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TO EQUATE CHANTING WITH OTHER PIOUS ACTIVITIES
(DHARMA VRATA TYAGA HUTADI)
IS THE EIGHTH OFFENSE
All glories to Lord Gaurachandra, the avatara Who delivers the holy name; all glories to the holy name, the essence of all Vedic conclusions.
Shrila Haridasa Thakur continued, "O Lord, other pious activities can never be equal to chanting the name."
The original form of the holy name
The Supreme Lord is like a transcendental sun Whose potency is unlimited, everpure and allpervading consciousness. All His endless expansions exhibit this absolute transcendental consciousness, as do His name, abode, and pastimes. Unlike forms of inert matter which are separate from their names, his direct names are not different from Him.
Descending from Goloka, having been summoned by the chanting of the pure devotee, the holy name enters that devotee's soul. The pure name then emanates out of the soul and permeates his entire body, dancing on the tip of his tongue. One who chants understanding this is actually chanting the holy name, but one who nourishes a material concept of the name is drowned in despondency and suffers eternally in hell; a devotee should never see the face of such an offender.
The scriptures declare Lord Krishna to be the only object of research for seekers of the Absolute Truth. According to their abilities, different reseachers adopted their own means to find that one goal. Thus different paths like karma, jnana and bhakti are deliniated. Those who are attached to gross materialism are recommended the path of karma for purification. For souls attracted to the illusionism of maya, the suggested path is the cultivation of monistic philosophy. But for all jivas, pure devotional service is the best and most suitable.
What is subhakarma?
Persons pursuing mundane existence take to the worship of the Supreme Lord out of fear of death. The Lord's lotus feet are the perfect shelter, free from all anxiety, and are the only means to cross over the ocean of nescience. But when the process to obtain the protection of the Lord becomes colored by material motives, then the process itself becomes mundane. Even though it is the Lord who is being worshiped, because the process of worship is mundane, the worship becomes materially pious activity or subhakarma.
Subhakarma includes: altruistic work, fire sacrifices, ablutions, charity, yoga, the practice of varnasramadharma, pilgrimages, vows, offerings to forefathers, meditation, cultivation of empirical knowledge, propitiation of demigods, penances, austerities, etc. All these activities are means to mundane objectives. But after a long period of practice of subhakarma, the performer gradually obtains the real goal of all his endeavors the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. At this juncture, he must abandon the temporary ways of subhakarma, for he now knows the genuine essence of all religious duties bhakti, devotion to the Lord.
Subhakarma is indeed a viable path for conditioned souls to attain the ultimate goal, i.e. love of Godhead. Yet one fact must be clearly stated reaching perfection through subhakarma is a timeconsuming affair. The ultimate objective is Krishna-prema, which is fully spiritual, but on the subhakarma path, the means to attain it is mundane. Thus there is a gulf of difference between the means and the objective.
[Footnote 1 by Bhaktivinoda]
The evolution of the jiva from mundane religiousity to Krishna consciousness is the master plan of Providence, which impels the jiva to aspire for perfection. The conditioned souls cannot exist without contacting matter. All their thoughts and activities are intimately woven into the fabric of materialism. Pious activities (subhakarma) provide a means for the jiva to approach pure devotion through skillful efforts of material contact. Simultaneously, this contact with matter gives rise to discontent and suffering. Therefore, to achieve the bliss of Krishna consciousness, in the end the jiva must give up subhakarma. [End of footnote 1]
Chanting the holy name is not subhakarma
Out of His causeless compassion, the Supreme Lord incarnated as the holy name, making Himself immediately available to the jivas; thus the holy name is accepted by the intelligent and righteous jivas as their only means of perfection. The scriptures recommend chanting the Lord's name as the most effective process of obtaining the supreme goal, but some persons understand this to mean that chanting is one of many subhakarmas. This misconception is similar to Lord Vishnu being seen as just another demigod like Siva or Brahma.
The holy name is fully spiritual and transcendental to material nature. It is untainted by matter. Though the jiva is likewise spiritual, he thinks himself material due to gross ignorance. Consequently, he thinks that everything, including the holy name of the Lord, is also material. Thus the chanting of Lord Krishna's holy name came to be categorized as subhakarma, and the jivas with Mayavadi leanings are convinced that this is right and proper. But those who adhere to this view are excluded from the path of devotional service.
The holy name is both the means and the end
The holy name is the repository of spiritual bliss. He has descended to this material world to be the means by which He, the summum bonum of bhakti, is attained. The scriptures eulogize His divine glories, for Krishna's name is both the means to prema and prema itself. According to the individual jiva's degree of spiritual perfection, he considers the Lord's holy name to be either the means or the end. As long as one has not attained full Krishna consciousness, the name appears as the means to reach that goal.
Subhakarma is the secondary means; the holy name is the primary means
There are two means to the supreme goal: primary and secondary. Subhakarma is the secondary means and the Lord's holy name is the primary means. Though the holy name is counted as a 'means', it is nevertheless eternally the principle means. Once this point is clearly understood, the differences between the holy name and subhakarma will be clearly seen. The scriptural verdict is that the holy name is the essence of spiritual bliss, and is thus incomparible to any other subhakarma. One who chants purely experiences how the insurpassable joy of the Lord and His pastimes enters the heart and makes it soar with sublime delight: such is the nature of the holy name of Krishna.
The joy of sayujamukti is insignificant
Even the bliss of selfrealization through jnana or yoga cannot be compared to that of chanting the holy name, for the state of joy in impersonal liberation is merely the cessation of material suffering.
The wonderful quality of the holy name is that during the sadhana (practice) period it is the means, and in the perfected stage, it is the ultimate goal. Even while being utilized as the means, the holy name remains always the goal. This cannot be said of other subhakarmas, which are all mundane activities. The holy name is purely spiritual, being selfmanifested from the realm of suddhasattva. Even during the practice of sadhana, the holy name is situated in pure goodness; the sadhaka's imperfections and anarthas only seem to color it.
The holy name must be chanted in the association of devotees: then all the material inebrities and anarthas disappear, being replaced by the pure name of Krishna. The practice of subhakarma must be discarded upon attainment of the shelter of the ultimate destination. But chanters have never to give up the holy name. They simply chant the pure name in the perfected stage.
The Lord's holy name is diametrically opposite in nature to mundane subhakarma activities. In the sadhana stage, the devotee should, by the grace of his spiritual master and on the basis of Vedic proofs, comprehend the difference between the holy name and subhakarma.
[Footnote 2 by Bhaktivinoda]
Sraddha, when sufficiently mature, brings one to the association of devotees. In that association, one begins devotional service. The heart is cleansed of all anarthas by chanting the holy name of the Lord. As much as the heart is cleansed of anarthas, to that degree the chanting becomes pure. Progressively, one is fixed in devotion and develops taste for the holy name. The knowledge of these developmental stages must be preliminarily understood and believed in by the sadhaka through the grace of his spiritual master. Otherwise, his anarthas will multiply due to his committing namaparadha. But with this proper understanding and faith, the pure name manifests very quickly. [End of footnote 2]
The remedy for this namaparadha
This namaparadha of equating the holy name with subhakarma is committed because of sinful activities, especially the sin of offending the devotees of the Lord. Immediate countermeasures must be undertaken, because as a result of these offenses, the jiva acquires the perverted Mayavadi understanding of the holy name. Only the association of devotees can exculpate such offenses.
To rid himself of this namaparadha, one must approach a householder Vaishnava who originally came from a very low caste; this is to stamp out any false understandings of designation and caste distinctions. The offender should then smear all over his own body, with great respect and faith, the dust of the feet of that Vaishnava. He must also eat the remnants of this Vaishnava's food and drink the water that washed his feet. In this way, the proper attitude towards the pure name will again develop within the offender's heart. The whole world sings of how Kalidasa was saved from this namaparadha by the mercy of the Lord.
Shrila Haridasa Thakur's attachment to the holy name
"My dear Lord, my consciousness is thoroughly mundane. Though I mouth the names of the Lord, I am too unfortunate to experience their transcendental touchstone qualities. O Lord! I beg You to please appear as the holy name and dance on my tongue.
I fall at Your lotus feet and pray: if You like, You can keep me in this material world or place me in the spiritual sky. Whatever desire is Yours, You are free to fulfill, but please let me taste the divine nectar of Krishna's holy name. You have descended amongst the conditioned souls to distribute the holy name, so kindly also consider me, an insignificant jiva. I am a fallen soul and You are the savior of the fallen. Let this be our eternal relationship. O Savior! On the strength of this relationship, I am begging from You the nectar of the holy name.
Why the name is the religion of the age
"In Kaliyuga all other processes except the holy name are incapable of redeeming the fallen souls. Therefore the chanting of the holy name is the yugadharma. Actually, it is the most efficient religious practice throughout all the ages. But in Kali Yuga, unlike other ages, there is no other religion available. Thus the holy name appears as the only religion that can redeem the fallen souls."
Only one who is blessed with loving devotion as the servant of Shrila Haridasa Thakura, and who thinks himself devoid of qualification, is fit to recite this Harinama Cintamani.