Click here to load whole tree
NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami > Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service > Obstacles in Chanting and Reading > Confessions of a Poor japa Chanter


Confessions of a Poor japa   Chanter


One who attempts to write a book called "Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service" runs the risk of sounding like an all-knowing teacher. This is not the case with me, and so I would like to admit to my own struggles in chanting japa. I have not neglected the vow to chant sixteen rounds a day. But I confess that I am unable to appreciate the holy names. When I say this, some of my friends think that I am being humble and that actually I am tasting the holy name very blissfully. One friend took me more seriously yet said that perhaps Krsna is withholding the nectar of the holy name from me so that I can sympathize with the struggles of others! Some who have heard my confession con­clude that I must be what I say I am, backward. But they do not like to hear my admissions. "What's his problem? Why can't he just chant like ev­erybody else?"Other friends have pointed out to me that according to sastra, I am committing nama-aparadhas, and that is why I do not have a taste for the holy names.While accepting this failure, I also wish to share a conviction I have of the importance of performing duty, despite the failure. To me, the bottom line is duty. My spiritual master told me to chant Hare Krsna, and so I will never give it up. I do not regard this duty as a nonsense thing. It is all I have, and so it's very dear to me. I also have become aware that it may take a long time for me to "master" the art of chanting Hare Krsna. It is not something easily attained. This thought helps me to become more patient. So what if I have been chanting for twenty-five years? Maybe in five years from now it will become more clear to me. It is up to Krsna. And it also depends on my desire.


I take solace in the statements by Prabhupada that devotional service is a slow process. Like everyone else, sometimes I feel better about chanting than at other times. Sometimes I'm verv worried that I should do better, and sometimes I'm patient and easy on myself. Sometimes I thank Krsna for the wonderful gift of the holy name, and sometimes I beg for His mercy so that I may chant in earnest. (Sometimes I alternate this thanking and begging within the space of a single mantra: "Thank You!— please have mercy!") Devotees report that when they do feel they are improving in their chanting, this often results in pride that everything is going well. Then they fall again into a valley of inattentive chanting. Maybe we should always feel very fallen and humble. When we feel very fallen, we are actually chanting in a way that is pleasing to Krsna. It may not even be advisable to try to figure out where I am on the devotional chart of progress. The all-important thing is to keep trying with determination and faith. We are as close to Krsna as possible when we chant the holy name. Although we cannot imitate Lord Caitanya, we can follow His mood: "When will the day come when by chanting, tears will flow from My eyes, and My voice will choke up at the utterance of the holy name?"


And so we return to the same conclusion, that all obstacles on the path can be removed by chanting and hearing. Even if we cannot solve other pro­blems, we must tackle the obstacle of neglecting the basic sadhana, sravanam kirtanam. And as soon we begin, we will be encouraged in the efficacy of these practices:


Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma (Supersoul) in everyone's heart and   the  benefactui   of   the  truthful   devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted. -Bhag. 1.2.17