Thursday, May 27, 2010

Travel Journal#6.9a: Sacinandana Swami Holy Name Retreat

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 9
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2010, part one, section one)

Sacinandana Swami Holy Name Retreat

(Sent from Munich, Germany, on May 27, 2010)


[There are lots of nice realizations throughout,

but here are some especially nice stories and instructions.]

A Kirtana Tip

Chanting with Humility

Aligning Our Body, Mind, and Heart

Prayers to Radha and Krishna

A Humility Meditation

Elements That Make a Good Kirtana

Lord Nityananda and the Coconut Seller

Lord Rama and the Boatman

The Holy Name Can Bring a Dead Man Back to Life

Chanting the Holy Name As Service

Narada’s Life as a Gandharva

Jiva Goswami on Chanting the Holy Name

Words of Inspiration During the Four-Hour Nama Yajna

Krishna’s Flute Joins Gauranga’s Pastimes as the Mrdanga Drum

Whose Name Does Krishna Chant?

What the Retreat Was Like for Me

Sacinandana Swami Holy Name Retreat

At Radhadesh on May 16, 2010

I would like to greet my internet audience. During the Birmingham kirtana 12-hour program Radhanatha Swami called, saying, “I am seeing all of you on the internet.”

In these courses, we are not just giving lectures, but we wish the people will experience the eternity, bliss, and knowledge of the soul. Thus we started the japa retreats. We settled on Vrindavana as an ideal location, but they are now spreading all over the world. So these japa retreats are going well, but it occurred to me that the yuga dharma is actually kirtana not japa. I researched aboutkirtana for some time, coming up with important things I didn’t know, so much information I practically exploded. We will sing, and we will express to Krishna our desire to be here and get the most out of it.

Kirtana can be loud or soft.

Srila Prabhupada said that when “a man is suffering from sores all over the body, ointment does not work because the blood is poisoned. A little yoga here, a little meditation here, will not work. You have to dip him into a tub of oil that will draw the poison out. Similarly, we are so contaminated in this age, only immersing in kirtana . . .

Haridasa Thakura did not do japa but rather nama kirtana.Kirtana and “sankirtana” are the words used in this connection in the pastime when Maya comes to tempt him.

We actually glorify the Lord so others can hear, that is kirtana.

On Queen’s Day, when everyone is soaked in beer, we try to resoak them in the holy name.

The purpose of the retreat is to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be. For some this may not be accomplished in this life.

Every year go on a retreat, do a new thing each day, think something new, and stay in touch with Krishna each moment . . .

Craziness—you do the same things, you think the same things, and you think something will be different in your life. (from Albert Einstein).

Your intention governs your experience. There are many opportunities and your intentions select them.

Determine your intention, otherwise you will regret having spent money on this seminar, and you won’t become a pure devotee. Of course, I am joking to some extent, but it is important to have some intention. This in Sanskrit is called sankalpa.

Exercise: Sharing Sankalpas

Prabhu: I asked Gaura Govinda Swami’s friend Fakir Mohan what was the best way to please my guru. He said to perfect my chanting.

Bhakta Michael: My desire is to develop my relationship with and my taste for the holy name.

Krishna-kripa Das: My intention is that when people hear my chanting that it will enter into their heart, and they will take the chanting with them.

Sacinandana Swami: My desire is that the devotees who attend will become conscious of their present and desired relationship with the holy name and that you leave with a deep motivation that will pulsate through you and get you to develop your relationship with Krishna through the holy name. To help you to have peak experience in your Krishna consciousness. To give you the nectar.

Fully participate. I know some of you are shy. I am also shy. No one will bite you.

Ultimately, Krishna consciousness is revealed, so be ready to receive.

Be a patient receiver and not a impatient achiever. Give Krishna a chance to reveal Himself, not necessarily in the way you expect. We are tiny, but Krishna can work wonders, if you let him work wonders.

We have programs each day at 8:00–9:00, 11:00–13:00, 16:00–18:00, and 18:30–20:00.

Once on a retreat I had a buddy who I had selected by default, as I and he were the only ones left after others chose buddies. He was completely different from me. I was always late. He was always on time. So for that retreat, I experienced the extreme bliss being on time.

We can pray, “O Holy Name! O ocean of bliss! I fall down at Your lotus feet for I am feeling very distressed and troubled at heart.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in his Gitalvali, “At the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Goswami, I constantly beg at every moment there may be the direct revelation of the Holy Name.”

Day 1: Alignment of body, mind, and soul is needed to chant wholeheartedly.

Lord Caitanya roared like a lion when He chanted the holy name.

We are so caught up in our mind, in one sense, we have to lose our minds, in order find our real mind.

That “Haraye Namah Krishna Yadhava” was Lord Caitanya’s first sankirtana.

When you go on a retreat, it is important to get enough sleep.

Jiva Goswami: “Kirtana is praise of Krishna who has the highest attributes.”

What I want you to learn from this workshop is to praise Krishna twenty-four hours a day.

A Kirtana Tip

During Queen’s Day one kirtana was especially powerful. I asked the kirtana leader if he was thinking of Krishna at the time. No devotee likes to be caught in his devotion. It is a private affair. But he told me, “Actually I was thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.” My dear devotees, please think of Krishna when you sing kirtana. [That was one point that really struck me, and I hope to keep it with me. I have experienced that the kirtana is more powerful when you think of Krishna when you chant.—KKD]

The highest perfection of Krishna consciousness is to become mad after Krishna. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Six Goswamis taught and demonstrated this.

Do not worry about losing your mind. You will lose your material mind, but you become more intelligent.

Sanatana Goswami says to chant with absolute need for Krishna’s attention.

Q: Some say Srila Prabhupada was very strict about chanting certain mantras in kirtanas.

A: The mantras the great devotees chant in the line of teachers are especially empowered. Especially in our temples we should just chant Sri Krishna Caitanya, Hare Krishna, and Haraye Namah Krishna. Other places we may be more lenient.

Q: The yuga dharma is sankirtana, but you also recommend doing kirtana alone. Which is better?

A: We can practice doing kirtana on our own, but there is a special ecstasy doing kirtana with others.

Chanting with Humility

Q: What does it mean to chant with humility?

A: To be humble is to be real. When we study our character, we may not find such praiseworthy qualities. In Kali-yuga, we have the blessing of being unqualified, but we have to recognize that we are unqualified. In other ages, people were so qualified they could not think of just sitting down and chanting the holy names. In this Age of Kali, this kirtana is our only chance and those who are real, know it.

In Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Bhajana Rahasya, Chapter 3 gives six verses leading to humility.

Aligning Our Body, Mind, and Heart

There are the gates of the body, mind, heart, but the final gate is opened by the Lord.

Body: Do not eat too much, do not sleep too little, get enough air, be clean, chant clearly, sit straight, be careful what you do during the day.

Mind: The mind is so much influenced by the body it is almost embarrassing. I was advised by a doctor to go to a fitness center. I was not inclined, but when my health was so bad, I had to do something, so for two weeks I did. I drove everyone in the fitness center crazy by always chanting, introducing a few new postures, and jumping off the exercise machines. But to my great embarrassment, found I became more cheerful and more tolerant from doing the exercises.

Give your best, and let Krishna do the rest.

If during kirtana you find you’re spacing out, you can readjust your posture and remind yourself that you are part and parcel of Krishna.

Heart: How can we get the heart in the right place?

Chanting in front of picture of Radha and Krishna, chant louder, chant slower, say a prayer, concentrate on one syllable…

Prayers to Radha and Krishna

samsara-sagaran nathau


goptarau me yuvam eva


“O Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, please rescue me from the ocean of birth and death. Please rescue me from the troubles born from children, friends, and home. Please break into pieces the fears of Your surrendered devotee.”

yo ’ham mamasti yat kincid

iha loke paratra ca
sarvam bhavator adya
caraneshu mayarpitam

“O Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, today I place at Your feet Myself and everything I possess either in this life or in the next.”

saranam vam prapanno ’smi


prasadam kurutam dasyam

mayi duste ’paradhini

“O Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, You are like two great oceans of mercy. Please be merciful to me. I take shelter of You. I surrender to You. Please engage me, a sinner and an offender, in Your service.”

Rupa Goswami wrote, “I do not know how much nectar the two syllables ‘Krish-na’ have produced. When the holy name of Krishna is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and therefore all the senses become inert.”

Krishna is everywhere, but we have to tune in to Him.

Simply by aligning the body, mind, and heart, when we chant makes such a difference.

After glasnost, our Gauranga Bhajan band toured the former Soviet Union, Riga, Kiev, St. Petersburg, etc. In the papers, we were described as the fastest spreading religion in the CIS. One time we had stage show attended by 33,000 people. The people chanted so vigorously that thirty or forty of them fainted and had to be carried out.

It is not how fast you go, but how long you go.

Humility arises:

1) because of committing an offense

2) because of suffering

3) because of shame

Earthquake Meditation:

1) Structures are attacked at their foundation

2) Other related dangers

3) Reconstruction

Krishna’s Program:

1) Some disaster.

2) Disorientation.

3) Reconstruction of a life with Krishna in the center.

Bhaktisiddanta Saravati Thakura described that first there is deconstruction and then reconstruction.

It is cheaper to destroy an old building and rebuild.

Our process is to add Krishna consciousness and let it push out the old stuff. But some times Krishna shakes you up to speed up the process. If we cultivate detachment, that speeds our development.

A Humility Meditation

Humility is the fastest way to get the old stuff of our heart.

Ajamila continued, “I am a shameless cheater who has killed his brahminical culture. Indeed, I am sin personified. Where am I in comparison to the all-auspicious chanting of the holy name of Lord Narayana? I am such a sinful person, but since I have now gotten this opportunity, I must completely control my mind, life and senses and always engage in devotional service so that I may not fall again into the deep darkness and ignorance of material life. Because of identifying oneself with the body, one is subjected to desires for sense gratification, and thus one engages in many different types of pious and impious action. This is what constitutes material bondage. Now I shall disentangle myself from my material bondage, which has been caused by the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s illusory energy in the form of a woman. Being a most fallen soul, I was victimized by the illusory energy and have become like a dancing dog led around by a woman’s hand. Now I shall give up all lusty desires and free myself from this illusion. I shall become a merciful, well-wishing friend to all living entities and always absorb myself in Krishna consciousness. Simply because I chanted the holy name of the Lord in the association of devotees, my heart is now becoming purified. Therefore I shall not fall victim again to the false lures of material sense gratification. Now that I have become fixed in the Abolute Truth, henceforward I shall not identify myself with the body. I shall give up false conceptions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and fix my mind on the lotus feet of Krishna.” (SB 6.2.34–38). I highly recommend these prayers that I have chanted for years as a humility meditation.

I have done some research and in post hypnotic trance sometimes people remember being pulled out of their bodies by Yamaduta-like creatures.

We must remember how we were so helpless and so illusioned and how grateful we are to be in a better space.

Elements That Make a Good Kirtana

What elements have to be there to make a good kirtana?

1) Bablu (gurukula music teacher): We have to be like Raghunatha das Goswami who gave up the support of his rich family and ate the rice that was so rotten the cows were not eat it. We must respect maha-prasadam and chant with complete faith in the holy name. We should never, never, think we have to make the audience happy when we do kirtana. We should always be trying to make Krishna happy.

2) Bhurijana Prabhu: For me a good kirtana is when the mind becomes absorbed in hearing and chanting the holy names, and I have no desire for the kirtana to end. Usually this is when thekirtana is melodious and the leader is absorbed in kirtana-rasa. My absorption in kirtana comes only by Krishna’s kindness and not by my own strength.

3) Lokanatha Swami: This is mentioned in the second verse of “Guruvastakam,” mahaprabhoh kirtana nrtya gita, the spiritual master enjoys singing and dancing in the kirtana of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The best kirtana is when singing, dancing, and playing the musical instruments are synchronized in a prayerful mood.

4) Ramesh Baba [from Vrindavana, from Sri Vallabha Sampradaya]: Concentration on the sweet beauty of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna is the supreme sankirtana.

Haridasa Thakura:

(From Harinama Cintamani)

kripa kari’ nama-rupe

kmara jihvaya

kirantara naca prabhu

dhari tava paya

“O Lord, be merciful and appear on my tongue as the holy name and dance there…”

When Haridasa Thakura was being beaten in the twenty-two market places, people would say things to those who were beating him like “don’t beat him, beat me instead,” “take this money, and stop beating them,” or “take my house, just stop beating him.” Lord Caitanya asked Haridasa Thakura what he was thinking as he was tortured in the twenty-two market places. I was just chanting the holy name with in the ecstasy of love for You. I didn’t feel a thing. Lord Caitanya, “Do you know why? He turned around and showed his bloody back. Lord Caitanya said you are so dear to me that anyone who just says “Haridasa” is blessed.

Advaita Acarya was speaking on Bhagavad-gita 13.14, and He was at a loss at how to explain how the Lord’s hands, feet, eyes, heads, faces, and ears are everywhere. That night a golden person appeared a dream and told him not to doubt the scripture. I am seated as the Supersoul in each atom, and therefore, I have hands, feet, eyes, heads, faces, and ears everywhere.

“We are here a short time, and then we go,” Lord Caitanya said, to console his mother when his wife died.

Lord Caitanya’s father understood through a dream that his son would soon take sannyasa and that thought was so terrible for him, he died out of fear of his son’s separation.

People from all divisions of society joined Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement. The planting of the mango seed, which immediately grew into a tree, is analogous to Lord Caitanya planting the seed of bhakti (devotion for the Lord) into everyone’s heart.

In Puri at night in separation from Krishna, Lord Caitanya would rub his face over the stone walls of the Gambhira. When His associates inquired from Lord Caitanya, “Why?” He said, “Krishna has left for Mathura. What hope is there that I will see Him again?”

Lord Caitanya in Puri said, “I shall publicize kirtana in every household so everyone dances to My glory.”

Lord Caitanya created kirtana with love, and anyone who chanted in Mahaprabhu’s presence was imbued with that love, and was transported to another world.

Lord Nityananda and the Coconut Seller

When Lord Nityananda would chant and dance Lord Caitanya would appear there. Lord Nityananda continued propagating sankirtana after Lord Nityananda love. Once a coconut seller, hearing Lord Nityananda chant the name of Lord Caitanya, fell out of his coconut tree, and when he hit the ground, he began dancing.

You have joined a movement of transcendental ecstasy.

One Vrajavasi boy cut some hair off from the great sage Durvasa as a souvenir when he was in an unconscious condition, and when the sage found out, he cursed him to become a crocodile. Because he appealed for mercy, Durvasa said that Lord Caitanya will deliver you from your crocodile form. Lord Caitanya touched the crocodile with his lotus feet and he was delivered. We can touch the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya by touching His sankirtana.

Day 2: [Our] Relationship with Krishna.

“My dear Lord Krishna, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world today I am surrendering unto you. I am Your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.33)

If you turn to others for friendship, without first turning to Krishna, our supreme friend, your friendships will be superficial. Krishna is compared to the sun and maya to darkness. How can we have meaniful relationships if we are in the dark? Two people walking in darkness, stumbling and falling are the relationships we have in this material world.

If we sit on the banks of the Yamuna with some doubt in our mind, Krishna will personally remove our doubt.

We contemplate that we are covered by the material elements, and have forgotten Krishna, but we are actually His and want to be again surrendered to Him.

This sincere turning to Krishna is all he wants. The devotee vows to always glorify the Lord, satatam kirtanyanto mam yatantas ca drdha-vrata. (Bg. 9.14)

naham tisthami vaikunthe

yoginam hrdayesu va

yatra gayanti mad-bhakta

tatra tisthami narada

Lord Krishna told Narada Muni, “I am not situated in Vaikuntha (the spiritual world), nor in the hearts of the meditating yogis, but you will find Me wherever my devotees are chanting My glories.”

We must chant in this consciousness: I am an atomic particle of consciousness, Krishna is the infinite and my only master. The material world is a prison house meant to reform our consciousness.

Our mind is our instrument but somehow we have become the instrument of the mind. This is scandalous. Imagine using a hammer, and then somehow or other, the hammer starts hammering us.

We must chant fixed in this understanding.

1. I am an eternal soul.

2. I am in this world.

3. I have a relationship with Krishna.

Q: We have some hope for material enjoyment so it is difficult to completely surrender to Krishna?

A: The solution is to have a greater hope, asa bandha, to enter into Krishna’s pastimes in Vrndavana.

Sankirtana means complete glorification of the Lord, which can be done alone, or it can be done in a group of many.

There are five types of kirtana:

Nama-kirtana, that of the Lord’s name,

Rupa-kirtana, that of the Lord’s form,

Guna-kirtana, that of the Lord’s qualities,

Lila-kirtana, that of the Lord’s pastimes.

In one lila-kirtana, the description of Srivasa Thakura’s son’s death is given in more detail. Lord Caitanya took the body of the son to the Ganges and bathed it in water, then Mother Ganga personified, in a brilliant silver sari, accepted the body of the boy.


Lord Rama and the Boatman

In Rama-lila, Rama and Sita are walking in the forest and come upon the River Sarayu, which is very wide, perhaps a kilometer. Just then a boatman came, and took Rama and Sita across the river. At the other side, Rama told Sita to give her valuable pearl necklace to the boatman. The boatman refused, saying in this region, the boatmen to not accept payment from another boatman. “Since when I have I become a boatman,” inquired Lord Rama. The boatman explained, “I am a very small boatman, but you are very great boatman. I just take people across the river, and you take people across the ocean of birth and death. You do not need to pay me now, and when I am ready to cross over the ocean of birth and death, I will not need to pay you.” The Lord smiled and said, “Let it be.”

Nama-kirtana is superior because as Lord Caitanya in “Siksastakam” verse 2, the Lord has invested all His potencies in His name.

In kirtana we feel relief and the presence of Krishna.

Dvani is the echo, which still continues to affect you after the kirtana is over. There is a peace because the mind chatter is silenced. Sometimes people laugh nervously after kirtana because they have experienced a different state.

The Holy Name Can Bring a Dead Man Back to Life

Know for certain this holy name of Krishna can bring a dead man back to life. There is one Vrndavana baba who does forty-day parikramas of Vrndavana. Once a lady died on the parikrama and they were waiting for the relatives to come from Delhi before they burned the body. The baba said, “Let us see if Yamaraja will take that soul.” He chanted Krishna kirtana for four hours, and the lady sat up and climbed down from the funeral pyre, ready to join the kirtana.

Krishna Himself says, “Of all my holy names, my name Krishna is the foremost. It is the best atonement, and it gives liberation.”

Krishna is called Krishna by his confidential devotees.

Sacinandana Swami asked us to write a pray to the holy name, and here is mine:

Dear Nama Prabhu,

I understand you are Krishna Himself and thus are so attractive that it should not be difficult for me to fix my mind upon You. I am so unfortunate that although you easily give Your association in this form, I foolishly pay attention to insignificant things and consequently cannot fully appreciate you. Please be merciful and help me absorb my restless mind in You before long, certainly before I quit this body. Then I am sure I will quickly come to appreciate our intimate relationship. Please bless me.

Your fallen servant,

Krishna-kripa das

The internet listeners exclaim, “The seminar is so powerful through the internet, how much more powerful it must be to be there!”

Generally we do not think that Krishna is interested in us. But when Gopa Kumara came back to Krishna, Krishna asked, sadden by the separation, “How was it possible for you to stay away for long?” Krishna is eager for us to come back.

If you do not chant the mantra at the proper times, the deity of the mantra is not present, and you do not get the result of the mantra.

Pure bhakti consists of the sankirtana of the Lord’s names.

You must chant kirtana with the hope of contacting Krishna’s lotus feet.

The Vishnudutas say, “Chanting engages the sense of speech, the sense of hearing, and the mind as well. It also benefits others who may be nearby.”

The sankirtana appears when we feel separation from the Lord.

Giriraja Swami asked Srila Prabhupada, “How do I chant?”

“You chant just like you speak now to me,” Srila Prabhupada replied.

When someone chants the Lord name’s, the Lord’s mind dwells on him and

Lord will always protect Him, and Lord makes plans to deliver that person.

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the Adi Purana, “When one chants My name, either out of devotion or indifference, I never will forget him.”

Use our sadness to connect to Krishna.

In the Padyavali, Rupa Goswami, says that we should chant like we read a love letter from someone we have not seen for awhile, over and over again.

In the blissful kirtanas of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, there were meditation on the name, form, and personality of Krishna. At Jagannatha Puri, the Lord would bring His devotees to the Jagannatha temple before starting the sankirtana, and afterwards, He would personally feed them Jagannatha prasadam.

Because Lord Caitanya wanted to see each devotee, He manifested a form in which each person in the kirtana saw the Lord was looking at them.

The first two days of the retreat are the most difficult because they are the adjustment days. Bhurijana Prabhu and I refer to these as the stirring days. Everything gets stirred around.

Day 3: Rendering service.

Atah sri-krishna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah

“Therefore material senses cannot appreciate Krishna’s name, form, qualities, and pastimes. When one engages his senses in tasting the remnants of the Lord’s food and chanting the Lord’s holy name, the Lord’s transcendental name, form, qualities, and pastimes are revealed to Him.”

You can’t catch Krishna on your tongue like a frog catches a fly.

The Life of the Name by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has an article about how the name is different from the mere syllables of the name.

We cannot force our way into transcendence, but Krishna can force Himself upon us, if we please Him by service.

To have service (seva), you need the servant (sevaka) and the one who is served (sevya).

Respect blocks our ability to serve. I gave a book to Willy Brandt [former Chancellor of West Germany], a Noble Peace Prize winner, but I was so fearful I could not say anything but just put the book in his hand.

Service starts with acceptance. As soon as we accept Krishna, our service begins.

Maharaja Bharata said nothing but the holy names of the Lord, even in his dreams. Due to inattention, he later took birth as a deer. At the end of that life, he smiled and said, “Narayana haraye namah.” The holy name appeared on his tongue.

Gajenda, king of the elephants, fixed his mind in his heart and with perfected intelligence, he chanted a mantra which he remembered from the previous life, by the grace of the Lord.

An advanced devotee does not get tired at the time of hearing and chanting the holy name of the Lord.

Chanting the Holy Name As Service

How is chanting the holy name service?

1) We are serving the Lord by glorifying Him.

2) We are serving the order of Lord Caitanya to chant the holy name.

3) We are serving the vow we made to our guru by carrying out.

4) We are serving the dharma of the age.

5) We are purifying ourselves and others.

6) Because we are spending quality time with Krishna, when we chant the full name, not amputated mantras.

Usually the beginning of service is humility. Only with the inclination to render service, do we actually chant the pure name.

In the Hare Krishna mantra, “Hare Krishna” implies sambhoga (union), “Krishna Krishna” and “Hare Hare” imply vipralambha (separation).

Because “Radha” is there in maha-mantra, we connect to the intimate pastimes of Radha-Krishna in Vraja.

Chanting Hare Krishna in sankirtana brings out all the rasas we have with Krishna, but it all begins with the dasya-rasa.

By the power of the maha-mantra our material attachments can gradually be transformed to spiritual attachments.

The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is an open secret, but you have to approach it with a service attitude.

Hare Krishna mantra chanting means keeping Krishna always within your heart. It is not very expensive. You do not have to make a very elaborate throne within the heart. You can make one diamond throne. Bathe the Lord in Ganges or Yamuna water. Dress Him.

I have read in many books on psychology that when we reflect on something, it gets transferred from short term memory to long term memory.

Listening, reflecting, and applying are three important steps to have a transformational experience.

Spiritual life is not so much of an intellectual thing. Spiritual life develops when we open a door in our heart.

The spiritual TV in our heart is broken and this congregational chanting of the holy name is the way to repair that TV.

It is said that you tell stories to kids so they will go to sleep, and you tell stories to adults to wake them up.

If you chant the holy name of the Lord and serve the Lord’s devotees you can live in security. The process of chanting the holy name is so powerful that you can attain the same perfection as the greatest yogis.

Narada’s Life as a Gandharva

In a previous life, Narada was an attractive Gandharva Upabahana. Once he walked past a women’s singing class, and sang so melodiously and looked so attractive that all the students left their instructor, when instructor glanced away for a second, and they followed Upabahana instead. He was once invited to a sankirtana festival and he agreed to come, but he later considered that if he glorified the Lord, the Lord would become famous, and not himself, so he decided to have his own concert next to the sankirtana festival. Because he was very popular, people left the sankirtanafestival to hear his concert. The organizers of the sankirtana festival were upset with Upabahana and cursed him to be a sudra on the planet earth. Upabahana felt bad about his offense, and left his body while touching the waters of a sacred river and chanting, “Hari! Hari!”

When you learn to hanker for Krishna, you will lose the hankering for internet, TV, etc.

Qualities of Narada Muni which made his kirtana successful.

1) He was satisfied in mind.

2) He was free from material desires.

3) He was without pride or selfishness.

4) He only wished to become an associate of the Lord.

5) He was free from enviousness.

Krishna does not come to hear the devotees glorify Him because he needs to hear His glories. He does not suffer low self-esteem like we sometimes do.

Some names of Krishna that Narada chants include: Gokula-mahotsava (He who is a great festival for Gokula), Yasoda-nandana (the son of Yasoda), Gopi-gana-priya (dear to the gopis), Putana-mocana (the deliverer of Putana), Gopika-manohara (He who steals the minds of the gopis), Vraja-janananda (He who gives bliss to the residents of Vraja).

Prayer by Narada to Krishna, “O swan, gliding in the lakes of the Vrajavasi’s love, I wish I may travel everywhere with my mouth full of the your nectarean names which describe your activities in Vraja. As I wander around behaving like a madman, may I distribute joy to all the worlds.”

Service to the holy names: Chanting. Hearing attentively. Bringing the holy name to someone else.

Whenever myself or my godbrothers go out to do programs where we distribute the holy names we become so blissful we cannot even sleep.

Seva (service) is the essence of all rasas (relationships) we have with Krishna.

Exercise: Tell what you can do to serve the holy name.

[I can go on harinama. I can sing while I travel, like Narada did. Actually, I chanted in thirteen European countries last summer. I can explain more the benefit of chanting to the people so they take it more seriously. I can get contact information for the people and encourage them from time to time.—KKD]

To understand Krishna we must see Krishna through the eyes of His devotees because they have eyes of love and the Lord of love can only be seen through eyes of love.

The Bhagavatam is not only about Krishna but also those who are madly in love with Krishna.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that one who saw Krishna’s beauty only once, could not move for seven days, His beauty was so striking.

The washerman who refused to give Krishna cloth in Mathura was the person, who during Rama-lila, refused to take his wife back when she had spent a night away from home, saying he was not like Rama who would take his wife back after she had stayed in Ravana’s kingdom.

When I was young, I thought that if God would appear and offer me a benediction that I would ask for a magic wand. Then I could get additional benedictions from the wand. This I admit was a materialistic desire.

When Krishna offered, Sudama, the garland maker, asked for unshakeable devotion to Krishna, friendship with Krishna’s devotees, and compassion on all living beings. Krishna granted all these as well as a long life with no worries for livelihood for all his family members.

The devas (demigods) if you give them a bael fruit, they will give you a mustard seed. The human beings if you give them a mountain, they will give you a mustard seed. Krishna, however, is different. If you give him a mustard seed, he will give you a mountain.

Love starts by giving attention.

I am planning to do a retreat where all we do is chant Hare Krishna and hear Krishna’s pastimes.

Day 4: Offering the heart.

In Hari-bhakta-vilasa, it is said that after many births of spiritual practice, one attains a state where one constantly chants the holy name of the Lord.

Arjuna was called Gudakesa, conquerer of sleep, because in his sleep he chanted the names of Krishna.

What can we do on our own? We can do a little bit, but how can we remove lifetimes of conditioning to material desires? We can only have a chance if we attract the attention of the Lord.

Once the tide in the Canary Islands dragged me out to sea, and I cried out to Krishna, because I had no other shelter, appealing to him that if He had an inclination to save me, to please reveal His plan to me. I heard a voice from within, “When a wave comes, swim with the wave. When the wave goes back, do not try to swim against.” In this way, I would swim for 12 meters, and be dragged back 11 meters, then I would swim for 12 meters, and be dragged back 11 meters. After what seemed like hours I made it to the shore, and collapsed and prayed in gratitude.

Lose yourself to find yourself, in order words, lose your false self to find your real self. It can happen if you enter the world of kirtana. It cannot happen by your own strength. By the Lord is attracted and considers, “This person has chanted my name, and therefore, it is my duty to give me protection.” Put your attention to the kirtana, and the Lord will be pleased to pay attention to you. And if the Lord is attracted by you, then everything becomes auspicious.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains the external emotional symptoms of the devotees as reactions to seeing the pastimes of the Lord which the Lord reveals to them from within.

Q: Is it important to chant Srila Prabhupada’s pranama mantra in the kirtana before chanting Hare Krishna?

A: It is important to understand that we approach Krishna through the guru, and through Gaura Nitai, but not in every case do you have to chant the pranama mantras.

Q: Should we try to imagine Krishna’s pastimes or let it happen naturally?

A: I am doubtful about the value of imagination as what can we as limited conditioned souls imagine? In Bhakti Rahasyam, Bhaktivinoda Thakura has verses that act as uddipanas (stimuli) to remembrance to Krishna’s pastimes. Such verses are also there at the end of Brhad-Bhagavatamrita.

Q: How to integrate spiritual and material life?

A: Habit is very powerful, but we can create good habits that inspire us. If we do something for 40 days, it becomes a habit. For example, if you sing before taking rest, you will find it is very powerful.

Four levels of competency:

1) You do not know you do mistakes. (Unconsciously incompetent.)

2) You realize you do mistakes. (Consciously incompetent.)

3) You realize you make mistakes, and you try to improve. (Consciously competent.)

4) You act properly even without being aware of it. (Unconsciously competent.)

Souls who want to establish a relationship with Krishna in the spiritual world, use His principle names.

Souls who caught up in the material world use His secondary names, Isvara, Paramatma.

Jiva Goswami on Chanting the Holy Name

Three recommendations of Jiva Goswami:

1) Chant the names of the Lord that are dear to you.

2) When you cannot concentrate, chant loudly and melodiously.

3) Develop humility.

According to Jiva Goswami, says that sankirtana is superior to kirtana and creates extraordinary feelings or even extraordinary delights.

If we are can become humble then our disqualifications can become our greatest qualification.

In humility, we make urgent appeals.

One who is humble prefers not to focus on his success but on what needs improvement.

Words of Inspiration During the Four-Hour Nama Yajna

Load Caitanya said, “My sankirtana yajna is glorious. All the scriptures proclaim its glories. Anyone who chants Krishna’s glories becomes spiritually enlightened. In the sankirtana yajna, the ear is the plate, the tongue is the spoon, and the sound of Krishna’s glories is the ghee. The flames of the fire make the body tremble and the bodily hairs stand erect. All the living entities dance. All kinds of liberations come, but the living entities care not for them but simply dance. All the Vaishnava acaryas come to participate. Please know sankirtana is the best of all yajnas. My personal associates, Advaita Acarya, Gadadhara Pandita, Srivasa Thakura, etc., help Me to establish this yajna. Please take this sankirtana yajna house to house and deliver all people.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura prayed, “O Holy Name, you have appeared for the deliverance of all the fallen souls in the material world. You enliven the minds of all souls. If someone calls on You just one time in a meek state of mind thinking he has no other shelter, You deliver that person.”

Lord Caitanya explained to Haridasa Thakura, “It is faith alone which determines how fast we advance and how soon one tastes My Holy Name.

Haridasa Thakura prayed, “O Holy Name! Please appear on my tongue. Dance on my tongue constantly. I fall down and beg at Your lotus feet, please appear on my tongue and dance their constantly. Feed me with the divine nectar of Your names, whether I am in this world or in the spiritual abode. Everyone knows that You came to deliver the most fallen, please consider me as one of the souls you came to bless.”

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

We are never by ourselves. Krishna is very much present, sometimes very obviously. While I was chanting japa, I was meditating that Krishna is here, and I am offering these names to that Krishna who is here. Of course, that is what Uddhava told the gopis that Krishna is here, and they were not very much impressed. They were feeling that Krishna wasn’t here. So today I chanted in that mood, “Where is Krishna?”

Krishna’s Flute Joins Gauranga’s Pastimes as the Mrdanga Drum

When the Lord wanted to descend as Sri Gauranga, His flute wanted to come. Krishna wanted to come in a concealed form, but if His celebrated flute came, people would see through His disguise, so He told the flute, he could not come. The flute suggested that he too could come in a disguised form. “What form do you want to come in?” Krishna asked the flute. “I just want to assist in making music for Your pleasure, what form do you suggest?” replied the flute. Then Lord then told the flute that he could come as a mrdanga drum. Both the flute and the mrdanga enliven the devotees when they are heard, and they inspire devotional sentiments in the pastimes in which they appear.

Sacinandana Swami:

Day 5: Welcoming the divine gift

“Prema-dhana” means “wealth of the gift of love.”

Q (by Maitreyi, wife of Yajnavalka): What are the two needs of the human being which if fulfilled leave no other needs to be fulfilled.

A (by Yajnavalka): To be loved and to give love.

Psychologists analyze that the behavior of eating so many sweets that one’s bodily volume increases comes from dissatisfaction in love.

Where do we find this “prema-dhana”?

In the assembly of Vaishnavas who engage in chanting Krishna kirtana.

If you want Krishna consciousness, you have to really want it.

Srutakirti Prabhu says in What is the Difficulty? that Srila Prabhupada said that if we follow the program he has given us strictly for fourteen years, we will become so empowered by Krishna that whatever we say will be truthful.

By reciting the prayers of the great souls we imbibe their devotional mentality.

In France, one day Srila Prabhupada taught the devotees the prayer to the Six Goswamis. He got part way through the first line and then stopped completely. His body started trembling, so much so, I felt moved in my heart too. I was impressed to see that Krishna consciousness was definitely a different experience.

We must get bhava [love of God] from those who have it.

Materialists have attachment for material things which they express in their songs and movies, and if we associate with these things, we develop our material attachments.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura prays to the Lord for millions of ears so he can hear all glorifications of the Lord coming from the mouths of His millions of devotees, because their glorification of the Lord is filled with their devotional mood.

Kirtana leaders must be very responsible and pure because what is in their heart will be transmitted to the hearts of the hearers.

Fixing the mind on one who transcended the passions of this world can help us fix our mind. Read and bring yourself into the presence of the speaker and try to enter into his mood. Sincerely serve the mission of the great souls, and you get the bhava’of the great souls.

Rahasyam means secret.

“The root cause of bhakti is association with advanced devotees. Even when one’s love of God is awakening, association of devotees is most essential.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya 22.83)

The first meeting with have with Krishna is with His holy name. We can see how advanced we are by how enthusiastic we are about kirtana.

We need devotion to be devotees.

Kirtana of devotees gives us eternal benefit, while the kirtana of nondevotees can only give us temporary benefit.

The priests would offer this prayer before their sermons, “May the Lord be in my heart and on my lips.”

The name is still powerful and can deliver without difficulty, even one who is an hedonist, who knows nothing of dharma, and who has no real knowledge.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says the guru is Krishna’s potency and our eternal master.

Exercise: Where do we get bhakti? Guru and senior devotees. [In my life, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami in dedication to japa, Indradyumna Swami in harinama, Maha-Vishnu Goswami in memorizing verses of the Gita.—KKD]

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mood is in kirtana is expressed in “Siksastaka,” verse 5: “O son of Maharaja Nanda, somehow or other I have fallen into this ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death, and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.” Do not try to be a good swimmer in the ocean of birth and death, but rather cry out to Krishna.

One place Srila Prabhupada explains the Hare Krishna mantra as an address to Krishna, “Please accept me.” And he adds, “There is no another prayer.”

Srila Prabhupada said, “Lord Caitanya gave up everything. Then he was crying for Govinda.”

We are all children of God. We are lost children of eternity. We should feel homesick for the spiritual world.

Whose Name Does Krishna Chant?

Lord Caitanya chants the holy names of Krishna when he performs kirtana, but when Lord Krishna chants, whose name does He chant? Radharani.

One day Radha was supposed to meet Krishna at a certain kunja, but She decided to test Him by not coming. The gopi servants of Radha came by and Krishna inquired where Radha was. They explained that Radha was given service by Her superiors and could not come today. Krishna was despondent. The gopis suggested that He chant Radharani’s name because there is no difference between Radharani and Her name. Krishna chants for sometime but does not experience Radharani’s presence. The gopis say that is because His chanting is offensive. They ask if He ever thinks of Candravali, a rival gopi of Radharani. He explains that He cannot be so one-pointed as they, because He has to reciprocate with all His worshipers. They suggest He continue chanting without offenses. Radharani, who has been hiding in the bushes all this time, becomes so attracted by His chanting of Her name, She cannot remain hidden. They come together and chant together each other’s names.

Narottama Dasa Thakura says, “Chant Radha’s name and you will attract Krishna. Chant Krishna’s name and you will attract Radha.”

To glorify the Lord, we have must have some attachment for the Lord. The sacred mantra is the bow, the living entity is the arrow, and the target is the Supreme Being (Srimad-Bhagavatam7.15.42). We must have some attachment to the target to hit it.

From the drama arranged by Sasha and an international group of ladies:

“If you do not apply the lessons from pastimes in the scripture, it is as if you never heard them.”

Sacinandana Swami:

As he carefully unwrapped a gift, Prabhupada never destroyed paper that was used to wrap a present.

I have got some bad news for you. You will return to a world that has not changed. You have changed for sure, participating in many kirtanas, and associating with many devotees. But you will have the same job, the same family situations, and the same temptations.

There are retreat junkies who cannot survive without going to a retreat. The materialistic organizers create retreat junkies who will they keep coming to retreats and spending more money thus maintaining the retreat organizers.

If you can change your thinking habit, then you will change your acting habit. The whole point is to create spiritual thinking habits. Always remember Krishna and never forget Him. There is good news. Habits are very strong, but you can create good spiritual habits that will benefit you greatly.

Ajamila is an example of someone who changed his life in a moment by a transformational experience. Jagai and Madhai also became transformed.

Here is a summary of what we learned in the retreat, the five aspects of the kirtana arrow:

Alignment: Tuning the body, mind, and heart for proper kirtana.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says in Harinama Cintamani that inattention is the root of all other offenses.

Relationship: Establish a relationship with Krishna, not our eternal rasa, but that we are the eternal servant of Krishna.

Once a group of devotees wanted to leave Krishna consciousness claiming that the process didn’t work. Srila Prabhupada said, “Just once thing, before you go, just sit in front of deities and chant the holy name.” They did and they stayed. By chanting in front of the deities we acknowledge our relationship, and we being to feel something.

Rendering service:

Opening the heart means keeping the meaning of the mantra in the heart and remembering the deity while you chant.

Welcoming the gift—Be a patient receiver not an impatient acheiver.

When you stop thinking about yourself and what you get out of it, then you get everything.

How to teach adults? They do not want so much information but just a few practical things they can apply for their benefit.

If you want to develop a new habit, do not make too many changes at once and spread your energy too thin.

What the Retreat Was Like for Me

The japa retreat was an intense experience, and it was difficult to attend all the sessions as well as the temple morning program and do my reading, proofreading, laundry, etc. I was impressed with the care Sacinandana Swami took in designing and executing the kirtana retreat, and the follow-up he is doing via email afterwards. High points for me were the four-hour kirtana yajna, especially the kirtana of Kadamba Kanana Swami during which got three-quarters of the devotees to rise and dance with enthusiasm. The four dramas the final night based on what we learned the previous four days were also very powerful, with the favorite being Shyamananda Prabhu’s discussion with his mind while chanting japa which was the best dramatic illustration of the problem of the uncontrolled mind that I have ever seen. As you can see from reading this account, Sacinandana Swami gave many very nourishing practical insights and instructions to improve our spiritual lives. As such I am thinking of regularly attending these retreats of his in Radhadesh each May. As a result of this retreat, I am trying to chant at least an extra hour of kirtana each day, above what is part of Srila Prabhupada’s standard morning and evening programs. Usually that will be part of my three-hour daily harinama program, but on days I do not do harinama, I hope to chant at least one hour in the temple to honor the fact that sankirtana is the dharma of the age. Once I chanted with my harmonium for an hour at the Hannover, Germany, train station, between trains, to meet this quota.


kalim sabhajayanty arya

guna jnah sara-bhaginah

yatra sankirtanenaiva

sarva-svartho ’bhilabhyate

“Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved

by the performance of sankirtana.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.36)