12th offense in nama-japa

By: Mahanidhi Swami

I hope and pray that none of you, my devoted friends present here, are committing the dreaded 12th offense, which is to leave your mobile phone on in any mode; ring, vibrate, silent or sms while chanting japa. Traditionally, all vaishnavas doing nama-bhajana try to avoid the ten offenses listed in the Padma Purana. In 1900, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura introduced “inattention” as the 11th offense in chanting. Inattention has three forms: indifference or no attention; laziness, and distraction, which means attraction to other objects i.e. mobile phones.

Although mobile phone distraction can be seen as one form of inattention, I am introducing it as the 12th offense to focus on it and to impress the modern chanters. The book entitled, Nama Aparadha Ten Obstacles to Attaining God” defines an offense as something which acts against one’s spiritual success by taking the flow of one’s affection away from the Supreme Lord. We should chant japa with undivided attention (avyagra-dhiyaù) and an undivided mind and heart. But if our hearing, feeling or seeing is divided between the mobile and the Holy Name, the mobile will win and we will lose; lose our chance to chant attentively and pleasingly.

Show Krishna you care for Him, and prove to Krishna that you really want to love Him. Fully turn off your mobile, enter the spiritual world of Vraja with Radhe-Syama, and forget the synthetic world of microwaves. At least for two hours, 1/12th of our day, we should be absolutely fixed and focused on hearing, feeling, seeing and serving Sri Kåñëa’s sweet Holy Names in japa; simply Kåñëa, the beads and me. Resist, with your greatest resolve, the gnawing tendency to be attracted to the distraction called mobile.

The word mobile means movable, and that’s exactly what mobile phones do; move your mind and heart away from Krishna. A yogi of devotion, however, calms and centers his mind on Krishna’s Holy Names in japa, like a candle flame burning steadily in a windless place. From the beginning of humanity, all yogic paths have stressed sense control for success. From now on into the 21st cyber century sense control will mean “cell control”. Perfection in any yoga path will now depend on how much the practitioner can control the use of his mobile phone.

Use it sparingly, only when needed and save your time for sadhana. Don’t spoil your life, and cells, by whiling away your ever diminishing treasure called time. Our priority should be singing for the Person Syama, not playing with the plastic samsong. Although mobiles have become a mass mania, devotees should be careful that mobile phones don’t take over their lives.

Whenever one has the chance, he should take a mobile phone vacation. Try and see how many hours a day, or days during a vacation, you can live in Hari nama-bhajana WITHOUT YOUR MOBILE PHONE. Some devotees I know keep their cell phones OFF all day until 8 p.m. Then for one hour they handle their calls and messages. The rest of the day they spend in sadhana-bhakti. Indeed, they are very fortunate.

I hope some of you have become inspired by this, and will now fully turn off your mobiles during japa. I guarantee that you will get a wonderfully fulfilling experience in your Hare Krishna nama-japa by doing this. Om tat sat! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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