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Chapter 3 - Namabhasa
gadai gauranga jaya jahnava-jivana
sitadvaita jaya shrivasadi bhakta-jana
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu mercifully lifted Haridasa up with His own hands and said, "Listen, Haridasa, to My words. Now explain in detail the meaning of namabhasa. If one thoroughly understands namabhasa, one's chanting of the holy name will become pure. Then, by the power of that pure chanting, he will end his material existence. The holy name, like the sun, dispels the darkness of illusion. However, sometimes clouds or mist cover the sun from the viewer so that only a portion of light comes through. In the same way, when ignorance and anarthas predominate, the sun of the holy name becomes covered and only a portion of the full effect of the name is felt. Therefore, in some cases, the holy name will appear in full force in the heart of the chanter, but in other cases clouds of ignorance and anarthas will minimize the effect of the name on the chanter.
"What is ignorance? Ignorance is of three types. If one does not know the true spiritual nature of the holy name which one has accepted, this ignorance of the name, like mist, leads one into darkness. Secondly, a person ignorant that Krishna is the Supreme Lord will take to worship of the demigods and the path of material piety. Thirdly, one who is ignorant of the transcendental nature of his own self as an infinitesimal part of Krishna and His world, takes shelter of the world of impermanence and illusion; thus he will remain eternally in ignorance."
When the Lord had finished, Haridasa said, "Today I am most fortunate, for from my mouth the Supreme Lord Himself, Shri Chaitanya, will hear about the holy name. "Haridasa first explained about ignorance:
"Knowledge means knowing Krishna is the Lord, that the living entities are His servants, and that the material world is a nonconscious gross manifestation or by-product of the Lord. The person who does not know clearly the nature of these principles and their relationship, lives under the shadow of ignorance. This is one cause of namabhasa, or covering of the sun of the pure holy name, by which its full effects cannot be felt.
"Actually, the mist of ignorance simply covers the individual living entity's eye in a localized position. Just as the sun becomes invisible only from the relative position of the individual under the cloud, but is never really covered. So the holy name is never covered, for it is nondifferent from Krishna, and eternally transcendental and pure. The full effects are diminished for those people who have over their eyes the cloud of anarthas and the mist of ignorance.
"What are anarthas? These are classified as thirst for material objects (asat-trishna), miserliness of the heart (hridaya-daurbalya) and offense (aparadha).
"The category of thirst for material objects is divided thus: craving for material objects in this world, craving for heavenly sense pleasures in the next life, desire for mystic yoga powers, and the desire for liberation in Brahman. Weakness of heart may be analysed as attachment to trifling things unrelated to Krishna, deceit, envy of someone else's progress, and longing for position and fame. Offense may be divided into offenses to the holy name, offenses to Krishna Himself (sevaparadha), offenses to Krishna's devotees, and offenses to other living entities. By these anarthas, the influence of the holy name becomes obstructed and the full transcendental nature of the name is not manifested.
"The living entity will continue under the shadow of namabhasa as long as he is ignorant of sambandha-tattva, the basic facts concerning the jiva, God and the material nature, and their mutual relationship. However, when the serious student takes shelter of a bona fide guru, by force of his effective spiritual practice he can remove the obstructions blocking the sun of the holy name. When the clouds and mist go away, the brilliant sun of the name becomes visible and bestows upon the devotee the treasure of love of God. After the bona fide guru gives sambandha-jnana, he instructs the disciple on the practice of culturing the holy name (sadhana-bhakti). This is called abhidheya or process. By this specific process the name will show its influence and drive out the anarthas. Finally, the jiva achieves the goal of life—love of God—and in that position he continues his performance of chanting the holy name in full spiritual bliss (prema).
"The ignorance of correct knowledge is explained as follows. The living entity takes shelter of the bona fide guru and with genuine faith receives the correct knowledge about Krishna, the spirit soul, material nature and the relationship of the three, according to scripture. Krishna is the eternal Lord, and the living entities are His eternal servants, linked to the Lord by the bond of love (prema). This relationship of jiva to God in prema-bhakti is also eternal. This is the living entity's constitutional nature, which has only to be uncovered.
"However, when the jiva forgets that he is the eternal servant of Krishna, he comes into the material world looking for happiness. But this universe of illusion is a prison house for the jivas, acting as the remedial or reformatory process by punishing the jivas for turning away from Krishna. The material world is meant as a place of purification.
"By the mercy of the pure Vaishnava devotees of the Lord, if the jiva takes up Krishna's name with correct knowledge of sambandha, he will certainly attain the great treasure of prema, the perfectional activity of the living entity. At that time, even liberation of merging into the Lord's effulgence becomes detestable. But as long as the transcendental knowledge of sambandha is not accepted, the anarthas and ignorance must remain, and the person will continue on the platform of namabhasa. Though the person chants, the effect is limited.
"However, even chanting in the namabhasa stage is considered to be very auspicious. It is considered the chief of pious activities, for by the accumulation of namabhasa activity one eventually gains faith to accept devotional service properly. Namabhasa is considered higher than the activities of yoga, sacrifice, varnasrama rules, austerities, etc., because it will lead to the path of pure bhakti. The processes of yoga, austerities, etc. unless mixed with some activities of bhakti, will never lead to bhakti.
"What are the effects of chanting in namabhasa? By chanting in namabhasa all sinful effects are destroyed and one can attain liberation from the material world. All the effects of Kali-yuga are overcome. By chanting at this stage, all anxieties will go and peace can be obtained. Evil influences of ghosts, demons, spirits and unfavorable planets are also nullified. Even the residents of hellish planets can achieve liberation by chanting in namabhasa, for namabhasa destroys the effects of sinful activities already committed (prarabdha-karma). For these reasons, namabhasa is even more powerful than the Vedas and all holy places. It surpasses all the materialistic pious activities of karma-kanda.
"Because the holy name is invested with all Krishna's transcendental energies, even by chanting in namabhasa one can attain the goals of dharma, artha, kama and moksha, the cherished aims of the varnasrama, system. This chanting can give one the position of happiness in the material universe. It is the only resort for the helpless. One can go up to the border of Vaikuntha planets by this chanting. Scriptures recommend the name as the process for Kali-yuga in particular.
"Namabhasa as unintentional pious activity may be classed into four types: sanketa, parihasa, stobha, and hela. Chanting in sanketa, or indirectly, means that one chants the name of Vishnu or Krishna with a specific material conception, or chants the holy name unintentionally while thinking of some other object with the same sound. An example of the first type is Ajamila, who called the name of his son, who happened to be named Narayana. He chanted the name of Vishnu but with the intention of calling his son. Still he was saved from the yamadutas and eventually attained Vaikuntha. An example of the second type of sanketa is the yavana who exclaims "haram" when dying. Because the syllables "ha" and "ram" are present forming a name of the Lord accidentally, that person attains liberation. Because this type of
namabhasa is the least offensive, the power of the holy name is intact to a large degree.
"One who utters the name of the Lord in parihasa, a joking mood, such as Jarasandha, also crosses over the material world. Uttering the name in stobha or derision, as Sisupala did, can also cut the chains of material existence. Uttering the name in hela or disregard, without attention, also brings benefit. The mlecchas attain liberation by all these types of namabhasa.
"These types of namabhasa: coincidence, jest, derision and disregard, being without real faith in Krishna, are situated on the lower border of namabhasa. On the other hand, if one has genuine faith in Krishna and takes to the holy name while anarthas are still present, that stage is called sraddha-namabhasa. Since even by chanting in namabhasa without faith one can attain liberation, how can one describe the results of chanting in namabhasa with faith? By chanting in namabhasa one can get everything except prema.
"If one gets to the point of sraddha-namabhasa, quickly the anarthas will go and the pure name will be revealed. Chanting the pure name, suddha-nama, one will certainly get prema very quickly. It may be concluded, therefore, that namabhasa itself cannot give Krishna prema; but by progressing from this stage to the stage of suddha-nama, by means of following rules of sadhana as laid down by the guru, one can get love of God.
"Thus, provided one does not commit nama-aparadha, namabhasa is praiseworthy. It is considered unlimited times better than karma or jnana because a person with such namabhasa will eventually get faith, and that seed of faith will then develop into attraction and taste for Krishna, which will lead to the stage of suddha-nama and then prema.
"Abhasa means a faint light or indirect image. It is of two types: reflected light and obstructed light. Similarly, there are two types of faint faith: reflected or distorted faith, and shadow or partial faith. From partial faith comes dim namabhasa, which eventually develops into the pure name and love of God. This is classed as actual namabhasa. Just as clouds obstruct the full brilliance of the sun, so the clouds of anarthas and the mist of ignorance in the jiva's heart allow only a faint light of the name to enter.
"Though having the opportunity to take pure faith, other living entities take a distorted faith, which is compared to the light reflected from water. The light is broken and the image not intact. When people with distorted faith receive the holy name, the name that they take is also distorted. Such people are characterized by deeply rooted desire for enjoyment and liberation, to the extent that they strive day and night to fulfill their desires for enjoyment and liberation. Because such people may use the name, they may appear to have faith in the name, but this is not actual faith. If one takes to the name with that faith, no matter how long one continues, one will not progress to purification, but will remain at the same perverted stage continually. Instead, such practice usually leads to mayavada mentality, and finally one becomes a cheater. Such a person thinks that the holy name is simply a means to a higher end, and by such mentality the glory and power of the name become lost. The only result is offense.
"Here is the difference between real namabhasa, where due to obstruction the effects of the name are felt faintly, and distorted namabhasa. In real namabhasa, many anarthas may be generated out of ignorance and weakness of heart, but all these effects can be cleared by continual chanting of the name. However, in distorted namabhasa born from cheating knowledge, offenses simply increase. This is not called namabhasa but nama-aparadha.
"The mayavadis consider Krishna, His name, form, lila and qualities to be false and perishable. On this ground they will never receive love of God, for such a path leads in the opposite direction from the path of devotional service or bhakti. Thus there can be no real compromise between the two paths; the mayavada philosophy is considered the enemy of bhakti and its followers are considered the greatest offenders. Actually, the holy name never comes from the mouths of these people, for although the syllables may be heard, the holy name with all its transcendental potency does not reside there. The mayavadi chanting the name in this way, simply goes to hell because he thinks that the name is temporary and material. While chanting the name, the mayavadi desires enjoyment and liberation, and by being so deceptive and chanting with motivation, he receives only pain for all his troubles.
"If, by the mercy of the devotees, he can give up the aspiration for bhukti and mukti and accept his position as servant of Krishna, being repentent and obedient, he can receive the real name and realize actual knowledge of sambandha-jnana. Then, by constantly chanting the name, tears will come to his eyes, the mercy inherent in the name will come, and his true nature, prema-bhakti, will become manifest.
"But, the mayavadi who holds that both Krishna and the position of the jiva as Krishna's servant are temporary and imaginary is an offender against the name, and dwells in the deep hole of misfortune. Since the name is a desire tree, it gives the mayavadi his desire of merging into the Lord's effulgence. Of the five types of liberation, sayujya or merging gives relief from the pains of the material ocean, but extinguishes one's own identity as well. Illusioned men, thinking there will be happiness in that state, receive only this shadow of happiness. For in that state, forgetting Krishna completely, they cannot obtain service in eternal bliss and knowledge, which is the perfection of life. If one has no bhakti, no love for Krishna, no constant faith and conviction in Krishna, how can one attain real, eternal happiness?
"In summary, one who is at the stage of namabhasa does not accept the mayavadi philosophy, nor is his heart contaminated or weakened by its influence. The full glory of the sun is not visible when covered by clouds; but when the clouds are removed, the sun shines in full glory. Just in this manner, when a person receives knowledge of the actual nature of the name by the mercy of the guru, when the ignorance and anarthas causing namabhasa are dissipated by sambandha-jnana and sadhana of proper chanting, that namabhasa can be transformed into suddha-nama, at which stage one will receive the full brilliance of the name in the form of prema.
"Therefore, whoever carefully avoids the company and influence of mayavadis, takes shelter of the pure name, and serves out of love, will become fully satisfied in full perfection. That is the Lord's instruction. Whoever accepts this instruction is a fortunate soul, and whoever rejects it is a rascal who will not be delivered for a hundred million births. To state it in another way, one should simply give up bad association and take shelter of Lord Chaitanya's lotus feet. Other than Mahaprabhu's feet, other than His mercy, there is no way."
Thus did Haridasa Thakura conclude his explanation of namabhasa. One who takes shelter at the two lotus feet of Haridasa, will sing incessantly his glorification of the name entitled "Hari-nama-cintamani."