So why do I need to chant? Why can’t I just pray in my own words, from my heart? I could definitely do that for a longer time with more attention rather than chanting. I often think, what is the use? I’m just saying the mantra while my mind is somewhere else, I’m thinking about other things. Why don’t I just pray? Then one day, while chanting, I realized something. I started to think about what the use of chanting really is – the Bhagavad Gita says that if a person thinks of Krishna at the time of his death, he will surely attain Krishna. So maybe a person can live his whole life without chanting or praying, he can live like a bad person, doing bad deeds, and at the time of death, simply think of Krishna. And that’s it. Krishnaloka is his! Fairly easy. Then it just hit me. It is very difficult for someone to think of Krishna at the time of death. In fact, it is difficult for me to think of Krishna when I trip. How will I be able to remember him when I’m breathing my last? That’s when I realized, that the only way we can think of Krishna at the time of death is by chanting every day. We will get so used to chanting, that instinctively, “Hare Krishna” will be the words that pour out of our mouths. I noticed this after I first started chanting. When something would take me by surprise, or say if I tripped over, instead of usually saying, “Damn!” or “Shit!” or “What the hell?!” the beautiful names of Krishna would dance its way to my tongue. And all those useless words that do not glorify Krishna in any way started disappearing. All that used to come out of my mouth was, “Hare Krishna”. Immediately, feelings of anger or negativity dissipate. I am transported to Vrindavan. It was then that I realized the importance of chanting. It’s to prepare us for that final moment. To actually determine the state of mind and consciousness that we develop. Have we used our lives for becoming conscious of Krishna or not?
A few months ago, when I had started chanting, Krishna showed me something I see as a “sign”. I had stepped into the metro, chanting, and in front of me was this guy with his back faced towards me. His t-shirt said, “Meditate”. A grin spread across my face.
I know that’s you, Krishna! I said to myself. Obviously. Who else could it be?
Invest in chanting. Put a lot of effort into it. Krishna sees the effort. He sees the sincerity. Radhanath Swami says that Krishna is bound to us, because we have uttered His name. I like to think, that Krishna feels so loved when we say His name. While it is our soul’s eternal duty to always glorify the Lord, it is something that is very hard to do. Maya is strong. It somehow feels as though Krishna thinks, “My devotee! You are chanting MY name? Really? Is this so? Oh, my beautiful devotee, you are chanting MY name?! Now I can never leave you. You have said My name now so I must never ever leave you. I can never forget this.”
Radhanath Swami often talks about how grateful Krishna is to us. It’s quite amazing to think about it, really. How can God, the Lord and Creator of the Universe, be grateful to His creations, who are subordinate to Him, who cannot do anything without Him? But that just goes to show the depth of His love for us. He reciprocates with us. It is like the relationships we have with people on earth, only Krishna’s love is a lot purer and unselfish. Something that I will never forget is Krishna’s relationship with Sudama. It is such a beautiful lila! I will never tire of it. When I watch videos of it, tears always come to my eyes. [Click here to read the story.] The fact that Krishna, the Lord of the Universe, runs to meet His devotee, He washes his feet, He provides for him without even being asked… Oh, it makes my heart ache with love! Krishna never turns His back on anyone who approaches Him, be it for a material reason or not. What is important to Krishna is that His devotee has approached Him. Of course, it is always better to avoid being materialistic since materialism is an impediment to devotion. But Krishna knows our needs. He will always sustain us. That is His promise.
“But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form–to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” – Bhagavad Gita, 9:22
To the devotee, everything that happens, everything that doesn’t happen, is “Hari Icha” or “God’s will”. I read this inspiring quote somewhere once:
“When a devotee gets something he wants, it is ‘Hari Kripa’ [God’s mercy], when a devotee doesn’t get something he wants, it is ‘Hari Icha’ [God’s will].”
So whether Krishna decides to give us what we want or to give us what we need, we must remember that it is all Hari Icha. Whether we get what we ask for or not, it is Hari Icha. However, one thing is certain. The most important things we can ask for are:
To always be engaged in devotional service.
To fall in love with the Holy Name.
To be able to seek shelter in Krishna.
To have unshakeable faith in Krishna.
Hari Hari bol.