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INTRODUCTION TO THE GLORIES OF THE HOLY NAME
All glories to Shri Gadadhara Pandit and Lord Shri Gauranga; all glories to Lord Nityananda, the life of Shrimati Jahnavadevi; all glories to Shri Advaita Acarya and Mother Sita; all glories to Shrila Shrivasa Pandit and all the devotees of Lord Chaitanya.
At Nilacala, within His sacred temple near the ocean shore, the Supreme Personality of Godhead resides in His form of wood known as Darubrahman. The Supreme Lord Hari descended to the material world in this form of Jagannatha to deliver the living entities from their eternal bondage. He grants material benedictions to those who require them and final release from all material attachments to those who are more spiritually advanced.
In this same sacred abode, the same Supreme Lord took the role of a renounced sannyasi to give His supreme blessing to humanity. Residing in Kasi Misra's home, He propagated the only dharma needed by the fallen souls of this age, and so established the real meaning of religion in Kaliyuga.
There, like a desire tree yielding unlimited treasures, surrounded by His many devotees, Lord Chaitanya distributed love of Godhead (Krishnaprema) freely to all people. Ensuring that His teachings would be correctly disseminated, He had certain associates speak on specific subjects while He Himself gave His blissful audience.
Thus He relished Shri Ramananda Raya's revelation of the confidential sweetness of the conjugal love of Shri Shri RadhaKrishna; Shri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya's explanation of actual liberation; Shri Rupa Goswami's intricate analysis of the various levels of loving exchange with the Lord; and Shrila Haridasa Thakura's glorification of the supreme efficacy and excellence of the Holy Name.
One day, after bathing in the ocean, Lord Chaitanya met Shrila Haridasa Thakura under the Siddha Bakula tree. Greatly pleased at seeing Shrila Haridasa, the Lord inquired from him the means by which the conditioned souls can most easily be delivered from sin.
Shrila Haridasa fell at the Lord's lotus feet and clasped them tightly. His entire body went into rapture, and he offered humble prayers punctuated by shivering and tears. In a choked voice Shrila Haridasa said, "My Lord, Your wonderful pastimes are unfathomable, and I am but unfortunate and illiterate. Your lotus feet are my only resort. What is the use of asking such questions of a worthless person like me?"
Shrila Haridasa continued: "You are Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has appeared in Navadvipa to save all living entities. O my Lord Gauranga, kindly shelter me in the shade of Your lotus feet, for only this will engladden my heart. Your holy name is unlimited, You are the embodiment of endless excellences, and Your exquisite beauty draws me into a shoreless ocean of joy. Your pastimes are everexpanding; You have manifested Your name, form, qualities and activities in this material world so even a fallen wretch like myself can relish them. It is impossible for one with mundane vision to perceive Your transcendental features with his limited senses, but now You are mercifully revealing Yourself for the highest benefit of humanity; this is indeed the direct display of the internal spiritual potency of the Lord.
"You are the spiritual sun and I am an insignificant spark of Your effulgence. You are my Lord and master and I am Your servitor eternally. The ambrosia emanating from Your lotus feet intoxicates all my senses. My only hope lies in the limitless nectar of Your holy name. I am fallen what can I say of my own volition? I am here just to execute Your orders. I shall be greatly satisfied to speak the words You put into my mouth and I will not consider whether they are right or wrong."
Lord Krishna and His energies
Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is beyond anyone's jurisdiction, for He alone is the master (sarvesvara) of all that exists. He completely independent, being selfwilled and selffulfilled. His unrestricted desires are effortlessly satisfied by His inconceivable internal potency that constantly associates with Him. This potency is a feature of His inherent nature and is therefore never independent of Him.
[Footnote 1 by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:]
He is known as the nondual Supreme Consciousness by dint of His free will and inconceivable potency. Empirical philosophers (jnanis) attempt to rob this nondual Divinity of His personal will and potency by postulating Him to be the impersonal Brahman. But in fact the impersonal Brahman (Krishna's consciousness minus will and potency) is only the effulgence of the Supreme non-dual Brahman.
Through the eightfold yoga system, yogis can perceive the nondual Supreme Being within their hearts as the localized Supersoul or Paramatma who pervades and witnesses all existence. But Paramatma is also just a partial appearance of Krishna. Lord Krishna alone is the Absolute Consciousness, for only He displays absolute potency, will and control. [End of footnote 1]
Krishna exists within all His energies and is thus not different from them.
The Vedas declare Lord Krishna to be the infinite, absolute Vibhu; His energies are His attributes (vaibhava). His vaibhava energies are the root of all existing phenomena: yet even in the midst of unlimited phenomena everexpanding throughout all time, Krishna remains aloof and indivisible in His original form.
The three kinds of vaibhava
Vibhu is perceivable only by the grace of His vaibhava energies, of which there are three kinds. They are, as revealed in the scriptures, the spiritual energy (cid-vaibhava), the material energy (maya or acid-vaibhava), and the marginal energy (jiva-vaibhava).
[Footnote 2 by Bhaktivinoda:]
Krishna's cid-vaibhava is a direct transformation of His citsakti, His personal internal potency. The display of cidvaibhava includes His abode, known as the Vaikunthaloka; His innumerable names like Govinda, Hari, etc.; His transcendental forms like the threefold bending form with two hands playing the flute; His divine qualities, so sublimely pleasurable to His devotees; His superexcellent pastimes like the rasa dance in Vrindavana and its corresponding appearance in Navadvipa as the the congregational chanting of the holy names. These spiritual opulences are countless.
Another feature of the citsakti is the sandhini potency by which all things exist and are held together as an interrelated whole, including the relationships of the jivas to the Lord.
Similarly, the citsakti manifests the samvit potency, which reveals knowledge of Krishna, His energies, and one's own identity.
The citsakti also generates the hladini potency, which gives rise to the ecstatic bliss of spiritual relationships, spiritual emotions and their combination in the sweet exchanges of rasa or the mellows of divine love. All of these transformations of the citsakti or Yogamaya (i.e. cidvaibhava and the sandhini, samvit and hladini saktis) are beyond material place, time and qualities, being eternally pure and full of bliss. [End of footnote 2]
The citsakti is known as Vishnupada
The citsakti is never affected by the inferior acitsakti. Even when it descends to this material world, citsakti remains untouched by the inebrieties of matter. Forever spiritual, embodying the absolute nature of the Supreme Godhead, the spiritual potency is glorified in the Vedic hymns as being equal to the Lord Himself; thus it is known as Vishnupada (intimately connected with Vishnu). There is no tinge of material influence in Lord Krishna's energies: they are transcendental and exist in pure goodness (suddha-sattva).
[Footnote 3 by Bhaktivinoda]
Sattva, or goodness, is of two kinds: suddha sattva and misra-sattva (mixed goodness). Everything in the category of cid-vaibhava is suddha-sattva, or pure goodness. All sattva in the material nature is mixed, or misra-sattva.
Suddha-sattva is devoid of passion and ignorance. Birth indicates the mode of passion in action. The eternally existent spiritual essence, suddha-sattva, has never been touched by birth, which is a manifestation of passion, nor by annihilation, which occurs in the mode of ignorance.
As the Supreme Lord's separated parts and parcels, the jivas (the living entities, who are individual spirit souls) are originally suddha-sattva, but due to their contact with nescience they have come under the sway of the material modes of passion and ignorance, and hence are now in the mixed or misra-sattva category. Even demigods like Siva, though far superior in many ways to the ordinary jivas, are nevertheless captivated by the material glare due to false identification, and so fall in this category of misra-sattva.
The Supreme Lord is always in pure goodness. He descends to this material world by His inconceivable spiritual potency and is always the controller of the material nature, maya, who is ever-ready to act as His maidservant. [End of footnote 3]
All the plenary expansions of the Lord such as Govinda, Vaikunthanatha, MahaVishnu, Garbhodakasayi Vishnu and Ksirodaksayi Vishnu are in the category of absolute goodness, supreme and divine, and are known as Vishnutattva.
The Vishnu-tattva forms may reside in any place, either the spiritual abodes of Goloka, Vaikuntha, the Causal ocean, or in this material universe, yet They are always the master of maya and the supreme controller of every other living entity great or small. Their remaining unaffected by the influence of the illusory potency is evidence of their inconceivable spiritual position.
Brahma, Siva and the other demigods are misra-sattva, being influenced by maya. The Vishnutattva forms, Their abobes, Their pastimes, and all else in the spiritual sky exist in pure goodness.
A river called Viraja separates the material universe from the spiritual abode. Everything in the fourteen material planetary systems is acit-vaibhava or the temporary manifestation of matter. This place has been described in the scriptures as Devi "dhama (the abode of Durgadevi), who is the presiding deity of maya.
The material universe, including the physical bodies of the living entities, is made up of the five gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and either. Mind, intelligence and false ego are subtle material elements that comprise the psychic bodies of the living entities. The psychic bodies arise from desire. Yet the soul is always purely spiritual and distinct from his subtle body; he is by nature suddha-sattva, as are his original mind, intelligence and ego.
The seven higher planetary systems Bhur, Bhuvar, Svarga, Mahar, Jana, Tapa, and Satya or Brahma and the seven lower planetary systems such as Atala, Sutala and so on are all manifestations of maya (the illusory potency). Cid-vaibhava is the complete whole, and maya is its shadow.
Jivavaibhava consists of both liberated and conditioned souls
The jivas are originally completely spiritual, infinitesimal and endowed with a limited degree of independence. The jivas are countless in number and are in urgent need of spiritual bliss for the attainment of their perfection. In seeking that bliss, those who surrender their lives to Lord Krishna are liberated from birth and death and reside eternally in the Lord's company as His confidential associates.
On the other hand, the jiva-souls who desire self-importance and selfish pleasure become attracted by maya, who awaits them on the other side of the River Viraja. She entices them away from Lord Krishna's service and lures them into the trap of the Devi-dhama, where they are chained to bodies manufactured by material nature. Bound by the reactions of their misdeeds, they wander from birth to birth in gross and subtle forms. Sometimes they are elevated to the heavenly planets and afterwards go to hell. In this way they travel through all the eight million four hundred thousand species of life, suffering the pains of material existence.
Lord Krishna is always merciful to the jivas
The Lord is the Supreme Personality, and the jiva is His tiny part and parcel. Krishna is always concerned for the well-being of His jivaexpansions. In whatever situation the jiva may find himself, Lord Krishna is always prepared to grant the jiva his heart's desire, like a well-wisher who never forsakes his friend.
Krishna's relationship with the jiva is eternal: He uses the jiva as an instrument through whom and to whom He manifests His energies and opulences. The Lord is the controller, the jiva the controlled; the Lord is independent, the jiva dependent; the Lord is master, the jiva the beneficiary of the results of his service to the master. Pious acts are material and fruitive
The soul greedy for material sense pleasure finds even this easily available by the kindness of the master. The means to attain such gratification is the performance of auspicious activities (subhakarma) recommended in the Vedas. These are: following the duties of the varnasrama system; performing sacrifices such as the fire sacrifice (agnistoma); executing the eight-fold yoga process; offering havana or oblations; keeping vows on full-moon days; giving in charity on auspicious days and other occasions conducive to material benefit.
Although subhakarma is performed with Lord Vishnu as the presiding Deity, the performer lacks spiritual intentions. He unfortunately takes complete shelter of material considerations of object, time and place and cannot even intuit his dearth of Krishna consciousness because such ritualistic considerations thwart the mood of spiritual selfexamination and inquiry.
The results of subhakarma are material, for they merely inflame lust for more enjoyment in higher planets. Such sacrifices and their results can never satisfy the soul, the real self, because their cause is illusion. These socalled auspicious activities only avail the jiva temporary heavenly pleasures diametrically opposed to transcendental bliss.
The means of deliverance from material piety
If a person is fortunate enough to get the association of a saintly devotee and learns that he, the jiva, is an eternal servant of Lord Krishna, then he easily surmounts the great obstacle of material nature. This is very rare, being the result of a vast accumulation of piety that can never be acquired by the performance of subhakarma, which gives only insignificant results.
Empirical philosophy (jnanakanda) elevates one to the brahmajyoti
The dry empirical philosophers are more advanced than the karmis, for they understand the material existence to be a condition of suffering and so strive for liberation. The Lord is kind to them also: He has given them the jnana-kanda section of the Vedas so they can pursue impersonal knowledge of the Absolute. Their final goal is absorption into the brahmajyoti. The brahmajyoti is Krishna's blinding spiritual effulgence and is situated on the bank of the Viraja. All the demons the Supreme Lord kills also merge into Brahman, just beyond the periphery of maya. Both the empiricists and fruitive workers are nondevotees, disinclined to serve Lord Krishna. They can never relish the sweetness of Lord Krishna's service.
Piety leading to devotional service
Sukriti, or pious activity, is of three varieties: karmonmukhi or piety derived from subhakarma, jnanonmukhi or piety derived from the cultivation of knowledge, and bhakty-unmukhi or piety derived from devotional activities. The first two lead, respectively, to enjoyment of the fruits of action and to liberation. The last leads to an appreciation for saintly association. Bhaktyunmukhi is achieved by performing devotional service to the Lord unknowingly, without spiritual knowledge.
Bhakty-unmukhi is the most important kind of sukriti, for it impels the jiva to meet a pure, saintly devotee. By associating with a devotee of Krishna, the jiva's faith becomes firm. Gradually he develops a taste for chanting the holy name, becomes compassionate towards all beings, and is then firmly fixed in Krishna consciousness.
Compassionately, the Lord guides the karmi and jnani to the unknowing performance of devotional service
The Lord is an ocean of magnanimity, and the supreme controller of everyone. He is always keen to serve the conditioned souls, including the karmis and jnanis. Thinking of their welfare, He provides them the opportunity for indirect devotional service.
The karmi who follows varnasramadharma associates with saintly persons and executes his duties for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Hari. Such activities cleanse his heart and gradually destroy the desire for more fruitive work. In its place the seed of sraddha, or pure faith, is sown within his heart.
The jnani who sincerely seeks transcendental wisdom humbly enters the company of pure devotees and invokes their inherent compassion towards him. By their grace, he easily develops firm faith in the direct process of pure devotional service. In this way, by the jnani's indirect devotion to knowledge, he gets the shelter of the pure devotees.
The Lord says, 'My servant, the jiva, may succumb to the treachery of My illusory potency, but I keep his best interests in My heart. By degrees I inspire him to develop an aversion to sense enjoyment and liberation, and then grant him attraction to devotional service unto Me. I lead the jiva in his pursuit to fulfill his material desires by engaging him in the indirect devotional processes of karma and jnana, and in this way I strengthen his faith and love for Me.'
Lord Krishna is most compassionate. The indirect devotional paths are but a hint of His causeless mercy. Without His loving intervention, how could the jiva ever become purified?
The indirect processes have deteriorated badly in Kaliyuga
The Satya-yuga sages who took up the process of meditation were personally purified by Krishna and given the treasure of devotional service. In the Treta-yuga, the same spiritual success crowned those who flawlessly performed opulent sacrifices to satisfy the Lord. In the Dvapara-yuga, He granted devotion to those who adhered to the path of perfect Deity worship. With the advent of Kali-yuga, Lord Krishna saw the dreadful condition of the jivas and relinquished all hope in the processes of karma, jnana and yoga.
People in the Kali-yuga are short-lived, always harassed by disease, and are born with a weak body and mind. The observance of varnasramadharma and the cultivation of sankhya philosophy, yoga, and empiricism will not yield the strength humanity needs to redeem itself.
[Footnote 4 by Bhaktivinoda]
In Kaliyuga, the indirect devotional paths of jnana and karma are extremely narrow and hazardous. They are intended to lead one to the shrine of devotional service through either the association of saintly persons during philosophical discussions, or by the ritualistic offering to the Supreme Lord of the results of work performed without desire. In Kali-yuga both paths have become contaminated. Genuine saintly persons, now rarely seen, have been displaced by crass, commercial pseudospiritualists. Religious duties are no longer performed for purifying the consciousness but for enjoyment of the material results of the rituals. Therefore these secondary paths are no longer beneficial. Even the process of Deity worship that gave the highest spiritual success in Dvaparayuga has become impure and degraded. [End of footnote 4]
The prime process - chanting the holy name
The Lord, considering the jivas' welfare, descended in Kali-yuga along with His holy name to propagate the yugadharma (the religion of the age). By taking up the yugadharma the jiva attains love of Krishna: he has only to remember the Supreme Lord's name (namasmarana or japa) and chant the Lord's name congregationally (namasankirtan).
The holy name is both the means and the end
The only method or means (sadhana) in this age is the holy name of the Lord. The only goal (sadhya) to be attained in this age is Krishnaprema. Even in the stage of perfection, the name is not given up but is chanted all the more, for it is intrinsic to the activities of prema. Indeed, the name is not different from the Lord: it is the very embodiment of prema. If the means is the end, then the end and the means never contradict one another. If process is identical to the objective, then it is easy for the jivas to attain the desired goal of life, Krishnaprema. By the mercy of His holy name, Krishna easily delivers the jivas in the age of Kali.
[Footnote 5 by Bhaktivinoda]
In karma and jnana, the sadhana and sadhya are in conflict. The only real goal or sadhya of the Vedas is to attain the mercy of the Lord. As one approaches the goal via the paths of karma and jnana, they vanish, being impermanent. But namasadhya already exists in nama-sadhana, for the Lord is forever identical to His holy name. This truth is known only by great good fortune. [End of footnote 5]
Shrila Haridasa, the incarnation of Lord Brahma, fell at the Lord's lotus feet with tears cascading from his eyes. His body heaving with sighs, Haridasa declared, "I am extremely fallen and am much engrossed in material life. Being the rascal I am, I never chanted Your holy name."
Only those persons who appreciate Lord Hari, His devotees, and devotional service can take this Harinama Cintamani to heart.