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Remedy for Chanting without Offenses

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<font color="red"> 11. Offense: Inattentive Chanting </font color>



Inattention while chanting is also considered an offence. In fact Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that distraction (inattention) or attraction to other things while chanting japa is the root cause of all offences:


"Distraction in chanting produces a type of illusion, creating serious offenses against the holy name that are difficult to overcome. This illusion leads to craving for wealth, women, position, success, and cheating. When these material attractions cover the heart, one loses interest in chanting the holy name." (Harinama-cintamani)


"If you become inattentive that is offense. You should know this. Try to avoid. Krsna is giving us chance to meet Him in so many ways: nama, rupa, lila, parikara, vasistha." (SPT 30/10/72)


Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes three types of inattention under the category of pramada, which means complete madness. In other words, it is definitely a symptom of insanity if one begs Krsna to come by calling out His names, and then simultaneously ignore Him and pays no attention to Him. The three types of inattention are apathy, laziness and distraction.



Apathy, indifference (audasinya)

1) The heart of a neophyte devotee is usually infested with many material attachments. At the time of chanting he will feel a strong attraction to them, and this will prevent him form putting his heart into the holy name. Even if he chants sixty-four rounds, he will still remain apathetic and derive no taste from chanting. For the indifferent chanter it is a Herculean task to complete sixteen rounds without interruption.


Remedy: Chant with advanced Vaisnavas while observing their concentration and enthusiasm for japa. Inspired by their example, one will abandon his apathy and fix his mind on the holy name. Gradually the honey sweetness of the holy name will inundate the heart, and intoxicate the mind with eagerness for more nectar.


It is also extremely favourable to chant before Tulasi-devi or in Vrndavana at one of Radha-Madhava's lila-sthalis. Another way to remove apathy is it sit alone in a locked room and carefully meditate on the name. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura recommends covering the head and face with a cloth to facilitate full concentration on the transcendental sound vibration. As one cultivates attraction and taste for the name, the offense of inattention and apathy will automatically vanish.



2) Laziness (jadya)

Inattention arising from laziness (jadya) prevents one from relishing nectar of the holy name. Laziness means chanting with a dull mind, pausing in the middle of a round to do something else, or interrupting japa to take rest.


Remedy: Associate with Vaisnavas who do not waste time with useless talks or acts, but who constantly chant and mediate upon the holy name. One will receive the mercy and enthusiasm to conquer the lazy mind by following in the footsteps of advanced Vaisnavas.



3) Distraction (viksepa)


Distraction in chanting begets illusion, the cause of all other forms of inattention chanting such laziness and apathy. Distraction also produces many offenses and keeps one from giving up attraction to women, wealth, position, success and the cheating propensity. Absorption in these items of attachment results in distraction, and the inability to concentrate on anything else. At this stage, the mind is tuned into worldly things and not really hearing the holy name at all.


Remedy: To conquer distraction one must make a concerted effort to drive out such attractions from the mind by diligently following rules of Vaisnava behaviour, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives a practical remedy to remove the disease of distraction. He says one can increase his taste for chanting by enthusiastically observing festival days such as Ekadasi, Janamastami, Radhastami and various Vaisnava tirobhavas. On Ekadasi, for example, one can take a vow to not eat or drink even a drop of water. One can then pass the whole day and night singing the glories of the Lord in the association of rupanuga Vaisnava, preferably in a holy dhama (Mayapur or Vrindavana). Along with chanting japa, kirtana and bhajans, one can read and discuss sastras like Srimad-Bhagavatam. As the ears eagerly drink the sweet nectar of asta-kaliya-lila bhajanas sung by expert kirtaniyas, the mind will become completely enchanted and fixed on the transcendental vibration. The serene devotee will now steadily chant the holy name in a joyous mood, forever free from the offense of inattention.


Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that enthusiastic participation in such festivals without anxiety or hesitation will rekindle the dying spark of spiritual taste. Thus a genuine attraction for radha-Govinda's blissful pastimes will awaken, and completely rid the heart of all mundane distractions. Relishing the refined tastes of pure Krsna consciousness, one will never again indulge in his former material attachments.


Praying for Krsna's mercy is another good way to overcome distraction. The compassionate Lord always helps a sincere sadhaka. Pray to krsna to help you chant distinctly and attentively. Everything is possible if the mind focuses on Krsna: "Please Krsna! I don't chant very well and I can't concentrate. Today, my deviant mind refuses to follow my direction. Please help me! Please allow me to taste the full nectar of the name. Without Your mercy, there is no hope at all for such a fool as me."




Eleventh Offense: Rectification


In addition to the suggestions given above, one can remove offense of inattention by chanting the holy name with great enthusiasm.


"Even if one gives up all other nama-aparadhas, if he is still inattentive, he can never have attraction for the holy names. If one maintains his enthusiasm for devotional service, one will never become apathetic, lazy or distracted in chanting the holy names. By enthusiastically chanting the holy names one can quickly come to the platform of steadiness (nistha) in devotional service". (Bhaktyaloka)




Summary on Overcoming Distraction


When chanting the Hare krsna maha-mantra one should not be restless, thinking, "I have to do this or I have to go there. I must finish my rounds quickly so I can solve a pressing problem." Just chant japa; don't think of business, personal needs or family concerns. Tolerate the impish mind; remain aloof, unaffected and undisturbed. Krsna will personally adjust everything if we surrender to His holy names. There is actually only one problem facing everyone: "How can we attain krsna-prema?"


Once a disciple asked, "How will it be possible, Prabhupada, for a man whose mind is clouded to constantly chant Hare Krsna? A man who is always thinking thoughts about family, friends, country, and nation?"


Srila Prabhupada replied, "Yes. Think of but at the same time chant. Two things will go on and this chanting of Hare Krishna will conquer. As maya is forcing you to drag you from Krsna consciousness, you also force maya by chanting Hare Krsna. There is fight. And maya will go away"! (SPC 23/12/68)


One must set aside some time to peacefully remember Krsna's names. During these precious moments alone with the Lord, one should concentrate all his desires, thoughts and feelings on Krsna's divine names, forms, qualities, pastimes and associates. Attentive japa pleases the Lord and ultimately solves all problems.


"A devotee can very peacefully chant the holy name of the Lord by behaving more humbly than the grass, being tolerant like a tree and offering respects to everyone, without expecting honour from anyone else. Such qualifications make it easier to chant the holy name of the Lord". (SB 7.5.23-24 p.)


The previous acaryas were particular about chanting in ultra quiet, undisturbed settings. Just imagine how tranquil Vrndavana was five hundred years ago? Yet to avoid any possible distractions the medieval saints Sanatana Gosvami chanted japa in a cave twenty feet under the ground in Goloka! Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura recommends chanting in a quiet "distraction free zone" to fully concentrate on the holy name. In his house in Godrumadvipa, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura constructed a small "meditation room" with a thick door to create a quiet place for concentrated japa. He advices sadhakas to make similar arrangements for staying alone in a secluded place in order to absorb the mind in the holy name.


When the mind wanders, one must withdraw it from sense objects and concentrate intently on the mantra. A transcendental sound vibration that can free or deliver (tra or trayate) the mind (mana) from material attraction and attachment is called a mantra. Meditate deeply on the meaning of the maha-mantra. Do not be distracted by random thoughts or external influences. Chant Krsna's names with feelings of devotion. Lastly and most importantly, one must turn to Krsna in the mood of a beggar, praying intensely for His mercy. Seeing your sincerity, Krsna will surely reciprocate and capture your full attention once again.



The Reality of Attraction


The sublime teaching of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura give additional insight for stopping the offense of distraction or inattention: "The personality called "Krsna" attracts the three worlds. It is reality that attracts. Whom does Krsna attract? Magnets attract iron, not wood. Similarly, the Lord attracts the servitors who are eager to serve and worship Him. The servitors are attracted by charm of the service.


"But on his path, if the servitor is distracted by something else, then this original attraction will evade him. On one side there is the attraction of the material world, which is the cause of bondage. On the other side is the attraction of Krsna, which is the cause of all bliss.


"In this world the objects of the senses-the form, the smell, the touch and the sounds of external objects are very close to me. That is why I-the weak person, become attached to them. Under circumstances, only if we can continuously hear about the Supreme Lord from the guru and sadhus can we be protected from these nearby enemies.


"If we are not attracted by the lotus feet of Krsna then we will definitely be attracted by maya. When Krsna's name, form, and pastimes will attract us, we will get relief from our present role as the enjoyer. The more we discuss topics of Krsna, the more we rid ourselves of the false identity of the enjoyer. Then Krsna will really attract us." (Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura p.94)


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From 'The Art of Chanting' by Mahanidhi Swami Page 52 Entitled Nama-aparadha


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I can chant for about 10 to 15 minutes and then it becomes a chore. How you guys chant for 2 hours or more is amazing. I respect your guys's religion but I find Christianity is easier to practice. In Christianity all you need to be saved is faith in God. Here is a quote from Urantia Book.


"And this kingdom which I declare to you is not a reign of power and plenty. The kingdom of heaven is not a matter of meat and drink but rather a life of progressive righteousness and increasing joy in the perfecting service of my Father who is in heaven. For has not the Father said of his children of the world, 'It is my will they should eventually be perfect, even as I am perfect.'


"I have come to preach the glad tidings of the kingdom. I have not come to add to the heavy burdens of those who would enter this kingdom. I proclaim the new and better way, and those who are able to enter the coming kingdom shall enjoy the divine rest. And whatever it shall cost you in the things of the world, no matter what price you may pay to enter the kingdom of heaven, you shall recieve manyfold more of joy and spiritual progress in this world, and in the age to come eternal life."


"Entrance into the Father's kingdom waits not upon marching armies, upon overturned kingdoms of the world, nor upon the breaking of captive yokes. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and all who enter therein shall find abundant liberty and joyous salvation."


"This kingdom is an everlasting dominion. Those who enter the kingdom shall ascend to my Father; they will certainly attain the right hand of his glory in Paradise. And all who enter the kingdom of heaven shall become the sons of God, and in the age to come so shall they ascend to the Father. And I have not come to call the would-be righteous but sinners and all who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of divine perfection."


"John came preaching repentance to prepare you for the kingdom; now have I come proclaiming faith, the gift of God, as the price of entrance into the kingdom of heaven. If you would but believe that my Father loves you with an infinite love, then you are in the kingdom of God."


"Jesus made plain to his apostles the difference between the repentance of so-called good works as taught by the Jews and the change of mind by faith - the new birth - which he required as the price of admission to the kingdom. He taught his apostles that faith was the only requisite to entering the Father's kingdom. John had taught them "repentence - to flee from the wrath to come."

Jesus taught "Faith is the open door for entering into the present, perfect, and eternal love of God." Jesus did not speak like a prophet, one who comes to declare the word of God. He seemed to speak of himself as one having authority. Jesus sought to divert their minds from miracle seeking to the finding of a real and personal experience in the satisfaction and assurance of the indwelling of God's spirit of love and saving grace."








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Know that chanting is the surest way in this age. The Kingdom is not cheap. And while it is near to us, we are far from it. Cleansing the heart first with the mahamantra brings the two idioms together. It takes time, but it will happen. It has always been why we do it, not what we do. More and more now the ancient voyagers will find this truth. The future is very bright for us all.


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