1. Your mind will not wander hither and thither for even a moment if you follow the process I am recommending here. Chant one hundred thousand names of Lord Hari daily and listen carefully to those names with your ears. Within your mind you should sit at the feet of your spiritual master, saintly persons, great devotees like Haridāsa Ṭhākura, Mādhavendra Purī, Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Bajaranga (Hanumānjī), Nārada, and incarnations of Bhagavān such as Gaura and Nitāi. While sitting at their lotus feet by mind, let them listen to your chanting. This method ensures that your mind does not waver for even a fraction of a second. There is no need to supply any evidence to prove a phenomenon that can be directly experienced. Any practitioner (sādhaka) can try this method, and one’s personal experience will reveal its truth. There is only one means of igniting the fire of separation from Bhagavān in one’s heart. From the core of your heart, call out, “O Nimāi! O Nitāi! Please shower Your mercy on me. Please bestow Your causeless mercy on this offender.” This is the cry of a broken or torn heart, and it is also like an injection of medicine. This alone will remove the disease of lack of taste in chanting. Just try this out. If one chants one hundred thousand holy names daily, some śuddhanāma will certainly manifest. This śuddha-nāma (pure name) will attract nāmābhāsa (semblance of the holy name). This is because the pure name is endowed with an extraordinary potency, and the semblance of the holy name is much weaker. The powerful śuddhanāma attracts the weak nāmābhāsa. This is an eternal principle or truth. For this reason Śrī Gaurahari told all of His followers, “I will honour prasāda only in the home of a devotee who chants one hundred thousand holy names daily. I will never stay anywhere other than in such a devotee’s home.” Such a simple, straightforward path has been given in Kali-yuga. One will receive the association of Bhagavān while remaining at home. There is no need to wander in the forest. One need not endure numerous difficulties such as cold, heat, rain, and scarcity of foodstuffs and water. It is a matter of great ignorance if one misses such a wonderful opportunity.
2. One should rise no later than 3am during brahmamuhūrta and chant hari-nāma. For example, our spiritual masters used to get up at 2am or 3am and chant hari-nāma. One will be able to do this only when one takes very little prasāda in the evening, or goes to sleep just after drinking a glass of milk. Otherwise, the enemy of laziness will be an obstruction in one’s devotional service. In the beginning laziness and lethargy may bother you; however, after a month or so, laziness will not be as prominent.
3. Before going to sleep at night, chant at least two rounds of hari-nāma while carefully listening with your ears, so that harināma will continue circulating nocturnally in the entire body, even during sleep. You will not perceive this benefit in just one or two days; however, after some time the effect of this process will become perceivable and will transform into dreams related to Bhagavān. Kṛṣṇa repeatedly instructed Arjuna that, “Practice will accomplish all the goals of human life.” You can practically observe that an accomplished typist may chat with his friend or client as he keeps on typing at the keyboard. An experienced, focused driver of a car or truck may talk to a passenger and at the same time avoid getting in an accident. What is not possible by practice and experience?
4. Whenever you find spare time, take saintly association by reading books that narrate the glories of hari-nāma, such as ŚrīmadBhāgavata Mahā-purāṇa and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Such reading will ensure that your hari-nāma receives excellent nourishment. If you can meet with a pure devotee, continue discussing and consulting with him. By this you will surely develop a great taste and relish for chanting hari-nāma. There is no need whatsoever of questioning or debating this fact.
5. It is most important to observe celibacy, or brahmacharya. The primary meaning of celibacy is to keep the senses fixed within their limits. We should not let the senses run toward material sense objects. Engage the eleven senses continually in spiritual topics so that material sense objects cannot cover them. Know that the mind alone is the king of all the senses; it controls the other ten senses and engages them with material sense objects. Television, radio, newspapers, mobile phones, the external environment, and agitating pictures such as those showing the sex life of birds and animals, and people wearing revealing clothes, attract and affect the mind. Śrīla Gurudeva tells us the means for saving ourselves from these evil influences. There is no difficulty in staying away from television, radio, and newspapers. These are not just the words of Śrī Gurudeva, but also the bona fide statements of the scriptures.
6. Turn your attention away from mundane and useless talks. Keep on chanting the holy name all the time even in the absence of chanting beads. Then the distraction of worldly acceptance and rejection will not touch your mind at all. Practice is highly necessary in this regard. One’s attachment to household life will gradually diminish by following this process, and attachment to Bhagavān will keep on increasing. Attachment to the material world is our original enemy; we have to totally uproot it. This is possible only by chanting hari-nāma. Remove your mind from mundane topics and engage it in topics about Bhagavān.
7. It is most important to practice non-violence. Do not trouble any living entity. All living entities are the sons and daughters of Bhagavān. Will the father be happy if one gives trouble to his sons? Show mercy to all, and if possible render service to all by body, mind, and words. Do not harass any living entity. One should spend one’s life in acts of benevolence by instructing others about the moral course and the right path. Special Note: One who has controlled the tongue has indeed controlled all the senses. There is a direct relationship between the tongue and the genitals. A legendary Hindi maxim is rūkhā sūkhā khāvo, bhagavat- prema pāvo. “Always honour simple, light prasāda and obtain love of Godhead.” Do not criticise or harass the saintly persons who are very dear to Bhagavān. Otherwise, Bhagavān will give you a severe punishment. A sinner may commit as many sins as he likes, and Bhagavān does not become very angry with him. However, He becomes truly angry with an offender who criticises or abuses His devotee. A sinner exhausts the results of his misdeeds by suffering in purgatory (hell); however, one who harasses a devotee is a staunch enemy of Bhagavān. Bhagavān gives a harsh punishment to such an unfortunate person by tossing him into the Raurava hell or by giving him a chronic disease. A direct example of this is the brāhmaṇa Gopāla-cāpāla, who committed a heinous offense to Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita and was punished with the disease of leprosy. Although Durvāsā was the son of Atri and Anusūyā and was born from a portion of Lord Śiva, he had to suffer from the heat of Bhagavān’s Sudarśana discus after he harassed Ambarīṣa.
8. Only prasāda cooked from ingredients purchased with money earned honestly and in a pure profession will increase your devotion. Impure, shady earnings destroy one’s devotion, as we have seen in so many cases. Be happy with whatever is available to you. Do not get caught in the vicious cycle of hankering and lamenting for sense objects. Do not try to collect too many objects or gadgets. All these things will ultimately put you in terrible danger. Keep only a limited number of objects at home that help you to survive. Do not envy people who are higher than you on the economic ladder. Rather, consider the downtrodden and poorest people. Only then will you be able to live happily forever. Otherwise, your heart will keep on burning. You may think, “He has a car. I should also have one.” However, if you cannot obtain a car, you will continue lamenting. Out of distress over this, you may take up a wrong path to earn more money to satisfy your insatiable urges.
9. While honouring prasāda, keep on remembering the holy name. If you do so, the currents of eight transcendental ecstasies (aṣṭasāttvika-vikāras) will flow in your body. In Hindi there is a famous proverb jaisā anna, vaisā mana, which means ‘as goes food, so goes the mind’. If you remember hari-nāma while drinking water, that water becomes caraṇāmrta, the nectar that has washed the lotus feet of the Lord. This nectar enters your stomach, and then whatever you say will be true. For the rest of your life you will never say anything wrong. Another popular Hindi adage goes like this: jaisā pānī, vaisī vāṇī—‘as goes water, so goes speech’.
Vaishnava Prathana (prayer)
Doing this prayer 11 times everyday will help in removing obstacles in life & will help in increasing faith in Holy names.
Ananta-koṭi vaiṣṇava-jana, ananta-koṭi bhakta-jana anata-koṭi rasika-jana tathā, ananta-koṭi mere gurujana main janma janma se āpake, caraṇoṁki dhūla kaṇa mujhako le lo apanī śaraṇa, mere mana kī haṭā do bhaṭakana
O innumerable devotees, realised souls, and spiritual masters, I am a dust particle at your lotus feet life after life. Please give me shelter and stop the wanderings of my mind.
Lagā do mujhako kṛṣṇa-caraṇa, lagā do mujhako gaura-caraṇa yadi aparādha mujhase bana gaye, āpake caraṇāravinda mein jāne mein yā anajāne mein, kisī janma mein yā isī janma mein kṣamā karo mere gurujana, main hun āpakī śaraṇa
Please affix me at the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Gaura. If I have committed any offense at your lotus feet, knowingly or unknowingly, in this lifetime or some other lifetime, O spiritual masters, please forgive me! I am under your shelter.
Pāpī hun, aparādhī hun, khoṭā hun yā kharā hun acchā hun yā burā hun , jaisā bhī hun, main to āpakā hun merī ora nihāro! kṛpā-dṛṣṭi vistāro, he mere prāṇa-dhana, nibhālo aba to apanāpana main hun āpake caraṇa-śaraṇa, he mere janma-janma ke gurujana
I may be sinful, offensive, dishonest, good, or bad. Whatever I may be, I am still yours. Please cast your merciful glance at me. O wealth of my life, O my spiritual masters lifetime after lifetime, please allow me to maintain my feeling of belonging to you! I have surrendered to your lotus feet.
Seeing Śrī Bhagavān in just two minutes.
Three daily prayers
The Śrīmad-Bhāgavata Purāṇa describes a story in which King Khaṭvāṅga had darśana of Bhagavān in only a few minutes. My most worshipable spiritual master Nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti-dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja said that if any person daily offers the following three brief prayers, which takes only a few minutes, he will certainly obtain the lotus feet of Bhagavān in this very lifetime. These three prayers are the essence of all religious books, including the Vedas and Purāṇas.
The first prayer: when going to sleep, pray to Bhagavān as follows: “O prāṇa-nātha Govinda, my sweet Lord who is more dear to me than my own life, when I am about to die, You should leave my body along with my last breath. At that time, You should make me chant Your holy name. Please do not forget; please do not make a mistake.”
The second prayer: as soon as you wake up, pray to Bhagavān as follows: “O prāṇa-nātha, Lord of my life, may I consider as Yours whatever activities I do from now until I take rest at night. If I forget to do this, please remind me.”
The third prayer: after a bath in the morning and putting on gopī-candana tilaka, pray as follows: “O prāṇa-nātha, Govinda, please favor me with Your merciful glance so that I will see You, and only You, in every atom and within every living entity.”
Important instruction: it is essential to offer these three prayers daily for three months. After this good practice, offering them will become second nature. Those who print or photocopy these three prayers and distribute them will automatically receive the mercy of Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, so please do so.
How to advance spiritually
In the Skanda Purāṇa it is directed that a devotee should
- Offer water to the tulasī plant and āmalaka trees
- Offer respect to the cows and to the brāhmaṇas, and
- Serve the Vaiṣṇavas by offering them respectful obeisances and meditating upon them. All of these processes will help the devotee to diminish the reactions to his past sinful activities.
In the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa it is said that 1: one who observes fasting on Ekadasi day is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities and advances in pious life.