● Smarana or recollection means drop by drop remembrance with bigger breaks. Dharana or absorption means bigger drops of remembrance with very few breaks. Dhyana or meditation means a thin continuous flow of remembrance with very rare breaks.
Anusmriti or constant remembrance means a thick continuous flow of remembrance with no breaks at all. And finally, Samadhi or trance means fully entering into that object of our remembrance in our spiritual form.
● The Main Obstacle
So what is the main obstacle which stops our advancement through these 5 stages of remembrance in Nam Bhajan and Lila Kirtan? It is none other than COMPLEXITY.
● What is Complexity?
Complexity of filling our minds with things which are useless to our eternal life after death. Complexity of filling our bodies and houses with things that waste our time and distract us from Kirtan.
Complexity of having those in our lives who think and talk about worldly things and waste hours and hours of our time, instead of wanting to do Kirtan with us. Complexity of not limiting ourselves with what we need but rather surrounding ourselves with what our mind whimsically demands.
Complexity of traveling so much when we can peacefully sit in one place and mentally travel directly to the most exotic spiritual world by Kirtan. Complexity in cooking and for tasting various delicacies, when we can cook very nourishing yet simple food to offer to the Lord and honor it daily.
Complexity of choosing the complicated solution when there is always a more simpler solution, which would make our lives much easier and save so much of our time we can use to amply focus on Nam Bhajan and Lila Kirtan daily. And so on… I think you get the idea.
● Complexity in the Scriptures
All the scriptures warn us about accepting only that which is favorable and rejecting everything else which is unfavorable for our daily Nam Bhajan and Lila Kirtan. Saralata or simplicity, which is the very opposite of complexity, is what keeps a devotee non-duplicitous and thus far away from being critical of others and engaging in politics.
In the same way, a simply life without the complexity and burden of constant engagement and indulgence to keep it together, is the only way to find lots of time daily to focus on the real thing that matters eventually, which is Nam Bhajan and Lila Kirtan.
● Minimalism is the opposite of Complexity
Modern people call it minimalism. Even though they may not use the spare time they get by practicing minimalism for Bhakti, but we devotees can implement it by learning how some of them keep their lives simple and uncomplicated.
The test of whether our lives are complex or simple is how much time we get daily for the only two activities which nourish our souls: Nam Bhajan and singing or listening to Lila Kirtan, and how easily we can take out that time as soon as when we desire to sing Kirtan.
● How much time is needed daily?
The ideal time recommended for remembrance of Nam Bhajan or Lila Kirtan is 8 Hours daily, which corresponds to the minimum time needed for chanting 100,000 names. That does not mean that less than 8 hours of remembrance daily is a waste. Every single minute of remembrance counts. Even a little rememberance of Nam or Lila daily can save us from untold suffering. svalpa mapyasya dharmasya trayato mahato bhayat…
But most people, even devotees, have made their lives so complicated that for them doing Nam Bhajan or Lila Kirtan for 8 hours is unimaginable to even think of, even though it is only 1/3rd of the day. 1/3rd we give for our bodies by working, 1/3rd we give for our minds by sleeping, and 1/3rd we give for our souls by Nam Bhajan and Lila Kirtan.
● Why is so much time needed daily?
It is recommended that a devotee should start with 30 mins of remembrance in Nam Bhajan and Lila Kirtan daily and then gradually increase it to 2 hours, and then 4 hours, then 6 hours, and then to 8 hours daily. And this is only possible if our lives are simple not complex.
I am emphasizing on 8 full hours of remembrance here, because nowadays some are quickly finishing 64 rounds in 3-6 hours, when even Namacharya told Gaura that he wanted to leave this world because he is finding it difficult to complete his quota of 64 x 3 rounds of Harinam in 8 x 3 = 24 hours daily.
And why 8 hours remembrance? Why so much daily? A silkworm turns into a butterfly by constant 24/7 remembrance and aspiration in the cocoon. It is so serious to attain the body of the butterfly that it gives the full 24 hours daily in remembering it.
In the same way, the only way to attain our spiritual form in the spiritual world ensuring our permanent freedom from this cycle of birth and death is to devote at least 1/3rd of our day to remember what we want to be and where we want to go after death.
Be at least 1/3rd serious than the silkworm. You may not get this precious human body so soon again especially with the knowledge of Bhakti you have now.
● The Inescapable Reality of Death
151,600 people die daily, which may include someone whom we know personally. We hear about and witness the deaths of so many of our relatives, friends, and family regularly. At that time, we wake up for a second and resolve to remember the Lord more. But then in a minute, we conveniently forget that resolve and get back to our normal lives and plans, as if we are never going to die. This is called Samshan Vairagya and it is the most surprising thing in the world, according to Yudhistira Maharaj in Mahabharat.
The only way to counteract this and be prepared for death every day of our lives is by at least 6 hours (1/4th of 24 hours) of genuine remembrance of the Lord daily. But do we have even the desire to do it, what to speak of actually doing it? This is what it takes to conquer death, for remembering the Lord at the time of death, and to eternally live with the Lord after death. There is no shortcut to this. Yam yam vapi SMARAN bhavan… Anta kale cha Mam seva, SMARAN muktva kalevaram…
Only constant remembrance by Nam Bhajan and by singing or listening to Lila Kirtan can make our journey to the spiritual world possible. Always remember that we will become what we think of all throughout our lives and thus at the time of death. yam yam vapi SMARAN bhavam…