14th November 2019
CHANTING WITH PRANAYAM.
I was in Amsterdam and someone asked me how long yogis sit and meditate. How long can you sit thinking of nothing? I could have said 24 hours, but I said for 2 hours. Chant for 2 hours. Hearing that he was very impressed he bowed before me. I told him that while we are chanting it is expected that by chanting we are trying to focus, get fixed up, with no deviation or distraction. You are endeavouring for a perfect goal. Chanting and chanting with that endeavour with practice makes a man or woman perfect.
We are also a kind of looking like yogis - Bhakti-Yogis. Let's say when we are chanting it should give the impression to others that this person is doing some meditation. But that is not the case many times. There are other impressions. We are so casual, and not many rules. And it is not only external, but also internal which others can't see. Something externally also gets exhibited sometimes, some symptoms as Caitanya Mahaprabhu said,
nayanam galad asru dharaya
vadanam gadgada rudhaya gira
pulakair nicitam vapuh kada
tava nam grahane bhavisyati
O My Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing consulantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, when will the hairs me my body stand on the end at the recitation of your name. (Siksastakam Verse 6)
Tears are rolling down My cheeks, while I chant the holy names. When it is internally happening there is some external manifestation in terms of some symptoms like tears, voice getting choked up. That is the highest goal.
I had lately beentalking of this thing. This should give some shape or structure to our chanting, some form. These are some of the principles or practices of Ashtanga yoga which Krsna has presented in the 6th chapter of Bhagavad-gita. And there is the whole of patanjali yoga bhasyas. There are 6 darsanas - shad-darsanas. The goal is meditation or samadhi. The difference between ashtanga yogis and us is that they like to meditate on Paramatma in the heart, and devotees or Vaisnavas also meditate on the Lord. For the Vaisnavas Paramatma is not active. Paramatma doesn't perform Lilas. Paramatma is just there to witness and not do a lot of things. You are moving and wandering about and He is stationary and interactive with the living entity. But also for the Vaisnavas:
santah sadaiva hridayeshu vilokayanti
yam shyama-sundaram achintya-guna-svarupam
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Syamasundara, Krishna Himself with inconceivable innumerable attributes, whom the pure devotees see in their heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love. Song
Name: Isvara Parama Krsna (Brahma Samhita,Verse 11)
Brahmaji said saintly persons , specially devotees meditate on the the Syamsundara form of the Lord. So there is some difference in the object of meditation. Ashtanga yogis like to meditate on the Paramatma form of the Lord while Vaisnavas especially Gaudiya Vaisnavas like to meditate on the beautiful Radha Syamsundara. Rest of the steps of yogis could be applied or followed by the devotees. I can be applied to the chanting by Vaisnavas.. We will not talk about yam niyam. Aasan, pranayam, pratyahar , dhyan, dharana ,samadhi if we follow this our process remains structured for our chanting. We follow this or are supposed to be following this knowingly or unknowingly. Whenever there are Japa
retreats, these things are talked about for attentive chanting.
I have also conducted Japa retreats many times. Sitting is the best position or aasan, Sukh aasan. There are so many aasans for chanting, but sukh aasan is good enough. You relax, sitting happily.
After aasan there is pranayam, breath control. Take a deep breath and chant as many times as you could manage, 3 times, 4 times. Some of them even manage five times in one breath. In yogas and aasanas a yoga instructor says 'watch your
breath'. So what we do during chanting is watch our chanting. Take a small quota of 3 mantras or 4 mantras , five mantras if you could manage, and you hear. Take a deep breath and chant. So you are not trying to hear 108 mantras at a time, but you hear small chunks. Whenever you are uttering a new mantra hear it properly from the beginning. In retreats it is stressed that when you begin with a new mantra pay attention at the beginning of the mantra and put stress on the beginning of it, 'Hare Krishna', and try to retain that in your memory. You are not only chanting
Krsna but also Hare. Hare Krishna!
Both nostrils help. This is one very foundational principle of the yoga practitioners. Breath then:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hae Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Then breathe and again Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare…… This is very healthy at the same time, physically also beneficial as you end up doing also yoga asanas and breath control pranayama. You remain fresh if you chant like this. Take a deep breath and chant, again take a deep breath and chant and like that. By doing this tissues of the brain are oxygenised. Blood goes to the brain. One of your god brothers is teaching yoga. You can also learn and teach yoga. When we chant, it is not clear whether we are doing exaltation or inhalation. It is not distinctly clear. Half mantra then you are breathing in that means you are not retaining your breath. It is explained in the lungs there are several bags called alveoli. In the walls of this alveoli exchange of gases takes place. On the other side there is blood.
They say it is expected that the carbon dioxide from impure blood is taken into the alveoli which then goes out through the nose and oxygen gets filled the lungs and the blood gets purified, which is very, very important for the upkeep of the body, for the working of the body. So what this pranayam does, is as you have taken a deep breath which is full of oxygen and because you retain that it means your alveoli gets filled with oxygen. You hold that and it means you hold it for the action of exchange to take place so that the blood is purified. When the oxygen is coming out and going into the blood if you throw the air out then the whole process gets mixed up. Pranayam allows the process of breath purification. Then this purified blood filled with Oxygen moves through the whole body and you feel energised and
also the nervous system becomes alert. If chanting is done in this way then that will keep you fresh and not drowsy.
These are the side benefits of chanting in this way along with pranayam.
To be continued …..