A lecture given by HH Kadamba Kanana Swami Maharaja, 15 April 2010, Krsna-Balarama Youth Group, Gauteng, South Africa
These are all different notes that I have written down at different points in regards to chanting japa. So it’s more realisations than scriptural quotes but still, I hope it can be of little inspiration…
“Hearing is the oil of the lamp of chanting. The mood of Vrndavana is constant hearing, chanting and remembering. If we do this then we are always in Vrndavana.”
Hearing fills us with remembrance of Krsna, fills us with appreciating the glories of Krsna. There is tattva, there is lila, rasa- there is the truth about Krsna, there are the pastimes of Krsna, there are mellows in relationship to Krsna- and all of these things are equally important. For example, next to our temple in Vrndavana, there is an asrama where they chant with particular mantras, which I don’t want to repeat because it’s not the Hare Krsna maha mantra. But Prabhupada said that there is a mantra which is almost like it, which we can chant. He said that was, ‘Nitai Gaura Radhe Syam, Jaya Krsna Balarama’ and they have something that’s a little similar to that. And Prabhupada said, ‘well, they’ll get some benefit, they’ll get some taste, they’ll get some ecstasy because they are chanting the names of Nitai Gaura. But still, it’s not the same as the maha mantra because when we speak about the maha mantra then also tattva is part of it.
When we are speaking about Hare Krsna then we are speaking about a relationship in the maha mantra: Krsna, the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead; Hare, the hladhini sakti or the personified Srimati Radharani, the service potency- so the service that is rendered to Krsna. And then Rama, “brahmanti yogina…” or that which brings us the greatest transcendental happiness. So by serving the all-attractive Supreme Lord, one gets transcendental happiness. So that is tattva; it’s all included in the relationship of the holy name.
So the maha mantra, these various names, they are in the right combination. And if we start to mix names like kichari– “Krsna Govinda Murari Hari…” and so on, then that’s also nice because the names of Krsna are also containing transcendental potency but the same tattva is not fully manifest. Therefore it doesn’t compare to the maha mantra. Thus Srila Prabhupada wanted us to chant the maha mantra in particular. And our neighbours, although they’re chanting Nitai Gaura, yes, when it comes to philosophy they didn’t get it quite right because they think that Gaura is none other than Krsna- and they’re right- but they think that Nitai is Srimati Radharani and that’s missing it by a few zillion yojanas! So unfortunately, what to do, they’re not quite with it. So it’s nice but not as nice as the pure chanting and the chanting in pure knowledge of understanding the glories of Krsna.
And then, it is said that Krsna is unlimitedly sweet. His pastimes are such that one cannot resist them. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was describing love of God as being the same as a hot sugar cane and He said it’s like too sweet to resist and too hot to handle, you know what I mean. He described love of God in that way. Thus Krsna is described as madhuram, as being very sweet. Okay, something more from our little diary…
“Today I am thinking about faithful chanting of sixteen rounds. Not every day is a japa retreat, where we are free to direct all our energy towards the chanting of the holy name. Some days are busy days, when there is no time or when we are tired. I came yesterday on a 24 hour journey from Africa, today my bones want to rest, but I chanted 12 rounds in the morning and saved 4 for during the day,-normally I chant 16 in one stretch in the morning- but today the body also needs something, but I am still going to chant my sixteen rounds faithfully.”
So yes, that’s also there. We cannot always reserve all our energy for chanting. Some days we don’t have any energy because some days there’s just too much of a demand on us and this world. Therefore, I wanted to kind of also highlight this aspect of chanting- the chanting where it’s also not flying on great moments of inspiration, but where it is simply, we may be tired, we may be busy but we are faithful, we will complete our rounds. It is difficult and we’ll try and do it nicely, we try to chant as nice as possible. Just the day before yesterday, I was chanting in my room and the light was on and as the sun was rising, it was time to switch off the lights. So somehow or other the word switch did it for me and switch off not just the light but switch off the mind from being just so agitated from the world, always agitated by something in the world- something good, something bad, something just…so many things around us just agitate the mind and the mind just gets so preoccupied with all these things that happen around us. So I was thinking just switch off. Just as you switch off the light, switch off the mind, just switch it off and just nothing important, nothing to think about, nothing. Just switch off and forget it, forget everything…
Always this question comes, ‘how can we keep the mind on the mantra?’ Just switch off, forget everything, just let it go, it’s not important. There’s nothing to remember now, there’s nothing to do now, just switch off the world, forget the world, forget everything! Forget the wife, forget the children, forget the husband, forget everything…forget the bills, forget the politics that you’re doing or that other’s are doing to you (laughter), forget it now. For a little while let us just chant Hare Krsna and try and do it nicely, faithfully.
Prabhupada often pointed out the importance of hearing and that of all the senses the ear is actually the most powerful because it’s said through the ear we can cross the greatest distance by hearing immediately. Like I’m looking at him and if I say, Tokyo, it’s not difficult to see him in a Kimono because he already is sitting like that in that jacket, so in my mind we make it a little longer and suddenly we are in Tokyo. It’s not difficult; with hearing it’s easy, we can go in a snap! So we can hear, hear about the spiritual world and we can be there.
“With hearing we can go so much further. The ear is the most powerful organ that can connect us to the spiritual world. Not ordinary sound, because the name of Krsna is Krsna.”
So the name of Krsna, it’s not only that in our mind we can journey to the spiritual world but really, Krsna is bringing the spiritual world to us. That is Krsna. Krsna is like that. He is simply unlimited. It’s like, when Srila Prabhupada was meditating on Krsna, he had a very deep and broad understanding of Krsna and then on one occasion in Delhi, when he had installed the Deities, he called them Radha Partha-Sarathi. So some devotees were asking, ‘how is it possible- Radha…Partha-Sarathi? Krsna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra- Partha-Sarathi? Krsna the chariot driver of Arjuna- and Radha? What does Radha have to do with Partha-Sarathi? Is that name really right?’ And different vaisnavas have questioned that at different points in time. But Prabhupada, when he was questioned about the name, he said, “Oh no, wherever there’s Krsna, Radharani is always there. She is always there, even at Kuruksetra.” So Prabhupada was very rasic although he didn’t kind of put it so out in the front but we can see that he was most deep in his vision of Krsna and seeing how Krsna was always manifest in all his different aspects, wherever he was.
So the name Krsna is just unlimited- unlimited! We can recite the Brahma Samhita,
advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam
adyam purana-purusam nava-yauvanam ca
vedesu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
(Brahma- samhita 5.33)
Advaitam– He’s one without a second. Yes He is- Krsna, the Supreme Lord, no one is equal to Him.
ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya
yare yaiche nacaya, se taiche kare nrtya
(Cc. Adi lila 5.142)
There is one Isvara and all the others are His dependents. One Supreme controller and all other’s are His dependents. All the dependents are dancing like puppets according to His will. Like that, that is the one Supreme Lord, Advaita.
Acyuta, He is infallible, that Supreme Lord. And Srila Prabhupada says in the Krsna book that the definition of infallible is that Krsna never fails to notice the slightest service rendered by His devotee. And I think that’s really nice! I like it! It gives hope. Our service may not be so great and deep down in our heart we know it and deep down in our heart we feel, well you know, just like sometimes they say, ‘Krsna protects His devotee’ but then we think, ‘but am I a devotee? Is He going to protect me?’ We think like that. And it is a fact that Krsna will protect us on the strength of being Acyuta, of appreciating the smallest bit of service. Yes, that gives us hope. Yes, Krsna has accepted us as a devotee.
Then it begins, then begins our sadhana, our spiritual practice. Krsna says in the Gita, that we should practice in devotional service, regularly practice. Let us practice, it’s about practice. Some people they can’t get it; they say, ‘how is it that you have to practice? Shouldn’t it come natural, from the heart? Isn’t it said that this Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind? Then why do you have to practice?’ Srila Prabhupada deals with that question in The Nectar of Devotion and he says, ‘Just as a child needs to practice in walking, although it’s natural to walk still the child needs to practice.’ And then only after some time he can walk although walking is a natural thing. In the same way chanting is natural but first we have to practice. My motto is, ‘there maybe taste or no taste but the mercy is there’.
“First upon opening the eyes, obeisances to the spiritual master. Of course that “adau gurupadasraya” also means that always in every situation the desire of guru has the priority- then chant…and nothing else. And that chanting will be followed by so many dealings with people or the material energy. And still we need more; hearing and reading and maybe more chanting to not become overwhelmed by the material modes. In the 6th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam it is pointed out that Krsna thinks because this man has chanted My holy name it is my duty to protect him.”
So now here, this particular entry in my diary is about the beginning of the day and that we begin the day and we offer our obeisances to our spiritual master and we try to kind of resolve that ‘I offer this day to you,’ that’s the beginning. So as we bow down in the beginning of the day we say, ‘okay, my dear spiritual master, this day will be your day, not my day. If it will be my day I know what’s going to happen…I know those days! So it’s not going to be those. This day is going to be your day,’ that’s the beginning. And then the day moves on yes, and then we chant. After chanting then it starts- business! And we have to deal with so many people and with the material energy and it’s just difficult, it’s just always difficult! Perplexing sometimes and other sometimes surprisingly smooth! When you didn’t expect it! Sometimes it must happen to you also; like you do something and it works! It worked and you never believed that it would but it did. And we go, ‘well, it was simple!’ (Laughter) but actually you know, to be honest, that it was just some gift, just some mercy. Anyway, as the day goes on and as we deal with the material energy, it starts to get to us- work starts to slowly get to us, heavy impressions, pressure and gradually we get drained and a little bit agitated or mental or even disturbed and it gets the better of us as the day progresses!
But then it is said, “in the 6th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, it is pointed out that Krsna thinks because this man has chanted My holy name it is My duty to protect him.” So just as we are getting overwhelmed, alright let’s chant and surely Krsna will protect, Krsna will protect us from the material energy. It says in Bhagavad Gita,
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
“This divine energy of Mine is difficult to overcome…” It is interesting that it is ‘divine energy’, it is ‘mama maya’, it is ‘My maya’; it’s not just ‘Mine’, it is divine energy. Daivi hy esa guna-mayi,
so only by Krsna’s help, only by His protection can we possibly overcome this feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s practical. So with this entry in the diary I wanted to illustrate in a practical way how we get overwhelmed and we’re all experiencing it. Shoo! It’s been one of those days again, hasn’t it?
“May we offer everything we have in the service of the Holy Name, that’s what Srila Prabhupada did. He sang the Holy Name in Tompkins Square Park and shared his ecstasy with the entire world…”
Srila Prabhupada had well, his biographer wrote, “spent a lifetime in preparation.” He was ekeha
kuru-nandana, totally fixed, only one purpose, not bahu-sakha hy anantas ca, not many branched. We are many branched, we think that ‘well, I invest in this but I also invest in that. And oh well, I also invest in this and invest in that…’ and in the end we have all these irons in the fire- all of them. And then the Krsna iron is like, (dramatic) ‘I am very serious about my Krsna consciousness and just for the new year I have resolved that this year I especially go deeper in my spiritual life and more serious and more responsible,’ but at the same time, ‘what about all the other irons?’
Like that we’re so distracted. Srila Prabhupada was so totally focused, he didn’t care where he was, he really didn’t care. He simply entered the chanting in deep concentration; we see the videos of Prabhupada chanting in Tompkins Square Park in deep concentration and oblivious to the world, not concerned, just absorbed in the chanting. And when we hear that chanting, that famous tune that Srila Prabhupada use to sing, known as the “Hare Krsna dun” sometimes, it just stays on the same level of strength. There’s something about it! There are so many tunes that start here and there and then build up a little, and then go back down and then build up again, but this one is just (sings) Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. The strength is not lost for a moment; it’s just one continuous flow of full focus and full strength, very clear, very bright…totally absorbed. So yes, that’s a meditation, to become more absorbed in chanting.
“Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji one day wanted to observe the disappearance of Srila Sanatana Goswami with a feast. Devotees who were present said, that is a wonderful idea Babaji Maharaja. Then after some time they asked, but where are we going to get the ingredients for the festival? Then Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji pointed at his japa mala and said: “All the ingredients for a festival are here.”
So that’s also something. You know, we just got back from Ratha Yatra and it was quite an arrangement once again. And this year, on a huge parking lot, which you know…and many other arrangements were there. Boy that evening Ratha Yatra on the Monday night, that was an intense one! There was no space! It was the worst we’ve ever had! It was the 2010 road works that made the road narrow, it was the decision to have only one chariot and boy oh boy was it wild, was it intense, was it crazy, was it about pushing bodies! My God! An ocean of moving body parts! Just arms, legs and big mouths screaming in between! Oh dear, oh dear! But it was fun! (Laughter) All the ingredients for a festival were there, so many arrangements! But then, look at Srila Gaurakisora das Babaji, just his japa mala, “all the ingredients for a festival are here.”
That blows your mind if you think about it! And if we just meditate on such things well then, then we may also think, ‘ya, actually let me try, let me try and see if Krsna will dance on the tongue,’ (dramatic) Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna- jumping up! (Laughter) You know when it becomes (sleepy japa) Hare Krsna Hare Krsna…then Krsna must be taking rest! Maybe Balarama is massaging His lotus feet!
Anyway I’m not going to read them all but just a few.
“Sometimes I use the example, when we are chanting japa, and how in the cause of japa our mind is causing us disturbance- constantly distracting us- and that chanting with that materialistic mind is like chanting in a room with a television that is on. And you’re walking up and down in the room, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna” (look at TV) “Krsna Krsna Hare Hare” (look at TV) Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare (blocks face) that’s Maya! Hare Krsna…” the bad scenes! So in this way our mind is like such a television and all the scenes are there- if you know what I’m talking about…! And of course, on this television there is the favourite series- a favourite series which regularly plays and what is it called? “Starring Me!” Yes! Yes this series never ends; there are many episodes starring me and all my adventures are there. So this is our condition more or less. We are now struggling with our mind, what to do…Even if we are chanting imperfectly, even if we are chanting with limitations, the holy name is Krsna and Krsna is unlimitedly pure and therefore the holy name is so pure that even although we are impurely chanting, still the effect is so great that even the unlimited mountain of sinful reactions that is stored in our heart cannot overshadow the purity of the holy name…”
And if we just keep on chanting and chanting then one day, what will happen, one day when you will look at that TV, Krsna will be there! Oh when, oh when will that program be on! For now it’s still that same old, “Starring Me.” Well like that, we are getting absorbed in chanting Hare Krsna and ya, Krsna is very merciful, Krsna is very tolerant. Imagine, when the living being goes to the material world, then Krsna comes with him! Now that’s very merciful, and not only in the human form of life- Krsna enters into the heart of all living beings. Would you want to be in the heart of a spider? And watch the spider (imitates spider eating), ‘mmmm….a dead fly! Zzzzzzap! He hasn’t seen my web! Put some sticky tape around him! (Laughs) and now put that…’ that special weed that they have you know, (eating noise) and Krsna has to witness it and Krsna says, ‘Oh no…’ So think of what Krsna has to go through being in the hearts of all living beings…Imagine what Krsna has to go through being in our heart? So one day I was thinking about that,
“Poor Krsna indeed, having to listen to all our poor chanting. But then again, because He is very broadminded so He appreciates every little endeavour we make.”
Yes, like this chanting is a nice thing and we are about to embark on it after this little warm up meditations.
“While chanting my Kartika rounds, I went before Krsna in the form of His name. What am I bringing Him as an offering? All I have is the state of my heart. What am I bringing Him? My frustrations of the material world? No, I cannot bother Krsna with such things, better I let go and simply go before Him and beg Him to allow me to do some service…. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare…”
So like that, we think about chanting- sometimes while we’re chanting, sometimes when we’re not chanting- and actually I sometimes write these things down now and then because they give me inspiration and I hope maybe others also, because we are not so different. Although we all look a little different but still we all have a nose, most of us have two eyes- maybe the odd ball, only one eye ball but that’s not too often (laughter) fortunately. So yes, we are all pretty similar on the outside and also on the inside. Therefore our experiences are also not so different and therefore it’s nice when we share experiences about chanting. There is a nice japa book (I forgot the title) done by Dhanudhara Swami…
Devotee: Japa Meditations
Maharaja: Okay, Japa Meditations. Thank you very much. Well, the Japa Meditations, it’s particularly nice because it’s a compilation of many devotees. So it sort of gives some insights and some are famous devotees and some are not famous devotees but the interesting part is that the non famous devotees, they say equally interesting things as the famous ones, which proves that all of us, when we’re chanting, are going through some experiences. It is after all a matter of applying ourselves.
There is one quote in here about the two aspects of the holy name and the aspect of the offering and the aspect of the darsana. It’s our endeavour to chant and to try and do that as an offering to Krsna as nice as possible, keep the mind on there, no skipping beads and everything and really tip-top. And then is the other aspect, the mercy of Krsna, who reveals Himself to the chanter and somehow or other gives us feelings of inspiration in the heart, who in this way reciprocates with us. So the darsana of Krsna means Krsna’s reciprocation. So these two factors are there and when we are just now going to chant one round, then we can try and focus on these two aspects: the aspect of our offering and the aspect of Krsna’s mercy and just let’s make this one round, let’s make an attempt to make this the best round we’ve chanted so far. The best so far! Shoo! So we better sit for a moment and sort of take a breath and get ready for that because the best round that we chanted so far is not an easy task! We better get some space, stretch my spine, take a good breath, get my beads and sort of flex the muscles in my hand and get ready…and if you don’t have beads then you’re very unfortunate. I’m going to turn the microphone off because I feel it’s nicer if I merge with all of you- that’s not impersonal- although it sounds like that! (Laughter) I meant the sound of my voice of course not that we are all going to become one!
But we begin of course, as it says in Caitanya Caritamrta, with the Panca Tattva mantra because by the mercy of the Panca Tattva we can get some immediate ecstasy because They don’t count offences. Then when that taste is there that may just pull us right through. So let’s go…
Sri Krsna Caitanya Prabhu Nityananda
Sri Advaita Gadhadhara Srivasa Adi Gaura Bhakta Vrnda
(All chant in unison)
Harinama sankirtana yajna ki, Jaya!
So I don’t know if Krsna danced on your tongue, it must have been because He wasn’t dancing on mine! (Laughter) My meditation was more on the mercy and hoping for some mercy, in spite of my poor chanting. I have a website, kkswami.com and on there I have a japa forum and one can click on there and put a little something on japa. So I’d like to invite you all to write something about japa and we all chanted together tonight. Just something and then we can all put it there and then tomorrow by the middle of the day we can all check it out again and we can all see what is there. We can all get a whole lot of wealth out of our sharing of japa. Okay thank you for having us here and see you next time whenever and wherever! Sunday I’ll be in Lenasia and then after that it’s pretty much the end of the party. Of course I have all the ingredients for a party… (Laughter)
Thank you very much.
Srila Prabhupada ki, Jaya!
Harinama Sankirtana yajna ki, Jaya!