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This prayer1 from Srila Rupa GosvamI glorifies sri harinama prabhu, the most merciful personality of the holy name, who has descended into the material world in order to rescue and enliven all living entities. Rupa GosvamI starts by prostrating himself unto the lotus feet of sri harinama. He declares that, since the holy name is worshipped even by the Vedas in person, it is most appropriate to take full shelter of him:
(13) Sri krishna-namastaka 1
ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam paritas tvam hari-nama samsrayami
nikhila—of all; sruti—of the Upanisads; mauli—the crown jewel; ratna-mala—of the jewel necklace; dyuti—brilliant; mrajita—being worshipped (in a ceremony); pada-pankaja—of Your lotus feet; anta—the tip of the toes; ayi—oh harinama; mukta-kidaih—of all liberated personalities; upa-asyamanam—being praised and worshipped; paritah—completely, all around; tvam—by You; hari-nama—oh harinama; sam-srayami—I take shelter.
Oh sri harinamal The entire galaxy of Upanisads, which are like a necklace of most precious gems, are serving the toenails of Your lotus feet with their brilliance. In such a way, the Vedic scriptures are constantly glorifying Your lotus feet. Great yogis, sages and liberated transcen-dentalists are engaging in worshipping You. Therefore I fully surrender unto You and humbly pray for Your shelter.
Not only do the sages worship sri harinama, but they also constantly chant krishna's name, because he appeared to please everyone in the material world. Thus, besides relieving one from sinful reactions, chanting the holy name also gives supreme pleasure:
(14) Sri krishna-namastaka 2
jaya nama-dheya muni-vrnda-geya he jana-ranjanaya paramaksarakrte
tvam anadarad api manag udiritam nikhilogra-tapa-patalim vilumpasi
jaya—all glory unto You; nama-dheya—oh holy name; muni-vrnda—by all sages; geya—You are chanted; he—oh!; jana—the living entities who are born in the material world; ranjanaya—in order to please; parama—of the supreme form; a-ksara—of syllables ("that what can not be separated); akrte—You have accepted the form; tvam—You; an-adarat—without respect and attention; api—although; mandk—only; udiritam—You are pronounced; nikhila —of all; ugra—of the severe; tapa—of the sufferings; patalim —the entirety; vilumpasi—You destroy.
Oh srl harinama, who is chanted by all sages! For the pleasure of the living entities, You have assumed the form of the supreme transcendental syllables. If a person chants Your name even once, and derisively, too, even then You completely destroy the monstrous mountain of his sinful reactions. Therefore, oh holy name, all glories unto You!
It might be argued that hardly anyone is able to chant purely enough so that the holy name manifests in full splendor. But Srlla Rupa Gosvami does not agree, Even a glimmer of the holy name can free a person from material existence:
(15) Sri krishna-namastaka 3
yad-dbhaso 'py udyan kavalita-bhava-dhvanta-vibhavo drsam tattvandhanam api disati bhakti-pranayimm
janas tasyoddttarh jagati bhagavdn-nama-tarane krtite nirvakturh ka iha mahimdnam prabhavati
yat—of You; abhasah—a glimmer; api—just; ud-yan—rising; kavalita— devouring; bhava—of the material world; dhvdnta—of the darkness; vibhavah—the influence; drsam—the eye, vision; tattva—of the truth; andhanam—of those who are blind; api—also; disati—he reveals; bhakti— devotional service; pranayanvm—(the vision) which leads to, enables; janah—someone; tasya—his; ud-attam—the exalted (glory); jagati—in this world; bhagavat-nama—of the holy name of the Lord; tarane—o sun; krti—a learned or pious person; te—Your; nir-vaktum—to describe; kah—who?; iha—hier (in this world); mahimdnam—the glories; prabhavati—is able.
Oh illuminating sun of Krsrta's name! If any person by his chanting can even obtain a mere shadow of Your splendor, then You dissipate the gloom of nescience that drags him into the darkness of the material world. You reward even the blind fools who are bereft of any spiritual knowledge with the vision that enables them to take up devotional service. Therefore, oh srt harinama, who in this world is able to properly describe Your glories? Bhakti-pranayTm means that such a fortunate soul is able to recognize devotional service as the supreme goal of life. This is the actual indescribable glory of chanting on the ndmabhdsa stage.
Another doubt might arise: that other spiritual processes can extinguish the fire of ugra-tdpa (as described in the second sloka) as well. Srlla Rupa Gosvami clearly rejects such an opinion. No other process, not even the realization of one's eternal spiritual nature through impersonal brahman meditation, has that tremendous power to completely eradicate all sinful reactions. This is only possible by the holy name; and to substantiate his statement, he quotes the Vedas:
(16) Sri krishna-namastaka 4
yad brahma-saksat-krti-nisthayapi vinasam ayati vina na bhogaih
apaiti nama-sphuranena tat te prarabdha-karmeti virauti vedah
yat—which (the destruction); brahma—of the brahman effulgence; sdksat-krti—by realization, direct perception; nisthayd—by steady; api— although, also; vinasam—destruction (of the reactions); dyati—takes place; vina—without; na—not; bhogaih—perceiving happiness and distress (on the reactions); apaiti—flies; nama—of the holy name; sphuranena—by being manifested; tat— these (reactions); te—of Your (name); prarabdha-karma—the reactions on past fruitive activities which are already manifested; Hi—thus; virauti—speak; vedah—the Vedas.
The Vedas say: "A person may obtain the direct perception of the brahman effulgence by steadfast, sincere and long-lasting continuous meditation. However, he will not be able to completely eradicate the results of his prarabdha-karma (reactions on his fruitive activities, which have already begun to fructify). They have to be experienced by material enjoyment or suffering. Yet, as soon as a small particle of Your merciful glare starts to reveal its effect, the entire constellation of prarabdha-karma is annihilated."
The words virauti vedah are significant. Rauti means "to call out, to roar", and vi means "very much". This means that the Vedas very emphatically call out their verdict. And vedah, which is in the singular number, expresses that all the Vedas together join in this statement—it is not the mere opinion of some of them.
However, as Srila Haridasa Thakura explains1, the burning of sinful reactions and the liberation of material existence are only byproducts of harinama—the actual result is the attainment of deep love of God. Therefore, in order to inaugurate rati, affection for the holy name, Rupa Gosvami quotes some of the numberless sweet names of krishna:
(17) Sri krishna-namastaka 5
agha-damana-yasoda-nandanau nanda-suno kamala-nayana-gopi-candra-vrndavanendrah
pranata-karuna-krishnav ity aneka-svarupe tvayi mama ratir uccair vardhatam nama-dheya
agha-damana—the subduer of the Agha demon; yasoda-nandanau—and the son of Yasoda; nanda-sunah—the son of Nanda; kamala-nayana—the lotus-eyed; gopl-candra—the moon of the gopts; vrndavana-indrah—and the Lord of Vrndavana; pranata—to the surrendered souls; karuna—the merciful; krishnau—and krishna; iti—thus; an-eka—many (not-one); sva-rupe—You have forms; tvayi—unto You; mama—mama; ratih— attachment, affection; uccaih—strong; vardhatam—may it increase; nama-dheya—oh holy name.
Oh srl harindmal You manifest in many forms, like Aghadamana (the subduer of the Agha demon), Yasodanandana (the son of Yasoda), Nandasuna (the son of Nanda Maharaja), Kamalanayana (the lotus-eyed), Gopicandra (the moon of the gopls), Vrndavanendra (the Lord of Vrndavana), Pranatakaruna (the compassionate master of the surrendered souls), and krishna. Oh holy name, let my attachment for You increase more and more.
Now Rupa Gosvami speaks of the two svarupas, or forms in which krishna appears in the material world, namely His personal form— as the Deity—and His holy name. Generally, the personal form is considered more important than someone's name, but in krishna's case His name is more important. The reason is given in the next sloka:
(18) Sri krishna-namastaka 6
vacyam vacakam ity udeti bhavato nama svarupa-dvayam purvasmat param eva hanta karunam tatrapi janimahe
yas tasmin vihitaparadha-nivahah prani samantad bhaved asyenedam upasya so 'pi hi cadanandambudhau majjat
vacyam—the form (the subject which is addressed); vacakam—the sound vibration (which is expressed through words); iti—thus; ud-eti—He appears, manifests Himself; bhavatah—Your; nama -name; sva-rupa—as form; dvayam—as dual; purvasmat—than the previousdy mentioned); param—higher; eva—certainly; hanta—alas!; karunam—compassion; tatra—in it (the sound vibration); api—also; janimahe—we know; yah— who; tasmin—against it (the form); vihita—having committed; aparadha— of offenses; nivahah—a multitude; pram—a living entity; samantat— completely; bhavet—becomes; asyena—with the mouth; idam—this (the sound vibration); upa-asya—worshipping; sah—he; api—even; hi— certainly; ananda—of transcendental happiness; ambudhau—in the ocean; majjat—he will dive.
Oh holy name! You appear in two forms: vacyam, the Deity form of the Supreme Lord, and vacakam, Your transcendental name1. Of these two, we consider the form of holy syllables to be infinitely more compas¬sionate than the form of the Deity. Because if a person having taken shelter of the Deity form commits aparadha (offenses)1, the only recourse he has is to become the servant of the holy name and chant incessantly krishna, Govinda and so on. By Your immeasurable transcen¬dental potency, all his offenses disappear and he experiences uninterrupted joy—submerged in an ocean of ecstasy. In other words, because the chanting of the holy name has the power to nullify offenses against the Deity, Srlla Rupa Gosvami considers chanting to be the most effective means of sadhana. The next verse reveals the realizations of a devotee who has at¬tained the platform of suddha-nama and sees the form of Syamasundara before his eyes:
(19) Sri krishna-namastaka 7
suditasrita-janarti-rasaye ramya cid-ghana-sukha-svariipine
nama gokula-mahotsavaya te krishna purna-vapuse namo namah
sudita—You, who destroys; asrita—who take shelter at You; jana—of Your devotees; arti—of all sufferings; rasaye—the completeness; ramya— oh beautifil one; cid-ghana—of pure intelligence; sukha—of transcendental pleasure; sva-rupine—Your form; nama—Your name; gokula-maha-utsavaya—who prepares a great festival for the inhabitants of Gokula; te—unto You; krishna—oh krishna; purna-vapuse—whose body is complete, transcendental; namah namah—obeisances.
Oh holy name! You destroy the entirety of the sufferings of Your sur¬rendered devotees. You are eternally manifest in the transcendental form of intensified bliss. To the residents of Gokula, You are the source of an unending festival of joy and divine pleasure2, and You are always saturated in Your magnificent glory and sweetness. I offer my repeated obeisances unto Your lotus feet.
Srlla Rupa Gosvami concludes by praying for the supreme bene¬diction which is obtainable from srl harinamct prabhu: that the holy name may appear in his pure form by dancing on the tongue of the chanter:
(20) Sri krishna-namastaka 8
tvam krishna-nama kamam sphura me rasane rasena sada
ndrada—of Narada Muni; vina—of the Vina; ut-jivana—You are the life-giving elixir; sudha—of the nectar; urmi—of the waves in the ocean; nir-yasa—the essence; madhurT—the sweetness; pur a—filling, increasing; tvam—You; krishna-nama—oh holy name of krishna; kamam—according to Your desire; sphura—please appear; me—my; rasane—on the tongue; rasena—with affection for the Lord; sada—eternal.
Oh krishna's name! You are the life force of Sri Narada's vina and You are constantly increasing the sweetness of the delightful waves in the ocean of nectar. Out of Your causeless mercy kindly appear on my tongue incessantly and bestow me with unalloyed affection to the Lord.
Narada Muni is a pure devotee of krishna who constantly travels throughout the universe and sings the glories of krishna, accompanied by his string instrument called vina. Thus the words narada-vTnojjwana express that the chanting of the holy name is the sum and substance of glorifying the Lord. It gives life to all other processes of bhakti-yoga.