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The Sublime Glories of the Holy Name
The capacity of the holy name in relation to the material energy is only a side-effect of its supreme spiritual nature. Its actual glory is the potency to bring the soul in contect with krishna Himself, because the holy name is non-different from krishna:
(34) Padma Purana
nama cintamanih krishnas caitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah suddho nitya-mukto 'bhinnatvan nama-naminoh
The holy name of krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. krishna's name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than krishna Himself. Since krishna's name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. krishna's name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of krishna and krishna Himself are identical.1
In his Durgama-sangamanT commentary to this verse, Srila Jlva Gosvami elaborates on the fact that krishna appears in two non-different forms: The Supreme Absolute Truth is one reality whose form is eternal, fully cognizant, and ecstatic. That Absolute reality who is the origin of all rasa (transcendental mellows) appears in two forms, as krishna Himself and as the holy name of krishna. These two forms are non-different manifestations of the same eternal reality—krishna.
Srila Prabhupada gives a nice example of how to understand the absolute nature of krishna's name:
There is no difference between krishna's body and His soul. krishna is simultaneously both soul and body. The distinction between body and soul applies to conditioned souls. The body of the conditioned soul is different from the soul, and the conditioned soul's name is different from his body. One may be named Mr. John, but if we call for Mr. John, Mr. John may never actually appear. However, if we
utter the holy name of krishna, krishna is immediately present on our tongue. In the Padma Purana, krishna says, mad-bhaktd yatra gayanti tatra tisthami ndrada: "O Narada, I am present wherever My devotees are chanting."1 When the devotees chant the holy name of krishna—Hare krishna Hare krishna krishna krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare—Lord krishna is immedi¬ately present.2
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu quoted the above verse from the Padma Purana when He was asked by a brahmana why the mayavadis cannot chant the name of krishna. The Lord explained that mayavadis are offenders of krishna and therefore don't utter His name, which is non-different from Himself. He explained the above verse as follows:
(35) Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lild 17.134
ataeva krsnera 'nama', 'deha', 'vilasa'
prakrtendriya-grahya nahe, haya sva-prakasa
The holy name of krishna, His body and His pastimes cannot be understood by the blunt material senses, because they are manifested independently.
Srila Prabhupada repeatedly stressed this point in his purports: that krishna, His name, and so on appear by dint of the spiritual potency of the Lord, not through the material energy. Therefore the holy name is the direct way to achieve transcendental knowledge:
(36) Garuda Purana
yad icchasi param jnanam jnanad yad paramam padam
tadadarena rajendra kuru govinda-kirtanam
yat—if; icchasi—you desire; param—the highest; jnanam—knowledge; jndnat—by such knowledge; yat—if (you want to attain); paramam—the supreme; padam—abode; tada—then; adarena—with firm faith; raja-indra—o best of Kings; kuru—perform; govinda-kirtanam—chanting the names of Sri Govinda.
O best of Kings, if you want to achieve the highest knowledge by which you may attain the supreme abode, then perform Govinda ktrtanam with firm faith.1
All in all, there is no spiritual process as exalted and glorious than the chanting of the holy name. Srila Sanatana Gosvaml therefore states that harinama-sankirtana surpasses even worship and meditation:
(37) Brhad-Bhagavatamrta 1.9
jayati jayati namananda-rupam murarer viramita-nija-dharma-dhyana-pujadi-yatnam
kathamapi sakrdattam muktidam praninam yat paramam-amrtam-ekam jivanam bhusanam me
jayati jayati—praised, praised be; nama—of the holy name; ananda—the blissful; riipam—the form; mura-areh—of krishna, the killer of the Mura demon; viramita—who has abandoned; nija—the own; dharma—religious duties; dhyana—meditation; puja—worship; adi—and so on; yatnam—(the holy name) causes; katham api; just; sakrd—once; attam—being pronounced; mukti-dam—(the holy name) awards liberation; pranindm— towards the living entities; yat—who; paramam—the supreme; amrtam— nectar; ekam—the very, only; jwanam—life; bhusanam—treasure; me—my.
All glories, all glories to the all-blissful holy name of Sri krishna, which causes the devotee to give up all conventional religious duties, meditation and worship. When somehow or other uttered even once by a living entity, the holy name awards him liberation. The holy name of krishna is the highest nectar. It is my very life and my only treasure.2
The holy name is the highest nectar and the most valuable wealth of the transcendentalist. Even the Vedas engage wholeheartedly in chanting the name and glories of the Supreme Lord:
vede ramayane caiva purane bharate tatha
adavante ca madhye ca harih sarvatra giyate
vede—in the Vedas; ramdyane—in the Ramayana; ca eva—as well; purane—in the Purdnas; bharate—m the Mahdbhdrata; tatha—also; adau— in the beginning; ante—in the end; ca—and; madhye—in the middle; ca— also; harih—the name and glories of Sri Hari; sarvatra—everywhere; glyate—is chanted.
Throughout the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Purdnas, and the Mahdbhdrata, from beginning to end, and everywhere in between, only the name and the glories of the Supreme Lord, Sri Hari, are chanted.
When Pariksit Maharaja, who was preparing for his impending death, met with Sukadeva Gosvaml he asked, "What should I do at this critical hour? What should I hear, what should I worship, or whom should I remember now?" In return, Sukadeva Gosvaml related his own experience of hearing the Srimad-Bhagavatam. He said that, although he was already situated in transcendence, still he was captured by the beauty of the descriptions of krishna's names, qualities and pastimes, as soon as his father Vyasadeva started to recite slokas from the Bhdgavatam. Then he recounted the following verse:
(39) Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11
etan nirvidyamananam icchatam akuto-bhayam
yoginam nrpa nirnitam harer namanukirtanam
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.