|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Hari Naam Chintamani > Chapter-III|
THE UNCLARIFIED NAME (NAMABHASA)
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.
Extending His lotuslike hands, the merciful Lord Chaitanya lifted up Shrila Haridasa and said, "My dear Haridasa, please take hold of yourself and inform Me about namabhasa. The holy name is so potent and endowed with such transcendental qualities that anyone can easily achieve liberation simply by chanting. Once namabhasa is understood, one can strive to chant purely the holy name of Krishna.
Ajnana is like mist, and anartha is like clouds
"The holy name is an allpowerful, brilliant sun that disperses the darkness of maya or nescience. Clouds and mist may sometimes blanket one's vision; the sun is then not visible. Similarly, the jivas are covered over by the mist of ajnana (ignorance) and the clouds of anartha (material tendencies).
"Lord Krishna and His holy name are identical. They are an omnipotent spiritual sun that destroys the darkness of nescience. To stream mercy upon the conditioned souls the sun of the holy name has arisen on the horizon of this material world. The mist of ignorance and the clouds of anartha spread a blanket over the jiva's vision so that he is unable to see the sunlike holy name. The sun is too big for any cloud or mist to cover, but if the jiva's vision is obscured, then the sun is hidden from him.
Ignorance covers knowledge of the holy name, the Lord's position, and selfidentity
"Even after accepting the holy name, if one does not understand the name's identity and transcendental nature, a mist of ignorance is created that plunges the jiva into darkness. One who is ignorant about Lord Krishna's position becomes confused and begins to worship the demigods. Thus he is entangled in the cycle of fruitive action or karma. That person who has not realized the jiva's transcendental nature suffers from svarupa-bhrama (confusion of identity), and is in material consciousness, deluded and always in ignorance."
Shrila Haridasa Thakura exclaimed in exhilaration, "Today I am most fortunate, for from my mouth the Supreme Lord Himself, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, wants to hear about the holy name!" He then began by elaborating further on the subject of ignorance.
One who is in ignorance does not know that Lord Krishna is supreme over all. His eternal servitors are the demigods and all other jivas. He does not know that the jiva's nature is transcendental, and that the material world is an appearance of maya, the Lord's illusory energy. Anyone who understands these truths and their relationships is freed from the darkness of ignorance and can pass beyond the veil of namabhasa.
The cloud of anartha is comprised of hankering for illusory things, weakness of heart, and offenses
Hankering for things temporary and unreal, weakness of the heart and mind, and offenses are clouds of anarthas that keep the jivas in constant suffering.
Asat-trsna ('thirsting for the illusory') indicates desires for things not related to Lord Krishna. These desires are: the craving for socalled material gains in this world or in heaven, the craving for mystic powers, and the craving for impersonal liberation.
Hridaya-daurbalyam refers to propensities of the heart and mind (viz. material attachment, deceit, enviousness of another's advancement, and desire for name, fame and glory) that arise from a condition of spiritual weakness.
Aparadha means offenses; these may be offenses to the holy name (namaaparadha), to Krishna's service (sevaaparadha), to Krishna's devotees (vaishnavaaparadha), or to other living entities (jivaaparadha).
These clouds hide the sun of the holy name. If one chants the holy name while maintaining these anarthas, the chanting can at best be only the unclarified name (namabhasa). The holy name is always perfect in itself, but namabhasa obfuscates the jiva's vision of it.
Namabhasa is counteracted by sambandhatattva
As long as the jiva is not firmly established in the knowledge of sambandha-tattva or the correct understanding of the relationship between God, His energies, and the jiva, he will continue to chant in the namabhasa stage. When the serious chanter takes full shelter of a bonafide spiritual master, he learns how to expertly perform devotional service and thus disperse the mist and clouds in his heart. Once the cloud and mist are removed, the sun of the holy name shines brilliantly once more and bestows the devotee with love of Godhead.
Sambandha as relationship, abhideya as indication, prayojana as necessity
The bonafide spiritual master gives the disciple sambandha-jnana. The chanting of the holy name is the indication (abhideya) of this eternal relationship (sambandha). The spiritual master enthuses the disciple to take up abhideya or chanting. The sun of the holy name then shines stronger and evaporates the mist and clouds. Chanting at this stage becomes an indispensable need (prayojana). Prayojana leads the devotee to pure love of Godhead, at which point he experiences ecstasy in every moment of chanting. The spiritual master must exactingly explain sambandha-jnana to the disciple, who in turn must receive it with proper faith. The quintessence of this knowledge is that Lord Krishna is eternally the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the jiva is His eternal servitor, and the jiva's loving relationship with Krishna is likewise eternal as an inherent trait of his nature.
In contact with material nature, the jiva forgets his eternal relationship with the Lord and loiters aimlessly in this world of illusion searching for bliss. The material world is a veritable prison house where the jiva is penalized for turning his back on Krishna. It consists of the fourteen planetary systems which together are known as the Devidhama. These planetary systems are the cells within the prison where the recalcitrant jivas are confined. Devidhama is not a place for experiencing happiness and bliss. The material socalled pleasures offered to the jivas here are only temporary, and as such are the cause of further suffering. As is the plan of any penal system, the jivas are gradually reformed through this punitive arrangement.
By the mercy of a Vaishnava devotee of the Lord, an imprisoned jiva may accept the holy name and the attendant sambandha-jnana and finally ascend to pure love of Godhead. Such a fortunate soul will consider even sayujya-mukti or impersonal liberation to be reprehensible. But until he is solidly grounded on the sambandha-jnana understanding, his chanting will be polluted by anarthas. This is namabhasa. In this stage, the jiva cannot chant the pure name of Krishna.
The result of namabhasa chanting
However, the value of the namabhasa stage of chanting is not to be underestimated, for it avails many positive benefits to the jiva and increases his piety. Verily, namabhasa prooves to be one of the jiva's greatest benefits. It offers him more good fortune than all religiosity, vows, yoga, or sacrifices can offer together.
In namabhasa, all sins are absolved, liberating the jiva from the effects of Kaliyuga. The namabhasa chanter becomes a wellwishing servitor of the fallen souls because he frees others as well as himself from the disease of material consciousness. Fear and distress are subdued, allowing the chanter to enjoy security and equanimity. The miseries inflicted by demons, ghosts, hobgoblins, evil spirits and malefic planetary influences are easily averted. Even if the chanter is destined for the hellish planets he will attain liberation, because prarabdha-karma (sinful reactions of previous lives' activities that are taking effect now) is countered.
Namabhasa is greater than the result of studying all the Vedas, of visiting every pilgrimage place, or of performing every possible altruistic and pious work. The four goals offered in Vedas - religiosity, wealth, sense enjoyment and liberation are made freely available by namabhasa chanting. It is endowed with unimaginable power to reclaim any living entity. It bestows unlimited joy and elevates even the derelicts to a very exalted stage of realization. Namabhasa offers eternal residence in the spiritual abode of Vaikuntha, especially in Kaliyuga. This is the declaration of scripture.
Namabhasa has four attitudes: sanketa, parihasa, stobha and hela
The four attitudes in namabhasa chanting are sanketa (unintentionally or coincidentally), parihasa (in jest or ridicule), stobha (derisively) and hela (with disregard and neglect).
Sanketa is of two kinds: 1) when one, though intending to chant Lord Vishnu's name, has a material conception of it, and 2) when one has something entirely different than the Lord or His name on his mind, but chants the holy name being somehow or other reminded of that transcendental sound. The yavanas eat cows, yet in spite of this they can attain liberation by uttering 'haram', an ordinary word of their language (Urdu). Because sanketa is the least offensive attitude of namabhasa, the power of the holy name is largely undiminished when chanted in that way.
Chanting in jest - parihasa, like Jarasandha results in liberation, as does chanting derisively (stobha, like Sisupal). Even chanting inattentively and with disregard (hela) results in deliverance from the pangs of material existence. Namabhasa chanting can purify anyone. People of low upbringing like mlecchas, gross materialists, and lazy persons can all avail of this opportunity to obtain liberation.
The difference between sraddhanamabhasa and namabhasa
Faithful chanting that is yet afflicted by anarthas is known as sraddhanamabhasa. The element of sraddha (faith) is absent in the four attitudes of namabhasa chanting; even sanketa chanting is tinged with neglect. Nontheless, the lowest attitude of namabhasa (hela) gives one liberation, what to speak of faithful chanting. Chanting with faith establishes one on the platform of sambandha-jnana, which results in rati or attraction for the holy name. Sraddhanama actually clears away anarthas very easily and quickly.
Anarthafree namabhasa chanting becomes suddhanama, which gives Krishnaprema Short of Krishnaprema, every other success is available in namabhasa. When anarthas are nullified, then namabhasa is converted to nama or suddhanama, the pure name. By pure chanting and by following the rules of sadhana as instructed by guru, sadhu and sastra, one slowly but surely acquires Krishna prema - love of Godhead. But namabhasa chanting can never give Krishnaprema.
That soul is indeed fortunate who has freed himself from committing nama aparadha in the namabhasa stage. The offenseless stage of namabhasa is far superior to karma and jnana, for it nurtures the seed of faith that sprouts rati or attraction. This attraction leads the chanter to suddhanama and finally to prema.
[Footnote 1 by Bhaktivinoda]
The scriptures are filled with words like 'namabhasa', 'Vaishnavabhasa', 'sraddhabhasa', 'rati- abhasa', 'premabhasa', 'mukti-abhasa', etc. The suffix 'abhasa' has a special meaning that is applicable in many ways.
Abhasa (faint or indistinct image) is of two sorts: svarupa-abhasa and pratibimba-abhasa. Svarupaabhasa is the partial infiltration of the full brilliance. For example, on a cloudy day the light of the sun is only partially visible because the full brilliance of the sun is shaded by the clouds. Namabhasa caused by the cloudlike coverings of ignorance is called chayanamabhasa or 'the faint shadowy name.' The way to the shadowy name is opened by chayasraddhabhasa or the faint shadow of sraddha (faith).
Pratibimba-abhasa means the reflection of a distorted image of the real object, as sunlight is distorted when reflected off the surface of water. Such a distorted, broken reflection can never result in a complete perception of the original source of light.
When the rays of the holy name reflect off the heart of a Mayavadi, pratibimbanamabhasa appears, bequeathing sayujya-mukti upon the Mayavadis who chant it. Such chanting, however, will fail to generate the quintessence of chanting - Krishnaprema. Indeed, this type of namabhasa is a major namaparadha; therefore it cannot really be counted as a namabhasa at all.
Chayanamabhasa or svarupanamabhasa is the real namabhasa, and is subdivided into four categories of attitude, as previously mentioned. The scriptures, while praising namabhasa, profusely condemn pratibimba namabhasa. Chayanamabhasa is the result of chanting the holy name with anarthas born of ignorance. But the chanting of the holy name with anarthas nurtured by wicked and distorted philosophy produces pratibimbanamabhasa, and this is a major obstacle to devotional service and a grave offense.
A Vaishnavaabhasa person, though not honored as a genuine Vaishnava, should still be given the respect due a neophyte devotee as long as he is not contaminated by the Mayavadi philosophy. Such a person can easily become elevated by contact with saintly personalities. The elevated Vaishnavas consider such neophytes to be innocent and so shower mercy on them. They must not be ignored and avoided like the agnostic Mayavadis. The pure devotees will resuscitate the small spark of devotion in the neophytes, encourage their propensity to worship the Deity and progressively give them sambandha-jnana and establish them in devotional service of the Supreme Lord and His devotees. But if a neophyte exhibits a strong inclination to incorrigible Mayavadi attitudes, then he must be avoided. [End of footnote 1]
When such a person sees pure firm faith in others, he is impressed, and dim faith is invoked in him by good association. Desiring elevation, he may chant constantly, but because he nurtures strong attachments to sense pleasure and liberation, his sraddha is not real it merely appears to be sraddha. This is defined in the scriptures as pratibimba-sraddha-abhasa. Hence, pratibimba-sraddha-abhasa results in pratibimba-namabhasa. If this sort of namabhasa becomes further aberrated by Mayavadi philosophy, the chanter thinks that the perfect and transcendental name of the Lord is mundane and imperfect, and requires to be perfected by impersonal knowledge. This offense obliterates whatever little bit of genuine sraddha he may have had.
The difference between chaya and pratibimba namabhasa
Chaya-namabhasa is symptomatic of ignorance and weakness of the heart. Many anarthas may plague the devotee in this condition, but all these faults are rectified by continuous chanting of the Lord's holy name. But pratibimba-namabhasa chanting increases one's offenses.
According to the Mayavadis, Lord Krishna's name, form, qualities and pastimes are all illusory, false, temporary and contaminated. They mistake prema or pure love of Godhead for sentimentalism. Mayavadi philosophy characteristically contradicts the devotional path of bhakti at every turn. Therefore, Mayavadis are the greatest offenders.
The Mayavadi's chanting is not real chanting. The syllables of the Lord's name may emanate from his mouth, but the vibration is bereft of the potency of the Lord. His chanting is filled with yearnings for sense pleasure and liberation, and all the while he thinks the Lord's name is material. Because he tries to cheat, his chanting results in unrelenting misery.
How does the Mayavadi redeem himself?
If by some good fortune the Mayavadi relinquishes the desire for sense gratification and liberation and, thinking himself a servant of Krishna, begins to chant, he becomes exonerated from his offenses and philosophical aberrations. He then takes shelter of the holy name and repents. This opens the way to again hear from and associate with the pure devotees. Thus his chanting leads him to comprehend sambandha-jnana. If he chants while continuously shedding tears of contrition, he can invoke the mercy of the holy name.
The Mayavadi's offense is he sees bhakti as material
The Mayavadi considers both the transcendental form of Lord Krishna and the jiva's constitutional position as the Lord's eternal servitor to be transient and imaginary. This Mayavadi philosophy is a grievous namaparadha. Namabhasa is truly a wish fulfilling tree, for it even offers to the Mayavadis the sayujya liberation so desired by them. Because the name is omnipotent, it offers mukti-abhasa or seeming liberation in the pratibimbanamabhasa stage. Amongst the five types of liberation, sayujya (becoming one with God) is considered abhasa, or merely the hint of liberation. Material suffering is indeed terminated in sayujya, but certain spiritual doom follows.
The Mayavadis, captivated by maya, find sayujya pleasurable; but it is only a mere hint of actual happiness. They forever forfeit transcendental existence, knowledge, happiness and devotional service, because sayujyamukti obfuscates remembrance of Krishna. Where is the question of eternal bliss when the eternality of bhakti and prema is doubted?
If the chaya-namabhasa chanter refrains from Mayavadi contamination, he gradually attains suddhanama
If the chaya-namabhasa chanter is not contaminated by atheistic concepts, then he has a good chance. He is ignorant about the potency of the holy name, but it is the inherent nature of the name to impregnate that knowledge into the chanter. For example, the sun may not be visible when the sky is cloudy, but once the clouds are dispersed, the sun shines through in full glory. The disperal of the clouds of anartha and ignorace is greatly assisted by the powerful influence of a bonafide spiritual master, and in a short time the chanter is able to attain the pure name and Krishnaprema.
A devotee must not associate with Mayavadis
Concluding his explanation of namabhasa, Haridasa said, "The devotee must diligently avoid the association of Mayavadis and serve Vaishnavas who are attached to the pure holy name. O Lord Chaitanya, this is Your injunction and whoever follows it is very fortunate. Those who disregard and disobey this instruction are wretches who will suffer for a hundred million births. My Lord, please rescue me from bad association and keep me at Your lotus feet, for I can see no other alternative to your lotus feet."
One who takes shelter at the feet of Shrila Haridasa Thakura will incessantly chant the holy name and find real satisfaction in life.