Sleep in Bhakti Yoga – October 6, 2018

Mahanidhi Swami

Srila Prabhupada spoke both negatively and positively about sleeping. Mostly he discouraged it by saying: “Sleeping is death—a waste of time—a great loss—maya—forgetfulness of Krishna.” We fully agree!

In Sri Bhagavad Gita (6.16), Bhagavan Sri Krishna advocates moderation: “A yogi does not eat or sleep too much or too little, na-ati-ashnatah, na-ati svapna.” So for Krishna bhakti yogis, eating and sleeping are also acts of devotion.

Although Srila Prabhupada often said we should give up all sleeping like the six Goswamis, he was also a realist who gave practical, sound advice to his followers. When speaking conservatively about sleeping, Srila Prabhupada said:

“Your [his disciples] eating and sleeping are also God consciousness. One should think, ‘I have to keep this body fit for working for Krishna’. Sleep is also necessary to keep the intelligence in working order. If there is no sleep, the brain cannot work nicely.

“So regular, six or seven hours a day is sufficient. However, sleeping should be kept to a minimum. We want to be wide awake and conscious of Krishna all the time.” (quotes from BBT FOLIO)

In pursuit of the practical, we humbly present our personal sleeping tips so that everyone will be healthy and enthusiastic in their Krishna bhakti bhajana.

  1. Two hours before sleeping time—keep the home lighting dim, not bright lights everywhere. This promotes the brain’s melatonin production which helps one to sleep quickly and soundly. Bright lighting taxes the eyes and brain making it hard to fall asleep quickly. It can also make you toss and turn restlessly until the brain slows down.
  2. Bathe & Dress in fresh clothes.
  3. Eat a light meal AT LEAST two hours before sleep.
  4. Fresh air walk 20 minutes.
  5. While sleeping, point your head EAST (promotes wisdom) or SOUTH (promotes health and disease recovery). This is VERY IMPORTANT and it may necessitate moving your bed.
  6. Hear/read some Radha-Krishna sweet lila-katha before sleeping.
  7. Bed prayer before sleeping: “O Gurudeva and Giridhari-Syama! Please forgive me for all my wrongs. If I leave my body tonight, then please I beg You to help me remember You fully at my last.”
  1. Don’t use alarm clock, bright lights, music, etc.!

Determine your sleep requirement, and rest early enough so your internal bio clock will automatically wake you at the right time. It’s actually being done by the all-merciful Paramatma Sri Krishna! Jai Sri Krishna! Gudakesa Arjuna ki jai!

  1. Before moving or opening your eyes remember Sri Krishna, Sri Guru and pray:

“O Krishna! You are so loving and kind. You have given me another day to serve and love You. Throughout this day, may I please you with my every thought, word and movement.”

  1. Keeping eyes closed; rub palms together briskly and continually while slowly inhaling and exhaling three times; now rest palms over closed eyes; take two very deep breaths. Now stretch your arms, extend your feet, and hold both knees against your chest.
  2. Open eyes, roll over on your RIGHT SIDE, slowly get up, and stand next to the bed without moving. Inhale deeply while stretching arms above head, and then slowly exhale while lowering arms.

Waking up slowly like this enables the body to adjust between rest and movement. It gives your system a chance to turn on and activate your vital human organs. To just open your eyes, jump out of bed, and run to the bathroom (emergencies excluded) is very bad for health. And for the elderly this can cause heart failure and “Hari Bol”!

We close with a blessing: “May you all have Radha Syama sweet dreams, svapna vilasa, as you remember the following transcendental nectar drops.

The Skanda Purana (Purusottama-ksetra Mahatmya) glorifies the astonishingly amazing power of ordinary acts done in Jagannatha Puri Dhama: “For those staying in Jagannatha Puri sleeping is equal to samadhi!”

As for our sweeter than sweet Thakuraji Syamasundaraji, Sri Vallabhacarya Ji says, “Syama’s singing is sweet, Syama’s drinking is sweet, Syama’s eating is sweet, Syama’s sleeping is sweet, Syama’s beauty is sweet, and Syama’s tilaka is sweet. Everything is sweet about the original King of the sweet.

gītaṁ- madhuraṁ –pītaṁ- madhuraṁ
bhuktaṁ -madhuraṁ –suptam- madhuraṁ
rūpaṁ –madhuraṁ-tilakaṁ -madhuraṁ
madhurādhi-pater- akhilaṁ- madhuraṁ

(Madhurastakam 4)

Happy, healthy Krishna bhakti yogis ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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