The Hare Krishna meditation helps the Bhakti Yogi see his own mind. As we sit down to chant, the devotee offers prayers to God and sermons his mind to cooperate for the next few minutes that he resolves to chant. However no soon does the chanter begin his session, the mind goes on a world tour, initially surveying the room, and then carrying us to our childhood, and then planning for the future- living all experiences except the present. That’s human mind- the enigma for the Bhakti Yogi.
The yoga science teaches the art of observing the mind and gently prodding it back to the Hare Krishna meditation. By definition mind is chanchal, restless. As we begin vibrating the holy names of God, we need to focus on listening to the syllables of the mantra, namely ‘Krishna’, ‘Rama’ and ‘Hare’. To the extent we are hearing the syllables carefully we have the mind in control. The moment we are loose in listening, the mind runs riot. Radhanath Swami’s guru gave a three point formula to help the Bhakti Yogi keep the mind in check- ‘Listen, Listen, Listen’. Listening is a powerful aid to keep the mind focussed on the practise of Hare Krishna yoga.
The ancient scriptures of India have brilliantly elucidated the nature of mind. The Bhagavad Gita compares the human body to a chariot; the senses to the horses driving the chariot. The mind is compared to the reins, and the intelligence to the driver who maneuvers the chariot. The passenger of the chariot is compared with the soul, the real occupant of the body. For the chariot to be taken to its destination smoothly, the driver guided by the passenger, needs to control the horses, using the reins effectively. Similarly for a yogi to optimally use his body so as to attain perfection in Bhakti Yoga, he needs to empower his intelligence- the driver of the body- with spiritual knowledge. With strong spiritually directed intelligence, we can control the senses and allow them to only wander to the desirable places.
Yoga practise calls for disciplining the mind and in Bhakti Yoga we discipline the mind by empowering the intelligence with spiritual instructions. Besides, Bhakti Yoga is gentle on the mind; a yogi observes the mind and while attempting to pull it to the meditation on the sound of the Holy Names, also offers prayers to Krishna.
A Bhakti Yogi prefers to depend on God’s power to regulate his mind rather than on his own power. This helps the devotee access a reservoir of deep spiritual powers originating from God. When we rely only on our abilities, we have limited control on the mind. When we helplessly call out to the Lord while sincerely endeavouring, we attract God’s grace.
Mantra meditation is a highly effective way of calling out to God, as well as to control the mind. The word ‘Mantra’ is derived from ‘Mana’ or Mind and ‘trayate’, which means ‘to deliver’. ‘Mantra’ therefore refers to a process that helps us deliver the mind from material conceptions to remembrance of God. Sincere chanting of God’s names helps us see ourselves as separate from our mind and also enables us to offer our materially motivated mind at the Lord’s shelter.