(Srila Prabhupada chanting japa)
by Prema Bhakti dasa
I served in the US Navy from 73 to 78, most of it on board the USS Lawrence DDG-4, a guided missile destroyer, home-ported out of Norfolk, Virginia.
My role in the service was as a Second Class Petty Officer Fire Control Technician (Missiles), or FTM2 for short, which means I maintained and operated the AN/SPG-51C Missile Guidance Radar System associated with the TARTAR missiles (short range Air-to-Air / Air-to-Surface).
As a part of my military duties, I had to stand 4-hour security watches at all times of the day or night, in port or underway. This duty involved roving all over the ship making sure that no security violations occured, that everything that should be locked was locked etc.
Even though it meant losing sleep, I especially appreciated the midwatch (00 - 04 AM) as I could chant my japa rounds peacefully and quietly everywhere I went onboard. Most of the crew would be asleep at that time, and I would wander from corridor to corridor, compartment to compartment, deck to deck, softly chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra on my beads.
As time progressed, I was able to gradually increase the number of rounds by 1 every month, so that by the time I left the service I was chanting 40 rounds every day! It was ECSTATIC! I always remember with bliss the sweet nectar of chanting so many rounds of japa in the military.
Now I am 53, and I have not been able to maintain this number of rounds. But I still strive to increase the number of rounds beyond the prescribed 16, because I remember how sweet the Holy Name becomes the more one chants them.
May Srila Prabhupada, the compassionate captain of our ship, steer us toward the bank of spiritual bliss by his divine instructions.
Prema Bhakti dasa Adhikari
Your servant in Niles, Michigan