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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Shachinandana Swami > The Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name > Appendix > Sri Harinamamrta-sloka-mala-satastaka > Avoiding offenses

Avoiding offenses


Only when a devotee chants without offenses can the eagerness for the nectar of the holy name become manifest in the chanter's heart. The following verse was quoted by Srila Haridasa Thakura when he was asked by Lord Caitanya how the Yavanas, the fallen people of the age of Kali, could be rescued from the sufferings of material bondage:


(88) Padma Purdna, Brahma-khanda 25.24


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

suddham vasuddha-varnam vyavahita-rahitam tarayaty eva satyam

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

niksiptam syan na phala-janakam sighram 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. Oh 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 atheism—in other words, if one utters the name with offenses—such chant¬ing will not produce the desired result very soon. Therefore, one should diligently avoid offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord.1


Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says: namaksara bahir haya, nama nahi haya2, merely reciting the external syllables of the holy name does not mean that one is actually chanting the holy name. The symptoms of one who chants with offenses are given by Srila Sukadeva GosvamI: 



(89) Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.24


tad asma-sdram hrdayarh batedam yad grhyamanair hari-nama-dheyaih

na vikriyetatha yada vikaro netre jalam gatra-ruhesu harsah


Certainly that heart is steel-framed which, in spite of one's chanting the holy name of the Lord with concentration, does not change when ecstasy takes place, tears fill the eyes and the hairs stand on end. In His teachings to Srila Rupa Gosvami,1 Lord Caitanya compares devotional service with a creeper (bhakti-lata). Offenses against the holy name are like dangerous weeds, because they counteract and obstruct the life-giving medicine for the devotional creeper. Amongst them, Lord Caitanya explains the first offense to be most severe:


(90-91) Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lild 19.156-157


yadi vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati mata upade va chinde, tara snkhi' yaya pata

tate mali yatna kari' kare avarana   aparadha-hastira yaiche na haya udgama


If the devotee commits an offense at the feet of a Vaisnava while cultivating the creeper of devotional service in the material world, his offense is compared to a mad elephant that uproots the creeper and breaks it. In this way, the leaves of the creeper are dried up. The gardener must defend the creeper by fencing it all around so that the powerful elephant of offenses may not enter. krishna loves His devotees so much that He does not tolerate any incorrect behavior or attitude against them. Therefore, the Skanda Purana gives a high standard regarding offenses against Vaisnavas:


(92) Skanda Purana


hanti nindati vai dvesthi   vaisnavan nabhi-nandati

krudhyate yati no harsarh    darsane patanani sat


hanti—to kill; nindati—to blaspheme; vai—also; dvesthi—to envy; vaisnavat—before a Vaisnava; na—not; abhi-nandati—to welcome, offer obeisances; krudhyate—to become angry; yati—becoming; na u—not; harsam—joyful; darsane—upon seeing (a Vaisnava); patanani—offenses (which make one fall down); sat—six.


There are six kinds of offenses against Vaisnavas which make one fall down: (1) to kill a Vaisnava, (2) to blaspheme Vaisnavas, (3) to become envious on them, (4) failing to offer obeisances to a Vaisnava upon seeing him, (5) to become angry on a Vaisnava, and (6) to not become joyful upon seeing a Vaisnava.1


What is the chance to overcome nama-aparddhas when they are so strictly counted? The answer is that the process of chanting itself is the means to overcome the offenses against the holy name:


(93) Padma Purana


namaparadha-yuktanam    namany eva haranty agham

avisranti-prayuktani   tany evartha-karani ca


nama-aparddha—offenses against the holy name; yuktdndm—of those who commit; ndmdni—the holy names; eva—certainly; haranti—they remove; agham—sins, offenses; avisranti—incessantly; prayuktani—if they are pronounced; tani—they; eva—indeed; artha—this purpose (to remove the offenses), karani—they perform; ca—also.


Even if in the beginning one chants the holy name with offenses, one will become free from such offenses by chanting again and again.2

 Still we should be very much familiar with the ten offenses, in or¬der to recognize and avoid them, and therefore they are listed in detail in the following section.