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Nitya-dharma O Sambandhabhidheya-prayojana (Prameyantar-gata Nama-tattva-vicararambha)
Eternal Religion and Sambandha, Abhidheya, and Prayojana (The Discussion of the Holy Name Begins)
The village of Bilva-pushkarini is very beautiful. The river Ganges flows on its northern and western sides. There, on the shore of the Pushkarini, in a grove of bilva trees, is a temple of Lord Shiva. Not far from there is the place called Bhava-tarana. On one side is Bilva-pushkarini, and on the other side is Brahmana-pushkarini. Between them lies the village called Simuliya, which on one side borders the town of Navadvipa. In the middle of Bilva-pushkarini and north of the royal road lies Vrajanatha's house. After traveling a short distance, Vijaya-kumara returned to his sister. In his mind he had decided, "I won't leave until I have learned the truth about the holy name." Returning to Bilva-pushkarini, he saw his sister and nephew and told them, "I will stay another day or two and then I will go." That afternoon two Vaishnavas in the Ramanuja-sampradaya wearing Shri-tilaka came to the candi-mandapa at Vrajanatha's house. Sitting in the shade of the panasa tree before Vrajanatha's house, the two Vaishnavas made a fire with some dried twigs and began to smoke ganja. Vrajanatha's mother was very happy to get the opportunity to show hospitality to some guests. Seeing that they were not eating anything, she brought them different kinds of food. Pleased, they began to cook some capatis. Seeing that the Vaishnavas were peaceful and bright-faced, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara gradually felt attracted to them. Seeing that Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara wore tulasi beads on their necks and twelve tilaka marks on their limbs, the two Vaishnavas respectfully greeted them and spread a cloth for them to sit. As Vrajanatha questioned them, one of the sannyasis said, "O maharaja, we have seen Ayodhya and now we are going to see Navadvipa. In our hearts we have decided to see the places of Chaitanya Prabhu's pastimes." Vrajanatha replied, "You are in Shri Navadvipa now. Please rest here today and tomorrow see the birthplace of Lord Mahaprabhu and the courtyard of Shrivasa. The two sannyasis then happily recited these words of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (15.6):
yad gatva na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama
"They who reach My supreme abode never return to this material world."*
The two sannyasis said, "Today we are very fortunate, for we will see holy Shri Mayapura, the best of the seven holy cities."
As they sat under the panasa tree, the two sannyasis discussed the "artha-pancaka" (five topics) of the Ramanuja-sampradaya. The five topics are: 1. sva-svarupa (the nature of one's own self), 2. para-svarupa (the natures of others), 3. upaya-svarupa (the means for spiritual advancement), 4. purushartha-savrupa (the true goal of life), and 5. virodhi-svarupa (obstacles that prevent one from attaining the true goal of life). With great attention Vijaya-kumara heard and considered the sannyasis' explanations of these topics and the tattva-traya (three truths) of the Shri-sampradaya, After discussing these points for a long time, Vijaya-kumara asked, "What is your sampradaya's explanation of the holy name?" When they heard the two Vaishnavas' explanations, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara did not become very happy. Vrajanatha said, "Uncle, after considering all these points, I have come to the conclusion that only taking shelter of Lord Krishnas' holy name, and nothing else, brings auspiciousness to the living entities. It was to preach the pure holy name of Lord Krishna to the world that Shri Gauranga, the master of our lives, descended to this world and came to the holy city of Mayapura. When he was teaching us yesterday, Shri Gurudeva explained that chanting the holy name is the best of all devotional practices. He also asked us to give special attention to understanding the truth of the holy name. Uncle, let us go to him this evening and learn about this." They spent that afternoon showing hospitality to their guests and talking about many things.
When the evening arati ended, the Vaishnavas assembled under the bakula tree in Shrivasa's courtyard. Chanting the holy names on his tulasi beads, saintly elderly Raghunatha dasa Babaji sat among them. Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara came and offered dandavat obeisances to him. The saintly babaji embraced them and said, "Are you happy in your devotional service?" Vijaya-kumara replied, "O master, by your mercy everything is auspicious for us. Please be merciful and teach us this evening about the holy name of the Lord. His face blossoming with happiness, the saintly babaji said, "The Supreme Personality of Godhead has two kinds of names: 1. mukhya (primary) and 2. gauna (secondary). Names that show His relation to the material creation and the material modes of nature are all secondary names. "Shrishti-karta (the creator of the material world), "jagat-pata" (the maintainer of the material world), "vishva-niyanta" (the controller of the material world), "vishva-palaka" (the protector of the material world), and "paramatma" (the Supersoul present everywhere in the material world) are examples of some of these many secondary names. Some other names, although beyond the touch of the material modes of nature, are also counted among these secondary names. "Brahma" (Brahman) is an example of these names. When they are chanted, these secondary names bring many different kinds of benefits, but they do not directly or quickly bring the highest spiritual benefit. The names that describe the Lord as He is manifested in the spiritual world, which is beyond material time and space, and where time is manifested as an eternal present (nitya-vartamana) are names that are all spiritual and primary. "Narayana", “Vasudeva", "Janardana", "Hrishikesha", “Hari", "Acyuta", "Govinda", "Gopala", and "Rama" are examples of these primary names. All these primary names are identical with the form of the Supreme Lord Himself, and therefore they exist in the eternal present in the spiritual world. Attracted by devotional service, these holy names dance on the tongues of certain very fortunate souls in the material world. These names have no connection at all with the material world. When it descends to the material world, the holy name of the Lord, which has all the Lord's powers, destroys the illusions of maya. The individual souls in the material world have the holy name of Lord Hari as their only friend. They have no other true friend. In the Brihan-naradiya Purana it is said:
hare namaiva namaiva
namaiva mama jivanam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
"The holy name, the holy name, the holy name of Lord Hari is my very life. 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."
The holy name has limitless power. The holy name uproots all the sins of the conditioned souls burning in a great forest-fire of sins. In the Garuda Purana it is said:
puman vimucyate sadyah
simha-trastair mrigair iva
"If one chants the holy name of the Lord, even in a helpless condition or without desiring to do so, all the reactions of his sinful life depart, just as when a lion roars, all the small animals flee in fear."*
A person who takes shelter of the holy name becomes free of all sufferings. The holy name has the power to destroy all sufferings. In the Skanda Purana it is said:
adhayo vyadhayo yasya
tadaiva vilayam yanti
tam anantam namamy aham
"I offer my respectful obeisances to the limitless Supreme Personality of Godhead. When a person remembers Him or chants His holy names, that person's diseases of the mind or body all run to their extinction."
A person who chants the holy name of Lord Hari purifies his family, friends, and all others. In the Brahmanda Purana it is said:
kirtayann anisham harim
"Even if he has committed many great sins, a person who chants the holy name of the Lord day and night become pure at heart. He purifies all his relatives."
A person who is devoted to the holy name becomes free of all sufferings. In the Bhad-Vishnu Purana it is said:
"The chanting of Lord Hari's holy name cures all diseases, removes all obstacles, and rescues one from all calamities."
The age of Kali cannot make trouble for a person who loudly chants the holy name of Lord Hari. In the Brihan-Naradiya Purana it is said:
hare keshava govinda
itirayanti ye nityam
na hi tan badhate kalih
"The age of Kali cannot make trouble for a person who always chants, `Hare! Keshava! Govinda! Vasudeva! Jaganmaya!"
Simply by hearing the holy name of Lord Hari, the residents of hell become delivered. In the Narasimha Purana it is said:
yatha yatha harer nama
kirtayanti sma narakah
tatha tatha harau bhaktim
udvahanto divam yayuh
"When they began to chant the holy name of Lord Hari, the residents of hell began to develop devotion to Lord Hari. Thus they were carried to the heavenly worlds."
By loudly chanting the holy name, a person destroys his prarabdha karmic reactions. In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.44) it is said:
yan-namadheyam mriyamana aturah
patan skhalan va vivasho grinan puman
vimukta-karmargala uttamam gatim
prapnoti yakshyanti na tam kalau janah
"Terrified, about to die, a man collapses on his bed. Although his voice is faltering and he is hardly conscious of what he is saying, if he utters the holy name of the Supreme Lord he can be freed from the reactions of his fruitive work and achieve the supreme destination. But still people in the age of Kali will not worship the Supreme Lord."*
The holy name of Lord Hari is more glorious than all the Vedas. In the Skanda Purana it is said:
ma rico ma yajus tata
ma sama patha kincana
govindeti harer nama
geyam gayasva nityashah
"My son, don't study the Rig Veda. Don't study the Yajur Veda. Don't study the Sama Veda at all. Simply chant `O Govinda!' Always chant the holy names of Lord Hari."
The holy name of Lord Hari is more glorious than all holy places. In the Vamana Purana it is said:
tani sarvany avapnoti
vishnor namani kirtanat
"By chanting the holy names of Lord Vishnu, a person attains the benefit of visiting hundreds of thousands of millions of sacred pilgrimage places."
Even a glimpse (namabhasa) of the holy name is infinitely better than all material pious deeds. In the Skanda Purana it is said:
go-koti-danam grahane khagasya
govinda-kirter na samam shatamshaih
"Neither giving millions of cows in charity, nor residing at Prayaga by the Ganges for a kalpa, nor performing millions of yajnas, nor giving a Mount Meru of gold in charity brings a benefit equal to one-hundredth part of the benefit obtained by chanting the holy names of Lord Govinda."
The holy name of Lord Hari gives all benefits. In the Skanda Purana it is said:
adhyatma-mulam etad dhi
"Chanting the holy names of Lord Vishnu removes the six troubles of material life, defeats enemies, and is the root of spiritual knowledge."
The holy name of Lord Hari has all powers. In the Skanda Purana it is said:
kshetradinam ca yah sthitah
akrishya harina sarvah
sthapita sveshu namasu
"Lord Hari has gathered from charity, vows, austerities, pilgrimages, the demigods, the great saints, the rajasuya and ashvamedha yajnas, and the study of transcendental knowledge all their powers to bring auspiciousness and remove sins, and placed these powers in His holy names."
The holy name of Lord Hari brings bliss to the entire world. In the Bhagavad-gita (11.36) it is said:
sthane hrishikesha tava prakirtya
jagat prahrishyaty anurajyate ca
"O Hrishikesha, the world becomes joyful upon hearing Your name, and thus everyone becomes attached to You."*
The entire world bows down before a person who loudly chants the holy name. In the Brihan-Naradiya Purana it is said:
itirayanti ye nityam
te vai sarvatra vanditah
"In every direction the people bow down to offer respect to the devotees who always chant, `Narayana! Jagannatha! Vasudeva! Janardana!'."
The holy name is the only shelter of the shelterless. In the Padma Purana it is said:
bhogino 'pi parantapah
sukhena yam gatim yanti
na tam sarve 'pi dharmikah
"Even though they may be materialistic, distraught, completely impious, or bereft of knowledge, renunciation, celibacy, and a host of virtues, persons who completely surrender of Lord Vishnu and even only once chant His holy name easily attain the supreme spiritual destination that all the pious saints cannot enter."
One should chant the holy name of Lord Hari always and everywhere. In the Vishnu-dharmottara Purana it is said:
na desha-niyamas tasmin
na kala-niyamas tatha
nocchishtadau nishedho 'sti
shri-harer namni lubdhakah
"A person who is greedy to chant the holy name of Lord Hari does not consider whether the time or place is right for such chanting. He does not accept any restrictions on chanting the holy name."
The holy name easily gives impersonal liberation to they who want it. In the Varaha Purana teh Supreme Personality of Godhead declares:
vasudeveti yo narah
satatam kirtayed bhuvi
yati mal-layatam sa hi
"A person who always chants, `Narayana! Acyuta! Ananta! Vasudeva!' may, if he wishes, merge into My existence."
In the Garuda Purana it is said:
kim karishyati sankhyena
kim yogair nara-nayaka
muktim icchasi rajendra
"What is the use of sankhya? What is the use of yoga? O king of kings, if wish to attain impersonal liberation, then you should chant the holy name of Lord Govinda."
The holy name of Lord Hari sends the individual souls to the spiritual world of Vaikuntha. In the Nandi Purana it is said:
ye 'pi kurvanti patakam
yanti vishnoh param padam
"Persons who in the past have committed every possible sin in every possible situation, but who now chant the holy name of the Lord, go to the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu."
By chanting the holy name one pleases the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Brihan-Naradiya Purana it is said:
karoti satatam vipras
tasya prito hy adhokshajah
"O brahmanas, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond the touch of the material senses, becomes very pleased with a person who, in spite of hunger, thirst, and many troubles, continues to always chant His holy name."
By chanting the holy name of Lord Hari one can being the Supreme Personality of Godhead under one's control. In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna declares:
rinam etat pravriddham me
yad govindeti cukrosha
krishna mam dura-vasinam
"When I was away from Draupadi she cried with the words, `He Govinda!' This call has put Me in her debt, and that indebtedness is gradually increasing in My heart."*
The holy name of Lord Hari gives the final goal of life to the people. In the Skanda and Padma Puranas it is said:
idam eva hi mangalyam
idam eva dhanarjanam
jivitasya phalam caitad
"Chanting the holy name of Lord Damodara brings the greatest auspiciousness, the greatest wealth, the greatest benefit."
Chanting the holy name of Lord Hari is the best of all devotional activities. In the Vaishnava-cintamani it is said:
agha-cchit smaranam vishnor
kirtanam tu tato varam
"By working very hard to always remember Lord Vishnu, one can destroy all sins. However, one can attain an even greater benefit simply by moving the lips to chant the Lord's holy name."
In the Vishnu-rahasya it is said:
yad abhyarca harim bhaktya
krite kratu-shatair api
phalam prapnoty avikalam
"the same result that was obtained in the Satya-yuga by worshiping Lord Hari and in the Treta-yuga by performing hundreds of sacrifices is obtained in the Kali-yuga simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Govinda."
In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.52) it is said:
krite yad dhyayato vishnum
tretayam yajato makhaih
kalau tad dhari-kirtanat
"Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord's lotus feet, can also be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra."*
O Vijaya-kumara, think about it and you will see that even the shadow of the holy name of Lord Hari is better than all material pious deeds. And why not? Pious deeds are only the means to attain an end. Once the end is attained, the means are thrown away. Pious deeds are all material. However, the holy name of Lord Hari is spiritual. The holy name may be the means to attain an end, but when one attains the end he finds that the holy name itself is also the end itself. Think about it and you will see that all the different limbs of devotional service take shelter of the holy name of Lord Hari.
Vijaya-kumara: O master, the holy name of Lord Hari is spiritual. I have faith in that truth. However, so that my faith may be free from doubts I need to understand how it is that the holy name, which is a series of syllables, is spiritual. Please be merciful and explain.
Babaji: The scriptures (Padma Purana) declare:
nama cintamanih krishnash
purnah shuddho nitya-mukto
"The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krishna's name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna's name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krishna's name is always liberated and spiritual. It is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical."*
Vijaya-kumara: How can a name, which is after all a series of syllables, be different from other sounds in this material world?
Babaji: The holy name of Lord Hari does not take its birth in the material world. Only when he is situated in his original spiritual body is the individual soul, who is a tiny particle of spirit, eligible to pronounce the pure holy name of Lord Hari. The material senses of a soul imprisoned in Maya's world have no power to pronounce the pure holy name of Lord Hari. However, by the mercy of the Lord's hladini-shakti, such a soul can be situated in his original form. Then the holy name will appear before him. By the mercy of the pure holy name, the holy name enters the devotee's thinking process, and then descends to the tongue if the tongue is purified by devotional service. On that tongue the holy name dances. The holy name is not a series of material syllables. It only seems to be material syllables when it dances on a tongue made of matter. That is the secret of the holy name.
Vijaya-kumara: Of the primary names of the Lord, which name is the most sweet?
Babaji: In the Shata-nama-stotra it is said:
vishnor ekaikam namapi
"One utterance of the name Vishnu is better than all the Vedas. One utterance of the name Rama is equal to a thousand utterances of the name Vishnu."
Then, in the Brahmanda Purana it is said:
trir avrittya tu yat pahalm
ekavrittya tu krishnasya
namaikam tat prayacchati
"The pious results derived from chanting the thousand holy names of Vishnu three times can be attained by one repetition of the holy name of Krishna."*
Therefore the holy name of Lord Krishna is the best. That is why our Lord, Shri Gauranga, taught the mantra that begins “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna". You should always chant that mantra.
Vijaya-kumara: What is the path of chanting the holy name?
Babaji: Using tulasi beads, or, in the absence of beads, counting on your fingers, and carefully avoiding offenses, you should always chant the holy name of Lord Hari. By chanting the holy name purely one attains prema (pure love of God). The purpose of counting is to know whether or not the number of names chanted is gradually increasing. Tulasi is very dear top Lord Hari, therefore touching tulasi beads as one chants the holy name brings a better result. When one chants one should be conscious that the name of Lord Krishna is not different from Lord Krishna Himself.
Vijaya-kumara: O master, there are nine processes of devotional service and sixty-four categories of devotional activities. If one constantly chants the holy name, which is only one of the activities of devotional service, how will one find time to perform any other devotional activity?
Babaji: What is the difficulty? The sixty-four devotional activities are actually included within the nine devotional processes. One may worship the Deity of the Lord, or one may chant the holy name in a solitary place. One chant practice the nine processes of devotional service in any situation. In the presence of the Deity one can pure hear, chant, remember, and in other ways serve the holy name of Lord Krishna. All these activities may be counted together as devotion to the holy name. If one has no opportunity to see the Deity, one may remember the Deity and in this way in the presence of the Deity one may practice the nine devotional activities beginning with hearing and chanting the holy name. If in the past one has performed many pious deeds, then he will naturally yearn to chant the holy name. By constantly chanting the holy name one automatically performs all the activities of different limbs of devotional service. Of the nine processes of devotional service beginning with hearing and chanting, chanting the holy name is the most powerful. If one can taste bliss by chanting the holy names, that is enough. It is not that one must perform every devotional activity.
Vijaya-kumara: What does "to always chant the holy name" mean?
Babaji: Aside for the time when one sleeps, one can chant the holy name throughout the day as one performs various activities. That is called constant chanting of the holy name. One can chant the holy name in any place, at any time, or in any situation. There are no restrictions.
Vijaya-kumara: Aha! Unless you first give us your mercy, we will never have the power to always chant the holy name in this way. Without your mercy we do not see any hope that we will ever become true Vaishnavas.
Babaji: First I will tell you of the different kinds of Vaishnavas. Lord Gauranga, the master of our hearts, told Satyaraja that any person who has once uttered the holy name of Lord Krishna should be considered a Vaishnava. Then again, a person who always chants the holy name of Lord Krishna is a better Vaishnava. A person the sight of whom makes the holy name of Lord Krishna appear on others' mouths is the best Vaishnava. By chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna with faith you will become true Vaishnavas.
Vijaya-kumara: Please describe to us the pure holy name of Lord Krishna and all other things we should know.
Babaji: When the holy name of Lord Krishna appears in a person who has full faith and who practices unalloyed devotional service, that is said to be the "true holy name of Lord Krishna". When the holy name appears in any other situation the name is either "namabhasa" (a glimpse of the holy name) or "namaparadha" (the holy name chanted with offenses).
Vijaya-kumara: O master, should we call the holy name the goal (sadhya) or the means (sadhana) to attain the goal?
Babaji: When a devotee practices sadhana-bhakti, his chanting of the holy name may be said to be the means for attaining the goal (sadhana). However, when one practices bhava-bhakti or prema-bhakti, his chanting of the holy name is said to be the goal (sadhya) itself. In this way the holy name contracts or expands according to the devotees' stage of spiritual advancement.
Vijaya-kumara: Is Lord Krishna really not different from His name? Or is this not really true?
Babaji: There is not the slightest difference. However, there is one secret difference: The holy name is more merciful than Lord Krishna Himself. If one commits an offense to Him, Lord Krishna will not forgive. But if one commits an offense to Lord Krishna or His holy name, then the holy name will be merciful and forgive. You should carefully understand the offenses to the holy name. Carefully avoiding these offenses, one should chant the holy name. Why should one avoid them? A person who is not free from offenses cannot chant the holy name purely. Tomorrow you will learn about these offenses.
After thus learning about the true nature and glories of the holy name, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara respectfully touched the dust of their spiritual masters feet, and then they both returned to Bilva-pushkarini.