15 NOVEMBER 2019
CHANTING WITH PRANAYAM - Part 2
As we take in fresh air and retain it, it kind of makes the mind steady, fixed and focused. That kind of activity of the mind is achieved by following the cycle of taking a deep breath and then retaining it. We should observe the function of breathing and what goes into the mind very closely. They work in collaboration. If you could control your breath then you can control your mind. Aasan is also helpful in this process. When the body is in movement there also the mind functions. Sitting down is one kind of activity of the mind. If you sit at one place then it makes the mind
more calm, peaceful and controlled. Sitting is the best posture. It is also associated with the mode of goodness. Sleeping is ignorance and running, walking is in the mode of passion. Sitting is goodness. We need to achieve that goodness of the mind for chanting. We need to transcend the three modes of material nature to achieve the state of pure goodness. We would like to have that state of mind to transcend to. The closest is goodness.
Sitting gives rise to goodness, lying down gives rise to ignorance and walking and running is associated with passion. The idea of having a particular aasan or goal is meditation. The goal is samadhi which is the final step. So all of these steps yam, niyam aasan are meant to serve and help the eighth step to reach the target of samadhi. They are favourable for it. The principal is that whatever is favourable we accept and whatever is unfavourable we reject. So we should watch favourable or near favourable aasan, kind of meditation, kind of breathing. What kind of breathing is favourable for my meditation?
Then there is pratyahar. It's a big step during chanting. Pratyahar means prati- aahar. Normally we do aatyahar.
atyaharah prayasas ca
jana-sangas ca laulyam ca
ṣadbhir 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) over endeavouring 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)
Your bhakti is finished. You may lose your devotion if you are doing atyaharah. Eating or acquiring too much is atyaharah
ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca samanyam etat pashubhih naranam
dharmo hi tesham adhiko vishesho dharmena hina pashubhih samanah
Eating, sleeping, fearing, and mating are the four principles of animal life. These are common both to animals and to human beings. But religion is the extra function of the human being. Without religion, human life is no better than animal life. - Mahabharata Aahar is eating. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains that when we talk of aahar we think of food tasted by the tongue. Every sense has its own aahar. Sound is food for the ears and form is food for the eyes. Smell is food for the nose and touch food for the skin. So there are five kinds of aahar. This ashtanga yoga in which anga means part. Alpahar means little, alpa means little and atyaharah is too much of aahar. In yogic principles we talked of ashtanga which means the 8 types out of which the fifth principle is atyaharah. The feeding of the senses and then controlling the minds is the fifth step in order to achieve meditation through dhyan, dharana and samadhi which means total absorption. Totally detached from everything and fully focused.
Chanting fully absorbed, interactive with the Lord. oThe soul is interacting with the Lord. The soul is thinking, feeling, willing, but it is all about the Lord - thinking about the Lord and having feelings about the Lord, executing the will of the Lord.
Speaking of aasan is just not the way you sit. Only that doesn't make a aasan, but where you sit and how you sit and the whole surrounding where you sit and even time could be part of aasan. Time, place and circumstances is part of aasan. Part of aasan is also no mobiles around. Anything which tries to distract or feed you with something other than the process of chanting should be avoided. That is also the part of assan. So aasan pranayam pratyahar is a big step, an important step in order to facilitate you to go to the sixth step which is dhyan, remembrance from where your meditation kind of begins. It has already begun with pranayam, asana and you are kind of getting closer. So this pratyahar is a stumbling block. It doesn't let you go to dhyan, remembrance, meditation. You are bombarded with so many thoughts and contemplations. There may be some fresh things around which could be forms, smells or sounds which could be unfavourable. You have to take care that everything is favourable. The mind is always there which is filled with previous impressions. What you have previously heard and eaten, touched and so on.
Those things begin giving ideas. Then the intelligence joins the mind and starts making strategies for the gratification of the senses. So we have to do this pratyahara.
Someone may say as Bhakti yogis we have nothing to do with pratyahara! Someone may think we are Bhakti Yogis. We have nothing to do with the aasan. Why should we do pranayam? It helps and is favourable. That is pratyahar. a Watch your breath also includes watching your mind. Who is going to watch? Who watches the mind in our body in our system? Intelligence!
indriyani parany ahur
indriyebhyah param mana
manasas tu para buddhir
yo buddheh paratas tu san
The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence. (BG 3.42)
Above the mind is intelligence. There is a whole hierarchy, so keeping an eye on the mind is the job of intelligence. In order for us to work on this pratyahara the function of intelligence comes in. You have good, sharp intelligence so watch and quickly analyse and prescribe also. Do this and don't do this. Think like this! Get out! Intelligence should give orders very actively. But if you are sleeping then your intelligence is already turned off. It is not even taking notice. Your intelligence is not noticing that chanting has already stopped. Anyway, the main thing is dhyan,
dharana, samadhi. We could try this. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that there are no hard and fast rules, but that does not mean there is lawlessness. Something has to be done. Some system has to be followed, whatever is favourable or whatever
helps. So this ashtanga yoga is one system.
Try it. It may work for you. If you follow that to some extent you will immediately start looking like yogis, doing something serious. With the devotees just doing japa, you don't get the feel of doing something serious while chanting. I mean you can just go and interrupt him and he doesn't mind. He is kind of waiting for someone to
come and interrupt him. Someone comes and just starts talking,”Hey! What is there? How is this?” We should concentrate on the sound vibration of :
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Gaur Premanande Hari Hari Bol!