“The root cause of suffering of souls is forgetfulness of God,” warns Swami Mukundananda. The Supreme Lord assures that those who always think of Him fervently, without deviation of the mind, can easily attain Him. His innumerable, sweet names help us to align ourselves with God, and commune with Him. This is because His Holy Names are His शब्दरूप (Shabda rūp) – sound manifestations of the Supreme Lord.
Let us explore how by the virtue of chanting and meditating on God’s name, we can attain His grace and lead a peaceful life. We can also learn how His glorious names enhance and energize us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
The supreme quality of God is bhakta vatsaltā (i.e., his love for his devotees). When a devotee chants the holy names, the Lord responds much like a mother responding to the cries of her infant. His holy names are so potent that by chanting even a single name with devotion, one can experience His presence and love. There is nothing as powerful as the name of the Lord, states Saint Tulsidas:
समुझत सरिस नाम अरु नामी। प्रीति परसपर प्रभु अनुगामी।।
Samujhat saris nām aru nāmī, prīti parasapar prabhu anugāmī
Although God and his name are similar in significance, God follows his name as a servant follows his master. Hence, He appears in person at the very mention of his name.
Numerous saints have attained God’s love by chanting the holy name. Namdev, the 14th century bhakti saint of Pandarpur, once went to Aundha Nagnath temple for the darshan of Lord Shiv along with a group of devotees. When Saint Namdev was doing Hari nāma sankirtan in an ecstasy of devotion, the priest asked them to leave the temple.
Saint Namdev humbly left the inner shrine, went to the rear of the temple. Seated there, he began to chant, “Jai Jai Vittala Panduranga, Jai Hari Vittala Panduranga …” while pleading with the Lord not to forsake him. As he was fervently chanting the Lord’s name, the temple itself rotated until the entryway and the mūrti (i.e., the deity or idol) faced Namdev ji.
Such is the efficacy of the holy names! Chanting holy names incessantly is called japa yajña, which is a powerful sādhana. This yajña or austerity is of a three-step process:
How do we perform this yajña?
“Yajña is the act of dedicating ourselves to the Supreme. The simplest of all yajñas is the chanting of the holy names of God,” says Swami Mukundananda while emphasizing the sublimity of divine names.
There are neither rules, rituals, nor a need for sacrificial fire or oblations to perform japa yajña. Irrespective of whatever we are doing and wherever we are, we can chant God’s names. Chanting God’s illuminating names is the best means to spiritualize every thought and activity of our mundane life, as the Lord Himself is japa yajna. As Shree Krishna proclaims:
Yajñānāṁ japa-yajño ’smi (Bhagavad Gita 10.25)
Amongst chants, know Me to be the repetition of the Holy Name.
However, sheer mindless chanting does not consecrate our lives. There is one mandate we need to follow when we chant the holy names, either to ourselves or in the satsang. What is that?
The holy names are the essence of God’s glorious attributes and pastimes. When we understand the meaning, and chant with the right knowledge, it rids us of all fear and secures enduring bliss here and beyond.
The Vishnu Puran states that when Prahalad, the child devotee, was given poisonous food, he accepted it fearlessly. He ingested it with great devotion as if it were prasād, while chanting:
अच्युत, अनंता, गोविन्दा
Achyuta, Anantā, Govindā
Prahlad knew God’s attributes as expressed by His names. He had immense faith that Lord Narayan was infallible (i.e., Achyuta), eternal and infinite (i.e., Anantā), and the source of joy (i.e., Govindā). He called upon the name of his beloved Lord with such conviction and belief that the Lord descended as Narsinha to protect His devotee.
All forms of the Supreme Lord have innumerable names. Each name is imbued with knowledge and His pastimes. If we understand the meaning of the name we chant, every time the name flashes in the mind, His form and pastimes will automatically radiate our heart, and ignite love for Him. For example, when we utter, “O, Damodar!” the sweet pastime of the all-pervading Lord letting Mother Yashoda bind Him with her love to a wooden mortar will livestream in our hearts.
Therefore, when we chant His glorious names, our minds naturally will be enraptured by His sublime virtues, delightful pastimes, magnificent abodes, and His benevolent saints. Besides, God’s names purify our thoughts.
God is all-pure and when we attach our mind to Him, the mind will also become pure. The more we remember God, the purer our mind will become. The easiest way to remember God is by invariably summoning His name into our minds, which sanctifies both our internal and the external worlds. Hence, Saint Tulsidas states:
राम नाम मनिदीप धरु जीह देहरी द्वार।
तुलसी भीतर बाहेरहुँ जौं चाहसि उजिआर।।
Rāma nāma manidīpa dharu jīh deharī dvāra
Tulasī bhītara bāherahu jau chāhasi ujiāra
“Install the luminous gem in the shape of the divine name ‘Rama’ on the threshold of the tongue at the doorway of your mouth, so that you will have light both inside and outside.”
When our mind is drenched in the melody of holy names, then pristine and elated thoughts, words, and actions spring forth from the heart. Remembering God’s name constantly not only irradiates this life but beyond, as this becomes our sanskār (i.e., tendencies we carry forward from previous lifetimes). Therefore, we must practice remembering God at every moment of our life if we desire to nurture God-conscious nature, and to gravitate our minds naturally towards God, especially at the time of death. This sādhana alone helps us to believe in Shree Krishna’s stipulation that those who remember Him at the time of death will attain Him and become God-like in character (Bhagavad Gita 8.6 ). If Arjun could remember the Lord on the battlefield, we too – be it physicians, engineers, lawyers, teachers, homemakers, students, or of any other occupation – can certainly do it too through repeated practice.
The boulders of Ramsetu Bridge started to float on the ocean surface only after Lord Ram’s name was inscribed on them by Hanuman ji. We too can cross the bhavasāgar (i.e., the ocean of material life) with God’s name on our lips, His form in our eyes, and His attributes and pastimes in our hearts if we have perfected our sadhana when alive.
King Uttanapada had two wives, Suruchi and Suniti. Suruchi was very beautiful but had a terrible nature. She had captured the king’s heart with her beauty. Suniti was average in appearance but had a virtuous character. Both were blessed with one child each. Dhruv was born to Suniti and Uttam to Suruchi.
One day, Uttanapada was sitting on the throne with Uttam in his lap. Seeing this scene, Dhruv, who was only four years old at the time, desired to receive his father’s affection. He started climbing on his father’s leg to sit on his lap but Suruchi came and pulled him away. She told Dhruv that only Uttam had this right because he alone was born from her womb. Stung by these words and hit with the sentiment of injustice, Dhruv ran to Suniti and informed her of what had happened. He asked for an explanation for the inequality. Suniti was helpless in before Suruchi. Dhruv wanted to know how he could obtain his father’s affection and kingdom. Suniti directed him towards God telling him that only God had the power to bestow this blessing. Dhruv embarked on his spiritual journey to meet God and went into the forest to perform sadhana.
Dhruv met Narad ji, his spiritual teacher in the forest. Narad ji tested Dhruv’s determination by enticing him with material treasures, clothes, a palace, and also by scaring him away by describing the difficult path ahead. No matter what Narad ji offered, Dhruv was determined to meet God. Dhruv passed the test! Narad ji then taught Dhruv how to practice devotion and told him to chant “Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevay”. With Narad ji’s blessings, Dhruv sat on the bank of Yamuna and performed austerities for four months. When God was pleased with his devotion, he appeared before Dhruv.
God blessed Dhruv and asked him what he wanted. Dhruv admitted that although he had started his devotion with the desire to obtain his father’s throne, he had realized that it was a big mistake. He wanted nothing more after having God Himself. Regardless, God had to fulfill Dhruv’s desires. So, he bestowed him with blessings of obtaining his father’s throne and with the strength to remain detached to it. God also arranged the North Star to be Dhruv lok, where Dhruv would return to after fulfilling his worldly responsibilities.
Dhruv returned to the palace. Meanwhile Narad ji had informed King Uttanapada about the events that took place. The king regretted how he had rejected his gentle child. He warmly welcomed Dhruv back. Dhruv succeeded him as the next King and went to Dhruv lok after his death.
Bhagavat Mahapuran by Swamiji: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvp3cO1238s
Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God: https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/7/verse/16
Hinduism is a diverse and complex religion, with different beliefs and practices based on individual interpretation of the scriptures. One of the central concepts in Hinduism is that God resides in his names. This belief is based on the idea that God is divine and the human mind is material, so cannot fully comprehend His personality. Therefore, the easiest way to connect with God, especially for the youth, is by chanting His names.
God is referred to by many different names based on His infinite avatars. These names are often embedded into “mantras” and are used in prayer and meditation. The repetition of these mantras is believed to have a powerful effect on the mind, bringing the mind closer to God.
Each of God’s names has a specific meaning and significance, reflecting different aspects of God's nature. For example, the name “Shiva” means “the auspicious one” and represents God's power and benevolence. The name “Krishna” means “all-attractive” and represents God's beauty and charm. So, if we chant “Shree Krishnam Sharanam” repeatedly, at some point, the images of God’s attractive form and us seeking His refuge will come to the mind which will help to connect with Him.
Youth have many things to focus on these days – from school and peer relationships to other activities. We do not always know how to connect with God. If we remember to connect with God, life would be less stressful. One way that youth can remember God is by making remembering Him a habit. Whenever we do our favorite activity like playing sports or video games, we can make God a player on the team. We do their favorite activities very often, so by making this a habit, we will remember God more often.
Apart from the spiritual benefits of chanting God's names, there are also practical benefits. For instance, chanting can help to calm the mind and reduce stress, leading to improved mental and physical health.
Do you want to bring Divine thoughts to your mind? Kirtan is a profound way to do that. Chanting the names of God and remembering the Divine presence in our heart can be the turnkey for emotional health and wellbeing. Our emotions can affect our physical, mental, and spiritual health. By now, we are aware of the benefits of yoga postures for soothing and strengthening body, mind, and soul. Have you ever wondered what effect chanting and meditation could have on your emotional health?
We are living in an era of Kaliyug where disturbing thoughts, a polluted environment and challenges to health are a common experience for many people. Yet, this is the best age or yug for devotion. Shree Krishna, who never abandons us, has given us the means to connect with Him - chanting. By chanting His name, we can purify our minds and step-by-step attain the goal of life – the bliss of God-realization. In this age of Kali, by lovingly chanting the melodious kirtans of the Lord, one can easily move on a spiritual journey to connect to God.
Kirtan is called “tridha bhakti” or three-fold devotion because it involves three activities – chanting, hearing, and deeply contemplating on the presence of God. We chant and meditate upon His divine names, forms, virtues, pastimes, abodes, and saints in melodious tunes. We hear the vibrations of our own chanting which helps us to connect with God.
Singing bhajans and kirtans is a powerful way to remember God. When we sing the kirtans, the mind naturally dwells upon the meaning of the words and is drawn inward to meditating on His divine characteristics. Our emotions get suffused with divine sentiments of joy and bliss.
Chanting can help us to change our mood and attitude and to invigorate us. Meditation or roop-dhyan during kirtan purifies the mind. Whatever we focus on, becomes amplified. While doing kirtan, even if the mind becomes distracted, it is possible to bring back our attention to the sound of chanting. We can get up and dance, clap our hands, play an instrument, and just have fun with it.
During kirtan rather than falling asleep we remain awake inside. Chanting energizes emotional health, enhances the mood, and helps us to live in the present moment. Chanting gives us direct access to the spiritual realm. It balances subtle energies and equips it for deeper meditation.
For more information:
The presence of Bhagwan in our lives promises peace of mind, a stable sense of security, and unconditional happiness. We search for joy externally everywhere, and it occurs to us later that happiness resides with us, and we can experience happiness within ourselves by chanting the Lord’s name, as well as His messenger’s (i.e., the Guru’s) name.
The description and gratefulness of the Lord can be felt and understood with the simple nature of the words in His name. Behind every name of His, there is a story illustrating the great deeds of the Lord. For example,
वसुदेवसुतं देवं कंसचाणूरमर्दनम् ।
देवकी परमानन्दं कृष्णं वंदे जगद्गुरुम् ।।
I bow down to You, O Krishna, who is the son of Vasudev, the vanquisher of Kansa and Chanoor,
the source of bliss for Mother Devaki, and the Spiritual Master of the universe.
Every name uttered in this Stotra has an underlying story by which the Lord is addressed and praised by His devotees.
The Guru is considered to be non-different from God. He provides us with the knowledge of God and ways to progress on the path of devotion and love. Our scriptures make this point in a simple shloka that everyone recites regularly.
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः।
गुरुः साक्षात् परब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरवे नमः ॥
The Guru is the Creator (i.e., form of Brahma); The Guru is the Preserver (i.e., form of Vishnu), and Gurudev is the Destroyer (i.e., form of Maheshwara).
The Guru is the absolute form of the Lord Himself. I offer my humble salutations to that divine Guru who is the destroyer of darkness or ignorance in my intellect and heart.
The Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas is truly a pivotal center for devotional enlightenment and the place where interested souls can follow the path of devotion to find internal happiness. Many upcoming events will allow DFW residents to connect with the divine by participating in these amazing events conducted by Swamiji himself.
Mark your calendars for six dynamite programs in 2023!
Yoga is a great gift given to mankind which promotes a sound mind residing in a sound body. The three-day Yoga Fest has plenty to offer to enhance our knowledge on yoga, health and overall well-being. Details: https://www.radhakrishnatemple.net/
We all understand the significant role that a Guru plays in guiding us on the spiritual journey. It is only by the grace of God that we find a true Guru. Join us at the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas to celebrate Guru Poornima. Utilize the opportunity to express your devotional sentiments for your Guru. Details: https://www.radhakrishnatemple.net/
There is no other experience like the spiritual retreat and family camp with Swamiji. It is such a rejuvenating experience that positively enhances overall health and well-being as devotees drench in the bliss of all things divine. The program offers divine discourses by Swamiji, fun-filled festival celebrations like Rath Yatra and Mahabhog, blissful kirtans, joyful parikramas, and amazing interactive activities like JKYog Idol contest, this weeklong spiritual retreat has everything for everyone! Details: https://www.radhakrishnatemple.net/spiritual-retreat-family-camp
JKYog brings Life Transformation with Swamiji to realize your infinite potential by unfolding the divinity within you! Propel yourself into the realm of limitless possibilities! This weeklong program will offer everyone the opportunity to understand and implement simple principles to lead a happier and more peaceful life. This program provides numerous opportunities to connect with Swamiji during morning walks and Satsang and participate in yoga and meditation and absorb divine knowledge in the evening. Details: https://www.radhakrishnatemple.net/tx
The Dallas retreat with Swamiji is another devotional and rejuvenating experience which is made memorable by divine discourses, soulful kirtans, and interesting interactive activities. Details: https://radhakrishnatemple.net/events/dallas-retreat-swami-mukundananda-0
What great joy and unconditional happiness it gives to celebrate the birthday of the great Lord Krishna! Do not miss this amazing festival where you get to listen to divine leelas of Shree Krishna from Swamiji and participate in amazing activities like jhoolan, Abhishek, the mind-blowing jhankis, Krishna Janma celebrations, etc. Details: https://www.radhakrishnatemple.net/
This magnificent Hindu temple is the serene abode of Shree Radha Krishna where you imbibe the nectar of love for God, celebrate festivals with the Indian community in Dallas, practice meditation and yoga, enrich your children’s lives with Vedic culture, or simply relax and enjoy the spiritual environment with your family.
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Federal tax ID:26-3490578.
1450 N. Watters Road, Allen, TX 75013 (Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex)
Phone: (469) 795-9130
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