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trnad api sunicena
taror iva sahisnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
trnat api - than downtrodden grass; sunicena - being lower; taroh - than a tree; iva - like; sahisnuna - with tolerance; amanina - without being puffed up by false pride; manadena - giving respect to all; kirtaniyah - to be chanted; sada - always; harih - the holy name of the Lord.
"One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor but is always prepared to give all respect to others, can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord."
Shri Sanmodana Bhasyam
The devotee who chants the name offenselessly is adorned by four very special qualities. These are: a natural meekness and humility because of total detachment from matter; pure compassion unencumbered by envy; a spotless heart free from mundane, false prestige; a proper respectful attitude towards everyone. When the holy name, the full embodiment of the transcendental rasas, appears in the sadhaka's heart, his attitude of mind
is transformed. He thinks, "I am constitutionally an infinitesimal eternal servitor of Lord Krishna. I have no real need for materialism. But, alas because of my estrangement from Krishna's lotus feet, I find myself in my present predicament. Being bound to the grinding wheel of repeated birth and death, I am suffering untold miseries.
The sadhaka meekly embraces yukta-vairagya "Now, by the grace of my spiritual master and the Vaishnavas, I have come to realize that only by devotional service to the Supreme Lord can I find release from the distresses of material existence, be reinstated in my constitutional position, regain my spiritual identity, and attain love of God.
"But as long as I am not freed from the chains of material bondage, I am obliged to embrace the path of yukta-vairagya (renuncia¬tion by actively engaging the senses in the Lord's service). Relying upon sambandha-jnana, I will have to accept matter for my bare necessities to keep body and soul together. "Misery stemming from paucity, disease, calamity and old age, and happiness caused by wealth, health, beauty, and education, are called prarabdha karmic reactions and must be experienced as inseparable features of this present body. I will not be able to avoid such reactions. In any case, loss and gain, birth and death, suffering and joy are left behind when one ascends to the spiritual plane.
"Therefore these mundane matters are inconsequential to my actual life. I will approach the Lord with utmost humility and pray, 'O Krishna! O Govinda! O Lord of my heart, when will I be engaged in Your divine service? Kindly be merciful upon this lowly creature now and quickly accept me as Your servitor.'
"In this mood I may either renounce my family or remain at home living frugally. It doesn't matter, for by Krishna's grace I will somehow sustain my life. "A dead straw in the street is simply matter; accordingly, its ego or identity naturally corresponds to its factual existence, for a straw is but a straw. But my present ego is ahankara, made up of gross and subtle coverings; it does not tally with my original spiritual self. The straw's abhiman or ego is factual but my material ego is unreal. Therefore it is only correct that I become more humble than the straw in the street."
The sadhaka is tolerant and compassionate
The purport of the expression taror api sahisnuna, "more tolerant than a tree", is as follows. The tree is so tolerant that it cannot even neglect to offer its cooling shade and succulent fruits to the very person who is going to cut it down. The devotee of Lord Krishna is even more kind because he is compassionate to everyone, friend or foe, desiring only their best.
One who chants the holy name without offenses is overwhelmed with thoughts of the well-being of others. He thinks, "O Lord! My friends, companions and all other living entities are very unfortunate. How shall they be able develop love and attraction for chanting Your all-auspicious name? They are sunken in the quagmire of familial attachments, wealth and property, petty successes and reverses, lost and profit, joys and sufferings, birth and death and on and on - all because they are blinded by maya.
"I see not the slightest indication that they are disgusted with this futile material existence filled only with anarthas (unwanted things). They are being slowly strangled by the noose of their unlimited desires for sense gratification. They spend their valuable time busying themselves in useless affairs of karma and jnana. How can these persons be made interested in self-realization?"
Entreating the Lord in this manner, the devotee's heart becomes flooded with spiritual emotions. He loudly sings: harer nama harer nama hare namaiva kevalam kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha "In the age of Kali, there is no other way, there is no other way, no other way than chanting the holy name of Lord Hari!"
The sadhaka's heart is spotlessly free of prestige
The word amani reveals the third quality of the devotee whose chanting is decorated with offenselessness: his heart is spotlessly free from mundane ego and false prestige. The false designations of the jiva's gross and subtle body have grown up out of nescience. Yogic mystic powers, opulence, good looks, high birth, strength, position, influence are all features of his ahankara; they are incompatible with his real spiritual identity; indeed, they are totally alien and false.
Having a spotless heart devoid false ego and prestige means specifically that the devotee completely distances himself from all unreal designations. But what about the pride that may well follow the subjugation of false designations? In spite of his being highly respected, the devotee who demonstrates tolerance, humility and a pure heart is a fit candidate to chant purely. He will take care to avoid becoming proud of being honored as
brahmana (if he is a householder) or sannyasi (if he is a renunciate); he concentrates on the lotus feet of Lord Krishna and chants His holy name.
The sadhaka offers all respects to others
The word manada means to offer all respect to others. This is the fourth symptom of a devotee who chants without offenses. He understands that all living entities are Krishna's eternal servants, so he is never envious or spiteful to anyone. He pleases everyone with sweet sublime words and exemplary actions that bring benediction to the world. He offers respect to distinguished personalities such as learned brahmanas; to Brahma, Siva and other demigods he offers obeisance with utmost humility, praying to them for increasing his devotion to Lord Krishna; and to elevated Vaishnavas and pure devotees he offers service with heart and soul.
The chanting of the holy name that is felicitated with the above mentioned four qualities is the highest success in human life. This is the declaration of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the most magnanimous avatara and saviour of the fallen souls of Kaliªyuga.
Shri Chaitanya Caritamrita, Antya 20.22-26:
"These are the symptoms of one who chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Although he is very exalted, he thinks himself lower than the grass on the ground, and like a tree he tolerates everything in two ways.
"When a tree is cut down, it does not protests and even when drying up, it does not ask anyone for water. The tree delivers fruits, flowers and whatever it possesses to anyone and everyone. It tolerates scorching heat and torrents of rain, yet it still gives shelter to others. Although a Vaishnava is the most exalted person, he is prideless and gives all respect to everyone, knowing everyone to be the resting place of Krishna. If one chants the holy name of Lord Krishna in this manner he will certainly awaken his dormant love for Krishna's lotus feet."
Because the jiva is by constitution an eternal servant of Lord Krishna, his eternal dharma or religion is chanting the holy name, whether he is a resident of this material world or enters into the spiritual sky. There is no better means for attaining all-around benefit and success for humanity then the chanting of the holy name, for chanting brings good fortune to others and all-auspiciousness to the self.
How the pure name is attained
This sloka was composed for the sole reason of clearly establishing how to avoid namaparadha and namabhasa in chanting. One whose intelligence avoids Krishna and rushes headlong after the intoxication of material enjoyment can never perceive his true position as but an infinitesimal spark of consciousness. One who thinks he is the enjoyer can never admit his insig¬nificance. Nor is he tolerant by nature; he'll not like to give up his false ego and false prestige.
A gross sense enjoyer is thoroughly unwilling and incapable of ungrudgingly offering respect to another enjoyer like himself; it is the materialist's habit to be insincere in his dealings with others, to the point of being obnoxious. But the Vaishnava who actually finds ecstasy in the holy name is more humble than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree; he is unconcerned and even unwilling to receive respect, but eager to offer respect to others. Only such an elevated soul is awarded constant association of the holy name in kirtana.
Offenseless chanters never exploit others
When these pure souls offer glorification and obeisances to the spiritual master and other senior Vaishnavas, they do so because of their quality of manada (respecting others according to station); when they advise and enthuse disciples and sadhakas on the process of chanting, showering them with appreciative and even laudatory words spoken in great affection, their quality of amani (expecting no respect) is revealed.
The pure devotee never exploits the advantageous material position of his elevated status; therefore, he is tolerant of the anger and dismay of the fools who resent his prominence. In this way he exhibits deep forbearance. The offenseless chanter sees himself as lower than the straw in the street that is trampled by the walking masses. Such a saintly soul never thinks, "I am a Vaishnava", or "I am a guru." Indeed, he always thinks himself a
disciple of everyone, most meek and fallen.
Knowing every atom and every infinitesimal spirit soul to be the residence of Lord Krishna, he never treats anyone as inferior to himself, nor does he require anything from anyone in this world. Even if others are envious and spiteful to him, he never retaliates; on the contrary, he prays for his tormentors' well-being.
Real humility means never concocting something new
The devotee who chants purely never rejects the devotional process he received from his spiritual master by introducing new methods, e.g. by replacing the maha-mantra with some concocted and imaginary rhyme. A Vaishnava's humility is not to be questioned if he preaches widely the glories of the holy name by writing new books as long as this is done strictly in accordance with the instructions of his spiritual master. But if one tries to trick people, making a show of humility only to gain the adoration of the masses, that is not accepted as humility.
The pure chanter of the holy name never visualizes the exploitable form of "enjoyable matter"; he sees everything in this world as paraphernalia for the service of Lord Krishna and His associates and devotees. Enjoying this world is simply never considered, because the devotee takes the position of a submissive hearer and never considers disassociating himself from the maha-mantra he received from his spiritual master. Thus he is neither eager or interested in propagating new ideas or opinions.
A devotee never thinks "I am someone's guru"
One who regards himself to be the guru of any Vaishnava devotee rings humility's death knell. The plain truth is that he who does not heed Lord Chaitanya's instructions in this Siksastaka is doomed to pursue material gain with the sole intention of appeasing the senses at the cost of his real spiritual identity. Even if he is a spiritual master, he will simply hanker for recognition in that position. The holy name can never be chanted by such an offender.
No matter how sincere and faithful his disciples may be, they will never become worthy of receiving and chanting the pure holy name if they hear his offensive chanting.
Scriptural statements relevant to this sloka:
kirtaniyah sada hari
"Constantly chanting the holy name"
Shrimad Bhagavatam 2.1.11:
"O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge."
Mukundamala-stotra, sloka 37:
"O fool! O you rascal! This constantly changing body is under attack from innumerable attachments and diseases that are due it by the law of karma, and death is a certainty; what remedial measures have you undertaken? Simply drink the medicine of Krishna's name which is the cure for all diseases."