Part 2 – The early morning efforts
Before the first class on Saturday, one needs to wake up. And this was tough. Perhaps, for me the most. I had a super tiring day at work, then I had to travel to the temple which took a while, then 2 hours wait at the devotee’s house for a car ride, then another 2 hrs ride to the farm on Friday, managed to get some prasadam, got my room which I would share with 4 other devotees and decided to get some sleep. It was already 10pm. By the time I could get some sleep, it was 11:20pm ! And at sharp 3am, I got up. Oh Krishna…it was tough. But there were atleast 15 other devotees in my section of the cottage and I figured that it was better to get the toilet all to myself, if I got in there early. By 4am, I was out of the cottage into the dark forest of New Nandagram. Walking up the gravel road, lit only by a faint moonlight, I made my way to the temple room. Few other devotees from my cottage and others were also making their way. Looked like no one wanted to miss the morning prayers before the much anticipated class began.
The morning mangal aroti prayers at 5am, went very well with so much enthusiasm in everyone’s mind. Very soon, it was time for everyone to start and finish their chanting rounds. The room was warm, the altar looked opulent, the devotees soon filled the place and one could hear everyone’s chanting loud and clear, along with their own. The whole place seemed like a monastery tucked away in the woods. As I had started my rounds at 4am, I had managed to get through half already. Once I completed my rounds, I took some time to observe the devotees around and see their depth of devotion. Later when I looked through the photos, the book “The Nectar of Devotion” by Srila Prabhupad which I read 3 years ago came into my mind. And so, I revisit this book once again and decided to place those lines (in bold) that denotes the importance of chanting.
Therefore, Vidura advised his elder brother, Dhrtarastra, to concentrate his mind and worship only Krishna. If one simply chants the holy name of Krishna, this holy name will rise within one’s heart like the powerful sun and will immediately dissipate all the darkness of ignorance.
It is to be understood that any person who is constantly engaged in chanting the holy names of the Lord – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare – has attained the transcendental affection for Krishna, and as such, in any condition of life, he remains satisfied simply by remembering the Lord’s name in full affection and ecstatic love.
In the Linga Purana, there is a statement about glorifying and singing about the Lord. It is said there, “A brahmana who is constantly engaged in singing the glories of the Lord is surely elevated to the same planet as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krishna appreciates this singing even more than the prayers offered by Lord Siva.”
When a person loudly chants the glories of the Lord’s activities, qualities, form etc., his chanting is called Sankirtana. Sankirtana also refers to the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord.
This chanting has so much power that it immediately attaches one to Krishna. That is the beginning of Sadhana-bhakti. Somehow or other, one has to fix his mind on Krishna. The great saint Ambarisa Maharaj, although a responsible king, fixed his mind on Krishna, and similarly anyone who tries to fix his mind in this way will very rapidly make progress in successfully reviving his original Krishna Consciousness.
When Narada Muni was chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, he chanted so loudly that it was apprehended that Lord Nrsimha had appeared. Thus all the demons began to flee in different directions.
In the Padyavali there is a statement by some devotees; “We shall not care for any outsiders. If they should deride us, we shall still not care for them. We shall simply enjoy the transcendental mellow of chanting Hare Krishna, and thus we shall roll on the ground and dance ecstatically. In this way, we shall eternally enjoy transcendental bliss.
It is specifically mentioned that the Karmis who are aspiring after the fruitive results of their activities, the salvationists who are aspiring to become one with the Supreme Person, and the yogis who are aspiring after mystic perfections can achieve the results of all perfectional stages simply by chanting the maha-mantra. Sukadeva uses the word nirnitam, which means, “it has already been decided.”…..So Sukadeva Gosvami especially stresses that it has already been concluded that one who has come to the stage of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra with determination and steadiness must be considered to have already passed the trials of fruitive activities, mental speculation and mystic yoga.
He (Maharaja Prthu) prays to the Supreme Personality of Godhead thus: “My dear Lord, if after taking liberation I have no chance of hearing the glories of Your Lordship, glories chanted by pure devotees from the core of their hearts in praise of Your lotus feet, and if I have no chance for this honey of transcendental bliss, then I shall never ask for liberation or this so-called spiritual emancipation. I shall simply always pray unto Your Lordship that you may give me millions of tongues and millions of ears, so that I can constantly chant and hear of Your transcendental glories.”
Krishna is always remembered, and his name is always chanted by millions of devotees, but the devotees never become saturated. Instead of becoming disinterested in thinking of Krishna and in chanting His holy name, the devotees get newer and newer impetus to continue the process. Therefore Krishna is ever fresh. Not only Krishna Himself, but also Krishna’s knowledge is ever fresh. Bhagavad-gita, which was imparted five thousand years ago is still being read repeatedly by many, many men and still new light is always being found in it. Therefore, Krishna, and His name, fame, qualities – and everything in relationship with Him – is ever fresh.
In the Padma Purana also it is stated, “The chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra is present only on the lips of a person who has for many births worshipped Vasudeva.” It is further said in the Padma Purana, “There is no difference between the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself. As such, the holy name is as perfect as the Lord Himself in fullness, purity and eternity. The holy name is not a material sound vibration, nor has it any material contamination.”
And so like this, watching the devotees in the room, my inspiration for chanting, remembrance of Krishna, association of devotees and eagerness to take in the lectures of exalted vaishnavas greatly increased. And may such emotions never subside in me.
When one is sufficiently eager to achieve success in devotional service, that eagerness is called samutkantha. This means “complete eagerness.” Actually this eagerness is the price for achieving success in Krishna Consciousness. Everything has some value, and one has to pay the value before obtaining or possessing it. It is stated in the Vedic literature that to purchase the most valuable thing, Krishna Consciousness, one has to develop intense eagerness for achieving success.