Kirtan--Humility and Submission
One can chant the holy name of the Lord in a
of mind, thinking one's self lower than the straw in the street; one
should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false
prestige and should be ready to offer all respects to others. In such a
state of mind, one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.--Shikshastaka
Don't Hold Your Breath
Our first consideration should be how to chant Hare
constantly just as our heart beats constantly. The heart is vibrating,
the lungs are vibrating, the moon is vibrating, the entire creation is
vibrating. As everything vibrates, so we must practice always vibrating
God's name: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Chanting Hare Krishna
should become automatic, like breathing.
Most people breathe improperly, and this creates
disturbances in the body. Breathing is the basis of life, because air
sustains life. One may live for a short time without food or water, but
one cannot exist without air. Similarly, without the holy name, one
cannot have spiritual life. Kirtan is to spiritual life what rain is to
agriculture. There must be Kirtan--the chanting of Hare Krishna,
chanting on our beads (rosary) or Sankirtan (congregational chanting).
It is easier to chant in the association of
others who are
chanting. Good association is very conducive to spiritual life, because
such association gives one strength and enthusiasm. When you become
tired of chanting, the others are still chanting. We will see that when
we are chanting Hare Krishna very attentively, we will get along with
other people. In this age of irreligion and quarrel, no one gets along
with anyone else, because no one is chanting the Lord's holy name.
The devotees of Krishna practice bhakti-yoga.
devotion, or love, and yoga means the process of linking one's self
with the Supreme. One of the practices of bhakti-yoga is to rise one
and a half hours before sunrise. While everyone is sleeping--dead and
oblivious--the devotee gets up and chants, "Hare Krishna, Hare
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare
Hare." At this time, the ethers are very pure. Nonsensical people
dead asleep, so they are not causing any disturbance. This is a very
conducive time for spiritual practice. Krishna says:
What is night for all beings is the
awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all
beings is night for the introspective sage.--Bhagavad-gita
Within a few hours, people will drive their
have coffee and cigarettes and turn on the radio or television. The
freeways get jammed, because everyone is competing to manipulate the
material energy and enjoy their senses. By the time the materialist
starts his day, the devotee has already gathered enough spiritual
strength to tolerate the pandemonium and execute the day's activities.
In the evening, devotees return to the temple to bathe, dress, assemble
and rejuvenate or purify themselves from their daily activities in the
world by having Kirtan.
Purify Your Mind
After a hard day's work, a coal miner, mechanic or
goes home, takes a good hot bath and feels rejuvenated, but the real
bath is to chant Hare Krishna. We have to purify our mind from all the
rubbish that we accumulate in the course of the day by chanting Hare
Krishna. In the morning we again rise at three-thirty, chant Hare
Krishna and purify our mind from sleep, foolish dreams and lethargy. In
this way, we begin another day of devotional service. This is the
process for spiritual life, a life based on Kirtan.
One does not have to live in a temple to
life. One can perform Kirtan wherever he is, whatever one's occupation.
If we perform Kirtan on a regular basis, one day we will realise that
we cannot bear to live without chanting. We will come to see, "I'm
addicted to chanting. I can't do anything but chant." When we come to
this point, we will be perfect.
Kirtan is not just banging some cymbals together
absentmindedly chanting. Kirtan means calling out for the Lord in a
mood of helplessness, humility and submission. Development of a
submissive attitude will enable one to chant the holy name of Krishna
properly. One can vibrate the transcendental sound with feeling--"O
Krishna! Hare Krishna!" Suppose you were in danger, in great
desperation you would call out, "Help! Help!" People call out, "Help!"
because they do not know Krishna. If they knew that only Krishna could
help, then they would call, "O Hare Krishna! Krishna, please help me!"
That is communion. Communion means the conditioned soul is crying for
help--"O my dear Krishna, please help me. I have fallen into this ocean
of material existence, of repeated birth and death. Please help me,
engage me. Give me some place in Your devotional service. Pick me up.
Help!" This should be the sincere attitude of the chanter, then Krishna
Krishna expresses this Himself in the following
verse of Bhagavad-gita:
Proportionately, as one surrenders unto
reveal Myself to him.--Bhagavad-gita 4.11
Krishna is not an idea. Krishna is not a
concept. Krishna is not a stone. Krishna is a person, just as you are a
person and I am a person. Krishna is the Supreme Person, and He will
reciprocate with us personally, if we approach Him, sincerely calling
His holy name.
As conditioned souls, we are limited in our
capacity to receive
and transmit messages, but Krishna is unlimited. The act of chanting or
calling on Krishna with feeling is heard by Krishna spiritually, not
materially. The sound which we hear--Krishna--is the external feature
of the holy name. That is not really Krishna. The real substance of the
holy name is the feeling, the spirit with which we express or vibrate
"Hare Krishna! O Krishna!"--not simply the mechanical sound vibration
which we perceive with the mundane ear, the ear of flesh and bones.
The holy name is feeling. That feeling is called
Bhava is the attitude or the sincerity with which the Lord's name is
chanted. Bhava cannot be heard with the mundane ear; it can only be
heard by the soul. As the Supreme Soul, Krishna can hear the quality of
our chanting. The quality of our chanting is more important than the
quantity of our chanting.
When many people assemble and chant Hare
become inspired by one another, temporarily surrender their false
prestige and chant Hare Krishna in a sincere mood. In Sankirtan, or
group chanting, Kirtan becomes very effective, powerful, dynamic,
inspiring and purifying. In a spirit of brotherhood, the wayward
children cry out to their common Father.
When Krishna hears such sincere crying, even
though His name
may not be pronounced very nicely or the Kirtan may not be musically
very correct, Krishna responds to that sincere, heartfelt feeling.
There is nothing rigid in spiritual life. Love is higher than the law.
One may not know the name of his father correctly, but when there is
love and affection, whatever we say, he responds to it. This response
is what the soul is always hankering for. Our heart wants to be
satisfied with genuine love and affection. When we are genuinely
affectionate towards Krishna, He reciprocates, and this exchange occurs
Fire of the Holy Dance
Although unknowingly one may be hankering for
Krishna sees a conditioned soul is hankering for the Supreme, then He
reveals Himself. That is how one comes in contact with Krishna
consciousness. Introduction to Krishna consciousness happens in an
imperceptible, divine and transcendental way. It is descending. It is
not that we find Krishna; Krishna finds us. God is not an object like a
diamond or a ruby which is lying and waiting to be discovered. God is
the supreme conscious being, the Supreme Person. When He sees that
someone needs and wants Him, then Krishna pulls away the veil of maya
and reveals Himself.
When Kirtan is performed with great attention,
sincerity, then Krishna is actually present. Krishna actually descends
into the assembly of chanters, singers and dancers. When Krishna is
present, then we become purified. That is the only time in our lives
when we experience actual satisfaction and relief from being haunted by
our material desires and sinful reactions. Through Kirtan, we shed all
our fears and anxieties. In the fire of the holy dance, all sins are