Archive for October, 2005

Karitka Journal -Sastra and Japa Thoughts

October 31st, 2005

October 28, 2005

Sastra Thought I:
(from Bhakti Sandarbha’s discussion on vadanam (prayers), which also includes obeisances): When one pays obeisances one should actually feel inferior to the person one is paying them to. If that is not there, it is just ritual. Devotion is a condition of heart. Bhakti is the process to change it. Observe ourselves: How do we actually feel during devotional activity? If humility and a service attitude are not the force behind our devotions, we can only sincerely lament.

October 29, 2005

I was surprised how many responses I got from the “My Sweet Lord” entry. A few below:

“I just wanted to write you my appreciations for your Karttika journal. The last “my sweet lord” series and the “visrambhena guror seva” entry especially. Somehow the verse had come into my mind a few days before receiving your email, although I didn’t really think of its meaning, it just kind of came into my head like a pop song.”

“Thank you so much for these thoughts. Just this week the words of that song by George Harrison came to my mind and I found I was really crying out—“My sweet Lord, I really want to see you and be with you” I felt like I was going deeper in my chanting. Thanks for sharing.”

“It was only the other day when I, too, was thinking of George Harrison’s mood of praying in his songs. It is devoid of fear. Instead, he wants a sweet, kind and loving relationship with Krishna. This mood is evident in another of his songs, “Give Me Peace”, in which he prays to Krishna:

“Give me life, give me life
keep me free from birth…
give me hope, help me cope
with this heavy load…
Trying to touch and reach You
with heart and soul…”

October 30, 2005

Japa Thought VIII:
The ability to focus the mind or sustain any endeavor is based on dhrti (determination) and dhrti is driven by faith. It’s simple. Without faith in what we are doing (that we are convinced of an auspicious result), then why bother at all, especially if it entails some austerity? I thus search for faith in every mala, some faith, whether it’s the mercy of guru, the inspiration of a sadhu or a sweet remembrance of the dhama, anything to arouse devotion and impel determination. If, however, the mind becomes focused on the holy name, then one has entered the ultimate source of inspiration. Nothing else is required. How fortunate are those with simple faith in the holy name!

October 31, 2005

Japa Thought IX:
Each verse in Siksastakam is an expression of the proper frame of mind for the chanter. Mood is everything for the chanter as the holy name first appears in the heart and then manifests on the tongue. At noon today I meditate on the disposition of pure devotion as found in verse four, “I don’t want wealth, followers or the opposite sex. I just want your causeless devotion service birth after birth.” I chant consciously to realize this mood so that my mantra arises from substance, the sincere heart that wants Sri Krishna and nothing else.

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October 24, 2005 Govardhana Maha

October 27th, 2005

October 24, 2005

Maha Nidhi Swami gave a contemporary example of chanting with mamata (intimacy) by referring to “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison. He joked, “if Dattatreya had twenty-four gurus, including the python and the prostitute, then why can’t we find some instruction in George Harrison?”

“My sweet lord,
Hm, my lord.
Hm, my lord
I really want to see you.
Really want to be with you
But it takes so long my lord
My sweet lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord
my my my Lord (Hare Krishna)”

Japa Thought IV
I found my self chanting today in the mood of “My sweet Lord, I really want to see you, really want to be with you!” It was a nice meditation on the holy name. A realization came. What does my sweet Lord mean? It means a personal Lord who intimately reciprocates ones devotion, not only a Lord of Majesty that invokes obligation. Conclusion: We should all meditate on how the holy name is “my sweet Lord”.

October 25, 2005

Japa Thought V
Yesterday we found the words of Sri Guru in George Harrison. Today we found it in even a more unlikely source, my younger brother!

Karttika can be sweet, very sweet. The foundation of that sweetness, however, is a disciplined spiritual life. Chanting and hearing all day—not a moment wasted. Today chanting was especially pleasant, but at the pinnacle of absorption a bitter thought arose: “Can I maintain this life?” I pondered the problem and deeply prayed. I suddenly felt inspired and encouraged by my brother’s words, “It’s a way of life!”

This past year, under the guidance of a nutritionist, my younger brother lost nearly 50 pounds. I asked him if he would be able to maintain it once he has reached his goal. He said with undeniable conviction, “Yes, it’s not just diet. It’s a way of life!” I was impressed.

I can chant and relish Krishna consciousness everyday in this way. I just need to cut the fat of material consciousness and unnecessary diversion, not just during Karttika, but as a way of life. Thank you Ricky!

October 26, 2005

(Guest) Japa Thought VI
Maha Nidhi Swami described that in his study and practice of chanting it was confirmed again and again that the basis of attentive chanting was two considerations, the mind and the heart. To give due consideration to the mind means to think of the mantra’s meaning while chanting. He quoted Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura “mantra artha cintaya”, that one must chant mantra thinking of its meaning. He marveled how Srila Prabhupada also stressed the mind and the heart as his two main instructions for chanting:

1. Mind (thinking of the meaning) – Srila Prabhupada said that while chanting we should think “O my Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service!”
2. Heart (proper mood) – He also said “The chanting is exactly like genuine crying by the child for his mother.”

October 27, 2005

Japa Thought VII
Chanting means to search for myself, that humble servant of Krishna. It is locked away from me by the false ego, the conception that I am something else. Face it—I just don’t want to be me, a tiny unpaid servant soul? I chant for humility, the key to the door of the soul.

visrambhena guroh seva

October 22nd, 2005

Note: I will occasionally write about Maha Nidhi Swami’s class on bhajan rahasya. Although the class is clearly referenced, on just a few occasions it was not obvious to me which points were directly from bhajan rahasya and which were references and realizations that Maharaja was bringing into the discussion. My own recollection of the different points from the class may thus occasionally reflect this apparent ambiguity.

September 21, 2005

Bhajan rahasya I
In my first Karttika journal entry I described how Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur discussed the concept of mamata, a sense of intimacy with Sri Krishna. In today’s class it was discussed how that sense of mamata begins with Sri Guru. In fact, the third principle of devotional service (according to Srila Rupa Gosvami) is visrambhena guroh seva, to serve the spiritual master with trust and confidence. Maha Nidhi Swami shared with us the etymological meaning of visrambha. “Vi” means “without” and “srambha” means “majesty”.

How can serving the spiritual master without majesty be a principle of devotional service when Srila Prabhupada taught us that the spiritual master is to be seen “as good as God”?

It was discussed in class how the mood of visrambhena guroh seva is very special and should not be mistaken for mundane intimacy and over familiarity. Here’s what I gathered:

When one has mature affection for the spiritual master, one is focused exclusively on the heart of the guru. The fulfillment of the guru’s desires thus takes precedence over anything else, even the etiquette in relating to his position. In other words, what naturally becomes prominent in any affectionate bond is not the nature of the relationship and the protocol involved, but the desires of ones beloved. Example:

In Srila Prabhupada’s last days in this world he expressed a desire to go to Govardhan by bullock cart. Srila Prabhupada’s Ayurvedic doctor, however, strongly advised that such a trip would be tantamount to suicide. I remember shortly afterwards hearing Bhakti Caru Maharaja and Tamal Krishna Maharaja affectionately tell Srila Prabhupada, “Srila Prabhupda, we can’t let you go”. Although to some their response may appear inappropriate, it was certainly not a sign of disrespect. Rather it was mature love at the level of intimacy, the realm of visrambhena guroh seva where service dictated by deep feelings of affection rule majesty and etiquette.

Maha Nidhi Swami gave his own example of visrambhena guroh seva:

Srila Prabhupada was arriving in Los Angeles at the domestic terminal. One devotee, instead of greeting him, made the deliberate decision to stay at the international terminal to distribute his books. A short time after Srila Prabhupada’s arrival, he asked for that devotee. When told where he was and what he was doing, Srila Prabhupada broadly smiled and said, “Yes, that is very good.” The devotee was so focused on the heart of Srila Prabhupada that he forwent the etiquette of formally greeting him. That’s visrambhena guroh seva.

Jiva Gosvami’s definition of visrambha sums up nicely the mood of mamata: “complete identity with the beloved such that the identity and feelings of one and their beloved are not separate.”

Karitka – October 18-20, 2005

October 20th, 2005

October 18, 2005

Japa Thought II
Unfortunately, I have few japa thoughts today. We fasted all day because of the lunar eclipse and broke the fast at night. My regulation the next day was thus affected.

Lesson: One’s determination in chanting is not just dependent on one’s resolve at the moment of chanting, but also on how one lived one’s life the previous day, especially the previous night. It would have been better to have fasted for the sake of my vow. I could then have risen at my scheduled time and focused with more concentration.

October 19, 2005

Japa Thought III:
An advanced ISKCON sadhaka, who requested anonymity, shared their japa thoughts with me: “In my japa I follow the inspiration I get from Srila Prabhupada, Sri Rupa, and other acarya’s. I’m sometimes not sure where that inspiration will take me, but I have faith in their direction and I depend on them. I’m never let down. They always reciprocate. Naturally, such dependence creates faith and inevitably leads to further realizations. Most importantly, these sweet and very real spiritual relationships grow in such a way that they become the primary relationships in my life, much sweeter than any others.”

October 20, 2005

“When will Sacinandana Gaurahari appear on the path of my eyes? He accepted the Gauidya Vaisnavas in this world, who are like bees at His lotus feet, as His own, and He instructed them to chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra by counting a fixed number of rounds.”

Stavali (Sri Sacisunv-astaka, 5)

Japa Thought III:
Maha Nidhi Swami explained the mood of Bhaktivnoda Thakur in relation to the above verse by Raghunatha dasa Goswami from Sri Bhajan Rahasya:

“When chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra we can worship verses like these and enter them with our mind and heart. We can pray to mix our heart with Raghunatha Dasa Goswami and meditate on how the relationship between Sri Gauranga and His devotees is so affectionate that the Lord considers the devotees his own!”

Another beautiful line is, “When will Sacinananda Gaurhari appear on the path of my eyes?” Imagine the heart of Raghunatha Dasa Goswami as he is meditating in separation on Mahaprabhu’s compassion and intense prema. Visualize his subsequent transformation, as these same feelings arise in his own heart by chanting with longing and remembering His Lord. Finally, humbly pray for these feelings to come in one’s own heart by the mercy of the Lord and His devotees. This is bhajan rahasya. (The last paragraph is in my own words from what I learned in the class today.)

Karttika – Bhajan Rahasya

October 17th, 2005

Several people have written looking forward to my Karttika journal. Thank you. Karttika means niyam seva, increasing our devotional activities and doing those activities the same time everyday. Frankly, it leaves little time for writing, but still I hope to write something everyday and share what little I can with you.

October 17. 2005
Sri Govardhana

Bhajan Rahasya

Today is a lunar eclipse. Such days pass by outside of India without much notice, but in a holy place it means that everything is closed, including the Deities for twelve hours around the time of the eclipse. The eclipse is about four o’clock in the afternoon and somehow that means that from eight o’clock A.M. to eight o’clock P.M. there is no cooking, eating, or going outside one’s room. Although on purnima there is usually hundreds of thousands of pilgrims joyfully and loudly circumambulating Govardhana Hill, today, outside the ashram, it is desolate and silent. One sadhu told me that since Mars is closer to the earth than it has been in 60,000 years, it causes lunar and solar eclipses along with many disasters. Sure seems that way. A devotee is not affected in the sense that everything brings them closer to Sri Krishna. During the main time of the eclipse from four o’clock to eight o’clock P.M. the serious sadhakas w ill sit facing east chanting mantras (quietly in their rooms). Today Govardhana is thus intensely reverberating with the holy name. How auspicious!

I’m attending Maha Nidhi Swami’s class every day at 3:30 P.M. (cancelled today because of the eclipse). It makes my schedule even tighter. As lunch here is at two o’clock P.M., I hurriedly scoot over to his ashram in Radha Kunda by bicycle as soon I am finished. I manage to arrive just as the class is beginning. It’s tiring, but worth it.

For Karttika (he started on Ekadasi) Maharaja is lecturing on Bhajan Rahasya by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. He explained that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur instituted the study of Bhajan Rahasya in all his temples during the month of Karttika, which I assume is the inspiration for Maharaja’s class. I’m enjoying the class and eager to learn this important book.

Yesterday he explained Bhaktivinoda’s discussion of mamata, “spiritual possessiveness”, which is the essence of bhajan. I naturally incorporated what I learned into my morning meditations:

Japa Thought I: One must chant with mamata. What is mamata? It is the mood of “mineness”, a sense of exclusiveness in relationship that leads to and is symptomatic of attachment. We should thus chant with a sense of exclusive relationship (possessiveness) with the holy name. How can one feel exclusiveness for something that belongs to many people, such as Krishna’s holy name? It is just like when one has a Deity. Giridhari may be the Lord of the world, but it is your Giriraja, your Gaura Nitai, not others. Another practical example: Your father may be the President of the United States (God forbid!) and thus belongs to all the people, but still in your relationship with him, he is your father, and no one else’s, not even your mother’s. There is a sense exclusiveness and intimacy that fosters deeper attachment. And even if one has siblings, still each child’s relationship with the father is special. It br ings out uniqueness in the father exclusive to that relationship that fosters a healthy possessiveness and deepens attachment. I even read in one purport (I forgot where) that Krishna reveals to each devotee an exclusive form of mercy to deliver them. So everyone has a “my Krishna” who appears in the form of the holy name.

So today I tried to chant with a sense of mamata, that the holy name that has descended on my tongue is “My Krishna”. Without some sense of relationship or exclusiveness (even if our eternal relationship has not been revealed) how can one enter bhajan, spiritual practice with heart?

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