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Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep

Post Author: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2006-01-14 06:54:29
Title: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Neil LA    Date: 2007-04-26 23:33:29

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
All Glories to Swami Gaurangapada!
All Glories to the Guru Parampara!
All Glorie to the Vaishnavas!

I was just wondering something about Srila Prabhupada.

Do we know how many rounds a day Srila Prabhupada chanted? Was he a Laksheshvara? I wonder when he would find any time at all to chant, with his hectic schedule.

The more I reflect on how much Srila Prabhupada accomplished in just 10 years, it really amazes me.

Do we know how many hours he slept? It must not have been very many.

I believe that I read somewhere that Srila Prabhupada said that we should get only a maximum of 6 hours of sleep.

I'm curious about Swami Gaurangapada's and the devotees' thoughts on sleep.

Sleep is something that I struggle with greatly. I've been trying, and mostly failing, to get up during the Brahma Muharta. When I do get up, and stay up, during the day, I actually feel less tired than I normally do.

Frequently, the alarm will go off at 4 and I won't even try to get up. I'll just say I'll get up an hour later. Then that hour comes...and the long and short of it, usually I keep setting the alarm ahead until I get up at 7:45 which is the absolute latest that I can get up. Then usually throughout the day, I'm always tired and don't feel like I've had enough sleep. The same is true if I sleep later on the weekends. If left to myself, I could sleep until 8 or 9, but then I feel very lethargic all day.

If I don't get up at 4, all day I feel like I'm rushing my chanting and feel great pressure to finish. When I do get up at 4 and stay up and not go back to bed, I feel much more relaxed about chanting. The difficult thing is that sometimes at 4 I feel like I'm falling back to sleep when I'm chanting and that doesn't seem quite right, either.

Any insight that other more experienced devotees might have would be greatly appreciated.

Pranams to Sri Guru and the Vaishnavas


Title: Re: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Damodara Svarupa dasa    Date: 2007-04-27 13:34:33

Nityananda, Gauranga, Hare Krishna!
Jaya Guru Parampara! Jaya Swamiji Gaurangapada!
Dandavats to all the Vaishnavas.

Dear Bhakta Neil,

It seems to me that getting up early to start chanting/praying comes from the monastic way of life.  For example, the Cistercian monks (who follow the rules of St Benedict) also get up early in the morning to start their prayers and attend Mass.  In a monastery there are certain rules to be followed for the general benefit of the community, and this includes getting up that early..

For householders, things are somewhat different. I have difficulties getting up that early as well. I do need my 7 hours of sleep per day. But that does not prevent me from doing all my rounds. If you can't eat the apple in one bite, then slice it up. So, I chant 1 grantha (4rounds) before each meal. Takes me about 30 minutes. And I do so before each and every meal. In the evening, instead of watching TV, I grab my mala and chant some extra rounds or do some reading. If I may suggest you the book "Harinama cintamani", by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. In this precious work Sri Haridasa Thakura is teaching us how to chant.  He himself used to chant 300 000 Names per day. When you think of it that chanting 25 000 names takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, one can easily understand that chanting 300 000 Names nearly takes a whole day to complete.  To my understanding, any hour of the day one chants on his mala, becomes precious.  The best reason for chanting the rounds just before dawn, is that one is not disturbed by every day's annoyances.  I hope you find some benefit in the wordings of a simple householder.  I'm sure Swamiji will explain all of this in greater detail.

Humbly aspiring to be a true devotee of the Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna,
Damodara Svarupa dasa

Title: Re: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Neil LA    Date: 2007-04-27 16:44:21

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!

Dear Damadara Svarupa dasa,

Thank you for your insights. Yes, I have to remember that I'm not a monastic, even though I wish I were.

I think with practice, I will get a good routine going and do well with my chanting.

Your servant,

Title: Re: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Nitaipada Maharaja    Date: 2007-04-27 23:12:00

Nityananda!  Gauranga!  Hare Krishna!  All glories to Srila Bhaktivinoda, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Srila Prabhupada, our beloved Srila Gaurangapada and all Vaisnavas.  Please accept my humble obeisances and blessings.  I pray that this meets you well and in the service/mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.

My Dearest Bhakta Neil Prabhu-ji;

First off, we must understand what Brahma-muhurta is and its significance in our spiritual advancement.  This is Srila Prabhupada's explination:


The daily sadhana program begins early in the morning. The hours before dawn, beginning one and a half hours before sunrise, is called the brahma-muhurta. This period of the day is a particularly potent time for spiritual activities.

   "In the early morning hours (known as brahma-muhurta) one should get up and immediately chant the Hare Krsna mantra, or, at least, "Krsna, Krsna, Krsna." In this way, one should remember Krsna. Some slokas or prayers should also be chanted. By chanting, one immediately becomes auspicious and transcendental to the infection of material qualities."

   Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 24:331

According to Arcana Padati, "Every twenty-four minutes is equal to one danda. Two dandas, or forty-eight minutes, is equal to one muhurta. In the day and the night together, there are a total of thirty muhurtas. In the last portion of the night, the time beginning two muhurtas before the rise of the sun up to the rise of the sun, or one hour and thirty-six minutes before the rise of the sun, is called arunodaya. Of these two muhurtas, the first muhurta is called the brahma-muhurta. This brahma-muhurta is the most auspicious time for devotees seeking after success in spiritual realization."

Srila Prabhupada told his disciples a story about when he had lived in Vrndavana. A Bengali widow walked to the Yamuna River to take her bath every morning. And every morning without fail she would return with a pot of water for the Radha-Damodara pujaris to use in bathing the Deities. Prabhupada said he would sometimes open the gate for the woman, since he also rose very early, and she would enter and wake the pujari. "Although the Vrndavana nights are cold in the winter," Prabhupada said, "the woman never once failed to come with the water. For this activity she will return back to Godhead. One who cannot rise early in the morning is not very serious about spiritual life. One must rise before the brahma-muhurta hour-that is very auspicious. And one will take the trouble to do so if he is serious about spiritual life."

While many will say that Brahma-muhurta is "only" for brahmacharis and sannyasis, I feel that it is very important for each and every devotee to develop a scheduled routine in their lives so that they can follow strictly and with discipline.  While grhasthas have other responsibilities outside the Temple, Brahma-muhurta is a very important time for them also since this time it usually prior to the rising of everyone else in the area.  This quiet time should be utilized to its greatest benefit and one should re-arrange their personal schedule so that Brahma-muhurta can be fully utilized.  Even if one works nights, this time can be used at the close of one's day so that the quietness of the environment can be utilized in chanting and worshiping the Deities without disruptions.

One does not have to live in a monastery or Temple to use this time wisely.  If we look at all religious cultures, those who were serious about their religious advancement rose early at sunrise to pray and meditate.  Please do not "wish" you were a monk, take that desire and use it to gain the spiritual advancement and set spiritual goals necessary for you to advance nicely in Krishna Consciousness.

One need not waste time "wishing", one must act upon this desire if it is correct and make the necessary changes in one's personal life to attain them.  If you desire to rise at Brahma-muhurta then you must retire early to take advantage of this auspicious time.  This means that if your body needs atleast six hours of rest, then you must retire by nine PM.  

The different accounts of Srila Prabhupada say that he rested only four to six hours daily.  Many times he wouldn't retire until almost midnight, but would be up at brahma-murhurta to prepare for his day and begin his rounds.  This time is very auspicious so it must be utilized properly and not be wasted by sleep.  

If you have difficulty in rising at this time.  May I suggest that you rise at this time, then if you are weary later on in the day possibly take a light nap.  In this way you are rising early for your rounds and religious duties.  During this time, you will feel in the beginning that you are not getting enough rest, but this will only last for a short time while your body adjusts, so naps may be necessary.  But if you stay with the schedule, you will find that after a while that you will automatically wake at 3:00 am, get your morning routine of bathing, dressings, and preparing a little prasadam and taking advantage of this time of pray and meditation without difficulty.  

Here in America, you may check the either the local weather station or the local Farmer's Almanac for sun-rise and sun-set times so that you can adjust properly.  Personally, I simply rise at 3:00 AM daily regardless of the local time, get my morning routine completed and then begin my chanting at 4:00AM.  If you decide to adopt this schedule, it will honestly take you about two weeks to adjust to it physically, but the rewards are beyond belief.

If I may be of assistance,
I remain your eternal servant;
Nitaipada Maharaja

Title: Re: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Neil LA    Date: 2007-04-30 17:33:42

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
All Glories to Swami Gaurangapada!
All Glories to Nitaipada Maharaja!
All Glories to the Guru Parampara!
All Glories to the Vaishnavas!

Dear Nitaipada Maharaja,

Thank you for your letter explaining this.

You are confirming what I believed was Srila Prabhupada's wish for everyone to get up early in the morning.

I understand what you are saying about not "wishing" something. Just do it.

I really want to get up early, so I will just do it.



Title: Re: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Matus    Date: 2007-05-01 15:13:06

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!

Thank You Neil for opening up this topic, as it also concerns myself and it's good to consult with devotees who have similar problem. Thank You Nitaipada Maharaja and Svarupa Damodara dasa prabhuji for Your valuable insights and sharing Your experience. i depend on it, as i want to get up every morning too, but very often fail.

It is very blissful and nice to chant at brahma-muhurta, as i could already experience couple of times. The whole day after is so peaceful and internally balanced. That's why the mind is trying to cheat us every morning, so that we don't use this precious opportunity and have to struggle during the day with our naam meditation.

The best defense is the offense. i heard already an advice in this connection that we have to cheat the mind instead of letting us to be cheated by the mind.

Here are 2 advice i got from my friends:

1. Put the alarm clock at a place You have to get up from the bed in order to switch it off.  In that way, after alarm clock approached one is already somehow wake and feels also pity, if He would go to bed again after already standing on the legs.

2. Make a kind of deal/promise with Your mind that, when the mind is persuading You to continue sleeping then tell it: "Come on, please allow me to get up just to wash my teeth (or take shower, toilet, drink something, or whatever) and then i promise You i will come back to bed and continue sleeping." Or "Come on, please let me get up now and then during the day i promise You that i will sleep whenever You desire."

Any other advice from Your side, dear Gurudeva, devotees and guests, would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry, i am little complicated, as i know i should simply do it and stand up.

Thanks a lot.

Yours sincerely,

Title: Re: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Anonymous    Date: 2007-05-01 16:19:21

Srila Prabhupada used to sleep by 2200 hrs and would wake up around 0100 hrs and work on translating vedic books like Srimad Bhagvatam and CC.

Title: Re: Naam Absorption and Sleep
User: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2007-05-01 18:51:17

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Jaya Guru Parampara!  Pranams! Thanks for all the devotees who have so nicely contributed to this topic.

Sleep can be very gradually conquered by increasing our daily quota of qualitative meditative chanting. The more deeper we go into meditation on the Lord's Name, Form, Qualities, Abodes, Asoociates and Pastimes during chanting, the more spiritually, mentally and physically refreshed and relaxed we are, so correspondingly we need lesser sleep. That is how the Six Goswamis conquered sleep...nidraahaara vihaarakaadi vijitau...because they were always immersed and absorbed in the divine eightfold daily pastimes of Lords Nityananda Gauranga and Shri Shri Radha Krishna in Goloka.

Absorption during Mantra Meditation is millions of time more relaxing for the soul than sleep and once the soul is relaxed and awakened to the original position then the body also is enlightened from within and without.

Before we reach the above stage of absorption, we have to understand that proper sound sleep is also part of our daily saadhan because sound sleep helps to be enthusiastic about our Naam Bhajan and Seva during the day. So we should careful plan it nicely...anukulasya sankalpah...

Title: Re: Questions About AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Sleep
User: Neil LA    Date: 2007-05-02 19:19:20

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
All Glories to Sri Guru and the Vaishnavas!

I think Matus is right. The times that I am able to wake up early and chant, my entire day seems more energized and spiritual and the quality of my chanting seems better somehow.

I like the idea of making a bargin with my mind. I'll give that a try.

Swami Gaurangapada is right as well. Chanting is the most important thing. I really believe that the more I become established in my chanting and meditation, the more things will just fall into place.

Yesterday I got up at 4 am and while I felt a little drowsy aometime while chanting, I felt that I was able to focus better as a whole and having such a spiritual and non-rushed feeling for the rest of the day was very wonderful.

I got to bed last night at 11 and of course when my alarm went off at 4, I told myself that there was no way that I was going to be ok getting up that early. I think that if I just get up and think about the Lord first thing and then change the dialogue that I am having with myself I might be more sucessful.

I truly believe what Nitaipada Maharaja said about it taking about two weeks to adjust. I've heard it said that it takes doing something new about twenty times to form a habit. Thats great, but right now I would think I'm accomplishing something great if I could get up early two days in a row.

Swami Gaurangapada is right, we really need to make sure we get enough sleep to be able to function and be enthusiastic about our Bhajan and Seva. The reason why I've been thinking about this recently is that I've been wondering if maybe I've been getting too much sleep. The days that I sleep in later, I've noticed that I actually feel more tired and sleepy the rest of the day. That leaves me to wonder how much sleep I actually need. I've always thought that the more the better, but now I think I want to reevevaluate my actual needs.

Title: Re: How to get sound sleep
User: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2007-05-02 22:01:05

The days that I sleep in later, I've noticed that I actually feel more tired and sleepy the rest of the day. That leaves me to wonder how much sleep I actually need.

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! If one gets sound sleep, then one is refreshed by sleeping for a shorter time. Sound sleep is a little difficult for bodies with vata constitution. Deep Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna Mantra Meditation during the day and before sleeping, reading the Lord's pastimes before rest, some daily exercise like walking or climbing or swimming or asanas etc. (very important for sound sleep), shavasana and some deep breathing simple pranayama, good digestion (taking a piece of ginger with rock salt 5 minutes before eating and sitting in vajrasana for minimum 10 minutes after eating greatly promotes digestion), wholesome prasadam, not taking long naps during the day (if required 15-20 minutes napping), sleeping with head on the east or south, not sleeping on a very soft bed (bad for the spine) etc. are some of the tips I can give for sound and restful sleep. If I get time, I will write more on this later. Jaya Gaurahari!!!

Daaso'smi, Swami Gaurangapada.

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