[The following is an excerpt from the upcoming Bhaktabandhav publication, Sri Harinama Cintamani]
Once, Arjuna and Krsna went to the forest and saw a sadhu who had a sword as well as a bow and arrow. He was sharpening his sword and arrows very attentively.
Arjuna asked him, “You are a sadhu, why are you doing this?”
“Why are you asking? You should not challenge sadhus.”
“It is not good for sadhus to have weapons.”
“Why do you question me. Who are you?”
Arjuna said, “Please explain to me why you have these weapons. I do not understand your activities.”
“Well, if you must know, I have these weapons and keep them well-sharpened, because whenever I happen to come across Arjuna, I will cut him into many pieces with this sword. And if I ever see Draupadi, I will shoot her in the heart with this bow and arrow.”
Hearing this, Arjuna began to shake in fear, and not being able to remain standing, fell to the ground.
He then asked the sadhu, “Why would you do that? What is the reason?”
The sadhu explained, “Arjuna calls for Krsna by chanting Krsna’s name, and then employs Him as his servant. He made Krsna his charioteer! Not only that, he even made Krsna the servant of his horses! He had Krsna feed them grass, massage them, and give them water to drink. The living beings should serve Krsna, not make Krsna their own servant.”
We chant harinama, and we pray for Krsna to free us from all mundane anxiety, disease, and sickness. However, if a phone call comes while we are chanting, we will put down our mala and pick up the phone. We consider nama secondary, and whoever is calling as our prime minister. Why are you thinking about anything else and going far away from Krsna? How can you really be with Krsna? No one resides in the desert or in the sky. Similarly, just dryly calling out to Krsna without offering anything is not enough. One should consider, “Krsna is my friend, Krsna is my beloved. I will serve Krsna. I will make a nice seat for Krsna and I will call Krsna to come. I will arrange many nice things for Him.”
In his manasi-seva, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami would arrange a seat for Krsna as well as make pastes out of sandal, aguru, and kasturi. He would perform the abhiseka of Krsna with a golden pot of water, then carefully apply tilaka to Krsna. Then he would go to milk the cows and bring back the milk to prepare sweet rice in another golden pot.
If you cannot do like this, then first forbid your mind, “While chanting, O mind, do not go away from Krsna. Do not think about maya. Be present with Krsna.” Where is Krsna? My Krsna is at Govardhana. My Krsna is in Vrndavana. My Krsna is in Nandagrama. I will go there and offer pranama to all the Vraja-vasis and request them, “Please give me a chance to be Krsna’s servant. Please give me the qualification to serve Krsna. I have no taste, and I am a great rascal. My mind is always running here and collecting mundane things.”
Pray to the Vaisnavas, “Please give me the taste to serve Krsna and be related with the Vrajavasis.” Then while chanting harinama you will receive a service, and by engaging in that service your mind will never be restless.
Without the conscious effort of praying in this way, you will be bound to try and make Krsna your servant when chanting harinama. You will pray to Krsna, “Give me happiness. Give me respect. Give me name and fame. I want to speak so eloquently. I want a nice temple and garden, and a large bank balance.” You desire Krsna to serve you every minute. Krsna will say, “You are chanting my name, but you are pulling Me simply to serve you.” Then Krsna’s servants will instruct you not to chant anymore.
Gurudeva gives us the instruction to chant harinama, but unfortunately we always disturb Krsna with our personal desires while chanting. If we do not chant in the proper mood of service, maya will arrange for us to forget harinama. We will set aside our mala and mice will come inside the beadbag, making it their nest and give birth to many babies. Otherwise, maybe a monkey will take it and wear it around his neck. Somehow or another, we will lose our harinama.
Mahaprabhu teaches that if you chant harinama but have no relation with Hari and no desire to serve Him, then certainly you will give up chanting and will never progress toward achieving pure bhakti.
We chant harinama and guru-mantra, yet while doing so we think of maya. Gurudeva says, “When chanting harinama, offer yourself to Guru-pada-padma and do pranama to the Vaisnavas. Within your mind, go to the holy dhama and pray, “Please give me some chance, tendency, and mood to serve Krsna.” This is called sakti-yoga. We must pray for this sakti, or energy.
The jivas are very weak, and their mind and intelligence are very small and insignificant. They have no capacity to follow bhakti. While their bodies are young, they are especially attracted to maya. When they see a charming face, they are ready to surrender themselves to the owner of the face. When chanting harinama they also think of these objects of maya, likened to urinal pots, which they go to lick and thus ride the train to hell.
But even then, they do not pray to Krsna, “I am like a pig. O Prabhu, please save me! Where have You gone? How can I come back to You? I have this habitual nature from so many millions of lives, please save me.”
If you request Krsna like this, then He will send Guru and Vaisnavas to lift you out of the sewage of maya.
Srila Gurudeva had a strong tri-danda. He would beat the brahmacaris with his danda and sometimes with his umbrella. Often he would use his wooden shoes as well. If a brahmacari went out from the temple, he would beat him. Gurudeva would look to see who came and went from the temple. He had his room nearby the door, and when a brahmacari came inside, he would slap him and say, “Where were you?”
Having this type of strong personality in our life is necessary if we want to progress in bhakti. If everything is very easy, we will be very busily engaged in maya and will not be able to control ourselves. We are not afraid enough of maya; we are careless and fearless.
Therefore, while chanting harinama, come to the holy dhama and to Guru and Vaisnavas. If your mind is not naturally surrendering to Guru and Vaisnavas and the holy dhama, then drag it by force. Tell your mind, “If you do not chant and come to the holy dhama or to the feet of the Vaisnavas, I will not give you any food or drink! First practice harinama and serve, then I will give you some facility.”
Be strong with your mind. Then it will be scared and will no longer disturb you. It may try to disturb you for a few days, but then it will come in the proper line. First chant, then give the mind and body food and water. Otherwise, you can try to control your breath. You can address your mind, “O mind, you are running here and there?” Then stop breathing. Now how long will your mind disturb you? You can even leave your body, but you must chant. This should be your conviction. Be very strong.
Our acaryas perform purascarana; they take a vow to chant harinama in a regulated manner, for example, they may vow to chant the holy name 300,000 times daily, until they have chanted one billion names. Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura, and all our acaryas performed strong austerities like this. They show us by their perfect example how we should behave, otherwise we would only continue chanting nama-aparadha.