harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
"'In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari.' (Brihad Naradiya Purana.3.8.126; Caitanya Caritamrita 17.21)
This is the yuga dharma for the age of Kali. For the four yugas (Satya, Treta, Dvapar and Kali) there are four Dharmas.
krte yad dhyayato visnum
tretayam yajato makhaih
kalau tad dhari-kirtanat
Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Viṣṇu, in Tretā-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvāpara-yuga by serving the Lord's lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.
So Krte Yad dhyayato Visnum – In Satya yuga the process of deliverance was Meditation on the Lord. Does meditation mean sitting at one place and thinking of something or does it mean to make the mind vacant? To begin with, the mind’s business is to think, so how can we make it vacant and stop thinking? Yoga is not the process of this age (kali-yuga) and we can consider why it is not a process for this age.
Yoga beings with leaving home and going to a solitary place. That is the pre-requisite for practicing yoga. Even better to go to the forest and best is going under the water and meditating which is not possible for people of this age. This yoga process is known as Astanga Yoga. (Asta – Eight; Anga – limbs/stages). The eight stages are:
1. Yama: External Purification, not only to have a clean body, wearing clean clothes but this also involves eating only Krishna Prasad.
2. Niyama: Internal Purification by following the rules and regulations (Cleaning the mind from all undesirable thoughts and prepare your mind to be clean).
3. Asana: This does not mean some physical exercise. The purpose of asana is to utilize the body to reach the destination. For example, if you want to drive a machine, the first thing we have to do is sit properly in the right side. If we want to ride a plane, we have to sit in the cockpit and not in economy class seat and then we have to know how to ride the plane or if we want to ride a bicycle, we have to be seated in a proper position and should know how to use the machine in order to reach the destination. Similarly, this body is a machine. Yantra rudhani mayaya (BG 18.61). Yantra means machine, arudhani means to ride. So this human body is a very special machine, because when we get this machine, we can reach our ultimate destination, the spiritual sky, Goloka Vrindavan. In order to do that, we have to learn how to ride this machine.
4. Pranayama: Prana is actually the air which keeps the soul within the body. These airs control different activities. Don’t we say the prana left, when somebody dies? So when the pranavayu left the body, it means the soul left. This Prana is synonomous to our breathing. Generally we think breathing consists of inhale and exhale. But Vedic understanding says there are 3 functions: inhale, exhale and retain. So the practice of yoga (umbaka) is actually meant to retain the life air within the body. The Purpose of pranayama is to retain life air within and stop inhaling and exhaling. This practically means to stop breathing by retaining the air.
5. Pratyahara: When the yogis stop breathing, then they are able to withdraw their senses from the sense objects. What do the senses do? The senses are constantly running towards the objects of the senses. Then as a result one develops attachment for them.
dhyāyato viṣayān puḿsaḥ sańgas teṣūpajāyate
sańgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho 'bhijāyate
krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ
smṛti-bhraḿśād buddhi-nāśo buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati
While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool. (Bhagavad Gita 2.25-63).
So the yogi at that stage, he withdraws the senses from the sense objects. That means the eyes will be open, but the eyes will not register anything he sees. Sound will be there, ears will not register because we are not running to the sense objects anymore.
6. Dhyana: Then begins dhyana. When our senses are withdrawn from the sense objects, only then we are eligible to meditate. Otherwise everybody is meditating, but the problem is they are meditating on material objects like money, family etc but this Astanga-yoga is meant for meditating on the Supreme Lord. Where is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Isvarah sarva bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati - He is seated in everyone's heart. (BG 18.61)
7. Dharana: This stage means focusing on the Supreme Personality of Godhead present in the heart and then when meditation is fixed that is called Dharana.
8. Samadhi: When one perceives the Supreme Lord in the heart, that is called Samadhi.
So this is astanga-yoga system. This is not only possible for us but it was not possible for people in treta yuga so Krishna devised the process of sacrifice.
Tretayam yajato makaih. This means sacrifice, yajna. Does sacrifice mean pouring some ghee in fire? Sacrifice really means giving up - for whom? For Krishna. This is for Krishna , this is not for me. This is how one used to reach to the point of realizing that even I belong to Krishna. My money is for Krishna. My children are for Krishna. My family, home whatever I have is for Krishna. Then finally even I belong to Krishna. That is the perfection of sacrifice in everything.
But in Dvapara people lost that ability to do that therefore Krishna introduced another process, Dvapare Paricaryayam – worship the Lord in the temple. That worship also was very elaborate. That we can see in ISKCON temples, although it has been simplified to a great extent, but we can see how difficult the process is. So temple worship includes getting up early in the morning at 3:30 AM, then take bath, then make arrangements for the Lord to wake-up. There were atleast 6 Arati's and we have to offer to the Lord 56 Bhogas. That is the process for Dvapara yuga.
In Kali-yuga we lost the ability to even worship the Lord properly, therefore the Lord gave a very simple process – yajnaih sankirtana prayair; yajanti hi su-medhasah – Those who are intelligent will worship Him through this chanting. (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32).
Now just consider, to chant the holy name do we have to go to a forest? To chant the Holy Name do we have to perform sacrifice? To chant the Holy Name, do we have to visit a temple? No. We are all working and still practicing Krishna Consciousness and chanting the Holy Name. This way we can see, in this age of Kali-yuga, it is so simplified.
So this is how Krishna works. Krishna wants us to go back to Godhead. If the son goes away from the father, does the father make him feel very criticial and closes the doors for the son to return? No, the father will make all arrangements for the son to come back. Krishna is the Supreme Father and we are all His sons. That is the difference between Christianity and Krishna Consciousness. In Christianity, they think God has only one son but in Krishna Consciousness we have the clear understanding that not only human beings but every living entity is the son of God.
Therefore we see that as we are losing the ability to re-establish our relationship with Krishna, Krishna, the Supreme Personlaity of Godhead is making it easier for us. As we are becoming dull, incapable and diseased, the Lord is making the process easier and simpler so that everybody can benefit and go back to Godhead.
In other ages, we had to make elaborate arrangements. Eg: When Yudhistar Maharaj decided to perform Rajasuya Yajna, he sent Bhima, Arjun, Nakul and Sahadeva to four different directions to bring all the wealth to perform the sacrifice, bring so many qualified brahmanas and also to perform sacrifices we need pure ghee from cows. Then in Dvapara yuga we need to go to the temple where the deities of the Lord are there. But the chanting of Holy Name of the Lord can be performed by anyone, anywhere and just by hearing the Holy Name, people get purified. It is the perfect arrangement to help all living entities.
- Lecture of His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj :: Damodardesh 20.01.2012