His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
By Makhancora Dasa
Many times people think that when one takes to spiritual life, his material set-up may become somehow neglected or that they will loose or miss something in this regard. As usual, the opposite is the fact and in this short article we shall see only a fragment of the benefits that regular chanting brings to those who take it up with even preliminary interest. When we water the root, leaves and branches are nourished automatically.
Chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is a plea of the spirit soul to the Supreme Spirit, Krsna and His internal potency, Radha, to kindly accept one into Their eternal loving, transcendental devotional service. In that realm, there is no trace of material qualities and a devotee on the topmost platform experiences this eternal, fully cognizant and blissful state without any attachment to the temporary body and objects connected with it. Even before coming to the platform of pure devotional service, there is a platform of brahma-bhuta, where one does not identify with the body and as a result there is no lamentation and no hankering (Bg. 18.54), which are, obviously, the concomitants of materially conditioned consciousness. For the general mass of spiritually inclined people, who are just on the threshold of entering the realm of bhakti, with all their expectations, motivations, (mis)conceptions and desires, seeing the following connections may also serve as an inspiration to lessen their doubts and go on extracting all the possible benefits of approaching Krsna, the all-merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 2.3.10)
A few examples:
One of the basic devotional practices is chanting round the beads, the japa-mala. When chanting on the mala, the practitioner holds the beads between his thumb and the middle finger, going from one bead to another, chanting Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. Many may know, that on the thumb, there are areas, which, according to acupressure approach, when pressed or massaged, positively influence the function of brain, specifically the pineal and pituitary glands. One may search more info about their functions on the internet.
While working as a psychologist in a hospital, I used to teach patients “abdominal breathing” techniques. The catch there was, that there are two branches of nervous system influencing the organs in the body, but also the level of excitement of the mind. One of them - the sympathetic nervous system is activated by inhaling and is connected with stimulation of the body and mind, the other one - parasympathetic NS is activated by exhaling and it´s effect is relaxing. The technique was that patients would learn to breathe into their abdomen using the diaphragm and the time ratio of inhale/exhale would be 1:2. In other words, prolonged exhaling relaxes the body and mind. This is a very simplified explanation, in case of interest just make a little research. Now, when chanting Hare Krsna on the beads, chanting of the mantra is naturally accompanied by prolonged exhales as the air and sound leave the mouth. From this point of view, along with the transcendental meditation of chanting the Holy Name of Krsna, one automatically practices this very effective breathing exercise with vast psycho-physiological connections.
The following is an abstract from the thesis by our Godbrother Dhira Govinda Prabhu, who is a PhD. in psychology. He has made a scientific study on the effects of chanting the Maha-mantra and this is the output:
“Effects Of The Hare Krsna Maha Mantra On Stress, Depression, And The Three Gunas
The author conducted a 3-group study on the effects of chanting the hare krsna maha mantra on stress, depression, and the three modes of nature- sattva, rajas, and tamas- described in the Vedas as the basis for human psychology. Sixty-two subjects, self-selected through newspaper advertisements in a Southeastern university town, completed the study. Average age was 24.63 years, with 31 males and 31 females participating. Stress was measured with the Index of Clinical Stress, depression was measured with the Generalized Contentment Scale, and the modes of nature, or gunas, were measured with the Vedic Personality Inventory. Subjects were tested at pretest, posttest, and followup, with testing times separated by four weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to a maha mantra group, an alternate mantra group, and a control group.
Subjects in each of the chanting groups chanted their mantra approximately 25 minutes each day. The researcher concocted a mantra as the alternate mantra, though subjects in the alternate group thought it was a genuine Vedic mantra. Primary hypotheses of the study were based on Vedic theory, and stated that the maha mantra group would increase sattva, and decrease stress, depression, rajas and tamas, significantly more than the other two groups. ANCOVA results, controlling for gender and age, supported these hypotheses at p<.05 for all dependent variables except rajas, with effect sizes (eta2) for the four variables whose results supported the hypothesis ranging from .21 to .33. The author suggests that the maha mantra has potential for utilization in clinical areas similar to those where other interventions of Eastern origin have been successful, such as treatment of stress, depression, and addictions.”
“The results were consistent with the teachings of the Vedic literature, which states that chanting the maha-mantra will increase one's qualities in the mode of goodness and diminish the effects of the mode of ignorance, such as depression, and the mode of passion, such as stress. Why didn't the mode of passion change significantly in the period from pretest to follow-up? Vedic theory describes the mode of passion as the intermediate mode between goodness and ignorance. So I hypothesized that for the maha-mantra chanters some of the passion converted into goodness, and some of the ignorance became passion, and thus the overall passion level did not change. We can also understand from the Vedas that the positive effects of the maha-mantra would diminish when the maha-mantra group had not chanted for 28 days. That explains the less significant results at follow-up.” (BTG Jan 1, 2000 | Dhira Govinda Dasa, Holy Name, Volume-34 Number-01)
Another effect of chanting Hare Krsna is that if your house is infested by ghosts, they will not be able to stay there when exposed to the vibration of the Holy Name. The most famous example of this is the “clearing” of John Lennon´s estate at Tittenhurst in England.
“It is practically experienced. I know that the ghost, if you go in a house ghostly haunted, if you chant Hare Krsna mantra, they'll go away. They cannot tolerate. In my life there was several incidences like that. In my household life, I was doing business in Lucknow. So there was one house, very big house, worth thousands of rupees' rent, but it was ghostly haunted. So nobody would take that house. I took it at two hundred rupees, (laughter) and very big house. And I was... All the servants, they complained, "Sir, there is ghost." So I was chanting. He was living in several spots, especially on the gate side. So I could understand, but I would chant Hare Krsna, and I was saved. Everyone was saved. There was... And, say, in 1969 I was guest in the house of John Lennon in London. So there was a ghost in... It was a big plot. There was a guest house. So they complained, "Sir, here is ghost." So I advised them to chant Hare Krsna, and the ghost went away. Yes. This is fact. When there is Hare Krsna chanting, these ghostly, demonic living entities, they'll not be able to stay there. They'll go away.”
(Srila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita 16.7 class -- Hawaii, February 3, 1975)
The sankirtan can even subdue a plague epidemic!
“How nature can be controlled? Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te [Bg. 7.14]. This is the law of nature. If you become disobedient to God, then prakrti or nature will give you trouble in so many ways. And as soon as you become submissive, surrender to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there will be no more natural disturbances. I have heard in 1900, 1898 -- I was born in 1896 -- so I have heard, I have seen also, I remember, in Calcutta there was a very virulent type of plague epidemic in 1898. So Calcutta became devastated. All people practically left Calcutta. Daily hundreds and hundreds of people were dying. I was one year old or one and a half year old. I have seen what was happening, but there was plague epidemic. That I did not know. I, later on, I heard from my parents. So one babaji, he organized sankirtana, Hare Krsna sankirtana. When there was no other way, so he organized sankirtana all over Calcutta. And in the, in sankirtana, all people, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Parsi, everyone joined. And they were coming, they were going road to road, street to street, entering in every house. So that Mahatma Gandhi Road, 151, you have seen. The sankirtana party we received very nicely. There was light, and I was very small, I was also dancing, I can remember. Just like our small children sometimes dances. I remember. I could see only up to the knees of the persons who were joined. So the plague subsided. This is a fact. Everyone who knows history of Calcutta, the plague was subsided by sankirtana movement.
Of course, we do not recommend that sankirtana should be used for some material purpose, that is nama-aparadha, nama-aparadha. Shama sa bhakti kriya (?) pramana. Sankirtana, you can utilize sankirtana for some material purpose, but that is not allowed. That is nama-aparadha, because nama, the holy name of Krsna, and Krsna, they are identical. You cannot utilize Krsna for your personal, material benefit. That is aparadha. Krsna is the Lord. You cannot engage the Lord for your service. Similarly you cannot utilize the holy name of the Lord for some material purpose. That is not allowed. So anyway, because ye yatha mam prapadyante [Bg. 4.11]. If you wanted some material benefit by chanting Hare Krsna mantra, you'll get it, but that is nama-aparadha. You won't get the ecstasy of loving God. That is the aim of chanting Hare Krsna mantra: how you shall elevate yourself to the platform of loving God. That is required. Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje [SB 1.2.6]. Not for utilizing the holy name for some material purpose. But this happened, we have got experience, I have heard, I have seen.”
(Prabhupada, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.5 class -- Mayapura, June 20, 1973)
Human beings subside on foodstuff which is ultimately produced from rain and sunshine. Modern materialistic man may have his concept of where the rain is coming from, he may be able to explain the physics of rainfall and circulation of water on planet Earth, but the ultimate cause is hidden to his eyes. Nevertheless it is explained in the Bhagavad-gita:
“All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rain. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.”
Srila Prabhupada says in his purport:
Food grains or vegetables are factually eatables. The human being eats different kinds of food grains, vegetables, fruits, etc., and the animals eat the refuse of the food grains and vegetables, grass, plants, etc. Human beings who are accustomed to eating meat and flesh must also depend on the production of vegetation in order to eat the animals. Therefore, ultimately, we have to depend on the production of the field and not on the production of big factories. The field production is due to sufficient rain from the sky, and such rains are controlled by demigods like Indra, sun, moon, etc., and they are all servants of the Lord. The Lord can be satisfied by sacrifices; therefore, one who cannot perform them will find himself in scarcity—that is the law of nature. Yajna, specifically the sankirtana-yajna prescribed for this age, must therefore be performed to save us at least from scarcity of food supply. (Bg. 3.14)
Ok. Now that we have captured the attention on how much we can improve here and there in our conditioned material existence by chanting Hare Krsna, let us come to the real point, which is, as indicated by Srila Prabhupada above, to become completely free from all material desires. This whole material world rests on the desire of the living entity to enjoy it through the false identification of the self with the body. “Pleasure of the senses is my happiness and whatever facilitates that position is good for me.” This is called maya. Actually we are not this body, but spirit soul and our constitutional position is sat-cit-ananda-vigraha - eternity, knowledge and bliss in an original spiritual form. Chanting of Hare Krsna Maha-mantra is not a process by which we should aspire to accomplish some material goals produced in the flickering mind, whether it be better health, performance ability, psychological composure, more pleasing environment or relationships. This is all set up by our karma, nevertheless, and cannot be changed in that sense. The only way how to influence our position in this causal world is to surrender to the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. Then, by His personal taking charge of the devotee, all the sub-aspects of our existence here are adjusted automatically and favorably for our further spiritual progress. This “favorably” might not necessarily mean that which we imagine to be favorable for us. As Srila Prabhupada says in the concluding quote below: “If a devotee maintains some material desire and at the same time very sincerely desires to engage at the lotus feet of Krsna, Krsna may directly give him unalloyed devotional service and take away all his material desires and possessions. This is the Lord's special favor to devotees.” Krsna can just render a devotee completely helpless in this world, so the only solace and shelter that is to be found are the divine lotus feet of Krsna. And that is His special favor. Unfortunate people will not be able to see this mercy of Krsna and will try to go on adjusting things in the spirit of “I” and “my”, in the spirit of controlling and enjoying a.k.a. “I am God”, even after understanding so many instructions on the subject matter of devotional service and chanting of the holy names. The ultimate benefit of chanting Hare Krsna is purification of this false godhood idea, reviving our association with the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna in eternity, consciousness and ecstasy and freedom from the vicious samsara cycle of birth, death, old-age and disease.
sa vidhasyati te kaman
netareti matir mama
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is very merciful to the poor, will fulfill all of your desires, for devotional service unto Him is infallible. Any method other than devotional service is useless. That is my opinion.
There are three kinds of men, who are called akama, moksa-kama and sarva-kama. One who tries to get liberation from this material world is called moksa-kama, one who wants to enjoy this material world to its fullest extent is called sarva-kama, and one who has fulfilled all his desires and has no further material desires is called akama. A bhakta has no desire. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. He is purified and free from material desires. The moksa-kami wants to achieve liberation by merging into the existence of the Supreme Brahman, and because of this desire to merge into the existence of the Lord, he is not yet pure. And since those who want liberation are impure, what to speak of the karmis, who have so many desires to fulfill? Nonetheless, the sastra says:
akamah sarva-kamo va
yajeta purusam param
"Whether one desires everything or nothing or desires to merge into the existence of the Lord, he is intelligent only if he worships Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by rendering transcendental loving service." (SB 2.3.10)
Kasyapa Muni saw that his wife, Aditi, had some material desires for the welfare of her sons, but still he advised her to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In other words, everyone, regardless of whether he is a karmi, jnani, yogi or bhakta, should invariably take shelter of the lotus feet of Vasudeva and render transcendental loving service unto Him so that all his desires will be duly fulfilled. Krsna is dina-anukampana: He is very merciful to everyone. Therefore if one wants to fulfill his material desires, Krsna helps him. Of course, sometimes if a devotee is very sincere, the Lord, as a special favor to him, refuses to fulfill his material desires and directly blesses him with pure, unalloyed devotional service. It is said in Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.38-39):
krsna kahe, -- 'ama bhaje, mage visaya-sukha
amrta chadi' visa mage, -- ei bada murkha
ami -- vijna, ei murkhe 'visaya' kene diba?
sva-caranamrta diya 'visaya' bhulaiba
"Krsna says, 'If one engages in My transcendental loving service but at the same time wants the opulence of material enjoyment, he is very, very foolish. Indeed, he is just like a person who gives up ambrosia to drink poison. Since I am very intelligent, why should I give this fool material prosperity? Instead I shall induce him to take the nectar of the shelter of My lotus feet and make him forget illusory material enjoyment.' "If a devotee maintains some material desire and at the same time very sincerely desires to engage at the lotus feet of Krsna, Krsna may directly give him unalloyed devotional service and take away all his material desires and possessions. This is the Lord's special favor to devotees. Otherwise, if one takes to Krsna's devotional service but still has material desires to fulfill, he may become free from all material desires, as Dhruva Maharaja did, but this may take some time. However, if a very sincere devotee wants only Krsna's lotus feet, Krsna directly gives him the position of suddha-bhakti, unalloyed devotional service.