On July 29th, 2014, Yogamaya yoga studio in the Chelsea section of New York City, hosted Radhanath Swami as their guest speaker for the fourth anniversary as a studio. Radhanath Swami spoke to a packed house about bhakti-yoga and kirtan was led by Ananta Govinda, Acyuta Gopi, and Amala Harinam. Below is an excerpt of the talk.

Over the years when we develop communities we find any possible excuse to have festivals so that we can come together as a family.

mac-citta mad-gata-prana / bodhayantah parasparam
kathayantas ca mam nityam / tusyanti ca ramanti ca – Bhagavad-gita 10.9

This is one of the most important verses in the bhagavad-Gita. Krishna says that those who are true yogis, true devotees, they find great satisfaction coming together to chant my names, speak my glories.

This divine sound cleanses the heart, and as the heart is cleansed it allows us to see who we really are. We are sat, cit, ananda, eternal, full of knowledge and bliss.

Our spiritual practice consists of chanting gods names, associating with like minded and saintly people, and hearing these divine messages. This practice cleanses the heart just like a mirror. The mind is compared to a mirror. When a mirror is clean it reflects the person looking into the mirror. But when the mirror is covered in all kinds of dust and debris that is all we see. We can’t see ourselves. We cant se that we are all divine beings.

The world is always changing. But the true self is not affected by those things. We are meant to serve in this world through our minds and through our bodies – to make positive changes in this world for the purpose of our own enlightenment and the enlightenment of others. But if we forget our true self we get implicated, complicated and confused in so many ways to our true identity, and then we forget what we really want and just identify with that dust in our heart.  Ceto darpana marjanam  – this is the special purpose of kirtan. To clean the mirror of the mind, to make it pure.

Associating with other bhakti-yogis will help us to develop the strength of hope and faith. In school, usually we find the teacher that affected us the most was the person who appreciated what we could do. From a material prospective I wasn’t a very good student. But when I think back about my studies, my favorite teacher was not the person who gave the most profoundly comprehensive talks, but rather the person who believed in the potential of what I could do. He saw something in me that I was too distracted to recognize myself. So this teacher, he brought that quality and later, when I went to India and met my guru Srila Prabhupada, it was magnified ever that much more. He could see what I could do for the world. He could see that beyond the conflicts of this world the divine loving Lord was within me. That’s where the higher perfection is. By associating with compassionate people who are on spiritual paths, they reveal to us who we really are and what our potential is, and they show us how to follow the principles and practices by which we can access that.

Yoga is the deepest subject and the most profound of all sciences, and it has so many different levels. In principle yoga means to harmonize, to reconnect and to unite. Yoga can harmonize the body, with the mind and the atma, the soul. Bhakti-yoga can help us realize our eternal blissful identity and help the mind to be in perfect harmony with the love and compassion with the soul. Then every aspect of our life is an instrument of grace which gives such profound joy, both by experiencing the divine love of Krishna ourselves and by sharing that in whatever we do. – Radhanath Swami