October 20, 2002 Govardhana Note:

October 22nd, 2002

October 20, 2002

Note: I will try to write regularly from Govardhan, but I will not be able to make daily journal entries due to my other responsibilities for Kartik.

Japa Thoughts I

Indradyumna Swami invited me to come to his room every morning before mangala-arati to chant japa before his deities. I prefer to chant alone, but I took up his offer to get sadhu-sanga. Vaiseseka Prabhu, a saintly godbrother, was also invited. Like Maharaja, he is very much an all-American sadhu–pious, strong,
handsome, tall (three inches more than Maharaja), with a seemingly unbounded energy for devotional activities. I was happily dwarfed in their presence. With concentration, vigor, and devotion, they chanted. I was surprised how much that helped my own focus. Maharaja’s room is small and has three-foot thick walls. Inside one gets the distinct impression that the world outside cannot enter and the vibrations inside cannot leave. I felt as if the holy name was condensing and pressurizing the atmosphere within those walls, suffocating any distractions to the holy name. It’s not that I let my mind wander, but I felt relaxed, as if there was nothing else to wander to but the holy name.

Recommendation: Create a sacred space for chanting where externally the mind can only wander to Krishna, preferably in the association of spiritually enlivened devotees. Enhance that atmosphere, if necessary, with the sound of pure devotees chanting, like Srila Prabhupada’s japa tape.

Japa Thoughts II

I started chanting very carefully and slowly. I was hearing nicely, but was surprised that I barely chanted four rounds in a half hour. By the end of my japa period, I noticed I was chanting nearly 6 rounds an hour and was hearing even better, but with less effort. I noticed that when I began I was very concentrated, in somewhat of a yogic way, on my dhrti, or determination, subduing the mind by the force of the will. At the end, however, I noticed I was more concentrated on the heart, my attitude, and my mood. My simple realization is that although it is important to take to chanting as a discipline, it is just as important to be cultivate and be conscious of the mood in which one is chanting–especially humility.

This realization was later confirmed today in my reading of Brhad-Bhagavatamrta. In order to highlight the glories of the Pandavas and how the Supreme Lord reciprocated with them in a very personal manner because of their spontaneous devotion, Narada Muni briefly describes, in contrast, the mechanical way in which Brahma and other demigods petitioned the Lord from the shore of the milk ocean. Despite strict vows, restricted eating, and stringent withdrawal of all external functions, the Lord did not answer the prayers of the demigods in person as he did the Pandavas. He spoke to them only through the heart of Brahma, which he heard only as voice from the sky.

The moral of the story is summarized nicely in the commentary, quite akin to my realization this morning:

“From this experience, recorded in the Tenth Canto, first chapter, of Srimad Bhagavatam, the demigods learned that mechanical meditation is not an effective means for achieving personal association with the Supreme Lord.” (B.B. 5.10, commentary)

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