Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to prepare for Akhanda Kirtan

Prepare your heart... Prepare your soul

On the night before Kirtan Mela we will have an adivas. Adivas is a traditional ceremony that precedes any auspicious event. It is a Gaudhiya tradition to perform an adivas before an akhanda kirtan. At that time the instruments that will be used for the glorification of the Lord and His names are honored and worshiped with flowers and chandan, chanting pranam mantras appealing to the sampradaya for their blessings, etc.

While this Adivas ceremony will be performed on our behalf by HG Naru Gopal prabhu – a celebrated kirtaniya and gurukula graduate –  preparing our heart is up to us.

The following is based on notes from a lecture given by HH Sacinandana swami., at the onset of a 12 hour akhanda kirtan in Varshana, shortly after kartika. He is inducing the devotees to reach into their heart to fully become committed to a higher level of chanting.  I believe it fully applies to the preparation we should undergo to receive full benefit from the Kirtan mela.

Akhanda kirtan is a wonderful practice wherein one can really experience the holy name. You have to perform the kirtan in such a way that Krishna will appear.

According to Jiva Goswami, kirtan amongst all other processes of sadhana reigns supreme because it attracts the attention of the Lord in a special way. In hearing our sincere chanting, Krishna thinks: "This devotee belongs to me, he is calling for me, I should protect those who belong to me." The effectiveness of the spiritual process becomes Krishna's concern. Our spiritual life becomes His concern.

Another reason why he says that it is a super most practice is because it conquers the mind like no other.

He quotes a verse spoken by a brahmana who had advised his disciple in spiritual discipline: rise early, read... a 12 hour program. The disciple said that he could not concentrate doing this process, that his mind was too restless. So then the brahmana advised: “if you cannot concentrate, then chant shamelessly day and night, without reservation. In this way you will get loving attraction for Krishna.” It is the most effective way, according to Jiva Goswami’s Bhakti Sandarbha. Sitting together with many, sam-kirtan, is even more beneficial because extra ordinary devotional feelings are thus created.

How long can we go on in our spiritual life out of duty without feeling, out of institutional companionship? How long can we go on without feelings for Krishna This is a feeling religion, Krishna Bhavananmrta, you feel the bhava, the nectarean Krishna Concious feelings. It manifests when you perform samkirtan as long as onr can follow the method prescribed by Caitanya mahaprabhu.

trinad api sunicena
taror api sahishnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada harihi

One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.

We require a deep sense of humility.

The following are four humility triggers.

1.     Feeling misery, such as disease is good to crack the ego. When one feels miserable and needs help, he realizes he cannot do it on his own. One can more easily realize the greatness of his insignificance as he is being trashed around in the material world.
2.     The awareness of having committed an offense: “I blew it.”
3.     A shock, sudden change such as fame becoming infamy.
4.     Shame in  regards to wrong doings

Humility brings about responses such as wanting to appeal to Krishna: “Krishna, save me”.

Sanatan goswami gives two examples.

One is the Cataki bird who doesn't drink from ponds or lakes but waits for the moonsoon cloud, imagine his eagerness when the cloud finally arrives. He is truly wretched, he screams at the cloud:  “jal de, give me water”, this is how we should do kirtan, calling out: “Please Krishna, I am tired of this Krishna-less life, please, I want to give you love but I cannot give you love because I am so diverted. Please invest in my small capital of bhakti, increase my capital of bhakti so that I can purchase you with the coins of eagerness.”

The second example is the cakravarti bird couple who somehow cannot find each other. They feel like they cannot go on without it.  

In this mood of good kirtan one feels like he yet has to meet his beloved. Love is all consuming, causing the heart to burn, lovers must meet.

These 2 moods give me the medicine of love and the eagerness of the parched Cataki bird.

In such a way, we must prepare our heart to resonate the holy name in association, samkirtan.

Param Vijayate Sri Krishna Samkirtanam


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