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Chapter 9 - Committing Sin on the Strength of the Name
gaura-gadadhara jaya jahnava-jivana
jaya jaya sitadvaita jaya bhakta-gana
Haridasa spoke on the power of the name to eradicate sinful activities:
"If the jiva takes shelter of the pure name, which is suddha-sattva or transcendental and pure at all times, quickly all the anarthas, including weakness of the heart, will go away. When one becomes fixed in the holy name, one will no longer think of committing sin and the effects of past sins will no longer influence one. This is due to purification of the heart.
"Sin may be analyzed in three stages. A sinful act is the final stage. This is caused by a seed of sin, or a desire to sin. That desire or seed originates in ignorance, which is the root cause. All three are considered as causes of the suffering of the jiva. However, Krishna is merciful, always looking to the welfare of His parts and parcels; not being able to bear the sufferings of the jivas, He always tries to help them. Thus, by the process of bhakti, the thirst for material stimulation or the lust of the senses, leaves the heart. One is able to look with contempt on the endeavor to acquire a beautiful woman or wealth. One lives satisfied with one's constitutional service to the Lord. The devotee accepts everything favorable to the development of bhakti and rejects everything unfavorable to bhakti; he regards Krishna alone as his protector and maintainer and gives up all ideas of the selfish concept of "I and mine." Thinking himself very low and worthless, the devotee will continuously chant the holy name. Whoever takes shelter of the name in this way can neither think nor do any sinful activity.
"It is guaranteed that quickly one will be purified from all sinful influence. However, inevitably there is a period between sinful life and the pure state and in this interim period there may be some relation with past sin, that is, some diminishing trace of sin. However, new sin is not being committed and the past sin is quickly dissipating. The more one engages in the holy name, the quicker that sinful odor will vanish. Krishna promised Arjuna that He would never let His devotee fall into trouble. Since trouble is caused by sin, Krishna mercifully takes away all sin from the devotee. Only with great trouble is the jnani able to control sin, but without Krishna's shelter, quickly he will fall from his spotless position. Therefore, as scripture concludes, only by taking shelter of the Lord in bhakti is safety guaranteed.
"Even if by accident a devotee happens to commit a sin, he does not resort to the purificatory rites of prayascitta and karma-kanda. That sin is temporary and by chanting it will be washed away, leaving no influence. However, there is another type of sin. If someone intentionally commits a new sin out of lust, thinking that there will be no bad effect because of the name's power in destroying sins, that person is not a serious devotee but is known as a cheater. From his offense against the name he will reap lamentation, fear and death. Thus, two types of sinful activities may be distinguished: an unpremeditated sin and a premeditated sin. There is a gross difference between the two according to scripture.
"In the case of ordinary sin, one can counteract it by prayascitta, but if one even thinks of committing sin on the strength of the holy name, there is no remedial measure, so serious is the offense. Even endless torture by the servants of Yamaraja cannot deliver him from the offense. And if thinking of committing the offense to the name brings such suffering, how much more will be the suffering from actually committing such an act?
"An example is given. In scripture one hears that the holy name removes the effects of more sins than one can commit in ten million lifetimes. In countless places the scriptures state that by namabhasa. all five types of sin, even the greatest sin, can be removed. A person of a cheating mentality, hearing this information, will with ill motive start chanting the holy name. In the same way, a person may give up regular work as difficult and take the cloth of a renunciate, but still associate with women and wealth for sense gratification. Using the position of an advanced renunciate as a means of enjoying as a householder is a great disturbance to the social order and the universe at large. Either as a householder or as a renunciate, there is no impediment to taking the holy name and perfecting one's life, provided one carries out his devotions according to the rules without offense. But to have the idea of committing sin under the shelter of the name is a great offense, which will block the path of bhakti.
"One who is at the namabhasa stage, by bad association, is always in danger of committing this offense; but one who has suddha-nama does not commit this aparadha. Those who have taken shelter of the pure name do not at any time in any form come near to committing any of the ten aparadhas. However, as long as one does not have the pure name, there is every danger of onslaught of offenses, and therefore the person in namabhasa should be aware of the mentality of committing sin on the strength of the holy name. Those who have the shelter of the pure name always live in association of pure Vaishnavas and are vigilant to avoid offenses. They have a mind determined not to move from thought of Krishna, not even for a moment. But one not in this status should live in fear of offenses, particularly the offense of committing sin on the strength of the name. This person should constantly chant the Lord's name, and by the grace of the guru, get sambandha jnana, which will in turn give him real Krishna bhakti and real Krishna nama.
If by fate one commits this offense, one should purify himself by association with pure Vaishnavas. Sinful desires are like thieves on the road to bhakti, and the pure Vaishnavas are the protectors of the road. Loudly call out the name of the protector; when the protector comes, the thief flees. Say that name in love and do not fear, for remember that the Lord has said, 'I am your protector."'
Whoever vows to exclusively serve the feet of the Vaishnavas, thinking himself the lowest of the low, gets to sing the touchstone of the holy name.