„After hearing these lectures from the Srimad Bhagavatam I feel so deeply touched in my heart. How is it possible? I feel such a desire to understand more, to learn more about devotional service. I really want to develop my relationship with Krishna; yes this is what I want to dedicate my life to.“ While I think in this way, the sound of the Gong announces the time for Prasadam. Others already hurry with their plates to the Prasadam hall, but I am still standing on the steps of the Temple entrance from where I oversee the rice fields and palm trees surrounding the Radha Gopaljiu Mandir. Feeling the hot morning sun on my face I slowly walk down with an incredible feeling of gratitude. I am so fortunate to be able to hear Bhagavatam daily from a person Bhagavata. How amazing this Sravanam, this hearing process is!
After I had joined the Krishna conscious movement in Zurich, Switzerland, I spent my first year as a new Bhakta in India, Odhisa at ISKCON Gadei Giri. Every morning two to three hours wonderful Krishna Katha was spoken. It was there, where I realized the power of sadhu sanga and the importance of hearing. This is almost twenty years back. My Siksa Guru is visiting Switzerland at the moment and the same Krishna Katha is spoken here. Therefore I take the opportunity to reflect: How much have I developed a taste for hearing Krishna Katha over the years? This hearing process is indeed the very key to spiritual advancement, whether it is during our Japa where we try to hear the Lord's names attentively or while associating with advanced devotees hearing Krishna Katha from them.
How Bhakti, Devotion for Krishna, arises in our heart by hearing is beautifully described by Srila Prabhupada with the following words: „The Lord can be realized through the aural reception of the transcendental message, and that is the only way to experience the transcendental subject. As fire is kindled from wood by another fire, the divine consciousness of man can similarly be kindled by another divine grace. His Divine Grace the spiritual master can kindle the spiritual fire from the wood like living entity by imparting proper spiritual messages injected through the receptive ear. Therefore, one is required to approach the proper spiritual master with receptive ears only, and thus divine existence is gradually realized.“ 1 From this, we can understand that by the hearing process not only jnana, knowledge is transmitted but also realization, vijnana! I find that very fascinating; how by the mercy of the speaker spiritual sound vibration enters the ears of the listener and creates a transformation of the heart!
While studying in Vrindavana I had an experience that illustrates this point nicely, at least to some degree. I was trying to memorize Slokas from the first Canto. I had my eyes closed and with rapt attention I repeated one line of a verse after the other, susrusoh sraddadhanasya… all of a sudden I noticed how the melody I chanted changed in a different tune, how my hands started to move just like a conductor of a classical music orchestra in a way I never did before. And the next moment I saw, in my inner eye, the smiling face of our teacher and how she was teaching us the slokas with so much love and enthusiasm. At this moment I felt very blessed, I knew, by the mercy of my teacher, I was not only able to theoretically understand the importance of memorizing slokas, but I got also some drop of vijnana, some small insight of how beautiful these slokas are, how wonderful it is to actually learn, memorize and recite them! I truly developed some deeper taste in this form of devotional service, which I did not have before to that degree and this was possible due to association and sincere hearing. In other words, the `fire of deep appreciation and taste for reciting Slokas` of my teacher kindled the `fire` for this devotional activity in my wood like heart.
The true teachers and representatives of the parampara are always full of compassion and love, and they very much desire to share all their realizations with their students. It is up to us how much we are able to open ourselves and how eager we are to receive this mercy. Association with sadhus is truly the birth place of bhakti and I am grateful to again have the association of such sadhus. Hopefully, I will be able to really listen to Krishna Katha with a receptive ear, in a humble mood. Because it is in the combination of a bona fide speaker and bona fide hearer where the transformation of the heart takes place.
1 - Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.32
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