30th May 2019
Today’s conference is being attended by 645 participants. Hari Haribol!
I do believe that we have achieved the target of 600, as we had desired by the end of this month, 30 May, and we have exceeded the target! This number is beyond our expectation. Although we are not entirely steady with this number of 600, however we are almost there. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow which is our deadline for this target. Keep it up, keep going ahead, keep chanting, and get more of your friends and family to join us.
That could be the reason for this huge number because today is Ekadasi. This is a serious day, a day for serious chanting. Of course, we should be chanting seriously everyday but on the occasion of Ekadasi, we should become more serious about chanting. The day has just now begun, so keep chanting seriously with attention, meditation and prayers.
Speaking of our target, target was set for King Parikshit,
‘ante narayan smriti’
At the time of death last moment of death he remembered Krishna. You can also remember Narayana, Govinda, your Istadev, your worshipable deity, or the Lord of your heart. That’s the target, the goal, that’s the vision for all of us, not just for Parikshit Maharaja.
So to achieve that goal of remembrance of Krishna, we have to practice the remembrance of the Lord every single day. That is what we attempt to do during these chanting sessions. As we noted yesterday, there are so many, unlimited number of chanters of the holy name or devotees of the Lord. There are practitioners who have been chanting the holy name of the Lord seriously, and they have achieved the goal. Now it is our turn, through our practice, to achieve the same goal.
But we may think and argue that no one has seen death, and therefore believe that “I have nothing to do with death, I am not going to die, or I am not going to die that soon.” This may be a reason why we are not taking chanting seriously. We should get rid of this thought that we will not face death at any given point in time. We could die at any time.
Padmaja, your God sister, my dear disciple, just reported to me that she lost her mother. We must remember that we could die any day. Devotees who are serious, think that this could be their last day, and they chant the Maha-mantra more seriously. Unfortunately as we are talking about death, last night, a devotee who chants with us from Burma lost her mother who was chanting with us as recently as yesterday. Today, the mother is no longer with us.
These things happen daily, at every moment and it could happen to me, or to you! In India, while the body is been taken to the cremation ground, the family chants
ramanama satya hai
This means that the name of the Lord is the only reality, the name of Ramais the only truth. Those who are carrying the body will realize that it is too late for the dead body. What good is that reminder of Rama Rama now to that dead body?
In the Mahabharat, there is a dialogue between Yaksha and Yudhiṣṭhira Maharaja. The episode known as Yaksha Prashna in Mahabharata relates to the exchange of questions and answers between Yama in the guise of a Yaksha who poses 126 difficult questions to Yudhishthira, who gives the most fitting answers to those questions. In this dialogue, Yaksha asks several questions to Yudhiṣṭhira Maharaja. One of these was ‘kim ashrayam’ what is the most wonderful thing of this world, or the wonder in this world? The following is the famous statement that you may be familiar with:
ahany ahani bhutani gacchantiha yamalayam
sheshaḥ sthavaram icchanti kim ashcaryam atah param
"Yamaraja once asked Maharaja Yudhisthira, ‘What is the most wonderful thing within this world?’ Mahārāja Yudhisthira replied (Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.116:
“Hundreds and thousands of living entities meet death at every moment, but a foolish living being nonetheless thinks himself deathless and does not prepare for death. This is the most wonderful thing in this world.”
Every day, every moment, in the morning, during the day and the night, people are leaving their bodies. For those who are not, they think Sthavaram, I am going to stay on, I have nothing to do with death, we will be here forever or for a long time.
Yudhishthira asked a counter question, “Could there be a more wonderful thought or thing in this world than this. “Oh I am okay, I will stay on, this is the wonder of the world. Some go but I am ok. This is a wonder of this world; it is one of the wonders of the world. When he was asked ‘kim ashcaryam’, he did not say Taj Mahal is the wonder of the world or Tower of Italy or Victoria Falls or the Great Wall of China. Yudhishthira Maharaj did not mention any of those as a wonder of this world, however, he said that the wonder is that people think “I am Okay”, this is a wonder. I think we should take this death business seriously, and prepare for the last moment. That is what all the sastras and acaryas are saying. The whole of the Krishna Consciousness movement is designed to achieve this target of remembering the Lord, and never forgetting Him, and becoming Krishna conscious at the time of death ante narayana smirti.
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
sada tad-bhava-bhavitah (BG 8.6)
Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.
Lord Krishna says that whatever you remember at the time of death, that thought becomes the cause for your future birth. So let us keep chanting,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Chant, hear and remember. Narayana smriti comes from,
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam (SB 7.5.23)
Keep chanting and hearing, and this will result in remembrance.
As you sit for chanting and begin chanting the holy name of the Lord, whatever you have done prior to the chanting, the previous day, weeks and months and years and births all that is there on your mind as we begin chanting. That influence is constantly there, the kind of consciousness that we developed, conditioning that we developed through so many acts, thoughts, so many kinds of hearing and talking or eating, our entire lifestyle, that is very much with us as we begin chanting.
So during chanting we have to neutralize or counteract all those forces, all those thoughts and all those anti-Krishna consciousness thoughts. That is also called in language of Yoga- ‘pratyahar.’ We have fed ourselves through all five senses and now we have to counteract the effects of sense gratification by chanting. Using the power of the intelligence, we will be able to discriminate, and with the intelligence we have to take cognizance, of worldly and mundane thoughts, and be able to discriminate and select thoughts that are spiritually positive.
Not this not this, the battle between the mundane and the spiritual is ongoing during the chanting, and we should try to sort out, this thought must get out, or this one must stay on. If they are thoughts of Krishna, His qualities, form, or pastimes, then these thoughts should stay. This should form part of the meditation. So, after pratyahara, you will go higher and higher towards full concentration.
After pratyahara comes dharana, then dhyanaand samadhi which is the final stage. After pratyahara comes retention: we retain, maintain, nourish and flourish only Krishna consciousness thoughts and we try to eliminate anti-Krishna thoughts. First discrimination then elimination.
That is more than enough food for thought on this auspicious day of Ekadasi. On this day, minimize other activities and maximize Krishna consciousness activities.
I am noting that some devotees are making comments, and others are offering dandavats. Continue chanting and dancing and taking prasadam.