The practitioner who has accepted hari-nāma is on the easiest, simplest, and most accessible path for obtaining Bhagavān. Nevertheless, people are so unfortunate that they are hesitant and lazy when it comes to uttering Bhagavān’s holy name. This is a most regrettable situation. One should carefully consider that he does not know when he will get the human form of life again, and that by neglecting spiritual life he risks remaining submerged in an ocean of distress for all eternity. Right now one should ponder: “Am I happy at this moment?” Young people are unhappy due to the burden of academic studies and the scarcity of employment opportunities. Everyone is distressed due to poverty, tyrannical rulers, quarrelsome neighbors, and conflicts among family members and coworkers. For many people there is not even a trace of happiness. Sadly, people do not feel any attachment to Bhagavān, who is an ocean of bliss. Thus, they simply weep day and night, and in the future they will continue to shed tears. Folding my hands before you and also catching hold of your feet, I pray that whoever reads this letter will chant sixty-four rounds of hari-nāma daily while attentively listening with his ears. My Gurudeva guarantees that anyone who follows this instruction will become qualified to achieve the four goals of human life: economic development, religiosity, sense gratification, and salvation. Moreover, at the time of death he will go to the abode of Bhagavān, which is an unlimited ocean swelling with blissful waves. His distress will be eliminated at the root and will be gone forever. Rather than sending His messengers to a person who has accepted hari-nāma and absorbed himself in chanting, Bhagavān Himself personally comes to claim such a surrendered person. In this very lifetime, his material and spiritual existence becomes blissful; Kali, the personality in charge of this quarrelsome iron-age, cannot even look in his direction. Do not have even the slightest bit of doubt in this matter.
During hari-kathā, Lord Śiva explained to his consort Umā:
sādara sumarana je nara karahiṁ bhava vāridhi gopada-iva tarahiṁ
“Human beings who chant and listen to the holy names of Lord Hari with honor and respect can cross the ocean of material existence, like crossing the water contained in the hoof-print of a cow.”
kahau kahā lagi nāma baḍāī rāma na sakahi nāma guṇa gāī
“I do not have sufficient words to glorify the holy name; not even Lord Rāma can adequately glorify it.”
sunahu umā te loga abhāgī hari taji hoya viṣaya anurāgi
“O Umā (Pārvatī), people who forsake Lord Hari and become engrossed in the sense objects are unfortunate.”
lābha ki kichu hari-bhakti samānā jehi gāvahi śruti santa purānā
“The Vedas, Purāṇas, and saintly persons declare that there is no benefit equal to that attained by the devotional service of Lord Hari.”
hāni ki jaga ehi sama kichu bhāī bhajiye na rāmahi nara tana pāī
“Is there any loss as great as that of not worshipping Lord Rāma despite having obtained the human form of life?” This human body is the gateway to Vaikuṇṭha; if we fail to take advantage of this entrance, we may never get this opportunity again. Time is very unreliable; at any moment this gateway could be destroyed. One may have to suffer in hell, the abode of unspeakable miseries. Try to understand this right now; I am pleading with you with folded hands. If you adhere to the above advice, both you and I will benefit. If you begin to chant one lakh of harināma, following the order of Śrīla Gurudeva, my happiness will know no bounds.
The mirror to evaluate the level of one’s devotional service (This narration regarding seeing one’s progress in the mirror of the heart was inspired by Bhagavān)
- Does your mind become naturally absorbed in devotional service to Bhagavān?
- Does your mind remain steady in noisy, distracting situations?
- Does your mind become elated when you achieve honour, fame, or prestige?
- Does your mind remain steady during calamities?
- Are you enthusiastic to engage in devotional service?
- Do you feel that you have control over the senses?
- Are you able to remember Bhagavān during distressful situations?
- Do you feel distress in your heart upon observing distress in other living entities?
- Is your mind agitated upon hearing criticism of yourself or others?
- Are you anxious to hear discussions about Bhagavān?
- Do you wish for the well-being of all living entities?
- Do you feel bliss upon meeting a saintly personality?
- Do you experience severe distress when separated from saintly persons?
- Are you inclined to stay at the lotus feet of saintly personalities for long periods of time?
- Is your greed for the bliss of devotional service increasing?
- Does your heart feel distressed when there is a decline in your devotional service?
- Do your dreams include Bhagavān, saintly persons, temples, and holy places?
- Do the eight spiritual ecstatic transformations ever manifest during your dreams?
- Are you inspired to get up at 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM to engage in devotional service?
- Does a wave of intoxication and playfulness arise in your mind during devotional service?
- Are you averse to mundane talks?
- Have the urges of the senses been subdued?
- Have you surrendered all of your prescribed duties to Bhagavān?
- Have you recognized material existence to be an ocean of misery?
- Have you realized that death is fast approaching?
- Do you offer respect to devotees situated at a lower level than you by bowing down?
- Do you remain absorbed in devotional service by regarding Śrīla Gurudeva to be an eternal loving associate of Bhagavān?
- Do you desire the well-being of even an enemy? Has the mood tṛṇād api sunīcena—humbly thinking oneself to be lower than the straw in the street—manifested in your heart?
- Are you earning your money honestly, without desiring to usurp the rights of others?
- Do you desire to live simply?
- Are you satisfied with whatever you have?
- Do you experience emotional ecstasy when you have darśana of the Deity in the temple?
- Do you experience the eight spiritual ecstatic transformations (aṣṭa-sāttvika vikāras) while remembering and singing the holy names and glories of Bhagavān?
According to the degree that the above-mentioned moods have awakened in one’s heart, one can evaluate his position in devotional service. It is like looking in a mirror. These moods are aspects of the true nature of surrender to Bhagavān.
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: at the time of 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 taking 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.