Dharma preaches that the purpose of human birth is God-realisation. The religious scriptures therefore impart guidance on how to undertake spiritual practice so as to be able to get closer to God in every incident of life, right from birth till death. Sanskars should be performed to get closer to God in the sixteen rituals in life from conception to marriage. These sanskars later help in improving spiritual practice.
All of us believe in God and respect Saints, but do we obey them and chant God’s Name ? Do we need to be told to eat snacks or ice cream ? Do we need to be told to watch television ? However, to chant God’s Name we have to be reminded daily. The general rule here is that we do not need to be told to do something from which we obtain instant pleasure. For example, we get pleasure by eating snacks or by watching television, so we do not need be told about all this; however, we certainly need to be told that if we overeat, we will have a stomach upset. After chanting one or two rounds of the mala (Rosary) we feel bored, and prefer to watch television. The point to note here is that Saints obtain immense Anand (Bliss) through chanting that they even forget to eat or quench their thirst.
1. Why do we not experience Anand while chanting in initial stages?
To comprehend this, we need to quote Nature’s second law. When instant happiness is obtained while experiencing something, its effect gets transformed into unhappiness; wherever there is distress or unhappiness in the beginning, the result is happiness. This is narrated by Bhagawan Shrikrushna in the Shrimadbhagawadgeeta. The examples cited ahead will explain this rule.
Do you not feel happy while eating cake ? However, after eating ten to fifteen plates full of cake, within three to four hours, you will experience how happiness turns into unhappiness.
When you receive a bribe, rob or cheat someone, there is instant happiness because of the money obtained; but the end result is unhappiness. For example, a thief steals Rupees 10 lakh. Though no one sees him, he is guilty. He fears that he might have been seen by someone. He reaches home looking furtively in all directions. He eats and then sleeps. At night, when someone knocks on his door, he wakes up with a start thinking it is the Police or CID. When he opens the door he sees his long lost friend. The thief’s friend is also a thief. His heart starts beating faster. He thinks that if his friend gets to know he has Rupees 10 lakh with him, the friend might steal it. Till the robbed money is with him, he is unable to sleep peacefully. Therefore, the happiness from Rupees 10 lakh soon gets converted into unhappiness. On the other hand, the salary obtained through hard work for a month gives only happiness.
Let us now see how sorrow gets transformed into happiness. Every three to six months a doctor meets a patient’s relative (at some marriage or on the street), who says to him, “Doctor, you saved my child’s life ten years ago”. The happiness experienced on hearing this is more than that obtained by getting Rupees 1 lakh. How did the doctor get this happiness ? Ten years ago when the patient was admitted to the hospital in a critical state, to save his life the doctor had struggled day and night; is this not the reason why he is happy today ? The more pain the doctor takes to cure the patient, the more happiness he obtains.
How great is the happiness obtained from chanting God’s Name ? Saints say this happiness is eternal. They even forget their hunger or thirst. However, to experience this eternal happiness you have to chant God’s Name eternally as well.
The greatest obstacle in chanting God’s Name is paucity of time. Today, we are so busy that we have no time to spend with our children. Then, how will we get the time to chant God’s Name ? However, this is a mistaken belief. Today, a common man spends two to three hours just travelling to and from his workplace. What does he do during these two or three hours ? There is no question of doing anything since he barely has any space to stand in a packed train. The body requires space, the mind does not. It keeps dwelling on many worldly things.
Therefore, today though there is happiness, contentment with sufficient food and accommodation, with no debts to pay, there is no strength left to experience happiness. Our mind goes into the past and future, and searches for some reason for sorrow or insult, and remains knotted in it, thereby increasing mental stress and blood pressure. If these three hours in travelling are spent on chanting too, you will realise that this is a blessing in disguise. You have the opportunity and time to chant, which you would not have otherwise.
Our Saints never put pressure such as bathing, doing Pranayam before chanting etc. On the contrary, they recommend chanting at all times – when walking, moving around, bathing, eating, even when in the toilet. When in the toilet, people waste time thinking about the past or future. In their leisure time, they talk about the mistakes committed by others, what the mother-in-law, officer and wife should do etc. They also have the time to watch television and gossip; however, they have no time to chant. The one who truly wishes to chant can, all day through. Conversely, one who does not wish to chant does not have even a little time for it.
2. Importance of Chanting and
How to impress the sanskar of chanting on the mind of a child ?
It is very important to inculcate the habit of chanting in our children and to impress the sanskar of chanting on their mind. There is a vast difference between a child and an adult. A child about 6 years old living in a cosmopolitan area of a city knows various languages, all so fluently that it is difficult to trace the community he belongs to. Adults are unable to excel even in one language in their entire lifetime.
‘Achievement of Human Potential’ is an organisation in Philadelphia in United States of America, which has been doing research work over the past two decades. According to them, it is easier to teach a 6-day-old child than one who is 6 years old. Let us see how to teach a 6-day-old child with the help of mathematics. A white paper is stuck to a large cardboard, and dots of a specific number are made on it; for example, fifty-eight dots, if you have to teach the child number fifty-eight. Ten such cards are made and every second one is shown to the child. Simultaneously, the number is uttered aloud. This is repeated ten times. The same technique is used for teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. How will you find out what the child learnt from the dots when a 6-day or 6-month-old child cannot talk ? When the same child is 2 years old and is shown any chart of dots for multiplication, division etc. it replies correctly within a second, even faster than a calculator can.
How is this possible ? A newborn child’s mind is uncontaminated. Therefore, whatever is told to it is impressed upon the mind firmly. Conversely, the mind of an adult is already full; hence, despite being told something several times, it does not get imprinted on the mind. A child is able to grasp poetry and tables instantly. An adult is able to recollect the poems learnt in childhood, but finds it difficult to memorise new poetry. In conclusion, lesser the age easier it is to create sanskars.
Now let us understand how to create the sanskar of chanting. The whole family comes together before dinner. Let everyone (from the grandfather to the children) sit together. Give a japamala to all the adults and every child above three years of age. If children below three years are not crying, they can be included in the group. Even if a child is asleep, let it be present there. Then, make everyone chant one mala of the Kuladevata’s (Family Deity) Name aloud in single pitch.
Children above three years should be told that they will gather before dinner daily at the same time. Till then, keep your japamala with you and chant as much as is possible. The very next day, your 4-year-old son will ask you, “Baba, for how long did you chant ?” The next moment, you will reprimand your wife, “Where did you keep my japamala ?” The child will then imply that since the father does not know where he has kept his japamala, he must have not chanted at all and proudly declares that he chanted fifteen malas. Encourage your child. If such sanskars are reinforced daily, the child will progress much more than you do and obtain pleasure from chanting like the Saints do.
The story of the great devotee Prahlad is well-known. His father Hiranyakashyapu threw him into fire, threw him from a high cliff, poisoned him, but the ardent devotee Prahlad did not give up chanting. Why ? This is because he was already experiencing Anand from chanting which is a thousand times superior to the sorrow of death. Once a child starts experiencing Anand from chanting, he becomes disinterested in criticising or insulting others etc. He remains engrossed in the Anand of chanting. His life becomes stress-free. In addition, he excels in the subjects he has selected in school; he is ahead of the other children ten times because he is habituated to concentration.