Chanting is the Foundation of a Worthwhile Life
Chanting is the foundation of a worthwhile life. It is the foundation of true success. Nothing in this world or the next can be had without work. One cannot work without energy and enthusiasm. Chanting, when properly done (without the ten offenses), generates such enthusiasm, courage, and energy. Therefore it forms the foundation from which a skyscraper of life is built.
There are numerous examples in our scriptures which corroborate this fact. One of the foremost devotees is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. Once known as Kedarnath Datta, He was a brilliant author and administrator. As a young householder, while considering the means for his livelihood, he stayed away from business due to his high moral character. In his later years, he became a deputy magistrate for the British government. This was a job in which he excelled.
Here is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's typical daily schedule:
7:30-8:00 PM – take rest.
10:00 PM – rise, light oil lamp, write.
4:00 AM – take rest.
4:30 – rise, wash hands and face, chant 'Hare Krsna Mahamantra Japa'.
7:00 – write letters.
7:30 – read.
8:30 – receive guests, or continue to read.
9:30-9:45 – take rest.
9:45 – morning bath, breakfast of half-quart milk, couple of 'chapattis', some fruits.
9:55 – go to court in carriage.
He would wear coat and pants to court, with double-size Tulasi neck beads, and Vaishnava Tilaka. He was very strong in his decisions; he would decide immediately. He did not allow any humbug in his court; no upstart could stand before him. He would shave his head monthly. He never allowed harmonium in his 'sankirtan', considering it a distraction from the sound of the 'Nama Prabhu'.
He never had any debts.
10:00 – court began.
1:00 PM – court finished. He'd come home and bathe and refresh.
2:00 PM – return to office.
5:00 PM – translate works from Sanskrit to Bengali.
Then take evening bath and meal of rice, couple of 'chapattis', half-quart (1 pint – 20 ounces, or approx half liter) of milk.
As you can see, much of his day was devoted to the Lord. The Thakur spent much of his time chanting and writing. He spoke Bengali, Sanskrit, English, Latin, Urdu, Persian and Oriya. He started writing books at age 12, and continued turning out a profuse number of volumes up until his departure from this world, publishing approximately one hundred books in Sanskrit, Bengali, Oriya, Hindi, Urdu and English in his lifetime. How could someone be so strong both in material and spiritual life? Where did he get the energy to not sleep at night? His enthusiasm for service is the answer. That enthusiasm for service was a reward for his sincere chanting. The Thakur is a great example of a devotee who is empowered by the Lord. That empowerment comes from sincerity of service to the Lord of which chanting is a form.
The Thakur was known as 'daitya-kulera prahlada' (Prahlada in the family of demons). This was because Vaisnavism was not very much respected in his family; on his mother's side, there was no respect for Vaisnavism at all. He always consulted a pocket watch, and was always accountable keeping time very punctually. The Thakur was always charitable to Brahmans, and equally befriended other castes. He never showed pride, and his amiable disposition was a characteristic feature of his life. He never accepted gifts from anyone; he even declined all honors and titles offered by the government to him on the grounds that they might stand against his holy mission of life. He was very strict in moral principles, and avoided the luxurious life; he would not even chew betel. He disliked theaters because they were frequented by 'public women'.
The Thakur chanted one billion names before he founded the Gaudiya Math, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur (his son) used the same beads as his father when he chanted one billion names. Such dedication to the Lord is shown only in a few individuals and an even smaller number of families. Bhaktivinoda Thakur is not only the paragon of devotion, but also one of the ideal husband and father. He tried his best with his wife and 10 children-showing them the path to liberation from the material world (a path chosen only by Vimala Prasad- Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur). All men should take a lesson from the Thakur and his family.