Vanity thought #144. Reflections on Sanmodana Bhashyam, verse 1.

The fact that what I am doing is not sankirtana wasn’t the only discovery I made while re-reading Sanmodana Bhashyam. Don’t know where I was looking when I read it the first time, there are little gems of wisdom on every page there, hidden behind the usual glorification of the Holy Name.

Take “vidya vadhu jivanam”, for example, sankirtana is life and soul of all education. Vadhu also means wife or bride. Gopis were called vadhu, too. So, is vadhu here means life and soul in a sense one’s wife is his life and soul? Possibly, but Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura offers a different explanation, but wait a second.

I always assumed that “life and soul of all education” means that you study vedas and discover that worshiping Krishna is their ultimate purpose, you study some more and find that shravanam and kirtanam of the Lord’s name and pastimes is the highest service, and among various ways to glorify the Supreme Lord sankirtana is the best. Goes hand in hand with what Lord Chaitanya was doing Himself. First He became a famous vedic scholar, undisputed champion of grammar and everything. Then He proclaimed that all this studying leads only to chanting the Holy Names of Lord Hari and if one does not come to this realization all his studies have been a waste of time.

There’s nothing wrong with this explanation of “vidya vadhu jivanam”, I suppose, but Sanmodana Bhashyam offers a twist.

First, Bhaktivinoda Thakura states that there are two kinds of Supreme Lord’s shakti, vidya and avidya. Avidya is Lord’s external potency, mahamaya, that covers spiritual soul’s knowledge of his real position and makes him enjoy in the material world. Vidya is Lord’s internal potency that creates the spiritual world, yoga maya.

When one chant the Holy Name this internal potency, yoga maya, or swarupa shakti, or bhakti devi, enters the heart of the devotee, eclipses the maha maya, and drives away all ignorance and material desires.

That’s why chanting of the Holy Name is life and soul of all transcendental knowledge – knowledge of Lord’s form, attributes, pastimes, and our relationships with Him.

That is also why this Bhakti Devi is called vadhu, as She is also described as Krishna’s wife.

Awesome stuff.

Practically, it further proves that my efforts at chanting and sankirtana are two different things. For my chanting the highest knowledge I expect is realization that chanting is the highest service I can possibly render, at this point at least.

If I was doing sankirtana the highest knowledge would the knowledge of direct my relations with Krishna.

That brings up yesterday’s point about discrepancy of what Lord Chaitanya was teaching in Siksashtaka and what we are trying to do. Today I tend to look at the first verse as declaration of the ultimate goal and ultimate benedictions. All the verses following it are more in line with our imperfect chanting than with real sankirtana.

Lord Chaitanya talks about lack of taste, He talks about being humble and patient in glorification of Lord’s Hari’s names, He renounces all kinds of material goals in exchange for devotional service in His future births, He begs Krishna to make him a speck of dust at Krisna’s feet instead of boasting about His actual spiritual relationships if He were talking from verse 1 platform.

Perhaps the most pertinent observation/complaint against the first Siksashtaka verse is absence of “anandam budhi vardhanam pratipadam purnamrita svadanam” – where is the nectar at every step?

Lord Chaitanya might have stated this in the beginning but when He followed with His own realizations there was not nectar either. Just extreme sorrow and lamentation. He cried that His body didn’t display any signs of love of God, He cried that separation from the Lord is unbearable for Him and finally He accepted His misery for the sake of Lord’s pleasure, so to speak. Where’s the nectar there?

Lord Chaitanya wasn’t cheating us. The glories of sankirtana described in His first verse were as unattainable for Him as they are for us, and they are still there, of course.

Makes me do two things – first, forget about analyzing this first verse in every detail, it’s nice and all but purely academic. Second – make achieving “sankirtana” my most pertinent goal, unless told otherwise.

The fact that I’m not doing sankirtana yet shouldn’t discourage me at all. There’s this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.11

O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.

Constant chanting. Doubtless and fearless. For those who are desirous of material enjoyment.

What other confirmation do I need?

Same chanting is recommended for those who are free from all material desires, and for them it would be real sankirtana, I suppose, same chanting is recommended for annoying nuisances like me, and for great yogis who meditate on their own self and don’t need anything else, apart from chanting names of Lord Hari, as they are about to find out.

This is another argument in favor of Hare being Hari in the maha mantra, btw.

Well, a few words about today’s chanting. Two things happened, encouraging and discouraging. First, I’m learning how to intensely listen to the mantra without deviating even for a second. I’m learning how to maintain this discipline for hours on end. It’s far from perfect but it’s a clear progress nevertheless.

Unlike before, where my default state of chanting was mouth moving, mind flying elsewhere, I’m more often listening to the names than thinking about anything else now. During today’s nine hours I can count only a few instances when the mind was able to sustain his own line of thought for more than a few mantras.

This is good, but I doubt I can sustain it myself without taste for the Holy Names to feed to my mind. It’s a material element, it attracts to things like a magnet. I can hold it off only for so long, I’m not a yogi. It will find something to cling to and if it’s not the Holy Name I’ll be lost again.

This is me blackmailing the Lord in giving me some nectar…

He knows better than me, of course, I should display my tolerance here, not whine about possible failures.

The discouraging thing is that my pronunciation took a nosedive. I can say the full mantra only if I’m fully committed to it. If I think of anything else, even for a split second, I start stammering and swallowing words and syllables.

I can’t even slow down anymore, my mouth refuses to work at all if there’s no required level of energy, speed, and concentration. You could say it’s a blessing in disguise but for me it means repeating the same mantra again and again without moving a bead until I get it right, and it takes time. If I was chanting sixteen rounds extra ten minutes wouldn’t have mattered, but with my new standard 108 I’m looking at extra hours, not minutes.

Either that or completely bungled, distorted mantras, or reducing the number of rounds.

The last half an hour were in haze for me today, again. I was really squeezing out the last bits of juice from my batteries, completely helpless and bewildered, having lost all sense or purpose.

I have a few thoughts about it but they are not quite clear to me yet, can wait until tomorrow.

As much as it pains me to say it, but

All Glories to Sri Krishna Sankirtana!

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