Dhanurdhara Swami October 1st, 2002
Vasant Falls, New York
Hearing Srimad Bhagavatam
Imagine that you had never met the devotees and are searching in India for a guru. What would you be looking for and what role in your life would you expect that person to play? Wouldn’t you be looking for a person with the wisdom and realization to instruct you on how to become self-fulfilled? Wouldn’t you try to hear from them daily? Srila Prabhupada’s books provide that experience and you can have it everyday. Unfortunately, few people have the taste, discipline, or time to regularly read them. I would like to make a practical suggestion for reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, both for those who avidly study them and those who do not, a method designed to help one regularly experience the dynamic communion with a saint that we all hanker for.
I gleaned this method from His Grace Bhurijana Prabhu, the acarya, in my opinion, for studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. His method of prayerful reading was recently outlined in the issue of BTG describing the life of Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami. I use this method daily and it is also a method that conveniently requires minimum time. I’ll briefly summarize it here. If the process inspires you, then please read Bhurijana Prabhu’s article in full. Mind you, and Bhurijana Prabhu makes this clear, it is not “the” method, but “a” method. I personally use various systems for studying, but I use this one in my morning studies for its personal and inspirational approach.
Bhurijana Prabhu explains his intention:
“The goal of prayerful reading is less an intellectual gathering of information and more an attempt to allow sastra (scripture) to affect us. It is an attempt to gain association, to listen carefully to Krishna’s message, to let potent transcendental words sink into the core of our consciousness. When reading this way, one doesn’t attempt to read a specific quantity. That goal is superceded by a desire for depth of purification through associating with Srila Prabhupada, our acaryas, and Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead.”
Rather than outline his procedure here, I’ll briefly describe how I’ve begun to daily employ it my own life.
Upon rising, after bath, I take out the Antya-lila of the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, the book I am presently reading. I then set a fixed time for reading of either 15 or 30 minutes from where I left off the preceding day. As prayerful reading takes a quiet place without interruption, I choose the early morning, but if I am forced to read later, I ensure a time when there are no visits or phone calls. To prepare myself for association with Sri Krishna through the potent teachings of Srila Prabhupada and other great teachers, I take a few minutes to cultivate the proper attitude which culminates in prayers for their association, guidance, and mercy. Sometimes, I also offer prayers to the great personalities who will manifest in my reading. This morning I especially prayed to Srila Haridasa Thakur. I purposely read slowly without expectation to complete a required amount, and do this until a word, phrase, or idea strikes me. I then pause and read that phrase several times, think of its relevance to my spiritual life, and then bask in those realizations. I continue reading in the same way until another point moves me and repeat the process until my allotted time is up. I finish by offering obeisances to the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta and begin my japa. If I am fortunate, the realizations from my reading will also appear spontaneously in my japa to encourage me in my chanting.
Message: There’s a fortune sitting on your shelf in your room. Utilize it to make your life spiritually prosperous.