I beg the mercy of my Gurudeva, nitya-lila pravista om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti-prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. I offer thousands of humble obeisances unto his lotus feet, and the same humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of my siksa-guru, nityalila pravista om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja.
In the present day, it was my siksa-guru who unlocked the treasure of Vedic wisdom for the entire world. The key to the treasure is in his hands and in my Gurudeva’s hands. They have given me their key, and they have ordered me to share that treasure with you all.
Tridandi-bhiksu Sri Bhaktivedanta Narayana
Many participated in completing the publication of this booklet in the role of editors, editorial advisors, designers, artists, typists, transcribers, proofreaders and technical assistants. They include: Sripada Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja, Sripada Bhaktivedanta Vaikhanas Maharaja, Atula-krsna dasa, Anita dasi, Bhudhara dasa, Brajanatha dasa, Dhananjaya dasa, Giridhari dasa, Gaurangi dasi, Guruttama dasa, Jaya-gopala dasa, Mahaprabhu dasa, Nanda-kisora dasa, Nandimukhi dasi, Nandini dasi, Premavati dasi, Radha-kanta dasa, Santi dasi, Sudarsana dasa, Sundara-gopala dasa, Syamarani dasi, Vaijayanti-mala dasi, Vasanti dasi and Visvambhara dasa.
Special thanks to all the book distributors, for helping to bring this publication to our respected readers.
The purpose of this booklet is to introduce the readers to the beauty and wonder of their own natural being. Sages say that our souls are each more brilliant and powerful than thousands of suns, and that we come to experience this by hearing from those who are self-realized. Secrets of the Undiscovered Self is a transcription of a discourse given by such a self-realized personality, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, a pre-eminent saint and one of the foremost teachers of divine wisdom in the present day. He gave this discourse in March 2002, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The preface of this booklet contains the words of another transcendental personality, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, famous throughout the world as Srila Prabhupada, who is intimately related with Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja as an instructing guru and a dear friend. Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja regards Srila Svami Maharaja as a main inspiration for his regularly traveling the surface of the globe and teaching the secrets of the undiscovered self.
Herein, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja gives an analogy of a bird in a cage, comparing the bird to the soul and the cage to the body that covers it. He writes, “We are neglecting our real comfort and identifying the material cage with ourselves. We have concentrated all our energies for the meaningless upkeep of the material cage for its own sake, completely neglecting the captive soul within. The cage is meant for the undoing of the bird; the bird is not meant for the welfare of the cage. Let us, therefore, deeply ponder this. All our activities are now turned toward the upkeep of the cage, and the most we do is try to give some food to the mind by art and literature. But we do not know that this mind is also material in a more subtle form.”
“The self is beyond the gross body and subtle mind. He is the potent active principle of the body and mind. Without knowing the need of the dormant soul, one cannot be happy simply with emolument of the body and mind. The body and the mind are but superfluous outer coverings of the spirit soul. The spirit soul’s needs must be fulfilled. Simply by cleaning the cage of the bird, one does not satisfy the bird. One must actually know the needs of the bird himself.
“The need of the spirit soul is that he wants to get out of the limited sphere of material bondage and fulfill his desire for complete freedom. He wants to get out of the covered walls of the greater universe. He wants to see the free light and the spirit. That complete freedom is achieved when he meets the complete spirit, the Personality of Godhead.”
Speaking in a simple yet profound manner, Srila Svami Maharaja elaborates on the difference between the body and the soul: “If we meditate upon this body and study whether or not the body is our true identity, we will come to the conclusion that we are the knower of the body – not the body. The body is simply the field of our activities.
“This good intelligence applies even in a child. You may show a child his finger and inquire, ‘What is this?’ The child will reply, ‘It is my finger.’ The child will never say, ‘I finger.’ Who am ‘I’? That should be the inquiry.”
The histories in this booklet actually took place. They have been taken by Srila Narayana Maharaja from the parts of the Vedas called the Puranas and Upanisads. The names of all the personalities herein are in the ancient Sanskrit language. Following the tradition of our spiritual preceptors, we use standard diacritical markings to indicate the pronunciation of Sanskrit words. Pronounce a like a in father, i like ea in neat, u like oo in root, r like ri in rip, m and n like ng in hung, s and s like sh in shy, and c like ch in chap.
Secrets of the Undiscovered Self
We Are Pure Spirit Souls
Long ago there lived a powerful sage named Astavakra Rsi. The sage was curved in eight parts of his body, and when he walked his movements were quite peculiar and awkward. He was also very ugly, and ordinary people often laughed at the sight of him. Although externally he was awkward and crooked, internally his heart was pure because he had realized his eternal transcendental identity. He knew and realized the difference between the body and the soul.
Once, Astavakra Rsi arrived in the assembly of the great king Maharaja Janaka to attend an assembly of saintly persons. As he entered the assembly, everyone present began to laugh at him. Hearing them, Astavakra Rsi also began to laugh. The members of the assembly were surprised and said to each other, “We are laughing at him, but he is laughing even more loudly than us. Why is this?”
Janaka Maharaja rose from his throne and asked Astavakra Rsi, “Why are you laughing so loudly?”
The sage replied, “I thought I was coming to join an assembly of saints and sages, but instead I have stumbled into a convention of shoemakers. A shoemaker’s interest is only in leather and skin ; he sees only if the good or bad quality of skin. Your interest is in seeing if someone is beautiful or ugly, healthy or disabled, young or old. Your minds are absorbed in these temporary things. You are not seeing my soul as saintly persons would. It is simply illusion to place importance on the external, temporary body while being oblivious to the eternal soul dwelling within.”
Janaka Maharaja’s heart was deeply penetrated by Astavakra Rsi’s words. He realized that the sage was a liberated soul, and worthy of deep respect. With great honor he offered his own throne to the sage, bowed down to him, and accepted him as his instructing spiritual master.
We Are Not These Bodies
The body is not the self. What is this material body? It is a bag of bones, blood, urine and many other unclean substances. The mind is also part of the material body and is different from the soul. It experiences temporary mundane emotions as real, thus causing much anguish and only a little pleasure. We are individual souls, not these bodies or minds.
These bodies are mortal; all the doctors and scientists of this world cannot prevent old age. One day, twenty, thirty or fifty years from now, the body will become old. Its beauty and power will disappear; walking will be difficult without the help of a cane, and after some time death will come. At that time we will have to give up everything we have accumulated during this lifetime. Nothing in this world will be able to save us from continued suffering – only God and Sri Guru can save us in all respects. If we realize this and engage in His loving service, we will become happy.
As spiritual souls, we are all parts and parcels of the same God, the Supreme Lord. Souls in all species of life – from the lowest, such as plants and animals, to the highest, such as humans and demigods – are His infinitesimal parts and parcels. The ancient scriptures of India, the Vedas, say, “God is one. Everything in this world is merely an expansion of His power, or energy.” Atheists, who don’t believe in God, believe in the world of nature. They believe that everything comes from nature and returns to nature. The world of nature in which they have placed their faith, however, is simply a part of the energy of that Supreme Lord.
We are minute parts of the Supreme, and we are the manifestations of His marginal energy (tatastha sakti), but unfortunately we have turned away from Him and have forgotten who we are. We think that these material bodies are our real selves. We spend our days collecting money and securing positions, thinking that these things will make us happy – but this conception is totally wrong.
A King in Illusion
[The history of Astavakra Rsi illustrates that we are not these mortal bodies. The following history describes how another great sage, Visvamitra Muni, helped another righteous king to realize and correct his misconception regarding his own identity. In days of yore, kings greatly honored holy men, and therefore Visvamitra was able to help him.]
In ancient India there lived a great and very powerful emperor named Hariscandra. His wife’s name was Saibya and his beautiful young son was Rohitasva. Hariscandra was extremely truthful; he never told a lie or tolerated any untruth, and he was renowned throughout the world for his generosity to all creatures. Although he possessed such qualities, an exalted sage named Visvamitra was concerned for his spiritual welfare.
Visvamitra thought, “The truth that Hariscandra follows is merely worldly truth, and worldly truth has no real value. Except for devotees of the Lord, no one in this world can speak the actual truth. If I ask him, ‘What is your name?’, he will say, ‘My name is Hariscandra.’ ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am the Emperor.’ ‘Who is he?’ ‘He is my son.’ ‘Who is she?’ ‘She is my wife.’ But in reality there is only one truth: We are not mortal bodies. We are spirit souls, servants of the Supreme Truth., the Supreme Personality of godhead.”
Visvamitra Muni’s concern grew. He was convinced that King Hariscandra’s happiness and eternal well-being would lie only in a proper spiritual understanding, and he was convinced that his misfortune would lie in his lack of such understanding.
One night, by his mystic power, he appeared to the king – by entering his dream – and he told him, “You are an excellent king. You are very generous, a truthful speaker and you worship God. Because you are so pious I am confident that you will give me whatever I ask you for. I want something from you.”
Hariscandra awoke from his sleep and replied, “Certainly, I will donate anything you ask for.”
Visvamitra voiced his request, “I want your entire kingdom.”
Hariscandra replied in his sleep, “Of course, I will give it to you.”
By the next morning, after awakening, he forgot what had happened in his dream.. Later that morning, Visvamitra again approached him. He asked, “Do you remember any dream you had last night?” “Yes, I remember.” “You gave me your entire kingdom.” “I may have given it, but it was only in a dream.” “No, it was not just a dream. I actually came to you in your dream last night.”
Aware that by divine power great sages can go practically anywhere and perform wondrous activities that would appear to ordinary people as magic, the king believed his words.
Visvamitra continued, “So now, in your fully wakened state, you should say, ‘I vow to give you my kingdom.’”
Hariscandra said, “Yes, I vow that my kingdom is now yours.
According to ancient Indian culture, if someone gives in charity, he gives some a monetary donation (daksina)in addition to his gift. Visvamitra therefore asked Hariscandra to give him some additional money. “Without a donation of coins,” Visvamitra said, “no vow is complete. Something has to be given – even if it is only one percent of the value of your gift.”
“How many coins would you like, O great sage?” Hariscandra asked.
Visvamitra replied, “Ten thousand gold coins.”
Hariscandra immediately ordered his treasurer, “Give the sage ten thousand gold coins.”
Visvamitra smiled and said, “Liar, it seems that you are going back on your word. You gave me your entire kingdom. Since your treasury is now also mine, how can you instruct the treasurer to give me gold? You will have to think of another way to give me this donation.”
Hariscandra agreed, and said that he would take a loan from someone in the kingdom. But Visvamitra said, “The citizens are also mine. You may not take a loan from any of them.”
The king thought, “All I have left are my wife, my son and myself – everything else is gone.” He told the sage, “I will sell myself, my wife and my son, and then I will pay you.”
Visvamitra replied, “You cannot sell yourself within my kingdom. You can do so only outside.”
Since the kingdom of Hariscandra encompassed the entire Earth, he was now quite perplexed as to what to do. Visvamitra then said, “Although Kasi is within my kingdom, it is not considered part of this world. It is the abode of the demigod Lord Siva. If you go there you will be outside my kingdom. You can go there to sell yourself, but do not forget to pay me.”
Hariscandra, his wife and his son had to go to Kasi by foot, because his chariots and horses now belonged to Visvamitra. After traveling for many days they finally arrived in Kasi and Hariscandra began calling out to the residents, to see who would purchase him. At that time a low caste sweeper, the owner of a crematorium, told him that he would purchase him if he would perform duties at the cremation grounds. No one else had offered to purchase him, so Hariscandra accepted and was paid five thousand gold coins. To make up the other five thousand gold coins, he sold his wife and child to a very cruel person of the priestly caste (brahmana) and then he paid Visvamitra the promised donation.
When someone sells a cow, he is no longer the owner of that cow. Similarly, Hariscandra was not the king now, nor was he the husband of his wife or the father of his child. However, he still somewhat identified himself as such. He thought, “I was a king. I am the husband of Saibya and the father of Rohitasva.”
After some time, by the mystic power of Visvamitra, a snake bit Hariscandra’s son and killed him. It was late at night during the rainy season and bitter winds now blew along with a heavy downpour of rain. The cruel brahmana owner of Saibya told her, “Make your own independent arrangements to cremate your child. I have already spent money to purchase you and I will not spend any more coins to cremate your son. Immediately take this dead body away from here.”
So, on that dark night, the weeping Saibya took her son’s body in her arms and carried him to the cremation grounds on the bank of the Ganges, the same cremation grounds where her husband stood guard. Hariscandra did not recognize her and, although she was poor and destitute, he told her, “You cannot cremate this child without paying the fee.” She had no money with which to pay. All she had in the world was the dead body of her son wrapped in her veil.
Just then a lightening bolt flashed, and Hariscandra saw that it was his own wife standing before him. He never expected to see his son there – dead – nor did he expect to see his wife in her distressed and worn condition. His heart broke and he began to weep, crying out, “Oh God, what has happened?”
Now he was in a dilemma. He wept – but he tried to be true to his new identity as a guard at the cremation grounds. Being very strict in what he considered his sense of duty, he told Saibya, “Still you should pay me. I am the watchman of this crematorium.”
“I have nothing to give,” she replied, “except half of my veil.”
As Saibya began to tear that veil, Visvamitra, along with Lord Narayana (one of the incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead), and demigods such as Yamaraja (the lord of death) and Lord Brahma (the creator of the universe and the head of the demigods) immediately appeared on the scene, calling out, “The examination has ended!”
Visvamitra placed his hand on the dead body of the son and said, “Rise quickly, my child!” Within a moment the boy stood up, his eyes gazing toward the sky.
Visvamitra told Hariscandra, “I took everything away from you and now I am returning it. The kingdom is again yours. With your new realizations, you are now qualified to leave your worldly responsibilities and enter the forest to meditate on God.
“O king! In this world no one can speak the truth, in the real sense. You are not Hariscandra. This is the name of your physical body. And what is this body made of? It is a combination of blood, flesh, urine and stool. When you think, ‘I am a father, husband, king and so forth,’ how is it the truth? You, the soul within the body, are the eternal servant of God. You are part and parcel of Krsna, the Supreme Lord. You are not of this world. Try to serve God and chant His holy name.”
King Hariscandra had previously believed in some conception of the Supreme and had dutifully worshipped Him, but his heart was not devoted nor was he surrendered to Him. He was devoted to the false truths of this world. Therefore, even in his palace he could never experience any happiness in truth. By the mercy of Visvamitra Muni he achieved the full-fledged freedom of his transcendental nature, the freedom for which every living being is anxious. Moreover, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord, Sri Rama, later appeared in his dynasty.
When Visvamitra left along with others, King Hariscandra also went to the forest for engagining in devotional service to the Supreme Lord after crowning his son Rohitasva as his successor to the throne.
What would have taken many lives of endeavor to achieve, he achieved in only a few moments by the arrangement of the powerful sage. And, by that same arrangement, others may learn from hearing this history from the Vedas.
We Are Part and Parcel of the Supreme Self
The Vedas instruct us, “Don’t live in darkness; move toward the light.” “Light” refers to knowledge of our true spiritual form, of the Supreme Lord of whom we are minute parts and parcels, and of the eternal relationship of loving service we have with Him. That Supreme Lord is known in the Vedas as Lord Krsna, which means the all-attractive reservoir of complete pleasure, knowledge and eternal existence. He has many manifestations and they are all non-different from Him. He is the supreme person we generally call God, Allah or Jehovah. To serve Him in our constitutional or spiritual form is light, and this service brings full and eternal happiness.
“Darkness” refers to the state of spiritual ignorance. To be in darkness or ignorance means to be attached to objects related to this body and to have a sense of possessiveness toward the things of this world. Everyone in this world wants to be completely happy and no one wants to suffer. We can see, however, that despite people’s endeavors to attain happiness since time immemorial, they have not been truly successful. Medicines, trains, airplanes and now computers have been invented with the intention of creating convenience and happiness, and new forms of entertainment have been designed for this purpose. But has all this given anyone lasting inner happiness? It is especially thought that accumulating wealth can buy happiness, but who has ever become permanently happy by becoming wealthy?
There is, however, a transcendental science, a spiritual scientific process that leads one to eternal happiness and puts an end to one’s cycle of birth and death. That science is called bhakti-yoga, or pure devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Performance of bhakti-yoga does not require money, nor does it require us to expend much energy, but by practicing it we attain everlasting happiness. Just over five hundred years ago, the Supreme Lord Krsna descended to this world in the form of His own devotee, Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu, and He demonstrated the process of performing pure devotion to God. By that process one realizes his own self as an eternal servant of God, and as His part and parcel. He experiences love and affection for all living beings, knowing they are part and parcel of the same God, and he naturally attains true inner happiness.
In this world it is absurd to think that one can have love and affection for all living entities. If you show affection or get too close to a ferocious tiger it will attack you, and a poisonous snake may bite you. If you really want to love all beings, first love the Supreme Lord. That love will automatically be distributed to all beings and in this way everyone can be happy. This is true love and affection. In that realm of love even tigers and bears can be calmed and quieted. Great sages of the past who resided in dense forests were never attacked by tigers or other wild beasts. If we can attain that love for the Supreme, we can truly love all others.
The Nature of the Supreme Self
[In order to be attracted to love that Supreme Being, we first need to know who He is, what His nature is, and what His attractive qualities are.]
One who can create entire universes cannot be formless or without attributes. He must have all varieties of power and opulence. All the forms we see in this world have come from Him, so how can He Himself be formless? The Bible says that God has created man in His own image, and this is also confirmed in the Vedas.
He is ever-existing, and in the Vedas He is called Brahman (which refers to the impersonal effulgence of His body), Paramatma (His partial manifestation as the Supersoul in the heart of all beings) and Bhagavan (the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who embodies all opulence, sweetness, and powers). Of these three, only Bhagavan is complete. Brahman and Paramatma are His partial expansions. Everything is present in Bhagavan.
He is so large that complete universes are contained within Him. Simultaneously, He is so minute that He resides in each and every atom – in every atom of air, in every atom of fire and in every atom of water. He is everywhere and He can hear everything.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is one without a second. He is the same God for the Christians, for the Muslims, for the Hindus and for all others. There are not different Gods. He is the same God, the same Allah, the same Christ. Just as there is one sun and one moon for the entire world, there is one God for all people. How can there be more than one God? There is only one God, but He appears differently according to individual vision.
For fifteen days the moon appears to gradually increase in size until it becomes full. Its size then begins to decrease until it becomes a new moon on the last day of the lunar month. In this way it appears that there are fifteen different moons. These “moons” are not different from each other; only their names and appearances differ: full moon, new moon, quarter moon and so on. Similarly, there is only one God, but people have, in ignorance, separated themselves from each other and from Him, due to their different languages and conceptions of Him.
All forms and incarnations of God are His manifestations and are non-different from Him. Some, being more complete, are more powerful; and some are less powerful – just as the full moon is always the same moon, perceived as full, new, quarter, etc. In reality the moon is always full, but we see it to be waxing or waning. In the same way Lord Krsna is one without a second, and He has innumerable manifestations who are all non-different from Him. He sometimes manifests in this world personally, and sometimes He sends His associates here to disseminate pure knowledge. In this world all souls are His eternal servants, but we have forgotten Him since the beginning of creation. He sometimes descends, therefore, and performs very sweet and powerful pastimes to attract us and engage us in His service.
No one doubts the existence of the sun, so why should one doubt the existence of the creator of the sun or thousands of suns? That personality can create millions upon millions of worlds in a moment, and He can also destroy them. He comes to this world only to save us from suffering, by establishing a relationship with us and by engaging us in His loving service. There is no other way to become happy in this or any other world. There is only one God, and ignorance of our eternal, individual relationship with Him is the only cause of our unhappiness.
We need not fear serving Him, thinking it to be like serving someone of this world where the master gains and the servant only experiences the trouble of his labour. It is not like that in the realm of spiritual love. One receives great happiness in serving Him, a very relishable love and affection that is even more than one receives by serving one’s wife, husband, children, father and so on. There are oceans of love and affection in Krsna’s transcendental realm. Have very firm faith in this. Do not doubt that we are spirit souls, parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that we are His eternal servants.
The Process of Self-Realization
In the previous age of Satya-yuga, the Age of Goodness, mankind lived pious, peaceful and pure lives of thousands of years. At that time, great sages used to see Him by meditating upon Him. In this present age it is not possible to meditate so deeply, because our minds are unsteady. Such meditation can be achieved, however, by chanting His name, and by this process we can realize His mercy and actually see Him. The Vedic literatures recommend that to attain pure love of God in this current age, one chant: “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only process to achieve God-realization and self-realization is to chant the holy names of the Lord, and this is easy to do. These names may be chanted by anyone of any language – whether one is English, Malaysian, Indian, Spanish or Chinese. People of all faiths call out to that one God, who is very beautiful, charming, powerful and merciful. He can come and play with you in any relationship – as a master, friend, son or beloved.
For the chanting of these names to be truly effective, however, they should be chanted according to an authentic process, given by the Supreme Lord Himself. Otherwise, such chanting will not produce the desired result. Knowledge of this transcendental process and its goal has descended through a line of disciplic succession of pure spiritual masters, beginning from the Supreme Lord Himself. Those who have heard directly from Him appear in that succession of perfect masters, and a disciple of such a spiritual master can chant successfully.
The Bona Fide Guide
The bona fide spiritual master, or guru, tells us, “Give me your ears. I do not want all of your senses – only your ears.” Among all the senses, only the ears can hear sound vibration, and thus transcendental words. The guru coming in disciplic succession helps us surrender to God by engaging our function of hearing. Through this vibration of sound, his transcendental words enter the heart of the disciple and reveal Krsna, God Himself, who is hidden in everyone’s heart. No sense but the ears can perceive this transcendental sound.
There are two kinds of sound vibration. One is transcendental and is beyond this material world (sabda-brahma). It comes from the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself via the disciplic succession. The other is ordinary material sound vibration, which comes from the vibration of the material tongue. One who has not extensively practiced bhakti-yoga and who is not perfect may give Krsna’s holy name and various mantras to others, but the sound vibrations spoken by him will have no spiritual effect. Although such sounds are by nature powerful and transcendental, they must be imbued with realization. Otherwise, they will manifest as worldly, mundane words. If a guru is not sufficiently expert in chanting transcendental sound and has no realization of its nature, that sound vibration will not produce any real fruit in the heart of the person who receives it from him. Only self-realized souls perfectly utter sabda-brahma, or transcendental sound, and one should receive it from them.
The definition of bhakti, pure devotion, is given in the Vedic scriptures as follows: “Pure devotional service is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Lord Krsna, or in other words, the uninterrupted flow of service to Krsna, performed through all endeavors of the body, mind and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments. This pure bhakti is not covered by knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation or by reward-seeking activity, and it is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Krsna.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11)
The same Vedic scriptures contain many verses that explain the quality of a person who, because of his own pure devotional service, can actually help us. One such verse is as follows: “Any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The symptom of the bona fide guru is that, having left aside all material desires, he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of the Supreme Godhead.. He is renounced from the materal world.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.97)
The following history illustrates how the heinous criminal Valmiki became a great devotee by associating with a self-realized spiritual master who had the above-mentioned qualities. Valmiki, though born into the priestly (brahmana) caste, associated with bad men. As a result he became a ferocious dacoit, even murdering many sages. He once approached the exalted sage Narada Muni to kill him, but as he moved toward him Narada raised his hand and said, “Stop!” The astonished Valmiki was forced to freeze his movements and thus a mood of submission to Narada entered his heart. Narada then revealed to him the reactions that would come to him as a result of his abominable sins. Valmiki took shelter of Narada and inquired from him how to become free from those reactions.
Narada said, “Sit down here and chant ‘Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama.’ (Rama is the name of one of Krsna’s incarnations.) Do this and nothing else.” Valmiki tried, but the reactions to his sinful activities had fructified to the point that he was unable to chant that divine name of Rama. Narada cleverly told him, “If you cannot pronounce Rama, you can chant mara.”
Mara (which in the Sanskrit language means “die”) has the same syllables as Rama said backwards. When mara mara is chanted repeatedly, it automatically becomes “Rama Rama.” Having given Valmiki these instructions, Narada left that place.
Valmiki was easily able to chant mara mara, and continued chanting for thousands of years while waiting for his guru’s return. During that time he did not eat or even pass stool and urine. Termites ate his flesh, blood and other bodily substances, gradually enclosing him in a valmik, which means ‘termite-hill’ (similar to an ant hill). In this way, nothing but a skeleton remained of his own body, although it appeared that he had a body and it was covered with earth. In due course of time, Brahma, the chief demigod and original guru of the disciplic succession of gurus, came to that place. Upon seeing the condition of Valmiki’s body, Lord Brahma sprinkled water upon him from his sacred water pot while uttering mantras, and Valmiki’s body then became that of a beautiful youth. Brahma told him, “Now you have perfected the chanting of your mantra; you have realized the Supreme Lord.”
[Later on, in the course of his meditation (samadhi), the great sage Valmiki composed the famous Ramayana, the authorized history of Lord Rama, whose name he was chanting. Written hundreds of thousands of years ago, the Ramayana is considered to be one of the main Vedic scriptures as well as one of the first spiritual episc in India. Valmiki compiled it in the first days of Lord Rama’s descent to this world. -ed]
In this day and age it is not possible for us to perform such austerity. We find it difficult to refrain from eating, drinking or sleeping for just one day, what to speak of several years, and we cannot be fully absorbed in meditation for twelve hours, six hours or even one hour. But there is a process that we can easily follow, and this process is the essence of all Vedic scriptures. Take the seed of the perfect transcendental name of Krsna by accepting initiation from a bona fide guru. Chant the Hare Krsna mantra and you will very easily find happiness.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna
Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
[Gaudiya Vedanta Publications]