|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Spiritual Questions & Answers > QA 2005 > QA May to July|
Q. Can we lose our personality through chanting the Holy Names? - Matus, Spain.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada: Our real personality means the personality of the soul because the personality of the body changes with every body we get as per our karma. One may have a very cruel bodily personality externally but the internally the soul is always pure sat-chid-ananda. Due to misidentification with the body one has forgotten one's actual personality. So this is the personality which is awakened by chanting.
nitya siddha krishna prema sadhu kabhu naya, shravana adi shuddha cita karaye udaya
As stated in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita: "The original personality of the soul which is full of love for Lord Gauranga-Krishna is not attainable by any artificial means. Only when the soul repeatedly hears and chants the Holy Names and Pastimes of the Lord, this real personality of the soul gradually awakens and blossoms and the soul realizes that the bodily personalities in all the different lives was simply a dream."
Q. My question then is what benefit is there in hearing the holy names from someone such as me who is a neophyte that has no real love or realization of the Supreme Lord? - Amala Gauranga dasa, South Africa
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada: This question is quite relevant and may arise in the minds of many spiritual aspirants.
If you have no love and realization for the Lord, you will never ask such a question in the first place nor will you take up the daily chanting of His Holy Names or hear His pastimes. So the fact that you are doing both means that you do have some spiritual qualification which has made you to become inclined to chant His Holy Names.
Q. Is it not just dead empty hallow sound that emanates from my lips when I when I greet people using the holy names
Let us discuss the following quote by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada:
"The holy name must be surcharged with proper spirit not mundane sentiment......The mere physical sound is not the holy name of Krishna. Repeating only the syllables of the name is called mayic sound. It has no spiritual essence."
Here Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada talks about the sound of the Holy Names emanated from the mouth of a person who is envious of God or wants to become God and has no sambandha relationship with the Lord through the medium of the spiritual master. Basically he is talking about an atheist or a demoniac class of person who has no clue to the philosophy and position of the Lord and one who has never sincerely associated with the devotees of the Lord. Even if such a person chants the Holy Names unknowingly or for a different reason, he or she destroys all their sins and may attain some pious sukriti benefit personally, but his or her chanting may not be able to greatly benefit others who hear it as the chanter itself does not have faith in the efficacy of the chanting. The bottom line is that the benefit which you can give to others while chanting the Holy Names is directly proportional to the faith you have in the Holy Names. If you have 5% faith in the Holy Names, you will give 5% benefit to others through your chanting and so on.
But of course this consideration is more applicable for Lord Krishna's Holy Names whereas the Holy Names of Lords Nityananda Gauranga are more liberal and even if they are heard from the lips of an offensive chanter, they will have maximum effect as they do not consider the qualifications of the giver as well as the recipient.
Q. Is it not the same as saying "Hi" or "Hello"-I do not mean to minimize the potency of the holy names, it is not my intention to do so.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada: Never. The Holy Names chanted by even an offensive person can destroy the sins of those who hear and grant them some auspiciousness though not the highest platform. The only exception is the Mayavadis whose chanting of the Name is pratibimba-namabhasa which means that it has no efficacy but harmful to them as well as those who hear because they chant God's Name to become God by usurping God's position. Their chanting is in fact offensive and what the Holy Name does is that the Nama Prabhu grants the Mayavadis sayujya mukti(impersonal liberation) which is actually a permanent fall down and setback on the path attaining the spiritual Vaikuntha planets. In this way due to their offensive chanting, the Mayavadis get stuck in the impersonal brahman effulgence for trillions of years and thus loosing the opportunity to enter into the spiritual planets and direct associate and serve the Lord face to face.
Q. My second question concerns prasad. I understand that prasad cannot be contaminated as it is above the laws of nature it is not subject to decay and contamination like ordinary matter. If someone with contaminated hands-say blood from meat touches ones prasad or a meat eater happens to put a piece of carcass on ones plate on ones prasad then can one still take that prasad- will not honoring that prasad not be an offense? - Amala Gauranga dasa, South Africa.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada: I doubt you will ever face a situation where someone will put a carcass on your plate of prasadam. But even if a meat eater distributes prasadam then it should be accepted. Of course it is understood that a devotee has cooked and offered that prasadam to the Lord not that meat eater otherwise it is not prasadam in the first place because the Lord does not accept any offerings from meat eaters.
sushkam paryushitam vapi, nitam va dura-desatah
prapti-matrena bhoktavyam, natra kala-vicarana
"One should eat the maha-prasadam of the Lord immediately upon receiving it, even though it is dried up, stale or brought from a distant country. One should consider neither time nor place."
The above is the verse from the Puranas quoted by Shrila Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya in the direct presence of the Supreme Lord Gauranga in Shri Jagannatha Puri Dhama. (Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.6.225)
Q. I have been wanting to take up the practice of Nitai-Gaur Lekhana (Writing) Yoga for a while now to strengthen my loud chanting. There is a verse from one of the scriptures on that page:- "If one desires siddhi or the supreme perfection of life, then one must engage in Mental Japa Yoga. If one desires spiritual and material prosperity, then one must engage in Upamsu or Murmuring Japa Yoga. And if one desires perfection at the time of death, then Vachaka or Loud Japa is most suitable." This might appear to be a straight forward and obvious verse but it isn't to me. I always thought that the goal of all chanting was the same. But now it appears in this verse that there are actually different fruits to different chanting. Does one who engages solely in Loud Japa not attain siddhi or spiritual and material prosperity? Does one who engages in Mental Japa not attain perfection at the time of death? Is this all the same goal but in different
phases? - Amala Gauranga dasa, South Africa.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:
This verse describes the general fruits or results of Japa Yoga. But when you chant Japa of the direct Namatmaka Mantras or Holy Names of the Lord like Nityananda, Gauranga, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, etc. which are the Holy Names for Kali Yuga, all the above three fruits or results of liberation, prosperity and perfection at death are available in all the three types of Japa Yoga: loud, soft and mental. So the goal is the same for all kinds of Japa Yoga. Through Loud Japa Yoga, the chanter can give the same benefit of these perfections to the hearers also whereas through Soft and Mental Japa Yoga, the chanter can go more internal and deeply meditate on the Holy Names.
I would personally recommend Loud and Soft Japa Yoga at least up to the point where the chanter reaches a stage in the Japa Yoga where the mind becomes fully peaceful, undisturbed and absorbed in the Holy Names. At that stage one can try to chant Japa Yoga mentally for some time in the day but Loud or Soft Japa should never be given up fully as it nourishes our taste in the Holy Names when we directly hear the Holy Names audibly through our ears. Even the greatest chanter of Japa Yoga of all times, Shrila Namacharya Haridasa Thakura would chant Loud Japa, Soft Japa and Mental Japa in equal proportion - 64 rounds each and he would make it a point to chant loudly most of time so that he could benefit all the souls around him at all times.
Nityananda Gauranga Lekhana (Writing) Yoga is a very powerful and unique means to instantly focus our mind on the Names and Forms of Lords Nityananda Gauranga and Shri Shri Radha Krishna. It should be done in addition to the normal loud or soft chanting and kirtana and not as a replacement because nothing can replace Kirtana - the Yuga Dharma of Kali Yuga.
Q. When Body, Mind and soul everything belongs to Krishna, (By Shrila Prabhupada's mercy as we have come to know that - we are complete surrendered souls and part and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Krisha) why did Mother Sati invited Agnideva and burnt herself in the Agnikunda in Dakshaprajapati's palace? She is definitely on a very high platform compared to the living entities in general as they have higher qualities than the living entities. - Shyama-lila dasi.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:
Committing suicide or self-immolation is normally a very big sin because we are trying to interfere with the laws of karma which are destined for us. Even if one commits suicide to escape the present pain, one will have to continue to suffer the balance destined pain in the next life as a ghost or in another body unless one can destroy those karmic reactions altogether by chanting the Holy Names in Bhakti Yoga in the next body.
Shrimati Sati (Uma) devi's case was totally different. She is not an ordinary conditioned soul like us but the eternal consort of the great Vaishnava Lord Shiva and thus She is a great Vaishnavi also who is fully in tune with the desires of Lord Shiva, her Guru and of the Supreme Lord Gauranga-Krishna.
I will reply to your question with the following numbered points. She self-immolated herself by invoking fire for the following reasons:
(1) She had heard severe and heinous blasphemy of the greatest of all devotees, her husband Lord Shiva from the vile mouth of her own father Daksha. Also it was because of her that Daksha criticized Lord Shiva publicly in the assembly so that everyone heard the blasphemy. So she felt herself to be the cause of this most unfortunate situation. In the scriptures, it is stated that if one hears blasphemy of devotees: one should either defeat it by words immediately or stop the person doing it immediately and leave the place or give up one's body if one cannot do all these. Sati could have left the place but it became too late as she had to hear the blasphemy and neither she could stop her father from doing it.
(2) Another thing was that she had done guror avagya...Lord Shiva told her not to go there as he knew that this would happen but she went anyway enamored to see all the material opulences. She disobeyed the order of her Lord and Guru Lord Shiva and that is why she found herself in such an irreversible position. Thus after she heard the blasphemy of her Lord and the great devotee of Lord Gauranga-Krishna, Lord Shiva, she decided she could no longer go back and face Lord Shiva. She felt that by disobeying the order of Lord Shiva, she had lost her qualification to return back to him in this same body, so she desired to take birth again in another body as Parvati to be with Lord Shiva again.
(3) When one hears offense against a great devotee, one's whole body becomes defiled and contaminated so she did not want to go back to Lord Shiva with such a body.
(4) She did this to teach the whole creation a strong lesson for all time to come that if one just hears blasphemy of a great devotee what to speak of talking such blasphemy, one will have to suffer severe consequences however great one is even if one is directly the consort of the great personality Lord Shiva. Giving one's ear to hear the blasphemy is as implicating as committing the blasphemy because without a receptive audience, no one will commit a blasphemy.
There are many other reasons but these are the main ones and I will end now. Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
Q. Could you kindly explain some more about your very recent SQ no. 33 in relation to "those claiming to be God & misleading people into chanting their names instead of the Holy Names of the Lord" as being a "major cause for the quick decay of mankind"? There certainly does appear to be a rapid increase in preoccupation with false ego and greed
for material sense enjoyment going on at present. So in what sense do you understand that such chanting of bogus holy names can effect the quick spiritual decay of mankind? This might seem a slightly extreme claim and difficult for many people to fully understand. However I am sure they would also be intrigued by your holiness's explanation, since you would not write it without good cause and enlightened reasoning. - Michael, UK.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:
I will address this question even more deeply in future spiritual quotes but for now I will mention a few points.
When spiritually blind people blindly follow the spiritually blind people who claim that they are God and their names should be chanted instead of the Lord's Holy Names, it creates a very inauspicious situation for all those involved as well as the whole world for the following reason:
Consider a compounder working for a doctor. Daily the compounder comes and externally works hard for the doctor is his office trying to satisfy him but internally always harbors the thought of when he can displace the doctor and become the doctor himself and has a conspiracy going on in the clinic with some other staff on how to take over the clinic by usurping the position of the doctor.
Do you think that when the doctor finds out, the doctor will keep him and his supporters? No, the doctor will sack all of them immediately including even those who knew about it but did not try to stop it or inform the doctor.
Similarly those people who make others chant their own names or manufactured mantras or who even make use of the Holy Names of the Lord and some teachings of Bhakti to attract people and followers and then tell them that ultimately I am God, you are God or everyone is God or everything is void or God is formless and cannot be described in words etc. are actually leading people away for God and bringing atheism in this world.
They, their followers and the society which supports or does not try to stop their philosophy are also incurring the displeasure of the Lord because they are leading people away from our real Lord and father who wants all His sons and part and parcels to come to His service as soon as possible and not try to become Him. Can the son ever become the father of his father? Never, he always remains the son.
Thus, such people are liable to be punished by the Lord just like the doctor punished the conspirating compounder and his friends by sacking them. The society which supports and fosters such concealed atheism or voidism in the name of spirituality also takes a big part of the reactions and thus will have to suffer for it even though it is due to a lack of proper spiritual knowledge and guidance. Ignorance of truth is not pardoned in the laws of karma because if there is a sincere will to know the truth then there can always be a way to find it.
What I have said above is confirmed by Lord Shiva's own words in the Padma Purana:
vedante tu maha-sastre, mayavadam avaidikam
mayaiva vakshyate devi, jagatam nasa-karanat
"In the form of a brahmana (Shripada Adi Shankaracharya), I will propogate the monistic and impersonal Mayavada philosophy which is completely against all scriptures and truth (avaidikam) and which states that soul is equal to God. O Parvati, this atheistic philosophy will actually become the cause of destruction of the whole world because it will cause millions of people to loose complete faith in Bhakti or Devotional Service to the original pure Lord."
Lord Krishna Himself confirms this in the Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda (62.31):
svagamaih kalpitais tvam ca, janan mad-vimukhan kuru
mam ca gopaya yena syat, shrishtir eshottarottara
Addressing Lord Siva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Krishna said: "Please make the general populace averse to Me by imagining your own interpretation of the Vedas by stating that the soul is equal to God. This bogus and imaginary philosophy will cover Me in such a way that people will take more interest in advancing material civilization just to propagate a population bereft of spiritual knowledge and thus become more and more miserable."
One may ask: "Why does the Lord want to make His part and parcels more and more miserable? The simple answer is because the souls ask the Lord for it. They ask the Lord for material desires and thus for the resultant misery and the Lord who has given them individual free unwillingly grants their desires while not interfering with their free will. 99% people wanted to become God so the Lord had to instruct His pure devotee Shiva to come and concoct a philosophy which would make them feel that they are God. But the evitable result was that this philosophy to try to become God led them to atheism.
Question: I want to know if it is not good to accept Mahaprasadam of the Lord as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu got angry at a Gaudiya devotee at the cleaning of Gundicha temple when the devotee drank the Holy water that washed Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu's Holy feet? And also what is the difference between Maha prasadam and Maha-Maha prasadam? - Gauranga dasi.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:
The answer is given by Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami himself in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 12.124:
yadyapi gosani tare hanache santosha
dharma-samsthapana lagi’ bahire maha-rosha
"Although Lord Gauranga was certainly satisfied with him internally, He became angry externally in order to establish the etiquette of religious principles."
Thus Lord Gauranga was only externally angry, internally He was very pleased that the Gaudiya devotee had so much faith in the His charanamrita (water which had washed His lotus feet) which even Lord Shiva carries on his head but is unable to drink directly.
A small mistake was that the Gaudiya devotee drank the water of the Lord's lotus feet in the Deity Room of Shri Gundicha Temple when Lord Gauranga was personally washing the altar with His divine tears. Normally, one should not eat or drink directly inside the altar or inner sanctum of the Lord. Therefore to set the ideal standard for all, the Lord became externally displeased.
But actually the Gaudiya devotee was perfectly right from his side to take the most rare Holy Water that washed the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu by hook or by crook since this Holy Water is not accessible to even the greatest personalities in the universe like Brahma, Shiva, Narada, Lakshmi etc. Shrila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami states in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita that by hook or by crook, somehow or other, one should get the food remnants or foot dust or foot water of the Lord and His devotees because it is so rare in this world as the appearance of the Lord and His Devotees is so rare and confidential.
Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya lila 16.58,62:
tate ‘vaishnavera jhuta’ khao chadi’ ghrina-laja
yaha haite paiba nija vanchita saba kaja
"Therefore, giving up all hesitation, averseness and shame, please try to eat the remnants of the food of the Vaishnavas by any means possible, for you will thus be able to achieve your desired goal of life."
tate bara bara kahi,——suna bhakta-gana
visvasa kariya kara e-tina sevana
"Therefore, my dear devotees, please hear from me, for I insist again and again: please keep great faith in these three (food remanants, foot water and foot dust of the Vaishnavas) and render service to them without hesitation and shame."
These three are actually the shortcuts or honarary degrees to achieve 100% success in spiritual life through kripa siddhi (causeless mercy). The most striking example of this is Shrila Narada Muni who received a spiritual body, a spiritual vina and became a direct associate of the Lord and could fly even to the spiritual world in the self-same body just by eating the food remanants of the four great devotees who visited his home when he has a child just for the four months of Chaturmasya. This is called as kripa siddhi or perfection achieved by the causeless mercy of the Vaishnavas without the need for our qualification or disqualification.
One should read the pastime of Shrila Kalidasa in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya 16th Chapter which explains the full glories of accepting maha maha prasada. Lord Gauranga gave such extraordinary mercy to Shrila Kalidasa which he did not give to anyone in Shri Puri Dhama because Shrila Kalidasa would shamelessly accept the food remanants (maha maha prasadam) of all Gaudiya Vaishnavas in Bengal and Orissa whether they are small or big devotees because of his intense faith in the devotion of the Vaishnavas and because he did not consider himself superior to any devotee. He always was hankering to receive the mercy of every small, big, new, old, neophyte and advanced devotees in this way.
Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya lila 16.57:
vaishnavera sesha-bhakshanera eteka mahima
kalidase paoyaila prabhura kripa-sima
"Taking the remnants of the food of Vaishnavas is so valuable that it induced Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to offer Kalidasa His supreme mercy."
Shrila Kalidasa always considered that all Vaishnavas whether big or small have some divine qualities in Bhakti which he can receive from them by accepting their food remnants. This way of showing great faith in the Guru and Vaishnavas is extremely pleasing to the Lord because in this way one has to sacrifice one's own false ego, reputation and elite position and become humble enough to be able to accept the food remanants, foot water or foot dust of other devotees.
Normally this practice is reserved for the advanced level of devotees because it can be misunderstood in a gathering of new devotees. This practice should not be publicly carried out or openly displayed in a gathering of new people or new devotees who still need to develop faith in remnants of the Lord and His devotees. This topmost spiritual practice to accept the food remnants, foot dust and foot water of the Vaishnavas should be secretly done for one's own personal bhajana and for one's own advancement like Shrila Kalidasa did and never as an external show to impress others. If this is displayed openly in front of new people, then they may consider Bhakti is very cheap and sentimental and they may loose their faith in Bhakti. So one has to be very careful in this regard.
Also a real Vaishnava never considers oneself a Vaishnava or a devotee and thus is very humble and never prepared to distribute his mercy in the form of food remanants, foot water or foot dust. In fact he tries to avoid doing it at all costs because he never feels himself superior to any soul what to speak of other devotees. So there is always a transcendental tug of war between the devotees who want this mercy of a real devotee and a the real devotee who genuinely does not feel qualified to give it and resists very much.
Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya 16.60-61,63:
bhakta-pada-dhuli ara bhakta-pada-jala
"The dust of the feet of a devotee, the water that has washed the feet of a devotee, and the remnants of food left by a devotee are three very powerful substances."
ei tina-seva haite krishna-prema haya
punah punah sarva-sastre phukariya kaya
"By rendering service to these three, one attains the supreme goal of ecstatic love for Krishna. In all the revealed scriptures this is loudly declared again and again."
tina haite krishna-nama-premera ullasa
krishnera prasada, tate ‘sakshi’ kalidasa
"From these three one achieves the highest goal of life—ecstatic love of Krishna. This is the greatest mercy of Lord Krishna. The evidence is Kalidasa himself."
As for the second part of the question, the Lord's Prasadam is known as Maha Prasadam and Vaishnava's Prasadam is known as Maha Maha prasadam:
This is confirmed in the 59th verse:
krishnera ucchishta haya ‘maha-prasada’ nama
‘bhakta-sesha’ haile ‘maha-maha-prasadakhyana’
"The remnants of food offered to Lord Gauranga-Krishna are called maha-prasadam. After this same maha-prasadam has been taken by a devotee, the remnants are elevated to maha-maha-prasadam because the Lord states in the Puranas that He actually eats when His devotee eats."