Seeing one’s spiritual progress in the mirror of your heart

By Aniruddha Prabhu
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Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

Take shelter of hari-nāma.

After taking shelter of hari-nāma, a strong desire awakens in one’s heart. One naturally chants one hundred thousand holy names every day without fail, just like baby birds that cannot fly continuously hop around and chirp as they eagerly await their mother. As soon as their mother comes, they open their beaks wide. Similarly, a hungry calf is eager to drink the mother’s milk, and a chaste wife whose husband is away from home longs for him to return.

A drunkard, a lusty person, and a gambler are so determined that without fail they find their desired object, even if it is many miles away. They never get discouraged by obstacles such as cold, heat, rain, or rivers. Not caring whether it is day or night, they somehow find what they want. Similarly, a devotee who has taken shelter of hari-nāma gets scorched by the fire of separation from Bhagavān, and hankers for His audience day and night. He traverses long distances to participate in discussions of Bhagavān’s pastimes and glories, wherever such discussions may take place. He never cares about any difficulties or obstacles. This is the true diligence of a person dedicated to the holy names. Such a devotee is never concerned about body or home. He only hankers to immerse himself in the flowing river of hari-kathā. He does not care about hunger or sleep. The rays of the moon, which are ordinarily cooling, consistently burn his heart. The songs of peacocks, cātaka birds, and myna birds during the rainy season, which generally bring joy to the heart, are instead the cause of intolerable distress for him. Memory after memory comes to harass him. As material existence vanishes from his sight, he always remains immersed in meditation upon Bhagavān. Wherever he finds the opportunity to hear about and chant the name, form, qualities, and pastimes of Bhagavān, he becomes absorbed in meditation and weeps. He will go to any length to reach places where hari-kathā is in progress. This is the disposition of a devotee who is truly committed to the chanting of hari-nāma.

One can never hope to reach this state of mind if one is not surrendered to the holy name. Hari-nāma is the infallible weapon to save oneself from the influence of Kali-yuga. Red-hot iron can burn all garbage and litter to ashes, but cold iron cannot do so. Similarly, an imposter devoid of devotion, who is likened to cold iron, cannot burn the propensity for inauspicious desires of the laymen associating with him.

On the other hand, a saint who is fully dedicated to the holy name is comparable to the red-hot iron. His devotion is analogous to the heat emanating from that iron. That heat can burn to ashes the propensity for inauspicious desires of those who come to him. His devotion is fully capable of purifying others’ hearts.

O devotees who are very beloved to Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu! Surrender to the holy name is like a sharp weapon. Very carefully preserve this weapon. No one will be able to harm even a single hair on your head. This is declared in the scriptures. Without chanting one hundred thousand names daily, or sixty-four rounds of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one cannot access this weapon. Doing this ensures one’s security in this lifetime and the next. Lord Śiva advises all living entities as follows: “I have obtained all success through the chanting of hari-nāma. Kāla, the time factor, devours everything and everyone, and is approaching. Forget about every other method! Only hari-nāma will save you. Give up all other duties and pursuits, and just chant hari-nāma.”

Only by the power of the holy name was Hanumān worthy of being worshipped. Through it, Nārada got the opportunity to visit innumerable universes, and it allowed the Four Kumāras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana, and Sanat) to attain immortality. In all four millenniums, the holy name is the tāraka-mantra, the mantra that delivers one from material existence. However, it is even more powerful in the age of Kali. Now, we have received such a straightforward, auspicious opportunity. If you miss this chance, you will repent later. Even the demigods hanker for this rare opportunity. They say, “If Lord Kṛṣṇa shows mercy to us and gives us birth in the land of Bhārata (India) during the age of Kali, then we will become eternally free from this painful demigod existence, and we will celebrate forever.”

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.

VAISHNAVA PRATHANA! (Prayer)

Doing this prayer 11 x times every day 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, realized 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.

From SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM Canto 3

The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Second Canto, Third Chapter, verse 24, also states that if a person does not cry or exhibit bodily changes after chanting the holy name of God without offense, it is to be understood that he is hardhearted and that therefore his heart does not change even after he chants the holy name of God, Hare Kṛṣṇa. These bodily changes can take place due to ecstasy when we offenselessly chant the holy names of God: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. The symptoms of happiness and tears in the eyes must appear in a person who has chanted the holy name offenselessly. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta it is said that if one does not develop these symptoms while chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, it is to be understood that he is still offensive.


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