Sankirtan, melting the heart

Manidhara Das
30 Apr 2018

Those who are the exceptional recipients of Lord Caitanya’s mercy can experience, while trying to induce conditioned souls to accept Srila Prabhupada’s books, a change of heart. A very wonderful change of heart indeed. Even a very new devotee, once putting his own egoism aside, can experience this unique emotion instantly. To break through the heavy fortified heart of the conditioned soul, (Srila Prabhupada quotes often, describing the conditioned souls as having a "steel framed heart") a devotee has to become truly humble.

Humble doesn’t mean an artificial display of prayer as so often shown in religious institutions. Real humility corresponds to realized knowledge and to a situation where one is rightly placed in a position of active book distributor. After all, a sankirtan devotee is trying the impossible. He has to:


Instantly engages THE SENSES of the either completely tamasic or completely rajasic covered soul. Proportionally to their conditioned souls are either engaged in lunacy-generated dreams or constant active spirit, driving them to new levels of sense gratification. And so a devotee, seemingly engaged in the same passion, has to STOP the conditioned soul on her path to hell.


Next step is to engage THE MIND of the "customer". For this a sankirtan devotee will use sound and pantomime of any kind required. (Srila Prabhupada gave the formula: "My dear sir, you are so great, you are so learned, you are so powerful… why don’t you for a moment only put aside your wonderful assets and accept the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu?") Constantly praying to the Supersoul Who dwells also in the heart of the conditioned soul, the sankirtan devotee is along with intense eye contact introducing Srila Prabhupada’s book.


THE INTELLIGENCE of the conditioned soul will instantly work against this plan. The karmi will try to find a way out of this intense situation, After all he tried to forget God for so many life times and here He comes again in form of Srila Prabhupada’s books! But the sankirtan devotee is ready. With sweet smile he will charm the senses, engage the mind and overcome the trickery of the intelligence of the victimized soul and…


… face the biggest enemy: THE FALSE EGO. In order to do so he has to be free of the dictate of his own false ego and totally dedicated to the mission of his spiritual master. Alas, how powerful the false ego is! Blocking the way into the heart of the soul, it’s always bringing about new reasons not to surrender to God. But the sankirtan devotee goes UNDER it. Assuming the size of needle, while constantly paying dandavats to the Lord, he leave the false ego of the conditioned soul behind and finally plants the bhakti lata bhija, the seed of bhakti into the polluted heart of his "customer".

And how enlivened the conditioned soul can be! We saw karmis laughing in uncontrolled way, bursting in ecstasy in presence of a sankirtan devotee … only to wonder few minutes later, when he left, what they have done. With their senses, mind, intelligence and false ego baffled, they realized that it might have been first time in millions of life times they engaged themselves in devotional service. What a shock! What an embarrassment for their pride driven concepts of themselves!

All what is described in the four points above is a matter of a second. A book is distributed in first seconds after making contact to the conditioned soul. The rest is just an additional dialog needed to "close down the deal". So mystical is sankirtan for those who still suffer from their own conditioning, believing more into the power of their minds and their "intellectuality".

It cannot be therefore understood by academically driven devotees or by those who suffer from gross sensual and mental conditioning. But there is hope for everybody. Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada are more as eager to bless the conditioned souls and so to become part of Their plan enables one to overcome one’s own conditioning. There is so much mercy to be collected and there is so much mercy to be distributed.

And so a sankirtan devotee while entering the heart of the heavily fortified conditioned soul may experience the sweetness of purification of his own heart. After so many life times being spent in the harsh environment in this world of cheaters and cheated, consumers and consumed ones, hunters and hunted ones, abusers and abused ones, one finally manages to open ones heart entirely, allowing the spiritual power emanating from guru parampara to float through it. To experience the ecstasy of becoming a tool in Krsna’s hands is unique, an open secret for all those who try to practice Krsna consciousness without surrender of one’s self-afflicted designations and concepts.

Once this truly compassionate attitude can be maintained, the sankirtan devotee becomes unstoppable. Yesterday I met a lady in the final years of her life. For a brief moment my ever present false ego faded and she looked at me with tears in her eyes. Opening her purse she showed me how little money she has left for the rest of the month. (So much for the welfare state called Sweden:-) . It was visible that this woman never did any intentional harm to anybody. She said desperately: “I can see that you spent your whole life to help others. But I can give you only this much!” I smiled at her and gave her the book which she considered highly underpaid. We parted and even not one single word was exchanged in philosophical sense, we did meet on certain level as she could understand my motivation and I could understand hers.

Such moments of sweetness are not always easy to experience as the false ego is raging on both sides, in the heart of the devotee and in the heart of the materialist he meets.

And so the war is on, the war of false egos, the fight for supremacy in this world. Devotee takes no part in it as he fully depends on the instruction of his spiritual master. That makes him transcendental and not his academic merit or the ability to execute mental and physical power. Everything comes from Krsna. Once this is understood in its final consequence, sankirtan becomes easy. For those who still identify themselves with artificially assumed material and spiritual designations sankirtan book distribution remains a mystery.