As an aspiring bhakti yogi, what would you say is the most important thing in your spiritual practice? Would you pick service, the association of like minded bhakti yogis, the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, prasadam, kirtan or something else?
As I was chanting the maha-mantra today, I realized how far I am from being a true bhakti yogi. The essence of bhakti yoga is to always remember the Supreme, Krishna, and to never forget Him. The prescribed method to do this, is to chant the Holy Names of the Lord.
I chant the maha-mantra everyday, but the quality of my chanting is far from desirable. My tendency is to focus on service, associating with other bhakti yogis, eating prasadam or joining in a great kirtan. But....if one seriously thinks about it, the practice of all these other spiritual activities can be deepened and more fully experienced when we become fully dependent upon the chanting of the Holy Name.
How does that happen, you ask? Because the Holy Name is non-different than Krishna. By developing our relationship with Krishna, by chanting the Holy Name in a mood of separation and longing, all our other activities become even more spiritually surcharged.
One of my spiritual mentors, HG Brhat-mrdanga prabhu, once said, "It is hypocritical to think that we are doing service if we do not chant our rounds. Chanting our rounds is our service."
I beg and pray to the Holy Name to please give me the desire to chant with more sincerity, with love and with a great desire to re-establish my eternal relationship with Him.