How do humans grow? Much like seeds, we require a specific set of circumstances and nutrients to prosper. The seed, although tiny, becomes almost fearless. It knows the secret for living, what’s required to push through layers, break the shell, and enter deep, dark soils of growth material. If the seed can follow its life design and become larger and something altogether changed, why can’t we experience the same personal growth in our own lives?
Within the seed is coded information on how to grow. We have access to our growth patterns too. However, somewhere along the way we lost touch. The seed like humans must battle many adversities – diseases, weeds, drought, floods and so on. An attentive gardener will observe that when a plant or seed is being afflicted by some impediment and not flourishing, an external agent comes to the rescue. For example, ants will come and eat the mealy bug, water to relieve drought or a companion plant to detract pests.
So it is throughout our lives we have undergone many difficulties, social indoctrinations, suffering and traumas which can have the effect of stunting our physical, mental and spiritual growth. These are referred to as anarthas or unwanted things. For example, an anartha is the wall we put up around our hearts after it was trodden on, the hatred we feel for those who have trespassed against us or the endless desires for material sense gratification. Continuing with the seed analogy, anarthas are the big weeds which suck the life out of the plant.
Like the seed we try our hardest to grow under challenging circumstances, but it is not until we receive information or help from an external agent can we then begin to thrive. In the yoga system we are handed down wisdom through shastra (sacred texts) and the great spiritual masters on how to best grow and again connect with our deeper selves. There are methods which work from the outside in to help the physical and mental body such as asana and pranayama and there are methods that work from the inside out such as mantra. The most potent form of healing and self-realisation in this age of Kali Yuga is said to be from the inside out. In other words, it has been prescribed by the yoga shastras that to help the atma (you, the self) flourish and clean away anarthas from around our hearts in this current age, we must engage in Hari Nama kirtan or the chanting of the Sacred Names of the Supreme Soul.
This kirtan burns away karmic reaction, helps free us from the bonds of conditional material life and allows us to swim again in that ocean of blissfulness. The great Chaitanya Mahaprabhu states:
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritaswadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam
Glory to the Sri-Krsna-Sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
In the Kali-Santarana Upanisad we find –
The sixteen names of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare destroy all the inauspiciousness of the age of kali. This is the conclusion of all the Vedas.
The process of hearing and chanting these sacred syllables is altogether easy and joyful to perform. We may do it in a group setting like kirtan, we can do it in private on japa mala beads or we can even listen to a recording in the car or at home. When we begin to immerse ourselves regularly in the transcendental sound we will begin to feel the cleansing and awakening effect, just like the seed breaking the hard earth and reaching for the sun, we experience the darkness gradually dissipating and the light of self-realisation begin to shine. Gradually all the hurt, the trauma and weeds, which were previously such big loads to carry, are gradually washed away and real freedom from these burdens is attained.