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Chapter 2 - Accepting the Holy Name
gadai gauranga jaya jahnava-jivana
shri advaita jaya shrivasadi bhakta-gana
In the ecstasy of prema, Haridasa wept, and in prema, Gauranga embraced him. Gauranga said: "Where is there such a devotee as you, Haridasa? You know all the spiritual truths and are at all times transcendental to material nature. By taking birth in a low family, you have shown to the world that obtaining Krishna is not dependent on wealth, honor, family or refinement, but is dependent on faith alone. Whoever has faith in the process of unalloyed worship of Krishna is greater than the demigods. You have understood that the name is the Supreme Truth—both the means and the end; you know the full glories of the name; you are ideal in your conduct of devotional activities (acara); and you are learned and skillful in preaching. Haridasa, I request you to describe the unlimited glories of the name, for it makes Me happy when I hear those glories from your mouth.
"Whoever says the holy name even once is considered a Vaishnava, and the householder should be careful to respect such a person. But one who is constantly chanting the holy name of Krishna is even a better Vaishnava, being endowed with all good qualities. And one who, by his very presence can make others chant the name in devotion, is the highest Vaishnava. Now describe to Me exactly all the ways that the living entities take up this name of Krishna."
Folding his hands in respect, with choked up throat and tears in his eyes, Haridasa began to speak. First, he gave a general description of the name:
"The holy name is cintamani, the object that gives everything one desires. To the materialists it gives dharma, artha, kama and moksha, and to the nonfruitive devotees it gives pure, unalloyed love of Krishna. The name is unlimited, beginningless, fully conscious, and inseparable from the chief consciousness, Krishna. Whatever is in Krishna is in the holy name, for the two are nondifferent. The name is eternally free from material contamination and spiritually situated in a state of pure goodness (suddha-sattva) like Krishna. Though descending into the material world, the name remains pure, eternal, and the embodiment of the highest sweetness (rasa).
"Like any object, Krishna, the Absolute Reality, is known by four characteristics: name, form, qualities and activities. But in the case of Krishna, these elements are unlimited. The Supreme Personality of Godhead expresses Himself by means of these four elements, which take their spiritual existence by means of the Lord's sandhini energy. By these elements Krishna attracts all the people of the universe, and as His name is nondifferent, the existence of the name in the universe serves the same purpose.
"Krishna and His form are also nondifferent, and thus His form and His name cannot be separated either. If one remembers Krishna's name, one will also receive Krishna's form.
"As for qualities, Krishna has sixty-four remarkable qualities in fullness, which are partially represented in His avataras, in His guna-avataras Brahma and Siva, and up to sixty in number in Lord Narayana. But Krishna's name has all the eternal qualities in full, which expand to uncountable numbers. The pastimes of the Lord take place in the waves of these qualities in the Lord's dhamas of Goloka, Vaikuntha and Vraja, and these are also fully spiritual.
"In spiritual existence, name, form, quality and activity are not differentiated from the person's actual identity; but by combination with dull material elements which are not conscious, the covered living entity knows only names, qualities, forms and activities which are separate from one another and from his real self. Name, form, qualities and activities are one for the pure living entities, but taking shelter of a material body, the jiva distinguishes differences. Since Krishna is always beyond material tinge, all these elements are eternally parts of one inseparable principle.
However, among these four elements by which one can know the object Krishna, the holy name is the primary element, for it is by the name that all other characteristics can be perceived in full. As one can realize the form, qualities and activities of the Lord by taking shelter of the name, the name is thus accepted as the Vaishnava dharma."
Lord Chaitanya himself accepted as a fact that through the chanting of the name all the pastimes of the
Lord could be revealed.
Next, Haridasa considered who is a Vaishnava:
"That person is called a Vaishnava who takes the holy name in faith and pure intention; and that person is called a semi-Vaishnava who takes the name, but with the impurity of namabhasa. However, by the mercy of Krishna, the semi-Vaishnava, gradually becomes a pure Vaishnava.
"In either case, one must take to the name, for in this material world there is nothing comparable to it. It is the ultimate treasure in Krishna's storehouse, since it contains within it the whole spiritual realm. The particles of spirit who are parts and parcels of Krishna, have in illusion come into this world of dull matter, and the holy name, containing all aspects of Krishna and the full power of Krishna, has come into this world just to deliver those spirit souls. One should know that everything in the world other than the jiva and the holy name, are without substance.
Krishna's names are of two types, primary and secondary. By taking shelter of the primary names, the living entity gets the highest benefit. Those names which are part of the transcendental lila of the Lord are considered primary names. Names such as Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Radhanatha and Hari reveal the eternal lilas of the Lord, and by chanting them the living entity gets entrance into the spiritual world.
"The secondary names are those which describe the Lord's functions. The Creator, Paramatma and Brahman are names for use in karma and jnana-kanda, and give material elevation and liberation. Since the principal names alone give love of Godhead, the devotees accept only the principal names.
"Just as there are different types of names with different effects, so there are different ways of chanting the name with different effects. The scriptures of course declare that if one chants the name of Krishna once or hears the name of Krishna once, whether it be the pure name or the impure name, the jiva is still delivered from the clutches of the material energy. However, the types of deliverance and the speed of deliverance must be noted. If the name is chanted in namabhasa (impurely) the benefit will come slowly. Because the person will eventually attain pure love of God, the abhasa name is considered all-auspicious. By the process of namabhasa chanting, sins are gradually destroyed, until the name is chanted and heard purely. At that stage of pure chanting, the devotee quickly achieves the goal—pure love of Godhead.
"There is also the case of chanting or hearing the holy name with more impurity than namabhasa, situated at a greater distance from the pure name. The greater the distance, the less the effect of the name. Such obstruction, or distance from the name, where chanting gives little or no effect, is called aparadha or offense. The obstruction of vyavadhana (separation) is the mistaken idea that Krishna's name and Krishna are different or separate. In other words, the belief that the Absolute Truth does not reside in the name and that therefore chanting the name cannot bring one to the highest realization of truth, is called vyavadhana or separation. As long as this belief persists, love of God is impossible to attain.
"Besides separation based on philosophical principles, there is another type of separation in chanting. This is syllabic separation of Krishna's names. For instance, if the syllables "ha" and “ri” are separated from each other by some other syllables, by this syllabic separation the effects of the holy name are greatly hindered. This is different from the utterance of the word "haram" by the yavana unintentionally when he is dying, for there is no separation of the syllables in that utterance. It is therefore classified as namabhasa. “Ha” and “ri” separated syllabically have much less effect. Of the two types of separation, the philosophical separation of the mayavadis is much more detrimental to spiritual progress. The belief that the name is not all-powerful and absolute is a great disturbance in Kali-yuga and is not in accordance with scripture.
"By these considerations one can understand the real nature of the holy name: it is the chanting and hearing of a principal name of Krishna, devoid of namabhasa, aparadha or vyavadhana (separation). That is the pure name (suddha-nama). Whoever accepts and chants that pure name is known as a real Vaishnava, and may belong to any of the three categories mentioned earlier. In happiness one should serve such a Vaishnava always.
"In order to overcome namabhasa and get the pure name, the jiva must serve the bona fide guru with great attention. By doing this the anarthas will disappear and the pure name endowed with all spiritual potency will dance on the devotee's tongue. At that time, he will never give up the stream of sweet nectar emanating from the holy name; the jiva will chant constantly, mad with the sweetness of the name. In joy the name will dance, the jiva will dance, and the treasure of love of God will dance—the whole universe will dance and maya will flee.
"The different types of holy names have been discussed. Now consider who has the right or adhikara for the holy name. Any one who is a human being, regardless of material considerations, such as class, varna, birth, sex, age, or education, has the right to take up the holy name, for the Lord has invested in the name a transcendental power that surpasses all distinctions. But although everyone has the right to the name, only those who have developed faith in Krishna and His name will actually take shelter of the name and seriously chant it. Thus any human being has the right to the name, and one who has faith becomes the practitioner of the name.
"In other spiritual practices there are restrictions in performance according to time, place, cleanliness or uncleanliness. But in taking up the name, this is not so, for the name overcomes all these restrictions by its invested power. Whereas in acts of charity, sacrifice, bathing, japa, etc. there is always consideration of time, place, and cleanliness; in the chanting of the holy name of Krishna, faith alone is the only necessity. And whoever takes shelter of the holy name in Kali-yuga achieves the highest perfection in life. The conclusion is that the living entity in Kali-yuga, being situated in the midst of maya, must take up the name.
"One who accepts the name and practices it, though doing this with minimal restrictions, must still be careful to perform all actions favorable to increasing devotion to Krishna, reject all actions which hamper devotion to Krishna, and simply remember the name of Krishna constantly while passing out his life in the material world. Never should he deviate to the path of fruitive activities or worship of demigods. Instead he should chant the name, serve the devotees, and achieve the goal of life-Krishna prema."
Thus concluding his explanation of how the jivas should accept the holy name, Haridasa Thakura began weeping. Falling at the Lord's feet, he held them and begged for attraction to the holy name. For one who performs devotional service at the feet of the uttama Vaishnava, Haridasa Thakura, the transcendental touchstone of the holy name will become the center of his life.