If Shravanam and Kirtanam is the heart of Vaishnava Bhajana, Smaranam is the Nerve Centre of Bhajana. There are two aspects in Bhajana namely external and internal. The body and the senses of a living entity are continually being bombarded with impressions from sense objects which makes the living entity susceptible to infirmity. This infirmity leads the living entity far away from Prayojana or the final objective. Shravanam and Kirtanam are extremely important to balance the external dissipation of the life force and focus it on the Lord and His glories. This is the first step in Bhajana Kriya. Without first aligning the life-forces towards a lofty objective, the journey is not even considered to have begun. Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to the world 530 years ago to present the two aspects of Bhajana. He universally distributed the external aspects of Bhajana so that one is on a firm ground before one progresses to the next level of Bhajana which is internal , which is inward focused and that which involves bringing into force the internal faculties of mind and chitta aimed at attaining the Prayojana or the final objective of Prema.
Smaranam is the 2nd aspect of Bhajana and without being able to centre our minds towards the Lord’s eternal pastimes, the form of the Lord and the variegated qualities of the Lord , it is impossible to attain the final objective. Smaranam consummates the entire process of Bhajana and becomes the sole aspect of Bhajana through which perfection is attained. Although Shravanam and Kirtanam remain an integral part of Bhajana, unless these aspects flow into Smaranam, perfection in Bhajana can never be attained. Smaranam is endured when the living entity develops intimacy towards the “Vishaya” or the cherished objective who is the Lord. When mental affinity is sufficiently developed Smaranam becomes natural. Concentration and Meditation are the major two limbs of the Smaranam process. When the sadhaka concentrates on eternal aspects of the Lord, he enters into a domain which is untouched by material nature. Concentrated fixation of the mind on transcendental objects then automatically results in meditation or identification with the object of concentration as a result of which the sadhaka develops extreme attachment or affinity towards the Lord. One should try to attach one’s mind by practising concentration on the following eternal items as a part of one’s Bhajana. They are
- The feet and hand symbols of eternal residents of Goloka and Nabadwipa Dhama
- The 8 fold pastimes of the Lord in Goloka
- The spiritual qualities of the Lord of Goloka
- The detailed paraphernalia of the Lord including attire and accessories
- The transactional pastimes of the Lord with his devotees
One attains perfection in concentration on the above objects as one practises these during one’s Bhajana as well as remembering them casually multiple times during the course of the day or as one is involved with other mundane activities as well. When one develops intensity and regularity in concentration, the deep rooted anarthas of the sadhaka get destroyed gradually. One will be able to assess one’s freedom from anarthas to the extent to which the sadhaka has attachment for the Smaranam process and the ease with which these transcendental items are being brought to the front in the field of consciousness of the sadhaka. Sustained practice through concentration Smaranam will then gradually qualify to the next aspect of Smaranam which is meditation. As anartha nivritti is affected by Concentration on transcendental objects, meditation simply follows. During meditation the sadhaka will be able to transcend the sleep and waking state and go into a deep tunnel within his consciousness domain, where he will be able to experience an unbroken milieu of the Lord’s presence. It is this depth in meditation that will then open up the floodgates of Nitya-Leela or access to the eternal pastimes of the Lord, beyond the shield of anarthas and mundane experience.