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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Jaiva Dharma > Chapter-24

Chapter Twenty-four

Nitya-dharma O Sambandhabhidheya-prayojana (Prameyantar-gata Namaparadha-vicara)

Eternal Religion and Sambandha, Abhidheya, and Prayojana (Offenses to the Holy Name)

 

 

     That evening Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara purely chanted 50,000 holy names (29 rounds) on their tulasi beads. Late at night the finally fell asleep. As they purely chanted the holy name, they both felt the presence of Lord Krishna's mercy. The next morning they told each other all they had felt. They were blissful. They bathed in the Ganges, worshiped Lord Krishna, chanted the holy name of Lord Hari, recited the Dasha-mula, studied Shrimad-Bhagavatam, served the Vaishnavas, honored the Lord's prasadam, and performed other devotional activities. In this way they passed the day. At dusk they visited the cottage of the elderly saintly babaji at Shrivasa's courtyard. After offering dandavat obeisances, they sat down, Thinking of what had been proposed during the previous evening's talks, Vijaya-kumara asked about the offenses to the holy name. With the cheerfulness that was a part of his nature, the saintly babaji said, "As chanting the holy name is the best of all spiritual activities, so offenses to the holy name are the gravest of sins. When a person takes shelter of the holy name, all his sins flee far away. But the offenses to the holy name do not flee away so easily. In the Padma Purana it is said:

 

 

namaparadha-yuktanam

     namany eva haranty agham

avishranti prayuktani

     tany evartha-karani ca

 

 

     "The chanting of Hare Krishna is recommended for persons who commit offenses, because if they continue chanting they will gradually chant offenselessly. Even if in the beginning one chants with offenses, one will become free from such offenses by chanting again and again."*

 

     Baba, look. How difficult it is to become free form offenses to the holy name! An intelligent person will strive to chant the holy name without offense. A person who takes great care to avoid offenses is quickly able to chant the pure holy name. A person may display ecstatic symptoms, may shed tears, and the hairs of his body may stand up, but he may still be committing offenses and he may still not chant purely. If they do not take special care, the aspiring devotees will not be able to chant the holy name purely.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, what is pure chanting of the holy name?

     Babaji: When one does not commit the tens offenses to the holy name, then he chants purely. Chanting purely here does not mean chanting with accurate pronunciation. In the Padma Purana it is said:

 

 

namaikam yasya vaci smarana-patha-gatam shrotra-mulam gatam va

     shuddham vashuddha-varnam vyavahita-rahitam tarayaty eva satyam

tac ced deha-dravina-janata-lobha-pashanda-madhye

     nikshiptam syan na phala-janakam shighram evatra vipra

 

 

     "If a devotee once utters the holy name of the Lord, or if it penetrates his mind or enters his ear, which is the channel of aural reception, that holy name will certainly deliver him from material bondage, whether vibrated properly or improperly, with correct or incorrect grammar, and properly joined or vibrated in separate parts. O brahmana, the potency of the holy name is therefore certainly great. However, if one uses the vibration of the holy name for the benefit of the material body, for material wealth and followers, or under the influence of greed or atheismin other words, if one utters the name with offensessuch chanting will not produce the desired result very soon. Therefore one should diligently avoid offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord."*

 

     Vijaya-kumara: Now I can see that the aspiring devotee has no alternative but to be aware of the offenses in chanting the holy name. Please be kind and describe those offenses.

     Babaji: There are ten offenses to the holy name. They are described in these words of the Padma Purana (Brahma-khanda 25.15-18):

 

 

satam ninda namnah paramam aparadham vitanute

     yatah khyatim yatam katham u sahate tad vigariham

shivasya shri-vishnor ya iha guna-namadi sakalam

     dhiya bhinnam pashyet sa khalu hari-namahita-karah

 

 

     "1. Blasphemy of the great saintly persons who are engaged in preaching the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, is the worst offense at the lotus feet of the holy name. The nama-prabhu, who is identical with Krishna, will never tolerate such blasphemous activities, even from one who passes as a great devotee. 2. In this material world, the holy name of Vishnu is all-auspicious. Vishnu's name, form, qualities, and pastimes are all transcendental, absolute knowledge. Therefore, if one tries to separate the Absolute Personality of Godhead from His holy name or His transcendental form, qualities, and pastimes, thinking them to be material, that is offensive. Similarly, to think the names of demigods such as Lord Shiva to be as good as the name of Lord Vishnu is also blasphemous.*

 

 

guror avajna shruti-shastra-nindanam

     tathartha-vado hari-namni kalpanam

namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhir

     na vidyate tasya yamair hi shuddhih

 

 

     "3. To consider the spiritual master to be material, and therefore to envy his exalted position. 4. Blasphemy of Vedic literature, such as the four Vedas and the Puranas. 5. To give some interpretation on the holy name of the Lord. 6. To consider the glories of the holy name to be imaginary. 7. To think that since the Hare Krishna mantra can counteract all sinful reactions one may therefore go on with his sinful activities and then at the same time chant the Hare Krishna mantra to neutralize them is the greatest offense at the lotus feet of Hari-nama. One who thinks in this way cannot be purified by any means, such as by austerities or by the various punishments of Yamaraja.*

 

 

dharma-vrata-tyaga-hutadi-sarva-

     shubha-kriya-samyam api pramadah

ashraddadhane vimukhe 'py ashrinvati

     yas copaddeshah shiva-namaparadhah

 

 

     "8. It is a great offense to consider the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra to be equal to the performance of religious ceremonies, following austere vows, practicing renunciation, and fire sacrifices, which are all materialistic auspicious activities. 9. It is an offense to preach the glories of the holy name to those who will not hear, to those who are atheistic and those who have no faith in the chanting of the holy name.*

 

 

shrutvapi nama-mahatmyam

     yah priti-rahito 'dhamah

aham-mamadi-paramo

     namni so 'py aparadha-krit

 

 

     "10. That lowest among men, who, even after hearing the glories of the transcendental holy name of the Lord, continues in a materialistic concept of life, thinking, `I am this body, and everything belonging to this body is mine (aham mameti)', and does not show respect and love for the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is an offender to the holy name."*

 

     Vijaya-kumara: Please kindly explain each verse separately, so I may understand the offenses.

     Babaji: Two offenses are described in the first verse. The first offense is blasphemy of the great saintly persons who have renounced karma, dharma, jnana, and yoga, and have completely taken shelter of the holy name. That is a very great offense. And why should it not be a great offense? The holy name of Lord Hari will not excuse the blasphemy of great souls who properly preach the glories of the holy name to the world. The holy name is quickly merciful to persons who chanting the holy name in the company of the most saintly devotees and who avoid blaspheming devotees attached to the holy name.

     Vijaya-kumara: I can understand the first offense very easily. O master, please explain the second offense.

     Babaji: In the second half of the verse we are discussing, the second offense is described. This offense may be explained in two ways. The first explanation is this: Lord Vishnu and Lord Sadashiva are the leaders of the demigods. To see that Their qualities, names, and other features show that They are both independent of each other is an offense to the holy name. The idea that Lord Vishnu may be a supreme controller, but Lord Shiva is also a supreme controller, and he is independent of Lord Vishnu, is an idea that leads to bahv-ishvara-vada, the idea that there are many independent gods. That idea is a great obstruction blocking the path of unalloyed devotional service. The truth is that Lord Shiva and the other demigods have no power independent of Lord Vishnu. If one understands in this way, then he does not commit this offense to the holy name. The second interpretation is this: To think that the name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the all-auspicious (shiva) Supreme Personality of Godhead are different from the transcendental and eternally perfect spiritual body of the Lord is an offense to the holy name. The truth is that Krishna's form, Krishna's name, Krishna's qualities, and Krishna's pastimes are all spiritual. They are not different from each other. A person who understands this theoretically (j{.sy 241}ana) and practically (vijnana) when he chants the holy name of Lord Krishna does not commit this offense to the holy name. It is with this knowledge that one should chant the holy name of the Lord.

     Vijaya-kumara: I understand the first and second offenses. By your mercy I have understood that Lord Krishna's form is spiritual and not material, that He is not different from His qualities, names, parts-and-parcels, and all else in relation to Him. A person who takes shelter of the holy name is obliged to learn the truth of matter and spirit by approaching the feet of a bona-fide spiritual master. Now please explain the third offense.

     Babaji: One should have unwavering devotion to the spiritual master who gives one the holy name, for the holy name is the highest of all spiritual activities. A person who disrespects the spiritual master who gives the holy name, a person who thinks that although his spiritual master may be learned in the scriptures describing the holy name, he is not learned in Vedanta and other philosophies, a person who then thinks he knows more about philosophy than his spiritual master, commits an offense to the holy name. No teacher is superior to the spiritual master who knows the truth of the holy name. Therefore to think lightly of him is an offense to the holy name.

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, if we are purely devoted to you, then our lives will be auspicious. Now please be merciful and explain the fourth offense.

     Babaji: In the Shruti-shastras it is said that chanting the holy name is the best of all spiritual activities. There is it said (the Vedas, quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa 11.510-512):

 

 

om asya jananto nama cid-vivktana mahas te vishno su-matim bhajamahe

 

 

     "O Lord Vishnu, now that we understand the truth, we worship the glory of Your holy name.*

 

 

om tat sat om padam devasya namasa vyantah

     shravasy ashrava apanna-mriktam

namani cid dadhire yajniyani

     bhadrayante ranayantah sandrishtau

 

 

     "Om Tat Sat Om. I offer my respectful obeisances to the feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To attain liberation, the pure devotees chant and hear His transcendental holy names.*

 

 

om tam u stotarah purvam yatha-vida

     ritasya garbham janusha pipartana

asya jananto nama cid-viviktan

     mahas te vishno su-matim bhajamahe

 

 

     "As far as they can understand You, the sages in ancient times chanted the glories of You, who are perfect and complete, and who are the father of the Vedas. O Lord Vishnu, now that we understand the truth, we worship the glory of Your holy name."*

 

     In this way it is seen that all the Vedas and all the Upanishads chant the glories of the holy name. To blaspheme all these scriptures is an offense to the holy name. If one honors the scriptures but blasphemes the parts of the scriptures that teach the glories of the holy name, one commits an offense to the holy name. Because of this offense one will not feel attracted to the holy name. Fully aware that the holy name is the crest jewel of all the Vedas, one should respectfully chant the holy name.

 

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, your mouth is showering nectar on us! Now we thirst to learn about the fifth offense.

     Babaji: The fifth offense to the holy name of Lord Hari is to give some interpretation on the holy name of the Lord. In the Jamini-samhita it is said:

 

 

shruti-smriti-puraneshu

     nama-mahatmya-vacishu

ye 'rtha-vada iti bruyur

     na tesham niraya-kshayah

 

 

     "Persons who give the interpretation that the glories of the holy name as described in the Shruti, Smriti, and Puranas are exaggerations, live always in hell."

 

     In the Brahma-samhita, the Supreme Personality of Godhead explains to Bodhayana:

 

 

yan-nama-kirtana-phalam vividham nishamya

     na shraddadhati manute yad utartha-vadam

yo manushas tam iha duhkha-caye kshipami

     samsara-ghora-vividharti-nipiditangam

 

 

     "Any person who, after hearing the descriptions of the various benefits obtained by chanting the holy name thinks these benefits are exaggerated, I throw into a host of sufferings and torture in many horrible ways."

 

     The scriptures explain that the holy name has all the powers of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. The holy name is perfectly spiritual. Therefore it has the power to deliver one from the cycle of birth and death. In the Vishnu-dharma Purana it is said:

 

 

krishneti mangalam nama

     yasya vaci pravartate

bhasmi-bhavanti rajendra

     maha-pataka-kotayah

 

 

     "My dear king, this word Krishna is so auspicious that anyone who chants this holy name immediately gets rid of the resultant actions of sinful activities from many, many births."*

 

     In the Brihan-Naradiya Purana it is said:

 

 

nanyat pashyami jantunam

     vihaya hari-kirtanam

sarva-papa-prashamanam

     prayashcittam dvijottamah

 

 

     "O best of the brahmanas, chanting Lord Hari's holy names is the only way the people can become free of all sins. I do not see any other way."

 

     In the Brihad-Vishnu Purana it is said:

 

 

namno 'sya yavati shaktih

     papa-nirharane hareh

tavat kartum na shaknoti

     patakam pataki janah

 

 

     "A person who chants the holy name of Krishna can at once counteract the resultant actions of more sinful activities than he is able to perform."*

 

     These descriptions of the holy name's glories are all completely true. However, when they hear these descriptions, persons who earn their livelihood by performing the rituals of karma or teaching the impersonal speculations of jnana, in order to protect their livelihood, say these descriptions are all exaggerations. Their interpretation is this: "The scriptures' descriptions of the glories of the holy names are not really true. Exaggerated descriptions of the benefits brought by chanting are given so that the mind may be attracted to the holy name." Persons who commit this offense do not attain attraction to the holy name. Therefore, with full faith in the words of scripture, you should chant the holy name of Lord Hari. But you should avoid the company of people who give the interpretation that the glories of the holy name are exaggerated. If somehow you see such a person, you should at once bathe while still wearing all your clothing. That teaching Lord Gauranga has given.

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, it is not easy for householders to chant the holy name purely. And why not? They are always surrounded by nondevotees who are all offenders to the holy name. Brahmana panditas like myself find it very hard to have the company of pious devotees. O master, please be merciful and give me the spiritual strength to avoid the company of nondevotees. As I hear the words from your mouth, my faith grows more and more strong. Now please explain the sixth offense.

     Babaji: The sixth offense is to consider the glories of the holy name to be imaginary. The impersonalists and fruitive workers think that the Supreme is formless and nameless. They think the sages invented the names Rama, Krishna, and the other names of the Lord to help the people attain perfection. Persons who accept this conclusion are offenders to the holy name. The truth is that the holy name is spiritual and eternal. The holy name appears only on spiritual senses engaged in devotional service. Taking lessons from the bona fide spiritual master and the holy scriptures, you should understand that the holy name is real, spiritual, and eternal. The holy name will not be merciful to you if you think he is imaginary.

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, before we had taken shelter of your feet, which bring freedom from fear, we stayed in the company of fruitive workers and nyaya logicians, and we thought as they did. Now, by your mercy, we have thrown those ideas far away. Please be merciful and now explain the seventh offense.

     Babaji: To think that since the Hare Krishna mantra can counteract all sinful reactions one may therefore go on with his sinful activities and then at the same time chant the Hare Krishna mantra to neutralize them is an offense at the lotus feet of Hari-nama. A person who commits sins expecting that the holy name will purify him does not become purified even by practicing austerities. And why not? His action is counted among the offenses to the holy name. Its only atonement is the atonement that removes offenses to the holy name. That is the only way it is removed.

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, in this world no sin exists that is not destroyed by chanting the holy name. Why, then, does the holy name not destroy this sin? Why is it counted among the offenses to the holy name?

     Babaji: Baba, on the day when a living entity purely takes shelter of the holy name, from that day forward all his sinful reactions, either prarabdha (that have already begun to bring suffering) or aprarabdha (that will bring suffering in the future), are at once destroyed. Eventually the holy name gives him prema (pure love of God). A person who purely takes shelter of the holy name throws sinful desires far away. He does not even desire the benefits attained by performing material pious deeds. He throws talk of material piety and sin far away. Neither is he attracted to impersonal liberation. Thus a person who purely chants the holy name does not commit sins. However, if a person commits offenses while he chants the holy name, his chanting is namabhasa (a reflection of the holy name). It is not pure chanting of the holy name. In the stage of namabhasa, the chanter's past sins are all destroyed and at present he is not attracted to sinning. However, some remnant of past sinful habits remains and only gradually is destroyed. If because of past habits the chanter accidentally commits some sin, the namabhasa (reflection of the holy name) throws that sin far away. However, if a person who takes shelter of the holy name thinks, “The chanting of the holy name destroys all sins. If I commit a sin, then the holy name will then destroy that sin." and if he then commits sins expecting to be forgiven, his sinful action is an offense to the holy name.

     Vijaya-kumara: Now please explain the eighth offense and thus make us happy.

     Babaji: It is a great offense to consider the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra to be equal to following varnashrama-dharma, giving charity, performing religious ceremonies, following austere vows, practicing renunciation, and performing fire sacrifices, ashtanga-yoga, and other like deeds, which are all materialistic auspicious activities. These and the other pious deeds described in the scriptures are4 all material activities. However, the holy name of the Lord is beyond the world of matter. The pious activities described here are all means to attain certain goals. The final goal is spiritual in nature. All these pious deeds are means. They are not goals. However, the holy name of Hari is a means during the period of sadhana-bhakti, and a final goal when the devotee reaps the fruit of his spiritual activities. Therefore ordinary material pious activities are not equal to chanting the holy name of Lord Hari. A person who thinks ordinary material pious activities are equal to chanting the holy name of Lord Hari commits an offense to the holy name. Material pious deeds bring only very small and pathetic benefits. A person who prays that the holy name grant him these pathetic material benefits commits an offense to the holy name. And why not? Such a person thinks material pious deeds are equal to chanting the holy name. A person who knows that material pious deeds bring only small and pathetic results and who understands that the holy name of Lord Hari is perfectly spiritual has the knowledge called "abhidheya-j{.sy 241}ana (knowledge of how one makes spiritual advancement by engaging in devotional service).

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, now I understand that nothing is equal to the holy name of Lord Hari. Now please explain the ninth offense. My heart thirsts to hear of it.

     Babaji: The Vedas teach that the chanting of Lord Hari's holy name is the best of all spiritual activities. A person who has faith in unalloyed devotional service is naturally qualified to chant the holy name of Lord Hari. Persons who have no such faith are naturally averse to spiritual activities. When they hear the holy name they are not attracted to it. To teach such persons about the holy name is an offense. Chanting the holy name of Lord Hari is the best of all spiritual activities. The holy name brings auspiciousness to everyone. Therefore the teaching is that it is best to chant the holy name and allow such persons to hear the chanting. However, without first seeing that the recipient is properly qualified, one should not give initiation into the chanting of the holy name. When you become a parama-bhagavata (great devotee of the Lord), then you will have transcendental potency. By the Lord's mercy you will have the power to give people faith in the holy name. To such persons you may teach the truth about the holy name of Lord Hari. As long as you remain a madhyama-vaishnava (intermediate devotee of the Lord) you should avoid the faithless, the nondevotees, and the persons who hate the Lord.

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, pushed by greed for fame and money, many spiritual masters initiate qualified persons in the chanting of Lord Hari's holy name. What is the status of these spiritual masters?

     Babaji: They are offenders to the holy name.

     Vijaya-kumara: Please be merciful and explain the tenth offense.

     Babaji: A resident of the material world who is intoxicated with the idea, "I am wealthy and glorious. I have many servants and followers", and who on some rare occasions thinks favorably about renunciation or has a glimpse of spiritual understanding, or hears the glories of the holy name from panditas, but does not earnestly love the holy name name as he should, commits an offense to the holy name. To teach these persons, the Lord says in Shri Shikshashtaka (verse 2):

 

 

namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis

     tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah

etadrishi tava kripa bhagavan mamapi

     durdaivam idrisham ihajani nanuragah

 

 

     "O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of name like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all You transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by chanting Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them."*

 

     Baba, avoid these ten offenses and chant Lord Hari's holy name always. Then the holy name will quickly be merciful to you, give you prema (pure love of God), and turn you into a parama-bhagavata (a great devotee of the Lord).

 

     Vijaya-kumara: O master, now I see that the impersonalists, fruitive workers, and yogis are all offenders to the holy name. When many people gather together to chant the holy name (sankirtana) is it right for a pure Vaishnava to join them?

     Babaji: If offenders to the holy name are prominent among the chanters, then it is not right for a true Vaishnava to join them in chanting. However, if the chanters are mostly pure Vaishnavas or Vaishnavas whose chanting is on the level of namabhasa (the reflection of the holy name), then there is no harm. In truth it is good. That chanting brings spiritual happiness. Now it is late at night. Tomorrow you will hear more about namabhasa.

 

     Their voices choked with love for the holy name, Vijaya-kumara and Vrajanatha offered prayers to the saintly babaji, touched the dust from his feet, and, singing the song “Hari haraye namah", began walking to Bilva-pushkarini.