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Remembering the Supreme Lord

"Some way or other, if someone establishes in his mind his continuous relationship with Krsna, this relationship is called remembrance. About this remembrance there is a nice statement in the Visnu Purana, where it is said, "Simply by remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead all living entities become eligible for all kinds of auspiciousness. Therefore let me always remember the Lord, who is unborn and eternal." In the Padma Purana the same remembrance is explained as follows: "Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord Krsna, because if someone remembers Him, either at the time of death or during his span of life, he becomes freed from all sinful reactions."

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 10

"Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam. The word smaranam means "remembering." If we chant and hear, then remembrance will automatically come, and then we shall engage in worshiping Krsna's lotus feet (sevanam). Then we shall engage in the temple worship (arcanam) and offering prayers (vandanam). We shall engage ourselves as Krsna's servants (dasyam), we shall become Krsna's friends (sakhyam), and we shall surrender everything to Krsna (atma-nivedanam). This is the process of Krsna consciousness."

Teachings of Queen Kunti, Chapter 5

"Whatever we speak or hear we shall later contemplate or meditate upon. First one must begin with sravanam, hearing, otherwise how can there be meditation? If one does not know the subject matter of meditation, where is the question of meditation? Therefore there must be hearing and chanting about Lord Visnu (sravanam kirtanam visnoh).

Actual meditation in yoga aims at seeing the four-armed Visnu murti, which is the form of the Lord within the heart. That is real meditation. Now rascals have manufactured other methods they call meditation, but these are not actually meditation. The senses are very restless, going this way and that way with the mind, but by the astanga-yoga system, which regulates one's sitting posture, one's breath, and so on, one can control the senses and concentrate the mind on the form of Visnu. This concentration is called samadhi, and it is the real goal of yoga. Thus the astanga-yoga system aims at coming to the point of smaranam, or remembering the Supreme Lord."

Teachings of Queen Kunti, Chapter 19

"Smaranam. After one regularly performs the processes of hearing and chanting and after the core of one's heart is cleansed, smaranam, remembering, is recommended. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.1.11) Sukadeva Gosvami tells King Pariksit:

etan nirvidyamananam
icchatam akuto-bhayam
yoginam nrpa nirnitam
harer namanukirtanam

"O King, for great yogis who have completely renounced all material connections, for those who desire all material enjoyment and for those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord is recommended." According to different relationships with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there are varieties of namanukirtanam, chanting of the holy name, and thus according to different relationships and mellows there are five kinds of remembering. These are as follows: (a) conducting research into the worship of a particular form of the Lord, (b) concentrating the mind on one subject and withdrawing the mind's activities of thinking, feeling and willing from all other subjects, (c) concentrating upon a particular form of the Lord (this is called meditation), (d) concentrating one's mind continuously on the form of the Lord (this is called dhruvanusmrti, or perfect meditation), and (e) awakening a likening for concentration upon a particular form (this is called samadhi, or trance). Mental concentration upon particular pastimes of the Lord in particular circumstances is also called remembrance. Therefore samadhi, trance, can be possible in five different ways in terms of one's relationship. Specifically, the trance of devotees on the stage of neutrality is called mental concentration."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:5:23-24

"As soon as you become expert in hearing and chanting, then the next stage is smaranam. Smaranam, thinking of. Anything you speak or hear, later on you contemplate, you meditate, smaranam. So smaranam is the third stage. First of all, one must begin with hearing, sravanam. Otherwise, what about, meditation? If you do not know the subject matter of meditation, where is the question of meditation? And that is chanting. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh. About Lord Visnu. Actually yoga meditation means to see the form of the Lord, four-handed visnu-murti within the heart. That is real meditation. Now these rascals, they have manufactured so-called meditation. That is not meditation. Meditation means to see the form of the Lord within your heart. Because in, in the heart there is the Lord. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati. So by controlling all the senses The senses are very restless. They are going this way and that way, this way and that way. Mind is going this way, that way. So by this astanga-yoga system, by sitting posture, by controlling the breathing, by modes of different posture of seeing, so many things there are The real thing is to control the mind and concentrate it on the form of Visnu. That is the real thing. That is called samadhi. Pratyahara samadhi. So astanga-yoga means to come to this point of smaranam, smaranam, arcanam.

Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 04-28-73, Los Angeles

"To meditate means to engage the mind in thinking of the form of the Lord, the qualities of the Lord, the activities of the Lord and the service of the Lord. Meditation does not mean anything impersonal or void. According to Vedic literature, meditation is always on the form of Visnu.

In the Nrsimha Purana there is a statement about meditation on the form of the Lord. It is said there, "Meditation focusing on the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has been accepted as transcendental and beyond the experience of material pain and pleasure. By such meditation, even one who is grossly miscreant can be delivered from the sinful reactions of his life."

In the Visnu-dharma there is a statement about meditation on the transcendental qualities of the Lord. It is said, "Persons who are constantly engaged in Krsna consciousness, and who remember the transcendental qualities of the Lord, become free from all reactions to sinful activities, and after being so cleansed they become fit to enter into the kingdom of God." In other words, no one can enter into the kingdom of God without being freed from all sinful reactions. One can avoid sinful reactions simply by remembering the Lord's form, qualities, pastimes, etc.

In the Padma Purana there is a statement about remembering the activities of the Lord: "A person who is always engaged in meditation on the sweet pastimes and wonderful activities of the Lord surely becomes freed from all material contamination."

In some of the Puranas the evidence is given that if someone is simply meditating on devotional activities, he has achieved the desired result and has seen face to face the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this connection, there is a story in the Brahma-vaivarta Purana that in the city of Pratisthanapura in South India there was once a brahmana who was not very well-to-do, but who was nevertheless satisfied in himself, thinking that it was because of his past misdeeds and by the desire of Krsna that he did not get sufficient money and opulence. So he was not at all sorry for his poor material position, and he used to live very peacefully. He was very openhearted, and sometimes he went to hear some lectures delivered by great realized souls. At one such meeting, while he was very faithfully hearing about Vaisnava activities, he was informed that these activities can be performed even by meditation. In other words, if a person is unable to actually perform Vaisnava activities physically, he can meditate upon the Vaisnava activities and thereby acquire all of the same results. Because the brahmana was not very well-to-do financially, he decided that he would simply meditate on grand, royal devotional activities, and he began this business thus:

Sometimes he would take his bath in the River Godavari. After taking his bath he would sit in a secluded place on the bank of the river, and by practicing the yoga exercises of pranayama, the usual breathing exercises, he would concentrate his mind. These breathing exercises are meant to mechanically fix the mind upon a particular subject. That is the result of the breathing exercises and also of the different sitting postures of yoga. Formerly, even quite ordinary persons used to know how to fix the mind upon the remembrance of the Lord, and so the brahmana was doing this. When he had fixed the form of the Lord in his mind, he began to imagine in his meditations that he was dressing the Lord very nicely in costly clothing, with ornaments, helmets and other paraphernalia. Then he offered his respectful obeisances by bowing down before the Lord. After finishing the dressing, he began to imagine that he was cleaning the temple very nicely. After cleansing the temple, he imagined that he had many water jugs made of gold and silver, and he took all those jugs to the river and filled them with the holy water. Not only did he collect water from the Godavari, but he collected from the Ganges, Yamuna, Narmada and Kaveri. Generally a Vaisnava, while worshiping the Lord, collects water from all these rivers by mantra chanting. This brahmana, instead of chanting some mantra, imagined that he was physically securing water from all these rivers in golden and silver waterpots. Then he collected all kinds of paraphernalia for worship--flowers, fruits, incense and sandalwood pulp. He collected everything to place before the Deity. All these waters, flowers and scented articles were then very nicely offered to the Deities to Their satisfaction. Then he offered arati, and with the regulative principles he finished all these activities in the correct worshiping method.

He would daily execute similar performances as his routine work, and he continued to do so for many, many years. Then one day the brahmana imagined in his meditations that he had prepared some sweet rice with milk and sugar and offered the preparation to the Deity. However, he was not very satisfied with the offering because the sweet rice had been prepared recently and it was still very hot. (This preparation, sweet rice, should not be taken hot. The cooler the sweet rice, the better its taste.) So because the sweet rice had been prepared by the brahmana very recently, he wanted to touch it so that he could know whether it was fit for eating by the Lord. As soon as he touched the sweet rice pot with his finger, he immediately was burnt by the heat of the pot. In this way, his meditation broke. Now, when he looked at his finger, he saw that it was burnt, and he was wondering in astonishment how this could have happened. Because he was simply meditating on touching the hot sweet rice, he never thought that his finger would actually become burnt.

While he was thinking like this, in Vaikuntha Lord Narayana, seated with the goddess of fortune, Laksmi, began to smile humorously. On seeing this smiling of the Lord, all the goddesses of fortune attending the Lord became very curious and asked Lord Narayana why He was smiling. The Lord, however, did not reply to their inquisitiveness, but instead immediately sent for the brahmana. An airplane sent from Vaikuntha immediately brought the brahmana into Lord Narayana's presence. When the brahmana was thus present before the Lord and the goddesses of fortune, the Lord explained the whole story. The brahmana was then fortunate enough to get an eternal place in Vaikuntha in the association of the Lord and His Laksmis. This shows how the Lord is all-pervading, in spite of His being locally situated in His abode. Although the Lord was present in Vaikuntha, He was present also in the heart of the brahmana when he was meditating on the worshiping process. Thus, we can understand that things offered by the devotees even in meditation are accepted by the Lord, and they help one achieve the desired result.

Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 10

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

Prahlada Maharaja - The Personification of Remembering