KEYS FOR IMPROVING JAPA
By HG Gauranga Prabhu
- This Japa Seminar is a Relationship seminar with Nama Prabhu as the object of relationship.
- Displeasure in a relationship is expressed in the form of NEGLECT. If we don’t chant properly, Nama Prabhu will neglect us. As a result we lose taste for chanting and that reflects in our services & relationships also.
- When we know things, we have a greater responsibility to do them better. Our knowledge about the process should make us follow properly.
KEY 1: DUTY
The EXPECTATION is that we chant constantly. But the REALITY is that we don’t have taste for Holy name. There are 4 reasons for lack of taste
- Tattva Vibhrama – Ignorance of our position and Krishna’s position, expecting that world revolves around our desires, dividing world into friends & enemies → suffering.
- Asat Trishna – Bhukti, Mukti, Siddhi.
- Hridaya Daurbalyam – Attachment & Aversion
- Aparadha – Things that block un from achieving attachment to Harinam
- Symptoms of Aparadha are Faithlessness, crookedness (perform Bhakti to gain something otherthan Krishna’s pleasure), Slackness in performing Bhakti, Attachment to things that destroys faith in Bhakti and taking pride in one’s achievements. 2 powerful offenses are Criticism & Inattention
- Criticism: Pride is the cause, Envy is the effect, Solution is to avoid Sadhuninda.
- Inattention: Inattention is carelessness. Its is the Mother of all offences. 3 types – Audasinya (apathy), Jadya (laziness) & Vikshepa).
- The solution is to understand the nature of mind.
Nature of Mind
- 4 subtle senses – manah, buddhi, ahankara & cittam.
- Ahankara or False ego is the main obstacle in chanting.
- The function of Mind is to PROTECT & MAINTAIN false ego by creating sankalpa & vikalpa.
- When one takes birth in material world, he is covered by false identity. Mind protects this false understanding and forgetfulness of Krishna.
- Intelligence (egoism in rajoguna) satisfies the mind’s fluctuations.
- The purpose of material world is to delude us.
- When we stop the mind from sankalpa & vikalpa the effect of material world on the mind stops and it nears transcendence.
Key 2: DEVOTION – Just listen to one mantra
- Our understanding should be that Krishna’s NAME is powerful & inattention is the greatest obstacle.
- Chanting so many “rounds” is a complicated task for the mind. If we are listening to “rounds,” mind tries to jump to the yet to be chanted rounds.
- Solution is to SIMPLIFY THAT MIND’S TASK by listening to ONE mantra we are chanting NOW. Gradually the mind will act simply.
Key 3: State your DETERMINATION
- Disregard the mind and focus on one mantra. Remember the purpose. Make sankalpa – a statement of fixed determination.
- Be determined to just listen ONE mantra you are chanting NOW, NOT the NEXT or the EARLIER!
- If not one MANTRA, be determined to just listened one NAME.
- Listening to our chanting is the beginning of offenseless chanting … Experience of full effect of chanting mahamantra
- What breaks our determination is our desire to enjoy.
- Unless we RELISH the sweetness of the chanting of holy name, we can’t preach effectively. Even if we do, it’s just faking.
PREPARATION FOR NEXT DAY’S JAPA
By HG Sudama Prabhu
- Naama ruchi, is the ONLY means of solving ALL the problems of material existence. Nothing else is required to aspire.
- BVT – “nam vina kichu nahi caudhha bhuvana majhe”
- But we need to beg, plead, yearn & willing to do whatever is required for it.
- Preparation is required to create proper favorable atmosphere, and an environment to facilitate our chanting.
- Unfortunately we are not prepared for two most important activities on which our future life/next destination is depends i.e (1) Hearing and chanting, (2) Death.
- Sensitivity in relationship with the Holy name is manifested in our PREPARATION for next day’s Japa.
- Prioritize your spiritual life, which is dependent on Chanting, & organize your daily activities accordingly.
- Activities that take our time away from chanting are Self crated burden – idea is not to avoid other activities, but to organize them.
- Process works – problem is we don’t stick to the process.
- Taste for chanting comes in proportion with our commitment to preparation.
- Look chanting of HKMM as a lifetime career. And the only responsibility is to make sure that the 16 words enter our ears.
- Give the best time of your day for chanting – possible when we like the activity.
- 2 types – Physical & Mental preparation
- Avoid late nights – Late nights disturbs brahma muhurta sadhana.
- Bad habits can be changed by intelligence, regulation/ discipline and by replacing them with good habits.
- Take light dinners – avoid items that cause stomach problems.
- Take proper rest (around 6 hours)
- As soon as you get up, thank spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada & the Deities. Forget plans for the day and immediately take shelter of holy names.
- Start focusing the mind previous night, mind goes into PAUSE mode and RESUMEs for the next day chanting.
- Yena kena prakarena manah krsna nivesayet
- Enthusiasm is a sign of preparation. Without utsaha there is no nischaya and dhairya.
- Body may change but the activities of soul glorifying K/HN will not change. Therefore, till last breath its preparation.
- During whole day always seek ways & means to glorify HN thus prepare for next day morning chanting.
- Prepare subconsciously by giving it a schedule for tomorrow that starts with chanting attentively; and by reading, hearing, discussing, singing bhajans and finally chanting some good rounds before sleep.
- Try to chant some good rounds before Mangala arati.
By HG Sudama Prabhu
More sweet than all other sweet things;
more auspicious than all other auspicious things;
the greatest purifier of all purifying things
— The holy name of Sri Hari alone is everything.
Holy name is Sweetest
- The holy name of Krishna is the highest nectar. It is my very life and my only treasure.
- Holyname is sweeter than honey – What to speak of others, even Krishna, the son of Nanda, personally descends to taste the nectar of love of Godhead in the form of the chanting of Hare Krishna.
- Simply by carefully chanting these sweet names every day, a natural relish awakens within tongue, and his disease is gradually destroyed.
Holy name is most auspicious
(1) benefits all, (2) attracts all, (3) produces all good qualities, (4) produces superior quality of happiness
By HG Radha Gopinath Prabhu
Endeavoring to know the Nama-tattva
- Knowledge brings appreciation. The more we hear about Nama-tattva the more we develop appreciation for the holy name.
- Appreciation → Respect → Attention.
- Though the techniques may not work, Krishna is pleased by the effort and appears in the holy name.
Four types of motivations
- Fear – more we realize the horrible nature of this world, more we are motivated. For a devotee the greatest fear is losing the ASSOCIATION of devotees and FORGETTING Krishna.
- Gain – Peace of mind, attaining spiritual world
- Duty – As gratitude, out of a sense of duty to Krishna and Acaryas
- Love – to please the beloved, irrespective of the result.
IMPORTANCE OF SADHANA
By HG Radha Gopinath Prabhu
Sadhana – Activities done to revive our natural constitutional position. As a tree grows upwards, so must its roots go deep and wide.
Along with passing of years if the quality of Sadhana doesn’t go deeper than devotional service may become burden some.
VERSE 1 – SRADDHA – Ceto darpana
- Faith in the 7 benefits of holynames leads to attainment of perfection.
- Faith is internal, it manifests externally as enthusiasm and patience
- Ceto darpana marjanam – removal of old bad habits by cleansing of the heart.
- Bhavamahadavagni nirvapanam – Mind previously intensely agitated and is full of anxiety. This raging mind is pacified by the holy name.
- Shreyah kairava… – In conditioned life our consciousness is like a bud, completely covered. There are five states of consciousness.
- Acchadita cetana – completely covered. Eg: stone
- Sankucita – restricted consciousness. Eg: trees
- Udita – slightly budding stage. Eg: human form
- Vikasita – Saadhana Bhakti. Eg: Sadhaka
- Praphullita – natural constitutional position of love of Krishna. Eg: Pure devotee
- Simply by chanting one can attain all these stages
- Vidyavadhu Jivanam – Wife of life of knowledge – cit automatically comes
- Ananda ambudhi vardhanam – Happiness manifests as not being disturbed in various situations of life
- Purna amrita asvadanam – 3 characteristics of Amrta – highly tasty, immediately nourishes, gives long life. Harinama is sweetest – madhuram
- A Sadhaka’s stage is worst since his intelligence is convinced that material pleasure is miserable, but senses are still attached.
VERSE 2 – ANARTHA NIVRITTI – Namnam akari…
- Each of the names of the Lord are filled with all of His potencies – concentrated Sac-Cid-Ananda Vigraha.
- Holy name is like password that gives access to all files.
VERSE 3 – NISTHA – Trnad api…
- To be fixed in devotion to Krishna, one must be free from offences.
- All 10 offenses highlight one principle – do not take the holy name or anything connected to it to be material.
- Root cause of all of this FALSE EGO. Main problem in chanting is the ego, not the mind. Therefore HUMILITY is the key.
VERSE 4 – RUCHI – Na dhanam…
- Knowledge of Jiva tattva has to give rise to humility.
- True Knowledge → Humility → Dependence.
- We are dependent on so many people/things for our existence, so how can anyone be Proud? We only can payback/giveback the debt. By one stroke of Sankirtan all the innumerable debts one accrues are at once payed off.
Principle of Sacrifice
- Whole existence is carrying on due to some one or the other’s sacrifice. Eg: Tree sacrifices seed, Guru sacrifices his energy in training disciples. The entire parampara system works on this principle of sacrifice.
- TAKING SHELTER MEANS FEELING OUR DEPENDENCE.
- The source of our income is not the source of our maintenance
Significance of Shikshastakam
- Lord Caitanya offers these verses as DESCRIPTION of Sraddha to Prema and as PRESCRIPTION to develop faith that simply by chanting, all benedictions will be showered upon.
- Sraddha increases by associating with those who have Sraddha. Association means to INSPIRE EACH OTHER with the mission of Guru and Krishna are in the center.
- Bhajana kriya means cleaning the heart and the dirt is coming out
- The higher you go in the ladder of bhakti the stronger you take shelter of the lower stages and strengthen the foundation.
FOCUSING ON OUR REAL ROLE
By HG Radha Gopinath Prabhu
- Mind’s connection with: Head – Thinking, Heart – Feeling
Body – Willing.
- Bhishma in his different roles, was thinking about the various goals he had to achieve. And in the process he has to deal with people and things. In all of these there is involvement of emotions.
- Similarly during chanting so many thoughts come. Every thought is connected to one of the roles we’ve accepted in life.
- Thinking, feeling, willing can’t be stopped. So at least for the period of chanting forget all other upadhis and think of your constitutional position as servant of Krishna.
- All other designations will change over a period of time. Mind servant of ego, protects this identity, by entertaining the thoughts that boost these identities. Moment thinking and planning starts mode of passion comes
- While chanting meditate only on one role – caitanyanera dasa
Goal – “prema-dhana vina vyartha daridra jivana, dasa kari vetana more deha prema-dhana”.
- Sambandha – Knowing Krishna as our Gati and Pati; Abhideya – Investing our Mati ; Prayojana – Developing Rati
- Stopped speaking – Mind dwells on topic of speech. The less we speak the more focused we can become. So, gravity is first important principle.
- With drew mind from all other designations – Mind’s main problem – goes where we don’t want it to go and doesn’t go where we want it to go
- Chanting is an exercise we do to withdraw the mind and focus it.
- Focused his mind on Krishna – When you have love it is natural and easy to remember the beloved. Bhishma was doing everything and was engaging in all other designations for the pleasure of Krishna. Therefore he was able focus his mind.
ENGAGING THINKING FEELING & WILLING
- Rupa Goswami explains in NOI (7): Think how sweet, potent, merciful is the name think of the glories of the name, Feel how fallen, foolish, lazy, unfortunate we are, Will to continue to chant for Krishna’s pleasure
- When we elevate our consciousness and see things objectively from Krishna’s point of view than we raise ourselves
- All the problems in chanting can be classified into (1) Internal, (2) Physical & (3) Environmental.
- 3P formula – Posture (alert), Pronunciation (clear), Prayerful mood.
Appreciating the Association of HOLY NAME
By HH Niranjan Swami Maharaj
- Development of spiritual life depends on the development of appreciation.
- In the beginning – one may have some appreciation for the holy name, but ADVANCEMENT is the INCREASE OF THAT APPRECIATION. The more one experiences the reciprocation, the more one appreciates.
- Holy name and qualities of Lord are transcendentally sweet, but the jaundice of Avidya doesn’t allow us to taste and appreciate them.
- Holy name is self-effulgent like sun. Sun’s effulgence may not be visible when clouds block our vision. But the sun is always effulgent.
- Similarly clouds of anarthas block our appreciation for the Holy name.
- 4 types of anarthas
- Asat trishna – desires for sense gratification, liberation and mystic perfection.
- Hridaya daurbalyam – 4 types – Cheating, envy, faultfinding & desire for respect.
- Aparadha – Offenses in chanting, service, to devotees & other living entities.
- Tattva vibhrama – ignorance of tattva.
- Because of these anarthas we can’t fully appreciate the association of the holy name. Not knowing the types of anarthas in another anartha. Therefore we have to hear.
- Materialist thinks he counteracts suffering by sense gratification. He doesn’t know that his present suffering is due to his engagement in sense gratification in the past.
- A devotee understands that his suffering is due to his past misdeeds and voluntarily accepts suffering, keeping faith on the process.
- Lord Caitanya says, chanting is the most superior process.
- Yatra gayanti mad bhakti, tatra tishtami narada
- Sadhaka has to be patient enough that he can get Krishna’s mercy one day. Reasons for giving up sadhana – IMPATIENCE & ATTACHEMNT
- Devotee has to be HELPLESS, not HOPELESS!
- If you want to be free from our hankering for past association, we have to increase our hankering for positive association of Devotees who have taste
- Devotional service is all about ABSORPTION.
- Be nourished in the association of devotees who give us the higher taste.