Krishna Prema's Food for Thought 2020 # 3 - Japa Mala Uvaca - If My Prayer Beads Could Talk!
What do you mean with `If I could talk`? Of course, I talk! May I introduce myself? My name is Japa Mala Dasa, I am a Gaudiya Vaishnava Prayer bead.
I am carved from good wood and have divine roots. My origin is the Tulasi plant, an incarnation of the goddess Tulasi Devi from the eternal spiritual realm. She is an eternal associate of Sri Krishna, who is very dear to Him. She has descended into this world to bless those with love for God who serves her with devotion. The glories of Tulasi Devi are beautifully described in the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, where Srila Rupa Goswami quotes the Skanda Purana: “Tulasī is auspicious in all respects. Simply by seeing, simply by touching, simply by remembering, simply by praying to, simply by bowing before, simply by hearing about or simply by sowing this tree, there is always auspiciousness. Anyone who comes in touch with the tulasī tree in the above-mentioned ways lives eternally in the Vaikuṇṭha world.” (1)
Also, my home town Sri Radha Kunda in Vrindavana is extremely sublime. Radha Kunda is the holiest of all holy places. Here everything points to the confidential pastimes of Radha and Krishna and pure love for God permeates the atmosphere.
Going to the West
But it seemed that destiny wanted me to leave this holy place. Shortly, after all of my 108 pearls had been wound on a cord, I was acquired by an ISKCON devotee from the west. "Oh, how terrible, you will have to go to the West!" said some of my fellow malas back then.
But I soon realized that this was actually my great fortune. I was first taken to Manipur, a state with an incredible Vaishnava tradition. There I came into contact with a great soul who is part of the disciplic succession of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As soon this sadhu touched my pearls with his fingers and recited the Holy Names of the Lord, divine power was invested into me and I was no longer the same mala as before.
After that, I was given to his student from Switzerland. I remember how he dropped me into his hands very solemnly with the words: „From now on your name is Krishna Premarupa dasa“. Since then he has been reciting 1728 names of God every day and counting them with my help.
About my proprietor and his dealings with me
How does he treat me? Does he value me and our practice of chanting the names of God? Well, I would say in general yes, he is a sincere devotee and knows that the practice of chanting is like a barometer of spiritual life. The way someone recites mantra reflects their relationship with God. He knows that if he wants to go deeper into his spiritual life, he has to spend more time with me and the process of chanting, but in practical day to day life it often looks a little different ...
In the morning, when he sits down with me and begins to meditate, he does not seem to be really up for the task. Either he glides his fingers far too quickly over my beads because his thoughts are scattered all over the place or sometimes he drops me halfway because he dozed off due to sheer fatigue.
Isn't it ironic that someone attains the Holy Name of God together with such a qualified Japa mala like myself but then still chants inattentively?
Isn't it schizophrenic to ask Krishna to appear but then simply to ignore Him and even fall asleep when He is about to come?!
Anyhow, at least during the day, the influence of tama-guna (ignorance) is overcome, but then the meditation is strongly influenced by passion. Sometimes he walks up and down like a restless tiger in his cage. To me it's obvious that he just wants to get this business of chanting over with as soon as possible, after all, there are so many `more important` things that to do. And then, when finally the last round is chanted, he throws me on a hook and doesn't want to have anything to do with me for the rest of the day! But the worst thing is when he cheats on me with someone else! At these times he just leaves me and uses this strange `clicker`. Terrible!
Crying for Krishna
But there is still hope. As I mentioned in the beginning, he actually understands the importance of chanting and sincerely tries to improve his practice.
I have recently noticed that he is trying more and more to develop a deeper relationship with me and the Holy Name, and it seems that the annual Japa retreats and Indian trips are slowly starting to bear fruit.
At the end of the day it's all about developing a strong desire. This `laulyam` (desire) must be awakened in the heart. As Srila Prabhupada describes it so beautifully: „…one should learn how to cry for the Lord. One should learn this small technique, and he should be very eager and actually cry to become engaged in some particular type of service. This is called laulya, and such tears are the price for the highest perfection.“
Chanting means remembering Krishna and crying for Krishna „Please accept me, please engage me in Your service!“ Still, a long way to go, but there is hope that he will enter deeper and deeper in this divine practice of chanting: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!
`The language of things` that's how this writing exercise is called, which inspired me to write this text. Biographical writing can be humorous and self-ironic if we look at it from the outside and take an unusual perspective. Choose an item that accompanies you every day that knows your preferences and quirks. Let that item tell you how it experiences you!
You might ask yourself: What would my Japa Mala tell me if she could speak?!
1 - Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 11, page 100
2 - Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9, page 83
I wrote this text originally in 2014 and its was published in our Temple newsletter. The German version can be found here: https://www.krishnapremarupa.com/japa