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LORD'S NAME - THE DIVINE PANACEA
AFTER hearing some of the wonderful effects of the Divine Name, we often take recourse to the chanting of the Name, overlooking the important instructions as immaterial. From our practical experience in this world, we see these people, in spite of their show of religious practices of chanting the Name, etc.. lack in the elementary prin¬ciples of religion, not to speak of higher achievements. Their ex¬amples in society have proved stumbling blocks in reviving faith in God or His Name. The system of medical treatment insists upon the patient to carry out the instructions of the doctor strictly with respect to the medicine as well as the diet. The Holy Name is the Divine Medicine to save us from the chronic disease of worldliness and as such it is indispensable to take the Name, fully observing all the other injunctions of the Sastras.
Shri Kulasekhar Alvar, one of the ancient renowned saints of South India and a noted exponent of Bhakti, in his popular devotional work 'Shri Mukundamala Stotra' mentions thus:- .
daityendraarti-karaushadham tri-bhuvane sanjivanaikaushadham
shreyah-praapti-karaushadham piba manah shri-krishna-divyaushadham..15
(mukunda mala strtra,32)
"O my mind! Why do you instigate me to run after various medi¬ cines when you have before you a highly potential one with astound¬ ing results? Did you ever think of it even for a short while? Your madness and restlessness are proverbial. The mischief that you often work on the lives of ascetics and the untoward sufferings you cause them, thereby, are innumerable and most damaging. You have easily conquered ordinary human beings by your two pronged drive of Sankalpa (forming ideas), and Vikalp(dissolving them), and the Almighty Lord alone knows when they are to get their release from your well-fortified prison chambers. I do not know with what objects amongst the creations of the Lord I can properly compare you, either with a grasshopper that ne^er sits in a place, but goes on frisking as often as possible or with any angry monkey bit by a scorpion. Really you are incomparable!"15
Did not the great Arjun on behalf of the entire world state in Gita,"
cancalam hi manah krishna pramaathi balavad dridham,
tasyaaham nigraham manye vaayor iva su-dushkaram..16
asamshayam mahaa-baaho mano durnigraham calam,
abhyaasena tu kaunteya vairaagyena ca grihyate..17
O Krishna! You want me to control the mind. But how can I do it? It is so wavering, vehement, powerfully defiant and firm that its control, I consider, is very hard to achieve as of the wind."16 Bhagavan Shri Krishna too agreed with the same sentiments of His devotee Arjun and seconded them with extraordinarily high compliments. "O mighty armed! True, you are perfectly right; you may be easily successful in conquering many of your opponents by your mighty arms. But this, restless mind is difficult to conquer."17 Most people may be ignorant of your wicked activities; yet, they may be knowing this much that you are the bitterest enemy of humanity striving for God-realisation.
"O Mind! Thou art the worst enemy of those who indulge fre¬quently in transitory objects; thou art also the best friend of those few fortunate souls who constantly remember the Blessed Lord. How thou misguidest the poor forgotten souls by thy false and clever ar¬guments! I have now understood thy evil leanings; thanks, thanks, to thee my worthy friend, for the lesson thou hast taught! No longer I hope to satisfy thy whims and fancies and no more suggestions from thee to that effect for the present. Now, drink this Divine Medicine -the Holy Name of the Lord without any further excuse. Thou art very clever in framing excuses with thy unusual arguments and reason¬ings, in bringing about a downfall from proper devotional approach. Do not put forward any such specious pleas as suggesting the prac-tice of other methods like asceticism, Karma, Juan, Yoga, renuncia¬tion, penance, etc. They are not in the least equal to This Elixir. They neither possess as many virtues as the Divine Name nor they are as efficacious and easy as the latter. Start forthwith, this course of treat¬ment without any hesitation and you will reap its wonderful effects. 'Proof of a pudding is in the eating.'"
nashto mohah smritir labdhaa,
The Divine Name is (he most powerful remedy for delivering one from the sinister influences of infatuation and ignorance. Every soul who has forgotten the Supreme Lord without any exception, is under the spell of this enemy called ignorance. Having fallen a prey to this, the unfortunate soul identifies itself with the material body and its surrounding relations. It forgets its real nature and its original relation with the All-Merciful Lord - the Soul of all souls. Taking recourse to constant chanting of the Divine Name, one becomes eli¬gible for the Grace of the Lord which is evidenced by one's imme¬diate redemption from the thraldom of infatuation (Moha) which is our misidentitication. It is only the Divine Grace of Bhagavat Prasada that can save us from this degraded condition. "O Achyuta! By Your Grace my delusion is completely gone."18
It helps the steady concentration of the mind on the Absolute Godhead by totally destroying mind's all evil propensities like the wavering and the stubborn natures.
It is a marvellous medicine to do away with all the opposing factors, external or internal. In our spiritual struggle, we are beset with obstacles everywhere, within and Without. Unless we are free from all these stumbling blocks, our advance towards our goal is out of question. Tlie easiest and best course of operation in driving away all these adversaries is performed with this Divine Medicine.
litis is the best rejuvenating agent in all the infinite number of worlds. This not only delivers the materialised soul from the worst lamentable labyrinth of extreme worldliness, but also enlivens and spiritualises it with fresh life.
Beginning from the lowest stage of devotion to the highest realisation of Godhead and His unflinching loving services, no other process is so conducive to the devotee as this Divine Medicine. Free from all risks and restrictions, it is the easiest and best method that any devotee under the most trying physical conditions of health and climate, can adopt for the achievement of his purpose in life. A nov¬ice likes it better than any other course because of its special attrac¬tive features, all-accommodating outlook and easy accessibility. For an advanced soul or a God-realised person, it is the very pith and marrow of liis existence-the life-giving factor-nay, the very life it¬self.
This Divine Medicine strikes at (he very root of the terrible suf¬fering of this repeated cycle of births and deaths. The movement of this wheel of worldliness, busily engaged in its routine cycle of births and deaths, is maintaining an alarming speed. No mortal can arrest its motion.
jaatasya hi dhruvo mrityur,
dhruvam janma mritasya ca..19
mrityur janmavataam vira dehena saha jaayate,
adya vaabda-shataante vaa mrityur vai praaninaam dhruvah..20
"One who is born, is destined to die and vice versa. It is allotted to all to die."19 "() great hero! For those who have taken birth, death also is assigned along with their bodies, whether it be at this moment, or at the end of a century, death is indeed a definite and inevitable phenomenon."20" "Death as it must come, comes to all!" Though the world is Hooded with wondeful inventions, there is not a single one so far devised by any human genius to stop this unpleas¬ant cyclic movement revolving ceaselessly. By its marvellous inven¬tions, scientists may boast that they have conquered nature itself. It is a mere boast - a childish prattle. Did modern science solve any of the puzzling problems lacing humanity from time immemorial? Did the human brain invent any device by which man can know the ac¬tual time and circumstance under which he should take leave of his so-called friends and near relations? Alas! Many powerful brains cred¬ited with astounding inventions or discoveries had to meet with tragic ends in unknown lands which unfortunately they could not foresee.
Tlie only course of arresting these events, rests with the Almighty Lord. Tlie credit goes to Him alone and to none else; not to any proud conditioned soul who out of sheer foolishness feels as a rival and hence an adversary of the Great Lord
Over and above. 'Hari-Nanut' is the only Potential Medicine in this dark age that helps the attainment of the everlasting good, the siunmum bonum of human existence.
The Transcendental Name appears similar to that of a material Name. Tlie Holy Name is not a mere composition of Sanskrit alpha¬bets It is pregnant with many mystic potentialities. It attracts the utterer and the hearer. This Divine Name is the only wealth that multiplies when stolen. That is not the case with material wealth, which enriches the robber and impoverishes the robbed. But the Name enriches both him who steals It, or the person from whom It is stolen and by whom It is imparted. It blesses both of them. The more he takes It, the more thrilled he will feel to take It. earning Its healthful and divine contagion to others equally lucky. Tlie Holy Name being totally Divine, makes Its manifestation on the lips of His pure devo¬tees In our present fallen state, all our senses except the ears have not got any access to the Name. Aural reception is the first course that is prescribed for us. Hence, those who attentively hear the Pi-vine Name from the lips of true devotees, with a spirit of submissive-ness and honest inquiry to know more and more about Godhead, Who is the only Independent Truth and after offering them sincere and loving services, are alone eligible to realise the true nature of the Divine Name.
kibaa vipra, kibaa nyaasi, shudra kene naya,
yei krishna-tattva-vettaa, sei ‘guru’ haya..21
(Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita,8.127)
The Divine Name does not manifest Itself to those who do not sene the Supreme Lord. The proper hearing of the Name from a pure devotee makes him eligible for the next stage of repeating It. Tlie devotee favours you with the Divine Name. He becomes your Guru. A true Guru is he who has experienced the Supreme Godhead and who is engaged exclusively in serving Him with his words, deeds and thoughts, subordinating all other activities to these. He need not be of a particular caste or creed.21" The Guru is the Divine Medium for the manifestation of the Supreme Lord in the form of Sound - (he Holy Name. The Guru alone can impart the Divine Lord in the form of His Name and none else. Tlie Holy Name imparted by the genuine Guru when repealed constantly will lead us to the realisation of the tine nature of the Name, i.e., the attainment of Transcendental Love itself, reinforced with the realisation of Its identity with the Form, CjuuliUes, Pasjjrnes, etc.
As the surroundings proved unfavourable for spiritual practices,Haridas Thakur left Benapol for a different place. He reached the village of Chandpur, which was situated in the neighbourhood of Saptagram-Triveni in the
niodern district of Hooghly in West Bengal.Saptagram, to which Chandpur and other vil¬lages are attached, was under the supervision of two brothers Hiranya Majumdar and Govardhan Majumdar in matters of revenue. They were the revenue accountants under the Nawab. Shri Balaram Acharya, the family priest of the Majumdar brothers, had his house at Chandpur, lying a little east to the residence of the majumdar brothers,. Balaram Acharya was the recipient of the special favour of Haridas Thakur and hence with utmost devotion and care, he entertained the Thakur in his village. For the convenience of his spiritual master, Balaram Acharya erected a small hut in a secluded place. Residing in that lonely hut, Haridas Thakur carried on his chanting of the Holy Name, accepting food from his disciple Balaram .Acharya. Shri Raghunathadas. the only son of Govardhan Majumdar, later on well-known as one of the specially favoured devotees of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and one of the six Gosvamis of Vrindavan, was then a boy having his education under Balaram Acharya. With a desire to have Hie sight of a saint, he used to visit Haridas Thakur, who was very merciful to him. Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita of Shri pishnadas Kaviraj Gosvami states that the mercy of Thakur Haridas was the cause of Raghunathadas becoming the recipient of the Grace "I Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at a later period.
While Haridas Thakur was continuing with his spiritual prac-ticeses there, an unusual event took place. One day. Balaram Acharya, Per series of humble entreaties, succeeded in taking Haridas Thakur §a gathering in the house of the two Majumdar brothers. Both the ^"others received Haridas Thakur with great respect befitting his position. They prostrated themselves at his feet and offered him a special seat. Besides the two Majumdar brothers, who were them¬ selves noted scholars of Sastric lore, the gather- ing included a large number of scholars, and
other important celebrities. Everyone present there spoke in praise of Haridas Thakur. Roth the Majumdar brothers were highly pleased to hear these high com¬pliments. The whole assembly knew that Haridas Thakur chanted every day three lacs of Holy Names. Eventually the audience there dwelt freely on the Glory of the Holy Name. This discussion soon took a slightly controversial turn. Some said that the repetition of the Name of Bhagavan destroys all sins, while some others opined that by taking recourse to chanting of the Name, all the Jivas are freed from the clutches of the octopus of Maya. But the holy Haridas Thakur did not favour either of the views. He said that these are not the pri¬mary results of chanting the Name of Godhead. Unalloyed Love at the Feet of Bhagavan Shri Krishna is the real fruit of chanting the Divine Name.
evam-vratah sva-priya-naama-kirtyaa jaataanuraago druta-citta uccaih,
hasaty atho roditi rauti gaayaty unmaada-van nrityati loka-baahyah..22
'A person who is constant in his service to Shri Krishna in the ways enunciated above, viz., by hearing, chanting Hari-Nama, etc., finds his heart melted and by reason of realising the quality of love by chanting the Name of Shri Krishna, experiences the Bliss of Prem towards Hari in such a heart. He loses all consideration for the opin¬ion" of the people and like one possessed by Shri Krishna, laughs, cries, shouts, sings and dances at intervals."22
Salvation or the destruction of sins is only the secondary result of chanting the Name. Tlie primary object of the sunrise is to illumi¬nate the world, making everything visible in their real nature and giving delight to one and all by bestowing light and energy; but inci¬dentally it also dispels darkness.
"Let the Holy Name of Shri Hari the Benefactor of the world be glorified; Who like the rising of the sun destroys all darkness, even so, the Holy Name by Its manifestation, removes all the sins of the world."23
Haridas Thakur requested the Pandits present there to explain the above Sloka. They, on the contrary, insisted on Haridas Thakur himself to do it for the benefit of all. Haridas Thakur agreeing to their proposal, gave his expositions thus:- Take the rising of the sun'. It is an excellent example to illustrate our view. Even before the sun actually rises above the eastern horizon, we see all the darkness be¬ing slowly dispelled. Pear of all evil elements, such as thieves, de¬mons, evil spirits, etc., that haunt the nights, are totally removed and by the actual appearance of the sun, other useful purposes are achieved. Similarly, the dawning of the appearance of the Holy Name, dispels all the sins of the aspirants as Its secondary result and by the full blooming of the Name, unflinching Love at the Feet of Shri Krishna is achieved. Mukti or salvation is an insignificant result that an aspir¬ant can derive by the mere dim retlection of the Name (Namabhas). Sincere devotees of the Lord spurn this Mukti even though it is of¬fered to them by Shri Krishna Himself.
mriyamaano harer naama grinan putropacaaritam,
ajaamilo ’py agaad dhaama kim uta shraddhayaa grinan..24
saalokya-saarshti-saamipya-saarupyaikatvam apy uta,
diyamaanam na grihnanti vinaa mat-sevanam janaah..25
"When the dying Ajamil by unintentionally uttering the Name of Shri Hari, while calling his son by his name, could attain Vaikunth Dham, how much more beneficial would the result be, if the Name Itself is chanted with implicit faith?"24
"My Own devotees, says the Lord, never accept the different forms of salvation, e.g., attainment of My Realm, power, wealth, and fame similar to that of Mine, the privilege of living near Me always, even the favour of becoming one with Myself even if offered by Me unreservedly. They covet nothing except My loving service."25
The above statement of Haridas Thakur was met with a protest. It is strange that not a single view, however appreciable and convinc¬ing it may be, cannot escape the protests of a certain section of the people. Even the most brilliant ideas of extraordinarily pious and virtuous people are met with vehement opposition in tliis world, at least once This habit has become, specially, the rule of the present day.
At the residence of the Majumdar brothers, there was a Brahmin employed as a bearer by name Gopal Chakravarti, who used to carry money and letters to the Ruler who was resid-Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!in§ m his capital at Gaud. He was entrusted with the responsibility of collecting the revenues amounting to the extent of rupees twelve lacs annually and remitting it to the Nawab. He was of a handsome complexion blooming with youth and learning. He was one amongst the audience. He could not tolerate the views of Haridas Thakur. He differed totally on the issue that salvation is at¬tainable by a mere dim reflection of the Name. The young man shouted with burning wrath. "Well, learned scholars, you have now heard the statement of this sentimentalist! The liberation that is impossible even by means of the knowledge of Brahman after crores of births is of¬fered so cheaply by him with a mere dim reflection of the Name!"
Thakur Haridas answered the criticism by freely quoting the Sastras. Once again he established his previous statement with sufficient emphasis, basing his claims on the author-itv of the scriptures to the entire satisfaction of theaudience, except this arrogant youth, a tri-tling argumentarian. Haridas Thakur replied,
"Well, why do you challenge the Sastras and entertain a doubt in you? It is not my individual opinion. I do not want to thrust my personal views on you. Tlie Sastras that are com¬mon to both of us have declared it. They, in addition, point out the insignificant position of the bliss enjoyed by liberation in compari¬son with the perennial How ol happiness that can be attained by ren¬dering loving services to Bhagavan. It is simply on account of this fact that the genuine devotees or Bhaktas never hanker after or .ac-cept any type of liberation mentioned in the Sastras though they are' voluntarily offered by the ford Himself."
sukhaani goshpadaayante braahmaany api jagad-guro..26
(Hari vaktee sudhadaya,14.36)
"O Teacher of the universe! To me immersed in the pure ocean of Bliss by meeting Thee, the Bliss of the attainment of the Brah¬man, appears to be as contemptible as the tiny speck of water tilling a hole in the ground caused by the hoof of a cow."26
Haridas Thakur's reply did not cool down his temper; on the contrary, it was like adding fuel to lire. The unfortunate Gopal Chakravarti had lost all control over his temper. He shouted in the presence of all other elderly persons and scholars that he would cut off the nose of Haridas Thakur, if the dim reflection of the Holy Name did not secure liberation. Haridas Thakur wilfully agreed to this. He was not a mere fanatic who stood for his own conviction or a sectarian who dogmatically fought for his views, but a genuine devotee of the Supreme Lord who had fully realised what he ex¬pressed. He was not fighting merely on bookish knowledge or on the power of a vociferous disposition. He knew his position very well by dint of his practical experience. He said, "Undoubtedly, if by the dim reflection of the Holy Name liberation is not attained, I fully agree to cut off my nose."
The blasphemous utterance of this foolish Brahmin was not at all approved by the rest of the audience. They all resented it very much and rose against him. Tlie two Majumdar brothers rebuked him severely on the spot and
utterly condemned his unwarranted behaviour.Balaram Acharya more than any one else, felt highly offended. He remarked. "Fool of an ass! You boast much of your learning; what do you know about Bhakti? This is not the place for your verbal jugglery. You have dug your own grave by insulting the great Haridas Thakur. Inevitable perdition is
soon to befal you. None can help."
Haridas Thakur did not wish to remain in the assembly for long. He rose up. Majumdar forthwith dismissed the services of this Brah-min from his office and with the entire audience fell prostrate at the feet of Thakur Haridas. All the persons gathered there knew some¬thing about the sayings of the Sastras and the grave consequences of insulting great devotees.they all prayed Haridas Thakur to pardon them.Haridas Thakur with a sweet smile consoled them all by soft words. He said, "Why do you worry? You have not done anything wrong to me. In fact, you are not responsible for this unhappy incident. It is only this ignorant Brahmin who misbehaved thus. Fven he is not to be blamed. His argumentative disposition has brought about this action. The Glory of the Divine Name lies be¬yond the scope of human intelligence and arguments. Intellectual achievements, however great and astounding they may be, are ut¬terly inadequate to have any access to the Divine Name and Its mar¬vellous potentialities. Hence, from where can he get these most se¬cret principles? Please retire to your respective houses. May you all, by the Mercy of Shri Krishna, attain eternal good. On my account, let not any one feel sorry." Haridas Thakur took leave of them all and returned to his hut.
Tlie first action of Hiranya Majumdar on returning home was to prevent Gopal Chakravarti from crossing his door-steps. Gopal Chakravarti had not to wait long for the conse-quence of his offensive misbehaviour. In three
days' time he was attacked with an acute type of leprosy. Of all the limbs of his body, his promi-nent nose was the first unfortunate victim. It totally disappeared from his face. It was followed by the delicate and beautiful lingers, and toes. They too got withered and corroded away in a short period.
Everyone in the village was struck with consternation on the terrible turn of events facing Gopal Chakravarti. Tlie glory of Haridas Thakur touched everyone to the heart. They offered their obeisances to Haridas Thakur.
One can easily understand that Haridas Thakur did not take the misconduct of the Brahmin seriously. What of that? How can his Beloved Lord tolerate the vilification of His devotees? He did,not pardon the offender. Devotees are always, by nature forgiving and hence ever-willing to pardon the faults and shortcomings of the ig¬norant. They never wish any sorrow to befall their opponents. But, Bhagavan in His very essence, never endures even the slightest at¬tack or calumny on His loving devotees. He never hesitates to come down even, for rescuing His devotees or doing any other act that can stem the situation.
Haridas Thakur was a person of overflowing kindness. As is natural to the devotees of the Lord, he was of a very soft and sympa¬thetic disposition. The news of the terrible calamity that befell Gopal Chakravarti, though a vilifier and opponent of Thakur Haridas, caused immense pain to the latter. Taking leave of Balaram Acharya, he left for Santipur in the district of Nadia in West Bengal.
This unhappy incident in general and the discussion that took place between Haridas Thakur and Gopal Chakravarti in particular are of great significance. We are favoured with an inspiring exposi¬tion on some of the cardinal points in our religion and particularly the Holy Name and Its potentialities from the lips of an authentic person like Haridas Thakur.
The large assembly of learned people proved worthy of their learning by allowing Haridas Thakur to expound his views on the particular scriptural text. Haridas Thakur is the 'Namacharya'. He is one really practises what he speaks. No one is fit to preach religion who does not follow in his won life what he stands for. Every true
prheacher of religion should live the principles he-preaches. His must be the teachings of Sastras fully translated in day to day life into each and every action. In other words, an Acharya is a living embodiment of the Sastras before us. As such, he is the P'oper authority to explain the texts of the Sastras, the real signifi¬cance of which is realised by him.
The views raised by Gopal Chakravarti are those holding sway >n the heart of a vast part of population that goes by the name of •nteliectuals or learned men. They think too much of themselves, these people depend mainly upon their own efficiency, their own reasons and experiences. They feel that they have an appreciable com¬mand over all Sastras as well. But, unfortunately they have fallen a victim to the wise saying 'little learning is dangerous'. Often they are like 'the frog in the well'. They have got their own peculiar notions on any topic which according to them is the highest philosophy, the sublime truth, the one common goal of achievement. They are not prepared to hear anything more than this. They have no patience to do so. When occasion arises by chance, they lose all their patience. They fret and fume. They make a vivid picture of their learning and other qualities in them. They swell and swell beyond their capacity and finally burst out throwing here and there a little of the filthy substance crammed in them. This is actually what we have seen in Gopal Chakravarti too. He feels that he has understood the entire range of Sastras. He has finally come to the conclusion that merging oneself in "the Impersonal Brahman by means of knowledge is the sumrnum bomun of all the teachings of the scriptures. He never be¬lieves anything more than this. In fact this is only a onesided view, i.e., is not the full import of the Sastras.
Instead of placing his individual experience of reasonings, Thakur Haridas, draws our attention to the scriptural authority which is the only sound source of knowledge (Pramana) for Divine Matters. Gopal Chakravarti and his type of persons do pose that they are believers in God and Sastras; but their actions and words are just the contrary. They do not conform to their pro¬fessions even to the slightest extent. If one believes in God, he must necessarily believe the word of God as well. Mere lip service either to the Lord or His sayings, i.e., the Sastras, would not serve any real puipose.
Most of the people living in the modern world treat the Sastras as a set of irrational books containing an abundance of dogmas, ritu¬als, myths and fictitious stories. They consider them as outmoded. Some hold them as 'kitchen books' as they are only useful for/old ladies and widows who lack in real intelligence and as such
are engaged in the kitchen for cooking puipose. A few who accept the infallible nature of these invaluable treasures and their validity in the field of religion interpret them in a highly intellectual manner. Their conclusions are mainly based on their direct perception and inference. For these the Sastric texts are there that they may interpret their texts to suit their idiosyncrasies. They go on twisting the next to a great extent, sometimes explaining them on grammatical, etymo¬logical, and philosophical grounds, sometimes splitting them into so many alphabets, and once again uniting them in their own ways, to support their views.
And still a few others desire, that all the statements of the Sastras must be proved through the help of scientific apparatus in some recognised laboratory under the expert supervision of some eminent scientist. They hold the opinion that it is high time the Sastras submit themselves to the scrutiny of science and reason for the welfare of humanity as a whole in this age of machines. If the Sastras are not capable of standing this scientific test their survival is foredoomed.
Yet another section (and these are the most dangerous) while denouncing all these arguments, patiently wait for the approval of western scholars. They claim to be more polished in their behaviour, uptodate in dress and civilised in their views than the rest of the people in the world. They move in high circles, imitate the Western¬ers in external activities, in keeping the hat or holding the pipe. They accept only those books or writings or those men as are favoured by eminent writers of western countries. Such groups of people guided by some special instinct in them, follow-the instructions of foreign¬ers faithfully. They prefer to be in the midst of what they consider to be the intelligent and civilised section of society of ultra modernists than to be in the midst of a set, in their opinion, of primitive and quixotic Hindus who have crude notions in everything.
Some accept the Vedas alone as the original Sastras and accept their statements only as understood by their empiric mind as authen¬tic records in religious matters. They do not give any place to the other works. Some accept the Vedas, the Vedantas (Upanishads), the Vedanta Sutras and Shrimad Bhagavad-Gita as their infallible Sastras. They denounce the Puranas, the epics, etc., as later works; such booxs 'tfe of minor importance. Even when these people are concerned and defeated, they will harp on the same string, denying all other views excepting theirs as untenable and unwarranted additions, intention¬ally aid mischieveously prepared to crush their views. Hence, they hold such other Sastric works as unauthentic.
Still a different group blame the Brahmins and denounce the very Sastras saying that they are created by these selfish people to exploit the other innocent three castes. They remark that these works contain only certain instructions to threaten the people with .the ex¬istence of hell and tempt them with certain pleasures of heaven, etc., and that these statements help the Brahmins earn their livelihood by duping the remaining people. All these diverse dispositions are due to the extreme ignorance on the subject. There is a proverb 'faults are thick where love is thin'. These people are lacking badly in good instincts born of previous religious merits. As such, they relish the type of cheap literature that is available on footpaths and bookstalls and which abound in obscene photos that easily increase sensuous passions, senseless and fabulous stories, useless funs, etc. Generally most of the fettered souls, cannot claim a highly enlightened posi¬tion from their very birth. There are certain fortunate souls with very high instincts in them and they develop early in their lifetime asso¬ciation with Sadhus and practise detachment, etc. Neither a dogmatic affirmation without any understanding nor a dogmatic denial is a sign of wisdom. A submissive attitude with an unbiased mind is a true sign of a seeker after Truth. Many of the ignorant people are unwilling to accept their ignorance. They are so egoistic that they never believe that there are greater persons in the world than they themselves. It appears as though they have come down with the reso¬lution that they will not accept any enlightenment from anybody. Their behaviour only reminds us of the Mantra of the Upanishad. "Those who, remaining in the midst of extreme ignorance, consider themselves to be learned and enlightened, come to grief like one blind man leading another."27
Both would fall in a ditch and get their bones and skulls broken.
What are the Sastras and why do we believe in them? The Sastras,though appearing in book-form before us, printed by human labour,on machines invented by us, on the paper manu-factured by us, are not, as many think, any pro-
duction of the material world. They are the words of the God-head Himself coming down into this world through the lips of unconditionally surrendered Sadhus who are the transparent mediums for the same. They are the reports and messages of the Transcendental Realm that have come down to the mundane world for the edification of humanity. They contain records of the inspiring lives of great personalities, their thrilling experiences, together with great secrets on the details of the Supreme Godhead, he very object of their worship, and. His Activities. They are infal-ible Truths above human pitfalls and are the same for all ages. 'To IT is human'. 'Every man hath a fool in his sleeve'. 'No man is al¬ways wise'. Human intelligence with its reasoning, however brilliant and developed it may be, has got in it fourfold errors since they are gathered from this imperfect world through the medium of our de¬ceptive and defective senses. That is why, we always notice one type of argument replaces another which in turn is again defeated by a still different one and so on and so forth. The Sastras, as the Word of the Supreme Lord, are far above such inefficiencies, such as (\)Bhram (error due to wrong perception of one thing for another, (2) Pramada (error due to heedlessness), (3) Vipralipsa (error due to the wish to deceive oneself and others), and (4) Karana Patav (error due to self-deception and deception of senses). The Sastras are not the compo¬sitions of human beings or any other similar fallen Jivas. They are existing from time immemorial. They are self-revealed truths mani¬fested into this mundane world by the Divine Will through a channel of spoken communication brouglit about by a succession of genuine spiritual masters.
There is no religion in this world without its authentic scrip¬tures. They are the true sources of knowledge. If these authorities are ignored, religion becomes unsteady and irrational. Sastras are not irrational. They are based on true reasons and practical experi¬ences or realisations, whereas, we, the reasoning animals, stand on perverted reasons, untested conclusions and unsound suppositions. Ours is only a war of hollow words, whereas, the sastras are records of practical experiences. The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Vedanta Sutras, the Puranas, the great epies like Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Pancharatras and all such works, commentaries, etc., based on the above by the Acharyas who are commissioned by Bhagavan for the benefit of humanity are known by the word 'Sastras'. Sastras need not be confined in one particular language alone. They can be in any of the languages of the world. The Sastras deal with the Transcen¬dental Objects and their knowledge and hence are not easily intelli¬gible to a novice whose knowledge is enshrouded in the ideas of the material world. He must listen to expositions on them from the lips of the genuine Sadhus with a submissive spirit as the Sadhus are.living Sastras and unerring broadcasting mediums. This is the first and foremost requisite for those who aspire for God-realisation. This is indispensably necessary for all without which the Sastras will not unfold their real truths. Challenging their authority is only a sign of sheer foolishness and irrepressible arrogance. An arrogant man never succeeds in the material world, not to speak of the spiritual. If the Divine Lord, His Name, Form, etc., are all objects of our percep¬tions, everyone who makes an attempt for them would have suc¬ceeded. There will be no necessity for the word Transcendent' in the dictionary; and the world also would not have produced so many philosophies that are diametrically opposite to each other.
Coming to Haridas Thakur's exposition on the Divine Name, we are enlightened with Its High Position. Mukti, which Gopal Chakravarti so highly speaks of and pleads for, is attained by a mere dim reflection of the Holy Name. Before achieving the results of chanting the Name of the Lord, we are expected to cross two other stages, en route. They are the stages of 'Namaparadha' and 'Namabhas'. We shall try to know more about these in twelfth and thirteenth chapters of this book.
Gopal Chakravarti, in spite of his verbal jugglery on the Name, is utterly ignorant of the secrets of the Holy Name and Its Glories. But he is adamant in holding his view. This is the sign of extreme ignorance and egoism. He is also ignorant of true devotion and its astounding effects. To him, liberation from all worries and merging in the Impersonal Brahman, is the highest goal. This is a mere side issue - a secondary result of a dim reflection of the Holy name. He belongs to the school of people who consider Bhakti to be weak and vul¬gar, and hence, Bhaktas, however great they may be, as persons of no consequence. The people of this school include Bhakti in fruitive actions. Gopal Chakravarti is under the impression that Haridas Thakur too is only a follower of this misnomered Bhakti school. But, Haridas Thakur is neither a fol¬lower of the fruitive actions nor one who is an advocate of dry intel-lectualism. He is not an opportunist to whom religion is more a mat¬ter of convenience than a creed and whose views are vacillating this way or thai like a pendulum. These opportunists like Gopal, adopt a certain philosophy for convenience of argument; but when the ques¬tion of sacrifice, hardship and practical living arises, they are found wanting to such an extent that none will ever be able to discover their erstwhile theoretical stand.
Thakur Haridas is out and out a strong advocate of Bhakti ormdevotion to Bhagavan. Amongst the various methods of religious practices mentioned in the Sastras, Bhakti or de- votion to Bhagavan holds a position supreme to
all else. Its marvellous characteristics, magnifi- cent efficacies, infallible results, and thrilling influence on its ardent devotees are inexpress¬ible facts that add to its glory. It is not a strange subject to the people of the world; on the contrary; it is a subject much talked about, and discussed by many spiritual people and persons of great eminence in the mundane world, in different languages, and in different ways, and yet how very little it is understood in its right spirit, and how less * practised in daily life. After putting in some very insignificant and mild efforts, and sometimes even without these, by merely reading some books, we often deceive ourselves into the belief, that we have attained Bhakti, without any understanding, as to the difficulty of attaining it. Bhakti being the highest attainment of human existence, IS not given to the Jivas by the Supreme Lord for the mere asking.
"By following the process of Jnan, salvation easily is attained, and the performance of righteous actions, leads one to various en¬joyments here and hereafter, whereas, even by thousands of similar methods, devotion to Shri Hari remains unattainable."28
Aspirant for Bhakti are to face innumerable severe tests. The Lord plays in hard game with them and only those sincere souls, free from any iota of worldly desires, or self aggrandisement in the form of salvation, can turn out successful in their efforts. Those who de¬sire Bhakti, must be prepared to face any eventuality, persecution and harassment, both in and outside one's own family and society. The life of Thakur Haridas narrated in this book, is an inspiring example of the above fact. The idiosyncrasies, fancies, and the per¬secutions of the husband, can be borne with calm and silence, only by a faithful and devoted wife; whereas, one who seeks merely her own pleasures and comforts, always looks for caresses from her hus¬band. The path of devotion is not a bed of roses, decidedly not an easy-going path, strewn with soft and sweet smelling flowers, as many of us are prone to think.
A few liberal minded of Gopal Chakravarti's class, or type, be¬lieve Bhakti as an effective means to Mukti or salvation. But tor a true Bhakta, Bhakti is both the means as well as the end in itself. To him Bhakti is its own reward. He does not long for any gain extraneous to Bhakti.
Both~The Majumdar brothers, and the large gathering present there, already knew the gravity of committing offences, to great devo¬tees and their terrible after-effects, on the lives of the offenders. Hence,in order to free themselves from the terrible consequences, they all jointly requested Haridas Thakur to pardon them. This is the best remedy of getting relief from the evil effects of committing offences. The offender must get himself pardoned by the saint whom he has offended.