We have been following the path of Bhakti through Divine Name chanting of the Lord [Namasankirtan]. Many a Mahan have shown this path to be one of the easiest path to satiate both mundane and spiritual needs not to belittle other paths but it is said that the path of Bhakti, Namasankirtan is the pragmatic path to be followed in the kaliyuga. Our Guru Maharaj, His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji also advocates this path to attain the holy feet of the Lord. There are absolutely no restrictions to chant the Divine Names of the Lord. If people don’t find time to chant the Divine Names, Our Guru Maharaj asks his devotees to take the Mahamantra to the people instead. The organization back in India, is called Nama Biksha Kendra, where people go door to door and plead everyone to chant the holy names of the Lord. Gurudwaar is a holy establishment by the Sikh community. The Lord can be attained through the guru and pray for the guru in the Gurudwaara. Akin to Gurudwaar is Namadwaar. We follow Namasankirtan for attaining divinity and that is why it has been as Namadwaar by our Guru Maharaj. It is a divine place for incessant chanting of the Divine Names of the Lord.
Sri Ramanujamji officiated the Satsang and gave the discourse. He started off by talking about the diversity of the people in the telephone satsang but an unique unity in diversity. This unity is verily the conviction to the path of Bhagavatha dharma. All the spiritual paths that our Shastras show lead one to the complete subjugation of the mind. Any path that does not aim to the complete conquer of the mind cannot be called as spiritual. Spirituality is something that calms the mind, evokes the wonderful experience of love and the pure happiness in one. As Narayananji rightly mentioned, chanting the Divine Names of the Lord imposes no rules and it only needs to be chanted.
“Dhanamsva dharmo niyamoya mascha
Svacham cha karmani sathvrathani
Sarvae mano nigraha lakshanantha
Parohi yogo manasas samadhihi”
Out of the various diverse paths charity [dhaana], compassion towards all, the spirit of service to the mankind as manifestation to divinity, swadharma [mankind struggles to do a little bit of swadharma], niyama and yama are the first steps towards dhayana maarga or Raja Yoga. Shrutham is the different learnings [swadhyaya] , karmani sathvratha is the various religious acts [karma] and sathvratha is worldly vows that one undertakes. All these paths actually are directed towards the same goal which is the unity of the seemingly diverse paths. All these paths are trying to quite the turbulence of the mind.
Arjuna says “Oh Lord, the mind is like a wind and is always wandering”. Mano Nigraha – When the goal is lost and the means [path] become far more important than the goal, then one becomes blind and is completely trapped in the activity without completely realizing the consequences of the activity which is failing to realize the multitude of the mind. And so Srimad Bhagavatam completely declares “Parohi yogo manasas samadhihi”. The greatest of all Yogas and spiritual paths preach the complete subjugation of the mind. All the paths are called spiritual because it quieten the mind. There is a binding chord that passes through all these paths and that is verily chanting the Divine Names of the Lord.
Nama Sankirtan is itself a direct path because there are many mahans like Yogi Ramasurathkumar, Papa Ramdas, especially when initiated from a highly realized soul can take one to the highest state (manasas samadhihi). Nama can also be used as an adjunct in any other path one follows because whatever path one follows, the path bears fruit only when the mind is in tranquil state. The spirit of service can be actualized only when the ego is put in place and this is not accomplished just by self efforts. The greatest of all prides is one being puffed up with ego by the spiritual austerity that he performs. During Vaikunta Ekadasi, it is a common practice to play a game called Snake and Ladder. In which when one goes to the ninety ninth block there is a big snake in that block that pushes him all the way to the sixth block which is essentially starting all over again. This is akin to the pride and ego that one develops which leads one into a big trap.
The real fruit of Nama Sankirtan is attained only when the realization that the chanting of the Divine Names is through sheer grace of great Mahans and Lord Sri Krishna. When we chant the Divine Names, it is an opportunity for us to thank the Lord for giving us an opportunity to chant his Divine Names when the mind and tongue could have wandered elsewhere. Our Guru Maharaj lucidly conveys the message that the moment we think that Nama Sankirtan is a sadhana then we are also subjected to tests [sodhana]. But instead if we see it as the grace of the Lord, in spite of one’s turbulent past which is itself possible by the benign grace of the Lord and satsang. That spirit is itself an act of the grace of the Lord and that will ensure that we are not puffed up with pride and it makes one progress steadily towards the goal of manasas samadhihi. Chanting the Divine Names in any form is effective. It is very acceptable to have the tongue chanting the names of the Lord whereas the mind is revolving in mundane thoughts. Nama sankirtan over time will wipe off the negativity state. Mechanical chanting will pave the way for our mind and thoughts to be focused during the chanting and very soon it leads us into a state deeper than thoughts which is called manasas samadhihi. Chanting the Divine Names of the Lord in a mechanical way in due course of time due to the intrinsic power of the name, will dive deeper into the mechanical plane and then goes further into the very plane of the being.
Srimad Bhagavatam talks about the greatness of Nama. It talks about the Vedantic aspects of spirituality and finally says that the facts stated in Srimad Bhagavatam will eventually come as an experience when chanting the Divine Names of the Lord. In the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, one of the Nava Yogis, Kavi says –
“thushtihi pushthihi kshutapayo anughaasam”
When one eats a full meal, it does three things at a time. It first makes the person satiated. Secondly the body derives the nourishment from the meal and lastly his hunger is quenched. While reliving the hunger and satisfaction are instantaneous, the nourishment take a little longer. This happens not by the freewill but on its own accord. The moment we take food it is by the intelligence of the human body to process the food. The food we consume is very broad but the energy derived from the digestion of the food is very subtle.
In Chandokya Upanishad, a disciple once questioned his guru on the relationship between the food and the mind. His guru instead of giving him a theoretical example decided to give him a pragmatic one. He asked his disciple to fast for ten days. On the first day of his fast, the guru taught him a sloka and asked him to repeat the sloka. The disciple with some difficulty repeated the sloka. On the second day, he asked him to chant a sloka that he taught him quite some time back. He found it extremely difficult to remember and chant it but yet he made it. As days passed he was feeling very weak and dilapidated. He went and told his master that he was barely able to hear. His master then gave him a morsel of food and as soon as he started to eat the food, his body started to regain its lost strength.
The chanting of the Divine Names of the Lord in a mechanical way is the first step towards manasas samadhihi. One should not bother if the mind is involved or not during the chanting during mechanical chanting. As we keep chanting the Divine Names in a mechanical way, it soon becomes part of the mind and thought and then after a while it completely becomes our entire being. Bhagawan is this wonderful Naam.
Nama and Naami are not different. As we progress in the spiritual path and develop more love towards Nama sankirtan, we will soon find out that the Divine Name chanting of the Lord is nothing but the own self or true nature. This great fact has been ratified by great mahans like Bhagawan Ramanar. The first of January 2010 being his Jayanthi day, Sri Ramanujamji reminisced about Bhagwan Ramanar. According to Bhagwan, the chanting of the name is one’s own true nature. There is an eternal chanting that is happening all the time as one’s swaroopa and we are just resonating into that eternal chanting by the mental or mechanical chanting. When the resonance becomes stronger and stronger, then there is no two chanting. The so called gross chanting becomes unified with our own swaoropa [self] which is verily the nama. That is the greatness of Nama sankirtan. Mind is distracted by past conditioning [papam]. When the mind is not involved in spirituality there is an obstacle to it. The obstacle has come from the past aactions. Past actions are the various experiences that one underwent. When Nama Sankirtan is done, the past is undone and it ushers to something rejuvenating [fresh] in the very present moment. One is delinked from the past which is linked to ego. The moment we chant the Divine Names of the Lord, the mind, tongue and heart are completely delinked and the center of the heart has become our very true nature which is Lord Krishna. The center is not ego anymore but Bhagawan himself and the entire past is delinked as is said in the last sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam – “Nama sankirtanam yasya sarva papa pranashanam”
While chanting the Divine Names of the Lord, one can experience bliss with the mind being absolved of the miseries and one experiences horripilation and tears of joy flowing from the eyes. Surdasji says “ Oh My Lord, the river might be crooked but the water flowing in it is indeed straight.”. Akin to this is one’s misgivings or sins committed by us on a day to day basis but the elixir to this is chanting the Divine Names of the Lord which is a complete manifestation of the Lord’s grace and Nama will take the jivas ashore. This is the essence of Bhagavata Dharma.
When Nama Sankirtan is in our lips, love will spring in our heart and we can spread goodness and godliness more and more.
The satsang ended with prayer and Namasankirtan.