“In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.5.32)
Young children instinctively know that they are not supposed to play the day away in front of the television. If they indulge in video games for too long, they will get yelled at by their parents. In the odd chance that the admonishment is absent, it means that the parents are either not around or not doing their job. Later on in life, the husband hears similar harsh words if he shirks his responsibilities in favor of “fun time.” Though the culprits have reason to feel guilty in these situations, the same does not apply with genuine spiritual life. In chanting the holy names, in reading books describing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and in thinking of the sacrifices made by His servants, there is no detriment to endless engagement. Keenly aware of this, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu freely distributed the wonderful gift of bhakti-yoga to as many people as possible, teaching His disciples the same art so as to further increase the scope of distribution. Occasions such as Gaura Purnima allow us to reflect on that wonderful benevolence.
The rebuke from the parents is understandable. They see us as young children wasting the day away in front of the television. They are in a position of authority. They understand what it takes to make sure there is enough money to have a television and video games in the first place. They know that if they followed the behavior of the children, there wouldn’t be anyone responsible around. Therefore just seeing us playing these games for an extended period can get them angry.
“Enough already. You’ve been playing for too long. Did you do your homework? If not, then do it right now. If you did it already, then read a book. Why don’t you read more? Did you know that such and such’s son scored very high on that standardized exam? You can do better, but you don’t apply yourself. Also, have you cleaned your room? I walked in there yesterday and it was a mess. You need to be more responsible. I shouldn’t have to tell you to do these things. You should know on your own.”
It is natural for a husband to see his friends less frequently after he gets married. Instead of being able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, he now has to check with someone else first. As soon as you have to ask permission, you’re inviting the chance of rejection. And if you don’t ask permission and just act unilaterally, you have to face the angry paramour later on.
“I can’t believe you spent the whole night at your friend’s place. What were you guys doing over there? There is a ton of laundry piled up here, and we still have dishes in the sink. You were supposed to call someone to fix that leak in the roof. How can you be so irresponsible? And you want to go on a road trip with your friends next week? So I will be left here all alone with the kids? No way, pal. If you do go, you might want to call here before you come back. You might want to check to see if you still have a wife.”
If all we have to rely on is mental speculation, we may eventually come to the conclusion that life is about love. The purpose to an existence is to serve someone else. Service is what makes us happiest. We can spin around the wheel of existence for a large number of times in order to eventually reach this conclusion, or we can get it immediately from the Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of India. Since they are so old, they are not taught in the same way in each time period. For instance, people from thousands of years ago had different frames of reference, so key concepts were explained to them in a particular way.
In the modern age, the situation is considered so degraded that the primary and most effective method of instruction is the simple sound vibration representation of the Absolute Truth. This should make sense if we think about it. Just the mere mention of religion draws scowls and frowns today. As sense gratification in fruitive activity is the ultimate aim of the non-religious person, if the same is taught within the bounds of spiritual life, the instruction is not taken seriously. “Why should I have to pray for stuff when others already get everything without praying? Why should I surrender to someone just so that I won’t go to hell in the afterlife? It doesn’t make sense for religion to be based on fear.”
The holy name, of which there are many, describes the Supreme Absolute Truth. In the Vedas the name Krishna is considered the best. It means “all-attractive.” Something that is attractive is pleasing to others. There is no other purpose to attraction. In fact, something cannot be attractive unless it invites others into association. Right away, we see that saying the name Krishna creates some sort of relationship. The person identified is attractive, and so is the name. Rama is another holy name, and it means the source of all-pleasure and also one who gives pleasure to others with His association. Hare is the energy belonging to Krishna or Rama.
The maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” is the best way to hear and create the holy names. It is the best method for being introduced to genuine spiritual life. It is the best way for remaining connected in a loving relationship to the Absolute Truth. And it is also the best way to find enjoyment when on the highest platform of consciousness.
The parent is superior because they serve in a more refined manner. They are wiser than the children, and in that wisdom they know how to serve their dependents. The person on the highest platform of consciousness can be thought of as the wisest guardian. With full knowledge they can engage in serving the Absolute Truth. They do so through the aforementioned hearing and chanting. If they are so inclined, they also worship, offer prayers, become friends, and surrender everything. Any one of these processes is sufficient, but chanting and hearing are considered the most effective.
The maha-mantra is the vehicle for liberation liberally distributed throughout society by Lord Chaitanya and His associates. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the same Absolute Truth, but He appears in a more merciful outward form, one that is easily accepted into the heart. In Kali Yuga, the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy, we mistakenly overvalue wealth and prestige, and so we tend to envy others we think are superior to us in these areas. Mahaprabhu’s goal is not to create another source of envy. He appears in a very renounced garb, thereby diminishing the chance for envy. In a humble way He kindly begs everyone to say the names of Krishna and Rama. He gives Himself over to anyone who does so.
And being with Mahaprabhu is the same as being with God. He explains the confidential purports to the shastras, or scriptures, through His association. He personally arrives through His causeless mercy, an extension of which is the kind work of His followers, who travel from village to village throughout the world to distribute the holy names. Those who are more philosophically inclined are given the same association through written word. The Bhagavad-gita and the Shrimad Bhagavatam are the instructions and descriptions of God. They are the preferred works for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, whose birth is celebrated on Gaura Purnima. On that magnificent day some five hundred years ago, the golden avatara came to show us how to live a guilt-free life, where we can indulge in service without cessation. It is in our constitution to serve, so when it is directed at God there is no reason to feel any guilt.
Rather live life guilt-free,
So that happy you’ll be.
Never good for too much play,
The wise guardians to us will say.
Responsibilities at home don’t shirk,
Lest be reprimanded by wife as a jerk.
In bhakti-yoga offer service without end,
Your kind sentiments to Supreme Lord send.
How to practice this ancient art Lord Chaitanya taught,
When His magnificence to this world He brought.