Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 8: Attaining the Supreme: Text 8
paramaṁ puruṣaṁ divyaṁ
abhyāsa–yoga — in the practice of meditation; yuktena — being engaged; cetasā — by the mind and intelligence; na anya–gāminā — without their being deviated; paramam — the Supreme; puruṣam — Personality of Godhead; divyam — transcendental; yāti — one achieves; pārtha — O son of Pṛthā; anucintayan — constantly thinking of.
He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Pārtha, is sure to reach Me.
In this verse Lord Kṛṣṇa stresses the importance of remembering Him. One’s memory of Kṛṣṇa is revived by chanting the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice. While performing our worldly duties, if we attach our mind to God, who is all pure, by the practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibrations of the Lord our mind, ear, tongue also gets purified and by the mercy of Lord Krsna we will be liberated from the bondage of maya. (In BG 8.14) Krishna says for one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Pṛthā, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.
Lord Caitanya Maha prabhu preached Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the modern world and started the sankitana movement and gave great stress to chanting and hearing because if the common man faithfully hears from authoritative sources he can progress and it will help him transcend this material existence and go back home ,back to God head. Hence if one chants and hears the transcendental vibration Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare; the worship of the Supreme Lord will then undoubtedly take place. While chanting and dancing or hearing the holy name of the Lord, one automatically remembers the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and because there is no difference between the holy name and Kṛṣṇa, the chanter is immediately linked with Kṛṣṇa. Thus connected, a devotee develops his original attitude of service to the Lord. In this attitude of constantly serving Kṛṣṇa, which is called bhāva, he always thinks of Kṛṣṇa in many different ways like Narayana, Krishna, Rama etc. One who has attained this bhāva stage is no longer under the clutches of the illusory energy. When other spiritual ingredients, such as trembling, perspiration and tears, are added to this bhāva stage, the devotee gradually attains love of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore all men should take advantage of hearing from realized souls and gradually they will be able to understand everything. Lord Caitanya has said that in this age no one needs to change his position, but one should give up the endeavor to understand the Absolute Truth by speculative reasoning.
In pure bhakti-yoga the devotee desires nothing but Kṛṣṇa without any mixture of jñāna, karma or haṭha yoga. A pure devotee does not desire promotion to heavenly planets, nor does he seek oneness with the brahma-jyotir or salvation or liberation from material entanglement. He is called niṣkāma, which means he has no desire for self-interest. Bhakti-yogais very simple and pure and easy to perform. One can begin simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. The Lord is merciful to all, He is especially inclined toward those who always serve Him without deviation. In BG 10.10 Krishna says to those who are constantly devoted to serving me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to me
Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments that the Lord appears within the hearts of those who constantly desire to be with Him and worship Him with great love. By this appearance in their heart, they attain His direct association. He gives buddhi-yoga or bhakti to those who are constantly desirous of associating with Him. This means that the Lord alone causes buddhi-yoga. He alone appears within the functions of their minds. This buddhi-yoga cannot be obtained at all from any other source and it does not appear on its own. This means that realization of the Lord is given only by Him and received only by the devotee. By this bhakti the devotees attain His direct association as well as they attain Him.
Lord gives such a devotee sufficient intelligence so that ultimately he can attain Him in His spiritual kingdom. The special qualification of the pure devotee is that he is always thinking of Kṛṣṇa without deviation and without considering the time or place. There should be no impediments. He should be able to carry out his service anywhere and at any time. A pure devotee can live anywhere and create the atmosphere of Vṛndāvana by his devotional service. It was Śrī Advaita who told Lord Caitanya, “Wherever You are, O Lord – there is Vṛndāvana.”
In the human form of life, one is in material contamination thinking himself the enjoyer whereas the supreme enjoyer is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His different manifestations and plenary expansions as Nārāyaṇa, Vāsudeva, etc. This body can very nicely help the embodied soul to achieve the highest perfection. Prahlāda Mahārāja said that even though temporary, the body can give us the highest perfectional achievement. Bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra ca. This is the symptom of pure devotional service. A pure devotee is interested only in devotional service, not in material affairs. As a hungry man busily consuming a sumptuous plate of food is not interested in anything else happening around him. In fact, he considers any other topic or activity a disturbance to his concentration on the delicious meal. Similarly, as one advances in Kṛṣṇa consciousness one considers anything unrelated to the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa an obnoxious disturbance.
Sukadeva Gosvami tells Maharaja Parikshit in Bhagavatam, “My dear king if one is spontaneously attached to the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, it is to be understood that he has attained the highest perfectional stage”. It is specifically mentioned that the karmis who are aspiring after the fruitive results of their activities, the Jnanis who are aspiring to become one with the Supreme Person, and the yogis who are aspiring after mystic perfections can achieve the results of all perfectional stages simply by chanting the maha-mantra. Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī recommends the transcendental chanting of the holy name of the Lord. By offenseless chanting and hearing of the holy name of the Lord, one becomes acquainted with the transcendental form of the Lord, and then with the attributes of the Lord, and then with the transcendental nature of His pastimes, etc. One should constantly chant the holy name of the Lord after hearing it from authorities.
Concerning the remembrance of the Lord in the morning, prātaḥ-smṛti, in the early morning hours (known as brāhma-muhūrta) is good. One should get up and immediately chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. In this way, one should remember Kṛṣṇa. Some ślokas or prayers should also be chanted. By chanting, one immediately becomes auspicious and transcendental to the infection of material qualities. Actually one has to chant and remember Lord Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours daily, or as much as possible. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī instructs that chanting of the holy name of the Lord should be loudly done, and it should be performed offenselessly as well, as recommended in this verse from the Padma Purāṇa,
smartavyaḥ satataṁ viṣṇur vismartavyo na jātucit
sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur etayor eva kiṅkarāḥ
“Kṛṣṇa is the origin of Lord Viṣṇu. He should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the śāstras should be the servants of these two principles.”
In Brhad Naradiya Purana it is also said to chant and hear the holy name of the Lord. This is the simple process of meditation in which everyone can take part:
Harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
‘In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.’ The most important factor in this Age of Kali, which is an ocean of faults, is that one can be free from all contamination and become eligible to enter the kingdom of God simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. The self-realization that was achieved in the Satya millennium by meditation, in the Tretā millennium by the performance of different sacrifices, and in the Dvāpara millennium by worship of Lord Kṛṣṇa can be achieved in the Age of Kali simply by chanting the holy names, Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Srila Prabhupada, our Jagad guru explains that the living entity is bound by the subtle body, consisting of the mind, intelligence and false ego. Hence, at the time of death, the position of the mind becomes the cause for the next body. If a living being resists the dictation of the mind and engages the mind in the loving service of the Lord, the mind cannot degrade him. The duty of all human beings, therefore, is to keep the mind always engaged in hearing the glories of the Lord and chanting the holy name “sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ”. When the mind is engaged at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, the intelligence is purified, and then the intelligence gets inspiration from the Supersoul. Thus the living entity makes progress toward liberation from material bondage. A pure devotee who has been trained in the practice of chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord and His fame, qualities, form, paraphernalia and so on is never interested in elevation to the heavenly planets, even though such places are extremely dear even to the demigods. A devotee is always situated in the spiritual world. Therefore he does not desire anything. He is known as akāma, or desireless, because he has nothing to desire except to render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
One should learn to become the servant of those who are in knowledge of the Supreme Lord. Through good association one develops attachment for pure devotional service and thereby accepts a bona fide spiritual master and from him begins to hear and chant and observe the regulative principles of devotional service with faith, attachment and devotion and thus becomes engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord. This path of taking up devotional service is the only absolute path recommended in Bhagavad Gita for self-realization, for the attainment of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one is fortunate enough to take shelter of a pure devotee, hear from him about self-realization and follow in his footsteps, one will be gradually elevated to the position of a pure devotee. These vibrations automatically help us, otherwise the mind controls a person which is very flickering. To be controlled by the mind is to be ultimately controlled by the senses. He becomes Go-dasa and one who controls the senses is Go-swami, i.e. he is the master of the senses as defined by Rupa Swami. He says in (NOI 1st instruction):
vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ
etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ
sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt
A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.
One who chants the Hare Krsna mantra develops bhava, ecstasy, which is the point at which revelation begins. It is the preliminary stage in developing one’s original love for God. A neophyte disciple begins by hearing and chanting, associating with devotees and practicing the regulative principles, and thus he vanquishes all of his unwanted bad habits. In this way he develops attachment for Kṛṣṇa and cannot forget Kṛṣṇa even for a moment. Bhāva is almost the successful stage of spiritual life. A sincere student aurally receives the holy name from the spiritual master, and after being initiated he follows the regulative principles given by the spiritual master. When the holy name is properly served in this way, automatically the spiritual nature of the holy name spreads; in other words, the devotee becomes qualified in offenselessly chanting the holy name. When one is completely fit to chant the holy name in this way, he is eligible to make disciples all over the world. Then the entire world, under his influence, begins to chant the holy names of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.
A devotee does not live on the material plane – he lives in Kṛṣṇa. The holy name of the Lord and the Lord are non-different; therefore when a devotee chants Hare Kṛṣṇa; then Kṛṣṇa and His internal potency are dancing on the tongue of the devotee. When he offers Kṛṣṇa food, Kṛṣṇa directly accepts these eatables, and the devotee becomes Kṛṣṇa-ized by eating the remnants. Therefore the tongue should be engaged in chanting and in eating the Lord’s prasāda so that the other senses will be controlled. Chanting is the medicine, and prasāda is the diet. With these processes one can begin his service, and as the service increases, the Lord reveals more and more to the devotee. But there is no limit to His glories, and there is no limit to engaging oneself in the service of the Lord. When devotees take shelter in Lord Krsna they can attain the supreme destination.
To execute devotional service, one should always engage in hearing and chanting about Kṛṣṇa, or Lord Viṣṇu. In the process of evolution from the lower to the higher grade of living, the human form of life is a great boon. But māyā is so strong that in spite of achieving this human form of life, we are influenced by temporary material happiness, and we forget our goal of life. We are attracted by things which will cease to exist. The beginning of such attraction is the temporary body. In this horrible condition of life there is only one way of liberation — to engage in the activities of transcendental chanting and hearing of the holy name of the Supreme Lord: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Due to the practice of constant chanting, one will get purified, and at the end of his life he will be transferred to the kingdom of God.
Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments on this verse that a person who practices rememberance of Lord Krsna during his life will naturally remember Him at the time of death, and by that, he will attain Him. Therefore, remembering Krsna by the mind is the highest yoga. Abhyasa means to repeatedly remember Krsna. The mind should be engaged in this method or (yoga) of repetition of remembering Him. It should not wander to other objects of remembrance. By this practice one will conquer the nature of the mind.