Scriptural stories to inspire our chanting with ungency
I am sure there are many more stories, but here are the most obvious ones I thought of as a meditation on urgency when chanting (one perspective is to imagine as best we can how we would feel in a similar situation as the devotees in the scriptural pastimes....naturally we won't feel exactly the same, but some idea.) In the picture above the gopis remember Krishna by embracing a tamala tree in their great danger.
Another instance is the one I gave in my last blog of endeavoring to adopt a particular mood of urgent necessity with the example of having 30 minutes before a missile dropped on our head. Many devotees find this easier then crying for Krishna--which is one of our goals (lauyam or intense eagerness or greed to obtain Krishna). In this line of thinking, any way to remember our death as a way in improve our taking shelter of the holy name. In truth, death may come at any time, though we often forget. I am not talking about a phobia about dying, but a certain meditation to help us remember the very temporary nature of physical existence. In deep urgency we will not be bored or fall asleep when we chant!
Obviously we can't conjure up the same necessity of these great souls, but we have all had some urgent necessity which we can apply to our thoughts of the intensity of these persons in scripture. Somehow to be inspired by these examples and apply it to our spiritual practices such as chanting our rounds. At the very least we can pray before or during chanting to have some of such intensity to attain Krishna. We are meant to be inspired by these examples and apply them in our life:
Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita had an overwhelming dilemma of whether to fight and kill those dear to him, or refrain from fighting and live by begging. He realized that material solutions were insufficient to help him. We can try to think of his level of urgency to solve his perplexity, and compare it to our own and everyone's bondage to matter. Only Krishna and his pure devotees can save us!
By asking Krishna with faith Arjuna was able to see clearly and engage in what he then understood was Krishna's desire for him, knowing it was the Lord's will and that everyone would be benefited. He was also able to understand that we are all souls, and that bodily relationships are temporary and illusory. Who is really father, mother, grandparent, child, relative or any number of relationships based on the body? How can we chant with the eagerness to be with Radha and Krishna in their holy name as the most important activity of our life? How can we use these stories and our own experiences or those of others to help us chant and serve with fixed mind and determination?
The primary devotee hero of Shrimad Bhagavatam, Maharaja Parikshit, was given the news of his imminent death in seven days. To prepare himself he gave up his kingdom and all his possession and went to the holy Ganga to search out saintly association to know his prime duty at death. He saw his being cursed was a result of his offending a brahmana. Thus he welcomed the reaction and saw it was Krishna's arrangement for him. Of course Krishna arranged this whole event, having an even bigger plan to use Pariksit's impending death so the Bhagavatam would be spoken for all our benefit. How can we apply his example and attitude in facing death, for our life and chanting? He knew he had 7 days, we may not have 7 minutes.
Everyone only lives by the mercy of God. Our "job" or spiritual occupation is to realize and remember this fact! Krishna is the source of everything, the sustainer of the Universe; Krishna is the soul of our soul; Krishna is our life; Krishna is our ability: Krishna is our strength; Krishna is our memory; Krishna is our intelligence; Krishna is what is enjoyable in everything; by his mercy we breathe, walk, reach, grasp, digest food, maintain our life, find an occupation, take up our spiritual life, find a guru, chant the holy name, engage in his service, associate with devotees and whatever we can imagine---and as much as we can imagine is only a spark of his splendor! Lord Shri Krishna's mercy is truly all there is!
Gajendra the king of the elephants was tiring in his fight with a crocodile who attacked him in the water. In his life and death struggle he remembered prayers to the Lord from his previous like as a human being. Seeing no other shelter he prayed to Lord Vishnu with all his sincerity and energy. His prayers were effective in attracting the Lord's help who came to deliver him and the crocodile.
We are all like Gajendra being in the grasp of the crocodile of death, and our only hope is to call out to Krishna through the maha-mantra, and other prayers, thus remembering him though all our day's activities. Let us chant as if our life depends on it (it does!)....to be saved in a general sense, but really to be saved from material illusion or the false enjoying spirit, and to always remember Radha and Krishna, Lord Chaitanya and Nitai and their saintly devotees.
As Ajamila was dying he saw terrible, fearsome personalities coming for him and in great distress called out for his youngest son, whom the Lord had inspired to name Narayana. He realized at that time that he had blown his life by deviating from his spiritual practices and becoming a dacoit or thieving murderer to support his prostitute wife and their family. Although he felt he was getting his due, all he could do is call for his son, Narayana.
Yet fortunately, by chanting the holy name of God, Lord Narayana,(even though at first he was thinking of his son) he came to remember the Lord and the service of his early life. Narayana's servants, the Vishuduttas came to his rescue since he was calling out in helplessness the name of the Lord of the Universe. In his hopeless position, with the ropes of the Yamaduttas around his neck, he received the blessed association of the Lord's pure devotees, and heard the glories of the holy name and the eternal principles of religion. (Just see the power of pure devotee association and hearing the Lord's glories!) Thus he was released from the clutches of death and in his new understanding, got a second chance to correct his life, by taking full shelter of the Lord.
In this life we are like Ajamila getting another chance to take full shelter of the Lord. Shri Radha-Krishna in their combined from of Lord Chaitanya has sent his merciful devotees to save us by educating us in the science of God and giving us the holy name and devotional serve to purify our heart. Now let us engage our full energy in serving Radha and Krishna and in chanting the holy name, appreciating our great good fortune, and giving our heart and soul to every thing we do! As we chant the holy name let us feel gratitude for being saved from some hellish fate with no idea of our future destination.
On taking his birth Jada Bharata he remember his previous lives. He remembered his life as King Bharata. In that life he gave up his kingdom to live the life of a renunciate and dedicate his life to spiritual practice. Due to attachment for a deer he had to take birth as a deer. As a deer he could remember his mistake and he sought out the company of saints and quickly passed his life as a deer. As Jada Bharata, with the memory of these lives (by Krishna's grace), he was determined to not become entangled in material activities and attachments. Thus he lived his life like a dullard, acting like a crazy person. Actually he became completely realized in spiritual understanding, although no one could tell. Although mistreated by others he was dear to Krishna, who saved him from the Kali worshippers. And he showed mercy to the proud King Rahugana, by giving him enlightening instructions.
Let us pray to the Lord that we can remember our perilous condition in material existence, and like Jada Bharata, not allow ourselves to become attached to anything which will take us away from Krishna consciousness. Let us accept whatever is favorable for devotional service and give up whatever is not favorable. Our next life will be determined by what we are most attached to and remember at the time of death. Let us cultivate our attachment to Krishna and his devotees, and make gradual progress in intensely calling on the Name of Krishna at all times and places.
You can think of other stories as well, or in the lives of current devotees who in difficulty took shelter of the Lord. Even ordinary people sometimes show great examples of taking shelter of God in their greatest hour of need. Everyone can be our teacher, and certainly those devotees whom we read about in the scriptures. Whatever way we can increase our focus and concentration on the Lord, and in appreciating our unbelievable good fortune in coming to Krishna consciousness.
What is your necessity?
What is your highest ideal and aspiration?
Be introspective to know yourself and take appropriate action to improve yourself.
Whatever your position pray to make spiritual progress and to never be complacent and give up. Whatever your dilemma or adversity, it is meant for your good, carrying with it the seed of an equivalent or great good.
Remember that for his sincere devotees, Krishna carries what we lack and preserves what we have. Keep on keeping on. Don't disqualify yourself. No one is "too fallen" to receive Krishna's mercy. Don't limit Krishna's mercy but live for it, and expect it! This life is short, and will be over before you know it. Give this one life to Krishna!