is THE Process for the Age
As everyone is well aware, the chanting and hearing of the maha mantra is the fundamental process for our age. However, equally as important is hearing the Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita, chanted by the pure unalloyed devotee of the Lord. This is the verdict of all authorities in the devotional line and is recommended by the Lord Himself, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
When we speak of hearing and chanting, it means that not only should one chant and hear of the holy name of the Lord as Rama, Krsna (or systematically the sixteen names Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare), but one should also read and hear the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam in the association of devotees.
Hearing from the text of Srimad-Bhagavatam is considered the most important process of hearing. Srimad-Bhagavatam is full of transcendental chanting of the holy name, and therefore the chanting and hearing of Srimad-Bhagavatam are transcendentally full of mellows.
The Raya then suggested sincere association of self-realized souls and hearing submissively the transcendental message of the pastimes of the Personality of Godhead. This suggestion was welcomed by the Lord. This suggestion was made following in the footsteps of Brahmaji, who said that the Personality of Godhead is known as ajita, or the one who cannot be conquered or approached by anyone. But such ajita also becomes jita (conquered) by one method, which is very simple and easy. The simple method is that one has to give up the arrogant attitude of declaring oneself to be God Himself. One must be very meek and submissive and try to live peacefully by lending the ear to the speeches of the transcendentally self-realized soul who speaks on the message of Bhagavata-dharma, or the religion of glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees. To glorify a great man is a natural instinct for living beings, but they have not learned to glorify the Lord. Perfection of life is attained simply by glorifying the Lord in association with a self-realized devotee of the Lord. The self-realized devotee is he who surrenders unto the Lord fully and who does not have attachment for material prosperity. Material prosperity and sense enjoyment and their advancement are all activities of ignorance in human society. Peace and friendship are impossible for a society detached from the association of God and His devotees. It is imperative, therefore, that one sincerely seek the association of pure devotees and hear them patiently and submissively from any position of life. The position of a person in the higher or lower status of life does not hamper one in the path of self-realization. The only thing one has to do is to hear from a self-realized soul with a routine program. The teacher may also deliver lectures from the Vedic literature’s, following in the footsteps of the bygone acaryas who realized the Absolute Truth. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended this simple method of self-realization generally known as Bhagavata-dharma. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the perfect guide for this purpose.
At the present moment in this Kali-yuga, if you simply hear about Krsna, sravanam, you don't require any education. You don't require to be a Phd and MSC. God has given you the ear. You go to a person, realized soul, and hear from him. Simply hear from him. That is recommended in this age because people are very, very fallen.
(S.B. Lecture, 3.25.44 Bombay 12th December, 1974)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also recommended this process of hearing as a means of self-realization in the present age of Kali. In this age it is very difficult to follow thoroughly the regulative principles and studies of the Vedas which were formerly recommended. However, if one gives aural reception to the sound vibrated by great devotees and acaryas, that alone will give him relief from all material contamination. Therefore it is the recommendation of Caitanya Mahaprabhu that one should simply hear from authorities who are actually devotees of the Lord.
(N.O.D. Chapter 10)
Lord Caitanya, therefore, approved the process of hearing from realized devotees about the pastimes of the Lord. It does not matter to what category of this world the audience belongs. If one meekly and submissively hears about the activities of the Lord from a realized soul, he will be able to conquer the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is unconquerable by any other process. Hearing or associating with devotees is the most important function for self-realization. (S.B. 3.25.27)
The process of hearing from a pure devotee is recommended in all Vedic scriptures, especially by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. One may stay in his position of life--it does not matter what it is--but if one hears from the mouth of a pure devotee, he gradually comes to the understanding of his relationship with the Lord and thus engages in His loving service, and his life becomes completely perfect. Therefore, this process of hearing from the mouth of a pure devotee is very important for making progress in the line of spiritual understanding. (S.B. 4.20.25)
The improvement in knowledge and detachment can be perceived by devotees as an actual experience. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu strongly recommended this process of hearing from a bona fide devotee, and by following this process one can achieve the highest result, conquering all other methods.
Devotional service to the Lord, with specific attention for hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam regularly and always, is the best recommended method for liberation from the clutches of illusion. (S.B. 2.8.5)
This is the remedy suggested in this age. You cannot practice anything. You cannot practice sacrifice. You cannot practice speculation. You cannot practice yoga, nothing. You can simply practice this: submissively hear from authoritative sources, try to assimilate it, and become perfect.
(B.G. Lec. New York 1st December, 1966)
M. Roost: And what is your practice? Technically, I think.
Prabhupada: Yes, technically, it begins with hearing, sravanam, to hear about God. Just like Bhagavad-gita. We hear from God personally.
M. Roost: But with... Through lecture? Through sound?
Prabhupada: Yes, through sound vibration.
(S.P.C. Geneva, 31st May, 1974)
FOLLOW THE GREAT PERSONALITIES
It is very difficult to understand what is religion, what is the process of religion. People are very much puzzled. But if we follow the great personalities... They are also mentioned in the sastras. Svayambhu sambhu manu kumara kapila manu. So if we follow their footsteps... Just like Arjuna. That, that is, really we understand. "If Arjuna has understood like this, so let me understand like that." That's all. Simple thing. Then we understand Bhagavad-Gita.
(B.G. Lecture .2.11 London 17th August, 1973)
ARJUNA SET THE CRITERION
FOR UNDERSTANDING THE SUPREME
BY SUBMISSIVE HEARING
In Bhagavad-Gita Arjuna is hearing about God from the lips of Sri Krsna Himself. In this way Arjuna set the criterion for understanding the Supreme by submissive hearing. It is our position to hear Bhagavad-Gita from the lips of Arjuna or his bona fide representative, the spiritual master. After hearing, it is necessary to practice this acquired knowledge in daily life. "My dear Lord, You are unconquerable," the devotee prays, "but by this process, by hearing, You are conquered." God is unconquerable, but He is conquered by the devotee who abandons mental speculation and listens to authoritative sources.
Krsna speaks on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, to the materialistic person it appears that this is simply talk between two friends, but actually it is a river of nectar flowing down from the mouth of Sri Krsna. Arjuna gave aural reception to such vibrations, and thus he became freed from all the illusions of material problems.
(N.O.D. Chapter 10)
LORD BRAHMA FOLLOWS AND RECOMMENDS
THE PATH OF THE PARAMAHAMSAS
Lord Brahma said, "O my Lord Krsna, a devotee who abandons the path of empiric philosophical speculation aimed at merging in the existence of the Supreme and engages himself in hearing Your glories and activities from a bona fide sadhu, or saint, and who lives an honest life in the occupational engagement of his social life, can conquer Your sympathy and mercy even though You are ajita, or unconquerable." (SB. 10.14.3) That is the path of the paramahamsas, which was personally followed by Lord Brahma and later recommended by him for attaining perfect success in life.
HEARING FROM SRILA PRABHUPADA
IS HEARING KRISHNA DIRECTLY
Vyasa was the spiritual master of Sanjaya, and Sanjaya admits that it was by Vyasa's mercy that he could understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This means that one has to understand Krsna not directly but through the medium of the spiritual master. The spiritual master is the transparent medium, although it is true that the experience is still direct. This is the mystery of the disciplic succession. When the spiritual master is bona fide, then one can hear Bhagavad-Gita directly, as Arjuna heard it.....It is to be understood, however, that as Arjuna was fortunate enough to understand Krsna directly, so, by the grace of Vyasa, Sanjaya was also able to hear Krsna directly. Actually there is no difference between hearing directly from Krsna and hearing directly from Krsna via a bona fide spiritual master like Vyasa.
TRANSLATION. "I cannot properly describe the discourses of Ramananda Raya, for he is not an ordinary human being. He is fully absorbed in the devotional service of the Lord....."There is one other thing Ramananda Raya said to me. `Do not consider me the speaker in these talks about Krsna...."`Whatever I speak is personally spoken by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Like a stringed instrument, I vibrate whatever He causes me to speak.... "`In this way the Lord speaks through my mouth to preach the cult of Krsna consciousness. Within the world, who will understand this pastime of the Lord?'
PURPORT. One is forbidden to accept the guru, or spiritual master, as an ordinary human being (gurusu nara-matih). When Ramananda Raya spoke to Pradyumna Misra, Pradyumna Misra could understand that Ramananda Raya was not an ordinary human being. A spiritually advanced person who acts with authority, as the spiritual master, speaks as the Supreme Personality of Godhead dictates from within. Thus it is not he that is personally speaking. When a pure devotee or spiritual master speaks, what he says should be accepted as having been directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the parampara system.
(C.C. Antya, 5.71-5.74)
Our knowledge has many, so many flaws. We commit mistake, we are illusioned. Sometimes we speak something and at our heart there is something else. That means we cheat. And our experience all imperfect because our senses are imperfect. Therefore I cannot speak anything to you. If you ask me, "Swamiji, then what you are speaking?" I am speaking simply what the Supreme Personality of Godhead has said. I'm just repeating the same words. That's all. Don't think that I am speaking. I am simply instrument. Real speaker is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is without and within.
(B.G. Lecture 6.1 New York 2nd September, 1966 )
The Personality of Godhead, being situated in everyone's heart, specifically gives a devotee intelligence to describe Him. It is therefore understood that when a devotee writes or speaks about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his words are dictated by the Lord from within. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-Gita, Tenth Chapter: to those who constantly engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, the Lord, from within, dictates what to do next in order to serve Him. (S.B. 4.9.4)
Interviewer: In the same way I'm curious with respect to the way Krsna communicates with you, whether it's in a similar kind of way that He gives you your necessities.
Bali-mardana: In other words, when you decide that someone is to be in charge of a particular temple does Krsna tell you that this person should be in charge.
Interviewer: Or do you by judging him say this person is qualified.
Prabhupada: Yes, because a devotee always consults Krsna and He gives order.
Interviewer: It's a more direct communication.
Prabhupada: Yes. And He gives order.
Ramesvara: Because intelligence, our philosophy is that intelligence comes from Krsna. So if I have some...
Interviewer: And your philosophy is that your daily necessities come from Krsna as well.
Ramesvara: Yes, try to understand. Suppose my intelligence sees that this person is qualified, that means Krsna has told me.
Prabhupada: No, not necessarily, Krsna will tell directly. A devotee always consults Krsna and Krsna tells him, "Do like this." Not figuratively.
Interviewer: Does that apply then to other kinds of decisions and other kinds of activities as well?
Prabhupada: Everything. Because a devotee does not do anything without consulting Krsna.
(S.P.Conversation, New York, July14th, 1976)
If you don't keep in touch with the original link, then it will be lost. And if you keep touch with the original link, then you are directly hearing Krsna. Similarly, Krsna and Krsna's representative, spiritual master, if you keep always intact, in link with the words and instruction of the superior authori- ties, then you are always fresh.
(Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati App. Day)