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Hari Nama Chintamani
By Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Translated by Bhanu Swami
1. - Glories of the Holy Name
2. - Accepting the Holy Name
3. - Namabhasa
4. - Blasphemy of Vaishnavas
5. - Worshiping the Demigods as Independent of Krishna
6. - Disregarding the Guru
7. - Criticism of Scripture
8. - Interpreting the Holy Nam
9. - Committing Sin on the Strength of the Name
10. - Giving the Name to the Unfaithful
11. - Considering the Name as Equal to Material Piety
12. - Inattention While Chanting
13. - Attachment to "I and Mine"
14. - Offenses in Serving the Deity
15. - Bhajana-pranali
All Glories to Shri Guru
nama cintamanih krishnas
purnah suddho nitya-mukto
The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krishna's name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna's name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krishna's name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical. —Padma Purana
Hari-nama-cintamani & Nama-bhajana
by Shrila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura
World Sankirtana Party Inc.
The Vaishnava community is highly indebted to H.H. Bhanu Swami for this beautiful translation of the Hari-nama-cintamani.
Chapter 1 - Glories of the Holy Name
All glories to Gadadhara and Gauranga, to the life of Jahnava, Nityananda Prabhu. All glories to Sita and Advaita, to Shrivasa and all the devotees.
On the shore of the ocean at Nilacala, in the temple of Jagannatha, resides daru-brahman, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in wooden form. Having mercifully descended in this material world, He is bestowing both material enjoyment and liberation. At this same dhama, in order to give good fortune to mankind and make known the dharma of Kali-yuga, Shri Chaitanya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the form of a sannyasi, came and set up residence in the house of Kasi Misra. There, along with His devotees, He gave out love of Godhead to all, just as a desire tree gives treasure freely. There the Lord took great care to present the proper spiritual teachings to the living entities. This He did by making various devotees explain different aspects of devotional service, while He sat and listened in great bliss. In this way, through Ramananda Raya's mouth He taught the concept of rasa, through the mouth of Sarvabhauma He taught the real principle of liberation, through the mouth of Rupa Gosvami in Vrindavana He taught the details of rasa and through the mouth of Haridasa He taught the full glories of the holy name.
One day, after bathing in the ocean, the Lord met with Haridasa Thakura at the Siddha-bakula tree, and in blissful mind He carefully inquired from Haridasa how the jivas could easily become delivered from material existence.
Grasping the Lord's feet, Haridasa's body shivered and tears poured from His eyes. In great humility he spoke: "O Lord, Your lila is very deep. I have absolutely nothing—I have nothing. Your lotus feet are my only possession. For no good reason have You asked this question to such an unfit person as I. What can
the result be?
"O Lord, You are Krishna Himself, who has this time descended in Navadvipa dhama to deliver the jivas of Kali-yuga. There You mercifully display Your pastimes. If You kindly put those pastimes within my heart, I will be happy. It is by Your great mercy that You have revealed Your unlimited name, qualities, form and pastimes in the material world so that even low rascals such as I can taste them.
"You are the spiritual sun; I am the particle of its light. You are the Lord; I am Your eternal servant. The nectar of Your lotus feet is my wealth of happiness; my hope rests in the nectar of Your name.
"As I am such a low person, how do I know what to say, O Lord and Master? Still, I must obey Your order. What comes from my mouth I will happily present to You, not considering the faults.
Krishna and His Energies
"The Supreme Person who is completely independent and free to act according to His desire is Shri Krishna. He exists as the Supreme Truth, one without a second; but is inconceivably always in the company of His eternal energies. These energies are never independent of Krishna; rather they are intimately related with Him. This is stated in the Vedic mantras. Krishna is the independent principal conscious entity, and the energies are His attributes. They can never be independent. Krishna may be called vibhu, the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent master, and the manifestations from His energies—all other existing phenomena—may be called vaibhava, the opulent expressions of His factual existence. Yet, even in the midst of unlimited, countless energies scattered throughout endless time, Krishna remains separate and independent in His original form. It is through these energies, these vaibhava of the vibhu, that the Lord's presence can be perceived.
"The manifestations from Krishna's energies are of three types: cid-vaibhava, or spiritual manifestations coming from Krishna's spiritual potency; acid-vaibhava, or the dull, unconscious material world; and jiva, or countless souls, small particles of spirit. This is the statement of scripture.
"The cid-vaibhava consists of Krishna's abodes, such as the unlimited number of Vaikuntha planets; Krishna's unlimited names, such as Govinda, Hare, etc.; Krishna's unlimited forms, such as the two-handed form holding the flute; Krishna's extraordinary qualities, such as affectionately giving bliss to His devotees; Krishna's pastimes, such as the rasa-lila of Vraja and the sankirtana activities of Navadvipa. Even though these spiritual manifestations may descend into the material world and be visible or perceivable by the living entities, they remain spiritually untouched by material influence. All these elements intimately related to Vishnu or Krishna are called Vishnupada throughout the Vedas. The word denotes that the cid-vaibhava are inseparable from the Lord Himself. The spiritual phenomena are inseparable from the prime spiritual entity.
"Therefore, in the spiritual realm of Vishnupada, the changes which occur due to the influences of the material energy are not present. That realm is transcendental to material change, and like Lord Vishnu Himself, is pure goodness, unmixed with passion or ignorance in the least, unlike the condition of the material world. Krishna and the plenary Vishnu expansions are all of pure goodness. Thus, whether in Goloka, Vaikuntha, the Causal Ocean, or the material world, these personalities remain unaffected, as the Lord of all the demigods and the Lord of maya.
"Vishnu forms are the Lords of maya and are in pure goodness, whereas Brahma, Siva, etc. possess goodness mixed with other modes.
"Across the Viraja River, which is the separating boundary, opposite from the Vishnu forms, spiritual abodes, spiritual pastimes and other spiritual manifestations, lies the nonspiritual realm composed of the universes of fourteen planetary systems. This realm under the control of the Lord's illusory energy is called Devi-dhama, the abode of maya. It is composed of the five material elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether), plus mind, intelligence and false ego, which form the gross and subtle bodies of the living entities. The seven upper and seven lower planetary systems are all contained within the acid-vaibhava, or nonspiritual manifestation of one of the Lord's energies.
"Whereas the spiritual manifestation (cid-vaibhava) is the full spiritual principle, and the illusory material world (acid-vaibhava) is its shadow, jivas are atomic particles of spiritual element. Because the jivas are spiritual in character, they also have some degree of independence, and have the potentiality of unlimited bliss which is natural to the spiritual realm. Those jivas who resort to Krishna to attain that bliss remain as liberated souls eternally associated with Krishna. But, thinking of his own happiness, if one selfishly desires to enter the neighboring abode of maya, he turns away from Krishna and takes a material body in the material universe. Having fallen into the revolving wheel of continuous activities, good or bad, with their results, the jiva wanders throughout the universe, sometimes in svarga, sometimes in hell, taking birth with a material body to enjoy life in all the eight million four hundred thousand species of beings.
"But as You are the Lord, the controller of the jivas, and the jivas are Your energies, You are always thinking of their welfare. Whatever happiness a jiva may seek, You kindly bestow it. Therefore one who desires impermanent happiness in the material world achieves it without difficulty by the Lord's mercy. All the processes to achieve this happiness of sense gratification, such as rules of varna and asrama, yajna, yoga, homa and vrata, which are pious activities, are simply material without spiritual transcendental nature at all. The results of these practices—elevation to higher planets and sense enjoyment—are material and temporary. Thus, in such activities for satisfying the temporary senses, the soul remains unsatisfied. The attempt to achieve happiness by gaining a temporary situation in a higher planet is a gross error by the soul.
"Similarly, by the mercy of devotees, a jnani may perform activities of bhakti. Such jnana mixed with devotional activities is also classified as a secondary path of bhakti. Such a jnani easily arrives at the stage of faith in Krishna, and can quickly proceed in full devotional service.
"The servant jivas, desiring the trifling fruits in the hell of the material world, reject their master, but Krishna, knowing what is best for their welfare, forces them to give up the enjoyment (bhukti) resulting from fruitive activities (karma) and the liberation (mukti) resulting from speculative endeavors (jnana), and at last bestows the sweet fruit of devotion to Krishna (bhakti). It is only the mercy of the Lord, who is made of pure mercy, that He puts the jivas on a secondary path which lets the jiva fulfill his material desire for sometime, but simultaneously gives him faith in the process of bhakti. If it were not for the mercy of the Lord, how could the living entities ever become pure and enter their position of happiness in the spiritual realm?
"In the Satya-yuga the Lord supplied the process of meditation, by which the rishis became purified. Attaining purification, the Lord gave the treasure of bhakti. Similarly, in the Treta-yuga, the Lord arranged for purification by performance of sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga, the Lord gave temple worship for purification, as paths leading to bhakti. But seeing the pitiful state of the jivas in the Kali-yuga, the Lord gave up hope in the processes of karma, jnana and yoga. In Kali-yuga such troubles as short life, many diseases, decreased intelligence and strength, afflict all jivas. Therefore the secondary paths of karma and jnana—the practices of varnasrama, sankhya, yoga and jnana, mixed with a little devotional activity—are too narrow and obstructive. The only result in Kali-yuga of these paths is deviation from the path of bhakti. Thus if one takes to these paths in hope of success in the Kali-yuga, life will simply become difficult for the jivas.
The Chief Path—Bhakti and the Holy Name
"Therefore, thinking of the welfare of the jivas in Kali-yuga, the Lord has descended with His name. The Lord descended and preached the path for Kali yuga—the process of nama-sankirtana. Since by this process the jiva may directly achieve the highest treasure of Krishna prema, which is actual happiness, it is called the major or chief path, as distinct from the secondary paths of karma and jnana. In this process all the jiva has to do is sing and remember the name of the Lord constantly. When the impure jiva takes up the process of bhakti for his purification, he is performing sadhana-bhakti, or devotional service in practice. When his practice reaches purity and perfection (sadhya), in other words, when the jiva achieves prema-bhakti, the activities of sadhana-bhakti—hearing and chanting the Lord's name, etc.—remain as the activities of prema-bhakti. The principal activities of devotional service are eternal. At the perfectional stage of prema, the means (sadhana) and the end (sadhya), or the method (upaya) and what is to be attained by the method (upeya) become nondifferent. Thus there is no barrier or obstacle between the life and activities during training and at the perfectional stage: the holy name remains constant in both cases. In this way the jiva can easily transcend the material world."
Haridasa continued: "I am just a fallen, low person, so much absorbed in sense objects. Being so foolish, I did not even take up Your name, O Lord!"
With tears flowing incessantly from his eyes, Haridasa, the incarnation of Brahma, fell breathless at the
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays that whoever is able to take refuge in the Lord, the Lord's devotees and devotional service, receives the full effects of the holy name, which is a touchstone yielding all desires. At that time the name becomes the center of his existence.
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.
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."
Chapter 4 - Blasphemy of Vaishnavas
gadadhara-prana jaya jahnava-jivana
jaya sitanatha shrivasadi bhakta-gana
Shri Chaitanya said: "O Haridasa, now describe in detail the offenses to the holy name." Haridasa answered, "By Your power I will say what You make me say.
"Offenses to the holy name are analyzed as ten, according to scripture. One should be fearful of committing these offenses. They are as follows:
1. To blaspheme or criticize the Vaishnavas.
2. To consider that other living entities, such as the demigods, are independent of Krishna.
3. To disobey or disrespect the guru.
4. To disrespect scriptural authority.
5. To interpret the meaning of the name and to think that the glories of the name are imaginary.
6. To commit sinful activity on the strength of the holy name.
7. To give the name to the unfaithful who are not ready to accept.
8. To consider the holy name as karma and pious activity.
9. To be inattentive while chanting the holy name.
10. After having taken correct knowledge, being aware of the glories of the name, to remain attached to the material world of "I and mine," and ultimately reject the name."
These shall be described one after another. The first offense, known as sadhu-ninda, criticism of Vaishnavas, is very harmful for those wanting to progress in spiritual life. First let us define what sadhu or Vaishnava is. In the Eleventh Canto of the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Krishna enumerates to Uddhava the characteristics of a sadhu:
droha-sunya-vrata—penance without injury to the body,
parahita-rata—engaged in the welfare of mankind,
kame akshubhita-buddhi—intelligence free from lust,
akincana—devoid of concept of ownership,
parimita-bhoji—regulated eating and other habits,
aniha—apathy to materialism,
vijita-shadguna—conquering over the six gunas, (hunger, thirst, lamentation, envy, old age and death),
amani—not expecting honor from others,
manada—giving respect to others,
jnani—knowledgeable of the scriptures.
By these characteristics one can know who is a sadhu. However, here there are two types of characteristics: principal and marginal. The principal characteristic is exclusive surrender to Krishna, while all others are dependent upon it. By some good fortune one may get the association of Vaishnavas, and then attain a taste for the name, chant the name and take shelter of Krishna's lotus feet. This becomes the chief characteristic, and by continuing to chant the name, all the other characteristics make their appearance. Therefore they are called marginal or accompanying. Though secondary to the principal characteristic, they will certainly appear in the body of a true Vaishnava or sadhu, as an effect of proper chanting of the holy name.
On the other hand, the status of grihastha, brahmacari, vanaprastha and sannyasi, sudra, vaisya, kshatriya and brahmana of the varnasrama system, and their respective habits and qualities, are external distinctions which in no way determine who is a sadhu. The chief characteristic of a sadhu is his complete surrender to Krishna, which is not dependent on a certain varna or asrama.
Through the example of Raghunatha dasa, Shri Chaitanya taught how the grihastha Vaishnava should act. The married man should enter household life with a mind steadily fixed on service to Krishna, not enamored by sense gratification, and in this way the householder can gradually cross the ocean of material existence. Instead of playing as a false renunciate (markata vairagi), enjoying with the senses in the cloth of a sannyasi, it is better to take only those things necessary for survival in the material world, while cultivating nonattachment. One should always be internally fixed on Krishna, though externally one may act according to one's social custom in varna and asrama. Krishna quickly delivers such grihastha Vaishnavas.
When Raghunatha dasa gave up household life, the Lord gave him instruction on the life of renunciation:
"One should neither listen to materialistic conversations, nor speak materialistic topics to others. One should not eat fancy food, or wear fancy clothing. One should always chant the holy name, respecting all, without expecting honor, and meditate on eternal service to Radha and Krishna in Vraja within one's mind."
"The principal characteristic is one, namely, surrender to Krishna's name, which will prevail in all sadhus, no matter what varna or asrama, grihastha or sannyasi. However, according to asrama or varna, the secondary characteristics will differ to some degree. And even if there appears some bad element or fault in a person, if he has the chief characteristic, surrender to Krishna, he must be considered a sadhu, and to be respected and served by all. This is Krishna's statement in Bhagavad-gita.
"When one has developed a taste for chanting the pure name, it is said that chanting just one time will destroy the influence of all past sins. Some remnants of those sins may still remain, but they will completely vanish by the influence of the holy name. Since these traces of sin will quickly go, that person is known as the most righteous person. Of course, if the materialist sees those traces of sin in a Vaishnava sadhu, he may consider that the sadhu is just like a materialistic sinner. If he should criticize the sadhu because the sadhu has a trace of sin coming from previous sinful activity, he is committing sadhu-ninda. He is to be considered a rascal because of his fault of criticizing a Vaishnava; and by this nama-aparadha (offense unto one who has surrender to the name) he falls directly under the wrath of Krishna.
"It is concluded that one who is solely devoted to Krishna and sings His name is known as a sadhu. Other than the devotees of Krishna, no one else is considered to be a sadhu. One who considers himself a sadhu is filled with material pride. But one who thinks himself to be the lowest rascal, humbly takes shelter of Krishna and sings Krishna's name, is the real sadhu. Knowing himself to be less than a blade of grass, considering himself like a tree of tolerance, not expecting honor for himself and giving honor to all other living entities, he chants the name and attains attraction for Krishna.
"If a person of the above qualities chants the holy name even once, he is considered a Vaishnava, and should be respected. The Vaishnava is the friend and spiritual leader of the universe; he is an ocean of mercy to all living entities. Whoever criticizes such a Vaishnava goes to hell birth after birth; for there is no path for real liberation other than bhakti, and bhakti is obtained only by the mercy of the Vaishnavas.
"In the pure Vaishnava resides Krishna's energies of bhakti, hladini and samvit. Thus by contacting a Vaishnava one can also receive Krishna bhakti. For this reason also, the food remnants, the foot water and the foot dust from the pure Vaishnavas are three powerful articles for creating bhakti. If one stays near a pure Vaishnava for some time, one can receive the bhakti energy flowing from his body. If one can bind that energy within one's heart, after having developed strong faith, bhakti will develop and one's body will begin to tremble in ecstasy. Thus, by living close to a Vaishnava, soon devotion will appear in one's heart. First, such a person will begin chanting the holy name, and then, by the power of the name, he will receive all good qualities. This is the particular power of the uttama adhikari.
"A Vaishnava may be criticized on four counts: his caste by birth, previous sins or faults in this life, an unpremeditated accidental act of sin, and present traces of previous sinful activity. Though all these conditions may be present in a Vaishnava, they are insubstantial grounds for criticism of a Vaishnava. One who so blasphemes a Vaishnava will be punished by Yamaraja. Because the Vaishnava is spreading the glories of the Lord's name, the Lord does not tolerate such criticism of a Vaishnava. Giving up dharma, yoga, sacrifice and jnana for the name of Krishna, the Vaishnava is the topmost person. Criticism is a serious offense. Furthermore he does not criticize the scriptures or the demigods, but simply takes shelter of the name.
"One should rather eagerly take the dust from the feet of a Vaishnava, regardless of whether he is a grihastha or sannyasi. One will treat him only according to his advancement as a Vaishnava, which is based upon his degree of attraction to the holy name. Such things as caste or asrama, wealth, learning, youthfulness, beauty, strength or number of followers are not factors.
"It goes without saying that one who has taken shelter of the name will not indulge in sadhu-ninda. One who criticizes a sadhu is not situated in bhakti, but in aparadha against bhakti. A serious person therefore would not indulge in criticism, but associate with, hear from and serve the sadhu.
"Because association with those who are not devotees is bound to produce disrespect for devotees (sadhu-ninda), the devotee is careful to avoid such association. Materialistic association or asat-sanga is of two types: association with women and association with those devoid of devotion to the Lord. Association with women means associating with women not according to Vedic tradition. This association with women which is not authorized by scripture is divided into association with women outside of marriage for the purpose of sex life and association within marriage where one is controlled by one's wife. Thus, only if one is married according to prescribed rules and is following the rules for married life, in which the wife is submissive to the husband and the husband acts as a sadhu, is the
association considered bona fide. Other types of association are considered asat.
"The second type of asat association, association with nondevotees, is of three types: association with mayavadis, association with pretenders, and association with atheists. Mayavadis believe that the Lord and the jivas are both temporary entities, and that the Lord's murti form is material. The pretenders, though without genuine devotion or renunciation, pretend to be devotees to make a living. The atheists do not believe in any form of God. Now these people may claim to be devotees, and may be accepted by the public as such, but if one rejects such people, it is not considered sadhu-ninda. Furthermore, one who criticizes a person who gives up these asat people should also be rejected and avoided. Therefore, the serious devotee who gives up asat-sanga, which causes sadhu-ninda, and exclusively takes shelter in the name, will certainly receive the treasure of prema.
"It may be observed that in order to proceed properly to prema, one must be able to distinguish the devotee from the nondevotee. For one must avoid the aparadha of criticizing the devotee and seek his association, and simultaneously reject the nondevotee completely. One must furthermore be able to distinguish the types of Vaishnavas according to their spiritual advancement. These are of three types: the materialistic Vaishnava or Vaishnava-praya (almost a Vaishnava) is he who has mediocre faith in Krishna but has no service attitude to sadhus. Actually, such a person is not a Vaishnava but the dim image of a Vaishnava, Vaishnava-abhasa. However, if he is not a Vaishnava, how will he be permitted to associate with Vaishnavas, who do not associate with non-Vaishnavas? Therefore, this person is considered to be at the beginning stage of a Vaishnava, kanishtha Vaishnava, upon whom the actual fixed-up Vaishnavas will bestow mercy so that he becomes purified.
"The next higher stage of Vaishnava is the madhyama-bhakta, who can recognize the important position of the Lord's devotees and thus always associates with them. In faith he is convinced of Krishna's position as the Lord, the jivas as His eternal servants, the process as bhakti and the goal as prema. He shows mercy to the innocent, those who have a little faith, the kanishtha-bhaktas, by giving them sambandha-jnana. And he avoids the enemies, asat-sanga, understanding the different effects of the different types of association. Even at this stage of madhyama-bhakta, one is considered a pure Vaishnava, with the qualification of taking the real holy name, not namabhasa. As a real Vaishnava he is able to distinguish a Vaishnava from a non-Vaishnava, so that he may avoid asat-sanga and sadhu-ninda and serve the advanced devotees. Actually he must do this for his own advancement.
"He who experiences Krishna as the life and soul of everything, and thus sees Krishna situated in everything, and consequently does not make distinction between Vaishnava and non-Vaishnava, but simply engages in relishing the nectar of the holy name, is called the uttama Vaishnava, the most advanced devotee.
"The kanishtha-bhakta performs his devotional service at the stage of namabhasa, whereas the madhyama Vaishnava is actually qualified for the real holy name, and can understand and discern the various offenses in chanting the holy name. The uttama adhikari is above committing offense, as he sees Krishna expanded everywhere.
"It can be seen that it is important for the practitioner of bhakti—whether a kanishtha or madhyama bhakta—to understand in his performance of sadhana, his own position in devotional service according to his internal purity. By doing this one can avoid nondevotees (asat-sanga), and by this one can advance further. Therefore it is important that one come to the position of madhyama bhakta, one who is qualified to make these distinctions. The typical activities of a real devotee (madhyama bhakta) are to avoid sadhu-ninda and to take association of sadhus, serve sadhus and give knowledge to the innocent jivas, while performing nama-sankirtana.
"Being overcome with the material modes, if one commits the offense of blasphemy against a devotee, one should sincerely feel repentent and cry at the feet of that devotee for mercy and forgiveness. The devotee, who is by nature very merciful, will forgive the offender."
Haridasa concluded, "According to Your order, Lord, I have discussed the first offense. This I offer to Your lotus feet."
That person who, like a bumble bee, lingers at the lotus feet of Haridasa, will receive the touchstone of the holy name as his life and soul.
Chapter 5 - Worshiping the Demigods as Independent of Krishna
jaya gadadhara-prana jahnava-jivana
jaya sitanatha jaya gaura-bhakta-gana
Haridasa spoke with folded hands, "Now hear about the second offense, O Lord of the universe.
First he clarified the position of Vishnu. “Vishnu is the supreme principle, not subject to the duality of the material world. He is a form full of consciousness and knowledge, existing eternally beyond the modes of material nature, although being the absolute controller of the material world. Krishna in Goloka is the original and supreme Vishnu form, being ornamented with sixty-four transcendental qualities to enhance His blissful activities by which He performs His activities. The purusha-avataras and other plenary avataras all possess these sixty qualities in order to carry out their function.
"Krishna expands as two types of conscious particles. The first is the ordinary jiva, who has fifty qualities to some degree. The second are the demigods, who have the same fifty qualities but to a greater degree. In addition, Siva possesses five more qualities. Vishnu has all these qualities plus five more which are not found in other living entities. In this way we can see that Vishnu or Narayana, with sixty qualities, is the Lord, and Siva and the demigods are His servants. Greater than the ordinary jivas are the demigods and Siva, and greater than Siva is Vishnu, who is the Lord of the jivas and the Lord of the demigods. Therefore, whoever considers Vishnu on the same level as the demigods is very ignorant.
"Some people claim that the Brahman without qualities takes on qualities when it expands as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. However, the conclusion of scripture is that Narayana is supreme, and is the cause of Brahma and Siva. Whoever rejects Vishnu as the supreme controller and takes to worship of demigods, falls into the world of illusion.
"Other people claim that since Vishnu is all pervading throughout the universe and is present in the demigods as well, one can worship Vishnu by worshiping all the demigods. But this is not the ruling in the scriptures. Rather, this type of activity is forbidden. By worshiping Vishnu all other worship is perfected. Just as by giving water to the root of a tree the branches become satisfied; by worshiping Vishnu exclusively, all worship is covered. This is the Vedic conclusion, but unfortunately, the fools reject this precept. Under the influence of mayavadi philosophy, the living entities of Kali-yuga put Vishnu on the same level as the demigods. In truth, however, the demigods give only limited result, whereas worship of Vishnu yields all results. If the materialists can understand this truth, they will take to Vishnu worship and achieve all results.
"How should a householder in the varnasrama system act? Generally he should give up worrying about inferior obligations and simply worship Krishna. In other words, in all the samskaras from insemination to funeral rites, Krishna should be worshiped, using appropriate mantras from the Vedas. One should worship the Vaishnavas and Vishnu directly and worship the forefathers by giving them prasada from Vishnu. To directly worship the demigods as the mayavadis do will only shorten one's life. To think that the demigods are independent of Vishnu is an offense. Since the demigods take their existence from Vishnu, in them one cannot find full perfection. Even the controlling powers of Brahma, Ganesa and Surya come from Krishna. They do not have independent power. Therefore the grihastha Vaishnava should recognize one supreme Lord Vishnu, and regard the demigods as His dependent energies. Thus the grihastha, though following the rules and customs prescribed in his caste, will give up all those rules which include demigod worship, aimed at sense gratification, and hold firmly to the path of bhakti, worshiping Him alone in all cases where worship is prescribed.
"In this way the grihastha, with his mind fixed on devotion to Krishna, will perform the samskaras of his caste, satisfy the ancestors by Vishnu prasada offerings, and offer oblations to the demigods by recognizing them as the devotees of Krishna, and then taking prasada himself. He knows that by worshiping Krishna and the Vaishnava all results are attained. Thus he always chants the holy name, being careful to avoid offenses such as the second aparadha.
"The question may arise why one should follow the varnasrama system at all. The answer is that everyone who has taken a human birth must follow this system. By this scientific arrangement of society, the general masses of people can attain to their full capacity according to their individual nature and gradually attain devotion to Krishna. Those outside the varnasrama system should be made to give up all bad habits and begin practicing as sudras. This must be the path for civilized society to carry on life.
"The worship of Krishna is an essential part of the varnasrama system. If the four varnas carry out life according to the rules of their particular caste but do not worship Krishna, then they simply go to hell. Particularly the grihastha must follow the rules of his varna in performing his worldly activities of raising family and relating with the rest of society, but at the same time, according to his means, he must worship Krishna. And he must respect and follow these rules as long as he has not come to the platform where the rules hamper his progress in worshiping Krishna. This is the platform technically known as bhava. In that state the jiva develops sadhana bhakti, in which the inspiration to perform devotional activities comes directly from the taste experienced by the pure jiva. This goal will eventually be achieved by the grihastha Vaishnava who accepts Vishnu as supreme.
"There is one other offense derived from not accepting Vishnu as the supreme, one without a second, or advaya-tattva. Being the advaya-tattva, Vishnu, by His inconceivable energies, possesses inherently name, form and qualities which cannot be considered separate from Him. To consider the name, etc. as different from the Lord is to consider the Lord and the name on a material level. This concept of duality is offensive. At the stage of namabhasa one may hold this conception unconsciously from lack of knowledge or faith, but it is impossible to hold this conception at the stage of prema. This anartha can be removed by the mercy of the bona fide guru who will guide the practitioner in sadhana bhakti so that the suddha-nama, the pure name, is revealed.
"By material speculation one can bring about this concept of duality in the Lord, and it can become a serious offense which is difficult to remove. Thus, in the case of the mayavadis, holding to this concept is an aparadha. The mayavadis claim that the impersonal Brahman is the supreme truth, without variety, character or energies, without form or beauty, without change or activity, simply pure existence. For them, the name and form of Vishnu are creations of maya, the material energy of illusion. When a person can overcome illusion, then Vishnu simply merges into the impersonal Brahman, losing individual identity. This is all simply bad logic, based on atheism. To claim that the Supreme Truth is without all inconceivable transcendental energies, or is unable to possess character, is madness. There may be some confusion of what to call the Supreme Truth—Brahman or Vishnu—but in either case, the highest realization must be God with energies and personality. That is the Vedic conclusion.
"Actually Vishnu has both features in Himself: nirvisesha and savisesha, without variety and with variety. This is possible by the inconceivable power of God, the Supreme Powerful. All opposites are assimilated without difficulty. By this inconceivable power the Supreme One can exist with variety, beauty and lila.
“Of course, the jiva, being naturally of small intelligence as a particle of God, cannot fully understand the nature of the Lord's inconceivable power. In the attempt to establish a concept of the Supreme Truth by his own intelligence, the jiva takes shelter of material logic and accepts the secondary feature of the Lord, or impersonal Brahman, which is a state of unity and peace, as the supreme. By rejecting the lotus feet of Vishnu, who is worshiped by the higher beings or demigods, and by then being bound up in a state of Brahman, he cannot distinguish what is good or bad for his own welfare.
"But a person who can understand that the Absolute Truth can exist with form and variety in a pure transcendental state, can properly see that Vishnu, His name and qualities are all one and inseparable from Him. This concept of Krishna with personality is actual knowledge. With this understanding one can take to chanting the holy name, knowing that it is Krishna Himself.
Thus one must avoid the offense of thinking materially that Vishnu and His name, form, etc. are different, and of thinking that other living entities, such as the demigods, have an existence separate from Vishnu.
"To summarize, whoever is solely devoted to Krishna simply worships Krishna and gives up all other worship. He does not criticize the demigods or the scriptures which support the worship of the demigods, but respects the demigods as the servants of Krishna. Some scriptures may establish demigods as supreme to establish belief in different categories of human beings, in order to raise them through regulation to the point of coming to faith in Krishna and bhakti. The true Vaishnava will see the function of the demigods and their respective scriptures in proper perspective. Criticism of Krishna's servants, the demigods, is also offensive.
"Since it is obligatory for the householder to worship the demigods according to his caste, he will worship the demigods and forefathers by offering them the remnants from their Lord, Krishna. Similarly, when the devotee sees the murti of a demigod, he will pay respects to the demigod, seeing the demigod as a Vaishnava. However the devotee will not accept the prasada remnants of an offering that a mayavadi has made to Vishnu. Because the mayavadi's chanting and worship are both offensive, the Lord never accepts his offering. Also to accept offerings made directly to the demigods is an offense to Vishnu and obstructs the path of pure devotional service. But by worshiping Krishna, the real devotee will give the demigods the Lord's prasada out of respect. Such worship, and receiving such prasada, is not offensive. In this way, the devotee avoids the second offense in chanting the name, and by continuing this process correctly, he achieves love of God.
"If by accident, one should happen to turn from accepting Vishnu as supreme, one should be repentent and take shelter of Vishnu and be careful not to commit the offense again. By remembering Krishna, by remembering His name and chanting His name, the offense will disappear. According to the Vedic literature, there is no prayascitta (reformatory process or atonement) more effective than this. This is because the Lord is an ocean of mercy and an ocean of forgiveness. Similarly, the devotee also forgives past faults."
Haridasa concluded, "One should avoid association with those who worship demigods as supreme and rather worship the Vaishnavas, who take Krishna as the supreme. In this way, one can avoid the second offense."
For one who performs his devotions at the feet of Haridasa, the touchstone of the holy name, the name becomes his very life and soul.
Chapter 6 - Disregarding the Guru
panca-tattva jaya jaya shri radha-madhava
Haridasa said, "O Lord, now I will tell you how the third offense occurs. According to Your order, I will describe in detail all the offenses that occur from disobeying the guru.
"Having wandered from one body to another in 8,400,000 species of life, through unintentional pious activity the jiva obtains a human body. The human body is a rare opportunity because only in this form can the living entity perform devotional service properly. As a demigod, one has the tendency to enjoy, and as a lower animal, one has no capacity for knowledge. But in the human form the living entity can progress back to his constitutional position with Krishna. Therefore if one does not take care to attain Krishna in this temporary body, one will die and obtain some other body, losing the opportunity to escape from the material prison. The intelligent person, having attained a human birth in this world, will take shelter of a spiritual master who will act as a captain to guide the jiva over the ocean of material nature with the instructions of bhakti-yoga. This is the importance of the guru.
"One should approach the qualified guru, that person who is a devotee of Krishna and has conquered over the senses, and inquire submisively from him. Being satisfied with his answers, the jiva takes initiation from him and thus crosses over the material ocean. Having attraction for Krishna, he will give up useless material logic, take shelter of higher knowledge and receive mantra initiation from the spiritual master.
"One who is a grihastha should accept a guru but remain in his duties of varnasrama. If a brahmana is a Krishna devotee, he can serve as a guru for the varnas; but if there is no suitable person of brahmana birth, one can receive initiation from a guru of another varna. If there is a choice, the grihastha should choose the bona fide guru of higher caste. But in any case the main qualification by which to judge who is suitable bona fide guru is how much the guru knows about Krishna. He may be brahmana or sudra, householder or sannyasi, but this makes no difference in the guru's ability to deliver the jiva. This should be the main consideration in choosing a guru, if one desires to progress to pure attraction for Krishna. In other words, if there is a qualified guru of high caste, there is no necessity of seeking a guru of a lower caste; but if the high caste guru is not qualified as a Krishna bhakta, one should not take diksha from him on the basis of his high caste alone. Rather, one should take a qualified guru of a lower caste. The qualification of knowing Krishna and being a devotee of Krishna is the important consideration.
"In the case of a householder who cannot find proper spiritual life in the grihastha asrama, he should take a bona fide guru who is not a householder. In other words, if one renounces household life and is seeking spiritual guidance, one should take shelter of an acarya who has successfully renounced household life and receive diksha and siksha from him in order to reach the desired goal of prema. But if the householder had a qualified guru previously, that previous guru should not be disrespected or rejected. He should be honored always.
"The householder may take a guru who is either a householder or renounced. Either is suitable. Accepting guru and performing sadhana-bhakti, the householder will eventually achieve the stage of bhava, at which time his attraction for family life and sense gratification will cease. At that stage he will naturally give up household life and enter the renounced order. This person should seek out an acarya in the renounced order and take his instruction.
"Guru may be of two types: one who gives diksha with mantra and one who gives spiritual instruction. They should be considered equal in importance by one who wants to advance quickly. A person can accept only one diksha guru, but may have many siksha gurus, who give sambandha-jnana.
"The sambandha-jnana or teachings are handed down in a sampradaya from the founder-acarya of the sampradaya. These original teachings and the founder-acarya of the sampradaya should be worshiped with all respect. One should be loyal to his conclusions and instructions, not taking teachings from others. One should take as siksha guru only a person who is following faithfully the teachings of that founder-acarya. To take initiation or teachings from a mayavadi is useless.
"Whoever takes or accepts such unauthorized teachings simply goes to hell. Rejecting Krishna and learning anti-Krishna philosophy can only lead to ruination of one's life. How can a person be guru and deliver others, not having achieved or being able to achieve perfection himself?
"Thus guru, whether siksha or diksha, must be the servant of Krishna, and an associate of the Lord eternally in Vrindavana, who has been especially empowered by Krishna. One should serve the guru with great devotion, knowing Him to be directly empowered by Krishna, the dearmost servant of Krishna, and one's own eternal spiritual guide. By such sincere service to the guru one can cross over the material ocean.
"What is the procedure for worshiping the guru? First one should worship the guru (offering padya, arghya, etc.), then, taking his permission, worship the Lord. Then one should offer Krishna's prasada to the guru, the Vaishnavas, the demigods and the forefathers. With the guru in mind, one should worship Krishna, and with the guru in mind, one should chant Krishna's name.
"Consequently, if one disobeys or disrespects the guru, that is offensive, and will block one's progress in bhakti. As in the case of showing proper respect and devotion to the sadhu and to Krishna, similarly, by properly serving the guru and chanting the holy name one can get quick success. Having firm faith in the guru, one can, by the strength of the pure name, attain the goal of prema.
"When should a guru be rejected? It may happen that through asat-sanga a guru may lose his qualifications. Starting as a big guru, by committing nama-aparadha he loses his knowledge. By offending other Vaishnavas he loses the taste for the name and gradually falls under the control of wealth and women. Such a guru should be rejected. By the mercy of Krishna, that disciple will obtain a new bona fide guru and take up pure chanting of the name again.
"If a guru takes unsuitable people for disciples, he will have to suffer for that, and if a disciple takes an unqualified guru, he will accordingly suffer. In order to avoid these misfortunes, one should be cautious. On the other hand, as long as both guru and disciple are properly qualified, the relationship will continue. Ideally, this relationship is eternal, but if the disciple becomes bad, the guru must reject him, and if the guru becomes bad, the disciple must reject him. Otherwise both may fall; better one than both.
"In order to prevent the pain of having to reject one's guru, one should first carefully examine him to see if he is a pure devotee of Krishna. Even in receiving a material article, one examines it for quality. Once having accepted a qualified guru, if one disobeys his instruction, one commits a grave offense. By that even the demigods can fall down to hell.
"How should the guru be respected? The guru's bed and seat, his shoes, car, water from washing his feet, and his image should be respected. If one fails to respect them or worships someone else as guru in the guru's presence, that is devious mentality, trying to minimize the bona fide guru. One should regard the guru as one's lord and master, obey his words and instructions, and when seeing him, fall flat on the ground. One should loudly glorify the guru, never disobey his order, take his prasada remnants, and not discuss anything that the guru dislikes. Surrendering oneself humbly at the guru's feet, one should act so that he is pleased. If one acts in this way, and performs Krishna nama-sankirtana, one will gain all
perfections. That is the statement of the Vedas.
"The guru will give proper teachings concerning the holy name, and after having established faith in the
holy name in a person's heart, he will formally give him the name of Krishna or a mantra containing the name of Krishna to chant as his sadhana. This is diksha. If by bad association or contact with bogus literature one happens to reject or disrespect such a bona fide nama-diksha-guru, one should immediately give up the bad association and literature and in sorrow approach the feet of one's guru. Being all-merciful, the guru will reinstate him, and by again chanting sincerely, he will attain prema."
That person who, thinking himself lower than a blade of grass, aspires for the dust from the feet of Haridasa Namacarya, will be qualified to sing always the touchstone of the holy name.
Chapter 7 - Criticism of Scripture
jaya jaya gadai gauranga nityananda
jaya sitapati jaya gaura-bhakta-vrinda
Haridasa spoke, "Lord, the fourth offense is criticism of scripture. This offense will also obstruct one's bhakti.
"Scripture means the four Vedas, the Upanishads and the Puranas. Having emanated from the breathing of Krishna, they constitute perfect knowledge and authority. Particularly in spiritual matters these must be referred to as the final proof. Because the material senses of man, characterized by the four faults of karana-patava (limited perception), bhrama (illusion), vipralipsa (desire to report something other than what is perceived) and pramada (inattention of the senses), cannot possibly perceive anything beyond the material level of unconscious matter, the spiritual realm would be unapproachable without the aid of Krishna. Therefore Krishna has given the four Vedas, which are beyond the four faults of the senses, and by these alone can man progress towards the spiritual goal.
"What are the contents of the scriptures? The wise man will understand that karma and jnana are secondary and worthless as independent processes and that the path of bhakti is the essence. The Vedas stand as the authoritative guide and reference (pramana) and they prove nine different topics, which may be classified into sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana. By these ten principles—the Vedic authority and the nine topics which the Vedas prove—ignorance is destroyed and transcendental knowledge is revealed.
"These nine principles may be summarized as follows:
1. There is one Supreme Lord, Vishnu.
2. The Lord is possessor of all energies.
3. Krishna is the fountainhead of all rasas and is situated in His dhama where He eternally gives joy to the jivas.
4. The jivas are particles of the Lord, unlimited in number, infinitesimal in size, but conscious.
5. Some jivas are eternally bound in the material universes, being attracted by illusory pleasure.
6. Some jivas are eternally liberated and engaged in worshiping Krishna; they reside with Him as associates in the spiritual sky and experience prema.
7. Krishna exists with His energies—the material energy, jiva energy and spiritual energy—in a state of simultaneous identity and differentiation, permeating all, yet remaining aloof, which is only possible by His inconceivable power (acintya-bhedabheda-tattva).
8. The process specifically mentioned (abhidheya) for the jiva in the Vedas is the nine-fold process of devotional service, divided into vaidhi and raga-bhakti. Of the nine processes, the hearing and chanting of the holy name are principal means. That is the reason the chanting of 'om' is glorified in the Vedas.
9. The final goal or constitutional platform (prayojana) of the jivas is the activity of pure bhakti (prema). This is attained by the mercy of Krishna.
"These are the basic principles for the guidance of the jivas which are denoted by the Vedas. If one criticizes the Vedas, that is an offense to the holy name. Such a person is a low rascal.
"In the history of India there are six personalities who invented theories, and by their inventions they simply brought themselves to no good end. Jaimini, though claiming to follow the Vedas, does not recognize the Supreme Lord and recommends karma-kanda activity independent of worship of God. By concoction, Kapila thinks that the Lord is imperfect and recommends the process of yoga, without understanding its goal. Taking shelter of the philosophy that everything is illusion, the Jainas preach against the Vedas. The atheist Carvaka had no respect for the Vedic knowledge; and similarly, the Buddhist, Gautama, does not worship the Lord, but instead thinks in terms of human beings. All these philosophies are against the Vedas, sometimes directly and sometimes in a hidden way. Therefore the wise man, knowing that belief in these philosophies makes one an offender, completely avoids them.
"One other philosophy to be avoided is that of the mayavadis. Their scriptures are not genuine, but are distortions of the meaning of the Vedas. Actually they are covered Buddhism, and are meant to mislead the foolish people in the Kali-yuga. On the order of the Lord, Siva appeared in a brahmana family and became an acarya. Then, like Jaimini, while taking authority from the Vedas, twisted the meaning to delude the world. He took the Buddhist doctrine of illusion and tried to delude the world. By doing this, he covered the direct meaning of the Vedas and the process of bhakti. Thus if one accepts any of these philosophies, there is no place for real bhakti. If one takes the holy name along with these philosophies, one is committing serious offense to the name. One simply brings about one's own end.
"If the jiva can accept the direct meaning of the Vedas, which is the path of pure bhakti, he will be rewarded with the sweetness of prema, but if he takes indirect meaning or metaphorical interpretations as the real meaning, he cannot come to truth and dies of his offense to Krishna. The principal sound in the Vedas is 'om,' which is a name of Krishna, and by chanting the name one can achieve the goal of life. This name is utilized by the devotees in the Shri sampradaya. The Vedas state that the holy name is the spiritual form of the Lord in the material world. It is so powerful that even the faint influence of the name can bring about perfection.
"The purport is this. Since the Vedas are teaching chanting of the pure name as the principal process, to criticize the Vedas is to criticize the name. That is offensive. The devotees, however, take shelter of the Vedas, and by chanting the holy name, attain the nectar of the name. The Vedas are saying, 'Just chant the name of the Lord and by that you will receive the highest form of love and bliss.' Even in the spiritual sky the great personalities are chanting the holy name.
"It is unfortunate that in Kali-yuga even so-called great personalities avoid the Supreme Personality of Krishna and His nectarean name, and instead worship the illusory energy, maya devi. By taking shelter of the tamasic tantra, they criticize the Vedic authority. Lustful for meat and intoxication, leading a corrupt life against dharma, these people kill themselves. They do not take the name of Krishna nor do they get the eternal dhama of Vrindavana. Maya devi gives the atheists wordly happiness or punishment according to their activities, but to one who serves the devotees, she gives the shelter of Krishna's lotus feet. Being Krishna servant, she punishes the erring jivas and gives only illusory happiness to those who worship her. But if one worships Krishna and His name, she helps him overcome the material ocean.
"If by misfortune or accident it happens that one commits Sruti-nindana, one should be repentent and offer his respect to the scriptures. With attention one should offer flowers and Tulasi leaves to the Bhagavatarn and the Vedas. Being the essence of the Vedas and an incarnation of Krishna, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam will give unlimited mercy.
Haridasa said, "Day and night I am immersed in this ocean of nectar of the holy name, having given up the offense of criticizing the scripture."
Whoever aspires for the dust of the feet of Haridasa is qualified to wear on his neck the touchstone jewel of the holy name.
Chapter 8 - Interpreting the Holy Name
jaya gaura-gadadhara, shri-radha-madhava
Haridasa spoke, "O son of Saci, the fifth offense is giving interpretations to the name and its glories.
"The Smritis or Puranas glorify the holy name of Krishna, stating that if one should chant the name either in negligence or in faith, Krishna will show that person great mercy. 'Mere is no knowledge as pure as the name; there is no vow as powerful as the name. There is no meditation more effective than the name nor is there any fruit greater than that attained by the name. There is no greater renunciation than the name; there is no greater peace than the name. In this world there is no greater pious activity than taking the name, nor is there any quicker progress than in the name. The name is the highest liberation, the highest freedom, the highest destination, the highest peace, the point of no more searching. The name is the highest devotion, the name is the purest inclination of the jiva, the name is the highest love, and direct remembrance of the Lord. The name is the cause of all causes, the Supreme Lord, most worshipable, and is a form of guru to bring one to the Lord.
"It is stated that one thousand names of Vishnu are equivalent to one name of Rama, and three names of Rama are equivalent to one name of Krishna. The Vedas say that the holy name is purely spiritual and thus they constantly glorify the name. One who minimizes the effects of chanting the holy name as stated in the Vedas and Puranas is an extreme offender. The rascal who commits arthavada against the name is doomed to rot away in hell. Some people say that the results of the holy name that are stated in the scriptures are not true but only meant to attract one to the name. But those persons, due to lack of bhakti-sukriti, lacking faith, cannot understand the real purport of the scriptures or the greatest welfare of mankind. Instead they will take the opposite interpretation.
"Because the karma-kanda section of the Vedas is meant to satisfy one's selfish desire for material gain, for motivation's sake many tempting results are offered. However, in the process of pure bhakti, the candidate practices unselfishness, for the goal of bhakti is unmotivated service to Krishna. Therefore, although the statements concerning the holy name are not exaggeration meant to motivate but are the true effects of the name, the devotee does not take the name for his own material enjoyment. He does not ask for the fruits mentioned in the scriptures.
"If one performs the sacrifices prescribed in karma-kanda with the desire for material gain, that is called cheating. If one has desire and faith in the happiness of material objects, one will ask for material results from a sacrifice. But if one can execute one's activities without interest in these material results, one's heart will become purified. That is the actual purpose of the karma-kanda. When one's heart is purified, one's interest and taste for culturing bhakti begins. By chanting the holy name bhakti develops and matures. Thus it can be seen that the end result of karma-kanda is to come to taste the holy name, at least if those activities are done properly. The results one can obtain from chanting the name are far beyond anything one can obtain by wandering in any of the fourteen planetary systems. Indeed the results from the holy name are incomparable. But how can a karmi or jnani obtain these results with their offensive attitude?
"Just by namabhasa one can get all the results obtained by the processes of karma and jnana. If such results can be obtained by namabhasa, is there need to doubt the great benefit one will get by chanting the pure name? All the glories of the name that are recited in the scriptures are accepted as fact by the sincere bhakta. The low class men do not accept this, however, and by their doubting commit offense, which leads them to certain ruin. From the beginning to the end of the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas, the name is glorified. To minimize and interpret these glories, which are clearly stated by the authority of the Vedas, will yield no good result.
"The Lord and the Lord's name are one, for the Lord has invested in the name all His transcendental energies. Thus He has made chanting of the holy name the supreme process. As the Lord is completely independent and full of all energies, He has by His will invested in karma-kanda activities His material energy, and in brahma-jnana, His nirvana energy. But in the holy name He has invested all energies with all results. Why argue about why and how? The Lord can do what He wants. Therefore the intelligent, learned man will not yield to interpreting the glorious name.
"If one happens to commit arthavada, he should humbly go before an assembly of Vaishnavas who engage in discussions about Krishna and reveal his offense at their feet, begging sincerely for forgiveness. The devotees of the Lord, conversant with all the glories of the holy name, will mercifully forgive him and embrace him. The offense of interpreting or concocting will not occur again. If one happens to talk with one of these offenders, one should immediately, without taking off one's clothes, bathe in the Ganges for purification. If any pure water is not available, one should mentally purify one's self."
He who has faith in the mercy of Krishna's dearest Shri Radha, wears this Hari-nama-cintamani as a necklace.
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.
Chapter 10 - Giving the Name to the Unfaithful
gadai gauranga jaya jahnava-jivana
sitadvaita jaya shrivasadi bhakta-gana
Haridasa, with folded hands, spoke on the next aparadha:
"Because he has not developed any faith in Krishna or the name, the materialist cannot even hear the name. To take up the name, one must have qualification. That qualification is faith and faith alone. Good caste by birth, good family, knowledge, social influence or strength, and educational qualifications are not the cause for qualification to the holy name. The only qualification is faith, and faith means to have unflinching conviction in the glories and powers of the name. That is the statement of the scriptures.
"If one does not have faith, a real Vaishnava will not give him instruction on the name. That is the behavior of a Vaishnava, for if the faithless man takes the name, he will simply offend it. For instance, if one casts pearls to the swine, they will simply grind them to dust, or if one gives fine cloth to a monkey, he will tear it to pieces. If the faithless take the name they will kill themselves from their offenses and, simultaneously, he who gives the name to the faithless will lose all his devotional credits very quickly.
"Sometimes a faithless man, being envious, will beg the name from the Vaishnavas, but the Vaishnava should understand that he is a cheater and refuse to give him the name. To take faith in the name one must give up the cheating mentality and the desire for position and fame. The cheater is thinking: 'By taking the name I no longer have to fear committing sinful activities; by becoming a Vaishnava everyone will pay dandavats to me and I can get all sorts of service from others; whatever position I lost by my previous activities, I can retrieve by chanting japa; by this process I can become very happy in this world.' This is the cheater's mentality. For qualification to the name one must give up this attitude.
"When one has come to have faith in the name, without effort he will receive the name, and by the name's influence he will cross the ocean of material existence. But as long as one does not have faith, one has no qualification or capability. One should give up desire for position in the material world and become humble, listening to the glories of the name from scripture and Vaishnavas.
"If the guru gives the name to a faithless man because of desire for wealth or material possessions, by that offense to the name the guru will go to hell. If by misfortune or accident a guru gives the name and instructions to a faithless person, he should have great fear. He should confess in front of a Vaishnava assembly and give up that disciple. If the guru does not do this, by that offense he himself will become devoid of bhakti and will wander in illusion. Lord Chaitanya gave the order to give instruction in the name everywhere, but that means to give it to the faithful men, and by that, perfection will be reached. One can produce faith by loud sankirtana, and when the jiva attains faith, he will seek out a bona fide guru. From the guru, the faithful man will take the holy name and then easily achieve prema. When thieves, prostitutes and rogues are made to give up their sinful mentality, one can give them instructions on the holy name. In this way, the name can be spread everywhere.
"If one does not take these precautions, being guilty of aparadha, one will go to hell. If the disciple commits offense, the guru has to suffer in his devotional progress. In this circumstance both the guru and the disciple go to hell."
"O Lord Chaitanya, being so merciful, You first gave faith to Jagai and Madhai, then You gave them the name. So wonderful was Your personality that You created faith in all men. The Vaishnava should try to follow in Your footsteps."
Whoever takes pleasure in devotion to the feet of devotees will be decorated with this touchstone jewel of the holy name.
Chapter 11 - Considering the Name as Equal to Material Piety
jaya jaya gaura-candra nama-avatara
jaya jaya hari-nama sarva-tattva-sara
Haridasa said, "O Lord, please note that the holy name is not to be equated with the pious activities mentioned in the Vedas. One should know the identity of the name. Krishna is the spiritual sun, perfect, conscious and inconceivably wonderful. Thus all the Lord's diverse forms can be similarly fully spiritual, including His name, dhama and lila. Unlike material objects and names, the Lord's principal names are nondifferent from the Lord. When the devotee chants the name, that name is coming directly from the spiritual level, from Goloka to the atma, from the atma to the body, where it dances on the devotee's tongue, in his mind, etc. If one takes the name with this conception, then it is the real name of the Lord with full power. But to take the name as a material object leads to sorrow.
"Of course, in scripture there are various methods mentioned, according to one's qualification, for coming to the Lord. Men who can think only in material terms of limited time and tangible objects, out of fear, take to religious activity. Actually the Supreme Lord is the only relief from fear, for by taking His lotus feet one can cross over the material ocean. To come to accept the Lord's feet, the Lord has created different methods. For one who is in the material conception, the method is material. All activities, such as fire sacrifices, baths, charity, yoga, varnasrama duties, vows of visiting holy places, worship of forefathers, meditation, culture of knowledge, worship of demigods, austerities, and prayascitta make use of purely material elements for limited material goals. But these material pious activities are also a means by which one may eventually come to bhakti. Then, upon receiving bhakti, one will reject the material, temporary means and engage solely in bhakti. This will bring about full bliss or prema, the goal of life.
"Here we can see the difference between bhakti and pious activities. Material objects and time are without real bliss. All the activity and reward from pious activity is material, and progress toward the goal of spiritual prema is slow. There is a great separation between the means and the end.
"Therefore, being merciful, the Lord has given the holy name, by which the intelligent jivas can attain perfection. Because the holy name is also a means or method, it is considered by some to be a part of the pious activity method, with no other potency. In the same way, materialists think that Vishnu, like Brahma and Siva, can be counted as a material demigod. Though the name is transcendental, without material tinge, the jiva covered by materialism gives the name material position, as a material pious activity. This is offensive to the name and an obstacle to bhakti.
"In truth, the name is the end, the goal, full of spiritual bliss, the perfection; and simultaneously, the name has appeared in the material world as the means for the jiva to come to that end. Thus the name is both the means of purification and the end, prema. According to one's qualification, the name may be acting as means or end.
“In the world we can find two means, the secondary or indirect means of purification, such as pious activities, and the principal means, which is the holy name. One should not confuse the two and equate them. By singing the name, transcendental bliss will come and make the heart dance. That actually is the essential character of the name, it is full of nectarean pastimes. That happiness achieved by jnana and yoga may seem great in comparison to the shadow of happiness received from the material world, but in comparison to the bliss of the holy name, that happiness is scant.
"At the stage of sadhana, the purificatory stage, the name is the means; but in the pure stage, the name is the end and the highest bliss. Thus it cannot be compared to material pious activities. Even at the sadhana stage the name remains pure; the anarthas of the sadhaka only make it look impure. But by association with Vaishnavas, material mentality and anarthas will go away and the pure name will show through. With pious activities, one must reject them in the end, but one never rejects the name. In one stage it is covered, in the other it is pure.
"By the mercy of the guru this knowledge is revealed. If this knowledge is lacking at the stage of sadhana, then one becomes an offender. But if one has faith that the name is supreme and without equal, then quickly the pure name will be revealed along with full bliss and nectar.
"If one should commit this offense and desires relief, one should seek good association and purify one's intelligence. If an outcaste is surrendered to the pure name, for one's own purification one should smear his foot dust on one's body, should eat his food remnants and drink his foot water. In that way one can similarly obtain the pure name. An example of this is Kali dasa."
Haridasa said, "I am materially minded and I just sing, but never do I get the touchstone of the name. Be merciful, O Lord, and dance on my tongue in the form of the name. Keep me in the material realm or in the spiritual sky, but wherever You put me, give me the nectar of the name. You have appeared in the world to give the holy name to the people of the world. Please accept me as one of those people. True, I am low, but You are the deliverer of the low. This is our unbreakable relationship. On the strength of this,
I am begging for the nectar of the name.
"In Kali-yuga it is not even possible to execute the path of pious activities. Therefore the name has appeared here as the sole process for the age."
Whosoever serves in devotion as the servant of Haridasa and thinks himself to be without qualifications, is qualified to sing the touchstone of the holy name.
Chapter 12 - Inattention While Chanting
jaya jaya mahaprabhu jaya bhakta-gana
yanhara prasade kari nama-sankirtana
Haridasa spoke, "To Sanatana Gosvami in Puri and to Gopala Bhatta when You travelled to South India, You taught the importance of performing one's chanting without inattention. Inattention is counted as one of the aparadhas. Even if one successfully overcomes all the other offenses in chanting, and one is chanting continuously, love of God may not come. One should know that the reason for this is that one is committing the offense known as pramada, or inattention. This offense will block progress to prema.
"Pramada may mean madness, but here the meaning is inattention or carelessness. It is from this offense that all other offenses spring. The wise men recognize three types of inattention: indifference or no attention, laziness, and distraction (attraction to other objects).
"By good fortune, after getting faith, a jiva will take up the name. By chanting regularly, counting on a Tulasi mala carefully, he will develop attraction for the name. However, until that attraction has actually developed, one must be very careful about how one chants. Naturally, the common man, having attachment to material things, will be attracted to these things even while chanting. Though chanting japa daily, if his taste is elsewhere, he will show indifference to the name. His heart will not be absorbed in chanting the name but in some material object. How can that benefit him? He may chant 64 rounds counting strictly on his japa beads, but in his heart he has not received one drop of the taste of the name. This indifference or apathy towards the name is one type of inattention. In the heart of a materialist it is unavoidable.
"If indifference or lack of attraction for the name is present, one should take association of Vaishnavas who are properly chanting in some place sheltered from the material influence. By chanting in that situation, his absorption in material things will be reduced; being inspired by the conduct of the Vaishnavas, he will give up that fault. Gradually the heart will get attraction for the name and will be anxious for the nectar of the name. The advanced devotees have recommended that one live in a place where Krishna had His pastimes, near Tulasi, in the company of Vaishnavas and gradually increase the period of chanting. Quickly the taste for material objects will go. Another remedy is to carefully chant in a room by oneself with the door locked, or concentrate on the name by covering the eyes, ears and nose with a cloth or the like to prevent stimuli from the exterior. Carefully chanting in this way, an attraction or taste for the name will develop and indifference will be suppressed.
"If one chants with a sluggish mind, or after chanting a little, one has to stop before finishing his round, it is called laziness. From this, one's taste for the name cannot develop. The remedy for this is to take association of Vaishnavas who do not waste time in material activity, but constantly chant and remember the holy name, being absorbed only in the name. One should follow in their footsteps. When one sees how the true Vaishnava or sadhu does not waste time in useless pursuits, he will develop a taste to do likewise. In his mind he will think, "very good." By this, enthusiasm will come to the lazy mind and he will overcome the offense of laziness or inertia. One will become determined to increase his chanting everyday. By this eagerness in his rounds and by the mercy of the devotees, the offense of inertia will quickly go away.
"One should be careful to eliminate the third type of inattention—distraction. From distraction all types of inattention are born. This fault resides in attraction for women (or men, in the case of women) and wealth, attraction for material success or victory, desire for position, and the cheating propensity. If one has attraction in any of these categories, one will naturally be inattentive to the holy name. One should be careful to eliminate these fixations by following the proper Vaishnava behavior. On ekadashis and appearance days one should stop thinking of eating and all day and night chant in the association of devotees. In this way one will joyfully engage in devotional activities, listening to scriptures of the Lord in association with the Lord's servants, in the Lord's dhama. Gradually the bhakti portion of one's mind will increase and the mind will rejoice in hearing topics about Krishna. The higher taste will come and the lower taste will go. Upon hearing songs about Krishna from the mouths of the pure devotees, one's mind and ears will taste the real nectar. In this way the desire for low material objects will disappear and the heart will be constantly fixed and attracted to singing the name. By avoiding the offense of distraction, one will be able to indulge in the nectar of name.
"One should thus never be inattentive to complete one's prescribed number of daily rounds. This should be noted day by day. When chanting these prescribed rounds, one should avoid the different types of inattentiveness. Giving up the desire to increase the number of rounds for show, one should attempt to first concentrate nicely on what one can manage. Therefore, the devotee starts by chanting with full concentration in a peaceful place for a short time. He will always be praying to the Lord that he will chant clear, attentive rounds with the mind fixed on Krishna; for on one's own one cannot accomplish anything. Krishna‘s grace is necessary to cross the ocean of material existence. Being anxious in heart, one should beg for mercy, and because Krishna is merciful, He will help. Whoever does not try for that mercy is very unfortunate."
That person who has attained the ornament of the touchstone of the holy name still aspires for the two feet of Haridasa Thakura.
Chapter 13 - Attachment to “I and Mine”
gadai gauranga jaya jahnava-jivana
sitadvaita jaya jaya gaura-bhakta-gana
Overcome with prema, Haridasa recited the last offense in chanting the holy name: "Listen, my Lord, this offense is the lowest of all. With this offense one cannot get prema. It is the attitude which is exactly opposite to surrender to the Lord. Having extirpated the first nine offenses, the devotee should culture full surrender to the name. According to the scriptures, there are six types of surrender which are impossible to explain in detail. In brief they are as follows:
1. Accepting everything favorable for service to the Lord.
2. Rejecting everything unfavorable for service to the Lord.
3. Having faith in Krishna as one's protector.
4. Knowing that Krishna is one's preserver and maintainer.
5. Thinking oneself as low and worthless.
6. Being self- surrendered.
"If one does not culture these attitudes while chanting, one will simply accumulate material in life. Those things which always help increase devotion should be accepted in one's life with relish; those things which impede devotion should be rejected in disgust. One should believe that other than Krishna, there is no one on whom to depend and that Krishna alone is one's maintainer. One should think that one is very low and unqualified, with no possessions. As an eternal servant of Krishna, one will be willing to do anything that Krishna desires. To believe that one is the doer, the giver, the protector, that one owns this body, house, wife and offspring, to think oneself to be a brahmana or sudra, husband or wife, king or citizen—this should all be rejected. Instead, centering one's thoughts on Krishna, one should think of Krishna as the controller and doer and that Krishna's desire is the main thing. One will do as Krishna desires, not as one independently wants to do. 'By Krishna's wish I will stay in this world, and by Krishna's wish I will cross over it. If there is pain, if there is rejoicing, still I am Krishna's servant. By His will He will give mercy to the jivas. My material enjoyment and renunciation are all dependent on Krishna.' When this attitude is present it is called atma-nivedana, or self-surrender.
"When these six types of saranagati (full surrender) are not present in an individual, he possesses the intelligence of "I and mine". Such a person is considered a low rascal because he believes that he is the doer, that the world is his, that he is the creator of his destiny and the enjoyer of the fruits of his activities, that he is his own protector and maintainer, that these are his wife, brothers, sons and daughters, and that by his own endeavor he can achieve all perfection and glory. Such people are proud of the power of their own knowledge. Not considering the Lord's control, they think that by their own brain they can increase and extend the arts and sciences.
"If these people hear the glories of the name, they do not believe them, or if they do chant Krishna's name, it is only out of social custom. Being pretenders and cheaters, they may chant the name in hela-namabhasa, but will never get prema. This offense is due to being bound tightly by maya, and deliverance is very difficult,
"However, one can see that there are some people who, taking up the name and reaching the level of suddha-bhakti, have completely given up material attachment and humbly worship Krishna's lotus feet and sing His name. One should seek out this type of person, take his association, and serve him with the desire to give up material attachment. Gradually one will become fixed in the name and "I and mine" will go away as one transcends attachment to maya. Giving up the false mentality, one will culture full surrender, which is the constitutional position of the jiva and the very nature of bhakti. By this one can get prema.
"One who gives up the ten offenses and performs devotional service correctly is the most fortunate in the three worlds, is full of all good qualities and is qualified for getting Krishna's mercy. While chanting the holy name, very soon, by Krishna's mercy, that person will come to the level of bhava and prema. The Lord has stated himself that whoever takes the name without offenses will attain prema, and whoever takes the name without giving up the offenses will never attain pure bhakti in spite of his practices. The practice of jnana gives liberation, and fruitive activities give material enjoyment, but pure Krishna bhakti and prema are available only by correct execution of sadhana-bhakti. As liberation and material enjoyment are both unsatisfying, and as bhakti is the only solution, the real form of liberation and the glory of the soul, the jiva must obtain bhakti. By carefully performing sadhana-bhakti without any offenses, the creeper of bhakti will quickly yield the fruit of prema. To do sadhana carefully means to do it without the ten offenses.
"Therefore, whoever is desirous of obtaining bhakti will take the name, being attentive to avoid each of the ten offenses, and in his heart fervently begging at the feet of the holy name to give mercy to destroy offenses. One can never be released from offenses against the name by prayascitta or pious activity, but only by again taking shelter of the name continuously. Chanting day and night, feeling repentant, the offenses will go and the fruit of the name will come. One will get suddha-nama, then bhava-nama, then prema-nama.
"Finally, to keep the offenses from entering the heart, pray for the mercy of Lord Chaitanya, who is absorbed in the nectar of the name."
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who has become the recipient of the lilas of devotion, by the grace of Haridasa, sings eagerly the touchstone of the holy name.
Chapter 14 - Offenses in Serving the Deity
jaya gaura-gadadhara jahnava-jivana
jaya sitapati shrivasadi-bhakta-gana
Mahaprabhu said: "Listen, Haridasa, you have revealed the truth about offenses to the name. By this the jivas of Kali-yuga will become fortunate. You are the acarya of the holy name. When I hear the description of the name from you, I feel great joy. You are the acarya in conduct and learned as a preacher, and your character is decorated by the jewel of the name. Ramananda Raya taught Me about rasa and now you have taught Me the glories of the name. Now discuss the different offenses in serving the Deity (sevaparadha). Hearing this, the darkness in the heart of the jivas will be dissipated."
Haridasa said: "Those who are serving the Deity know about this. I have simply taken shelter of the name, so how can I know? However, not to violate Your order, I will elaborate. Concerning service to the murti of the Lord, there are many offenses listed in the scriptures. In one place thirty-two offenses are mentioned, and elsewhere, fifty. The learned have divided these offenses into four types: offenses in directly serving the Deity, offenses in establishing a Deity, offenses in taking darsana of the Deity, and general offenses committed against the Deity.
"The thirty-two offenses listed in the Bhagavatam are as follows:
1. Entering the temple with shoes on.
2. Entering on a palanquin.
3. Not observing festivals.
4. Not paying obeisances.
5. Reciting prayers in an unclean state.
6. Bowing on one hand.
7. Circumambulating in front of the Deity.
8. Spreading one's legs before the Deity.
9. Sleeping before the Deity.
10. Eating before the Deity.
11. Speaking lies before the Deity.
12. Talking loudly in the temple room.
14. Cursing or using harsh words.
15. Thanking others in front of the Deity.
16. Fighting in the temple.
17. Crying in front of the Deity.
18. Criticizing others.
19. Covering oneself in a blanket before the Deity.
20. Praising others before the Deity.
21. Using obscene language.
22. Belching or passing gas.
23. Not offering the best articles possible.
24. Eating food not offered to the Deity.
25. Not offering fruits in season.
26. Offering already enjoyed food.
27. Sitting with one's back to the Deity.
28. Sitting directly in front of the Deity.
29. Paying respects to others before the Deity.
30. Not glorifying the guru.
31. Praising oneself.
32. Criticizing Deities or demigods.
"Other offenses are:
1. Eating the food of a materialist.
2. Touching the Deity in a dark room.
3. Approaching the Deity without proper etiquette, as being unclean.
4. Opening the Deity doors without musical instruments sounding.
5. Offering food seen by a dog.
6. Speaking unnecessarily during puja.
7. Going outside the Deity room during the course of doing puja.
8. Offering incense without a fragrant flower.
9. Offering unsuitable flower during puja.
10. Commencing puja with unwashed mouth.
11. Having sex before puja.
12. Touching a woman during her period.
13. Touching a lamp.
14. Touching a dead body.
15. Wearing unsuitable cloth.
16. Seeing a dead body.
17. Passing air.
18. Becoming angry.
19. Coming directly from a cremation.
20. Doing puja with yet undigested food in the stomach.
21. Eating onions, kusumbhasaka.
22. Chewing betel nuts.
23. Touching the Deity after massage with oil and not bathing.
24. Offering flowers from an unclean pot.
25. Doing puja at an inauspicious time.
26. Sitting directly on the floor.
27. Touching the Deity with the left hand while bathing Him.
28. Offering old fruit.
29. Boasting during puja.
31. Wearing horizontal tilaka.
32. Not washing the feet.
33. Offering food cooked by non-Vaishnavas.
34. Allowing non-Vaishnavas to be present during puja.
35. Not worshiping Vishnu.
36. Talking to a Siva or Durga worshiper.
37. Bathing the Deity with water touched by the fingernails.
38. Worshiping while perspiring.
39. Making oaths before Krishna.
40. Stepping over articles of the Deity.
"All these offenses in serving the Deity will obstruct one's bhakti. Anyone worshiping the Deity should avoid these offenses. The devotees avoid both seva and nama—aparadhas, and thus taste the nectar of devotional service. When a devotee commits a seva-aparadha, he should rectify it immediately. With the nama-aparadhas he must constantly be rectifying, improving and avoiding. One who is on the level of bhava worships the Deity day and night in solitude. He makes no offenses against the name or in service because his service is performed in his mind."
On the order of Haridasa, the devotees chant the touchstone of the holy name.
Chapter 15 - Bhajana-pranali
gadai gauranga jaya jaya nityananda
jaya sitanatha jaya gaura-bhakta-vrinda
The Lord said, "Haridasa, by your devotion you have received all knowledge available in the universe. All the Vedas are dancing on your tongue; all the conclusions of scripture are in your speech. Now speak clearly about the rasa (sentiment or mellow) of the holy name. How does the jiva get qualification for the rasa of the name?"
Haridasa, in great bliss, said, "Through Your inspiration, I will describe it.
"The highest, purest state, the perfection of the Absolute Truth, is called rasa. This rasa is not the emotions or sentiment of the material world but is the inherent nature of the Absolute Pure; it is unlimited, full of bliss and the greatest glory. The Absolute Truth reveals His variegated character through His energies, which are inseparable from His very existence (abhinna). His energies create the variegated spiritual world which is prerequisite to rasa.
"Through His spiritual energy, Krishna reveals His form, name, dhama and activities. The Supreme Truth is known as Krishna with a Syamasundara form, residing in Goloka-dhama, performing His sweet pastimes with His devotees. Thus variety and rasa exist in the Lord due to His spiritual energies, which cannot be separated or differentiated from the substance of the Lord (abhinna). In this way, the Absolute Truth remains supreme, whole (akhanda), beyond duality (advaita), and simultaneously engages in a transcendental world full of beautiful forms, activities and emotions.
"The shadow energy of the Lord's spiritual energy is called maya. By the will of Krishna, this energy creates the material world outside of the spiritual dimension. Through His jiva-sakti, He creates the innumerable souls situated between the material and spiritual worlds, similar in quality to Krishna but infinitesimal in size. Because of their borderline quality, the jivas are of two types, eternally bound jivas and eternally liberated jivas. Those who are eternally liberated are qualified as Krishna's eternal servants in the spiritual sky, and those who are eternally bound engage and suffer in the material shadow away from Krishna. The jivas dwelling in the material world are of two types, those taking Krishna's name and associating with devotees, who will go to the spiritual world of rasa by the power of the name, and those who ignore Krishna and toil hopelessly for rasa in relation to inert matter.
"The gradual realization of rasa in the name is compared to the blossoming of a flower. The name is compared to a flower in bud when it is spread to the general mass of people in the world. When one realizes the beautiful form of Krishna in Goloka Vrindavana through continual chanting of the name, that is compared to the partially opened flower. Continuing sadhana further, when Krishna's sixty-four qualities become revealed in the name, that is compared to the fragrance from the half-opened flower. When one realizes the eternal pastimes of Krishna in Goloka Vrindavana, the flower is in full bloom. Then, by the great mercy of the name, the original energies of hladini (bliss) and samvit (consciousness) belonging to the spiritual world, whose prime embodiment is Radharani, unite in the form of bhakti-devi and descend upon the small jiva, who possesses only a small portion of hladini and samvit energy. From the transcendental realm, bhakti-devi reveals to the jiva the full rasa in the name, and by her mercy the jiva takes on his spiritual body and enters into the pastimes and tastes rasa.
"There are four ingredients of rasa: vibhava, anubhava, sattvika-bhava and vyabhicari (sancari) bhava. The mixture of these ingredients produces rasa. Vibhava, the general cause for rasa, is divided into alambana and uddipana. Alambana means the root cause, that upon which the rasa depends. It is divided into asraya, the recipient, who is the devotee, and vishaya, the object, who is Krishna. Uddipana, the instigation, is composed of the form and qualities of Krishna, which are realized through constant chanting. Thus, where there is alambana (devotee and Krishna) and uddipana (Krishna's qualities), lila and rasa can occur.
"When the conditions of vibhava are perfected, anubhava (external symptoms of internal emotions) appears. These symptoms are all based on pure spiritual love, and can in no way be compared to the symptoms of love in the material world. Gradually, as emotions deepen, sattvika and vyabhicari bhavas (additional symptoms) appear. By the combination of these ingredients, the initial stayi-bhava (primary mood) of the devotee transforms to rasa, full spiritual flavors. The situation of tasting rasas in the spiritual world is the highest perfection, the ultimate goal of the jiva, according to the scriptures. There are four goals for man mentioned in the Vedas: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. These, however, are meant to lead to the supreme goal (parama-purushartha)—rasa. One who is truly liberated is qualified for rasa.
"The path for attaining rasa is as follows: The jiva who has attained faith in bhakti receives a pure Vaishnava guru. That guru gives the maha-mantra. The jiva will take the mantra, either in the form of smarana (remembering the name) or kirtana (chanting the name), regulating himself by counting on Tulasi beads. Gradually, as his craving for the name increases, he will increase to 3 x 64 rounds. Of the two forms of taking the name, kirtana is the more powerful, for in that process are combined sravana, kirtana and smarana, and by it the senses of the jiva dance in joy. By taking shelter of any of the nine processes of bhakti, one progresses in devotion, but of the nine processes, chanting is the best. Those who have an attraction for Deity worship will reach perfection only by also engaging in hearing and chanting the name. But those who have exclusive attraction for the name need only engage in hearing, chanting and remembering the name. If one executes these three processes nicely, all the other nine processes of bhakti—serving the lotus feet, praying, servitude, and complete self-surrender—can also be easily accomplished.
"With faith that the name and Krishna are nondifferent, and avoiding the ten offenses, the effects of the name will be perceived. By clear chanting and remembering of the name, one will find attraction and joy in the name. Then, one will either meditate on a form of Krishna or constantly take darsana of His murti along with one's chanting, delving deeper and deeper into the name. When one has succeeded in realizing the form of Krishna in the name, one will then meditate on Krishna's qualities while chanting, one will meditate on a pastime of Krishna's with the aid of a specific mantra. When all four elements become one, one will begin to perceive rasa in the name. One will perfect the rasa by meditating on the eightfold pastimes of Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana. Gaining one's spiritual body by the mercy of the guru, one will enter into the pastimes with the associates of Radharani, and according to the directions of the sakhis, one will serve Radha and Krishna in ecstasy. This service in the conjugal mood is the most brilliant thing in the spiritual world, and is obtainable by the jiva by the practice of bhakti. There are even higher stages than this, but it is not possible to describe them by mere words. These things will be revealed by the mercy of Krishna.
"The specific process is now described. To receive a spiritual body in conjugal rasa one must culture eleven specific items in one's identity: one's relationship, age, name, bodily color, membership in a particular group, dress, order, residence, highest expectation in service and the protecting gopi under whom one serves. These items are perfected through five stages. First, one will approach a guru who has realized Krishna's eternal pastimes and the eleven items in eternal service. Upon hearing the eightfold pastimes of Radha and Krishna, one inquires how to realize that state. The guru then describes the eleven items by which one can enter the pastimes. This is called sravana-dasa.
"The guru will then choose the particular spiritual identity of the disciple according to the tendency and attraction of the disciple. If the disciple does not have a natural taste in one bhava, he can request another from the guru. When finally one's spiritual identity fits, he vows to the guru never to give it up. This is called varana-dasa (the accepting stage). The disciple will then practice remembering his given identity in his heart. This smarana-dasa (stage of remembering) is divided into five levels. First one tries to remember the eightfold pastimes, but the mind wanders. This is smarana. When one's practice becomes steady, it is called dharana. When one can meditate on all aspects of the desired object, it is called dhyana. When this dhyana becomes continual, it is called anusmriti. When this becomes perfect, it is called samadhi.
"If these stages are followed progressively in smarana, one will quickly come to the stage of apana (possession), where the eleven items are realized as one's constitutional state. However, if one is busy making an exterior show, but does not cultivate fixing one's identity within, he cannot perfect this stage. But fixing one's identity is natural, since the jiva has simply forgotten his perfect stage when entering the material realm and body, desiring his own pleasure, and proportionately as one increases his practice of remembering his natural state, material designation and identification will decrease.
"One can reach apana-dasa either from raganuga sadhana, where scriptural rules are minimal, or through vaidhi-sadhana, where relying on suitable rules from scripture is predominant. If one progresses through the stages of faith, practice, purification, steadiness, taste and attachment, in either vaidhi or raganuga-sadhana, one then comes to the stage of bhava, preliminary prema. It is at this point that one attains apana-dasa. At this stage, beyond the category of sadhana-bhakti, when scriptural rules will be discarded as troublesome to one's service, conceptions of raganuga and vaidhi will both be discarded.
"Here, one's identification with the material body will vanish and identification with one's spiritual body will predominate. In that spiritual body (svarupa-siddhi) one will always see Vrindavana and serve Radha and Krishna. This final stage is called sampatti-dasa. By Krishna's mercy, suddenly one's material body, mind, intelligence and false ego will be cast off and one will appear in a pure spiritual body, serving Radha and Krishna along with Their eternal associates. The jiva can achieve this fifth stage in perfecting rasa by taking the name and becoming purified.
"Therefore, the jiva with faith should take up chanting of the name seriously and constantly in good association. He will take superior Vaishnava association, avoid material association and reside away from material glare. By the strength of these three items, he will achieve his position of real glory."
Haridasa said, "I am low, mean-minded and absorbed in material enjoyment, always refusing good association. Still, I am begging for causeless mercy to progress to the rasa stage of bhakti."
Saying this, Haridasa fell unconscious at the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya.
Lord Chaitanya said, "Listen, Haridasa, in the future people with evil minds will degrade these intimate pastimes, but those who are real devotees will understand the supreme teaching that you have given. Taking shelter of this knowledge and taking shelter of the name, they will chant the name and worship Krishna, far away from the materialists. The jiva will attain faith in bhakti through past accumulated sukriti, (devotional activity). It is hard for all jivas to obtain bhakti. Lead them on a direct path home. I have come to preach the yuga-dharma of the holy name. You are helping Me accomplish this activity by describing the full truth about the holy name."
Whoever attains the full nectar of the touchstone of the holy name, worshiping Krishna in spontaneous emotion, has attained full success and full bliss. A worthless rascal, weeping, I hold that person's feet and beg that he distribute the bliss and let me drink forever just one paticle of the nectarean rasa.
Prema alone is the purpose of the life of jivas. Bhava, which is the soul's feeling, develops into prema. Turning their face towards Krishna, the more jivas progress, the more they approach the temple of prema. Thus, in considering the candidacy for prema, we meet at the outset with two kinds of circumstances: one is an intense longing for the unattained prema, the other is the stage when the pedestal of prema is already reached. There is no higher stage beyond the latter one—an incessant rasa in an undivided unique tattva of that region. Those devotees with an utter craving for prema but who are still on the way to it are again divided into two classes according to their love of seclusion or bustee: the first are called viviktanandis, who are close followers of approved usages, the others are known as gostyanandis and are ever happy in preaching. Deep meditation on Godhead is the discipline of premi bhaktas and glorifying or singing the name of Krishna is their preaching.
In the state when there is an intense longing for the unattained prema, the premi bhaktas are exclusively devoted to Krishna—utter self-surrender marks them out. The Shrimad-Bhagavatarn and the Gita have very highly eulogized such refugees. If a devotee does not take absolute shelter under the cool shade of the gracious feet of Krishna, why speak of prema? He remains quite in the dark even about bhava. A self-surrendering devotee should only accept things that are favorable to prema-bhakti, and should deny everything—whatever it may be—that is antagonistic or unfavorable to it. Such a devotee believes that Krishna is the only protector, that nothing else or no one else but Krishna can save or protect him. He has not the least doubt that Krishna alone protects all. Devotees firmly and sincerely believe themselves to be very humble and insignificant. The faith of an earnest and exclusive devotee is that he himself can do nothing, that not even a straw moves without the will of Krishna.
Extremely self-surrendered devotees prefer to most exclusively embrace Shri Nama to every other feature of devotion. They have a more intense appetite for singing and meditating upon the holy name than for anything else. Of all the means of bhajana, the name of Bhagavan is most purely spiritual. In describing the absolute duties, the Shri Hari-bhakti-vilasa has spoken of the glories of chanting and contemplating the holy name as the best—it has been given the foremost place. The sastras declare that there is not the least difference between Krishna and Krishna's name because the real nature of His name is spiritual—the holy name manifests Himself as the chaitanya-rasa-vigraha of Krishna.
Those who desire to realize the form of Krishna and the form of the holy name must try to realize their own cit-svarupa. The practicer of bhakti can never be dexterous in his adoration of God so long as he does not realize spiritual truth. So, how can he attain his object of pursuit? The attainment of an absolute conception of spiritual truths causes the amelioration of bhajana. Here we shall say something on this subject.
Many a time we have pointed out (in the Chaitanya-siksamrita) with quotations from the sastras that every jiva is a spiritual molecule, that the residence of Krishna is a spiritual kingdom, that Krishna is the spiritual sun, that devotion to Krishna is a spiritual inclination, and that Krishna's name is cid-rasa-vigraha. Now, we venture to show the relation between spirit and those devotees who are extremely anxious for prema, and then we shall show the means to the attainment of the highest bliss of the soul. If we have spiritual merit earned in previous births, transcendental felicity will be enkindled in our heart. We have no appetite (ruci) for the knowledge of Brahman, which is restricted to realization of mere cit only; for, spiritual sportive pastimes have no place in it.
The Savior of the Iron Age, Shri Krishna Chaitanya, declares the Vedas to be the only judge and reveals their nine prameyas (subject matters). There is a broad discussion on it in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. The Vedas have proved jivas to be spiritual atomic parts of the Deity. Jivas are like rays from the sun, Krishna; so the spiritual form of the jivas must be identified with the spiritual form of Godhead. But the difference lies in the fact that Krishna may be compared with the full sun, while the jivas are His innumerable rays. Krishna is Lord of lords—the jivas are His eternal servants. There is no denying the fact that the residential home of Krishna is in the Paravyoma, or Goloka, which is all-spiritual. Vaikuntha, cij-jagat, etc. all refer to that spiritual region. The Vajasaneya Upanishad speaks of the form of Krishna to be purely spiritual; the Svetasvatara Upanishad describes the eternal powers of Krishna, who is superior to the best and higher than the highest. The Mundaka Upanishad shows bhakti to the cid-rasa, and, coming to conceive Krishna to be the life of lives, the wise, after discarding all garrulity, dry wisdom and vain arguments, dive deep to see the bottom of their soul. They, after realizing the Deity by dint of pure intuition, run after devotion. He who does this is a brahmana, i.e., a Vaishnava devotee of Krishna. Such has been shown to be the nature of bhakti, or devotion. As the Candogya Upanishad states: "O Maitreya! The soul alone is to be seen, heard, reflected, meditated upon and realized by spiritual organs. All is then known to us beyond any doubt. That soul (Krishna) is dearer than one's son, dearer than wealth, for He is omniscient.
Things that are sense-pleasing are never worth endearment; from the pleasure of the Great Soul all joy proceeds." Thus the eternal relation of happiness between Krishna and the jiva is prema.
What exact connection does there exist between this manifested and visible mundane world and the spiritual sphere? In going to search after spiritual truths, more often than not we are deluded. After deep contemplation and discrimination, we conclude spirit to be something opposite to matter. Pressing our worldly reasoning too far, we leave cid-rasa to the background and are satisfied with an imaginative inarticulate and incomplete conception of spiritual Brahman. This is only an imagination of the cit-svarupa of Brahman. In such a stage, Brahman is immutable, incorporeal, invisible or formless, without attributes and dry of prema—this uncommon perception is like the "sky-flower!" And being unable to know the name, form, attributes and pastimes or diversions of that cit-svarupa, we turn to being inactive. Hence it is that all portents of jivas come to pass due to this dry wisdom. This is well illustrated in the conversation between Vyasa and Narada.
It is clear from the above that you never can know the spiritual sportive pastimes of para-brahma if you are dazzled by the mere cit-svarupa of Brahman, which is only a semblance of the eternal light of cit. Brother, look ahead! Enter into the kingdom of Godhead after dashing through the brilliance of pure and simple cit. There you will be able to realize the spiritual pastimes of Godhead, then you will be able to taste the ambrosia of an incessant brahma-rasa. No longer will your soul remain wooden-like. The name, form, attributes and lila of the Supreme Being are manifested not by any earthly light, but by a spiritual flame. The sun, moon, stars, lightning and fire of this earth are quite unfit to give light to that other spiritual horizon. This spiritual light, which is far beyond worldly lights, brightens that region. It is only a perverted reflection of that light that we think supplies us with light; but in fact, it does not. While describing brahmapura (the region of Brahman), the Candogya Upanishad gives us a comprehensive knowledge of it. The spiritual kingdom as displayed by the spiritual light is an ideal to this base earth. There is not the least tinge of baseness; while, on the contrary, only an all-pervading daintiness is its sweet affair. The fourteen mundane worlds are only a perverted reflection of that sphere; the gross sun is a reflection of that light and its subtle reflection is seen in the mundane rays of dry wisdom arising from mind, conscience and consciousness. Our gross senses believe the gross sun to be a flash of luster, and we are proud of the earthly knowledge which is gained by dint of the eight processes of yoga that are actions of the subtle intellect, conscience and ego. All these are seemingly natural workings of engrossed jivas.
Listening to the advice of Narada, while Dvaipayana Rishi (Vyasa) was completely absorbed in the single and natural deep meditation of the soul, he fully and clearly saw the name, form, attributes and pastimes of the Supreme Person. He also saw maya, the shadow of para-sakti, as having no other shelter than the Absolute Truth, and understood the anarthas of jivas, the atomic cit-tattvas, who are engrossed, fascinated and enslaved by maya. Further realizing that such jivas can come to perceive their own personal forms if absorbed in a profoundly meditative bhakti-yoga, he compiled the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, which describes the spiritual pastimes of Bhagavan. The forgetfulness of his own eternal form and the form of Krishna is the foremost anartha of a jiva, whence arises his aversion to Krishna, as a result of which he is revolved by the wheel of maya on the path of karma. Thus the world is full of weal and woes. When jivas take shelter under bhakti, after discarding the basely turned endeavors of the mundane wise reasoning of the eight processes of yoga, of the karma-margis (followers of karma or fruitive acts), and of the arguments of the Sankhya school of the jnana-margis (seekers of dry wisdom) which vainly try to refute things that are not God or His concerns, then only are the pure rays of spiritual intuition enkindled in them by being naturally absorbed in divine contemplation. The worldly pleasures then prick them like piercing thorns, and Krishna prema is awakened in the heart. By these means only can they be blessed by the grace of Krishna—the spiritual sun. This divine grace is the only means for washing away all stain from the mind and for progressing forward towards the ever-shining land of Krishna.
A sincere faith in pure devotion is the root cause of this unlabored restraint of the senses together with the mind, and confinement of the soul in a deep contemplation on Godhead. When the happy moment came, Dvaipayana Rishi became doubtful about the rules and methods of karma-kanda and vain jnana-kanda. In reply to the question of his spiritual preceptor, Shri Narada Gosvami, he said, "O Lord, no doubt I have realized all the truths you advised, still my soul, I know not why, finds no contentment! O son of Brahma, be kind to tell me the unimaginable and indescribable secret that lurks behind it. I beg this of you, being greatly troubled at heart."
Then Narada Gosvami replied, "O Vyasa, you have not striven to give as vivid a picture of the pure spiritual pastimes of Bhagavan, as you have in the Vedanta-sutras and Mahabharata of the four main objects of human pursuit, viz., virtue, wealth, enjoyment and salvation. It is due to this shortcoming of yours that you enjoy no contentment. Therefore you have committed a great and heavy omission by giving too high an eulogy of castes and stages as the religion of the soul. If any one, leaving aside such a conventional religion of the self, engages himself in the service of Hari, but slips before reaching the goal, he suffers no loss to speak of. On the contrary, if he strictly sticks to conventional religion, being utterly unmindful of Hari bhajana, what worthy and exalted goal can he attain thereby?" It is clear from the above that there is no second help but Hari bhajana. A jiva can attain his highest goal if he embraces the holy name as the means to Hari.
Vyasadeva then followed up this bhakti-yoga by absorbing himself in an easy meditation on Godhead. "Easy" is used here to show that devotion to Krishna is most innate in the jivatma. Because it is an inherent and eternal religion of the jivas, it is called the "easy" universal religion of every jiva. Its workings develop in the following manner. When jivas come to realize that the path of karma does not give them eternal good, whether it be the eighteen inferior karma-yoga or the eight subtle processes of yajna—neither can ever lead them to the highest goal, service to Krishna, which is their soul's religion—or again when they are fully convinced that there is not the least chance to attain perpetual happiness by mundane wisdom or limited knowledge that aims at the spiritual kingdom—both gained by endeavor of the subtle frame of mind, ego, etc.—finding no shore to catch, they thus, by the grace of sadhus and the spiritual preceptor, cry out to Krishna from the deepest recesses of their heart: "O Krishna! O You Deliverer of the fallen! Although I am Your eternal servant, I am fallen into the deep abyss of the world and am badly dashed from shore to shore by its drowning waves of troubles and tribulations. Take me up, my Lord, to the shade of the cool dust of Your lotus feet. Oh! Have mercy on this wretched self!" Then the all-merciful Lord lovingly takes all jivas up to His feet.
When with sincere thrills of joy and tears trickling down their cheeks they constantly chant, hear and remember the name of Krishna, they gradually reach the stage of bhava. Appearing in their heart, Krishna erases all stain from their mind. Having thus cleansed their heart graciously, He blesses them with His own prema. Extreme humbleness and utter devotion are necessary to call Krishna to the heart. Then, when earthly knowledge, reasoning and striving are completely burnt to ashes, the soul's eyes can perceive Bhagavan and His associated counterparts. If after discarding the company of asat fellows—those who are attached to the fair sex and those who are nondevotees of Krishna—one embraces the company of the good or sat, before long he attains firm faith and then through the stages of nishtha, etc., reaches the ladder of bhava. Those whose hearts are crooked will beyond any doubt stumble downwards to hell.
The fortunate ones who earnestly long to ascend the terrace of prema, do sincerely and incessantly chant the name of Krishna in the company of sadhus. They do not have any appetite for any other feature of devotion. When in a short time by the grace of the holy name the heart becomes closely attentive, the fruits of religious forbearance, control over sensual appetites, religious observances, withholding the breath by way of religious austerity, abstract religious contemplation, steady abstraction of the mind and indifference to external impressions are very easily gained without paying the least heed to any of these. The holy name alone is a complete suspension of the fleeting mental operations. The more the heart is transparent, the more the diverse pastimes of the spiritual kingdom play in it. The flow of the milk of this happiness is so very fast running that no other means can give even the smallest drop of it. The jivas should desire no other wealth than this grace of Krishna.
The holy name is spiritual; wisdom, vows, meditation, abnegation, mental quietness, virtue, contrivance—none of these can ever equal the name. Know it for certain that the holy name is the highest salvation, the holy name is the highest end, the holy name is the noblest and final beatitude, the holy name is existing eternally, the holy name alone is the supermost devotion, the holy name is the highest intellect, the holy name is the topmost priti and the holy name is the brightest remembrance. The holy name is the seed and the holy name is the fruit to jivas—the holy name is their Lord and the holy name alone is the supermost object of their worship. The holy name is their preceptor.
The Vedas have described the spirituality of the name of Krishna to be the highest truth. "O Lord! We have reasonably judged Your name to be higher than the highest and so we chant Your holy name. Nama-bhajana is not bound by any rule—the holy name is beyond all virtuous acts—He is spiritual—He is virility and luster in a person. All the Vedas have been manifested from this holy name. The holy name is bliss, the holy name is ananda. We can excellently be devoted to Him. The holy name is worship and is to be worshiped; Your feet are to be held in veneration. Repeatedly we fall prostrate at Your lotus feet and anoint our bodies with the pollen thereof. In order to lead the soul to its highest stage, devotees mutually discuss the holy name and sing His glories. They believe Your name to be Chaitanya in person, and always sing and hear kirtana which is identical with Your name—they are purified by it. The holy name alone is sat, or ever-existing. The essence of the Vedas is the holy name, who is the Absolute Truth and whose form is sac-cid-ananda (sat—ever-existing, cit—knowing, and ananda—all-bliss). O Vishnu, it is only by the grace of Your name that we are capable of offering these hymns to You. So we should adore and pray to Your holy name alone."
In His own "Eight Glorious Precepts," Shriman Mahaprabhu has spoken of the glories of the holy name. He has also given a glimpse of the gradual steps of nama-bhajana in those eight precepts. His sloka. beginning with "Consider yourself humbler than the grass" hints at how to adore the holy name after avoiding the ten offenses. His sloka "Followers or money I want not" speaks of the selflessness of nama-bhajana in a devotional spirit—devotion unactuated by any lustful motive. The sloka "O Son of Nanda" tells us how to make a plaintive report to the Lord. The last two slokas describe the process of Vraja bhajana where one loves Krishna to serve Him either in sambhoga (union) or in vipralambha-rasa (deeper union in separation) or in both after being completely and spontaneously attached to Shrimati Radha. The sastras have eulogized so highly and so often the glories of the holy name that their number is legion—to describe them is to write a big volume like the Shri Hari-bhakti vilasa. So we hardly have any more space in this small volume to discuss them at length. Thus, stopping here with the glories of the holy name, we attempt a very short survey of the processes of nama-bhajana.
Devotees who are desirous of ascending the terrace of prema should remember a few points even before entering the field of nama-bhajana. Firstly, they should know for certain that the form of Krishna, the form of Krishna's name, the form of service to Krishna and the form of Krishna's servants are eternally free—eternally spiritual! Krishna, His abode and paraphernalia are all spiritual and beyond the grasp of maya, the illusory energy. No mundane consideration exists in seva, or service. The seat, room, garden, forest, Yamuna River and every other thing of Krishna are spiritual and hence untouchable by matter. They are further aware of the fact that this belief is not a blind worldly faith—it is absolutely true and eternal. The exact forms of all these do not in truth manifest on this earth. Such ideas may perpetually reign in the pure heart of pure devotees. Here, the fruit of all these spiritual practices is self-realization. Those who have realized the form of Krishna, as well as of their own self, do before long attain vastu-siddhi (enter the eternal pastimes of Krishna in the spiritual kingdom and gain personal service of Krishna). Here in this world, devotees can only get a glimpse of those immaterial things. The first stage to it is freedom from the bondage of maya—the climax is prema.
The realization of truths that are beyond the grasp of matter is called svarupa-siddhi. This is true knowledge of the relationship between Krishna and the jivas, and when this is acquired, the endeavor for prema as a means and prema as an object of pursuit are gained. The spiritual region of Krishna, His spiritual name, His divine attributes and spiritual pastimes—all these being the necessary object of pursuit—come under prema. This is delineated in the Prasnopanishad.
The holy name has been accepted in all respects to be an incarnation of Krishna on this earth. Although He seems to be just a word, still, by His unimaginable powers, He is spiritual and is a special incarnation of Krishna. As Krishna and His name are identical, Krishna has descended to the earth as the holy name; so, Krishna's name is the first introduction to Krishna. With determination to reach Krishna, jivas must first accept the name of Krishna. In attempting to determine the significance and origin of Hari nama, Shri Gopala-guru Gosvami, the dearest disciple of Shri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, writes, "Blessed are they no doubt who utter 'Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare' even with indifference. (This verse was culled from the Agni Purana.) 'Those who chant the holy name are free from every spot of sin.' (Brahmanda Purana) These utterings of Hare Krishna, coming out from the lips of Shri Chaitanya, inundated the whole world with the flood of prema. Glory be to the holy name by His will!" Hence, Shriman Mahaprabhu, as mentioned in the Chaitanya-caritamrita and in the Chaitanya-bhagavata, Himself sang and taught jivas to count these sixteen names of thirty-two syllables on Tulasi beads. Shri Gopala-guru Gosvami explains these sixteen names in the following way:
"At the utterance of Hari, all sins are washed from the heart of the wicked. As the flame will burn the finger even though unconsciously thrust into fire, similarly, even the very casually pronounced holy name will burn every bit of sin within you. After that holy name of the Lord manifests the Absolute Truth whose form is cid-ananda, it destroys avidya, or illusion, and its works. All this is the work of Hari nama. Or as He takes off the three-fold pangs of miseries, distresses and afflictions, He is therefore called Hari (lit. to steal away). Or Hari is so called because He drives out all the three-fold distresses of every animate and inanimate being, or because the mind of the fourteen worlds is charmed by hearing and singing the spiritual attributes of Hari. Or as He, by His exceeding beauty before the loveliness and beauty of a thousand Cupids, which causes these to hide their faces in shame, He also fascinates all men and incarnations, hence He is called Hari, which in the vocative case is pronounced Hare. Or again, according to the views of the Brahma-samhita, She who fascinates the mind of Hari by Her prema-svarupa, attachments and love is Hara, or in other words, Shrimati Radhika, the daughter of Vrishabhanu. The vocative case of Hara is Hare.
"The meaning of Krishna according to the views of agama is that this Krishna who is ananda in form and attracts every object, is parabrahma. Krishna, when in the vocative case, is also Krishna. The agama says, 'O goddess, all guilts and sinful motives vanish from the heart at the very sound of 'ra', and the door in the form of 'ma' is attached to it in order to shut out those evils and prevent them from reentering the heart. These together give us Rama.' The Puranas have further said that Krishna, who is cleverer than the cleverest, more witty than the greatest wit, who is the presiding Deity of all spiritual pastimes and who is eternally engaged in spiritual dalliance with Shri Radha, is termed as Rama."
Devotees who thirst for prema and are on the way to it, chant and realize this holy name of Hare Krishna by counting on beads. While chanting and remembering the name, they incessantly remember His spiritual characteristics by explaining to the mind the meanings of the holy name. In this way, their heart is very soon freed from every spot and becomes pure and stainless; and with the morning twilight of the holy name, as the heart is purified by constant remembrance, the holy name dawns on the horizon of the transparent heart with full shining rays.
Those who have accepted the holy name are either self-realized devotees or are still trotting onwards to self-realization. Of these, the latter class of devotees are divided according to their early and advanced stages. Besides these, devotees who are eternally free no longer confuse the soul for the body and never identify themselves with the body or mind. In the early stage, devotees begin to chant the name in a fixed number, and as they gradually increase their countings, they come to a stage when their tongue does not stop for a moment from singing the holy name. Although devotees in their first stage have no taste for the holy name because their tongues are cholera-stricken by avidya, still a patient and continuous utterance of the name proves to be the only remedy. Later they will feel uneasy if stopped from singing the name. A constant and regardful chanting produces a supreme liking for Him.
Zeal and earnestness to avoid offenses to the holy name are very needful in the first stage, which can be done only by an avoidance of worldly-minded men and keeping company with devotees. Incessant chanting of the holy name will, when the first flow has passed away, naturally increase a love for the name and kindness to jivas. In this, karma, jnana and yoga have nothing to do. If their workings are strong even then, they may help the devotees of the holy name in maintaining their livelihood. If Krishna's holy name is sung with a firm inclination, it will before long cleanse the heart and burn away avidya; when avidya vanishes, the brighter illumination of a true, unbiased abnegation and a sense of the relationship between Krishna and jivas will appear in the heart. Numberless times has this been proved to be true among the wise.
With a happy heart, one should recollect the meaning and form of the holy name and should pray to Krishna with a heart-rending lamentation, and this will draw the grace of Krishna which will lead him onward in the path of bhajana; or else, births will pass in vain like karmis and frustrated jnanis.
Those who engage in bhajana may be divided into two distinct classes. Some bear only the burden, others appreciate the real worth of things. Those who long for enjoyment or for self-destroying salvation and are attached to worldly affairs are only yoked to the heavy load of virtue, wealth, enjoyment and salvation—they are unaware of the fact that prema is the best sap. So, such load-bearers fail to progress in bhajana in spite of their utmost strivings, whereas the essence-seekers aiming at prema-lata very soon reach the longed-for ultimate. They are called prema-rurukshu (those who earnestly strive for ascending up to the region of prema); they alone can in a very short time ascend up to the sphere of prema or easily become paramahamsas. Thus, when one who so long simply did bear burdens, learns to love the Truth in the company of sadhus, he also soon turns to longing for prema.
When in previous births one has done good works looking forward to devotion, this invigorates reverence and a strong desire for service to Godhead, which then turns into an appetite for devotion in the company of devotees. Both bhajana and true devotees awaken sadhana-bhakti which leads to the expectation of prema. If one adopts the processes of sadhana as directed by true and pure devotees, he will before long almost turn mad for ascending the stage of prema where it can be tasted. But again, this prema will remain far in the background if he associates with half-true devotees and will not be able to exclusively devote himself to the service of Krishna. In this stage, (1) his strong love for the fleeting world, (2) his identification of the soul with the material frame of flesh and blood and the subtle body of the mind, (3) his knowledge of things other than Krishna, and (4) his extreme servile attitude towards maya do not allow him to regard and love true devotees—crafty thoughts beguile his heart. In this way, the practicers of devotion have to remain long confined to the preliminary rights of a devotee in the first stage. No doubt they have reliance and faith in Krishna, but it is so tender, fickle and unsteady that they may at any moment be led away by the contradictory arguments of conflicting schools and may accordingly come into the company of so-called preceptor and sadhus. In order to make steady their perturbed state of mind, they must learn by the process of deduction (the path of Sruti from a true spiritual preceptor) the true process of worship. A firm faith in the holy name will be awakened in the heart after worshiping the Deity in this way for a long time; then at last they will have determination for nama-bhajana in the company of devotees.
The case is different with those few lucky ones who have an exclusively firm faith in Krishna's holy name; they take, by unbounded grace of Krishna, shelter at the feet of such a spiritual guide who is an ontologist of the holy name, i.e., who has realized and does see the svarupa (form) of the holy name. Concerning the need for such a preceptor, Shri Mahaprabhu says that though formal initiation may not be necessary, still a guide is essential in nama-bhajana. The mere letters of the holy name may be had at any place and from anybody, but the profound and unknown truth that is lurking behind those letters can only be exposed by the grace of a true preceptor who is purely devoted to Krishna. The grace of the spiritual guide alone can pass over from the early twilight from the ten offenses hindering the true service of the holy name.
Those who are devoted to the holy name have already from the beginning attained the stage of the second class of the svarupa (form) of the holy name. They are practically no longer bound to namabhasa (utterance of the name avoiding the ten offenses). Truly speaking, they earnestly desire prema—they are true prema-rurukshus. It is their religion to have prema for Krishna; they make friendship with true Vaishnavas, they cast kind glances at and show compassion to tender and unsteady Vaishnavas, and they are indifferent to those who being puffed up with false vanity of their erudition are malicious and inimical to the devotees and Shri-murti of Bhagavan. Failing to distinguish right from wrong, the beginners who are confined to only the initial rights sometimes fall into deplorable conditions. The middle order of Vaishnavas who are earnestly anxious for prema behave differently from the three previous classes of Vaishnavas (those who only carry the burden, those who maintain bad association and those who strictly follow) and soon are blessed with prema, or ascend to the highest or superior order of Vaishnavas. It is best to associate with this middle order of Vaishnavas.
These prema-rurukshu devotees chant and tell their beads three lacs (3 x 64 rounds) in every twenty-four hours, and they find such happiness in the holy name that they cannot spare a moment without Him; then, when no time can be kept in sleep, etc., they become incessant in their bhajana. Repeated remembrance of the meaning of the holy name as explained by Shri Gopala-guru Gosvami will, by degrees, drive out all contamination from the nature of the devotee. Then the holy name will appear in person before the spiritual eyes of the devotee. When the svarupa (form) of the holy name fully appears, it is identical with the spiritual form of Krishna. The appearance of the svarupa of the holy name is the appearance of the svarupa of Krishna. The more clearly and purely the holy name is visible, the more bhajana proceeds in the presence of His svarupa, the more do the three elements of which primordial matter is said to be composed, namely sattva (the strand of goodness), rajas (the strand of activity) and tamas (the gloom of pride, haughtiness, etc. of the lowest inherent principal), disappear and there appear the spiritual attributes of Krishna in the heart of the devotee. Then again, when there is a happy union of the name, form and attributes of Krishna, and devotees in their bhajana see them, the lila (pastimes) of Krishna is awakened by the grace of Krishna in their pure heart as soon as they are absorbed in deep and easy, natural meditation. The holy name then dances incessantly on their tongue, the form of Krishna is visible to their soul's eye, all the attributes of Krishna are observed in their heart and the bud of lila blooms in their soul while they are buried in meditation. In this stage, five conditions of the practising devotee are to be noticed: 1. sravana-dasa, 2. varana-dasa, 3. smarana-dasa, 4. apana-dasa, 5. prapanna-dasa.
The happy mood which the devotee feels at the time of listening to the object of pursuit and the means of hearing from the lips of a true spiritual preceptor may be called sravana-dasa. In this stage, every bit of knowledge about how to chant the holy name without committing any offense to Him and of the processes and fitness of chanting the holy name is gained; this facilitates the continuity of the holy name.
When fit to receive it, the strung-together beads of nama-prema can be had from shri gurudeva, i.e., the disciple with every delight and from the deepest recesses of his heart cordially welcomes the boon of surrendering himself to the feet of shri guru for pure and unalloyed bhajana and receives invigorating strength and faculty from him; this is varana-dasa, (the choice of shri guru for bhajana by the acceptance of the holy name and strength from him).
Remembrance, contemplation, concentration, constant meditation and trance (final beatitude) are the five processes of smarana. From remembrance of the holy name, the devotee thinks of the form which gives him a steady conception of the attributes; this steady conception of the attributes gives him a firm conviction of pursuing the lila of Krishna and having entrance in the lila, he is completely absorbed in Krishna-rasa. This is apana-dasa. By these stages of smarana and apana the devotee can know and adore the eternal and daily lila of Krishna in eight different periods of the day; and when he is deeply absorbed in it, he realizes his own self and that of Krishna. These self-realized devotees are paramahamsas.
Then at the time of his departure from this world, the devotee, by the grace of Krishna, becomes an associated counterpart of ideal object of his worship in Vraja, and thus attains the summum bonum of nama-bhajana.
When should all who are seekers after prema leave the stage of a householder and accept sannyasa, or the fourth stage? The answer is that, be he in bustee (society) or solitude, in palace or bower, be he in the stage of a grihastha or a vanaprastha or sannyasi—in whatever stage he may be in, the prema-rurukshu should prefer to live in that stage only which will be favorable to the attainment of prema and should at once desert the stage that is a burden or antagonistic to his bhajana. In this connection, the lives of Shrivasa Pandita, Shri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Shri Ramananda and other personal attendants of Krishna are worth recollection. They are all born paramahamsas. Ribhu, Janaka, etc. in the days of yore are seen to be paramahamsa even though they led the lives of householders; while, on the contrary, finding household life to be detrimental and a bar to bhajana, Shri Ramanuja Svami, Shri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, Shri Madhavendra Puri Gosvami, Shri Haridasa Thakura, Shri Sanatana Gosvami and Shri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, all renounced the stage of a householder and accepted sannyasa.
Krishna's loving beauty is so enamoring that even the god of lust is charmed by Him and Krishna Himself, being charmed by His own beauty and loveliness, covets the pleasure enjoyed by the best of His lovers—Shri Radha, by lovingly serving such a form as His. So anointing Himself with the luster and complexion of Shri Radha and having been imbued with Her ardent longings of love, Krishna is ever dallying as an exemplary lover of Himself as Shri Gauranga. Shri Krishna, the essential nature of the Supreme Being—the only real and eternal truth—is the object of love, and Shri Gauranga, the possessor and distributor of that love. Krishna is simultaneously dallying with His dear consort in the groves of Vrindavana and tasting the extract of love succors flowing from His consort as Gauranga at Navadvipa, Himself singing Krishna's name and teaching others how to love Krishna and sing His name. In so doing, He distinguishes pointedly the real name, identical with the object Himself, from the apparent or false one which is taken profanely, blasphemously or in vain. He emphasizes that in this Kali-yuga worldly people indulge in (1) duplicity, (2) intoxication, (3) sensuality, (4) killing of animals, (5) mercenariness and so are unable to meditate upon or worship Vishnu and perform Vedic sacrifices. So the chanting of Krishna's name is the only meditation, the only sacrifice, the only worship in this Kali age—the name is the means, the name is the end. But it should be noted with the utmost care that Krishna's name is not a mere combination of letters or utterance; an appearance is not identity. The fire and the glow worm, though similar in appearance, are not identical. The minutest spark of fire set consciously or unconsciously, seriously or playfully, will instantaneously burn an inflammable thing, whereas a thousand glow worms will not be able to do that, even in a thousand years. Krishna's name is identical with Krishna Himself and pregnant with all the properties and attributes of Krishna. So His name, unlike all other names, is full of energy, perfect, eternal, pure, devoid of illusion and eternally free.
The aurora of sunrise is sufficient to dispel the darkness of night and to drive the wild animals to their lairs and thieves and dacoits to their resorts; it enables us to distinguish the various objects of senses and ushers the advent of the glowing lamp of heaven. So namabhasa stops poverty from planting our pillows with thorns, destroys our worldly hankerings and dispels our illusory gloom so that we may see the name face to face. When the ever-burning sun peeps out of the eastern horizon, its ever-effulgent rays make us see it face to face, feel its golden rays and enable us to see all objects bathed therein. The sun is seen and felt by us with its own rays and heat and not by the help of any other glowing object. The brightest candles of the universe put together cannot make the sun visible to us. When our dreamy nights are at an end, when we shake off our torpor, open our eyes, and turn them to the east, we see the sun of the holy name with all His glory and beauty.