Practice of the Remembrance of God
Sri Swami Sivananda
I am easily attainable by that ever-steadfast Yogi who constantly remembers Me daily, not thinking of another, O Partha! (Bhagavad Gita VIII-14)
Constantly remembering the Lord throughout the life is the surest way of attaining Him. He who remembers the Lord by fits and starts, who remembers Him for six months and then leaves the practice, and again remembers Him for six months and so on, cannot attain Him.
Remembrance of the Lord at all times is known as Smarana. It is unbroken memory of the Name and form of the Lord. The mind does not think of any object of the world. It is ever engrossed in the thought of the glorious Lord alone. The mind meditates on what is heard about the glories of the Lord and His virtues and Names, and forgets even the body. It is contented in the remembrance of God, just as Dhruva and Prahlada did. Even Japa is only remembrance of God and comes under this category of Bhakti. Remembrance also includes listening to the stories pertaining to the Lord, talking of Him, teaching others about Him and meditating on His attributes constantly.
There is no particular time for practising remembrance of God. He is to be remembered at all times without any break, as long as one has one’s consciousness intact. Right from his getting up from sleep in the morning, until he is completely overpowered by sleep at night, a person is to remember God. He has no other duty in this world except the remembrance of God. The remembrance of God alone can destroy all worldly impressions. The remembrance of God alone can turn the mind away from sense-objects.
Generally, the mind runs outside, but the remembrance of God makes it introvert and does not allow it to run to particular objects of the world. The remembrance of God is a very difficult method of Sadhana. It is not possible to remember Him at all times continuously. The mind deceives the person. He may think that he is meditating on God but actually he will only be thinking about some object of the world or something to do with name and fame. The remembrance is equal to concentration or meditation. All the qualities which a Raja Yogi prescribes for the practice of meditation should be acquired by a Bhakta who wishes to practise Smarana-Bhakti. Smarana is swimming against the forceful current of the river of Maya. Smarana leads to exclusive meditation on God, as is practised in Raja Yoga.
The company of sincere devotees is an auxiliary to the remembrance of God. The service of Mahatmas and saints is yet another necessity. The mind cannot but remember divine things when it is in the company of divine people. Therefore, one should have Satsang and always live with a saint or a great Bhakta. He should not be perturbed by the censure or ridicule of the world. He should rely upon God and rest assured that He will help him in all troubles and grant final emancipation.
The remembrance of the Lord has given liberation even to those who thought of Him through hatred, just as a worm, through its hatred and fear of the wasp, meditates on it and attains the state of the latter. Haters of the Lord, like Kamsa and Sisupala, attained liberation through Vaira-Bhakti. Constant remembrance is the fruit of all the methods of Sadhana. This is the most potent method and the most difficult also.
A miser does not forget his wealth even while he is engaged in other duties. A lustful man does not forget his beloved at any time. A cow does not forget its calf even while it grazes. Even so, a worldly man, though he may be engaged in the duties of life, should practise the remembrance of God.
Prahlada practised the remembrance of God. He never forgot God at any time. He was tortured by his cruel father in all possible manner but the devoted Prahlada crossed all these troubles and attained the supreme Grace of the Lord. Prahlada was lost in the consciousness of the Lord. Such should be the ardent aspiration of all devotees. The seventh Skanda of the Bhagavata gives a beautiful description of how Prahlada practised Bhakti even amidst difficult and trying conditions.