Monday Morning Greetings 2017 #48 – The Talking Book

November 27th, 2017

Part 1: Prayerful Reading
Have you ever read a book that talks to you? If you don’t believe it’s possible, then prayerfully read the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam daily. Your sincere questions and prayers will be answered, for the book that you hold in your hand is not just ink and paper. It’s cit-śakti, spiritual potency, and spiritual things are alive and living means responsive. Here’s how to prayerfully read the Bhāgavatam:

  1. Set a time and place exclusively for reading śāstra. If you don’t yet have the time or taste for it, even fifteen minutes is sufficient. More time of course is better, but whatever you can do is adequate to begin. During that time vow that nothing else will enter your sacred space whether it’s email, Facebook, or even family.
  2. Before beginning your study, pray to the teacher or teachers that you will encounter during your reading. Whoever it is, whether it be the book’s main speakers like Śukadeva or Sūta Gosvāmī, or its prominent commentators like Śrīla Prabhupāda, pour your heart out to them. You will be in the presence of a pure devotee, and a true saint is non-different than their vāṇī, or teachings. Ask them for inspiration, guidance, or whatever you feel you need spiritually.
  3. Slowly and prayerfully read out loud in the mood of your entreaties and in the consciousness of being before the persons that are instructing you.
  4. If any sentence or point in the text strikes you as exceptionally significant or relevant read it over three times.
  5. When the allotted time is up close the book and offer obeisances to the saintly people in whose presence you have just learned. Express your gratitude.
  6. Optional: Add three to five minutes of free writing. Free writing means that without referring to the book just begin to write about whatever point in your reading of the Bhāgavatam impressed you, or even just write anything you remembered. The trick is to keep the pen moving and never stop writing, even if you have to say, “I don’t know what to write.” In my experience that will not happen for just moving the pen mystically connects you to your memory. You will have plenty to say.

And the book will also talk to you.

Part 2: My Personal Experience With Prayerful Reading
Over the years the Bhāgavatam has many times spoken to me personally to answer my questions and to guide me, but I especially like when the book reveals new philosophical insights on the meaning of a particular text, meanings that I have never before read in any commentary. Here’s one example:
There is a profound connection between the first and last verse of the Bhagavad-gītā.
In the very first verse of the Gītā, King Dhṛtarāṣṭra inquires from Sañjaya, his mystical advisor, about the impending battle at Kurukṣetra between his sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu led by Arjuna:
“Dhṛtarāṣṭra said: O Sañjaya, after assembling in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukṣetra, what did my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu do, being desirous to fight?”
The commentators explain that Dhṛtarāṣṭra is concerned with how the holy place will influence the battle, but that he expected victory in this ugly fratricidal war because of the greater size of his son’s army. The verse also forebodes victory for the sons of Pāṇḍu. The battlefield is a place of pilgrimage (dharma-kṣetra) and Krishna, who upholds and protects dharma (righteousness), is on their side.
The last verse of the Gītā states its conclusion and answers Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s initial inquiry definitively:
“Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.”
The connection seems obvious, although I have never seen it stated. The first verse is a view of the battle through the eyes of a materialist filled with anxiety about a situation he cannot control, calculating success based on one’s personal power rather than doing what’s right. In contrast the last verse, spoken by his advisor Sañjaya is a view of that same world through the eyes of a spiritualist, seeing success or victory not by expedience or material superiority, but by choosing righteousness or dharma. Dharma here is represented by the presence of Krishna, the master of all mystics, and His devotee Arjuna, the supreme archer.
So that’s what the book spoke to me. I highly recommend beginning this conversation yourself.
Where to purchase the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam at Krishna.com

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