(Part - 2)
Bhakti Vinod Thakura explains that inattentive chanting is the cause of all the offences we commit. After reciting the ten offenses before we start chanting what do we say at the end? We say that the goal of life is to chant Hare Krishna every devotee who wishes to obtain the goal of life which is to attain Krsna should be chanting attentively. So that is the defect. We may be sleeping everyday during chanting. Sleeping or sleepy are two separate things. Sleeping is fully sleeping. You are in bed and sleeping. Sleepy means you are half asleep, getting up in between and trying to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare sssssss….. That's sleepy which is half asleep. You are inattentive.
It is an offence. When we say Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, that means we are calling Krsna. You called Him so he has come, but you are not there to receive Him. You called , but if you are sleepy, you are not there to receive the Lord. Thank you for responding to my appeal, my call. I called and You have come. I pay my obeisances to You. Please have a seat. Let's talk. Let's be here, I am going to take Your darsana. So instead of reciprocating or dealing with the Lord, like that, what happens when you are sleepy, you have called and He has come paying attention to you. He is at the door, ringing the doorbell. I am here! I am here! In the meantime you are off, you are out of station or you are sleeping or your mind has gone somewhere else even though you called Him. I am just saying that this is something that we do over again and again and again. So we have to do it right.
You are not sure whether you are doing it appropriately, the way it is expected and desired, and if you are not sure you should enquire whether this is correct or wrong. There are so many aspects of chanting. Being in samadhi or fully absorbed. The level that we wish to attend. That's the final step of the ladder. We have to make sure that of all the previous levels we are doing things correctly. I said yesterday that we could apply this ashtanga yoga of Patanjali, which Sri Krsna has explained in the sixth chapter of Bhagavad-gita. We should aim at that meditation because ours is mantra meditation. Ashtanga yogis maybe meditate on paramatma.
Our meditation is on Radha Krsna. Like this meditation, - yam niyam. Do this! Don't do this! It means following the four regulative principles. Don't do this! No meat eating; no fish eating; no this; no that! This is yam. If you do that Yamraj will come. So that's yam and niyam - they are all positive rules that you are expected to do. There is vidhi and nishedh. Some prohibitions are there like, ‘Don't drink and drive' 'Drive on the right side' in India. So vidhi and nishedh. In English we say do's and don'ts.
Or paap and punya.
Yam niyam then there is asan. We were talking briefly yesterday, 'sit properly'. We are sitting in sukhasana or padmasana or vajrasana. These are the correct asanas for chanting. Yam niyam aasan, pranayam, which is controlling your breath. You take a deep breath and chant….
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
… once, twice, thrice. Take a deep breath and chant one mantra, two mantras, sometimes some devotees manage five mantras in one breath. Create a rhythm. So breath control results in mind control. Breath control has a connection with mind control. They are closely related. This is in the mode of goodness. Take a deep breath and chant. There is passionate breath. You have a passion for different kinds of breaths. Your breathing is fast and the mind is also moving fast. Or there is ignorant breath. It may be deep. Our whole nervous system may be weak. Then the blood in the lung is reaching your brain. Then you feel fresh and alert. If the blood supply is not reaching the brain, maybe when we eat too much, the blood supply is going to the digestive system. All the blood is directed to wherever there is activity.
So the blood supply to the brain is low then you are sleepy. Specially after a meal you feel sleepy right? After a full meal, isn't it? Because the blood is directed towards the action point which is the stomach. The body is a machine. We have to know how it functions. Part of that machine is the mind. It's a part of the machine.
Our body is made up of the mind also. The body is made up of intelligence also. We have to understand our mind and intelligence and its functions. How do they function favourably for chanting. Anyway so this is breathing or pranayam. We should pay some attention to this. Yam niyam aasan pranayam and pratyahar.
We know there is atyaharah.
atyaharah prayasas ca
jana-sangas ca laulyam ca
sadbhir bhaktir vinasyati
One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) Practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Krsna consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements. ( NOI verse 2)
So like this there is sadbhir bhaktir vinasyati - 6 things could destroy your devotional life. That statement in the Nectar of Instruction begins with atyaharah. atyaharah means ati aharah too much of eating. 'Ati' means too much, too much of eating. Too much consumption. In the ashtanga yoga process the fifth step is pratyaharah which means countering. We have done atyaharah so now we have to do pratyaharah Aharah means eating. Aharah means not only that the tongue eats, but our eyes and our ears also eat. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains in his book Bhaktyaloka. All our senses have their own kind of food. Objects of senses are the food of the senses. shabda, sparsha, rupa, rasa, gandha, the shabda- sound, sparsha - touch, rupa- the form, gandha - the smell. So those are our senses.
We are bhakti yogis. We are japa yogis. Japa is a yoga. Japa yogis have to work on pratyaharah. And that it may not necessarily be during chanting time only. There is a preparation for chanting. I have been saying this always, for tomorrow's chanting we have to prepare today.
Whenever we are not chanting, we have to prepare for the next time for tomorrow,. Pratyaharah means minimising the consumption of the sense objects in quantity and quality. So this is pratyaharah. What to see what not to see, what to hear , what not to hear, how much to hear, what to speak and what not to speak. Krsna's devotees hear about Krsna.Like that all the senses could be employed in the service of the Lord. They are controlled when employed. So this is mind control, sense control. This has to be done. It's a part of pratyaharah. This of course is done with the help of the intelligence. Chanting is the activity of intelligent persons.
yajanti hi su-medhasah
In the Age of Kali , intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions. (CC Adi lila 3.52)
If the chanter wishes to be a successful chanter of the holy name, he has to be intelligent. He has to discriminate right from wrong. This is right and this is wrong. This is the pratyaharah path. When the mind and senses are involved, intelligence has to keep an eye on the mind and senses. And intelligence has to give direction to the mind. Do this! Don't do this! Shut up! Intelligence should guide like that.
As soon as we see a photo of Radha and Krsna, the intelligence tries to see the form which says, 'The Lord is standing before you. Here is the Lord of my heart.’ Intelligence has to do this. I have lot of discriminations, do - don't, quantity - quality is evaluated, ascertained. So these are all preparations. Yam, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyahar dhyan, dharma, and samadhi. We are getting closer to samadhi, total absorption and meditation.
After the 5th stage we are getting closer, till then it was all preparations. Final act of concentration, meditation is to retain, be more focused. By now the mind is free from contamination and is more under control, controlled by the divine intelligence. So it tries to retain Krsna, Krsna's form, Krsna's qualities and is focused on Them.