“A pure devotee is constantly engaged - sometimes he chants, sometimes he hears or reads books about Krishna, or sometimes he cooks prasadam or goes to the marketplace to purchase something for Krishna, or sometimes he washes the temple or the dishes - whatever he does, he does not let a single moment pass without devoting his activities to Krishna. Such action is in full samadhi.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 12.2 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
Samadhi. That is the fruit of meditational yoga. Not merely contorting your body in certain ways and breathing in and out in a controlled manner to gain some physical advantage, real yoga is linking the consciousness. The union of the individual soul, jiva, with the Divine, Paramatma. The individual spark of Brahman regaining its true identity, no longer susceptible to the influence of illusion, maya.
What happens after that? Also, is samadhi only achieved through the mechanical way? Is it possible to link to the Divine perfectly while maintaining a job? If a person is working, studying, playing, or simply sitting quietly in a chair, does it mean that their trance has broken? The activities of a pure devotee, one who no longer has desires for even liberation, show that samadhi can be maintained through a host of activities.
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” This is the maha-mantra. The sequence of words gets its strength from the potency of the names contained within. Those names are so powerful that even if chanted offensively, there is some benefit. There is a shadow of the true potency, something like feeling heat even when not in the direct sunlight.
Still, the full mantra, made especially prominent in this age through the efforts of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is the best way to practice yoga amidst distractions. Not some derivative of this mantra put into a music video as part of a movie with the focus on enjoying the senses, the full mantra repeated with attention on the sound vibration itself can bring a person to samadhi.
The pure devotee chants these names and feels tremendous bliss. They have attachment to the all-attractive one, Krishna, the source of transcendental pleasure, Rama, and the pleasure potency of God, Hare. The mantra can be chanted softly or out loud. It can be heard while in solitude or with others. The effect is determined by the concentration of the hearer, their purity of heart and not the external conditions.
2. Hearing about Krishna or reading books about Him
These ways to stay connected to the Divine, to remain in samadhi, are not simply made up. They come down from the authority that is parampara. A five-year old boy, no less, described nine different ways to practice the yoga known as bhakti.
Shravanam is hearing. A pure devotee stays in samadhi by hearing about God. He is a person, with transcendental attributes. As a person, God has lila, or pastimes. Hearing about Krishna’s activities is just as good as sitting quietly and meditating. Hearing is a process where the mind is actively engaged. It is more powerful than watching. Reading is simply another way to hear, as through decoding the written word sound is created within the mind.
3. Cooking prasadam
This is more active service. You can chant while sitting down, and the same goes for hearing. Cooking involves standing up, moving around, building, observing, keeping track of time. It can be an art form. The Supreme Lord can accept offerings of food. He describes how simple the process is in the Bhagavad-gita.
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
The key is consciousness. If a person is cooking simply to test their culinary ability, the activity is not bhakti. It will not bring samadhi. If the same activity is dovetailed with service to Krishna, then it is on an equal level with meditation, hearing, chanting, and so forth.
4. Washing the temple
Bhakti-yoga is so powerful that it elevates the servant to such a high status. This is the Supreme Lord’s mercy. He makes no distinction between the person of tremendous deeds and the one of ordinary. If both are working in love for Him, they are equal. In that respect, washing the temple, the house of worship, is a way to stay in samadhi. Just clean the area so that it looks nice, so that others will feel the Divine atmosphere when entering. Doing so pleases Krishna so much. The example was set by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who once famously washed the Gundicha temple in Puri.
5. Going to purchase items for Krishna
The items to offer may not all grow on trees in the backyard. There might be some travel involved. The pure devotee can have a job. They can be married and have children. No one is disqualified from loving God, whereas the mechanical process has strict requirements. You have to find an isolated place, maintain fixed concentration, and completely refrain from sex life.
“One should hold one's body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.13-14)
The pure devotee doesn’t want anything except the ability to serve Krishna. They may not realize it but simply the attempt to please Krishna guarantees their perfection. In all other types of transcendental practice, there is a hint of personal desire. Once that vanishes, then there is bhakti, which is the perfection of all desires.
When to perfection after getting yoga chance,
Samadhi highest stage, transcendental trance.
To be alone in remote cave not required,
In many ways through service inspired.
Like chanting holy names with attention clear,
Or reading books, highest wisdom to hear.
Washing the temple with love and care,
At all times of God’s glories aware.