Mohinī dāsī: I have heard that you were previously doing bhajana here in Govardhana. Can you tell something about how you were living here, how much you were chanting, how you were alone, what you were eating, what you were doing, and when you were waking up?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I lived here before 1968 for two months. Daily, while weeping, alone, I would do parikramā and read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: In other words, not for showing off to anyone else.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I was chanting more than sixty-four rounds a day.
Mohinī dāsī: What time would you wake up?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I would wake up at 3:00 am.
Mohinī dāsī: Then what? How would you begin your day?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: First I would chant harināma, then I would chant my āhnika (gāyatrī mantras), then do parikramā while chanting – fourteen miles daily. When I returned I would beg mādhukarī (very small amounts of prasādam) at the Vrajavāsīs’ houses. After returning from there, I would read Caitanya-caritāmṛta, while weeping and experiencing so many transcendental moods. My sentiments cannot be told.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: This devotee has been associating with ISKCON for some years. He has not been initiated by any guru. He has some doubt. He is not sure whether or not he should remain in ISKCON. In ISKCON he heard that if one is not in that society, one is out of the line of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Those who say this are bogus. Such persons cannot give bhakti; they can only collect money. They have so many schemes to make money, and so much money comes to them. Then, filling their pockets with that money, they run away from bhakti and bhaktas. Many of the most senior Vaiṣṇavas have left that institution and are coming to me.
Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: Jason was collecting money for ISKCON for ten years.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I know that he can collect.
(To Jason) You can collect money for ISKCON, while associating with us for bhakti. I do not require money. I want only to help devotees.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, sometimes, when the people in ISKCON hear such very bold and powerful statements from you, they criticize your words: They say with disdain, “Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja says that there is no bhakti in ISKCON; only money.” Can we say that in their society there may be some sincere devotees and that they are trying…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: How can they be sincere? Their leaders are not sincere, so how can they be sincere? Those who are sincere will be attracted to me. It is inevitable that they will come, because their Gurudeva, parama-pūjyapāda Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, personally told me to help them. Whom will I help? I will help those who are sincere. Those who want to make money will never come; they will simply protest.
In general, ISKCON leaders do not chant more than sixteen rounds, and some of them do not even chant sixteen. I chant one lākha (sixty-four rounds) daily. If for some reason I do not complete a lākha one day, I complete it on the next day. If on some days I am engaged all day, then, by tongue, I constantly chant, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa.” During airline flights I chant two or three lākhas (one-hundred twenty-eight or one-hundred ninety-two rounds).
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: The longer the flight, the more Gurudeva chants.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, hearing from Mādhava Mahārāja that when you go on long flights you chant so many rounds, I think of how impossible it would be for us to do this. I cannot even imagine chanting so many rounds.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: And when we arrive at the destination, he has no jetlag.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I do not sleep at all; only chanting, chanting, chanting.
Jayadeva dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, how does a devotee know when he should increase the number of rounds he chants daily?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: As your taste develops, your bhajana will increase automatically. There is no need to be told when to increase. Until taste has developed, guru and Vaiṣṇavas will remind you that you should maintain your sādhana-bhajana. It is essential to perform bhajana, and by doing so, your taste will develop.
Gokula dāsa: Some devotees told Jayadeva Prabhu that you prescribe only four rounds daily, whereas I see that you are actually telling the devotees to chant at least sixteen.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I may even say to someone, “You should chant at least one round.” Why do I tell them this? The holy name is so attractive and powerful that the one round itself will foster the increase. But there should be no aparādha – no offenses to Vaiṣṇavas, to nāma (the holy name of the Lord), or to Kṛṣṇa.
Gokula dāsa: What is your expectation regarding someone who has taken harināma from you?
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Gurudeva, in the case of our Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, he very strictly prescribed chanting sixteen rounds daily. Unless someone could chant that number, he would not give him harināma initiation. His question is connected with that.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: For small children, Śrīla Gurudeva may encourage them to chant one or two rounds. But for adults, he always requests them to chant a minimum of sixteen rounds. Moreover, he requests them not be stagnant there, but to gradually increase their chanting.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If someone cannot chant the required amount, he can begin from eight, ten, or twelve, and gradually try to chant sixteen, twenty, twenty-four, thirty-two, and more than that. My Gurudeva never told me how many rounds to chant. He told me to chant; that’s all. We are more liberal in that regard.
Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura used to say that Kṛṣṇa will not accept prasādam from those who are not chanting one lākha (100,000 names, or sixty-four rounds). A lākha of what quality? It should be at least nāma-abhāsa, not nāma-aparādha.
Devotee: He is thinking about taking initiation, but he is uncertain.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He can decide. If he wants to be happy in this life and be situated on the transcendental platform, it is necessary to take initiation.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: From time to time I meet devotees who have a certain experience in their devotional life. They say, “I tried very hard to practice bhakti. I chanted many rounds, even sixty-four rounds every day, and I woke up early in the morning. Although I did this for eleven years, I did not get the result.” Some of these people have given up chanting and practicing bhakti.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They did not have association with pure devotees (sādhu-saṅga).
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: They say, “I was with Gurujī and I was in Vṛndāvana so many times, but I have not achieved anything.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This is not possible. Such persons have no faith in the holy name, in guru, or in bhakti. In such circumstances, how will bhakti come to him? How does one attain bhakti?
mārobi, rākhobi—jo icchā tohārā
nitya-dāsa prati tuwā adhikārā
(Mānasa-deha geha, Verse 3, by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura)
Slay me or protect me as You wish. You have this right because I am Your eternal servant.
Those who have such doubts are unable to be imbued with the mood described in this verse. They do not possess even the beginning of śraddhā, what to speak of ātma-nivedana, self-surrender. They considered, “If I take harināma, I will be happy because great wealth and position will come to me.” Later, when this did not happen, they lost their so-called faith.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: So their practice was external?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, this devotee is asking if it is necessary to chant all of his rounds on beads every day. He has a job and it is not always possible to chant on beads.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I have told the devotees that sometimes they can chant on beads, and sometimes, while walking in service, they can chant without beads. I have said this to encourage those who have no interest in chanting. When a devotee becomes truly interested in chanting, he will chant sixty-four rounds or even more than that. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura chanted three lākhas of holy names (one-hundred-ninety-two rounds) every day.
Rasa-sindhu dāsa: But at least sixteen rounds should be chanted on beads. Isn’t that correct?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I gave that concession for those who are not at all interested in chanting – only for them, not for everyone.
Brajanāth dāsa: Prema-vilāsa prabhu is here. He first came to you in 1986.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: 1986.
(To Prema-vilāsa dāsa:) For what reason have you come to India?
Prema-vilāsa dāsa: I am making a plan to obtain bhāva-bhakti in this lifetime.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: But you are not chanting, you are not hearing, and you are not doing kīrtana. How will rati come? If you want that high class of rati, you will have to give up everything, chant sixty-four rounds daily, and regularly hear hari-kathā.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Śrīmān Mahāprabhu was acting as an ācārya; He was doing the cleaning (of the Guṇḍicā temple) Himself and then teaching others. Some so-called guru may say, “I don’t do it, but I tell my disciples, “You should chant at least 64 rounds.” His disciples cannot ask him, “How many rounds do you do?” They fear, but any very bold disciple may ask, “How many rounds are you doing? And in what mood are you doing them?” That bogus guru, that kan-guru, will not be able to reply, but a real guru can say, “Oh, I try to do 64, sometimes more then that.”
Source: Purebhakti.com (Secrets of Guṇḍicā Mandira Mārjana)
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