How Śravaṇam helps us in our Krishna Conscious journey?

How Śravaṇam helps us in our Krishna Conscious journey?

Śravaṇam means hearing and it plays a very important role in our Krishna Conscious journey. In fact, in our material life too śravaṇam plays a significant role. For example, in our schools and colleges we learnt by hearing the subjects from our teachers.

I remember, teachers asking us to hear attentively to understand the subjects thoroughly they were teaching. And in case of doubts, we raised our hands, and the teachers answered our queries.

In spiritual life too, it is through śravaṇam that we begin understanding the absolute truth. We came to know about Krishna or Rama by first hearing from our parents. And later when we met devotees of Iskcon, we heard from them in detail about Rama and Krishna. This helped us understand the necessity and urgency of practicing Krishna Consciousness. 

Now if we look through the history of mankind, we will see that all the great devotees of Lord perfected their lives by hearing the transcendental message.  In the nava vida bhakti, the first process is śravaṇam (hearing).

Now let us see how śravaṇam played an important role in the life of great devotees of the Lord.

Arjuna attentively hears from Krishna and understands the purpose of life

At the battle of Kurukshetra, when Arjuna saw that he will be fighting against his own family members, he got bewildered or we can say that he had emotional breakdown. He was so disturbed that he wanted to run away from the battlefield and retire to the forest.

It was not that Arjuna was a coward. Just before Kurukshetra war he had single-handedly almost defeated the entire Kaurava army which had warriors like Bhisma, Drona, Karna and Duryodhana. 

But Arjuna was fortunate that Krishna was there with him as his charioteer at the battlefield of Kurukshetra. In that difficult situation, he approaches Krishna for guidance. And Krishna begins giving him the great knowledge of Bhagavad Gita which completely transforms Arjuna.

In fact, the Supreme Lord Krishna says to Arjuna that if he wants to know him and understand him completely then he should try to hear (śṛṇu) what he is saying.

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Pṛthā, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” Bhagavad Gita 7.1

And towards the end of his discourse, Krishna asks Arjuna if he heard his message attentively or not? Are all his doubts cleared or not?

“O son of Pṛthā, O conqueror of wealth, have you heard this with an attentive mind? And are your ignorance and illusions now dispelled?” Bhagavad Gita 18.72

Arjuna’s all doubts cleared

Arjuna had heard with complete absorption; all his questions were answered. He now knew who he is and what should be the purpose of his life.

“Arjuna said: My dear Kṛṣṇa, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.” Bhagavad Gita 18.73

Mahārāja Parīkṣit perfected his life by hearing about the Lord for seven continuous days

Mahārāja Parīkṣit was cursed to die in seven days by a brahmana boy named, śṛṅgi. Knowing that he has only seven days to live, King Parīkṣit, immediately renounced everything material which is the cause of great bondage.

He gave up the charge of his kingdom to his son, Janamejaya, renounced his family, left the comforts of the palace and came to the bank of the Ganges.

At the bank of the Ganges, he sat down on a seat of straw facing north. He even gave up food and water. Controlling his mind and senses, he decided to fix his mind completely on the lotus feet of Lord Krishna till the time of his imminent death.  

Hearing that the great king is about to leave his body in the most auspicious way and return back to the kingdom of God, great sages and demigods assembled there. There also came the great transcendentalist Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the son of Vyasdeva.

Mahārāja Parīkṣit’s query to Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī

Seeing Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the self-realized sage, Mahārāja Parīkṣit humbly asked him what is the best way by which he can leave his material body.  The great king wanted to know what should a person who is on the verge of death should do.

King Parikshit asked, “You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die.Srimad Bhagavatam 1.19.37

Death is not the end of everything. As we are living now, after death again we are going to live but in a different body. So, it is important to know how to die so that after death when we again begin to live, we live happily.

Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī about śravaṇam

Answering the king, the revered sage said that those who want to free themselves from all material miseries and desire should first hear about the Supreme Lord at the time of death. After hearing sufficiently about the Lord one should then continuously glorify the Lord and remember him.

“O descendant of King Bharata, one who desires to be free from all miseries must hear about, glorify and also remember the Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul, the controller and the savior from all miseries.” Srimad Bhagavatam 2.1.5

So, here too, we see that Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī underlines the importance of hearing. In that transcendental assembly, Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī narrated Srimad Bhagavatam to Mahārāja Parīkṣit. The king heard the transcendental subject matter very attentively and when he had any doubt he also inquired submissively. 

Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī was the most qualified speaker in the assembly of great sages and Mahārāja Parīkṣit who had voluntarily abandoned all material attachments was the most qualified listener.  

Mahārāja Parīkṣit perfected his life by hearing about the Lord for seven continuous days. And after leaving his body he went back to the spiritual world.

Narada Muni purified and perfected his life by hearing about the absolute truth from the Bhakti Vedantist

Great sage Narada in his previous life was son of a maidservant. And before taking birth from the womb of a maidservant, he was a Gandharva living in heavenly planet. But unfortunately, he misused his position as a Gandharva, so he was cursed to become the son of a maidservant.

But to his great fortune he got an opportunity to associate with pure devotees (bhakti-vedāntas) of Krishna for four months of the rainy season.  The great Vedāntists were very merciful to him. He once took the remnants of their food after taking their, this completely burnt all his sins.

And for four months, he heard from them attractive pastimes of Krishna. By hearing from these great devotees, he developed taste for hearing (śravaṇam) about the Supreme Lord Krishna. 

Spiritual Journey of Narada

Sage Narada personally narrates his spiritual journey to his disciple, Vyāsadeva, “O Vyāsadeva, in that association and by the mercy of those great Vedāntists, I could hear them describe the attractive activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And thus listening attentively, my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead increased at every step.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.26

Sage Narada further describes how the great devotees were always absorbed in chanting the glories of Lord Hari. And he had the opportunity to constantly hear from them which helped him to rise above the lower modes of passion and ignorance.

“Thus during two seasons — the rainy season and autumn — I had the opportunity to hear these great-souled sages constantly chant the unadulterated glories of the Lord Hari. As the flow of my devotional service began, the coverings of the modes of passion and ignorance vanished.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.28

Although he was cursed to live as son of maidservant but by the association of pure devotees of Krishna, he nullified all his sins and perfected his life. In the next life he was born as the son of Brahma and came to be known as Narada.

Srila Prabhupada redefined the goal of his life after hearing from his guru

Srila Prabhupada wanted to do something good for India. Before meeting his guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, like most other Indians during 1920s, he was thinking to serve the nation by participating in political movement.

But after meeting his guru and hearing from him, he understood that reviving the spiritual culture and sharing the glorious spiritual message of India is the best way to serve Mother India.

And we all know how Srila Prabhupada has played a pivotal role in spreading Krishna Consciousness or Hare Krishna movement all over the world.

Srila Prabhupada has many times highlighted the importance of hearing (śravaṇam). In one of his initiation lectures, he says, “The most important item is śravaṇam, or hearing. If you do not do anything else, if you simply sincerely hear about God, then gradually you will be God conscious.”

By his own example, he has shown us that how hearing is important.

Once in Vrindavan, Srila Prabhupada had to make a choice between visiting the temples in Vrindavan or hearing from his spiritual master, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. He chose to hear from his guru because he thought that the best way to see Vrindavana is by hearing its glories from Krishna’s pure devotee.

Śrīla Prabhupāda says, “…..Keśava Mahārāja was informing that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta is going to Mathurā tomorrow morning and he will speak hari-kathā this evening. Anyone who wants to may remain. Or otherwise they may go to see Śeṣaśāyī Viṣṇu. So at that time I think only ten or twelve men remained – Śrīdhara Mahārāja was one of them. And I thought it wise, What can I see at this Śeṣaśāyī? Let me hear what Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī will speak. Let me hear.

Hippies heard directly from Srila Prabhupada and became happies

When Srila Prabhupada went to west in 1965 to preach the message of Krishna and Lord Chaitanya, he did not have any proper facility to preach. He did not have any monetary support or organizational background.

He would go to the park and do kirtan.  Just by hearing the holy name many young American boys and girls got attracted to Krishna. Later these young Americans would come to Srila Prabhupada and hear from him.

As they began hearing they developed taste for Krishna Consciousness and distaste for abominable activities like meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex which is against Krishna Consciousness.

They redefined the purpose of their life and understood the importance of practicing devotion to Krishna. And within few years thousands of people all over the world became serious in Krishna Consciousness and began chanting the names of Krishna and worshipping Krishna.

This all started just by hearing (śravaṇam).


So, we see that how hearing (śravaṇam) transforms a person’s life by helping him to develop taste for Krishna Consciousness.  

What happens when we hear or do śravaṇam from scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam is mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam only, “Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.7

What we hear decides our future. We know the GIGO principle – Garbage In Garbage Out or Good In Good Out. It is important that we give good input to our mind. If we are hearing materialistic talks, mundane gossips, movie songs then we will always be absorbed in mundane activities.

But if we do śravaṇam i.e hear pastimes of Krishna, devotional songs and most of the time discuss about Krishna with others then we will develop taste for Krishna Consciousness and will attain Krishna. 

Choice is ours!

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