By Sacinandana Swami
Have you heard kirtana leaders say “Chant from the heart!”? What do they mean by this?
We have three hearts: the physical pump, the emotional heart and the spiritual heart. Whenever we want to align ourselves to the chanting of the Holy Name we refer to the third heart, the heart in which we experience spiritual feelings. For instance, when you read the Srimad-Bhagavatam or chant, have you noticed that you feel relieved? You feel as though you are above the clouds? This is a reaction in the spiritual heart.
There is a very thin threshold between the material and spiritual reality and it goes right through your heart. If you learn to cross that border, you will find yourself in the spiritual reality. Why? Because this is where you and the Lord reside; the Lord is right there in your heart with your “self”. And the moment you turn to Him, He brings you to the divine space, the spiritual reality and you experience a veiled beginning of spiritual life. These experiences are completely different from any other experiences you have had in this world.
We should chant the Holy Name from this spiritual heart, the deepest place, with everything we’ve got, begging the divine couple for service.
To help us understand this point, Srila Rupa Gosvami has written “Just as young men desire young ladies and young ladies desire young men, my dear Lord, may my mind be attracted to You.”
This prayer shows that we should take our strongest emotions and direct them towards the Lord. The strongest emotions in this world are the feelings between young men and women. When they meet and when it is not only dictated by lust, there is a feeling of “together we could do more than by being alone”. Good couples experience this. It is not a physical feeling – it comes from a much deeper place. Monks experience a similar feeling when they meet a good friend. This type of feeling is not philosophical or conceptual, it is spontaneous and real. These are the types of deep feelings we want to offer to Krishna. That is why we say “Chant with your heart!” It means: from a deeper place.
The Lord was with you before birth, He went through the birth channel with you, He accompanied and protected you during your childhood and He will be there with you when you lie on your deathbed. He always travels with you. It is a very close relationship and a devotee wants to offer the same intimacy back to Krishna by chanting with feelings from an activated spiritual heart. Some feeling must be there, my dear devotees. Feelings are those things we don’t want to speak about that drive us no matter if we acknowledge it or not – and they must be placed in Krishna’s service. Krishna is your prana-bandhu, your best friend. That is what He says in the Gita (Bhagavad-gita 5.29). The Bhagavatam (4.29.51) takes up this point of thinking of the Lord with feeling and says that someone who understands that Krishna is the best friend loses his fear of material existence and becomes a spiritual master. Being a guru means to understand that Krishna is our best friend.
Thus, it is crucial to chant with feelings, my dear devotees. Remember the words of Srila Prabhupada who said we must chant like a child crying for its mother. Then the Lord will hear us and respond. He tells Arjuna: “When a devotee comes before My deity and dances with tears in his eyes, I am purchased. I am not purchased by anyone else.”