“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Pritha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” – Bhagavad Gita 7.1
I have often heard and read in Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita that the goal of all spiritual practises is to be able to remember God always. But is remembrance of the Lord so easy? Is it some mechanical or mental adjustment of the mind or is it a gift given by Krishna Himself?
This question got answered recently when I heard a beautiful class of Srila Prabhupada (July 1’ 1972, San Deigo)in which he emphasized how as devotees of Krishna we need to strive to remember Krishna twenty four hours daily. Taking a dig at the popular meditation schools, Srila Prabhupada said it isn’t really effective if we think of so many other things for twenty three hours forty five minutes of a day, and then for the last fifteen minutes we do meditation. Real meditation means we should be able to remember the object of meditation throughout the twenty four hours. He declared that devotees need to remember Krishna even when sleeping. As I wondered how this could be possible, Srila Prabhupada, as if anticipating my doubt, revealed that we need to lead our lives during the day in such a way that even while we rest at night, we can think of Krishna.
This class certainly reveals to us Srila Prabhupada’s own level of Krishna consciousness; he speaks so naturally of loving and remembering Krishna that the listener might think Krishna consciousness is a very easy process. But instinctively I felt there has to be more to the process for I always struggle to remember the Lord during my daily activities. I wonder how I could now make a shift to always remember Krishna.
Humility and tolerance is the key
A million dollar question that I am sure must have arisen in your minds as well is, “What does it take to remember Krishna twenty four hours a day?”
Srila Prabhupada then chants the famous verse from the Chaitanya Charitamrita (CC Adi 17.31):
Trinad api sunicena
Taror api sahishnuna
Amani na mana dena
Kirtaniya sada hari
“One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.”
If we can cultivate humility and tolerance, chanting and remembrance of Krishna would be easy. Till we become humble, doubts would plague us. If we are humble and sincere, the process of Krishna consciousness would appear sublime and as joyful.
“But how do I become humble?” I can hear you say this. Is humility a magic fruit that can be easily plucked from a tree? How do we begin to cultivate humility?
Hearing is an expression of humility
Srila Prabhupada further explains the magical effect of submissive and enthusiastic hearing about Krishna. Hearing is an expression of humility; it pleases the Lord and leads to favourable remembrance of Krishna.
It isn’t difficult to see the connection between hearing and humility. Generally we like to speak, and in any conversation, people wish the other person stops speaking, so I could myself speak. Listening to an hour long class as in a typical ISKCON temple set up, is an expression of humility because by sitting in the class, we are indirectly declaring, “I am a fool; I don’t know what is good for me. Let me quietly hear, and understand what the speaker is saying”
Humility begins with hearing and service. If we humbly hear from experienced spiritualists, and then render sincere service to all others, we develop humility. Then chanting and remembering Krishna follows naturally. We don’t need to become a Phd or a learned scholar; even an uneducated person can chant and dance joyfully in Krishna consciousness. But to sustain the happiness that one experiences initially in Krishna consciousness, we need to choose humble hearing.
Let me now resolve to hear the daily classes in temple with renewed enthusiasm knowing this is pleasing to Krishna, and would also help me remember the Lord happily.