Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #48 – Kartik Meditations 2020 II

November 30th, 2020

Years ago, I was sitting with a sādhu in Govardhana when a young devotee came over to him and declared, “I chanted sixty-four round today!” When the young man left the sādhu turned to me and whispered, “He is so merciful. He just gave me the benefit of his chanting.” If you accomplish something and proclaim your glories, you become proud and won’t advance. You may, however, help others to advance by making them humble.


Chanting makes one humble because it clears the mirror of the mind. One not only sees God and oneself, but one also sees the false or pretentious self. Seeing the charade of who we think we are is painful, but somehow there is simultaneous joy.  Only when we are humble can one taste Krishna’s mercy.


We can’t produce the holy name of Krishna. We can only attract the holy name. One who realizes that begs for the holy name. Krishna is merciful and will certainly appear in His holy name if our entreaty is sincere.


A combination lock won’t open the door to a treasure until we get the combination exactly right. The combination that cracks the lock of the holy name and allows us entrance to the kingdom of God is chanting and hearing each syllable attentively and with the right heart. That stage is called śuddha nāma (pure chanting). I have faith, however, that by the sincere attempt to chant attentively and avoid offenses (the stage of nāmābhāsa), we will at least get a glimpse of Sri Krishna behind the door of the mind.


When the mind wanders it will naturally flow towards our material attachments. If one is not vigilant to let those thoughts go while chanting, we won’t hear the holy name. If we can become attached to Krishna, however, by serving and hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, we will spontaneously think of Krishna’s form and pastimes. Not only will we continue to hear the holy name, but the holy name will become more pronounced.


Chanting is a science. There is a predictable result if done properly. That is why there are so many teachings about chanting the holy name. Does that mean that by our effort in chanting we can attain Krishna, and the result is therefore not dependent on His mercy? No. By the science of chanting our chanting will become imbued with sincere hankering to attain the lotus feet of Krishna, and that chanting may attract Krishna’s mercy.


Our success in japa meditation is based on faith, a trust in the value of what we are doing. We will then make the proper effort to protect that treasure by avoiding the offenses to the holy name and by maintaining a dharmic or responsible life. Our only fear then is becoming lax and losing the treasure of the holy name.


His Holiness B.B. Govinda Swami explained the glories of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmīon his appearance day: “He was such a great devotee that he was chanting all day long and daily paid one thousand obeisances to the Vaiṣṇavas.” After the lecture, one devotee asked the Mahārāja, “You said that Raghunātha dāsa was such a great a devotee, that he chanted all day and paid a thousand obeisances, but what service did he do?” When I heard Mahārāja tell the story years ago, I chuckled to think that the devotee was thinking that chanting wasn’t service, but now I am asking myself the same question.


One important principle in chanting is to think of others before oneself, for without selflessness and compassion we can’t chant the holy name purely. That is why Śrīla Prabhupāda and his guru mahārāja were so wary of people who prematurely retired to a holy place. This is how I reconcile chanting more for my own purification with the mission to vigorously and selflessly give devotion to others.


Chanting more: The most important thing is to save oneself.


Chanting more: I am seventy. As one gets older it’s quite appropriate to dedicate oneself more to one’s internal spiritual life, and it is a good example for others.


Chanting more: It doesn’t substantially reduce my service because chanting more sharpens my mind and makes my services and responsibilities more efficient and less time consuming.


Chanting more: Our mission is to taste and distribute the holy name. If I can become attached to the holy name it will inspire others in our mission.


Chanting more: I am praying for service and am fully available for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mission, whatever that means and wherever it takes me. Somehow he has given me the service of chanting. I am thus confident it is very connected to his mission.



“This temporary life is full of various miseries. Take shelter of the holy name as your only business.” (Aruṇodaya-kīrtana, verse 6, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura)



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