Japa techniques.

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 10, 2004 5:00 pm

Yesterday, on the sacred Ekadasi tithi, I decided to have a good look at my sadhana. Below are some of my musings on the subject.


A couple of months ago Guru maharaja was recounting some pastimes from Mayapura that occured just prior to the dissapearance of Visnujana maharaja. Guru maharaja mentioned how, a couple of days before he left, he saw Visnujana swami in a kirtan suddenly leave the main group of devotees chanting and slump himself against a pillar in the temple room. Guru maharaja noted that he (visnujana swami) was deep in ecstasy, something he also noted about him during their last conversation.


Besides having deepened my respect for Visnujana swami it also got me thinking, "why don't I experience that?" "What is holding me back from experiencing the true form of Sri Nama prabhu?"

After some contemplation I realised that it is me holding myself back, I am not fully giving myself to Krsna nama and are thus commiting offense which is blocking my ability to take advantage of, and experience Krsna nama.

Guru maharaj confirmed my thoughts by telling me that "Krsna nama causes ecstasy simply by chanting, that is it's inherent nature, there is no fault on the part of the name. We have to realise that we have a background in offenses which are holding us back from experiencing the true nature of the name of Krsna. "

Guru maharaj went on to explain, "It's like if someone offends me, I don't even want to hear their name. Over time, however, that person may write me a letter of apology. If they are sincere then I may forgive them, but I still don't want to be around them.

However, if that person is persistant in making ammends and begins to speak to others about me, praising me up and down, then I will finally relent and ask for him to be brought to me. At this time, all traces of his offense will be gone."


Guru maharaja was stating that we should be persistant and sincere in our chanting in order to counteract the offenses we have in our past that are holding us back.


I realised that I have to make a concerted effort to overcome the slump in my japa and show sincerity to Nama prabhu.


This is where the techniques come in.


Yesterday evening I decided to chant my last few rounds whilst blindfolded, something Bhaktivinoda Thakura has recommended, and see how it helped, if indeed it did.


My first impression was that it would be easy, since there would be no distractions I could simply concentrate on the name.


Hmm, not quite.


It was about half way through my first round I realised how long five minutes really was!

I kept thinkin that I should have finished the round by now, where was that head bead anyway? Concentrated japa? Not quite yet.

So, as I had set myself for at least half an hour, I knew that I had to get comfortable and concentrate.

Half way into the second round something happened, I stopped thinking about what bead I was on and how long i'd taken to chant so far and just tried to immerse myself in each mantra as it came.

You know what I found?

That head bead nudging my fingers all to quickly.


It was definitely an edifying (sp?) experience, one which I have decided to do for the next week everytime I chant japa in my yurt (as opposed to the temple room or outside), at least half an hour every day.

What I found so useful was how quickly it drilled home where I was at in terms of really paying attention to my japa. I had no distractions, couldn't just innocently (or so I previously thought) look around or pick things up, or a million other things we do.

No, all I could do was chant and hear.


I really recomend everyone trying it at least for some time, everytime they chant japa in the next week. Make a time to commit to wear the blindfold for and don't, under any cirumstances (fire, flood, storm etc not withstanding) remove it before the time is up.


It would be nice to see people post their experience of trying this in this thread, I'll add to it every day after I have chanted my japa and keep you posted on just how busy I'm realizing my mind to be :rolleyes:


It would also be good if people could post other techniques they've tried, or heard about but never tried, and have different people try them out for the week and report back on their experience. We could even try a new one everyweek and compare notes and tips.


Hope to see you all on here soon.


In service

Dayal Govinda dasa

Shyam Gopal Das - October 10, 2004 6:09 pm

Very nice, Dayal Govinda Prabhu. I'll give it a try tomorrow and let you know about my experiences.

Your entry also reminds me of the nama hatta meeting today. One fellow was convinced that chanting should be done fast and he told the nama hatta leader that he prefered doing it slowly. I think he got this idea from the nh leader as if there is a rule about the pace of one's japa. I thought the 'rule' was to chant attentively and said smth to this extent but I still feel both the nhl and this fellow did not graps this idea. Sure some people chant faster than others, but there is no set pace, as long as it is concentrated.

So in relation to your entry: Maybe examing our pace of japa chanting may also enhance our attentiveness. Are we speeding through our rounds or attentively listening?

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 10, 2004 9:02 pm

Just to add a quick reply:


Whilst chanting blindfolded I found my chanting was slower but much more attentive. It just goes to show how much we really pay attention normally.

At least, it showed me : )

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 11, 2004 4:05 am

I thought I would just take the opportunity before I go to bed to post my daily experience of the DGBFJMT™ (Dayal Govinda BlindFold Japa Meditation Technique™)


After breakfast I sat down and completed 2 of my remaining rounds and then continued with my daily seva. I found it much easier than yesterday to get into the right mind set sooner and found the 2 rounds just flew by…in concentration of course.


Later on in the day I made the commitment to sit and finish my rounds for an hour.

This was more challenging.

At first I found myself paying much closer attention to the name until about the 5th round when my mind decided that I had to remember things I did in school!?!

Luckily I find that wearing the bf (as the blindfold will now be refered to for short) helps me to identify my mind wandering much quicker than at other times and so was able to try and bring it back to the chanting much more expediently.

This was pretty much the case for the rest of the rounds until the last one where I got strict with my mind and just chanted louder to drown it out. Which actually worked!


I realised that the mind really just stores and sorts information, unfortunately for us it generally decides what it will recall and when it will recall it. It is also interesting to note just how transient the mind really is. We tend to ascribe a fixed existence to the mind and identify with it as such. Trying to bring it under control in such extreme ways (well, comparatively) really shows you it's true colors.


Just as a side note, I am also trying to keep a sincere prayerful mood in my japa.

I asked Guru maharaja what is the best way, and who should we pray to for the removal of anarthas. He replied that we should pray sincerely to Nityananda prabhu (I have been praying between every round) to remove our anarthas, and then chant with that intention.


See you tommorrow


In service

Dayal Govinda dasa

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - October 11, 2004 4:19 am

I usually do one round per 7 minutes and chant out loud, which I think is pretty standard, and have a question about breathing and rhythm of chanting. I think it’s important to keep constant rhythm to let go of mechanics and lose yourself in mantra, start meditation, so to keep that rhythm breathing correctly is very important. What is your breathing technique? How many mantras do you think is optimal per exhale? Do you chant when you inhale? etc. Please elaborate.

Ragatmika - October 11, 2004 9:59 pm

I wanted to contribute to this conversation first by sharing how I remember being frustrated when about 3 years ago I attended a home program in Seattle and at the end of the lecture and chanting everyone simultaneously chanted 1 round out loud, which resulted in me thinking about keeping up with everyone else, and how everyone's voices blended and I couldn't hear myself saying the mantra then I just wanted it to end asap.


About my experience with chanting: my therapist tells me that 12% of the mind is intellect vs the 88% that is intuitive, and she elaborates that the intellect portion is the part that gets me in the most trouble, and that I should try to tap into my intuitive mind, and doing that will allow me to naturally be able to do things that are condusive for myself.

That may not be directly related to how to chant japa effectively, but for me I always remember that because, like yesterday evening I took Hrishikesh to the Portland Iskon Temple to sing the Maha Mantra and for prasadam, and my 12% was trying to take over by thinking, 'I don't know this melody' or 'they are singing too fast' whatever, but since I was conscious that those thoughts were my 12% I was able to stop them for the most part, and sing joyfully and think about Guru Maharaj.


Also, when I did attempt to chant on my beads a few years ago, my late husband gave me a recording of Srila Puri Maharaj chanting japa, so I would listen to that and then when I chanted I would remember the recording and would keep a similiar rythym and found I was able to say the words without rushing. As for my uncontrollable thoughts, well they still have never completely gone away. :rolleyes:


Ragatmika dasi

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 12, 2004 4:08 am

Again, just before bed, I wanted to add todays experience.


I decided to keep up the 1 hour bf japa which I undertook just after breakfast.


I found that I was actually looking forward to it today, having had such a positive experience yesterday.

I found that my chanting went through roughly the same stages as before: one/two rounds of my mind complaining, next few rounds good, some distracted rounds, last rounds good.

I did, however have some interesting insights into the nature of the mind and it's interaction with the 'external' world that I would like to share.


[i just want to make clear that I share these out of a humble spirit of encouraging everyone to at least try this method, not to try and impress you with some tales of my experience.]


I noticed that the mind is very difficult to define in terms of what it actually is as an entity. I started to see all of the thoughts, images, and feelings as being seperate entities that have come to be identified with 'myself'. As I noticed this happening I found myself asking where 'I' was in all of this. Where is the sense of self with which I have falsely identified for so long?

I understood that this sense of self is an almost arbitrary designation, a fleeting moment in time which we hang on to in order to secure our sense of endurance. By understanding this I saw, in some small way, how our attachments to all things material are very in substantial, based, as they are, in misconception and misperception.


The other thing I noted was that when taking off the bf, the world takes on a very different hue. Obviously, after an hour without much light the world is going to look pretty different (very light if nothing else) but it was more than that which I observed.

I realised how we assume that the world is a fairly benign influence, a backdrop to our daily experience, but that in reality we are constantly bombarded with sensory information which we have to continually process.

By chanting japa whilst not engaged in directly looking at the form of the lord, with our eyes closed trying to think of the form of the lord, or just trying to listen to his name, we are almost guaranteed not to be able to concentrate, for as soon as we focus on an object we begin to invest our mental faculties in analysing it (good/bad happy/sad etc).


By spending time engaged in japa without using our most prominant sense (at least for most people) the world takes on more of the likeness of a backdrop to our everyday experience, something we can choose to interact with in various ways rather than something we react to.


As Guru maharaj is fond of saying:


"it is not that because we have eyes we can see…"


I'll leave it there for tonight.


In service


Dayal Govinda dasa

Gopisvara Dasa - October 12, 2004 8:13 am

I think chanting with a blindfold is an interesting exercise which everyone should try at least once(I intend to).It is difficult for me to picture Bhaktivinoda Thakura chanting that way for any length of time.Coupled with the fact that this is the first time I've heard of this technique,it leads one to think that this is an educational exercise to show us something about our own mind.Very useful.But I also think that what would be even more useful would be an approach that we could use on a regular basis.


Japa or japa meditation as it is sometimes called,can utilize some of the techniques of dhyana.For example keeping the eyes half-closed,so as not to be distracted,yet allowing in some light so as not to fall asleep.As Haridasa Thakura showed,chanting can be either aloud,moving of the lips,or in the mind.Each has its advantages.Chanting aloud one can hear their own chanting and insure that it goes on vocally although the mind may be somewhere else.


When chanting internally on the other hand,it is hard to be thinking of the mantra and something else at the same time.The risk,of course is that the something else could take over.So in either case, the mind (and more so the heart) has to be brought back to the task at hand. The heart ,because even attentive chanting without a mood of surrender yeilds negligible results.


It is my view that whatever makes one one-pointed (and that point being Krishna,of course) has the most value,whether it be vocal japa,manasika japa,or kirtan as well as preaching etc. The value of chanting meditatively,in addition to being one-pointed is that in going into inner stillness one can see more clearly,just as when you stop agitating the water the sediment settles to the bottom and becomes clear.This is conducive to becoming more intuitive.


In a previous post, it was mentioned that the mind is believed to be 12% intellect and 88% intuition.It is also said that we use only about 10% of our brains.Most people live only on the surface,not going deep within and cultivating the other 90%


Of the five senses,seeing and hearing are the most distracting to our concentration and since japa itself is a sound vibration,I think sound could be as distracting as vision.In my case it absolutely is.Unfortunately it is harder to close the ears(earplugs only make my head feel bad).Kirtan,the yuga dharma,seems to be an excellent solution,since it can be seen to contain the results of the other yuga dharmas as well.It can be meditative,it can be a (sankirtana)yajna,and it can be used to worship the deities.In addition it is very conducive to being done with much feeling.


My ideas are by no means authoritative and I'll stand corrected where appropriate.


Gopisvara dasa

Guru-nistha Das - October 12, 2004 8:38 am

I have never tried blindfolding myself, but I always chant with my eyes closed. Dayal Govinda, have you experienced some difference between these two ways? Basically they are the same, but maybe there is a difference. I think i´m going to try out the DGBFJMT tonight. :rolleyes:


I chant before I go to school. Normally I chant for 6 rounds first. the two or three first rounds go normally quite bad, but then I start to get a hold of it. I have two little rooms and the other is sort of a "temple room" so I always sit on the same spot and chant. After six rounds i normally sing bhajans (GM introduced this idea to us when he was in Finalnd) and I have found it very helpful. After a little bit singing it´s much easier to concentrate (at least for a while). Also bowing down in between the rounds works. It makes me think about why i´m doing this and gives a little break, so the chanting won´t get mechanical so easily.

Then i chant another six rounds and normally read after that. And then if i have time i chant the rest of the rounds and go downstairs to make some porridge.


That´s my technique. I have also tried whatching at the pictures of Krsna slaying demons and see them as my anarthas, and it has also turned out helpful (thanks for the tip Vrndaranya!).

But for some reason it´s a lot easier for me to concentrate on the names and the sound than to meditate on Krsna´s for and his lilas. I guess i should work on that.


Vrndaranya, while in Finland, told me that she had tied knots to every 27th japa bead and this way shared the 108 beads into four groups. I haven´t tried this out yet, but i bet it´s worth trying.

Caitanya-daya Dd - October 12, 2004 12:51 pm

what a wonderful technique. I have tried many different sorts of techniques before, but i can't recall blindfolding. One of my favourites is earplugs--i remember being at the Brooklyn ISKCON temple many many moons ago and this one devotee had those super-sonic ear phone noise blockers that those people wear on the airport runways.


I had guests this weekend so i didn't get a chance to try the blindfolding technique, but i will def. try it this week.


I can already foresee some difficulty, particularly because i am used to walking and chanting. Sitting and chanting i know already is difficult for me.


Will report later. :rolleyes:

NrsinghaDas - October 12, 2004 4:34 pm

Hare Krsna,

I would just like to add that one of the most effective things that I have learned in chanting japa is similar to what Dayal Govinda prabhu mentioned about looking forward to chanting japa. I have noticed that since I started chanting all the relizations that I have gotten big or small (mostly small) when put together amount to a lot of appreciation for the Holy Name, so when I wake up every day I look forward chanting japa. If I look back I can see the accumulative effect of ceto darpana marjanam. Even though one of my realizations is that I have hardly gotten my feet wet yet that still says that I have found water.

Shyam Gopal Das - October 12, 2004 5:10 pm

Just a short reply for now, I tried the blindfold and chanted about one and a half hour. The first few rounds were rough as my mind kept on going all over the place, the rounds after those were better as it seemed my mind was getting exhausted with throwing all these issues at me. It was still not super concentrated, but I feel those rounds are a starting point. When I was getting to my last rounds, my mind wanted me to get up again and do smth, but luckily i had the blindfold on so my mind could not focus on anything to do or go to. I will try to keep this experiment up as I feel it does help my crazy mind to become my friend.


btw I think the danger of chanting with closed eyes is that you fall asleep again, especially after just getting out of bed.

Citta Hari Dasa - October 13, 2004 12:08 am
What is your breathing technique? How many mantras do you think is optimal per exhale? Do you chant when you inhale? etc. Please elaborate.


I think it really doesn't matter how we breathe if we are able to focus on the name. But if we need help (I know I sure do!), then regulating the breath is very effective in stilling the mind, as any yoga practitioner will confirm. Guru Maharaja once mentioned to me that we should take advantage of yogic techniques in the quest to bring the mind under our control, while knowing that one day Sri Nama prabhu will take over, at which point techniques will no longer be needed. Kabe habe bolo, se dina amara?


As for particulars, I have found that I can only synchronize the breath with the mantra if I chant sitting down, for obvious reasons. When I do chant sitting down I've observed that the natural rythm I fall into is one mantra on the inhalation (mentally) and four on the exhalation (spoken or whispered). This ratio is not something I set out to do, as if it were pranayama; rather I notice it happens naturally as I relax and go deeper into the chanting. Such aids are indispensable in the beginning, which is of course why Krsna mentions them in the 6th chapter of the Gita. As Gopisvara pointed out, japa is dhyana, so the techniques that apply to dhyana should be utilized as far as is practical. Another helpful facet of this is practicing (anything, really, but in this case chanting) in the same place at the same time every day. This helps to condition the mind to practice. Years ago when I was practicing asanas daily I found that always practicing at the same time, in the same room, facing the same direction was very conducive to quality practice and dramatically reduced the time it took to 'get into it'. Just by being in that space I would automatically start to relax and be more present, and I have noticed the same phenomenon in my sadhana since I have taken up bhakti. I have had far more concentrated japa sessions on a much more consistent basis when I kept to the same time and place than when I did rounds at odd times in different places. I've also found that doing larger blocks of rounds at once is much better than doing shorter sessions, since it minimizes the "warmup" period to only one or two; I prefer to do all my rounds in one session or two sessions of 8 each.



As I noticed this happening I found myself asking where 'I' was in all of this.


Srila Sridhara Maharaja's discusses this point exquisitely in Subjective Evolution:


"What is the mind? A thing that contains apathy and sympathy for the external world. That is the mind. We have to trace within us what that thing is. It is within us, and one has to enter into his own self and try to have some personal experience of what the mind is. Then by internal analysis one can try to come directly in touch with the faculty of judgement, reason, intelligence, by asking, 'What is intelligence? Where is it within me? What is the source of the mind and intelligence? And crossing the stage of the decisive faculty, what is the soul?' We must try, as a yogi does, to come in direct touch with the elements within us. Mind and intelligence are within each of us. Why should we not be able to trace out exactly what they are, to see internally what they are?"


As Dayal Govinda mentioned, it is not with (the external) eyes that we see. I have yet to try the bf method, but I will do so and give a report on my experience.

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 13, 2004 1:48 am

Just a quick post before Arati.


I have never tried blindfolding myself, but I always chant with my eyes closed. Dayal Govinda, have you experienced some difference between these two ways?



I find that when I chant with my eyes closed the tendency is to become lethargic and sleepy (as Syama Gopal expressed) but I don't find this with the bf. I think the reason is that although the eyes are almost forced to remain closed by the presence of the bf, the presence of the bf acts as a reminder to pay attention to tha chanting. Also, it is possible to open your eyes a little with the bf on but still not be distracted since all you see is dark.

Your technique sounds very good, nice to hear about chanting in kirtan as well as japa to break up the session.


In regards to breathing techniques, I don't really have any. The only time I control my breath is during the chanting of my diksa mantras. At that time I try to do a basic kind of pranayama (1 count in, 4 counts hold, 2 counts out) which I find helps to still the mind and concentrate on the mantras. This obviously only works since the chanting is manasika.


Citta Hari, thanks for the quote I'll look it up when I have a minute. It could be a good section to go through carefully.


I'll write more later, must dash…


Dayal Govinda dasa

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 13, 2004 4:02 am

I wanted to say somethings briefly in regards to Gopisvara's post.


I think it is a very important point to bring out, as obvious as it may seem, that japa is dhyana.

By this I mean that the purpose of the japa period is to focus and control our mind to enable us to hear and chant with attention.

Guru maharaj has brought out the point before, but it's worth reiterating, that meditation without trying to control the mind is meaningless. Can you imagine a buddhist just sitting for an hour or two but not really trying to control his mind, then getting up and thinking he had 'completed' his meditation for the day? No? Nor me.

That is how we should view our japa.


In regards to the point that Gopisvara made about having the eyes half closed I wanted to add something I had noticed about the way our physiology affects our concentration.

I was wondering why I attached myself to some thoughts and followed them, but others I could let slip through my mind without really paying much attantion to them.

I found that in bringing my attention back to the chanting I actually had to return my head to a forward facing position and centre my eyes.

What I realised was that we literally follow our thoughts through our minds. With our eyes we can access different parts of our brain (thoughts & memories etc) by looking in different directions and we even turn our heads to 'follow' thoughts as they arise.

By keeping our physiology in a more 'Yogic' posture (i.e. spine in alignment, head erect and facing forwards, eyes focussed on one point) we minimise the chance that we will be swayed and distracted by thoughts that arise. If we are taken for a brief sojourn, we have a posture to return to to refocus and continue.


More tommorrow.


In service


Dayal Govinda dasa

Guru-nistha Das - October 13, 2004 6:40 am

I tried the blindfold yesterday evening for a period of four rounds and today morning again for a period of four rounds. I didn´t experience that big change, but there was a difference nonetheless. It was easier to concentrate with the blindfold. But a lot of the times I was distracted by thinking about how my not-so-religious roommate would come in and think I´ve gone completely insane :rolleyes:


Maybe the blindfold would be more efficient if I´d chant more rounds at a time... I have to try that tomorrow.


I too have experienced that posture and focused eyes help to concentrate. I have never taken yoga or meditation classes, but it seems to come naturally when you really try to concentrate that your posture is erected and head facing directly ahead. Another thing I have noticed is that if I concentrate my eyes to look between the eyebrows, it helps.

NrsinghaDas - October 13, 2004 4:38 pm

I remember reading about the bf in Harinam Cintamini and just thinking "oh thats to keep the eyes closed and prevent from spaceing out". But then on the recomendation of Dayal Govinda prabhu I tried it and was suprised, it was more effective then I had thought. In closing the eyes there is some independence involved, the mind always feels that it has the option to open them again so the concentration can be very conditional. But with the bf theres an element submission, by feeling the bf on your face its hard not to remember what its there for. When I knew that the sense of vision wasnt an option then the sense of sound became the natural interest.

Satyadeva - October 13, 2004 9:11 pm

To all the devotee on this forum, ami pranam kori.....

This is a very exciting topic for me. I chanted for many years, 16 rounds before morning arati, unfortunately without concentration or taste. Eventually i stopped for a few years. When i started again, i resolved to try to recognize and avoid the mistakes of the past. Since The Thakur state in his HNC that inattention is the root cause of the ten offenses, i started there.

I have been chanting with a cover over my head with eyes closer for quite a few years now. I rarely become sleepy and notice the attention wondering almost immediately. There are other techniques that can also increase concentration and awareness and decrease sleepiness. Some of them are mentioned in Mahanidhi Swami's wonderful book "The Art Of Chanting Hare Krsna". Sitting straight, pranayama, ear plugs and keeping the inner gaze focussed at the brow chakra are a few that i find very helpful, especially the last one.

Citta Hari Dasa - October 13, 2004 11:25 pm

The reference I cited by Sridhara Maharaja is on page 16 of Subjective Evolution.


I have also noticed that the eyes follow the movements of the mind. Since the mind tends to be so slippery this can be very helpful in bringing the attention back to our intended point of focus; it's easier to notice when something changes in our physiology than to just notice that the mind has wandered. This is no doubt why in astanga yoga asana precedes the limbs dealing directly with the mind; if the body is not even under control then there's little chance that the mind will be.

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 14, 2004 1:19 am

So today I sat down for my hour of bf japa in a very hot yurt (for some reason we have a heatwave in the valley) which I knew would make things uncomfortable but I decided to stick at it anyway.

I'm glad I did.

It was, as I predicted, fairly uncomfortable to sit still inside my yurt, let alone with a bf on, but I kept thinking "it's gets hotter at Govardhana, and people do bhajan there" and for some reason that pacified me enough to be able to last the hour.

I found that the very act of sitting for a fixed period of time in a 'vrata' type situation is powerful in itself. The sense of accomplishment of having enforced oneself to undertake these kinds of austerities (however mild they may comparatively be) is a big boost that carries one through the day, with the sense that "If I apply myself properly I can overcome my anarthas".


Does anyone know why focusing on the brow chakra is particularly useful? Yogically speaking I mean.

I'll try it out tomorrow.


Satyadeva, since you are experienced at this technique perhaps you could enlighten us with some of your experiences over the years of chanting in this way. How you overcome the tendency for tiredness?, how you bring the mind back from wandering? etc etc


Dayal Govinda dasa

Citta Hari Dasa - October 14, 2004 11:03 pm

I tried the bf method this morning, and found that it only lent to making me drowsy. The lack of light was definitely a factor, since when I took the bf off and kept my eyes half open and unfocused I had a much better time concentrating. I will most likely try the bf again at some point; to be fair I must say I think once is not really enough to get a true feeling for it.

Satyadeva - October 15, 2004 1:19 am

This is known to one and all but let me say it anyway, in regards to concentration, it is automatic when chanting is prayerful. Still, these techniques we are discussing may be helpful for us who haven't yet developed spontaneous attraction for Hari Nam.


Krsna mentions putting the attention at the brow chakra in BG. 8.10. Personally i find that physiologically and metaphysically speaking, it is the natural location or energy center for concentration, just as the heart center is for emotions.

Where attention goes, energy flows!

Focussing on the Sat Chakra makes it very easy to distinguish the self from sense and mental impressions and spontaneous awareness of being maintained by our Lord arises that fosters gratitude.


We can keep our focus at the brow chakra even with eyes open on a japa walk once we have developed the habit. Rising the energy to this area causes us to wake up physically. If one is still sleepy at this point then a horse stance, as it is called in martial arts, can be employed. I usually practice this for two rounds before sitting. Wow, does it wake me up. Simply stand, knees slightly bent, shoulder withd apart, back straight.


concerning pranayama or synchronizing the breath with the mantra, in martial arts or more specifically in Chi gong, the cardinal rule is never to allow the breath to remain empty on the completion of exhalation. Time of inhalation , breath held in or length of exhalation depends on the individual and activity. i, for example, chant one mantra in, hold one mantra and two out while sitting. I/2 mantra in, 1/2 mantra out on a brisk walk.


"Noting" is also helpful to bring back the wondering attention. Nonjudgementally note where the attention has gone, gentley bring it back to the transcendental sound vibration for at least 3 breaths.


The other day i visited the Bhuddhiyoga website hosted by Bhaktitirtha Swami (Of ISKCON). it is a website concerned with devotee health and general well being. In the quetionaire they asking devotees to make sure that they breathe sufficiently while chanting japa. I thought that was very interesting!

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 15, 2004 1:40 am

I just finished my second of two periods of 1/2 an hour each, broken up because the heat in my yurt really made it hard to sit still with a bf on.

I tried focusing on the brow chakra but I got eye strain! I guess I wasn't doing it right, felt like I was going cross-eyed.

Any ideas on what I was doing wrong?


I am finding it increasingly easier to sit for my commited length of time and not get fidgety to get up and do something, which is definite improvement.

I am actually getting to like chanting in this way and am finding that when I chant without the bf on I am more concentrated and able to sense the subtle changes in my mind and catch it wandering.


I wanted to look up some quotes to add into the discussion but I didn't have time today so I'll post some tomorrow, not sure what yet but I'm sure I'll find something pertinent.


That's all for now, arati to get ready for : )


Daso 'smi


Dayal Govinda dasa

Guru-nistha Das - October 15, 2004 8:17 pm

The field research continues.

Yesterday I chanted six of my rounds with the blindfold on and today also six rounds. I had very hard time concentrating. It´s maybe because I´m paying too much attention to the techniques and forgetting about the prayerful mood.

Today, when i had finished the blindfold rounds, I tried ear plugs. this was partly because my roommate was listening to hardcore and it´s not the most meditative type of music.. So, the ear plugs helped a lot! I have never tried them before but they definately help to concentrate.


Maybe tomorrow I´m going to try the both at the same time, ear plugs and a blindfold...

Babhru Das - October 15, 2004 8:56 pm

This all seeems really cool to me. My first technique, I guess, has been making time to chant. I can sit for a while, but I tend to be a walker. I have found that I can ususally focus best when I chant on a long walk, and early morning is best for me. Perhaps it's a reflection of a need to physically keep up with my mind so it doesn't run away--I don't know. But some of my best japa has been on walks early in the morning. When I lived in Honolulu, I could often go out for an early-morning walk in a quiet neighborhood or near the ocean. This was usually well-focused chanting. When I lived in San Diego, our apartment was 4 blocks from the beach, so I liked going to the beach before sunrise (if the sun was up I sometimes became too easily distracted by the ocean if there was a good swell) and walk at a brisk enough pace that I'd need another shower when I got back, and chant eight rounds out and eight back.


More recently I seem to have tried to make the chanting more prayerful. Early morning is still best for me. I keep the room fairly dark, and I find it helpful sometimes to recite and contemplate verses of Sikshastaka in between rounds. There's also a collection of Bhagavatam verses referred to by some as Bhakti-rasayana which are supposed to help make our chanting deeper. After the first three or four, I know I'm in over my head, but thinking about or reading those sometimes helps.


I remember seeing Satyadeva sit down, close his eyes, and chant all (or most) of his rounds in one shot. I always thought that was probably a key to his steadiness and sometimes regretted my inability to emulate him.


I remember that Mulaprakriti enhanced her japa with a couple of techniques. One was a resolve not to speak before finishing at least 16 rounds. She seemed to find that chanting with her head covered facilitated that as well as help her focus.


One more thing that comes to mind: Yesterday I was listening to those East Coast lectures and Swami pointed out that Prabhupada always asked his disciples to chant at least 16 rounds a day. Maharaja mentioned that what really counts is the 17th round, because then we're not chanting to get a quota out of the way.

Vrindaranya Dasi - October 15, 2004 11:31 pm
This is known to one and all but let me say it anyway, in regards to concentration, it is automatic when chanting is prayerful.

I wish that this advice had been underscored a hundred times to me when I first started chanting.


Not to sound like I'm plugging the meditating on overcoming anarthas while looking at pictures of Krsna killing demons technique (MOAWLPKKDT?)--I'm sure there are many ways of coming to prayerful japa (the most obvious of which is to simply do it!)--but before I started doing this technique my japa would only occasionally be a prayer and my concentration was not dependable, and I had tried many methods.


This technique taught me what it is like to pray continuously, such that a picture is no longer needed. Once trained, you can instantly chant in a prayerful mood (given that you do genuinely feel in need of mercy). There is actually no down time even when the mind is distracted before chanting, and it doesn't matter if you walk or sit, etc. The only thing is that it is best not to have people who don't understand chanting or prayer looking at you. There is an difference between someone chanting casually and someone who is fervently chanting in a prayerful mood.


It might seem that when you are sincere, you will naturally always chant prayerfully--and no doubt if you are very advanced this will happen automatically--but I found that a kick-start can be very helpful. The kick-start can be as little as the insight that it is best to chant with your heart (prayerful mood), rather than just passively listening. Of course, it goes without saying that if someone isn't sincere they cannot pray for long periods even with a kick-start.




Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 16, 2004 12:50 am

Ok, one day left of the trial period of the bf technique (I feel humbled by Vrindaranya's much longer, more cumbersome, and thereby better anacronym) and time to take stock again.


I sat for an hour again today and luckily it wasn't as hot in my yurt so I experienced no physical discomfort.


After reading Vrindaranya's post It struck me (I'm a bit slow sometimes so forgive me) that although I have been training my mind to listen to the name, I haven't been training my heart to chant it. Without which, being attentive is almost wasted.


So now I now my task for next week, try and chant with real prayerful feeling!

I have a couple of pictures of Krsna killing various demons that I will print out and sit before as I chant. I have know of this technique for a while but have yet to put it it practice, now is not the time to procrastinate Dayal! (sorry, talking to myself out loud)


So it has been a very instructive week, one day left to go I know but I'm already looking forward to next weeks technique, what was it again? MOAWLPKKDT. I kinda like the way it sounds.


I would like to propose that we keep this thread open for any inspirational thoughts or further techniques that will help in our progress of chanting japa in an attentive, prayerful mood. I have gained much by reading the posts on this thread and would like everyone to be able to use it as a kind of journal for their japa, a sort of support group if you will.

What say you all?


daso 'smi

Dayal Govinda dasa


p.s. There are a few chapters in Jaiva-Dharma that deal with nama-tattva which I will read over the coming week and post things from as and when they strike me.

Vrindaranya Dasi - October 16, 2004 2:18 am

I thought of an even more streamlined technique than MOAWLPKKDT® for chanting with feeling. I would be interested to hear if it works for anyone.


I've even come up with a snappy acronym for it: MOD. Mod stands for Meditating on Death. Someone may think that chanting japa in a prayerful mood means chanting while running a monologue in the head. Not so. I think mod (we could even make it a verb--modding) helps overcome this misconception and helps get into the right frame of mind. Simply imagine that at the end of your japa session, you are going to die.


This is not too far from the truth. As Guru Maharaja points out, we will all die in seven days--on one of the seven days we will die. In addition, from a broader perspective, our life is like the blink of an eye.


Chant with feeling, pray for special mercy. If one doesn't exactly understand what it means to chant prayerfully, this technique should clarify things.


If this technique is appealing but seems morbid, try a variation. Until the name takes over, variation is very helpful. Particularly if your mind is the easily-bored type. A mind of the easily-overwhelmed type might profit from slowing down, removing all distractions, doing the same thing every time one chants, etc. The easily-bored mind actually has more difficulty concentrating in such a situation.

Guru-nistha Das - October 16, 2004 8:16 am

This is an awesome thread and I´m definately for keeping this up.


I had the same realization from Vrndaranya´s post than Dayal Govinda, I have been concentrating on the form instead of the substance. What is the use of learning to concentrate my mind if it doesn´t help me get attraction for the Name?


Today i tried the blindfold and earplugs at the same time and it seemed like a good thing. I also payed attention to not pay attention to the techniques because I noticed earlier that the prayerfulness (is that a real word?) had diminished.

And now i could actually pray with more feeling. But my problem is that I can´t keep the prayerful mood continuous. How is it possible to become more sincere? Just by chanting more?


I think I´m going to pick up the MOAWLPKKDT again. It´s just that i paint too, and i always start to check the pictures and think of how the artist has done some details, the colors, the composition... oh well.


A sincere thank you for everyone who have posted on this topic. It has taught me a lot and i hope we can keep it running.

Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 16, 2004 4:36 pm

Modding, it could become a very catchy phrase.

I'm all for trying this technique, I think I may try an amalgamation of the two new suggestions: moawlpkkdtsmod (meditating on overcoming anarthas whilst looking at pictures of Krsna killing demons and simultaneously meditating on death). I hope it's not as difficult to do as it is to say!


I have often found that the awareness of the body's mortality is a profound tool for insight. It did, as I have mentioned before, play a large part in me coming back to Audarya.


Next week seems even more exciting now.


daso 'smi

Dayal Govinda dasa

Krsangi Dasi - October 16, 2004 6:06 pm

Even though I'm notoriously lousy at chanting I'd like to take part in this great thread and share some thoughts I've recently had about it. I feel that my chanting took a radical turn to the better after Guru Maharaja's last visit here, but that I can't really keep it up on my own. My spiritual batteries are running a bit low at the moment, but hopefully they'll be charged later this fall...


My biggest problem with chanting is that I can't keep my mind off work. I've come to the conclusion that this is due to the fact that I work too much and get too involved. Recently I've been thinking about getting a job that would be a bit boring but safe: the kind of job that you completely forget about on the weekend but still rather enjoy taking up on Monday morning. This way I could spend all my creative energy on Krishna conscious projects instead of work. It's so true that you should build your life around chanting, otherwise it becomes an unpleasant duty you only do because you have to.


Dayal Govinda mentioned something about sitting upright helping him concentrate. I usually chant sitting on a low chair in our living room, looking at our Deities that are high on the bookshelf. As my mind starts to wander my eyes drift downwards to the books on the shelf, and at some point I notice that I'm looking at some book and thinking about work. Consciously staring at the deities help me concentrate. I've also tried carefully looking at their clothes and jewels and then closing my eyes and trying to remember every detail. So to some extent I've noticed that the posture I'm sitting in reflects my thoughts: a straight back means better concentration than lazily leaning to the back of the chair.


My mind is extremely quick to find new things to think about, and it's hard for me to attain a meditative state of mind. I've sometimes experimented with a technique of simultaniously repeating something else in my mind as I repeat the mantra with my mouth. This keeps my mind occupied to a level where it's relatively easy to push other thoughts away. But I'm not sure if this is a good thing to do while chanting, as I should concentrare on the mantra itself instead of blocking stray thoughts. I'd like to hear how everyone feels about this, and if there's some sloka or song that would be especially suitable to be used in this way. I've been repeating the last two lines in the song we sang in the morning at our summer retreat: sevi Gaura Nityananda sri guru carana, Bhaktivinoda parivare sampiya jivana".


I often also try to remember lectures I've recently heard, and to see how many details I can recall. Striving to remember something makes me concentrate, and sometimes I can really put my soul into some lila of Krishna or Lord Caitanya that Guru Maharaja has been talking about. These are the best chanting experiences I've had this far.


At the end of my (short) chanting sessions it's quite easy to get into a prayerful mood as I'm usually pretty frustrated with my lack of control at that point. So maybe there's a good side to being bad at chanting...




Babhru Das - October 16, 2004 8:23 pm
My biggest problem with chanting is that I can't keep my mind off work. I've come to the conclusion that this is due to the fact that I work too much and get too involved. Recently I've been thinking about getting a job that would be a bit boring but safe: the kind of job that you completely forget about on the weekend but still rather enjoy taking up on Monday morning. This way I could spend all my creative energy on Krishna conscious projects instead of work.

My problem is somewhat similar. My work consumes much more time and metal and emotional energy than I'd like. Years ago my firend Naranarayan told me that he'd prefer some simple manual work so he could reserve his mind for krishna consciousness, and the sense in this opinion echoes in my mind from time to time. It's not as if my working so much produces a lot of money that I ccould either use for preaching now or set aside or invest for an early retirement. I just work and grumble about the time I don't have to improve my chanting or deepen my appreciation for the give we have been given.


Consequently, I try very hard to protect the little time I do have for chanting and other service activities, and I'm happy when I'm able to make longer stretches of time for service. Last weekend, I had to go to Maui for a conference related with my work. However, my old friend Turiya das, who intorduced me to Krishna consciousness back in 1969, and his wife have a very sweet ashram there, so I spent the rest of the weekend in more intense sadhana, talking with Turiya about many things related to my aspirations for a more progressive spiritual life, and hanging out with the cows. (Turiya das also expressed great appreciation for Swami and his books.)


I think, then, that one thing we can all do to enhance our chanting is to take advantage of the company of progressive devotees whose mood is compatible with ours.

Vrindaranya Dasi - October 16, 2004 9:48 pm

Disclaimer: I wrote this earlier and forgot to post it, so it's somewhat out of step with the flow of the thread now (japa and thinking about work).




I tried the meditating on death method and these were my thoughts:


Thinking that death would come at the end of the japa session did not work well for me. I found I had to struggle to make this seem real. I found it better to have a general sense of the impermanence of life, that death was somewhere close, but not as close as the end of the japa session. This also took off the edge of anxiety.


Although I like the method for certain situations, I found that what I go back to and what really works for me is keeping an image of our Deity of Nityananda Prabhu in my mind’s eye and directing my prayerful mood to him. The mood of prayer will change somewhat over the course of the rounds—from intense to peaceful to grateful, etc. I also have a picture of Nityananda Prabhu that I sometimes look at while chanting. Occasionally, I will look at different pictures when I chant.


But my problem is that I can´t keep the prayerful mood continuous. How is it possible to become more sincere? Just by chanting more?

I think I’m going to pick up the MOAWLPKKDT again. It´s just that i paint too, and i always start to check the pictures and think of how the artist has done some details, the colors, the composition... oh well.


I make a motion to change MOAWLPKKDT to MOO (Meditating on Overcoming). Of course, it could be MOOA (Meditating on Overcoming Anarthas), but I think the superiority of moo is apparent.


That said…


The moo method aims to increase the length of time that one can maintain a prayerful mood by introducing a change every round. For example, one round you pray to overcome lust, the next to overcome a greedy tendency to hoard and put one’s own desires above everyone else’s, the next round you pray to overcome pride. A common meditation technique is to focus on the breath and pull the mind back to the breath whenever you realize that it has wandered. You can do the same thing with this method. Say that you are keeping a good solid prayerful mood about overcoming pride. But all of a sudden you realize that you are thinking about something you need to do. Pull the mind back to the mantra and the prayer to overcome pride. The prayer is the mantra, but the intention is overcoming pride. The picture is not essential, but I found that it can be helpful. I think the determination comes back to whether your mind is easily distracted or easily bored.


Other good prayers are for getting a taste for chanting, getting a real attraction for Krsna-lila, and having a service attitude.


When you are practicing praying for one thing, you may find that you don’t have to help the prayerful mood along by adding the fuel of something you would really like (to overcome pride, for example). The mantra starts going on its own. This is good. Go with it. If that starts to slip and you’re thinking about something that happened yesterday, go back to focusing on overcoming the anartha. By doing this, you should be able to go for longer and longer periods.


I think it is better to chant for only so long as you can maintain a good prayerful mood. Chanting while spacing out or chanting while thinking of something else is of very limited value. Even if you can only do a short japa session in a prayerful mood, if you seriously apply yourself, the amount of time you can concentrate will definitely increase.

Madangopal - October 16, 2004 9:55 pm

I've been following this thread, thinking about trying the different techniques mentioned like blindfolded, CWCUWBLA (Chanting While Coming Up With Big Long Acronyms), etc. but have not been able to do so. My lifestyle situation has not afforded me the opportunity. I am a full time student, I deliver newspapers during the auspicious muhurta and anytime I am home my two children are feeling very playful. If you want to really learn to concentrate and fix the mind try this method: CWCKCYBACYSNR (Chanting While Crying Kid Climbs on Your Back And Another Circumambulates You Screaming Nursery Rhymes!). I do get in some chanting while driving to and from school but that is best done without a blindfold.


Comedy aside, I do often think about improving japa. When I was a brahmacari I loved to chant japa and would test and strengthen my mind with varying vratas, like chanting all my rounds straight through while sitting down. If the body complained I would ignore it. Or not eating until I had finished my rounds. We were also required as brahmacaris to stay in the temple room to chant with all the devotees. In general, I don't think this is good to legislate how someone should chant because it can be very distracting to chant with others. However, I took it as an austerity and tried to absorb myself even more. As I heard others chanting I would concentrate more on my own appeal to the name. If I thought "what if other people are looking at me" I would fight and absorb myself more.


One major lesson I learned back then applies to my life now more than ever. Somehow everything I read I seemed to find quote after quote in Prabhupada's books that "one should chant the holy names 24 hours daily". He seemed to say that a lot and it kept getting my attention. I tried to take that to heart by developing an internal chant that went on after I put my beads down for the day and had to do my duties. Every time I noticed that I wasn't chanting internally (even while talking to others) I would try to guide my mind back to the mantra. When I went to sleep at night I would try to chant until my mind faded into black and start immediately upon regaining consciousness. This approach really helps when one is trying to be like the lotus, living in the world but not of it.




Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 17, 2004 1:00 am

So here I am, start of a new technique, and I'm all excited.

Today I spent my time 'mooing'. (last joke, the rest of the post will be serious).


I have to say that I did think of trying the mod technique but, like Vrindaranya, couldn't really evoke a sense of my impending death. Instead I found it helpful to try and maintain a sense of the impemanance and immense fortune of having this present human birth whilst I went about other duties. That was far more realistic and helpful.

Really meditating on our mortality can be a very profound tool to help place things in their proper perspective. I see its efficacy in enabling one to prioritise their life and not spend too long worrying about transient things and missing the chance for spiritual advancement.


In regards to the moo technique, I really can't say enough about how wonderful I found my japa period today. The profound simplicity of the technique had an instant effect on my chanting. No longer was I waiting a couple of rounds for the technique to really take hold, the first mantra was more concentrated and heart-felt than all my japa last week combined.

I found that making the prayer specific really helped, i.e. to overcome my pride in…, rather than to just overcome pride. This enabled me to really feel the prayer, knowing full well where my anarthas lay, and thus increase my ability to return to the intention time and again.

Another real beauty of the technique is that it doesn't call for you to do anything or think of anything else whilst you are chanting, it is the mood of the chanting that is important.

The way I went about it is as follows:

Before begining each round I would evoke the sense of the anartha/quality I wished to overcome. By this I mean a real concrete sense of myself manifesting the quality, and then see myself without it in the mood of what I would become by ridding myself of it.

I did this in the mood of humbly asking Nityananda prabhu to rid me of pride (for example) so that I may become a humble servant of Mahaprabhu.

I used that petition because I know that Nitai's attention will go to one who sincerely wishes to become a servant of his Nimai.


Then, after the appropriate prayerful state has been established, all that is left to do is chant… and chant with the feeling that this mantra is my prayer to Nityananda prabhu. When the mind wanders you simply bring it back to the intention (overcoming pride) and re-establish the prayerful state.


If you only ever listen to one thing I say (or write), then I implore you all to take up this technique and try it for at least a week whilst chanting japa (which you will all be doing anyway). If there are no results within the week, then I offer a full money back guarantee.


I'm that confident.


I may be getting a little previous but I feel that I am moving into a new phase of my sadhana simply due to this techinique.

I hope you all try it and write of your experience.


daso 'smi

Dayal Govinda dasa



(I just realised that this reads a little like an infomercial. America must be getting to me!)

Citta Hari Dasa - October 17, 2004 1:40 am

I have also found that meditating on the utterly insignificant span of time the body lasts is very motivating for me in general and effectively fosters sincerity, humility, and the mood to (figuratively) throw up my hands in surrender. Deep contemplaton of this sense that "One day--perhaps even this day-- I will die and there is not one thing I can do about it" is the sobering Vedanta that can inspire us to take advantage of bhakti and pray for the Lord's mercy with all we've got.


The moo technique sounds very similar to methods I've tried previously, with good results. Of course in time I fogot about it, so now I will make a concerted effort to do it regularly and develop and refine it.

Dhiralalita - October 17, 2004 4:20 pm

For years, I have been meditating while chanting. An entire world has developed from this meditation and just to give an example: I can do deity puja, which is a very good method to meditate on krishna's form slowly, I can change the deities outfits, I can cook etc... But what is important in all that is the moments where I can fully surrender to the name. That is say, you don't hold on anymore to what you want, but to Krishna's will, abandoning everything in full surrender. Even if this state is rarely achieved for me and may last only a few minutes, I recommand you try it. It is like day and night!

Satyadeva - October 17, 2004 11:53 pm


That is great! I often employ this technique in the following way. As i breathe, i assume it is the last breath in this body, a sort of practice rehearsal. We are alone and helpless with only our past practice and the Lords mercy to depend on.


No matter in which way, either via trauma or disease, each physical body has a first breath and a last. At birth, with the first breath the umbilical cord goes limp and indpendent life begins until the last breath.


Breath, we can't survive very long without it. Panic sets in less than a minute!

Yes, MOD puts all our priorities quickly into perspective, especially when our mind is consumed by thoughts of work and "things to do".


Thanks Vrindaranya Prabhu for pointing out this important and effective practice.



Dayal Govinda Dasa - October 18, 2004 4:37 am

I just wrote a nice long post which I managed to delete, so this will be brief.


In regards to my comment yesterday that this technique (mooing) has brought about a new phase in my sadhana, I feel that I have moved into a more internal, contemplative, and prayerful approach to my sadhana in general and my japa in particular.

This approach (technique sounds so cold) has enabled me to see how our sadhana should be undertaken, as an excercise of the heart.

This approach to chanting has been immensely helpful in underscoring what, at least the first stage of, the chanting is for, ceto darpana marjanam.

In order to pray sincerely to rid oursleves of our anarthas we have to first see them for what they are in order to develop the sincerity to pray to be rid of them…sound circular?

What I mean is that, for this approach to work, we must undertake some deep introspection that will enable us to see our anarthas, and to see that they are not an inherent aspect of our 'selves'. In that way we can truly pray with feeling, to be rid of them and to advance in spiritual life.

By doing so, I found that the time spent away from the mala necessarily becomes more contemplative as we ponder the significance of our prayers and see the anarthas we have prayed to be rid of manifest themselves throughout the day. As we become more conscious of such things, we are in a situation to make changes in our lives which will impact our sadhana for the better.


Just some thoughts.


I'd like to hear other peoples experiences with this approach. I'd also like to think it could help others as much as it has helped me.


daso 'smi

Dayal Govinda dasa


p.s. This post is better than the original now I think of it.

Guru-nistha Das - October 18, 2004 8:11 pm

I have been trying the MOO and MOD approaches for three days now and they have definately helped intensify my japa and the prayerful mood.


Thank you for the insights, Vrndaranya! It is in deed better for me to not look at the pictures, but concentrate on one anartha at a time. And i could actually concentrate for longer periods of time now, because i didn´t get so caught up on all the techniques and so forth.


I tried to picture myself sitting in a death chamber and waiting for an execution (how nice) and that I would have time to live just as long as I would chant. And it actually made my chanting more intense. Maybe it´s my punk rock conditioning but the extremity of it was helpful.


Now that I think of it, my chanting has been a lot better than, say, two weeks ago.

NrsinghaDas - October 18, 2004 9:28 pm


Thats great. Some months ago this same idea came to me while chanting and it had some spontanious effect. Since then its been hard to capture in a very genuine way on command, sometimes it will just arise or I may beable to insight it with thought, otherwise its hard. But I remember the first time was a day when I had a dentist appiontment and I thought "Death is just like this appiontment, it has already been made and I should see all my activities in relation to it knowing that it is coming soon" It was something like that but it was sobering enuff and I could understand that that momentary insight was proper and I must somehow come to that sort of vision constantly.


Ive heard that Srila Prabhupada said that real philosophy means to keep death in front of us.

Citta Hari Dasa - October 20, 2004 2:31 am

I've tried the moo approach, and it has been very helpful. One day I made my way through the six enemies of the mind (kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya), each for two rounds and added on two more (pratistha and viksepa--distraction) for the final four. This was quite effective.


Next I did an entire japa session with one anartha in mind. This too was very powerful. It seems to me that this approach is so effective because it goes right to the essence, the spirit of the chanting. We are petitioning for the Lord's mercy and asking that anything that stands in the way of surrendering to him will be removed from the heart. Doesn't get much more direct than that.


I've also pondered the idea that in conjunction with asking for negative qualities to be removed we must ask for the opposities of those negative qualities to be manifest within us. Having something to move toward in addition to something to move away from increases the motivation, to my mind. As BSST said, "From anartha-nivrtti to artha-pravrtti."

Swami - October 20, 2004 3:53 am

As most of you are aware, I am in the midst of writing a commentary on Sri Siksastakam. I have just completed the tika on Mahaprabhu's second verse and some of the comments that surfaced seem pertinent in terms of the direction this thread had taken. Let me share some of them (unedited) with you, praying for the blessings of the Vaisnavas.


"Here Gaurahari speaks with lamentation as well as with humility, uthila visäda, dainya. Mahaprabhu is lamenting his unfortunate condition and thus his heart swells up with dainya, humility. A sadhaka should feel like this. Such sincere humility attracts the grace and sympathy of Sri Krsna nama, thus terminating once and for all the sorrowful soujorn of samsara. Therefore Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami comments that although Mahaprabhu expresses lamentation here in the second verse of Siksastakam, upon hearing its singnificance all sorrow is silenced—yähära artha suni’ saba yäya duhkha-soka.


"Regardless of how fallen one may be, sincere acknowledgement of one’s condition and subsequent humility attracts sympathy and thus power beyond that which lies within one’s self to rise above. Sriman Mahaprabhu, the great master, teaches us this lesson here. One’s unfortunate condition (durdaivam), when sincerely acknowledged and understood, begets a natural humility that attracts the sympathy of Krsna nama and thus a solution to the dilemma posed here in verse two. Humility and the desire to overcome anarthas do not cause all anarthas to immediately disappear, but because they attract the sympathy of Krsna nama, he stays with such sadhakas in spite of their background of offenses, and thus they are gradually purified by his grace as their nama bhajana becomes steady."

Krsangi Dasi - October 20, 2004 6:47 pm

Guru Maharaja, thank You for Your encouraging words! This thread has been very helpful for me in my struggles to achieve real taste for chanting.


I've tried MOOing for a few times now and I must say it's just the thing that my restless mind needs. Splitting the chanting session into rounds representing different demons is helpful, in the beginning of each round I try to put my mind in order and sometimes even succeed in it.


Right now I'm trying to find the perfect combination of anarthas that really apply to myself. But I must once again admit that my knowledge of the scriptures is very limited and I'm hoping that someone can help me find the corresponding demon from the Krishna lila for my worst enemy: enviousness. This anartha has been my constant companion all my life.


I also have a tencendy to criticize others, and to have a generally cynical attitude to my surroundings. Are there any demons specialized in these unwanted qualities?





PS. Citta Hari, I'm ashamed to ask, but what do krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya mean?

Sridama Dasa - October 21, 2004 5:04 pm

Hopefully my question won't disrupt the flow of this (very helpful) thread. It's related, but slightly different also.


I feel like I identify a lot with Krsangi dasi in my thoughts about chanting. I'm not very good at chanting, and I tend to think of everything BUT the mantra while doing my japa. It drives me crazy sometimes. My concern is that when I do concentrate, it seems like I only concentrate on myself. What can chanting do for ME? I get a lot of inspiration out of self-improvement these days. Cleansing the heart and removing anarthas sounds great, but I rarely look at these things from the perspective of using the progress toward becoming a servant of Mahaprabhu. I tend to think about how I need to become a better person, in a general sense. I'm too self-absorbed and not very humble. I think about what's right in front of my face. I think about interpersonal relationships and being nicer to people and how chanting facilitates those good qualities, instead of serving Mahaprabhu.


I think one of my problems is that I don't really understand how my chanting is a service. When I think of service, I think of labor. Washing pots and cleaning the temple I understand, but I don't understand how little old me chanting my rounds is much of a service to Krsna. I guess, truthfully, it's not, at least not when I chant so inattentively.


I've asked this question to devotees a lot, and somehow it still comes up all the time. I've been reluctant to post here much because everyone else is so much more advanced than I am, but this question has been bothering me. What kind of pleasure does Krsna get from us chanting japa? How can I understand that this is a "service"? Or am I just thinking too much? Just shut up and chant?


Thank you to everyone in advance for any insight you can offer!


Your aspiring servant,




PS. I'm trying the MOO approach as soon as I finish typing this...

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - October 21, 2004 9:17 pm

From what I can understand chanting is a devotional service -- bhagavata-vidhi.


Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 9.259-260


sravanam kirtanam visnoh

smaranam pada-sevanam

arcanam vandanam dasyam

sakhyam atma-nivedanam

iti pumsarpita visnau

bhaktis cen nava-laksana

kriyeta bhagavaty addha

tan manye ’dhitam uttamam


This process (to attain loving service to Krsna) entails hearing, chanting and remembering the holy name, form, pastimes, qualities and entourage of the Lord, offering service according to the time, place and performer, worshiping the Deity, offering prayers, always considering oneself the eternal servant of Krsna, making friends with Him and dedicating everything unto Him. These nine items of devotional service, when directly offered to Krsna, constitute the highest attainment of life. This is the verdict of the revealed scriptures.


So the pleasure Krsna gets from us chanting japa is probably similar to what your loved one gets when you remember him/her -- "Oh, he remembers me! He is so sweet."

Vrindaranya Dasi - October 21, 2004 11:21 pm
Cleansing the heart and removing anarthas sounds great, but I rarely look at these things from the perspective of using the progress toward becoming a servant of Mahaprabhu. I tend to think about how I need to become a better person, in a general sense. I'm too self-absorbed and not very humble. I think about what's right in front of my face. I think about interpersonal relationships and being nicer to people and how chanting facilitates those good qualities, instead of serving Mahaprabhu.


Of course, it is best to chant solely as a glorification of the Lord, but it is not possible to do that constantly (or even for a short time) with an unclean heart. So first we have to clean our heart. Depending on Krsna and recognizing his supreme position is the foundation of a clean heart. Guru Maharaja has said that if we have material desires (such as developing good qualities for better personal relationships) and want to pursue them, it is best to pray to Krsna for their fulfillment instead of looking elsewhere. This will give you more faith in the holy name—depending only on Krsna. When this foundation of faith in Krsna is solid, we can build on it. Like Dhruva Maharaja who prayed for material things and on receiving them saw that they were no more than broken pieces of glass.


If you apply yourself sincerely at the level you are at, you will automatically rise to the next level. Why burden yourself with guilt about your japa not being pure service? In the beginning you have to take a lot before you can really give. The secret is to take such that you eventually have a really deep well to draw from. For example, you realize that you have material desires but at the same time you recognize that pure service is your ultimate goal and you understand that you’re taking a slow but steady path to that goal.


So perhaps you pray sincerely for removing some anartha, knowing that you have mixed reasons for wanting the anartha to be cleared. Or perhaps you just pray that your job improves or whatever. Pick something you can sincerely pray for. You can really put your heart into this japa and concentrate. If you chant and concentrate, even if praying for a material gain, your heart will become purified and you will get a taste for chanting. It will become a desirable activity rather than feeling like a chore. This is a lot more fruitful than trying to chant for the highest thing, failing, and feeling crummy about yourself and the process of chanting in general. Don’t berate yourself for not being at the highest level. Don’t think that japa at this level is useless or counterproductive. What is counterproductive is trying to be at the highest platform of chanting and losing enthusiasm.


By chanting in this way you will definitely be going in the right direction. When you get a taste for this, start adding in a round where you pray solely for a spiritual result, such as “please give me the desire to serve you purely” or a round in which to aim for pure glorification. In this way gradually try to increase your purely spiritual sentiments. As Guru Maharaja says, we should feel a pinch. If we go too much beyond our level, we will become discouraged, but we should also make sure that we don’t go below our level. Let encouragement be your guide. If you are on track you will feel it.


Otherwise, if you want to go cold turkey on your material desires and chant with concentration on a purely spiritual basis, this is possible too, but you have to be ready for a major battle with your mind. You can win, but you’ll have to fight hard.

Citta Hari Dasa - October 22, 2004 2:05 am
PS. Citta Hari, I'm ashamed to ask, but what do krodha, lobha, moha, mada and matsarya mean?


Woops, guess I should have defined these in my original post. Thanks Krsangi.


krodha = anger

lobha = greed

moha = illusion

mada = madness

matsarya = envy


If you chant and concentrate, even if praying for a material gain, your heart will become purified and you will get a taste for chanting. It will become a desirable activity rather than feeling like a chore. This is a lot more fruitful than trying to chant for the highest thing, failing, and feeling crummy about yourself and the process of chanting in general. Don’t berate yourself for not being at the highest level. Don’t think that japa at this level is useless or counterproductive. What is counterproductive is trying to be at the highest platform of chanting and losing enthusiasm.


Well said Vrindaranya! If we don't understand that even our material desires, if understood in the context of sadhana, can be stepping stones out of the well of samsara then we are left only with guilt about having them. As I'm sure we've all heard numerous times, practicing according to our eligibility is the only means of making real progress.

Sridama Dasa - October 22, 2004 3:45 pm

Thank you Vrindaranya, Nanda-tanuja and Citta Hari!

You guys give great advice!

Margaret Dale - April 21, 2007 9:11 am

This is an old thread but a goodie....

GM mentioned in a lecture, when discussing our efforts vs guru's grace in terms of salvation, that if someone is stuck in a deep well, he has to call out for help, or no help will come. I have been envisioning myself at the bottom of a deep well and I can barely see Mahaprabhu's sankirtana going by the top of the well. I chant Hare Krsna to try and get his attention.

Have you guys ever had the experience where you hear bells ringing or hear certain drum beats and your heart races for a moment thinking there might be devotees down the street, but when you look, you realize that it was just someone's radio or something? Or see some bald guy wearing and orange shirt and look for the neck beads? And if in the 1 in a 1000 times that that glint turns out to really BE a devotee, you want to race over there join in their singing or just shake their hand because it's like finding a little piece of home? That's the sort of feeling I get when I imagine this scene, wanting to get out of the well and join them. I figure if I can meditate on this well enough that I might finally get to do that.

Sorry if it sounds a little crazy, but it works for me.