The Namasankirtan was led by Sri Aravindji from Orlando, FL.
After introductions, Mukundji from Redding CA talked on Bhakti and Bhagavatam.
In Bhagavatam, Prahalada very beautifully mentions the types of Bhakti:
“Sravanam Kirtanam Vishnoh smaranam pada sevanam archanam vandamam dasyam sakhyam athma nivedanam”
Sravana ( is hearing about God’s Lilas , his virtues and stories),
Kirtana (singing of His divine glories),
Smarana (remembrance of His name and his charithra),
Padasevana (service of His feet),
Archana (worship of God). Our Guru Maharaj always says that one should do bhakti in a very soft way (lalitham). One should place the flowers at the Lord in a soft manner and instead not throw them/
Vandana (prayer and prostration to Lord),
Dasya (cultivating the servant sentiment with God),
Sakhya (cultivating the friend-Bhava) and
Atma-Nivedanam is complete surrender of the self to God.
Our Guru Maharaj often tells His devotees that there is no such thing called big or small when one performs service [kainkaryam] to the Lord. If one person gets to lift the deity using his shoulders and another carries the umbrella for the Lord, both the services are considered the same. This is Dasya Bhakti.
Sakhya Bhakti – one can confide their sufferings and troubles to the Lord. Doing so, the Lord will alleviate us from the sufferings or make the suffering not a burden on us. But on the other hand, if we whisper our sufferings and troubles to our friends, they will only mock at us instead of being any help!
It is a fact that mere reading of Srimad Bhagavatam leads to liberation. This is very lucidly seen in the case of Atmadeva’s Charithra where Gokarna performed Srimad Bhagavata Saptham for his brother Dundukari, who attained the Holy feet of the Lord by listening to Srimad Bhagavatam with rapt attention. Such is the greatness of Srimad Bhagavatam. Read about this story in detail here.
Let’s take another example that lucidly shows the importance of reading Srimad Bhagavatam. There was a great Mahan by name Poondhanam. He lived in Kerala and was an ardent devotee of Lord Guruvayurappan. He used to do Bhagavata Parayanam on a daily basis since he believed that Srimad Bhagavatam is verily Lord Krishna. When his family commitments increased and it was becoming difficult to read Bhagavatam in peace, he was on the look for a suitable place outside his house and he found a good place in his own garden. The spot was between two banana trees. Having found the place, he prepared a seat to keep the holy text and placed flowers on it everyday. He very much liked the third canto which describes the Vaikunta, the abode of Lord Vishnu.
He had a desire to visit Vaikunta. So he pleaded to the Lord, to show him the greatness of Vaikunta. So that very night, the Lord gave him a glimpse of Vaikunta. While he was going round Vaikunta, he saw two Vishnu Dhutas(aides of Lord Vishnu) approaching him and they immediately fell at his feet and got his blessings. This scene completely shook Poondanam and was wonder struck as to why they fell at his feet. Nervous as he was, with a little courage he went and asked them as to why they fell at his feet. They started to explain what had happened to them. They were the banana trees that were planted in Poondanam’s garden. Since they were fortunate to listen to Srimad Bhagavatam on a daily basis, they were blessed to become Vishnu Dhutas(aides of Lord Vishnu)! They were very grateful to Poondhanam because of whom they reached Vaikunta. After witnessing this scene in his dream, he woke up from his sleep and stepped outside his garden. He saw that the two banana trees had fallen.
Thus it is clearly seen that by performing Srimad Bhagavata Parayanam can certainly lead one to Mukti.
Narayananji from Boston shared some thoughts after the lecture.
In most Puranas, we often read many seemingly unrealistic stories. But incidents that we see in the life-history of Mahans very similar to these stories prove that they indeed are true. One example we can quickly think of is from Narada’s life-history. By consuming the Uchchishta( food left-overs) of the Sadhus, he gained Jnana. A very similar incident can be found in the life-history of Sri Bodendra Saraswathi Swamigal where Swamigal’s uchchishta made a deaf and dumb boy chant and dance in Bhakti. Read more about Sri Bondendral here.
Another example that one can quote is from Srimad Bhagavatam. Kubera had two sons, Nalakoobura and Manigriva. They are enjoying with some women unmindful of anything else near Mandakini river in Kailash and that instant, Sage Narada passed by and his eyes caught sight of this loathsome sight. Any other normal human-being would have become very angry on seeing this sight. The women, on seeing him, fled away. However the two siblings who were drunk, stood in front of him. But the sage, who was compassion personified, says, “Oh! My sons of Kubera, for this act, you shall be born as trees”. He further added that Lord Krishna will come and free them.
Sage Narada’s words came true and they were born as Arjuna trees in the back-yard of Lord Krishna’s house.
Yashoda Maiya tied Krishna in a rope to a mortar and Krishna goes through these two trees with the mortar. When he squeezed through the trees with the mortar tied around his waist, the trees break up and the two sons of Kubera came out and immediately prostrated unto the Lord’s feet. They sang a beautiful stuti singing the glories of the Lord. They say that the Lord gave ears only to listen to the glories of the Lord. He gaves us mouth and voice only to sing His glories and Divine Names.
Lord Krishna, having listened to the Sutti, spoke to the siblings on the glory of the mahatmas. He told them it is because of the will of Narada that he had come to deliver them. When a Mahans’ sight falls on us, then the darkness (sins) are vanquished and it is imminent that we reach the holy feet of the Lord. Srimad Bhagavatam is verily Lord Krishna. Akin to how the Lord relieved the two sons of Kubera, the Lord in the form of Srimad Bhagvatham liberated the two banana trees. There it was Sage Narada was instrumental for their liberation through Lord Krishna and here, its Poondhanam who was instrumental in the liberation of the banana trees through Srimad Bhagavatam.
Aravindji from Orlando mentioned about the significance of guru and divine names of the Lord. He briefly talked about Gajendra Moksha and also an incident from Yogiramsurathkumar’s life. One night Yogi in the middle of the sleep suddenly woke up and walked to a well. He found a horse lying deep inside the well. No sooner he started chanting the divine names of the Lord than the horse jumped from the well and ran away.
The satsang concluded with prayers and Namasankirtan.