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1 / Prathama-yama Sadhana
Bhajana at the End of Night
krishna-varnam tvishakrishnam sangopangastra-parshadam
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair bhajami kali-pavanam (1)
nijatve gaudiyan jagati parigrihya prabhur-iman
hare krishnety evam ganana-vidhina kirtayata bhoh
iti prayam shiksham carana-madhupebhyah paridishan
shaci-sunuh kim me nayana-saranim yasyati padam (2)
By the sacrifice of the congregational chanting of the holy name, I worship the deliverer of the living entities of Kali-yuga, Shri Gaurangadeva, who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His angas (bodily limbs in the form of Nityananda and Advaita Prabhu), upangas (parts of limbs like Shrivasa Pandita), astra (weapon in the form of the holy name), and parshada (associates like Svarupa Damodara, Raya Ramananda, Gadadhara, and Govinda).
When will the son of Shacimata appear within the path of my eyes? He has accepted the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, who are like bees at His lotus feet, as His personal associates. Like a father, He gave them instructions to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra counting a fixed number of rounds.
The Supreme Absolute Truth, Shri Hari, has manifested His golden form in Navadvipa to deliver the living entities of Kali-yuga. Along with His associates, He has given the treasure of love of God by introducing the chanting of the holy names of the Lord—the religious practice for the age of Kali. Congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord is an eternal activity of the living entity. All other religious activities are meant to help one attain perfection in chanting the holy names.
It is said in the Vishnu-rahasya:
yad abhyarcya harim bhaktya
krite kratu-shatair api
phalam prapnoty avikalam
kalau govinda-kirtanat (3)
Whatever fruit can be obtained in Satya-yuga by devotedly worshiping Shri Hari through the performance of hundreds of sacrifices, that same result can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by Govinda kirtana.
While chanting, other methods of atonement are prohibited. In the Brihad-vishnu Purana it is stated:
namno 'sya yavati shaktih
tavat kartum na shaknoti
patakam pataki janah (4)
Simply by once chanting the holy name of Hari, a sinful man can counteract the reactions to more sins than he is able to commit.
There is no atonement equal to chanting the holy names. Therefore, intelligent persons give up all other occupational duties mentioned in the Vedas.
In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, there is the following quote from the Vaishnava-cintamani on the superiority of kirtana:
aghacchit smaranam vishnor
kirtanan tu tato varam (5)
Remembrance of Vishnu, which destroys all sins, is attained by great efforts, but the glorification of Vishnu—just by vibrating the lips—is superior to this remembrance. (The reason being that even by namabhasa, or reflection of chanting, the bondage to the material world is cut.)
By performance of austerities, remembrance of the Lord is difficult to attain. However, simply by moving one's lips one can easily perform kirtana. Even without moving the lips one may remember the holy names. By such chanting and remembering of the holy names one can achieve all perfection. Therefore, all the shastras have established that chanting and remembering the holy names is superior to the process of arcana.
The Hari-bhakti-vilasa states:
yena janma-shataih purvam
tan mukhe hari-namani
sada tishthanti bharata (6)
O best of the Bharatas! The holy name of Hari can be always present in the mouth of only one who has perfectly worshiped Vasudeva for hundreds of previous births.
In the sixteen word Hare Krishna mantra there are eight pairs of names. Corresponding to these eight pairs, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has recited the eight shlokas of the Shikshashtaka.
The first pair of names—Hare Krishna—signifies the subduer of ignorance and the performance of nama-sankirtana with faith. The second pair—Hare Krishna—means Krishna's names are invested with all potencies. One should have attachment for bhajana by taking shelter of the holy names in the association of sadhus. Gradually by performing bhajana, anarthas (unwanted contaminations) are destroyed. As anarthas are removed, nishtha (firm faith) develops. The third pair—Krishna Krishna—indicates the company of pure devotees and becoming fixed in firm faith throughout the day and night. By the fourth pair—Hare Hare—unmotivated devotion is awakened along with a taste for nama-sankirtana.
The fifth pair—Hare Rama—represents the taste for pure service along with rememberance of the holy names as prescribed in the Shikshashtaka. In the sixth pair—Hare Rama—chanting in the beginning stage of transcendental emotion leads to material detachment and complete attachment to Krishna. The seventh pair—Rama Rama—awakens attachment for the mellow of conjugal rasa, the shelter of Radha's lotus feet, and feelings of separation. The eighth pair—Hare Hare—leads to attainment of the goal of life—loving service to Radha and Krishna following in the mood of the gopis of Vrindavana throughout the eight divisions of day and night (ashta-kala).
In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu it is said:
adau shraddha tatah sadhu-sango 'tha bhajana-kriya
tato 'nartha-nivrittih syat tato nishtha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah pradurbhave bhavet kramah (7)
Certain pious activities1, which lead to bhakti, generate faith. One then becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter, one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krishna consciousness.
While chanting at the stage of nishtha, anarthas are destroyed and one attains taste for the holy name. Then as more anarthas are destroyed, one comes to the stage of attachment. Gradually as the stage of bhava, or rati, is attained, almost all anarthas are destroyed.
In this development, if the desire for fame arises due to the company of nondevotees, it leads to kutinati (diplomacy), which then results in one's falldown. Therefore, one should carefully abandon the company of nondevotees and at the same time he should always chant the Lord's name in great ecstasy.
The Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu quotes the following verse from the Katyayana-samhita:
It is better to accept the miseries of being encaged and surrounded by burning flames than to associate with those bereft of Krishna consciousness. Such association is a very great hardship.
In the Vishnu-rahasya it is stated:
alinganam varam manye
na sangah shalya-yuktanam
One should prefer to embrace a snake, a tiger or an alligator rather than associate with persons who are worshipers of various demigods and who are impelled by material desire.
In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu it is said that even namabhasa destroys all sins and bestows liberation.
tam nirvyajam bhaja guna-nidhe pavanam pavananam
shraddha-rajyan-matir atitaram uttamah-shloka-maulim
prodyann antah-karana-kuhare hanta yan-nama-bhanor
abhaso 'pi kshapayati maha-pataka-dhvanta-rashim (10)
O reservoir of all good qualities, just worship Shri Krishna, the purifier of all purifiers, the most exalted of the personalities worshiped by choice poetry. Worship Him with a faithful, unflinching mind, without duplicity, and in a highly elevated manner. Thus worship the Lord, whose name is like the sun, for just as a slight appearance of the sun dissipates the darkness of night, so a slight appearance of the holy name of Krishna can drive away all the darkness of ignorance that arises in the heart due to greatly sinful activities performed in previous lives.
As one executes devotional practices according to the instructions of the Shikshashtaka, the pastimes of Krishna gradually manifest within his heart.
In the beginning, one should perform bhajana according to the first shloka of Shikshashtaka2 for some days. By this practice one should then become mature3 as described in the second verse.
Gradually one should concentrate on bhajana according to the third and fourth shloka.4 According to the fifth shloka one should accept his spiritual body5 (siddha-deha). After accepting siddha-deha one should begin bhajana under the shelter of the lotus feet of Shrimati Radharani and gradually make progress.
Bhajana performed according to the sixth shloka indicates almost all anarthas have disappeared6 and one therefore has the required adhikara (qualification) for attaining siddha-deha. If one thinks of his siddha-deha without achieving the adhikara his intellect gets bewildered.
One should carefully accept the sequence as given in the Shikshashtaka if he wants to attain perfection. By observing the activities of sadhus one can attain a pure intellect. On achieving siddha-deha, as one continues bhajana he can easily enjoy service throughout the day and night.
One should remember Shikshashtaka and practice smarana and kirtana accordingly, then gradually ashta-kala service will be awakened in the heart. At that time all unwanted contaminations, including religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation will appear insignificant, and one will achieve the treasure of love.
By chanting the holy name the mirror of one's heart is cleansed. As stated in the Shikshashtaka (1):
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate shri-krishna-sankirtanam (11)
Glories to the Shri Krishna sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years together. Thus the fire of conditioned life, of repeated birth and death is extinguished. This sankirtana movement is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge, it increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it helps to have a taste of the full nectar for which we are always anxious.
By performing congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, one can destroy the sinful condition of material existence, purify the unclean heart, and awaken all varieties of devotional service. The result of chanting is that one awakens his love for Krishna and tastes transcendental bliss. Ultimately, one attains the association of Krishna and engages in His devotional service, as if immersing himself in a great ocean of love.
In Rupa Gosvami's Namashtaka (7) the holy name is described as the personification of bliss and knowledge.
nama gokula-mahotsavaya te
krishna purna-vapushe namo namah (12)
O Hari-nama! O Krishna! You destroy the miseries of those who take Your shelter. For Your devotees You are very charming and delightful. Your form is the personification of knowledge and bliss, and therefore You are a festival for the residents of Gokula. I bow down again and again before You, whose form is fully spiritual like Vaikuntha.
Simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna, one can be freed from all undesirable habits. This is the meaning of awakening all good fortune and initiating the flow of love of Krishna.
Ashtanga-yoga is always full of fear. As stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.6.35):
tathatmaddha na shamyati (13)
It is true that by practicing restraint of the senses by the yoga system one can get relief from the disturbances of desire and lust, but this is not sufficient to give satisfaction to the soul, for this (satisfaction) is derived from devotional service to Mukunda, the Personality of Godhead.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.5.12) condemns karma and jnana in the following words:
naishkarmyam apy acyuta-bhava-varjitam
na shobhate jnanam alam niranjanam
kutah punah shashvad abhadram ishvare
na carpitam karma yad apy akaranam (14)
Knowledge of self-realization, even though free from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception (variegated pastimes) of the Infallible (God). What, then, is the use of fruitive activities, which are naturally painful from the very beginning and transient by nature, if they are not utilized for the devotional service of the Lord?
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.14.4) has further condemned the nondevotional path in these words:
shreyah-shritim bhaktim udasya te vibho
klishyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
tesham asau kleshala eva shishyate
nanyad yatha sthula-tushavaghatinam (15)
My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
By chanting the holy names the blazing fire of material existence is totally extinguished. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (6.2.46) it is said:
natah param karma-nibandha-krintanam
na yat punah karmasu sajjate mano
rajas-tamobhyam kalilam tato 'nyatha (16)
Therefore one who desires freedom from material bondage should adopt the process of chanting and glorifying the name, fame, form, and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, at whose feet all the holy places stand. One cannot derive the proper benefit from other methods, such as pious atonement, speculative knowledge and meditation in mystic yoga, because even after following such methods one takes to fruitive activities again, unable to control his mind, which is contaminated by the base qualities of nature, namely passion and ignorance.
It is further said in the Uttar Khanda of the Padma-Purana:
harir ity akshara-dvayam
mokshaya gamanam prati (17)
One who has uttered the name of Hari even once, easily achieves firm determination to attain liberation.
The chanting of the holy name disseminates the moon-light which blossoms the lotus of all transcendental auspiciousness. In the Prabhasa Khanda it is said:
madhura-madhuram etan mangalam mangalanam
sakridapi parigitam shraddhaya helaya va
bhrigu-vara nara-matram tarayet krishna-nama (18)
This hari-nama is the most auspicious of all auspiciousness, sweeter than the sweetest, and it is the eternal transcendental fruit of the creeper of Vedic knowledge. O best of the Bhrigus, the holy name awards liberation if chanted even once without offense, whether with faith or negligence.
The holy name is the life of all transcendental knowledge. In the Garuda Purana it is said:
yad icchasi param jnanam
jnanad yat paramam padam
kuru govinda-kirtanam (19)
O best of Kings, if you want to achieve the highest knowledge by which you may attain the supreme abode, then perform Govinda kirtana with firm faith.
The demigods give the following statement in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (3.5.40):
dhatar yad asmin bhava isha jivas
tapa-trayenabhihata na sharma
atman labhante bhagavams tavanghri-
cchayam sa-vidyam ata ashrayema (20)
O Father! O Lord! O Personality of Godhead! The living entities in the material world can never have any happiness because they are overwhelmed by the three kinds of miseries. Therefore they take shelter of the shade of Your lotus feet, which are full of knowledge, and we also thus take shelter of them.
Again in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (4.29.49) it is said:
sa vidya tan-matir yaya (21)
Our education should be such that we can become elevated to Krishna consciousness.
The transcendental knowledge through which one's consciousness is absorbed in the lotus feet of Krishna is the actual or real vidya which cuts the knots of avidya. Krishna's holy name is the life of that wife, Vidya, who fixes the mind on the lotus feet of Krishna.
Chanting of the holy names increases the ocean of bliss. The following evidence is found in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (8.3.20):
ekantino yasya na kancanartham
vanchanti ye vai bhagavat-prapannah
aty-adbhutam tac-caritam sumangalam
gayanta ananda-samudra-magnah (22)
Unalloyed devotees, who have no desire other than to serve the Lord, worship Him in full surrender and always hear and chant about His activities, which are most wonderful and auspicious. Thus they always merge in an ocean of transcendental bliss. Such devotees never ask the Lord for any benediction.
Chanting of the holy name enables one to taste full nectar at every step. In the Padma Purana this is stated as follows:
tebhyo namo 'stu bhava-vari-dhi-jirna-panka
krishneti varna-yugalam shravanena yesham
anandathur bhavati narttitaroma-vrindah (23)
The devotees are filled with bliss and their bodily hairs stand erect when they hear the name, Krishna. I bow down to the feet of those devotees, who are expert in liberating the people drowning in the material ocean.
By chanting, the heart is bathed in transcendental bliss. This is confirmed in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (12.12.48):
sankirtyamano bhagavan anantah
shrutanubhavo vyasanam hi pumsam
pravishya cittam vidhunoty ashesham
yatha tamo 'rko 'bhram ivati-vatah (24)
When people properly glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead or simply hear about His power, the Lord personally enters their hearts and cleanses away every trace of misfortune, just as the sun removes the darkness or as a powerful wind drives away the clouds.
Under the shelter of Shri Krishna's name the mirror of the heart is cleansed and the living entity gets krishna-prema very quickly.
The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful, the embodiment of transcendental mellows. In the Namashtaka (8) it is said:
tvam krishna-nama kamam sphura me rasane rasena sada (25)
O Krishna-nama! You infuse life in Narada Muni's vina, and the sweetness which flows from You is the personification of the essence of waves of nectar. Therefore I pray that You always manifest on my tongue with transcendental rasa.
According to the Namashtaka (2), the holy name is worshiped by liberated souls, as even namabhasa destroys all types of miseries.
jaya namadheya muni-vrinda-geya
tvam anadarad api manag udiritam
nikhilogra-tapa-patalim vilumpasi (26)
O Hari-nama! Great sages always glorify You. You have kindly manifest as transcendental sound to increase the attachment of people for the Lord and bestow auspiciousness. If someone utters You even with negligence, You destroy his severe material miseries. This is Your mighty power.
Therefore the Vedas describe the truth of the holy name in these words, from the g-veda:
om ity etad brahmano nedishtam nama yasmad uccaryamana
eva samsara-bhayat tarayati tasmad-ucyate tara iti (27)
om asya jananto nama cid-viviktan mahaste vishno
sumatim bhajamahe om tat sat (28)
tato 'bhut trivrid-omkaro yo 'vyakta prabhavah svarat
yat tal-lingam bhagavato brahmanah paramatmanah (29)
One who chants om, which is the closest form of Brahman, approaches Brahman. This name liberates one from the fear of the material world, therefore it is known as tarak brahma.
O Vishnu, your self-manifest name, om, is the eternal form of cognizance. Even if my knowledge about the glories of reciting this name is incomplete, still, by the practice of reciting this name I will achieve that perfect knowledge.
He who has unmanifested potencies and is fully independent, manifests the vibration omkara, which indicates Himself. Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan are the three forms He manifests.
The three letters comprising omkara—a, u, m—specifically represent the three names Hari, Krishna, and Rama respectively. The name Hari is nondifferent from Hari Himself. His eternal form, svarupa, is known as vacya, and the transcendental name of Hari is known as vacaka. These two forms, vacya and vacaka, fulfill all kinds of desires.
Therefore in the Chaitanya-bhagavat it is stated:
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare (30)
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “While counting the number, all of you chant this maha-mantra which I have given you. Everyone will achieve all perfection from this chanting. No other rules and regulations are there, except that one should always chant.”
The Naradiya Purana, as quoted in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, states:
yesham nirbandhini matih
acirad eva sarvarthah
siddhaty esham abhipsitah (31)
Those who are strongly attached to understanding the Absolute Truth, quickly attain the perfection amongst all desirable objects.
Those who chant the name of Krishna with strong attachment achieve the fruit of love of God very soon.
In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa it is said:
tulasi kashtha ghatitair manibhir japamalika
sarvakarmani sarvesham ipsitartha-phala-prada
gopucchasadrishi karya yad va sarpakritih shubha
tarjanya na sprishat sutram kampayen na vidhunayet
angushtha-parva-madhya-stham parivarttam samacaret
na sprishet vama-hastena kara-bhrashtam na karayet
bhuktau muktau tatha krishtau madhya-mayam japet sudhih (32)
Japa beads made out of tulasi or precious stones fulfill all desires. Those made in the shape of the tail of a cow or serpent offer even more auspicious results. One should not touch the mala with the second finger. Nor should one shake or swing his beads. One should change the direction of the beads on the thumb joint with the middle finger. One should never touch the beads with his left hand. Beads should not fall down from the hand. Those who are desirous of liberation, material enjoyment, or advancement of knowledge chant on the middle finger.
Rules for chanting are described in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa as follows:
manah samharanam shaucam
To be attentive, purification of the heart is required. This means keeping silence—that is, avoiding unfavorable talking. While chanting, one must affectionately remember the meaning of the mantra. Steadiness, patience, and attachment to chanting are all treasures of chanting.
Shri Gopala Guru Gosvami explains the meaning of the name in these words:
vijnapya bhagavat-tattvam cid-ghanananda-vigraham
haraty avidyam tat karyam ato harir iti smritah
harati shri-krishna-manah krishnahlada-svarupini
ato harety anenaiva shri-radha parikirtita
anandaika-sukha-svami shyamah kamala-locanah
gokulanandano nanda-nandanah krishna iryate
vaidagdhi sara-sarvasvam murti-liladhidaivatam
radhikam ramya-nityam rama ity abhidhiyate (34)
The Personality of Godhead, who has a form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, has manifested Himself in the form of His name. Because He takes away ignorance and its activities, the devotees remember Him as Hari. Shri Radha, who is the Lord's own pleasure potency, steals the mind of Krishna. She is therefore praised as Hara. The vocative form of Hara is Hare.
Shri Krishna is the eternal beloved of Radha, who is bliss personified. The beautiful dark son of Nanda, with eyes like lotus petals, is the only source of bliss for the residents of Gokula. He is therefore known as Krishna. Therefore the names Hare and Krishna mean Radha and Krishna and are full of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.
That Shri Krishna, who is the chief amongst those expert in loving affairs and the worshipable Deity of amorous pastimes, always enjoys Radha. He is therefore called Rama (Radharamana Rama).
The chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is glorification of Radha and Krishna. While continuously chanting, one should remember Their sublime pastimes.
Therefore the Brihan-naradiya Purana states:
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha (35)
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.
Give up all other religious practices and all fruitive activities, for the holy name is the only essential practice. In Kali-yuga, there is no other worthy goal.
The Bhagavat-nama-kaumudi quotes the Puranas as follows:
naktam diva ca gatabhir jita-nidra eko
nirvinna ikshitapatho mita-bhuk prashantah
yady acyute bhagavati sva-mano na sajjen-
namani tad rati karani pathed vilajjah (36)
If your mind is not fixed in rememberance of Krishna, then chant those principal names (such as Krishna and Govinda) which increase one's attachment to Him. Chant day and night without fear or shame, conquer sleep, be detached from worldly affairs, eat frugally, and in a tranquil mood always seek the path of spiritual truth.
The Shrimad Bhagavatam (6.3.22) states:
etavan eva loke 'smin
pumsam dharmah parah smritah
Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of Krishna, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society.
Remembering Krishna's pastimes: At the end of night if one remembers the kunja-bhanga-lila (when Radha and Krishna separate after pastimes in the forest groves), he then relishes the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krishna. The Govinda-lilamrita states:
ratryante trastavrinderita bahu-vira-vaibodhitau kirasari
padyair-hridhyair api sukha-shayanad-utthitau tau sakhibhih
drishtau hrishtau tadatvoditarati-lalitau kakkhatigih sashankau
radha-krishnau satrishnav api nija-nija dhamnyapta talpau smarami (38)
At the end of night, Vrinda, being afraid of the approach of day break, prompted the parrot and the myna to awaken Shri Shri Radha and Krishna from Their sleep. Although the birds sang sweetly, the songs were not pleasing, as they woke Radha and Krishna from Their sleep. The sakhis watched from a distance as the Couple awoke, looking very charming because of the deep love and affection They shared at that time. Being suspicious of the voice of the she-monkey, Kakkhati, and desirous to continue Their association, They gazed longingly at each other. Radha and Krishna then reluctantly departed for Their respective homes where They quietly lay down on Their own beds.
I worship Radha and Krishna by remembering this pastime. Remember this pastime and sing Krishna's names, then you will get the treasure of krishna-prema and Krishna's dhama.
Thus ends the Prathama-yama Sadhana of the Shri Bhajana-rahasya.