Srila Prabhupada Chanting Japa

Yesterday I was in the temple kitchen. Mother Jagannatha was watching a Prabhupada video on M. Kaulini’s iPod. The video stopped me dead in my tracks.

The footage was simple. Srila Prabhupada pacing in and out of his blue room in Los Angeles, chanting japa. He was focused, grave and audible.

No one would dare interrupt this chanting. And if someone did, Prabhupada’s response would not be, “No, no, it’s okay, I was just chanting japa.”

Once, while in Vrindavan, I sat in a class given by Kadamba Kanana Goswami. The point Maharaja was driving home, which amazingly, is one of the few things I remember from the past ten years of trying to be a devotee, was that devotees need to focus on better japa. So many of us pray, “Oh Krishna, please remove this obstacle from my life, please take away this or that bad quality.”

Maharaja was saying how if we simply take to the process of seriously trying to chant our japa without committing offenses to the Holy Name, all these other things will take care of themselves.

Watching the footage of Prabhupada chanting was like passing by a fatal accident, catching a glimpse of the gore in the rear view mirror. Prabhupada is the mirror. What I saw was my own suffering at the hands of my self-inflicted violence: offensive, inattentive japa.

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