By Kesava Krsna Dasa
Have we ever thought of sitting Krishna on a diamond throne within our hearts as we chant japa? This thought probably never occurred to us in the first place. Would anyone say we’re not allowed to do this? We have to keep focus on Nama through sound, but how will the mind be engaged while wondering?
If we are taught to focus on the sound vibration during japa, what if the mind wanders, or thinks of something Krishna conscious, or visualises Krishna conscious images? Should we neglect favourable thoughts and images? Has anyone said we must neglect them?
We might worry that these thoughts and images should not be there because we are not ‘advanced’ enough to accept them. If the mind wanders off to mundane thoughts and images, it is far better to allow the mind to have Krishna conscious images, than mundane ones, or nothing at all. This means there has to be proper engagement for the mind while chanting japa.
The sound vibration remains (Nama), and we cannot avoid thoughts and images, so better to spiritualise them (Rupa). Even if we are solidly focused on the Nama, if Rupa enters of its own accord, we should accept, and not reject these; otherwise it will be like shoving Krishna aside, on the plea of focusing on sound vibration (Nama) and nothing else.
We are taught to focus on Nama, but not to remain on this level alone. When japa is focused, thoughts and images become more intense (Rupa). As we progress further, Rupa will become increasingly substantial and permanent, then Guna (Qualities) and lila (pastimes) manifest from within the heart while Nama is going on.
Some of us might think Srila Prabhupada instructed us only to focus on Nama – we all have to do this. We need Nama focus, but not remain on this level forever without allowing the mind suitable engagement. There are a number of quotes of Srila Prabhupada encouraging Rupa besides Nama. Here is one profound example:
“Therefore every one of you should become pure devotee, first-class devotee. First-class devotee is that… In this age it has been made very easy. Simply keep yourself cleansed, not to indulge in the four principles, prohibition, and chant Hare Krsna. Then you will be all first-class devotees. And wherever you will go, you will be able to purify there. Wherever you go. Wherever you speak, wherever you’ll sit. So keep this spiritual strength intact. Tirtha-bhutah. Tirthi-kurvanti tirthani sva antah-sthena. The Hare Krsna mantra chanting means keeping Krsna always within your heart. This is not… It is not expensive at all. You haven’t got to make a very exalted throne for Krsna. You can imagine that “In my heart I have placed now a very diamond throne, and Krsna is sitting.” That is accepted. It is… Actually it becomes. Even within the mind you think that “I have kept one diamond throne, very costly throne, because Krsna is coming. He will sit down here, that is not false. That is a fact. So you create such situation within your heart. “Now Krsna has seated. Let me wash His feet with the Ganges water, Yamuna water. Now I change His dress to a first-class costly garments. Then I decorate with ornaments. Then I give Him for eating.” You can simply think of this. This is meditation. Svantah-sthena gadabhrta. It is so nice thing. Anywhere you can sit down and think that Krsna is sitting in your heart and you are receiving in so nice way. They are not false. They are also fact. It is so easy.
So here is the… If you simply carry Krsna within your heart always in a very devotional service, exalted devotional service, and chant Hare Krsna, and think of Krsna, wherever you will go, you will purify the whole place. Svantah-sthena gadabhrta. It is fact. It is confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Try to remain in your position as devotee, and as far as possible teach these rascals who are simply attracted by the glaring material stones and woods, and let them have some knowledge and do benefit to your countrymen, to your society, to your family.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.13.10, Geneva, June 1, 1974)
If the form of our favourite deity enters our mind while focusing on Nama, this is not false – it is Krishna’s mercy. How can we push this image aside, thinking we must only hear the Nama and nothing else? What Srila Prabhupada encourages above, is a practical feature of Rupa, and there’s no prohibition against it, otherwise we will make little progress. However, Nama alone can grant everything. Rupa is there to facilitate loving service with Nama in person, and is an effective way to keep a wandering mind occupied.
Is the above suggestion only meant for us after we become “pure devotees?” Even if we’re aspiring for pure chanting (suddha-nama), a wondering mind has to be occupied somehow, and what more pleasant way is there than the above instruction? Does this sound too good to be true, or is it too good to be false?
Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa – GRS