“For self-realization, the people in Satya-yuga, living a lifetime of a hundred thousand years, were able to perform prolonged meditation. And in Treta-yuga, when the duration of life was ten thousand years, self-realization was attained by performance of great sacrifice. And in the Dvapara-yuga, when the duration of life was one thousand years, self-realization was attained by worship of the Lord. But in the Kali-yuga, the maximum duration of life being one hundred years only and that combined with various difficulties, the recommended process of self-realization is that of hearing and chanting of the holy name, fame, and pastimes of the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.21 Purport)
Friend1: How can chanting be enough?
Friend2: Enough for what?
Friend1: You know what I mean. Liberation from the cycle of birth and death. In the first age of the creation, in terms of population of the creatures, austerity was enough. People could meditate for a long time.
Friend2: The average duration of life was extended, by comparison, also. Today we think it remarkable that someone has reached the century mark, but in Satya Yuga you were just getting started at that point.
Friend1: In the second age, known oddly enough as Treta, you had the ability to conduct elaborate yajnas. These are religious sacrifices.
Friend2: Think of it in terms of a grand scale. Not simply the corner of a tiny room in the house. Not using only a spare bedroom to set up an altar that you visit a few times a day.
Friend1: Where we light incense and offer some prayers. That is actually doing a lot in modern times.
Friend2: You are a special person if you even approach the Almighty. Anyway, in Treta-yuga these yajnas were so amazing that the quantity of ghee poured into the fires would be astonishing, by today’s standard.
Friend1: In Dvapara-yuga, the next age, you have elaborate deity worship. Archanam, in Sanskrit.
Friend2: The temple is everything within that configuration. It is the center of the universe. A way to visit God, while otherwise estranged from Him, due to lack of understanding.
Friend1: Because He is always close by, within the heart.
हृद्-देशे ऽर्जुन तिष्ठति
hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
Friend2: Today, many of the temples are dilapidated. They are barely hanging on. A few worship ceremonies a day and that’s it. No one receives an education while visiting.
Friend1: That is provided they are even allowed to enter. In the present age, you have harinama. Simply say the name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the preferred method.
Friend2: The acharyas explain that any of the methods is equally as effective in any of the ages, but that certain time periods warrant exclusive preference. This is because of the general conditions of the world.
Friend1: Adherence to dharma. If we considered allegiance to religious principles as a table with four legs, in Kali-yuga dharma is left standing on only one leg.
Friend2: That is why harinama is everything. I believe that was your original question.
Friend1: It seems too easy to me; that is all I am saying. I feel like I should be doing more. I hear and repeat the holy names in various ways throughout the day. I listen to recorded songs, i.e. other people chanting. Then I have my routine in japa, repeating the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend2: What is the problem, then?
Friend1: How can that be sufficient? That is my doubt. I feel as though I am distracted throughout the day. Daily life is so difficult that I barely have time to breathe. One person after another, bothering me, pestering me. Everyone wants something. I have no peace.
Friend2: That sounds about right.
Friend1: How am I supposed to remember Krishna? Under so much pressure, it is easy to forget Him.
Friend2: That is why every potency is within the name. Bhagavan understands the difficulty of life in Kali-yuga. He maintains an open-door. He is not restricted for someone because they are living in an inauspicious time. Devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is unmotivated and uninterrupted. The conditions of the material world cannot dictate whether I have the opportunity to succeed in this precious human birth. I will always have a way towards salvation, and thankfully I have come into the knowledge of the holy name and the potency it carries.
With Kali’s conditions tough,
Harinama vow enough.
Chanting creating sound,
In which all potency found.
So that near to Him still,
Days with devotion to fill.
Seeming simplistic as such,
But in the process trust.