This Is Personal (Thoughts On Chanting Japa)

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Last night I looked at the clock anxiously. I was running late. It was already 9:45 pm, and I still had a few things I had to do. I was agitated by seeing the time because I dislike anything to interfere with my morning japa.

I am usually asleep at this time of night. 2 am comes early, and even that seems late to me. I used to go to sleep earlier, and get up earlier, but some changes in my schedule prevent that now. Still, 2 am is good, as long as I have enough sleep to keep from being so tired that in interferes with my chanting. I don't fall asleep while chanting, but if I am overtired it does interfere with my concentration.
So, I am anxious, and rushing through the last things I have to do.

In the morning, when 2 am comes, I am awakened by Srila Prabhupad singing Gurvastaka. I don't use an alarm clock ever, mostly because I don't need one, I wake up automatically. It also disturbs my subtle body and my consciousness to have the sound of an alarm clock ringing at me in the early morning. So, I don't use one.

The song that Srila Prabhupad is singing is different each morning, but mostly, by his mercy, I wake up at the start of Gurvastaka. These are the prayers that are sung during mangal arotike. Attending mangal arotike daily in the early years of my life has instilled this strong connection, so when I hear Srila Prabhupad singing these prayers, I am alerted that it is time to get up and chant.
I lay there listening while he chants the prayers.

samsara-davanala-lidha-loka
tranaya karunya-ghanaghanatvam
praptasya kalyana-gunarnavasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

(I sing along in my mind.)

"The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is an ocean of auspicious qualities."

I stay there, listening through all the prayers. I love this, it's a wonderful way to start the day. Toward the end I am starting to get restless though, because I want to get up and chant. But I wait, out of respect. These are prayers to the guru. Prabhupad is singing them to his guru, and I am singing them to him (my guru).

The prayers are through now, and it's time for "ablutions" in the cold water. It's a shock to my system somewhat but I welcome it. It's a stinging alertness. Cold water in August in Georgia doesn't really count in my definition of what "cold water" means anyway. Water gets cold when it's January in Detroit, Michigan. Especially when there is no heat in room you are bathing in.

I get my beads out. They feel so nice in my fingers. They're very smooth from years of chanting on them, and I am happy every time I see them because they make me feel so connected to Srila Prabhupad. These are the same beads he handed me when I was initiated. His chanting on them, his hands on them, then handed to me, as he told me my name. "Your name is Navasi".

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine

"I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter of His lotus feet."

namas te sarasvate devam gaura-vani-pracharine
nirvisesa-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine

"Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanya-deva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism."

(Prahbupad, I owe you so much.)

jaya sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu nityananda
sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda

These are prayers to Lord Chaitanya and His associates. Because Lord Chaitanya does not consider the offenses of the fallen souls, taking shelter of Him and praying for His mercy assists us in chanting the Holy Name.

(Lord Chaitanya, You are mercy personified. You allow me to chant the holy names, such a gift, who can imagine?)

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Ah, the nectar. I sigh. This is my favorite time. Time alone with Krishna. Just His holy name, nothing to think about, nothing to do, nothing to worry about, just Krishna. Just this sound. Just this one thing.

Today chanting is easy for me. I'm focused quickly and there is nothing on my mind. I'm not distracted by concerns about devotees I'm trying to help. I've been keeping to myself lately and not trying to help anyone else, so the "well" inside me is filled quickly and easily since I'm not using it for anything but me.

Srila Prabhupad says it's easy to practice Krishna consciousness in a secluded place, just chanting by yourself. That's alright, but what he asks of us is to preach, to spread Krishna consciousness, to give it to others, not just keep it for our own selves. It's miserly to keep a great gift only for yourself and not try to share it to anyone else. I don't want to be a miser with my gift.

As I'm chanting, it's all strength and light. I feel the sound of the holy name vibrate within me. I hear it's reverberations in every part of my consciousness. "I am the strength of the strong" Krishna says. This is peace, this is beauty. My entire body relaxes completely in a way I could never accomplish by trying. I've heard devotees talk about relaxing and taking deep breaths before chanting, but I was never able to do this. However, I have found that as soon as I am chanting very attentively, it happens automatically. I could use this as a barometer to measure my attentiveness, but I don't realize I am tense at all until this occurs. So, I just chant, just hear. That's all that matters anyway.

It's so early and the world is quiet and still. There are no cars going by on the road. No one is racing around doing anything in the material world. The modes of passion are not yet activated for the day, and so the subtle feelings of "agitation and distraction" that are usually present, are not.

We are so fortunate to be able to associate with Krishna directly through His holy name. This sound fills my soul, and my consciousness. It's a personal relationship with Krishna, and it's mine, by the causeless mercy of Srila Prabhupad, and Lord Chaitanaya.

I could write so much more here, but this has gotten to be very long already.

Chanting is the essence of Krishna consciousness.

All Glories To Srila Prabhupad.

* Navasi's blog
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Comments
Fri, 08/22/2008 - 07:41 — anjanadri.reddy
anjanadri.reddy's picture
Inspired after reading this blog and want to chant attentively

Hare Krishna Mother Navasi,

Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful information, though personal.
I like the fact that you dont use an alram to get up and its wonderful that you wake up by hearing Srila Prabhupad singing Gurvastaka. I would love to follow in your footsteps and try if I can do it.

I also liked one of your replies - The Time Is Now - So, the time to "take action" is now. Right now, today, while you have the desire, and the opportunity. It's a trick of maya to make you think you have to wait. There will always be "reasons".

After reading your blog, I am inspired to chant more attentively and keep out all the other things while doing Japa.

your servant,
Anjan

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Fri, 08/22/2008 - 10:40 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Chant Attentively Now

That's fantastic Anjan.

You've got the essence.

Chant attentively. Chant now. Put everything you have into it. Chant in the morning as early as you can.

I'm glad you were inspired about my not using an alarm clock. That made me smile.

You know, I'll tell you something else. When I was 15, I was living in the temple ashram in Dallas, Texas. They had just started the new Gurukula there, and I had been sent there to help with things.

We didn't each have an alarm clock. One of the women would wake up all of us brahmacarini's in time to be at mangal arotike, but I wanted to get up earlier, so I could go chant japa in the temple room before it started. We had only a painting of Lord Chaitanya and His associates on the alter then. I was very attached to Lord Chaitanya, and I wanted to go there to chant in His association.

So, every night before I went to sleep, I used to pray to Lord Chaitanaya that I would wake up at 3:00 am to chant japa.

Well, sure enough, I did : ) (every morning, no alarm and no other sound)

Praying to Lord Caitanya about chanting is always helpful. So you can pray for help with getting up early to chant.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

(for anyone reading this)
***I'm not telling everyone they should not use an alarm clock, you should use whatever helps you get up and chant. I'm only sharing this with Anjan, because he was inspired to chant by the idea of waking up to the sound of Srila Prabhupad chanting ;)

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Thu, 08/21/2008 - 10:03 — Namacarya das
Namacarya das's picture
Hari Hari!

Mataji Navasi,
thank you very much for sharing your "japa nectar".

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Fri, 08/22/2008 - 10:43 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
YVW

You've very welcome, Namacarya das.

With a name like that, I'm hoping you'll soon be sharing some japa nectar too.

: )

Navasi

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 00:38 — Jaaaay
Jaaaay's picture
Whoa this is very personal,

Whoa this is very personal, I never would have expected you to type up something like this. I'm very glad you did though, it's beyond wonderful. I would guess from Karnamrita prabhuji's comments that he had a hand in this...

But anyway, fully agreed with everyone else's compliments and expressions of awe. Thank you so much for sharing! =)

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 07:23 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Personal Krishna

Haribol Jaaay,

Actually that title is a bit of a play on words. I'm talking about how chanting is a personal relationship with Krishna.

Thus: "This Is Personal"...

But, it's true, it's also a personal thing I'm talking about. I never expected I'd be typing something like this either (well, at least not to post it anyway ;)

You're right, Karnamrita did have a hand it it... actually you can read that "hand" he had in the comments in the latest blogs of ours (or maybe just mine) we've been having some involved discussions about writing here for devotees, and yes, he inspired me to "get personal" among other things.

You're very welcome about the "sharing". I'm glad it was meaningful to you.

Navasi

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Tue, 08/19/2008 - 21:15 — Snehal
Snehal's picture
Blog full of inspiration and teachings

Hare Krishna!
This blog is just not full of inspiration to chant but also explains what is necessary for a good devotional life. From what I understand regulation, commitment, desire to serve Guru and Krishna and desire to reconnect with Krishna is very important to advance in our spiritual life.

Thank you for sharing this scret with us.

Haribol!

Snehal

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 07:17 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
The Recipe

Hare Krishna, Snehal,

You're right, those things are all important.

It's like a good "recipe" for getting closer to Krishna.

Desire is really important, and it's interesting, because doing these things increases the desire.

We can also pray for the desire to desire to be closer to Krishna.

Desire is so much of it, like Karnamrita was saying in one of his comments recently, we have to REALLY WANT KRISHNA.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Tue, 08/19/2008 - 11:12 — Karnamrita.das
Karnamrita.das's picture
From the heart

Wonderful post! You know the secret now. Just sharing with us your life with feeling about what excites you. I am not always in that state when I write, though I think my best writing is. Then it just flows effortlessly. Our struggles and successes, difficulties overcome are grist for the mill. Anything really, however simple, if it is in relationship to Krishna and our pursuit of him. Every person's life is important and instructive, what to speak of a devotees. It is just that most people don't think so. So keep churning your inspiration and your journey to Krishna, and we will all benefit.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 07:10 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Grist Mills

Thank you very much, Karnamrita prabhu, for your encouragement.

It's actually really wonderful to discover that some of the struggles, successes, and difficulties can be used to help other devotees through writing here on connect.

I'm very grateful to have the opportunity.

I do get really excited about chanting, and I love to write about it.

: )

You're right, writing in that state, I could have kept writing for hours.

Your friend in Krishna,
Navasi

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Tue, 08/19/2008 - 07:42 — NityānandaChandra
NityānandaChandra's picture
Jaya, just hearing this

Jaya, just hearing this enthuses me in my japa. Hare KRishna
ys
ncd

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 06:39 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Jaya

That's very nice to hear ncd .... ki jaya!

: )

ys
ndd

Hare Krishna

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Mon, 08/18/2008 - 08:25 — dru
dru's picture
ecstatic

Hare Krishna,

You could have keep writing and i could have kept reading, it's simply nectar. I really admire the way you have explained it is so so beautiful, it makes me go into the trance. I wish someday i might come to your level of devotion. Thanks for sharing this post, inspires me to chant more attentively.

Hari Bol.

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 06:50 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Chanting...

That's great Dru, I was hoping this would inspire others to chant, or chant more attentively.

To develop their own personal relationship with the holy name, really.

I was thinking about how you said you had been involved in impersonalism before becoming a devotee.

Really, the idea there is "merging" with the Supreme, and that way becoming free from all material suffering, etc..

I was thinking how they have to wait so many lifetimes to even achieve this, but for devotees, when we develop this personal relationship with chanting (Krishna) there is a "union" with the Supreme that is achieved right here, right now.

Not only is there relief from suffering, but also all the qualities of Krishna (sat-chid-ananda) are all contained in the holy name, since it is Krishna Himself. We are associating directly when we chant.

The "trance" as you saw, is much more wonderful than any impersonal "relief" from suffering and desire. We also can all have this freely, simply by chanting, without waiting lifetimes (or even till the end of this lifetime) to get it.

Hari Bol.

Navasi

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Mon, 08/18/2008 - 02:25 — Go-Seva
Go-Seva's picture
More, More, More!

PAMHO mataji, Hare Krsna~ I could have kept reading about your wonderful routine and your thoughts for as long as you wanted to write them. I relish hearing about the innermost thoughts of elevated devotees such as yourself, while it makes me sad as well. I long for the day where I can just wake up and start chanting with no one to worry about. Now, I automatically wake up everyday long before daybreak, but can't slip out of bed due to my boy using my arm as a pillow (still.) I sometimes lay there and meditate on the Lord while chanting softly; I know it's not the same, but I am hoping I get some practice in for that magical time in my life when my time is my own...

I hope to hear more about your fortunate experiences in the future. Every moment in time of a senior devotee is worth sharing, and is like a gem to us neophytes, who are struggling to reach YOUR lotus feet. Haribol!

Your servant,
Lisa

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 06:59 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
The Time Is Now

Hare Krishna Lisa,

I'm glad you appreciated hearing this.

I know it's hard when you have small children, but really, there will always be "something" to get in the way of our spiritual life.

So, the time to "take action" is now. Right now, today, while you have the desire, and the opportunity. It's a trick of maya to make you think you have to wait. There will always be "reasons".

I will give you a tip, maybe it will help, maybe not.

When my children where small like yours, I had a similar problem. One thing you can do, is have another pillow at hand, and slowly, slowly, slip his head off of your arm, and onto the other pillow. Then, quietly slip out of bed.

It may take time before he stops waking up and crying, but if you keep at it, soon he won't notice. I did it with my children.

At least you're not trying to keep them asleep while bundling them up and carrying them to mangal arotike (and keep them sleeping through it).
LOL

I did that too, it's very challenging. But, I did it. (even though I had 2 under two at one point ;) We all have to develop our desire to "attain Krishna" to a strong enough point that we will do what ever it takes.

If we "wait till a better time" that better time never comes. It always seems like it will be easier later. That's one of maya's favorite "tricks" for us.

(p.s. ~ there are many great devotees who have lotus feet, but I am not one of them ;)

Thank you for you nice comment, Lisa, I wish you success with more early morning japa.

Navasi

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Wed, 08/20/2008 - 07:29 — Karnamrita.das
Karnamrita.das's picture
Your feet

You just don't notice your feet 'cus you are walking on them, or sitting to write blogs. Krishna covers us, yet others can see, or feel I guess. Funny idea for us, yet Krishna has another view!

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita