When you read the instructions from our acharyas, notice when the words “hearing and chanting” is used together. Often those two verbs go together. I just did a quick search in the “Art of Sadhana” by Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja:
…such devotion (characterized by activities such as hearing and chanting about Krishna) must be causeless;
…But the best of all yogis is one who practices devotional acts like hearing and chanting.
…Only the process of devotional service consisting of hearing and chanting as given by the spiritual master can destroy these Mesas.
…The jiva then takes the role of a gardener, plants the seed of faith in the heart and waters it with the acts of hearing and chanting.
…Taking shelter of Me, they engage in constantly hearing and chanting about Me.(Srimad Bhagavatam 3.25.23)
…One who engages in hearing and chanting without taking shelter of Lord Gaurasundara Mahaprabhu may do so for many lifetimes without achieving the treasure of love for Krishna.
… Always think of Me, worship Me by engaging in the devotional services of hearing and chanting.. (Bhagavad-gita 18.65)
…Raganuga bhakti is practiced both externally and internally. In the external body, the practitioner en gages in hearing and chanting; in his mind, however, he meditates on his spiritual body and serves Krishna in Vrindavan, day and night. (Chaitanya Charitamrta 2.22.156-7, 159)
This is just the result from one book. Hearing and chanting is mentioned eight times in one book. Three of those quotes comes directly from verses in the sastras.
Hearing and chanting comes in pair. They are dependant on each other. But how?
We all know the importance of chanting. It’s our primary duty – but hearing. Of course, we also know the importance of harikatha. But the hearing needs to enter our hearts. It does so by chanting. The chanting cleanses our hearts so that hearing becomes more efficient. In this regards this excellent article from harmonist.us really ascertain the importance of hearing: Hearing and reflection. (Please read it, it’s excellent!)
For a couple of years now I have not been able to read. Not getting sleep seriously damage your cognitive abilities and therefore I haven’t been able to read anything more than lightweight articles and such. Books have been far beyond my capability. It still is, but something is changing in me because I now chant. The chanting have made me curious about studying (hearing), so I’m approaching the sastra differently. By studying small bits and focus on how things are connected, my reading doesn’t need concentration. Instead it activates my investigative interest.
Which connects back to doing our japa – however badly. If we just perservere, japa will give us the enthusiasm to go further. Hearing and chanting goes hand in hand. If it doesn’t, just chant and hearing will come.