A little over 500 years ago in India, the great spiritual teacher Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (also known as Gauranga because of his beautiful golden complexion), appeared in the small town of Navadwip. Both the time and place of his appearance were foretold in ancient scriptures, as were the specific reasons for it. He appeared to teach by his personal example, how a person could very quickly and easily experience the highest platform of yoga ~ love for the Supreme Person, by the sublime method of congregational mantra chanting ~ the hearing and repeating of Hari Nama, sacred sound.
Just as aspiring yogis had been doing since time immemorial, Chaitanya and his followers would sometimes chant their mantras quietly in some solitary place, but he also introduced a new element in the practice of meditation. It was called kirtan, where two or more people would get together and chant the Holy Names loudly. Oftentimes their chanting was accompanied by musical instruments and dancing, and not only did Chaitanya introduce this practice, but he also infused it with the spiritual potency of his own wonderful and unique example, and by doing this he induced an ecstatic uproar in the general population. Continue reading Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
I was recently asked a question about the importance of having a spiritual teacher. This provided a nice opportunity to explain in some detail that, yes, according to Yoga teaching it was important for a person wanting to advance in spiritual understanding to have a teacher.
In modern times however, the concept of a spiritual teacher is oftentimes unfortunately viewed with significant misgivings if not absolute dread. One of the major reasons for this kind of reticence is arrogance – not wanting to accept that someone else may know more than I do. Another reason is that many people have been put off by their knowledge or experience of charlatans of one stripe or another.
The matter of arrogance is something that each of us should try to become aware of in our own lives, and hopefully to see it as something that is undesirable. It’s not such an easy thing to do, but nevertheless we should try as much as possible to overcome our arrogance otherwise we will surely be deprived of the opportunity to gain spiritual knowledge. One aid in overcoming arrogance is to appreciate that in any field of knowledge or expertise we need a teacher who can provide us with information about that particular field. Continue reading A Question of Influence