16 August 2003
I envision chanting japa to be like the spider's work of spinning a web. It is consciousness-expansion, for that is what a spider accomplishes. Apparently a spider's eyesight is very poor. When it sits in the middle of its web, it "sees" by feeling the slightest disturbance of the fine network of strands. Hence its consciousness expands to include every point along the length and breadth of the web.
In modern communications technology, we have satellite dishes. My friend in Tarunpur, Murari Gupta Prabhu, has a satellite dish on the roof of his house. It is a webwork of silver metal, like a radar antenna. Now, it so happens that Murari's set-up doesn't work! But if it did work properly, he would be able to receive television signals that originate from the farthest corners of the earth globe.
Chanting japa weaves a fine web that catches two type of signals. One type is the impulses of the material energy. If we are chanting nicely, then our consciousness becomes so fine that it can detect the approach of maya before she can get close enough to do us harm. A person who doesn't chant is "upset" by the impulses of maya when they enter his thoughts. Upset means he is dislodged from his position of self-composure. Maya enters his thoughts and he is unable to avoid giving attention to her. His consciousness becomes tuned to maya's broadcasting wavelength, and he subtly enjoys her message. At this instant he is consenting to her invasion of his mind. This is how one progresses in thought from thinking to feeling and then to willing. At the willing stage, the conditioned soul surrenders to maya's direction.
The chanter is able to detect maya's signals at a much greater distance. Thus he is able to prepare himself to resist her, by the strength of the holy name. In modern communications technology there is what is known as "jamming" a foreign signal, i. e. drowning it out by a more powerful impulse so that the foreign signal cannot be received. The chanter does this by taking full shelter of the holy name. He detects maya at a much farther range than ordinary thought and by absorbing himself deeper and deeper in the chanting he makes it impossible for the message of maya's signal to be received in his consciousness, where it may damage his spiritual standing.
From Gita-mala by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:
maya-baddha jataksana, thake to' jiber mana,
jara-majhe kore bicarana paravyoma jnana-moy,
tahe taba sthiti hoy, mana nahi pay dasarana
Oh my dear Lord Hari! So long as the minds of the jivas are conditioned by maya, they simply wander about and loiter within the world of dead matter. However, You are permanently situated in the spiritual skies of Vaikuntha and Goloka, which the material mind has no capacity for perceiving at all.
bhakti-krpa-khargaghate, jara-bandha cheda ta'te,
jay mana prakrtir par tomar sundara rupa,
here' taba aparupa, jara-bastu koroye dhikkar
By the causeless mercy of the sharp sword of pure devotional service, all bondage to matter is severed, and the mind can then travel far beyond the dull material energy. Then, upon beholding Your wonderfully beautiful form, one has no other choice but to condemn all inferior things which are simply made of matter.
The other type of signal that the web of the holy name catches is the divine impulses emanating from the spiritual world. A devotee must patiently spin the web of hari-nama every day and, at the advanced stage, his mind will become host to the most wonderful transcendental impressions. From Gita-mala by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:
swananda-sukhada, kunja manohara,
tahate kutir sobhe basiya tathay, gabo krsna nama,
kabe krsna-dasya hobhe
My small cottage is shining beautifully within that most enchanting garden called Svananda-sukhada-kunja. Living there, I will sing Krsna's holy name, and I will greedily hanker for that time when I will get the service of Him and His associates.
emon samoy muralir gan, pasibe e dasi-kane
ananda matibo, sakala bhulibo,
At this time, while thinking like this, the songs of a transcendental flute will suddenly enter this maidservant's ear. Becoming madly excited by such a sound, I will forget everything and will only listen spellbound to those wonderful songs of Sri Krsna's flute.
As Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura reveals, it is essential to obtain the merciful shelter of pure devotees so that by chanting, this transformation from material consciousness to Krsna consciousness may take place.
tathapi ananya-bhakta, tomare dekhite sakta,
sada dekhe svarupa tomar e bhaktibinoda dina,
ananya-bhajana hina, bhakta-pada-renu-matra sar
Despite this covering screen of maya's illusions, my dear Lord, Your pure unalloyed devotees have the power to see You. Indeed, wherever they turn their eyes, they see Your original personal form there. However, this Bhaktivinoda is very fallen and is completely bereft of unalloyed devotional worship. But he has one hope. . . he has considered the dust of Your devotees' feet to be the sole essence of his life.