“Transcendental subject matter is so nice that no one becomes tired of hearing or speaking. Others, who are not devotees, may think, ‘How can people devote so much time simply to talks of God?’ But devotees are never satisfied or satiated in hearing and speaking about the Supreme Personality of Godhead or about His devotees. The more they hear and talk, the more they become enthusiastic to hear.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.13.1 Purport)
Friend1: I need you to reveal some secrets again.
Friend2: Alright, I admit it. It was me.
Friend2: I intentionally placed that tape into that kid’s hood in the store so that when he walked out the alarms would go off. It was an innocent prank. I’m not perfect.
Friend1: Wow, that is funny. This was in high school?
Friend2: Maybe a year or two after?
Friend1: You should be embarrassed.
Friend2: I am.
Friend1: I need a secret revealed about bhakti-yoga, devotional service.
Friend1: I’ve heard it said that Krishna-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, can go on and on, that people enjoy them so much.
Friend2: Both the person delivering it and the people hearing it.
Friend1: Right. It’s supposed to be different from the typical college lecture. Sit in a classroom with five hundred students and just zone out.
Friend2: I can only imagine what it is like nowadays. When I was in college cell phones were a few years away from becoming really popular. We didn’t bring laptops to class. Just a notebook to write in. Even then it was difficult to concentrate.
Friend1: Did you ever fall asleep in class?
Friend2: I did not, but I came close a few times. If I was that tired, I would simply skip the class. I know, I’m terrible. Youth is a funny thing.
Friend1: It is. What is so special about Krishna-katha, though? Why is it not boring?
Friend2: Well, your claim is not universally accepted. So many people are not interested in sitting for Krishna-katha. That’s why purification is an important step.
Friend1: How does that happen?
Friend2: There are the four pillars of religious life. This is applicable for human civilization in general; we’re not talking only of Vedic culture. Austerity, cleanliness, compassion and honesty. When you have these four things, the human being begins to separate from the animals.
Friend1: And so you need these four in order to have interest in Krishna-katha?
Friend2: It helps immensely. You can look to so many examples. There is the highway robber, Ratnakara. He came from a good family but fell into bad sorts. He was stealing and killing for a living.
Friend1: That’s not good.
Friend2: Yeah, and so when he met Narada Muni he wasn’t exactly ready to hear about Rama-katha, which is the same thing but talks dedicated to God’s form and pastimes as Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya.
Friend1: So Ratnakara acquired those four characteristics first?
Friend2: Because of his killing he was lacking compassion. Narada Muni first talked some sense into him. He asked whether the family was approving of this sinful behavior. Were they willing to share in the future consequences?
Friend1: Which was important to ask since Ratnakara was stealing to supposedly support his family.
Friend2: Exactly. When he found out they didn’t approve, he decided to listen to Narada some more. The saint advised him to chant the name of Rama. The sinful behavior had taken its toll, though. The robber couldn’t even pronounce the name, which is holy.
Friend1: Then he asked him to chant it backwards, right?
Friend2: Yes. Narada is very clever. By chanting the name backwards, Ratnakara heard the name Rama anyway. Through chanting for a long time he became completely transformed. He was then initiated by Narada with the name Valmiki.
Friend1: And Valmiki is like the king of Rama-katha.
Friend2: You could say that. All you need is the Ramayana that he authored. If you simply read that every day you will become liberated. There is no doubt about it.
Friend1: What is the secret to the lack of boredom, though?
Friend2: Oh, it’s twofold. One is that it is in the nature of the soul to be devoted to God. Devotion can involve both shravanam and kirtanam. So when you hear good things about the person you love the most, you can’t really get tired of it.
Friend1: Makes sense.
Friend2: And for the person chanting [kirtanam], the more you glorify the more things you think of. You use all of your intelligence to find ways to continue to glorify. God is unlimited, after all. The existing katha that is in written form is not complete by any means. The glories continue to expand, and the speakers love to extend the discourse.
Boredom elsewhere mind to send,
When in mundane too much to spend.
With katha of Hari not so,
Ever more of Lord to know.
Further still to go with glorification,
Helps when starting with purification.
Like with highway robber to saint turned,
And world the spotless Ramayana earned.