By Sacinandana Swami
Although three weeks have passed since I participated in the wonderful Sadhu Sanga Retreat in Austin, Texas, my heart is still full with the spiritual miracle I saw there. I witnessed “cases of levitation”.
The Retreat carried the distinct “signature” of that mastermind HH Indradyumna Maharaja and an impressive array of dedicated servants of the Holy Name. For 4 days devotees came together to chant all day, and hear about Krsna Consciousness. Many were older devotees, but a good number were also “first-timers”.
It was so “therapeutic” that even the deer were attracted to the kirtan and surrounded the Hall! At the end everyone was dancing in such joyful ways - it looked as if they were levitating! Seriously, that is the only way I can describe it.
We should take note that there exists a luminous path - the brahma gati pantha - which leads out of this material world and into the eternal spiritual world. This path has also been called the urdhva-pundra - the path which leads upwards. All souls in this world look for it - either consciously or unconsciously. Unfortunately, most have become sidetracked and mistake various material pursuits for this path.
This path becomes accessible once the chains binding us to this world have been unfastened. And this happens in kirtan.
In my childhood I once flew in a hot-air balloon, which is called in German language “Fesselballon” (English: chained balloon or captive balloon). I can still remember how we first had to shed the ballast (sand-bags) and remove the iron chains which held us to the ground before we could fly upwards.
What a joy and exhilaration when we lifted off the ground and levitated. There was peace and silent joy first - but then the joy spilt from the heart to the lips. I spontaneously broke out into a jubilant song. A similar experience was there in Texas (of all places). By the power of kirtan we all “levitated” from this world, leaving behind the sensual, mental and intellectual planes of existence. Srila Prabhupada wrote in the early days about this phenomenon: “There is no doubt that chanting for a while takes one immediately to the spiritual platform and one shows the first symptoms of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the mantra. We have seen this practically.”
(Science of Self-realization, page 147)
We might like to know how this works. Srila Prabhupada gives us the reason in the same essay: “By practical experience also one can perceive that by chanting this mahĂ¤-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum…. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra.i It comes automatically from the spiritual platform. So it does not happen by our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Names.
I feel light now, relieved from the burden of ordinary consciousness. The dust covering the mirror of the heart was brushed off. The chains were broken and - you know what - I still cannot stop singing.
On my way back on the airplane I heard a nectarean class given by Srila Prabhupada - and my feelings were confirmed.
“Sometimes in New Delhi I was invited to give some good lessons to the prisoners. So I have seen so many prisoners. They were shackled with iron chains. So we are also chained up here, and what is that chain? That is our sense enjoyment. Yes. We are chained to this material world by sense enjoyment. That’s all. So if we want to cut our prison life short, then the first symptom will be to minimize this sense enjoyment or to regulate the sense enjoyment.”
(Lecture, Bhagavad-gita, New York April 27, 1966)
By experiencing the higher joy of Krsna consciousness in kirtan and having one’s consciousness pacified, one easily gives up attachment to lower material pleasures. But what is even more important: One solicits the most powerful of the Lord’s energies: His krpa sakti or mercy potency.
Singing the Holy Name endears one to the Lord like no other process, to a degree whereby He becomes attracted to the chanters and (it is hard to believe) almost captivated by them. Krsna himself admitted this in a conversation with Arjuna:
“O Arjuna, those who sing My holy names and dance before Me certainly purchase Me with the price of their devotion. I declare to you, this is the truth: Those who sing My names and shed tears actually purchase me with their love.”
(Adi Purana, quoted in Ch. 11, Verses 446-7 of Hari-bhakti-vilasa)
And when one has obtained the Lord’s mercy, the chains fall off and one truly “levitates” or moves upwards into the spiritual sky. Where is the difficulty?