Hearing and Chanting Krsna's glories - The red line connecting all religions vyasa puja
Srila Prabhupada has given us knowledge on all topics of life. What is our duty in life, who are we really, how to act in daily life, how to act for liberation and ultimately, how to attain eternal life by awakening our forgotten relationship with Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All of these topics and many more are scientifically presented in Srila Prabhupada's books. The essence of every book he has written is clearly presented, and unlike some cheating yogis that wrap the explanation of Absolute Truth in clever philosophical word jugglery that only serves to confuse the reader, Srila Prabhupada always stays clear with his conclusion: Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, you are His eternal part and parcel and your duty is to serve Him. vyasa puja
Krsna is God. That is clear from his books. Srila Prabhupada perfectly explains how and why Krsna is God and backs up all his claims by quoting evidences from the Vedic scriptures and explanations from other greatly exalted personalities, pure devotees of the Lord Krsna. The volume of Srila Prabhupada's literatures is so vast that sometimes, when a curious seeker starts dipping his toes into the transcendental ocean of nectar within his books and teachings, he may find himself overwhelmed with many instructions, new names of unknown people, strange new words in an unknown language of sanskrt that will completely twist your tongue while trying to pronounce them. Due to all of these completely new things suddenly emerging in one's consciousness and mainly due to a gross lack of knowledge, the curious reader may find it difficult to grasp the whole idea of Krsna consciousness. Of course, due to Srila Prabhupada's infinite mercy, the essence is always clear even to a newly baked devotee; Chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. While the essence is clear, the entire process might however still be blurry and unclear, due to one's limited ability of grasping such elevated topics of Krsna consciousness.
The process of devotional service is very scientific, consisting of nine processes of devotional service. The first two processes start with the most basic of human abilities; Hearing (Sravanam) and Chanting (Kirtanam). Srila Prabhupada explains in this way: "These nine. So the first principle is sravanam, it is said. Sravanam means hearing, that's all. The first principle of practicing this yoga, bhakti-yoga, beginning, "practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me." This yoga practice begins simply by hearing. You have got these ears. You simply just lend your ears and you become yogi. And as soon as you become experienced in hearing, you become a preacher--kirtanam. Immediately. One who has heard nicely, he will try to become a kirtaniya, or preacher. That is natural." And another quote: We should know in perfect consciousness that human life is bestowed upon the conditioned soul to achieve spiritual success and the easiest possible procedure to attain this end is to chant the holy name of the Lord. – Srimad Bhagavatam 02.01.12
This is the purpose of religion, to hear and speak about God. As we are engaging our mind in hearing and speaking about God, the next natural development will be thinking of Krsna, called Vishnu Smaranam. If you speak about Krsna and hear about Krsna, then what else is there to think about. You will think about Krsna as well. This is the third step, and the steps continue one after the other. In the introduction to the Bhagavad Gita one can read: "These nine processes, of which the easiest is sravanam, hearing Bhagavad-gita from the realized person, will turn one to the thought of the Supreme Being. This will lead to nisala, remembering the Supreme Lord, and will enable one, upon leaving the body, to attain a spiritual body which is just fit for association with the Supreme Lord."
A devotee can fully engage himself in all nine of these processes or just one of them, either one of these processes is fully potent and the devotee can reach full perfection. Based on these instructions, an intelligent person can understand the importance of remembering God at the time of death. This is the essence of Krsna consciousness and the conclusion of all the Vedic knowledge, to remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead at the time of death and go back Home back to Godhead. Actually, this is the conclusion of all religion. Religion means to know God and to love Him. This is the essence of all religion. Even though there are many different religious practices and it may sometimes be difficult to see the similarities in them, we must agree that the point of all religion MUST be to know God and Love Him, atleast if we want to accept it as a real religion.
All real religion is revealed from God Himself, either directly through His instructions or His messengers. Therefore one can not manufacture some religion, since God is controlling the means of understanding and approaching Him. For this age called the Kali yuga, where religious qualities are at their lowest and sinful qualities are rampant and growing, the perscribed process for understanding God is the chanting of God's holy names. Harer nama ...
This means every true religion should make this their center of action. It does not matter under which name the followers know of God, be it either Christ or Allah or Buddha, provided the followers are sincere, they should be inclined towards chanting of the holy names of God, Krsna, the all attractive Supreme Person. This factual process is recommended many times through in different religious scriptures, as it is stated here by Allah in the Holy Quran for example; "Call upon Allah or call upon the Most Merciful. Whichever name you call - to Him belong the best names.'" Surah Al-Isra (17:110)"
To help the reader realize the importance of chanting or calling upon the Holy names of God, the same instruction is repetated again in the Al-A'raf chapter: "And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them." (7:180) By invoking the Holy names of God, the mind will naturally also start to think of God. The more we do it, the more we become absorbed in rememberance of God. As stated earlier this is the natural progression in spiritual practice, hearing, chanting and then remembering. Hints of this are also revealed in the Quran: “Allah says: Remember Me, and I will remember you.” (2:152) and “Truly it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts find peace” (13:28). By rememberance of God, the Purest "Al-Quddus" (الْقُدُّوسُ), we ourselves are becoming purified. By becoming increasingly purified, our hearts soften and real love of God is awakened. This is the practical proof of the potency of the spiritual process - our material attachment must decrease and our spiritual attachment - love for Krsna, must increase. This is the real purpose of all spiritual or religious practice and it is once again confirmed in the Holy Quran: “O you who believe, let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that, then those are the losers.” (63:9)
From these beautiful quotes we can all understand that God wants us to always chant His holy names and remember Him, even in the midst of all material temptations and difficulties. This same instruction is given in the Bhagavad Gita as well, where the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna says: "Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion." (9.14) A devotee of the Lord and the Lord Himself are one. That oneness is however internal, meaning the devotee has no seperate desire other than to serve the Lord. The devotee will never do anything that goes against the instructions of God and therefore whatever Krsna says, the devotee repeats the same instruction as it is.
This is the same for prophet Mohhamed (peace be upon him) as stated by one of his companions; “O Messenger of Allah, the laws of Islam have become many for me, so tell me something which I can cling on to.” He replied: “Always keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.” (Tirmidhī 3375). The same istruction was given for the most crucial time of life, the time of death. Because this is the last thing we should be doing in this life, that makes the activity the most important! The prophet had spoken thus; Muʿādh ibn Jabal said: “In my last conversation with the Messenger of Allah, I asked him: ‘Which deed is the best and most beloved to Allah?’ He replied: ‘That you die whilst your tongue is moist with the remembrance of Allah.’” (Ibn Ḥibbān) It may be surprising that this is the conclusion of the Quran and the Vedas as well, however if we engage ourselves in deep exploration and study of any religious scripture, provided it is a real religion, we will find that the conclusion is the same. It must be the same, that is a fact, since all religion comes from God.
In a discussion about this very point, Srila Prabhupada was discussing with Allen Ginsberg, an influential musician and one of the leaders of the hippie movement. Allen Ginsberg asked: But what do you do when different religious groups claim to be the center? Srila Prabhupada: No, we welcome every religion. We don't decry any religion. Our point is the love of Godhead. Or Krsna is love, all-attractive. So we want to be attracted by Krsna. Just like a magnetic force and iron. Unless iron is rusty, it is automatically attracted by the magnetic force. Similarly, we are contaminated by material coverings. So we are trying to make it rustless so that immediately we shall be attracted. This is the program. Krsna is all-attractive. That is a fact. And we are attracted. But being covered with this rust, we are, instead of being attracted by Krsna, we are being attracted by maya. This is our whole program. So our central program is how to love Krsna, or how to love God. So we want to see... That is the Bhagavata definition, that how much you have enhanced your love of God. You call Krsna or something else, that doesn't matter. Phalena pariciyate. The result. Your religious principle, what is the result? Are you enhancing your love for God or dog? That we want to see. If you are enhancing your love for God, it is all right. We don't say anything. But if... People should learn how to love. That is the perfection of life. That we are teaching."
Further on, Allen Ginsberg is wondering what if someone finds love in the sabda (sound) of Allah's name instead of Krsna's name. Srila Prabhupada explains: If that sabda, of course, identifies with God, we have no objection. That Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis. God has many names. God is attractive, His name is also attractive, because He's not different from His name. If you have got exactly the same attractive name, we have no objection. We simply say, "You chant God's name, holy name." Then you become purified. That is our program. We don't say that you change your Christianity. No. We don't say. If you have got a nice name, all-attractive name, in your scripture--don't manufacture but authorized--then you chant that. We simply request, "You chant." The same instruction was given also by Jesus Christ, who is at this time perhaps the most famous devotee of God: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Matthew 6:9-13.
Since glorifying the holy name of Krsna is the conclusion of all religions, this is also the essential message of all the great empowered preachers of Krsna's message. Unfortunately this fact is difficult to understand for one who is infested with a secterean vision, and this is the main problem in religious circles that keeps us divided, even though we all have the same goal, to love God. We generally tend to think that every religious preacher has come to this world in order to rebel against the previous religions and establish his religious process as the only means for God realization. Factually however, since God is one for everyone and the mission of His devotees is to spread His teachings, these great devotees such as prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ are all cooperating in fulfilling the mission of God.
Jesus came to give us the moral basics how to live and to tell us God is good, after him came prophet Mohammed to expand on the teachings of Jesus even further, providing greater instructions about worship, daily religious practice and to put more importance on the Holy name of Krsna. So it can be understood these two great devotees were not infact competing against each other as can be observed today in some of their followers, but were doing the exact opposite, cooperating in elevating the masses of humanity to a higher, spiritual life. The minor details of worship and philosophy may be different, but the essence is the same.
Every devotee appears in this world for this very purpose and in the same spirit of co-operation, on September 1st 1896 in Kalkutta, there has been a divine appearance of the greatest devotee of Krsna. Known and loved by his relatives and friends under the name of Abhay Charande, later known as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, had not spent a single moment in his life without engaging himself fully in the worship of the Lord Sri Krsna. Since his tender youth, Srila Prabhupada would play with dolls of Krsna and Radha and organize small scale ceremonies of worship so that all the neighbourhood children could participate in this divine activity, worshipping Krsna in love and devotion. In the very late stage of his time here, Srila Prabhupada traveled across the world from India all the way to America, whereupon arriving, he has simply continued what he was already doing from his very first moment here with us - Spreading Love of God and engaging everyone in worship of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Previously religion has told us that God is good. Now, Srila Prabhupada has told us HOW good is God. This is the next step from previous religious understanding, the full perfect knowledge from Krsna, about Krsna. By Srila Prabhupada's infinite mercy, a sincere spiritual seeker can easily advance to the highest perfection of life, to live eternally in pure BLISS and pure Love of Krsna.