By Mukundanghri Dasa
After Akrura was instructed by the evil king, Kamsa, to bring Krishna and Balaram from Vrindavan to Mathura, he boarded his chariot. Along the journey, Akrura struggled to fathom the good fortune that had befallen him. He was about to see the object of his meditation, the essence of his life – Krishna and Balaram. As his chariot rode along, inching closer and closer to Vrindavan, he thought of seeing the beautiful forms of Krishna and Balaram. He thought of Krishna’s face and His enchanting smile framed by His captivating reddish lips. He thought of His soft black hair and the tilak that decorated His forehead. Lost in devotional meditation, Akrura went through the gateway to the spiritual world, and entered Vrindavan with his mind and heart first before physically setting foot in the sacred dust of Sri Vrindavan Dham, which is decorated by the lotus feet of Krishna.
The Depth of Meditation
Meditation is much like an iceberg. The bulk of its depth and substance are below the surface of the ocean and cannot be seen by the naked eye. It can be understood, therefore, that if one wants to appreciate and experience the entirety of devotional practice, one is compelled to dive deeper and not simply be content with understanding and living on the tip of the iceberg. This process of diving deeper, exploring the meaning and mood of loving devotion to God is called meditation.
The post-modern view of meditation often depicts it as a way to “clear the mind”. However, the ancient sages who taught the sacred art of love of God (Krishna), give a different view.
“To meditate means to engage the mind in thinking of the form of the Lord, the qualities of the Lord, the activities of the Lord and the service of the Lord. Meditation does not mean anything impersonal or void. According to Vedic literature, meditation is always on the form of [Krishna].” Nectar of Devotion, Eastern Section, Second Wave, Chapter 10 Spiritualizing Our Existence
The purpose of meditation is to give us direct perception of God (Krishna) through the lens of loving devotional service. This is done through continuously hearing about Krishna, speaking about Krishna, living in remembrance of Krishna, and constantly expecting Krishna’s mercy upon us. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (3.28.18) Lord Kapiladev instructs His mother on meditation: “One should therefore meditate upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead and upon His devotees. One should meditate on the eternal form of the Lord until the mind becomes fixed.”
The sastra points out that worship of the Lord is ineffective without manasa-puja (worship within the mind). Meditation is therefore known as manoh-dharma, religion of the mind.
Colours of Meditation
Meditation is subtended by profuse hearing. The life of a devotee of Krishna is designed around drinking the sweet pastimes of the Bhagavatam through the ears to fill the heart. These pastimes of the Lord and His devotees are held firmly in the heart through the chanting of the holy names in a mood that is conducive to sustaining the meditation. This mood is humble, tolerant, free from false pride and respectful to all. “In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” – Sri Siksastakam Verse 3 The devotees in the Bhagavatam give hope to the aspiring devotee trapped within the material world. But to gain their mercy and their favor we must humbly submit, and The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. www.krishna.com. Used with permission. hear sincerely and profusely from the spiritual master who will guide one towards deeper access into the mood and devotional feelings of the residents of Vrindavan. This is meditation.
Different devotees of the Lord in the pages of Bhagavatam exhibit various hues of meditation. The princess Rukmini became completely enthralled by Krishna’s beauty, character and feats simply by hearing about Him from sages. She had never seen Krishna with her own eyes before but by meditating on Krishna her heart became completely overwhelmed with love for Him.
The scriptures describe that the relationship between a cow and its calf is the most genuine of all relationships within the material world. A calf in the Sanskrit language is known as a vatsa. The cow is constantly meditating on her vatsa (or calf) and has unbridled affection for it. As such, this parental mood is most purely manifest in the spiritual world in Krishna’s relationship with His mother, Yasoda. Mother Yasoda is constantly meditating on her son, Krishna, just as the cow meditates upon her calf. Hence, this parental affection is known as vatsalya bhava.
In his prayer, Sri Damodarastakam, the sage Satyavrata Muni meditates as such:
“O Lord, Your lotus face, which is encircled by locks of soft black hair tinged with red, is kissed again and again by mother Yasoda, and Your lips are reddish like the bimba fruit. May this beautiful vision of Your lotus face be ever manifest in my heart. Thousands and thousands of other benedictions are of no use to me.” Sri
In this way the sages and devotees in the pages of Bhagavatam are immersed in meditation of Krishna exhibiting unlimited colours of love of God. This is the goal of meditation.
The Fire of Meditation
To deal with fire, one must become fire otherwise we run the risk of getting burnt. Hence to interact on the spiritual level we must spiritualize our existence. This is done through deep absorption in hearing, chanting and remembering.
In the midst of any material situation, if one simply takes shelter of the Lord within ones heart and mind, they are swiftly delivered and protected by Krishna. This case is beautifully illustrated by Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas.
After Yudhisthir had lost a gambling match, his wife Draupadi, was unceremoniously dragged into the assembly hall of the Kauravas and threatened to be dishonoured by disrobing her in front of the assembly of kings.
Dushashan approached the wailing Draupadi. The Kaurava took hold of the end of her cloth and pulled on it forcefully. Draupadi held her sari tightly in an attempt to protect herself. She looked again at her five husbands. It was obvious that they could not help her. As Dushashan pulled harder, she looked around the hall like a frightened deer assailed by a lion. There was only one person now who could save her: Krishna.
Draupadi fixed her mind on Krishna, threw up her hands and cried, “O Govinda! O Kesava! O beloved of the gopis and Lord of Vrindavana! I am sinking into the Kuru ocean. Save me!” – Mahabharata 1.20
“Those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Pritha – for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.” Bhagavad-gita 12.6-7 For those practicing and cultivating feelings of affection of love for God, meditation is the gateway to the spiritual world, the gateway to Vrindavana, and loving devotional service to Krishna.