In the Yoga tradition, ‘Viveka’ is the sanskrit word for discernment. The ability to discern between what is Real and what is unreal. When we say Real (with a capital R), essentially what comes from God, Love, Source, Truth. When we say unreal we are more so referring to that which is born from ego, illusion, and fear. For myself this tool is an essential part of my own spiritual path of Bhakti Yoga. It is a great practice of awareness and recognition of what to follow in my life and what to let go of and stay clear of. Of course, follow the Love. Follow the inner messages that come from Source. Follow the dharmic teachings of Truth that come from the great yogic saints, gurus, and masters that have walked the path before us.
On the other side of the coin we are so bombarded by fear based messages outside of ourselves. And even within ourselves… Let go. Let go. Let go. And LET GOD! When we sit in meditation it is a great skill to cultivate; to get deeply quiet and practice Viveka. We begin to intuitively feel what is arising from our head versus what is arising from our heart, our soul. As the great Paramahansa Ramakrishna said, “The mind is a terrible master but a wonderful servant.” It seems he is saying to use the mind to serve the heart. And as the South India saint Papa Ramdas said, “Forget not the central truth that God lives in your own Heart.” This is what the great path of Bhakti Yoga is all about, to know and live in the remembrance that we have a divine jewel within our hearts. Our work is to keep this jewel polished and clean and sparkly and shiny.
How do we do that? The great ones teach us to chant God’s name. The Divine Names are master keys to reveal our True Nature. As Krishna Das says, “In repeating the Divine Names what is covered within will be uncovered.” In Bhakti Yoga there are 2 main practices for chanting God’s name. The first is called Japa. Krishna says in the greatest of all yogic scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita, “Of all Yajnas I am Japa.” This implies that the greatest of all offerings we can make to Source is repeating the Divine Name. Japa is the practice of using mala beads (similar to rosary beads) and with each bead silently repeating a mantra that contains the Divine Name. For instance as I turn each bead I repeat in my mind and heart, “Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya,” or “Ram, Ram, Ram….”
The other practice for chanting Names is Kirtan. Kirtan translates as “to Praise,” to sing the praises of God through chanting His and Her names. When Kirtan is done in a group it is called Sankirtan. It is usually accompanied with different musical instruments like harmonium, cymbals, and drums. The music makes the medicine of the Divine Name sweet and digestible. Kirtan is considered a jewel of a spiritual practice because of its community feeling. I have certainly found in my life that there is nothing like spiritual community, or Sangha (in Sanskrit), to help polish the jewel of the heart and cultivate Viveka. As my dear teacher Ram Das says, “We are all just walking each other home.”
by: Govind Das
Polish the jewel of your heart with Govind Das and the rest of the Udaya Live family at Udaya Live, Yoga and Music Festival this summer in Borovets, Bulgaria!