Chapter 6 Dhyana Yoga Text 11 and 12
śucau deśe pratiṣṭhāpya
sthiram āsanam ātmanaḥ
tatraikāgraṁ manaḥ kṛtvā
Translation: To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kuśa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogī should then sit on it very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses and activities and fixing the mind on one point.
Chapter 6 begins with Krishna explaining how a neophyte yogi engages in Dhyana- yoga, which is Ashtanga yoga. Modern yoga is mainly based on physical activity. Krishna is saying that Ashtanga yoga is a mechanical meditative process that controls the body, mind and senses, abandoning all material desires and focus on one point which is Paramatma within our heart with firm faith and determination in the service of the Lord. So, when karma yoga increases in knowledge and renunciation, that stage is called Dhyana yoga. In this verse Srila Prabupad talks about the sacred places of pilgrimage like Prayaga, Mathura, Vrndavana, Hrsikesa and Hardwar and also about the sacred rivers like Yamuna and Ganges where the Yogis go to practice Yoga in solitude. But this is not possible for Western countries even though there are lots of yoga centers but they mainly focus in earning material benefits. But when one is not self- controlled and mind is not undisturbed, he cannot practice yoga. Because here the person will always be worrying about something, instead of living in present he will be either thinking about what had happened in past or will be thinking about what will happen in future which is always unknown. So, our stage of mind is constantly disturbed. This world is called as “Kunda”, a place full of anxieties. So, this type of Ashtanga Yoga was possible only in Satya Yuga not in Kali Yuga (the present yuga, or age), when people in general are short-lived, slow in spiritual realization and always disturbed by various anxieties, the best means of spiritual realization is chanting the holy name of the Lord.
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
Translation: “In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
Here in this Shloka it is repeatedly telling us there is no other way in the age of kali rather than repeating the holy names of the Lord continuously. Purpose of repeating the verse is to emphasize an ordinary person the importance of chanting. Unless a message is repeated 7 times it does not resonate so repetition is important. Repetition does not ruin the prayer. Since this is spiritual mantra and by chanting the taste for chanting increases every day because it cleanses our heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death.
In the verse mentioned above it is said “yogam ātma-viśuddhaye”. “Yogam” means to practice of yoga, “Atma” means soul, “Vissuddhaya” means is to clarify. The end results we should expect from yoga is purifying our heart.
Sometimes when new devotees come to the temple or if we take the examples of various Guru Maharaja’s in temple, their first duty given by the temple is either to clean the vessels in the kitchen or to sweep the temple floor. This kind of services teaches the devotees to be humble and humility is a very important thing we should learn from our Disciplic succession. When you are cleaning the temple pot and pans there is Krishna’s mercy in there and actually it cleanses our heart. In Sri Siksastakam it says that
Translation: Glory to the sri-krishna-sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death.
So, what cleanses the heart is Sri Krishna Sankirtanam. Not only the chanting of the holy name is more powerful but when we chant in as a congregation or together it will become even more powerful. Sometimes people criticize why we have so many temples. But the real reason is the association of the devotees, the impact due to it the purification of heart takes place for a life time. This, is purely transcendental. So many people who does not know anything about Krishna, who were born in different countries got the opportunity to know Krishna though book distribution or through various means like reading a Bhagavad Gita book from the Library and getting interested to know about Krishna, contacting the temple authorities who in turn guide them to become perfect devotees. Whatever we do in this life times you will leave everything in this world, all your possession, name, fame etc. What you carry with you is the blue print you have created in your soul, no matter where you are born. Acharya’s doesn’t ask for liberation. They only ask whatever life they have they just want to serve the Lord. A pure devotee is not in a rush. We have to use the free will given by the Krishna to pick up this process and to try to attain liberation. This is not a race. When time is right Krishna will automatically reveal to you.
Sri Caitanya Caritamrta has an answer why repeating the chanting of holy name of the Lord is very important. Because purification of heart takes place. In Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Antya-Lila Chapter 20, verse 8 and verse 9 it is said
harṣe prabhu kahena, — “śuna svarūpa-rāma-rāya
nāma-saṅkīrtana — kalau parama upāya
Translation: In great jubilation, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “My dear Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāmānanda Rāya, know from Me that chanting the holy names is the most feasible means of salvation in this Age of Kali.
saṅkīrtana-yajñe kalau kṛṣṇa-ārādhana
sei ta’ sumedhā pāya kṛṣṇera caraṇa
Translation: “In this Age of Kali, the process of worshiping Kṛṣṇa is to perform sacrifice by chanting the holy name of the Lord. One who does so is certainly very intelligent, and he attains shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
Srila Prabupad had said to his disciples that chant 16 rounds and follow regulative principle without offence, I assure that you will go back to God head in this life time. It will take time to get purification of heart. It is not that easy, but sure, there will be result only thing is we have to try hard sincerely chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. So, at the time of death we will remember Krishna.
In Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Antya-Lila Chapter 20, verse 13
saṅkīrtana haite pāpa-saṁsāra-nāśana
Translation: “By performing congregational chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, one can destroy the sinful condition of material existence, purify the unclean heart and awaken all varieties of devotional service.
So, we should not miss this opportunity. We are not able to see the Lord with our material eyes because we have not yet purified. Arjuna had the vision to see the Lord. When Krishna had gone to Hastinapur to ask 5 villages for Pandavas, not war, he showed his form but who could see this. Only the pure devotees could see that. This shows that if our heart is cleansed, we will be able to see the Lord. Human life is very rare, out of it only the fortunate ones come under the association of devotees. Simple by chanting the name Krishna one is free from undesirable habits. And it awakens the love for Krishna within our heart. People sometimes worship Durga Mata and Lakshmi Devi to awaken good fortune. But this awaking of all the good fortune comes when one chant the holy name of the Lord. Good fortune not means getting good health, wealth, beauty, power but the opportunity to chant the Holy name of the Lord, where by our heart and soul gets purified and we will be able to transcends the dualities of this material world and reach Krishna Lokha where we can love and serve Krishna and attain transcendental bliss.
We should have a firm belief in Lord Caitanya Maha Prabhu’s words. In Sri Caitanya Caritamrta Antya-Lila, Chapter 7 Prakashananda Saraswati who was a Mayavadi Sanyasi, for them the study of Vedas is the ultimate. He is telling Mahaprabhu, you look brilliant as if Narayan himself. Will you kindly explain the reason why you have adopted the behavior of the lower-class people? Mahaprabhu was chanting at that time. So, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied to Prakashananda Saraswati. My dear sir, kindly hear the reasons. My spiritual master considered me as a fool, therefore he chastised me. Here Mahaprabhu is representing himself as a No1 fool only for our benefit to indicate that in the present age of Kali is the age of fools, and rascals. We are all fools because it is not possible to attain perfection by reading just Vedanta philosophy. So Ishvarapuri, Mahaprabhu’s spiritual master said you are a fool, you are not qualified to study Vedanta philosophy therefor you must always chant the holy name of Krishna this is the essence of the mantras of the Vedic times. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of God head and the Spiritual master of the entire universe, he does not need any Guru and he is the cause of all causes, even Lord Krishna also had a Guru. Here the Lord nevertheless took the position of a disciple to teach us by example us how a devotee should strictly follow the orders of the spiritual master, execute the spiritual duties and always chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra and following the regulative principles.
In this age no one is competent to study Vedanta. Therefore, it is better to chant the the holy name of the Lord which is the essence of all the Vedic knowledge. As Krishna himself confirms in Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 15, verse 15
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭomattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ cavedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyovedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
Translation: I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.
This, verse tells us everything culminates with Krishna, he is the knower of all the Vedas. Those who are addicted to fruitive activities, material satisfaction and speculative knowledge does not understand the value of holy name of Lord Krishna which is always completely pure. One who has taken the shelter of the holy name of the Lord which is identical with the Lord does not have to study the Vedanta philosophy at all , for if he just chants the two syllables “HARI” for he has already completed the study of all the Vedas like Rigveda, Yajurveda, Atharva Veda and Sama Veda. In Bhagavatam chapter 33 it says if a person born in the family of dog eater takes to the chanting of the holy name of Krishna it is to be understood that in his previous life, he must have executed all kinds of austerities, penances and yagnas. For example some people are not fortunate to be born in a vegetarian family like people in the West and in other Asian countries like China but in this life they had got the opportunity to know about Krishna, to chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra through book various Book distributors also through Gurus why because they would have done severe austerities and penances in past life as said before. That is why in our Vedic culture we believe life after life. We would have trapped in different bodies of life out of 8.7 million species of life, but out of all these species the only form which help us to elevate, understand and build that connection with Krishna is this human form, because our consciousness is awakened. In other forms the conscious is dormant it is almost impossible to build that connection with Krishna
So, then the question arises why we should read scriptures when chanting is important in this age of Kali. It is because some Sahajya (sahaj means easy) people takes everything for granted, considering themselves as elevated Vaishnavas. They do not care even to touch the Vedanta sutra or Vedanta philosophy. The real Vaishnava should study Vedanta philosophy but if after studying the Vedanta one who does not adopt the process of chanting is no better than the Mayavadi. One should not be a Mayavadi but yet not be unaware of the subject matter of Vedanta philosophy. Indeed, Caitanya Mahaprabhu why did he chanted the Hare Krishna Mahamantra when he himself was a learned scholar. He exhibited his knowledge of Vedanta in his discourses with Prakashananda Saraswati. Thus, it is to be understood that a Vaishnava should be completely conversant with Vedanta philosophy yet he should not think by studying Vedanta is all in all and be unattached to the holy name. A devotee must know the importance and simultaneously understand the Vedanta philosophy and chanting the Holy Name of the Lord. If by studying Vedanta if one become an impersonalist then the purpose is defeated. Vedanta, here” Ved” means knowledge, and “Anta” means end. The ultimate end of all knowledge is to know Krishna and understand that the name of Krishna is not different from Krishna himself. In this age of Kali, he has vested all his energy in this holy name. If we are inattentive while chanting is because we are not fully convinced, that is why our mind keeps wandering while we chant. We have to do resilient practice to bring our wandering mind also should have 100 percent faith in the Holy name of the Lord and chant attentively without any offences. So, simply by chanting the Holy name of Krishna one can get freedom from material existence, and one will be able to see the lotus feet of the lord.
This material world is full of dualities. There are somethings which are good of us but too much of the same things can also create an impact or be detrimental to us. The only one thing which is always good for us is chanting of Hare Krishna Maha Mantra because it is transcendental, it is spiritual not from any material platform. It is definitely suggested herein that simply by hearing the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one gets attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and as soon as this is effected the symptoms of the material disease disappear.The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people does not know this, and therefore the learned Vyāsadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth. In Srimad- Bhagavatam Canto 1.7.6. one can overcome all misconceptions and entanglement in the material world just by practicing Bhakti yoga. And the holy name of the Lord and the Lord are identical and one who is completely free from the clutches of the Maya can understand this. There is verse in Sri Shikstakam
anarthopaśamaṁ sākṣādbhakti-yogam adhokṣajelokasyājānato vidvāṁścakre sātvata-saṁhitām
Tanslation: The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people does not know this, and therefore the learned Vyāsadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth.
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrishi tava kripa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrisham ihajani nanuragaha
Translation: O my Lord, your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names, like Krsna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
There are no hard and fast rules for chanting the holy name of the Lord. You can chant anywhere and everywhere. We are fortunate to be born in a good family, in a good place and got the opportunity to know about Krishna and chant his holy name. But some people are not that fortunate. They are born is a poverty-stricken family, no food, no shelter, no clothing etc. Since due to Krishna’s blessing we did not have to face these kinds of problems which these unfortunate souls are facing. So, we should thank Krishna for our life and should chant our rounds sincerely. When Krishna did not count whatever blessing he had showered upon us like that way we should not do our Japa just to complete the 16 rounds and put our bead bag away. In fact, we should keep on chanting his holy name wherever we are and in all circumstances.
To conclude Bhakti yoga or Krishna consciousness is the ultimate perfection of all yoga. We, have to take this process seriously. Srimad Bhagavatam confirms that if anyone who does not render service and neglects his duty un to the primeval Lord who is the source of all living entities will certainly fall down from his constitutional position. We don’t know how many million times we have taken birth in other species and finally are fortunate enough to get a human birth and know this process and to come in contact with devotees. This is very rare and this is indeed a privilege and of Course every privilege comes up with a huge responsibility. So, we have to take this process seriously so that we may not fall down again. If we fall down again from this human birth our consciousness will become dormant again and also, we have to go through the full cycle of birth and death in different species of life and by luck take birth again as a human being. So, this is the opportunity. Whether we will get liberation this birth itself or not our goal should be we should imprint our soul with bhakti towards the Lord and do devotional service so how many life time we come back we come back to serve the Lord. And one day Krishna will deliver us. In fact, Srila Prabupad had said in spiritual life either you are moving forward or backwards nothing is stagnant. So, let’s take the best use of this opportunity to chant the holy name of the lord and get liberation in this birth itself.