by Richard Whitehurst (Today’s PRIZE GIVEAWAY is a Copy of Mahamantra Yoga. Simply leave a COMMENT to enter. See details below)
“From time immemorial,” notes Huston Smith, “religions have used singing and the chanting of sacred syllables, mantras, to lift their spirits to the divine.”
Devotional service is the eternal characteristic of all living beings. As sugar always gives sweetness, so the soul always gives service. Service cannot be separated from the self, and it does not stop. When this characteristic is purified and brought into relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then it is known by the name bhakti-yoga. A candid and unbiased comparison of bhakti with various other paths will show the fruits of many of these other paths to be wonderful, though perhaps not final. The mahamantra yogis suggest that the fruits of all spiritual paths are eventually revealed to be tributaries leading to the vast raging river of bhakti.
Nevertheless, within the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we are brought to a perspective where we may consider the possibilities that bhakti just might take the astanga-yogis beyond the various levels of samadhi, that it could perhaps transport the jnanis far past the non-differentiated oneness of the eternality of the brahmic splendor, and that the various perfections of divine emptiness as found in schools of eastern and western Gnosticism might be conceived and perceived by the perfected mahamantra-yogis as but different perspective views of the brahmic splendor and thus are considered to be like way stations on the astounding journey toward the super-excellent realization of the Lord’s abode, Goloka Vrindavana. And hazy conceptions of “heaven” or “paradise” of theistic traditions such as Christianity, Islam, or Judaism could perhaps be brought into a focus of crystal clarity through the science of bhakti-yoga. In the bhakti tradition, one realizes the extensive and astounding details.
The need we feel to transform our ordinary consciousness to a higher state is evident from countless current and historical examples. Human beings are seldom content with the limited scope of everyday consciousness. Those with restraining or destructive tendencies (tamaguna) and with activating or chaotic tendencies (raja–guna) may pursue this felt need to transform ordinary consciousness through such practices as drug taking, ghost worship, and occultism.
Those of a more introspective, illuminating or godly nature sattvaguna will seek other methods of consciousness expansion that elevate, that reawaken the soul’s loving relationship with the supreme Soul. The oldest and most comprehensive written expression of this science of primordial consciousness appears in India’s Vedic literature. Therein it is often stated that for this age, the recommended way to transform profane consciousness to God consciousness is to hear and chant the mahamantra.
Richard Whitehurst (Sridhara Das) is an initiated disciple of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He began his practice of mahamantra yoga in 1970 while a student of psychology at the University of Florida. For 10 years he lived as a wandering monk and traveled extensively throughout the Indian subcontinent. He has lectured about the tradition of bhakti yoga and mahamantra yoga at colleges and universities in India, England, the United States, and Australia and has appeared on radio and TV. An accomplished facilitator of kirtan and bhajan, he lives in New Farm, Queensland, Australia.