Navadwip, India — Monday, February 7th

Where do we go?

We're chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra — sixteen rounds a day! — so we just know that we're going to go "back to Godhead" at the end of this lifetime, right?

According to Srila Guru Maharaj, our ultimate fate depends on our consciousness; our final destination is not determined so much by the repetition of the mantra ("firing blank mantras"), but on our inner conception of the meaning of the maha-mantra.

...Our sampradaya has given [a] higher consideration. A deeper understanding will reveal that the Hare Krishna mantra is not at all concerned with Rama lila. In the name "Rama" within the Hare Krishna mantra, Gaudiya Vaishnavas find Radha-Ramana Rama. That means, "Krishna, who gives pleasure (ramana) to Srimati Radharani." In our conception, the Hare Krishna mantra is wholesale Krishna consciousness, not Rama consciousness....

And the inner conception of the mantra is responsible for our spiritual attainment. When one pronounces the name "Rama," if he means Dasarathi Rama, his attraction will take him there, to Ayodhya; if he means Parasurama, he will be attracted to another place. And if Rama means Radha-Ramana Rama, he will go to Goloka. The inner conception of the devotee will guide him to his destination.

Loving Search for the Lost Servant

It is the same with the brahma-gayatri mantra. If your conception of

bhargo devasya dhimahi

is "to meditate (dhimahi) on the light (bhargo) of God (devasya)," and my conception is "only exclusive service (dhimahi) to Srimati Radharani (bhargo) will give us Krishna (devasya)," then our spiritual destinations must be different.

How can it be otherwise?

If we understand savitur/bargho to be the light of this world (the sun), and we think that devasya refers to the sun-god (Surya) or the creator-god (Brahma) of this universe, then our destination can be no higher than the highest heavenly planet of Brahma-loka.

And if we think that savitur/bargho is the light (jyoti) of the all-pervading, non-differentiated, universal consciousness (Brahman), then our consciousness will be arrested and incarcerated in that homogeneous, effulgent prison (brahma-jyoti).

But if, by the grace of Srila Guru Maharaj, we understand that the real, inner meaning of the brahma-gayatri mantra is,

gayatri muralista-kirtana-dhanam / radha-padam dhimahi

Krishna's flute exclusively sings the song of service to the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani...

and that when we chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, this is the proper conception, the real meaning of our prayer,

"Hare (O Srimati Radharani, please engage me as Your servant in Your service to) Krishna. Hare (O Supreme Mistress of Service, please allow me to assist You, in some small way, in Your service to your Lover, Radha-Ramana) Rama..."

then we will achieve the highest goal possible: positive engagement in the service world, at the holy lotus feet of the Mistress of Service, Srimati Radharani.

Krishna consciousness is not a ritual. It's not like we can just chant the maha-mantra perfunctorily, with a minimum of effort or reflection, and still expect to go back to Godhead. It is not the number of times that we mumble the mantra, or the sing-song repetition, enunciation, or cadence of the words that takes us to our destination, but the inner conception of the mantra that Srila Guru Maharaj has given us.

Srila Guru Maharaj stressed that the real potency or effectiveness of the maha-mantra is not so much in the quantity of the rounds we chant, but in the quality. (Of course, this does not mean that we should ignore Srila Gurudeva's order to chant the prescribed minimum number of rounds every day — malika upabasa na!)

The maha-mantra does not take everybody who chants the Holy Name to the same destination. Karmis, jnanis, yogis, and mayavadis also chant the maha-mantra and meditate on the brahma-gayatri mantra, but their motivation (and therefore their destination) is not the same as that of the bhaktas.

Chanting the maha-mantra will give us what we want. If all we want is a better life in this world (karma), the mantra will fulfill that desire; if we want to be karma-free, to be liberated from this world of suffering (jnana), the mantra can help us achieve that; if we want mastery over this physical world (yoga), meditating on the mantra can help us acquire mystic siddhis; and even if we want to end it all, to obliterate our identities by merging our individual existences into the universal consciousness (brahma-jyoti), the mantra will oblige.

But if we want positive engagement, to serve in the land of dedication (bhakti), then if we meditate on the radha-dasyam conception that we received from Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Gurudeva, according to our sincerity, the mantra will unerringly guide us to that supreme domain. The same mantra will take us to different destinations according to our subliminal desires, or our covert, inner hankerings and/or aspirations.

The great danger in chanting the maha-mantra, then, is that it will take us precisely where we want to go! — so we must know exactly where we are going, and how to get there. Srila Gurudeva has given us the roadmap, and the route is clearly marked out:

trnad api sunicena / taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena / kirtaniyah sada harih

Humility, tolerance and deference pave the road to pure chanting of Krishna's Holy Name.

So when we chant the maha-mantra, we have to be extra careful to avoid the insidious, subtle desires that spring up, like seductive billboards along the highway, to distract, delay, or entice us to stop before we reach our destination, because if we allow ourselves to become sidetracked or diverted into any of these detours, we could find ourselves being "hurled down to Vaikuntha."

Chanting will take us "back to home, back to Godhead," but where that home is depends on our conception of "Godhead" and on our understanding of the real purport of the mantras that our gurus have given us, so we pray for that:

om ajnana-timirandhasya / jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena / tasmai sri-gurave namaha

How can I know what is right or wrong, or what the proper conception of anything is when my eyes are clouded by ignorance (om ajnana-timirandhasya)? I therefore submit to you, my lord and savior (tasmai sri-gurave namaha), for it is only by your divine grace (jnananjana-salakaya) that I may get a glimpse of reality (caksur unmilitam yena).

Tags: Chanting | Search for Reality | Slokas

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Layout by iMonk — February 7th, 2011.