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By Swami Gaurangapada
As I am beginning to chant constantly, I am getting a strong realization that chanting is actually the process of immersing our hearts and minds in the trancendental Form and Pastimes of the Lord which manifest in the sound vibration of the Mantra rather than simply the mechanical utterance of the Holy Name. The consciousness gets so rivetted and fixed in the transcendental form and pastimes produced by the vibration of the Holy Name that is scraps all the dirt accumulated in our consciousness for billions of past lives.
As Parama Vaishnava Shrila Sacchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura suggests, instead of simply chanting mechanically, one should meditate on a painting or a Deity form of the Lord while chanting beginning from the Lotus Feet. When the meditation on each limb of the Lord will become fixed in our heart while chanting then the complete form of the Lord will appear with the sound vibration of the Holy Names. Also one can meditate on the pastimes we have read that day from the scriptures while chanting. Reading or hearing the scriptures is to basically saturate our mind with the transcendental pastimes of the Lord so that they blend in our hearts with the Holy Names while chanting japa or kirtana. This type of japa or kirtana is the actual sankirtana which nourishes the creeper of bhakti in our hearts and takes us across the toughest stage spiritual practice (sadhana bhakti) which is known as anartha nivritti.Once we begin to start crossing anartha-nivritti then the Holy Name and Pastimes appear in our hearts more easily with only a slight remembrance.
This stage is known as svecchaa-purvika. This is the stage where we have to make a little effort to voluntarily recall the Holy Name and Pastimes while chanting like the effort in starting a water tap. By constantly practicing svecchaa-purvika one reaches the stage of nishtha i.e. irrevocable faith and then ruchi or spontaneous taste which gives us a faint glimpse of raganuga bhakti. I will discuss the furthur stages at some other time.I am sorry to clog your mailboxes with my emails. Unfortunately I cannot stop myself from penning down these realizations which may be quite a few daily. Kindly let me know if you do not want to receive them and we can unsubscribe you. Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Aspiring for service of the Holy Names...