I had the fortune to attend the Namamrita Seminar of His Holiness Bhakti Brhat Bhagavad Swami Maharaja during the third week of September. I had heard a great deal about the seminar from HG Chitralekha Devi Dasi mataji in her news letters in the past. It was difficult to leave work for 3 days but then the Lord arranged everything to fall perfectly in place as seminar finished by lunch time everyday.
Maharaj started by speaking about the glories of the Holy name and reinforced how Holy name is non different from Krishna. He spoke about relationship with the Holy name and how in this age of kali Hari Nama is the incarnation of Lord and out of nine processes of devotional service it is the most important.
Maharaj also stated that between kirtana and japa, japa is more important. He explained that japa maintains us internally and kirtana brings people from external to internal consciousness. Hence in this sense japa is more important. Secondly we also take a vow in front of our spiritual to chant minimum of 16 rounds of japa at initiation.
Maharaj brought to highlight another subtle difference between `neophyte chant at least 16 rounds’ and `members of Krishna Consciousness chant a minimum of 16 rounds’. He explained that minimum means we should to chant more than 16 rounds, that is the clear instruction of Srila Prabhupada for initiated devotees.
Chanting Hare Krishna is the easiest, quickest, safest and surest way to Go back home, back to Godhead.
Stages in chanting the Holy Names : Maharaj explained three stages of chanting :
a. Nama Apradha ( Chanting with offenses)
b. Namabhasha ( Clearing stages)
c. Shudha nama ( Pure Chanting)
He explained that irrespective of what stage we are in, we should simply be repentant and go on chanting and we will cross to the next stage. As we progress we can realise Krishna through our tongue and ears, not our eyes.
The last topic of the days was Evaluating our Japa. Maharaj stressed that we need to develop a relationship with Nama Prabhu. And we should hear our japa loud and clear and we should sincerely practice to chant without offences.
Maharaj asked everyone to rate our Japa on a scale of 1 to 10 on the criteria of taste and steadiness separately.
In the last he brought another subtle point that as per scriptures there are 32 syllables in the Maha mantra. Which means that the name `Rama’ should be pronounced as `Ramah’ . We should not get so self conscious that we stop at each syllable but we must know what is the correct sanskrit pronunciation.
The day ended with delicious lunch Prasadam. Later, many munificent devotees went for Nagar Sankirtana.
All glories to His Holiness Bhakti Brhat Bhagavad Swami Maharaja.
All glories to Srila Prabhuada.