Hearing and chanting Krishna’s names brings perfection.
Vaisesika Das: I can’t stop thinking about the big kirtans we had at ISV (our temple in San Jose, Ca) on Lord Rama’s appearance day. My mind keeps going back to those kirtans, wanting to relive them.
On that day, the devotees danced and sang together for hours in wild abandon: laughing, jumping, spinning, dancing, smiling and shouting with happiness.
I watched when a couple of devotees who arrived late walked into the big hall while the kirtan was roaring. The newcomers visibly turned bright, gradually shed their inhibitions and were soon dancing madly like everyone else.
Hearing and chanting Krishna’s names brings perfection. Knowledge, detachment, and a higher taste drench the devotee who, for even one night, enters the pulsating enchantment of the big kirtan.
My godbrother and friend, Naganatana Prabhu, told me that before meeting the devotees, he had been afflicted by deep anxiety and was suffering greatly due to the circumstances of his life. However, his distressed heart was cured when he met the devotees in Japan and joined them for kirtan. Naganatana told me that those early Japanese kirtanas were massive and that – over time – they had magically transformed him, removing the troubles from his heart, filling him with spiritual strength and giving him a real taste of happiness. To this day, he is grateful to have attended those historic kirtanas in Japan that were led by Guru Krpa Swami. Naganatana has now been steadily practicing bhakti yoga for nearly forty years.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu began his Sankirtana movement by holding ecstatic kirtan in the home of Srivasa Pandita alongside his closest devotees. Every evening for a year, they joined together to sing the maha-mantra and to dance with abandon, all night long. Mahaprabhu taught people everywhere He went that by performing such kirtan one would become happy and also attain spiritual perfection.
In his song, Narada Muni , Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes the following sweet words about the elation devotees feel when they join together to perform kirtan of the holy names of God:
“Like a monsoon cloud, the holy name showers pure nectar into the ears of the devotees. Due to great ecstasy, all the devotees enthusiastically dance to their heart’s content.
“All the inhabitants of the universe become maddened upon drinking these intoxicating showers of divine sweetness. Some people cry, some dance, and others become fully intoxicated within their minds.
“Five-faced Lord Shiva embraces Narada Muni and repeatedly shouts in ecstasy, while Lord Brahma dances very ecstatically and exclaims, ‘All of you chant, “Hari bol! Hari bol!’
“In supreme happiness, thousand-faced Ananta Sesa sings and call out, ‘Hari! Hari!’ By the influence of the transcendental vibration of the holy name, the whole universe becomes mad with ecstasy as everyone relishes the mellows of the holy name.
“The holy name of Sri Krishna has fulfilled all my desires by thus manifesting on everyone’s tongue. Bhaktivinoda, the humble servant of the Lord, therefore prays at the feet of Srila Rupa Goswami that the chanting of harinama may always continue in this way.” (Narada Muni Bajay Vina)
Often, beginners in bhakti yoga ask how to overcome the weakness of heart that seems to waylay their progress on the spiritual path.
The medicine is the “big kirtan.” Find where kirtan is being performed, go there (even if you have to hitch-hike), and get in as close to the center of as you possibly can.
In Kali-yuga, no one has to go to the forest to meditate or to perform intense austerities. Rather, Mahaprabhu prescribes kirtan – and when one feels fatigued – feasting on delicious Krishna prasadam.
Find a kirtan. Get in, and feel the bliss.
“My heart is just like a desert, hot with the rays of the sun. This is my internal mental condition. The desire for mortal things cannot satisfy me because by nature they are death producing. And not one or two, but thousands of such death producing desires have taken shelter in my mind. So, my subconscious region is always burning. This is my condition. But somehow, by the grace of the sadhu and guru, the holy name of Krishna with its infinite prospect has entered through the holes of my ears and reached the plane of my heart. And there, with some peculiar hope, with infinite, auspicious possibilities, it has touched my heart with a new kind of nectar.” (Bhaktivinoda Thakura, saranagati)