"Raise the Anchor, Sir!"
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
In the devotional line, this body is compared to a boat, and the helmsman of the boat is the Guru. The Guru sails this boat and takes us in it across the Viraja River. If we can stay aboard the boat that Gurudev is sailing, then we can cross over the Viraja River and come to stay with Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan.
Devotees: Nitai Gaura Hari bol!
The nine kinds of devotion constitute the boat. If you follow these nine kinds of devotion, then you will know how to make the boat—how to build the mast, how to make the sail, etc. Krishna Himself describes how to make this boat. There is also one very nice story told by Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur.
You know, in the place where I was born, there were not many streets—we used to always go everywhere by boat. I remember going to the market, buying all the vegetables, etc. and loading it all onto a boat and going home. That was, perhaps, forty years ago. Sometimes I would go with my father, sometimes with some worker.
The story goes like this. One late evening, a groom's party got on a barge-like boat and told the boatman to take them to the place where the wedding was to take place. The boatman told the groom to rest and get some sleep and he would row and make sure they arrived by the time the wedding had been fixed for. They agreed, and the boatman started rowing.
I remember also how, many years ago, I went to Ganga Sagar by boat. Now they have engine boats, but at that time there were boats that had to be oared manually. When we were returning from Ganga Sagar, it suddenly got busted and we were stuck in the boat in the middle of the Ganges. We stood there with water in the boat for three-four hours, and all the foreign devotees started fighting. Gradually, the water was taken out, the boat was fixed and the boat was afloat again. That was many years ago. I was thinking to make a Ganga Sagar programme after Gaura Purnima some time. Many cannot come to the festival we usually make in winter, it is a little austere in winter, and it is the time of Ganga Sagar mela, so many cannot even take a bus to get to the temple, there are too many people. So, I was thinking we could hire a big ferry from Howrah—we can go to Ganga Sagar in it, with kirtan, loudspeakers, picnic, etc. We could take darshan of Ganga Sagar and then come back again by ferry. We can cook on the ferry itself and also we will get prasadam at Ganga Sagar. One day we will do it, I have already thought about it.
We sing in the kirtan,
আমার গৌরাঙ্গের ঘাটে উজানখেয়া বয় ।
amara gauranger ghate ujanakheya vaya
"At my Lord Gauranga's ghat the upstream ferry runs without requesting any fare. Everyone crosses freely."
"The current is going one way, but the Lord's boat is going up the stream without any fare..."
Anyhow, the boatman had rowed the whole night, but when the sun rose and the groom woke up, he looked around and shouted at the boatman, "Oh no! The night is over, the sun has risen, it is the wedding time now! Why has the boat not moved?! Did you not see it?! What is this?!!" The boatman said, "What am I to do? I have been rowing so hard all night, what can I do if the boat has not moved?" While the groom swore the boatman, an old man was passing by and saw what had happened. He told the groom, "Can you not see? Your boat is anchored! Lift the anchor, then your boat will go."
So, you can chant kirtan all night, you can do so many things, but it is useless if you never think, "When will Gopal come? When will Gopal's appearance come? When will I get the darshan of Gopal? When will I get the darshan of this form of the Lord?" Such thoughts must come to us. "When will I be able to do some service to Govinda?" Yet, some are thinking instead, "Oh, we have come to this house today, and there is nobody at home now. What if somebody burgles the house?" And they will leave the programme, you will see... This is how we create our anchors...
As I was saying there are nine kinds of devotional practices. First comes faith (sraddha), then good association (sadhu-sanga), then practice (bhajana-kriya), then offences are removed (anartha-nivrtti), then faith becomes strong (nistha), then comes taste (ruchi), then comes attachment (asakti), then love (prema, or bhava), and pure spontaneous love (maha-bhava).
আদৌশ্রদ্ধা ততঃ সাধুসঙ্গোঽথ ভজনক্রিয়া ।
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango 'tha bhajana-kriya
"In the beginning there is faith, then good association, then practising life. After that, the offences gradually go away, faith becomes stronger, taste comes, then attachment, then there arises affection and love. This is how love to God comes to those who practise Krsna consciousness."
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhuh, 1.4.15-16)
শ্রবণং কীর্ত্তনং বিষ্ণোঃ স্মরণং পাদসেবনম্ ।
sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam
(1) Hearing, (2) practising (chanting), (3) remembering the Lord, (4) serving the lotus feet of the Lord, (5) serving the Deity, (6) offering obeisances, (7) considering oneself a servant, (8) thinking of the Lord as of a friend, and (9) full surrender.
(Srimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.23)
You must build your boat with these nine devotional practices. When you sing kirtan, you must understand its meaning—common people do not understand it, they listen to kirtan bands, enjoy the tune, etc., but this is not the way to practise kirtan. When you chant kirtan, you must understand the meaning of what you are singing, some devotional feeling must come to your heart.
কোটি জন্ম যদি করে শ্রবণ কীর্ত্তন ।
koti janma yadi kare sravana kirtana
"If you practise hearing and chanting for millions of lives, you may still not get the Son of Nanda who dwells in Vraja."
হেন কৃষ্ণনাম যদি লয় বহুবার ।
hena krnsa-nama yadi laya bahu-bara
"If you chant this Name of Krishna so many times but still there is no love, there are no tears streaming from your eyes, then as I understand there are too many offences and the seed of Krishna's Name does not sprout."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, 8.29-30)
Only when you give up offences can you actually chant the Holy Name.
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