|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Shachinandana Swami > The Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name > Foreword|
Summer 1971. Like many young people of my age, i was standing up for the social and political changes of society with full conviction. It was just at that time that I met my best friend—the holy name
Like many deep and long-lasting friendships, this one did by no means develop without complication or trouble. I can clearly remember the cultural shock when for the first time I heard the devotees singing "Hare krishna" on television. Later, when I watched incredulously how they were dancing in front of the War Memorial in Hamburg, I had already drawn my conclusion: This chanting does not fit into our European culture. It does not appeal to me, it is too exotic. Yet, right away I was seized by an inexplicable fascination—deep in my heart I felt not only addressed, but also called and challenged—a typical love-hate relationship started to develop.
The more I became gradually acquainted with the holy name, the more I started to love it. When the record from the "Radha-krishna Temple London, together with George Harrison" was played on the radio, I interrupted all activities and conversations and dedicated my full attention to the holy name. Even though in the beginning it made me wonder: What was so special about this song —was it perhaps that beyond all differences between cultures and musical styles it pointed to a deep, universal mystery?
Finally, after having read the Bhagavad-gTta\ I would sit on the shore of the Baltic Sea in the evening and string pine wood beads on a curtain cord. Since I had no japa-mala—the classical beads
1 Bhagavad-gTta: the discourse between the Supreme Lord, krishna, and His devotee Arjuna, expounding devotional service as both the principal means and the ul¬timate end of spiritual perfection.
made of the holy TulasI1 wood—I tied my own mantra string in order to chant the holy name with more concentration.
How did it all begin? The story of how krishna's holy name came to the West at first sounds like a spiritual adventure. Prabhupada, the representative of a millenuim-old disciplic succession, came to New York in 1965, following the order of his spiritual master. From a material point of view, he owned only forty rupees, "as much money as you spend in one day in America," he once said. In his heart, however, he held the most precious treasure: the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri krishna. Moreover, he brought an ancient Vedic prophesy and he had come to the West to fulfill it: The holy name would be chanted in every town and village of the whole world. As soon as Prabhupada had started to implant the Hare krishna mantra firmly into the rough asphalt of the "capital of sin", a beautiful tree began to grow with branches and twigs creeping all over the world: the chanting of the holy name. The holy name is the first contact which the living being can have with krishna in the material world. Gradually, that name re¬veals itself to the seriously determined person as krishna Himself, with His transcendental form, His qualities, and finally, with His transcendental lilas2.
Thus the holy name includes the variety and the aim of all spiritual realization. There is no need to look for God anywhere else: He is present in His Name. At the same time the practice of chanting the holy name is an open secret. Therefore this book, "The Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name", is a humble attempt to reveal more about the deep mystery of the holy name. Most of all, it intends to provide the reader with an improved access to proper chanting methods, through numerous instructions from the age-old practice of chanting the holy name, so that in every single case the name may reveal its full power. Thus, the "Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name" is not a mere theoretical treatise; it is first of all a practical guide, with the purpose to be, as far as possible, an everlasting source of inspiration.Of course I am aware that this publication will not be able to fully expound the topic. For thousands of years, the holy name has inspired innumerable Vaisnava1 poets to fill palm leaves after palm leaves with the glorification of its glories. Nevertheless, since I have been granted to a slight taste of the glories of the holy name, I would like to present some drops of its nectarean ocean, aware of the obvious shortcomings of my attempt.
"The Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name" is based on the work Harinama-cintamani ("The Gem of the Holy Name") by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura2. By the mercy of Sri krishna and my god-brothers, I was allowed to study this book in Vrndavana3 in autumn 1988. I became so deeply inspired that I started to present it in a series of lectures in Zurich, which formed the basis for the first German edition of the present book. But this was just the beginning. Since then, I have continuously been engaged in exploring the topic of the holy name and was able to dive deeper and deeper into its nectarean ocean. I have been able to acquire more technical and philosophical informations and details about individual realizations, which flew into a completely new German edition. Thus, a completely new book about the holy name was created in 1997, which formed the basis for the present first English edition.
However, in the course of translating we discovered several mistakes and inconsistencies, and also found more material to add. Furthermore, we decided to organize the whole content in a more conclusive way. The verse appendix has been converted into a "garland of one hundred and eight nectarean verses on the holy name", which leads the reader through the various slokas1 with inspiring and informative purports. An index of verses as well as a general index has been added, and the glossary has been thoroughly edited. This publication is therefore not a mere translation of the second German edition, but actually a revised, third edition.Nevertheless, it is quite likely probable and also desirable that in ten years time a new edition should be written; for just like an ocean offers many unexplored depths, the nectarean ocean of the holy name similarly holds greater and greater mysteries for the spiritual seeker.
As I am an imperfect conditioned soul—who writes about a subject of the eternal spiritual world, mistakes are bound, to creep into this presentation even though we tried our best to repeat the message of guru, sadhu and sastra2.
Also, despite "a staff of the best editors in the world" the English reader will soon detect (if he/she has not done so already) that English is not my mother tongue.
Be it as it may be—we pray that our enthusiastic endeavor will be appreciated by those who wish to spend their time finding the essence, rather than concentrating on the faults.
At this point I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, without whose patient and proficient guid¬ance I would never have met with this ocean of nectar. I hope that he is pleased with my efforts. I would also like to thank my readers for their interest in this topic.
I wish with all my heart that you may find inspiration in read¬ing this book again and again and gain spiritual strength from your own realizations which will certainly come once you decide to dive deeply into the nectarean ocean of the holy name. In concluding, dear reader, let me give you a few hints which will help you to appreciate this book better. The feedback we received for the German edition of the "Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name" showed us that a wide spectrum of people acquired a copy of the book. It is likely—and we hope so—that the English version will be read by even more. The spectrum will most probably range from the person who is just some¬what interested in spiritual life to the devout and well-experienced practitioner, whose level of advancement is vastly superior to ours.
To make the nectarean ocean equally relishable to all, I suggest to visit it like a botanical garden. There may be areas and sections which do not interest you immediately, whereas others instantly engage your fascination. So you might leave the ordinary route to explore them according to your own order. You might decide to wander at random—and later choose to revisit certain chapters. All this and many more possibilities are fine. Let me however humbly remind you that the real visit to the nectarean ocean of the holy name will only take place if you dive into it by chanting yourself with full attention and deep affection. We would consider it our greatest fortune if this book did its lit¬tle service to our readers by inspiring them in this way.