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My wife, Archana-siddhi, a veteran facilitator of the wildly successful japa retreats of some years ago, presented a class on japa at our small temple. After our signature arotik and kirtan with guitar, mandolin, and vocal harmony, she began her talk in her favorite facilitator style by asking the class to write down why they chant japa. Fortunately, as she discovered by asking, everyone present chanted japa on their beads at least some days if not regularly. Then, as she had hoped, we all found the shared answers inspiring, hearing some perspectives we hadn’t considered in the exercise, but thoroughly appreciated.
While we generally cite certain verses in Vedic scripture proclaiming that Shri Chaitanya, the avatar for this age, came to propagate the congregational chanting of the holy name, chanting japa is a very important aspect of the life of a sadhaka, or spiritual practitioner in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Lord Chaitanya and his followers all took a vow to chant a certain amount of japa. The general principle is to always remember Krishna and never forget him, and it could be argued that the holy name is the same whether in kirtan or in japa—and for many devotees, kirtan is easier to do than japa—which brings us to today’s topic, of why should we chant japa.
Those who chant 16 rounds of japa on their beads find it takes from 2-3 hours, so why can’t we just do kirtan for that time? Certainly we can do that if we have a taste, and yet, we find that new initiates take a vow to chant a certain amount of rounds of japa, rather than to do a certain amount of kirtan. From this we can conclude that chanting japa is not less important than kirtan. Many of the leading kirtaneers consider that their focused japa helps the purity and taste of their kirtan.
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I am returning here after some time, and I am sure I miss my writing more than you do, but that is OK, and just the way this blog space, and life, works. I share a free verse blog poem I began over a month ago. This poem is about being caught up in life, so much so that I couldn't write much during the last two months. From a writer's perspective, this is funny, because there was so much "grist for the mill" or interesting events for possible writing material. While I did begin a few other pieces, I wasn't able to finish them. I am not speaking of "writer's block," but of feeling caught up with circumstances and pushed in many directions. While these pushes were not bad in themselves, somehow they weren't conducive for my writing practice. As a result of what seemed to be impediments for creating blogs, I was reminded of how much time and energy it takes to regularly write and to publish it here.
According to the Bhagavad Gita we aren't the real doer, and our will is only one of five factors of action [Bg 18.14]. Thus we are never independent, even in the simple (not so simple) maintenance of our body, and what to speak of accomplishing anything of value. From a spiritual perspective, we have to be "empowered" just to live and breathe. And this is more obvious to me in any creative pursuit like art, drama, writing, or what have you. Personally, without making writing a priority I can't consistently write, or write well enough to connect with my audience.
While I admit to being a mediocre writer when compared to the masters, I love to do it, and generally feel what I say, which I pray will be communicated to you. If I am successful, then my words have power and utility. I have found that my free verse poems generally are read less than my regular blogs. I have developed a free verse style over the last 6 years on Krishna.com that works for me, and those I have heard from. Admittedly you may be required to read a line or series of lines a few times to have a sense of the flow--whether a line is a complete thought or goes on for several lines. However, I am not trying to confuse you or make you work too hard (which I think some poets do), but to be as clear and concise as possible. Call it shorthand, codes, word pictures, sutras (to be generous), etc., my endeavor is to share what moves me in various ways.
Kṛṣṇa’s holy name is transcendental. Therefore it is not surprising that it remains transcendental, even when altered by the font conversion process. When pasting on the web a text with Balarama font the name Kṛṣṇa becomes Kåñëa. That is not too bad as one of Kṛṣṇa’s names is Kanhaiya. However when words such as Śrīla become Çréla and other words are sometimes very hard to figure out, it becomes frustrating. However there is a simple solution that will allow you to maintain all your files formatting. Keeping all your Bolds, yo