Chanting is most effective when performed in the mood of ‘helplessness’. Usually when we perform any activity in life, we are deeply driven by the consciousness that ‘I am the doer’ or ‘I can figure out how to get this done correctly’. We work hard, and mobilize all resources at our disposal to get the perfect result. However while chanting this formula fails to get us the desired result. We certainly need to work hard in our Bhakti Yoga practises but it’s the consciousness of ‘I am helplessly depending on the mercy of the Supreme Lord’ that helps us access spiritual benefits of chanting. It is this critical element of the ‘helpless’ attitude that differentiates Bhakti Yoga from other spiritual paths. While many sincere seekers emphasize on one’s own intense endeavours to attain success, a Bhakti Yogi while stressing on hard work ‘externally’ also works hard ‘internally’ to remember God and beg Him for mercy. It’s this desperate attitude coupled with his sincere hard work that attracts the Lord’s grace and helps him experience a connection to God through his chanting.
The rationale behind this approach is the childlike mood of a Bhakti practitioner attracts the attention of the loving parent, God. A Bhakti Yogi cultivates simplicity and purity of the heart like that of an innocent child. He also calls out to the Lord as a helpless child calls out to its mother for shelter. A mother or father is obliged to personally appear before the child when it helplessly cries for the parent. Similarly the Lord situated in our hearts silently witnesses not only our activities, but also our deepest thoughts and desires. When He sees we are sincerely depending on Him for our advancement in spiritual life, He certainly reciprocates.
Even if we think we could do without helplessly taking shelter of God, life does throw up many unpleasant experiences when we feel helpless. And the most painful of them all is the moment of death. It doesn’t really matter who we are and how much wealth we have accumulated or how many fans adore us. Time treats us all with contempt. We all have to bow down to the indefatigable time which appears as death in each of our lives.
There is nothing more certain in this world than death and when the final moment arrives there is nothing we could do through our logical or intellectual analysis to take shelter. Radhanath Swami makes a poignant observation, “The mind and intelligence spontaneously runs to where we have been seeking shelter all our lives. Wherever our conditionings and attachments are, the mind naturally flows in that direction. Therefore a devotee invests his precious time and energy in developing shelter of Krishna.”
A devotee of Krishna recognizes this insurmountable energy of time and humbly bows down to God and seeks His shelter. This keeps him divinely connected and happy when death eventually strikes. Being helpless therefore is not a weakening condition; on the contrary it empowers a sincere practitioner to access the powers of God, and experience deep and lasting spiritual happiness.