Practical Spirituality – The Secret Weapon

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? :P)… 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”.

Really?

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
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
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:

cheto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha–davagni-nirvapanam
shreyah-kairava-chandrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
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
amanina manadena
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-
sthita-dhuli-sadrisham vichintaya

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.

nayanam galad-ashru-dharaya
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?

yugayitam nimeshena
chakshusha pravrishayitam
shunyayitam jagat sarvam
govinda-virahena me

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.

0 07 November, 2011 Bhagavad Gita-as i learned, Soul Curry November 7, 2011

About the author

A techie by profession but spiritual by nature. Ambi writes about the ancient wisdom of our Indian culture in a way the modern generation can easily understand. Oh ya, his comments are as interesting as his posts and his posts always trigger healthy debates.

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4 comments

  1. chetan

    well written…. and contemplative too…i would like to ask you one thing, rather like to know your views on this– i know it can offend many devotees of Krishna, but for their info, I belong to a family, devoted to Krishna’ worship…so please consider it in the right way, it is intended for good discussion only

    How will you explain this to young people like me, that by chanting the name of Krishna, every thing will be sorted out, it doesn’t just get into my mind……is it just a faith that they want to put into some unknown, so that they may never the truth, and at the end, it is only faith in yourselves that gets you along in your life, and apparently that goes out for Krishna’s blessings to you…..it is a ongoing thought process in my mind, and I keep finding on new interpretations for this, as i keep living my life, but doubts are always there in my mind

  2. Ambi

    I am surprised to see a comment after all this time… and sorry I took so long to check and reply.

    Chetan, No offense taken from your comment (except probably for implying that I am old… which I am not. :P JK) .

    Read my reply in a neutral tone… since I typed it in a “thinking out loud” fashion.

    Is faith in one’s own self really the only thing that gets us along in life? There are a zillion factors that influence the outcome of every action we do. How can we discount those? And what do you mean by faith in the unknown?

    We are FORCED to think of God as unknown, as a concept, as a figment of imagination of our unscientific, uneducated, tribal, simpleton ancestors … because these days, telling anyone that we know God would make us look ‘uncool’!

    And what do you mean by “sorted out”? Like things will all be nice and shiny in life? Every need taken care of? If that is what you meant… I have to tell you… this is the result of years and years of pseudo-spiritual weeds that have been nurtured in our society, a poison which has spread so wide and so deep that anything to do with God immediately puts him the position of the “supplier of wants” and us in a position of “bribe giver/orderer”.

    As I said earlier, chanting of Lord Krishna’s names is not like the $500 per mantra for curing diseases, improving business and such. What the chanting of the names of God does is clearly explained in the first stanza of Siksastakam.

    “…cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death” and “It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.”

    In essence, this opens up the gates to peaceful bliss… which automatically makes one happy, no matter what the situation is. It is US who get transformed… and it is our view of material things in life that changes.

    “Asantasyah kutah sukham?” – how can there be happiness without peace of mind? How can the mind be at peace if it is not firmly anchored in service to the Supreme Lord? This anchor is available from the chanting of the Holy names… so why not take it?

    Instead of doubting, why not take the approach of “The proof is in the pudding”? Because no amount of theorizing from my side or speculation from your side would help.

    Just take the plunge. See for yourself. How hard can that be?

    P.S: You can also try chanting coca-cola 108 times, just to compare. :)

  3. chetan

    First of all, i am sorry for implying that you are old, but I know you are not….it is just about that every body of my age or yours think like this……

    Actually after reading your message, i thought that i should write more about what i think, just for sharing my views about GOD

    I know what i am writing now may seem contradictory to what I said earlier….i also believe that chanting the name of Krishna will bring peace of mind and happiness in one’s life, but i just look it in a different way…i see it as the routine that we make and the ‘satsang’ that we do has a lot of energy that resonates and brings us the good things…

    i also believe that (i have not tested it), if any other name is chanted by a group of people together or in a routine, one can feel the inner peace…i just always try to know people’s view on different religious writings,and how they take it, as i find it sometimes difficult to relate it to the reality…again not the preachings, but the basis of worship that they portray…i also feel the peace when i visit temples, but because of satsang that group of people do there…………i look at the god in this way-

    i believe that whatever we think happens with us, but to think we need to fight with our inner fear, and sometimes we can not do that, so we have been taught to have faith on the unknown and that He will take care of all the things, and that unknown is nothing but the self belief, as it indirectly does the same thing……again this is just my interpretation…………..

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