Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(continues from the previous issue)

You asked whether to chant in mind or aloud or in soft voice. What is chanting? What is the purpose of chanting? Why we chant? We want to gain some attention. “Ah my God, I am here.” This is what we want to achieve. You are mothers and fathers. If your baby is whispering something quietly, what kind of attention he will draw? “Ah, fine, he is all right, I can do my job.” When the child starts to snivel, then even at that time you will say: “Still he’s all right.” When he or she will start a little crying – I have seen that, the level of sensitivity of fathers and mothers is very different from the sannyas sensitivity. When there is a big scandal in the family, I mean all the children are just in ecstasy, the parents are in full peace. So, you are big yogis! When a brahmachari can pay absolutely no attention because everything is upside down, you are still very peaceful. So when the child starts to cry a little louder, then you will turn your face, but say: “Still he’s all right.” But when they really start the show, then you go there. Then you will turn to him, grab him, feed him or her, right?

So, if you want to achieve, invite, invoke some attention, you have to cry aloud. Otherwise Krishna will think: “Ah, fine, he is peaceful. It is not necessary to pay any extra attention on him”.

Mental chanting in most of the cases is self-cheating. Because to be on that platform, to dedicate full attention, it’s difficult. So chanting properly is not easy. Especially if you have drawn the attention of your spiritual master. Too soft, too loud – everything is wrong. When I feel totally embarrassed and helpless – how to do it properly – this is the moment to start to do it properly. When we lose all the know-how: “I have learned that we have to chant like this.” But this is theory and many times, in many cases intellectual understanding prevents us from entering deeply into the devotional side.

So, until you are not in a self-controlled position it is better to pay attention to at least soft little sounding in chanting. Because in this way we hear also. Hear and chant, hear and chant – you hear yourself. But as we are different human beings, one can pay more attention, dedicate more heart while he chants aloud, the other can do it when it is more intimate – so it depends on the temperament of the person also. Nevertheless we have to add this very special spice to chanting and this is prema, or dedication.

And the best way of chanting is when it is not you who chant the mantra, but the mantra uses you for resounding. Shrila Prabhupad said: “It took me thirty years to learn how to chant the maha-mantra.” Of course we don’t believe everything that is said in such a humble state of mind. But if a highly elevated pure vaishnava says like this, then we have to be very determined and very humble in this practice.

At the same time maha-mantra is a happy way of devotional meditation.

This was one part: do the practice and try to add your feelings. And the other side that I’ve mentioned is the step-by-step gradual process. Like entering the temple, first we have to knock at the door.

So mentally or aloud – I don’t mind. But do it nice, do it deeply.

And we have to be fixed in this process. I have a friend, he had to attend the service in the army. And you know, at that time the army was not a hospital for disabled persons. It was a heavy place. And during these one and a half years there was only one day that he did not chant his sixteen rounds. I don’t know how you feel, but usually the army is not the best, most favorable place for spiritual practices, right? But sometimes difficulties help you. When you have all the facilities of an ashram, of a guru, of vaishnavas, of prasadam, of this and that, you feel so tired that “I am unable to do my practices” – come on! What is this?! Don’t be miserable in your practices. Be strong, dedicated. Try to express your willingness by performing. And when from time to time there is some success in chanting, be very grateful.


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