“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)
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“How is any person supposed to find serenity in the current climate? I am not referring to the weather patterns, either. Basic survival is at stake. There is doubt over its availability, its reliability, its sustainability, and its presence.
“You see people who have everything taken care of for them. They don’t necessarily have to work. They can waste every single day away. There is no pressure. They are not under stress.
“Except they are totally miserable. It is as if they have no purpose in life. They are terribly depressed. They might be worse off than the person who is struggling to stay above water, so to speak. This means that on either side there is misery, whether abundance or squalor.
“What is your appeal for self-realization going to do? We need practical implementation, not lofty words or utopian ideals. How is anything from bhakti-yoga going to provide peace and tranquility? I do not see it happening.”
From a historical perspective, we see that there are different recommended implementations for dharma. This is based on the period of time. We have the information from the descending process, which is something like a historical record passed down for future generations to take advantage of.
In the first age, when there was greater allegiance to principles of righteousness, the recommendation was to meditate. The Sanskrit word is dhyana. Focus on transcendence. Hear the sacred syllable of om. Find a secluded place and meditate for thousands of years.
With the arrival of new ages, the conditions become less favorable. There is thus a different recommended method to correspond with the times. In the second age, the best method is elaborate sacrifice, known as yajna.
In the third age, you have worship of the Divine in the deity form. Sort of like worship by proxy, except God is Absolute in nature. Worship of the deity in the authorized way is just as good as worship in the personal form.
His Divine Grace A.C. bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the recommendation for the present age is hearing and chanting. It makes sense, if we think about it. We can sacrifice some time to hear. Every person can do this, no matter how busy they are.
The same applies for chanting. We can find some time in the day to repeat the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It does not have to be this specific mantra; any authorized name for the Almighty will do.
If we go underneath the surface, we see that there is the same underlying connection that was in the recommendations from ages past. There is a personal relationship. There is a connection. It is both dharma and yoga. It is dharma in the sense of following rules and regulations pertaining to a religious system.
It is yoga in the sense of establishing a link between the individual consciousness and the Supreme Consciousness. A person can try for themselves to see if a transformation takes place. If we hear on a regular basis, are we more at peace? Do we have a better understanding of the larger picture, studying time at the macro level, when we make a routine out of chanting the holy names and absorbing philosophical principles from sacred texts, which are timeless?
The duration of life is shorter. There is harassment from the beginning of life until the end. There are toxins within the popular food and medicines of the time. A person is fortunate to live for one hundred years, free of the debilitating interference.
“The body is only a dead vehicle to be worked by the spirit soul, which is always active and cannot stop even for a moment. As such, the spirit soul has to be engaged in the good work of Krishna consciousness, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations dictated by illusory energy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.5 Purport)
If, during that time, they can hear and chant, they are blessed. They are fortunate to know that God is capable of turning the lifeless into full of life. That experience which was previously dull, miserable, and depressing becomes invigorating, enlightening, and full of hope. This is all due to the connection in yoga.
Residing in exact same place,
But now showing different face.
Whereas previously depressed,
And enthusiasm suppressed.
With hope and energy today,
Repeating with each day.
Because to transcendence connection,
Change from turn in direction.
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