By chanting you can be free

“Taking shelter of Krishna-nam is the ultimate practice for the real devotee.” (p 61)

There are many devotional practices one may perform. Some are more effective than others. The most important for followers of Chaitanya is the chanting of Radha & Krishna’s names which are non-different from the Divine Couple themselves. One should call upon them like a child calling for its mother-father. They are our only shelter. We are completely dependent upon their grace and mercy to save us.

We are unqualified, but by calling out in love, they hear us and respond due to the natural, innate love that exists between Radha Krishna and the living entities. They are present in the sound vibration of their names which are unlimited and contain their full potency. There are no hard and fast rules for chanting these holy names, but the more feeling we can put into it, the greater the response will be. Our yearning, longing, loving calls to them cannot help but attract them to us.

“They will constantly chant the maha-mantra of sixteen names of Krishna while counting their chanting on beads.” (p 62)

This is the traditional way of doing it. When I was a renunciate and able to remain free of administrative duties, I was able to regularly chant the Hare Krishna mantra 64 rounds of beads daily. This practice is very good for focusing the mind on Radha Krishna. Even when one is not chanting on beads, the mantra may still go on mentally.

When I left the renounced order of life, of course, my lifestyle and devotional practices changed. “Devotees will maintain body, house and society as long as they are favorable for cultivating the name and will offer them all in the service of Krishna. They will not labor in any other direction, and even in this devotional direction, they will not over-endeavor.” (p 62)

I felt I had been over-endeavoring. Our efforts are not as important as the grace of Radha Krishna. All our endeavors will not bring us to them without their grace. I felt there had to be an easier, more natural way to practice devotion that would lead to the supreme goal of pure love.

I began to make the mental chanting of Om my constant practice. Om is another name of the Divine Couple and the living entities in love. I find it is just sort of there as I go about the activities of the day. It is my center. From this center, I can relate to others, the world about me and Radha Krishna in a natural way that is more in tune with being present in the moment as well as being able to respond fluidly to the flow of life.

Another way of putting it is that I become more incarnate and experienced the immanence of God rather than just seeking a transcendental relationship to the exclusion of this life. Christians call this “practicing the presence of God.” I find it to be a very effective spiritual practice which also allows me to maintain body, house and society in a way consistent with my life situation, which has varied greatly over the years.

“Not being overly ambitious in their plans, they will reside in a solitary place. Staying in association with those who can nurture devotion, they carefully progress. The purpose of all these activities is to attain fixed chanting of the name, with no anxieties.” (pp 62-63)

A year ago, my wife/disciple and I moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to the tropical rainforest of Hawai’i. We live a pretty simple, solitary life of devotion. Our home is a temple. We chant the maha-mantra and other mantras to Radha & Krishna on our beads as well as singing with instruments. Still, I continue to Om. We study the sacred writings, encourage one another and consider our abode to be transcendental. Our love is a reflection of the love of Radha & Krishna. Our chanting is becoming fixed and our anxieties lessened as we detach from material life and become more attached to Radha & Krishna.

“In Lord Chaitanya’s teachings, there are only two concepts: taste for the name and mercy to the living entities. A person is a devotee to the extent that these two qualities are present. It is not necessary to labor for any other qualities. The qualities of the devotee spontaneously appear, and the devotee naturally relishes acting for the benefit of all.” (p 64)

A taste for the name has sustained me my whole adult life. It is my life-line in the ocean of material existence. I have shown mercy to others by teaching them love of God. This is the greatest mercy one may show. It is what is most lacking and most needed in this world to solve all our problems. When we love God, we can also love one another as well as God’s creation.

In this way, I have worked for peace, justice and the environment over the years. Under the current U.S. administration, I lost all hope that significant reform in those areas is possible. The administration is powerful and hell bent on its own agenda which seems to entail destroying peace, justice and the environment. They are not open to outside views or the will of the people. Therefore, my focus is on the spiritual solution—one person at a time.

“’Always chant the holy name of Lord Krishna and within your mind render service to Radha and Krishna in Vrindaban…’ Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 6. In these instructions, the Lord also hinted in a covered way about the internal worship of Radha Krishna through the eight time-periods of the day known as astakaliya-lila-bhajan.” (p 65)

Bhaktivinode introduces this important subject here and will take it up again later in the book. As one chants, one should remember the pastimes of Radha Krishna through the day and serve them in one’s spiritual body. Thus, one must know one’s relationship to the Divine Couple, their pastimes and how they like to be served following the examples of the eternal residents of Vrindaban and the disciplic succession. This is revealed by the siddha-pranali guru to the disciple. In this way, our relationship with Radha Krishna becomes very real and personal and our mutual attraction increases. Jai Radhe!

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