Ep. 00 ~ Keeping up with daily sadhana and practice
In this episode Krishna Das discusses keeping up with our daily practices (sadhana) despite distractions and hurry in our daily lives.
Q: Thank you so much, I had a question about the hanuman chalisa and anything you could say about your journey with that, what your teacher said about it and how your experiences have gone of chanting Hanuman’s name?
KD: Well, Maharajji said that every word of the Hanuman Chalisa is Mahamantra. So, the whole thing is the Name, repetitions of the Names, which He considered to be the practice that we were qualified to do.
When we asked Him, “How do we find God?” he said, “Serve people.” “How do we raise Kundalini?” He said, “Feed people.”
“Love everyone, Serve everyone and Remember God.” That was basically what He told us. What He told other people, we have no idea, but that’s what he told us. But pretty much it was like that, He was mostly with householders that we know. And He was part of every family and He was involved in all the decisions in the family and the children, angry at their parents, and the parents fighting. You know, all things, He was just involved in all of it all the time. And he helped these people live good lives and he blessed them and many times He helped them overcome tremendous obstacles and healed them and healed the sick and raised the dead. The whole schpeel. That’s what He did. Very much in the world.
There’s a beautiful story about, one day He was walking down the street in Vrindavan in the middle of the summer. It was like 120 degrees in the middle of the day and coming in the other direction was this sadhu, you know, with the hair and the ashes and they saw each other and they ran, jumped around, and they hugged and they jumped around and danced and they were just like, completely, they were so happy to see each other and this sadhu says, “Baba, I can’t believe we’re meeting after 40 years. I haven’t seen You since we were in the mountains together.” And everybody was so happy. They were so happy. And they hung around for a few minutes and then Maharajji says, “Ok, brother, I have to go now. So, you go and I’ll go this way. You go that way.” And the sadhu says, “I’m not leaving you, after all this time I’ve found You. I can’t go now.” He said, “No, no. You don’t understand. You don’t want to hang out with Me. I’m always around householders. I’m with worldly people all the time. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for you. You don’t even know Me. Don’t come with Me.” He said, “There’s no way I’m leaving you, Baba.” And they argued about it. Finally, Mahrajji says, “Ok.” And they took off and they started walking to Mathura, which is 18 kilometers away in the middle of the day. In those days there was just a desert between Vrindavan and Mathura. So, they were literally dying of thirst and in the distance, they saw a well and they start running to this well, right? And Mahrajji gets there first and there’s a woman getting water from the well, whatever you call that, with a bucket. And Maharajji runs up and He puts His hands out like this, and He says, “Ma, pour water for me to drink.” Right? So she pours water and He’s drinking like this and now the sadhu arrives and he puts out his gourd cup and the woman pours water and starts to pour water in it and while she’s pouring water, Maharajji starts chatting her up because He chatted everybody up 24-7 365 and He says, “Where are you from, Ma? What’s your village? What’s your caste?” Turns out she’s an untouchable. When the sadhu heard that, he completely flipped out. He takes his gourd and he furiously smashes it down on the ground and he starts screaming to Maharajji, “What have you done? Look what you’ve done? You’ve gotten me into this and this and this was my only thing, I needed this for everything and now it’s become impure and I can’t use it anymore. How could you do this?” And Maharajji’s going, “What? What? What happened? What’s going on? What’s going on? Oh, I thought you were a sadhu.” He said, “What’s caste for a sadhu? What is this? I don’t understand. I don’t understand. What is this attachment?” And the sadhu saw what happened. Maharajji said, “He washed my feet with his tears and went back to the mountains to finish his work.”
This is the way Mahrajji was. Everything that came towards Him got something burnt away, because you couldn’t come close to that fire with all your shit. You had to drop it or you couldn’t get there. Just coming towards that love burns stuff off of you in the first place. And that’s Hanuman. Hanuman is that love that’s always turned towards Ram, towards God, and anything that approaches Hanuman gets into that flow of Grace towards love. But in order to enter into that flow, you have to leave some of that luggage behind. You have to. It’s not always pleasant and it’s not, it doesn’t always feel good but you want the love more than you want all that luggage and so you will let go of that given the opportunity.
So, this is Hanuman. Hanuman is that, the ability to overcome all obstacles, to break all attachment, to remove suffering, remove calamities from our lives, all the stuff that keeps us back, obstructs our path and Hanuman Chalisa invokes the presence of that love. And Maharajji gave us that chant ,in His own inimitable way, He never said, “Sing the Chalisa.” He said, “Here”. He never said, “Here. This is the Hanuman Chalisa. Learn it and then sing it to Me.” He didn’t do that. Everything just happened as if He was doing nothing, You know? You know, I’ve told the story, we used to come to the temple every day and they gave us this little yellow book with the picture of a flying monkey on it, right? I had a hundred of them in my room. Then one day I thought to ask, “Well, what is this?”
We’re westerners. We’re a little slow. A little slow. And they said, “Well, it’s this prayer to Hanuman.” I said, “Really?” A light went on, I thought, he said. Why don’t we learn this and then we can sing it to Maharajji? In that way… because we knew he secretly longed to spend more time with us and we wanted to help Him do that. You see, on the level that we live on, it looked like we were doing that, but you step back just a little bit from it all, you can see it’s all a part of this grand design to facilitate the opening of our hearts and to facilitate our relationship with Him, to intensify that and to deepen that. And it all just happened as if no one was doing anything. It’s like, very unusual. So, the Chalisa is… the Hanuman Chalisa… Chalisa means “40”. A hymn of 40 verses. There are Chalisas to almost all the deities. Durga Chalisa, all these Chalisas. There’s a million Chalisas. But this is the one, the Hanuman Chalisa is the one from this lineage of Hanuman. We’re all in that lineage. Maharajji is in that lineage of Hanuman. His devotees saw Him as Hanuman so we felt we were singing to Hanuman when we sang this and He knew what we felt. He made us feel that way. So, He opened our hearts that way. So it’s a very powerful chant, partially because it’s difficult to learn. You have to really commit to learning. You don’t have to memorize it. You can read it. It can be read but you read it three or four million times, you might memorize it, you know?
And what you see here is the fruit of that practice. There’s a puja that you do, that you can do
“Jo sata bara patha kara ko-I, Chhutahi bandi maha sukha ho-I”
Whoever recites this 100 times, all their bondage is destroyed, is free and the next line
“Jo yaha parhe hanumana chalisa
Hoya siddhi sakhi gaurisa”
Whoever recites this becomes, accomplishes whatever he can, whatever he wants to accomplish, so there’s a particular practice in India that they teach to do, you can do, its to recite the Chalisa 108 times. You may go to a puja, you bring some fruit, a picture of Hanuman or Maharajji and then you recite the Chalisa 108 times. You can get up to go to the bathroom and make coffee and all that but don’t stop reciting and you ask for a boon because Hanuman is a very unusual being. It is not a renunciate path. It’s not about renunciation in the sense of being a sannyasin in the world. Hanuman not only gives, one of these days I’ll find this sloka again, I found it somewhere once, but it said, Hanuman not only gives liberation, but He allows for the satisfaction and fulfillment of healthy desires that we have. The things that we need to have, that we need to get, in our own particular karmic predicament, individually, we’re talking about. He makes all that possible, too. So it’s not only that He gives liberation, but He also allows us to eat a little bit on the way. It’s like being in the dining car on the train. So, this is a very unusual thing and Maharajji’s very much like that. He helped people get what they wanted, what they needed in their daily lives, even the Indian families that used to come see Him. Maybe a son needs a job. No problem. All kinds of things. This is what Saints do in India. It’s only recently they have doctors, you know? Aside from Ayurveds. But mostly the poor Indian people can’t afford anything so they go see a Saint and they say, “Baba, I need this.” You know? No problem. He was funny about it, one time a couple comes and said, you know, “Baba, we don’t have a son.” He said, “where am I going to get a son?” But they had a son. A beautiful story, one of the priests in a Krishna temple in Mathura, it was Bala Krishna, the Boy Krishna, Child Krishna, he was a very nasty guy, a very angry guy and he never let the children come into the temple. So one time Maharajji goes there for darshan of Krishna, the pujari bows down and says “Baba I’m getting old now. I have no child. I have no son. I have no children.” So Maharajji says, “How can you have a child when you keep the children away from Him? Let the children come and play and you’ll have a kid.” So he let the children come in and he had a kid. Well, his wife had a kid. That would be a lot.
Not that he couldn’t do it, but it would be unusual. So, yeah you know when I went to India I really, I don’t know, I just thought that desires weren’t good, that they were bad. I don’t know how I got that idea. It’s a strange idea, isn’t it? Maybe in a Catholic Church.
You know, somebody, this group of Christian ministers went to see the Dalai Lama and they said, Your Holiness, what’ your view of sin? Then He went, hm. He said, “I think that’s a Christian thing isn’t it?”
There’s no sin in Eastern… there’s papa which literally means burning. So there’s karmic actions that create burning, but there’s no original sin. Like, we’re all guilty and we have to get a lawyer and get out of jail. So it’s not like that. It’s a totally different ballgame. But Westerners tend to see everything through their own neurosis. So we lay that neurotic stuff on the path really quick and it’s not necessary.
So yeah, I was saying, so I did, the first time I did 108 Chalisas it took me 13 hours. Now I can do it in like 45 seconds. That’s it.
But I asked for a boon and this is it. You’re seeing it. This is it.
It took a lot. I had to go through a lot of dark stuff but my Guru’s, what my boon was, it’s still in process, actually, to tell you the truth. You know, Maharajji used to ask people, people would be sitting there then all of sudden he’d go, “What do you want?” Like he’d point to somebody, “What do you want?”
Because you can’t, your first thought, he knows what you thought then He sees the lie coming out of your mouth. But I was ready. I’d say for about 8 months, I had my answer in my back pocket and I just, I knew, because I knew sooner or later it was going to happen, so one day he looks at me, he goes, “What do you want?” And I looked Him and I said, “Prema Bhakti,” which is the highest state of devotion, blissful, completely blissed out devotion that never ends, I said “Prema Bhakti,” he goes, “Oh. Not now. Later.” He said, “Later.” I loved to do that to him.
Suggestions for your practice: Devi Sadhana | Sri Ram Kirtan Sadhana
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