Nama and the Other Sadhanas
The order in which the nine forms of devotion are described in Dasabodha is the natural order. The first of them is shravana or listening. A newborn begins to learn by audition. It speaks what and as it hears. The dumb must of necessity be deaf; they are unable to speak because they are unable to hear. A child speaks its native language because it hears it spoken by its parents and neighbours. So the first kind of devotion is listening to devotional hymns and books and discourses.
The second stage of devotion is Kirtana or speaking, and includes singing of hymns, etc. The third stage is nama-smarana, the action of chanting nama. When this becomes a habit we need undertake no effort for the remaining forms of worship, because their effect is included in it. Imagine that a person wanting to meet another living nine miles away, starts for that place; when he has walked three miles he sees the very person he had set out to meet; it is then unnecessary for him to walk further. Similarly, if one has developed a genuine liking for nama-smarana, one need not attempt the rest of the forms of worship, for they are all duly covered in nama-smarana, and the purpose is served.
Rest assured that the remembrance of God includes everything. It is like the very life, whereas all other sadhnnas such as generous acts, pilgrimages, repeated perusals of religious and devotional books, etc., are like the limbs. Limbs without life are futile. So consider nama-smarana as vital to you; for the rest, you can lead normal worldly life happily. Fail not in doing your duty, but remember the Supreme Soul always; utter the nama of Rama.
A devotee should allow only as much encumbrance or conditioning (upadhi) as is necessary, so it does not encroach on the unbroken awareness of God. Nama-smarana should be limited to what you can do with convenience and pleasure. It should not be overdone, for then it will cease to be pleasurable. The object should be to create love for nama; therefore it should be chanted with fondness, and not as a means to achieve something else; only then it will bring love. To have love for nama is a very high state of spiritual development, and is not easily attained. For this one must chant nama correctly, constantly, with perseverance. The Person who says ‘I do not understand anything except nama‘ has understood everything.
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