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What is the process of chanting the holy name?
trinad api sunicena
taror api sahishnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
trinad-api sunicena—being completely free from materialistic pride, to consider oneself even lower and more worthless than insignificant grass which has been trampled beneath everyone's feet; taror api sahishnuna—being more tolerant than a tree; amanina—being prideless; manadena—giving respect to others in accordance with their respective positions; sada harih kirtaniyah—always incessantly chant the holy name of Hari.
"Thinking oneself to be even lower and more worthless than insignifcant grass which has been trampled beneath everyone's feet, being more tolerant than a tree, being prideless, and offering respect to all others as befits their respective positions, one should continuously chant the holy name of Lord Hari."
Shri Sanmodana Bhashyam
Four symptoms are observed in the devotee (sadhaka) who chants the holy name of Shri Krishna free from all offenses: (1) natural humility born of complete detachment from material sense gratification, (2) pure compassion devoid of envy, (3) purity of heart free from false ego, and (4) an attitude of respect toward everyone as befits their respective positions.
(1) Trinad api sunicena (humbler than a blade of grass)
When the holy name of Lord Hari, which is the personification of aprakrita (supramundane) chinmaya (consisting of spiritual existence) rasa, makes its appearance in the heart of the practicant devotee (sadhaka), his heart becomes overwhelmed and he begins to think thus:
“O, I am by nature infinitesimal consciousness (anu chaitanya) and a servant of Lord Krishna. I have absolutely no use for mundane material objects. Alas! Alas! Due to my aversion to Lord Krishna, I now find myself in a miserable plight. I have fallen into the cycle of repeated birth and death, and I am being scorched by various kinds of afflictions. By the mercy of Shri Guru and Vaishnavas, I have now understood that my indifference can be dissipated only by the practice (sadhana) of devotional service to the Supreme Lord. By becoming situated once again in my original constitutional identity (svarupa), I can obtain love for the Supreme Lord (Bhagavat-prema). Therefore, until, by the grace of the Lord, I obtain release from material existence, I shall have to take support of the principle of yukta vairagya and, while cultivating sambandha jnana, accept only those things wich are useful for the maintenance of life."
"Misery arising from poverty, disease, lamentation, old age, etc., as well as happiness arising from wealth, good health, strength, knowledge, etc. are all manifest reactions of previous activities (prarabdha karma). These I will certainly have to enjoy or suffer. Loss and gain, life and death, happiness and distress have nothing to do with spiritual reality (paramarthika). Therefore, I have absolutely no use for these mundane subjects. Thinking in this way, I shall say with great humility:
“‘O Krishna! O Gaurachandra! O Lord of my life! When shall I obtain Your unadulterated service? Please be merciful upon this wretched and fallen soul, and accept me without delay.' Speaking in this way, I shall pass my days, somehow or other, living either at home or in the forest."
"Even though grass is a material object, its ego in respect to matter is natural and reasonable. But my ego in respect to the present subtle and gross material body is inappropriate, because, in reality, it is not related to my pure constitutional nature. The ego of grass is real, but my material ego is unreal. Therefore, it is only proper for me to become even lower than a blade of grass."
(2) Taror api sahishnuna (more tolerant than a tree)
The meaning of the statement `taror api sahishnuna' is that the tree is so tolerant it does not neglect to offer its shade and sweet fruits even to the person who comes to cut it down. Because the devotee of Krishna is even more merciful than the tree, he does good to all-both friend and enemy. This compassion, free from envy, is the second symptom of saintly persons engaged in the performance of Hari nama kirtana.
Persons who chant the holy name free from all offenses think as follows:"O Lord! My friends and associates, who are all among the group of conditioned souls, are very unfortunate. How may they obtain attachment for Your all auspicious holy name? Being blinded by the illusory energy, they are submerged in considerations of wife and children, wealth and property, victory and defeat, loss and gain, birth and death. They are filled with anarthas (unwanted things), and have not even the slightest detachment from mundane matter. They are bound by the stringent ropes of innumerable desires for sense enjoyment. At all times, they are busily engaged in seeking the fruit of karma and jnana. The fruit of karma is the momentary happiness of material enjoyment available in this world or in the heavenly planets. This momentary happiness ultimately leads to suffering. The fruit of jnana is liberation (mukti). How may the desire arise in such persons to perceive their actual form (atma svarupa)?" Speaking thus, the sadhaka jivas, being deeply moved with emotion, begin to sing in a very loud voice:
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
"In Kali yuga, there is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way, than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari."
(3) Amani (freedom from false prestige)
The word `amani ' indicates the third symptom of the sadhaka engaged in the performance of kirtana; namely, that he is freed from false ego. All egotism arising from yogic powers, material opulence, wealth, beauty, high birth, social status, strength, prestige, and high position associated with the gross and subtle body of the living entity who is bound by the illusory energy, is false and opposed to one's real identity. To be freed from such false designations is to be devoid of false ego (mithya abhimana shunyata).
One who, inspite of possessing all these qualifications, is further ornamented with the qualities of tolerance and freedom from false ego is most competent to chant the holy name. Such a pure sadhaka, completely renouncing the pride of being a brahmana householder, or the egotism of being a sannyasi or ascetic in the renounced order of life, fixes his mind exclusively on the lotus feet of Shri Krishna and engages constantly in chanting the holy name of the Lord.
(offering all respect to others)
Lastly, the word `manada' indicates the fourth symptom of a sadhaka engaged in the chanting of the holy name; namely, that he offers respect to everyone as is befitting their respective position. Understanding all living entities to be servants of Krishna, they bear no attitude of malice or vengeance toward anyone. They please everyone with their sweet words and auspicious behaviour which are intended for the good of the entire world. They humbly offer respect as befits any individual's position, whether he be a qualified brahmana or other dignified person of this world, or whether he be an exalted demigod such as Brahma, Rudra, etc. They pray to them for the awakening of devotional service to the Supreme Lord. In particular, they thoroughly and lovingly engage themselves in the service of the pure devotees of the Lord.
Thus Shri Krishna sankirtana, performed with the four above mentioned symptoms, is the only method of attaining the topmost perfection of human life. This is the instruction of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation who delivers the conditioned souls in Kali yuga (Kali Yuga Pavanavatari).
Chaitanya-Caritamrita (Antya-lila, Ch.20.22-26):
uttama hana apanake mane trinadhama
dui-prakare sahishnuta kare vriksha-sama
vriksha yena katileha kichu na bolaya
shukana maileha kare pani na magaya
yei ye magaye, tare deya apana-dhana
gharma-vrishti sahe, anera karaye rakshana
uttana hana vaishnava habe nirabhimana
jive sammana dibe jani' 'krishna'-adhishthana
ei-mata hana yei krishna-nama laya
shri-krishna-carane tanra upajaya
"Inspite of being very exalted, a chanter of the holy name considers himself to be even more worthless and comtemptible than insignificant grass. He is as tolerant as a tree in two ways. Even at the time of being cut, a tree raises no protest. Although being dried up and on the verge of death, it will ask water from no one. Yet to anyone who requests something from it, the tree will offer its fruit, flowers, wood, bark, and sap-everything that it has. The tree, while personally tolerating all kinds of heat and rain, offers protection to others from the same hardships."
"Similarly, a Vaishnava desires nothing for himself, but gives everything to others and offers them protection to the extent of giving them their constitutional occupation (svarupagata dharma) of love of Krishna. Inspite of being the most elevated person, he is devoid of false ego. He offers respect to everyone as befits their position, knowing everyone to be the residence of Shri Krishna. Such a person is genuinely fit to chant the holy name of Shri Krishna. One who chants the holy name of the Lord, endowed with all such qualifications, is sure to obtain love of Krishna."
Shikshashtakam: Song 3 (Gitavali)
shri-krishna-kirtane jadi manasa tohara
parama jatane tanhi labha adhikara
trinadhika hina, dina, akincana chara
apane manabi sada charii ahankara
vriksha- sama kshama-guna karabi sadhana
pratihimsa tyaji anye karabi palana
jivana-nirvahe ane udvega na dibe
para-upakare nija-sukha pasaribe
haile-o sarva-gune guni mahashaya
pratishthasha charii kara amani hridaya
krishna-adhishthana sarva-jibe jani' sada
karabi sammana sabe adare sarvada
dainya, daya, anye mana, pratishtha-varjana
cari gune guni hai', karai kirtana
bhakativinoda kandi', bale prabhu-paya
hena adhikara kabe dibe he amaya
"If you desire to chant the holy name of Shri Krishna, then you must, with great endeavour, acquire proper qualification. Give up your false material ego and consider yourself to be more fallen and worthless than insignificant grass. Become as tolerant and forgiving as a tree. Abandon violence and the spirit of vengeance, and give protection and maintenance to all. For the maintenance of your own existence, do not create anxiety for anyone. Renounce your own happiness and work for the welfare of all others. Although you may be a repository of all good qualities, shun the aspiration to acquire reputation and prestige. Know all living entities to be the residence of Shri Krishna and humbly offer respect to everyone as befits their position."
"Being thus possessed of four qualities-humility, compassion, respect for others and renunciation of the desire for personal prestige, chant the holy name of Shri Krishna. Crying again and again, Shri Bhaktivinoda Thakura offers the following prayer at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord: `O my Lord! When will You bestow such qualification upon me to chant the holy name?’”
By his constitutional nature, the jiva is an eternal servant of Krishna. Therefore, whether residing in this world or in the spiritual world, the chanting of the holy name of Shri Krishna is the eternal dharma of the living entity. Hari nama is both the means of attainment (upaya) as well as the object to be obtained (upeya) both for self-fulfillment (svartha-siddhi) and for rendering benefit to others (paropakara). Nothing else can compare with it. By the chanting of the holy name, all types of auspiciousness arise, both for oneself and for others. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, out of His mercy upon the living entities, composed the verse trinadapi sunicena in order to describe how the jivas may chant the holy name free from namaparadha and namabhasa.
Those who have no inclination at heart to serve Krishna and who are intoxicated with material enjoyment can never acknowledge their insignificance. As far as material sense enjoyers are concerned, they have no perception of their insignifcance. Tolerance is also absent from their character. They are ever unable to give up their false ego and material prestige. No material sense enjoyer is inclined to offer respect to another material sense enjoyer. Their nature is to be envious of one-another.
The nama-bhajananandi Vaishnavas, on the other hand, are even humbler than a blade of grass; they are more tolerant than a tree; and, while remaining indifferent toward their own prestige, they are always eager to offer respect to others. In this material world, they alone are competent and able to chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
The respect which pure Vaishnavas offer to their respective gurus and other Vaishnavas is inspired by their innate propensity to honour others. This is known as svabhavika manada dharma. In order to enthuse their followers or dependents in bhajana, pure devotees display affection and encouragement toward them. This is done out of their natural pridelessness. This is known as amani svabhava. In other words the respect (sammana), honor (gaurava), and affection (sneha), etc. that such devotees offer is due to the innate feeling of the heart. Pure devotees do not consider such affectionate words of appreciation to be cheap material flattery. Furthermore, by tolerating the taunting remarks of the foolish, they exhibit their quality of forbearance.
Pure devotees, constantly engaged in chanting the holy name, consider themselves to be even lower than the straw in the street that is trampled beneath the feet of all living entities in this world. They never think of themselves as gurus or Vaishnavas. They consider themselves to be disciples of the entire world, and the most fallen and insignificant of all. Knowing every atom and every infinitesimal living entity to be the residence of Shri Krishna, they do not consider anything to be inferior to themselves. Devotees absorbed in chanting the holy name never desire nor request anything for themselves from anyone else in this world. Even if others bear malice toward them or commit violence, they never retaliate nor adopt a vengeful attitude; on the contrary, they pray to the Lord for the welfare of their tormentors.
The devotees who chant the holy name adorned with the above mentioned qualities never abandon the devotional process received from their guru in order to adopt new and divergent views. They do not fabricate concocted verses (padavali) and chant those in place of the Hari nama maha mantra. Remaining always under the guidance of their guru, they preach the glories of the holy name, write books based on pure devotional service, and engage themselves in Hari nama bhajana and kirtana.
In such activities, there is no transgression of Vaishnava humility, for the devotee always considers himself to be low and fallen. He never tries to deceive others by making a false show of humility in order to acquire wealth or cheap adoration, for he knows that such false expressions and behavior are not illustrative of genuine humility.
The uttama maha-bhagavatas, while engaged in chanting the holy name of the Lord, never consider the moving and stationary entities within this material world to be items for their own enjoyment, rather they see this entire material world as favorable for the service of Krishna and the devotees of Krishna. In other words, they see everything in this world as related to Krishna; they see all moving entities as servants of Krishna and all non-moving entities as enjoyable by Krishna.
They never think this material world to be for their own enjoyment, but for Krishna's enjoyment. They never invent new mantras, giving up the chanting of the maha-mantra which they obtained from their guru. They do not engage in propagating new theories and opinions.
To regard oneself as a guru of Vaishnavas is contrary to the principle of humility. Those who do not listen to the instructions of Sikshashtaka set forth by Shri Gaurasundara, who, being forgetful of their actual spiritual identity, become greedy for prestige and material gain in order to satisfy their senses, and who are anxious to obtain the status of Vaishnava or guru can never chant the holy name of the Lord. Even a sincere and faithful disciple cannot obtain qualification for hearing the holy name by hearing kirtana performed by such persons. Therefore, considering oneself lower than the straw in the street, being more tolerant than a tree, being devoid of false prestige and offering all respect to others, one must chant the holy name of the Lord.
Shri Bhajana Rahasya Verses
Kirtaniyah sada Harih:
Everyone should chant the holy name of the Lord at all times. This is stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam as follows (2.1.11):
etan nirvidyamananam icchatam akutobhayam
yoginam nripa nirnitam harer namanukirtanam
"O King! It has been decided by previous acaryas that whether one be an unalloyed devotee, thoroughly detached from material existence; whether one be desirous of elevation to the heavenly planets or liberation; or whether one be a self-satisfied (atmarama) yogi, one should in all cases hear, chant, and remember the transcendental name, form, qualities, and pastimes of Shri Hari. These three activities are considered to be the supreme form of sadhana and sadhya."
(In other words, previous acaryas have determined that these three activities are both the means of attaining perfection [sadhana] as well as the goal to be obtained by such practice [sadhya] for all types of persons.)
First of all, one must give up the bodily conception of life. This is stated in the Mukunda-mala stotra (37):
idam shariram shata-sandhi-jarjjaram
kim-aushadhim pricchasi mudha durmate
niramayam krishna-rasayanam piba
"O fool! O dull-headed creature! This constantly mutable body, which is afflicted by innumerable attachments, will surely perish one day. What medicine are you seeking to remedy this situation? Just incessantly drink the medicine of the holy name of Shri Krishna which destroys even the disease of this material existence, the source of all other diseases."
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has composed the following Bengali verse in this connection:
shata-sandhi-jara-jara, tava ei kalevara,
patana haibe eka-dina
bhasma, krimi, vishtha habe, sakalera ghrinya
tabe, ihate mamata arvacina
ore mana, shuna mora e satya-vacana
e rogera mahaushadhi, krishna-nama
niravadhi, niramaya krishna-rasayana
"Even if it remains for one hundred years, this gross material body will undoubtably perish one day. It will then transform into ashes, worms, and stool, and become most abominable to all. Therefore, to become attached to this body is certainly improper. O mind! Just listen to this instruction. The only remedy for this disease is to constantly hear, chant, and remember the holy name of Shri Krishna. The elixir (rasayana) of the holy name of Shri Krishna is the only cure for all diseases."