I am here at ISKCON Amaravati for Jagannath Ratha-yatra. These are the first two Deities of Rukmini - Dwarkadhish in ISKCON. Amaravati is not far from Kaudinyapur , which is the birth place of Rukmini Maharani. As far as we the chanters of holy names are concerned, we have to learn from the life of Rukmini Maharani. When Rukmini was a baby girl in Kaudinyapur , she would hear the glories of Dwarkadhish. Raja Bhismak , father of Rukmini was a ‘Rajarshi’ ( saintly king) and had close relations with different sages. Many of them would visit his palace, and he use to honor them. Those sages, would talk about Dwarkadhish. Little Rukmini would hear that with full attention along with the King. She never fell asleep while listening to nama, rupa, guna,and lila of Dwarkadhish. She would forget everything, and would listen with full attention, full concentration and full devotion. What was the outcome of this? -
She became attached to Dwarkadhish. As we know - sadhusanga, bhajana-kriya, … Anarth-Nivritti, Nistha, Ruchi and then Asakti and then Bhava and Prema. Like that it goes higher and higher. By hearing and hearing daily, regularly, with attention and devotion, she developed sambandha - a relationship with Dwarkadhish and got attached to Him. When she was grown up and it was time for her marriage, she wanted to marry Dwarkadhish. Her elder brother Rukmi was not in favor of this. But Rukmini was determined that if she will marry it will be only with Dwarkadhish and no one else. This kind of determination was the outcome of hearing about Dwarkadhish. So we pray and take inspiration from Rukmini Maharani to chant and hear, that we also may get attracted to and attached to Dwarkadhish. The way she had the enthusiasm to hear - utsahat, nishayat dhairyat( Nectar of Instruction, Verse 3) may we also experience similar enthusiasm to hear. Rukmini was hearing the pastimes of Dwarkadhish. This is a pastime of Rukmini. So while chanting we could remember and meditate on Rukmini hearing, the pastimes of Dwarkadhish. Chanting is the time to remember Krsna's pastimes, Krsna's form, His abode, His paraphernalia. As I am here in Rukmini-Dwarkadhish temple, I am reminded of her pastimes. So while chanting we should remember this. There are so many other pastimes also. This place is not far from Kaudinyapur, so these pastimes are naturally remembered.
We need some topics or object of meditation. So the Lord's form, pastimes is the topic or object of meditation. I have been watching and seeing the Amaravati devotees on the screen, but today I am seeing face to face. So keep chanting. On Monday HH Hanumat Preksh Swami Maharaja advised us with an eight word mantra - Get up early morning and Chant your rounds. This is our culture to get up early.
I was in Kumbha-mela last week and from one of the pandal very loudly they would play this record not at 4.00am but later, “ Bhor bhayo sab Jago”. ( It's Dawn now , get up every one) That was their morning program. It was musical. You should attend mangal-arati by getting up in morning. That's a preparation also for chanting. Get up early, come to the temple, attend mangala aarti , pray to Rukmini-Dwarkadhish, sing and dance in front of them , and then chant. Worship Tulsi Maharani in morning. You may not be realizing, but tulasi aarti is very deep prayer.
mora ei abhilasha, vilasa kunje dio vasa
nayana heribo sada yugala-rupa-rasi (3)
If you have attended mangala aarti, those prayers are not only sweet but deep, meaningful.
Oh! Tulsi maharani give me residence. Where? - in Vilas-kunj, and I would like to witness the pastimes of Radha and Krsna. Let my eyes, my mind, my heart be filled with those pastimes. I have stayed long in this material world. Now enough is enough. Make me a resident of Vrindavan. Let me experience the pastimes of Lord to my heart's content. We should contemplate while singing, the meaning of what we are singing.
Even Gurvastaka prayers
vande guro sri caranaravindam.
We remember Guru and acaryas. While singing Gurvastaka we should try to understand what we are singing. Then it is some preparation of chanting. And then also happens -
ceto darpana marjanam bhava mahadavagni nirvapanam . (Siksastakam verse 2)
We sing Gurvastaka during mangala aarti and Siksastakam after that. But who knows when we are going to understand , what we are singing. Siksastakam prayers are the condensed essence of all the instructions. Caitanya Mahaprabhu would spend whole night, reciting and remembering with emotions and bhava and feelings of the one verse of Siksastakam. It is so deep and vast. We should be thinking of the prayers we chant. Then take up to the chanting. We also recite the ten offences against the holy name. aparadh sunya haiya laho krsna nama. If we remind ourselves of the offences against holy name then we should carefully avoid it, not only at the time of Japa but also for the whole day. If we do such preparations we will be able to chant with attention.