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Transcriber: Suresh Gupta
Editor: Raji Nachiappan
Question: How can we distribute our time between hearing and chanting?
Answer: The essence of bhakti is neither hearing nor chanting. Rather, it is remembering Krishna.
smartavyaḥ satataṁ viṣṇur vismartavyo na jātucit
sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur etayor eva kiṅkarāḥ
(CC Madya Lila 22.113)
Krishna is the origin of Lord Vishu. He should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the shastras should be the servants of these two principles.
Therefore, the purpose of all those rules and regulations is to always to remember Krishna and never forget Krishna. Hence, both hearing and chanting are meant to help us remember Krishna. Chanting is the yuga dharma, and we definitely have a prescribed number of rounds to chant. At the same time, chanting can very easily become mechanical if there is not adequate intellectual conviction for chanting. Intellectual conviction or spiritual inspiration for chanting comes largely by hearing.
Bhakti is a whole culture and there are so many activities which are done for Krishna. Chanting is important but we do not have to reduce all of bhakti to chanting alone. There is room for individuality in bhakti. There may be some devotees who may decide that every festival they will chant sixty-four rounds. While that is very good, there is no need for that to be universalised. We all have a prescribed number of rounds to chant and we do that. Beyond that, each of us has to take up individual responsibility, to find out, how best we can connect with Krishna and do that. Some devotees may find chanting very inspiring, while some others find hearing or deity worship or book distribution more inspiring, and devotees can engage in these activities as per their inspiration. Hence, there is prescribed minimum that we do, but just because some devotees practice one limb of bhakti more, that does not mean everybody has to do the same.
Once, Srila Prabhupada was in London which was at that time the European headquarters. Devotees from various parts of Europe like Germany and France came there and were reporting to Srila Prabhupada on how the outreach was progressing in their respective places. There was one devotee, Ishan Prabhu, who felt that everybody had something to do for Srila Prabhupada but that he did not have anything to do. Then, he went to Srila Prabhupada and asked Prabhupada what he could do for him. Prabhupada asked “What do you want to do?”. Ishan prabhu replied that he will do whatever Prabhupada tells him to do. Prabhupada insisted and asked him what he wanted to do for Krishna. Ishan prabhu thought Prabhupada was testing him, and he again replied that he will do whatever Prabhupada tells him to do. Prabhupada then told him to understand our philosophy and our philosophy entails that we find out what we want to do and then do it for Krishna.
Ishan prabhu thought about it. Next day he […]
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