Aham, Mam and Nama
By: Mahanidhi Swami
Is attachment to “I and Mine” (aham, mameti) preventing us from chanting shuddha nama, the pure Holy Name of Bhagavan Sri Krishna? In the Padmna Purana’s list of the ten offenses against Krishna’s Holy Name (nama aparadhas), the last one addresses attachment, which like a ghost haunting even the most sincere sadhakas.
The tenth offense mentioned in the Padma P. (Brahma-khanda 25.15-18) is:
shrutvapi nama mahatmyam yah preeti rahito dhamah
aham mamadi paramo namni so ‘py aparadha krt
“If one has heard the glories of Krishna’s divine name (shrute nama mahatmye), but still thinks in terms of “I and Mine” (aham mamadi), and does not show love for the Holy Name (preeti rahito dhamah), that is an offense (aparadha krt).”
Unfortunately, the ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ mentality runs very deep within all of us. Even the best hearted Krishna bhaktas, who are supposed to fully identify themselves as spiritual beings, Krishna dasa and Radhika dasi, Sri Krishna’s eternal loving servants, are guilty of this mundane mentality.
Despite all our sadhana and chanting, we still think “I am this body, and people and things related to my body are mine.” Minds move fast; but consciousness moves and changes very slowly. Due to the lingering mental embrace of material consciousness, we are still seeking sense pleasures, gain, adoration and distinction.
To show how the “I and Mine” mentality touches all of us, let’s examine Srila Sanatana Goswamipada’s tika to the verse above which he discusses in his Hari-bhakti vilasa #11 v. 524. He describes how the deadly enemy of false pride, which is what the 10th offense is all about, manifests within different types of devotee chanters.
- First, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada addresses the solitary chanters saying, aham bahutara nama kirtaka, which means to think “I am chanting more than you” or to think “I am the greatest in connection with the Holy Name”. And this is the 10th offence.”
One often meets such “advanced devotees” who approach and ask, “How many rounds are you chanting?” Then to assert their supremacy they announce how many lacs of nama (multiples of 64 rounds) they are chanting to insinuate that your chanting is not up to the mark. But your bhajana is not their business. Shastra advises that one’s guru, diksa mantras and sadhana should be kept secret.
Once a “bhajananandi sadhu” approached another saintly person, asking how many lacs of nama he was chanting. The sadhu humbly replied, “What bhajana am I doing? I am only eating and sleeping.”
- Secondly, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada addresses the preacher devotee saying, itas tato nama kirtanam ca mat pravartitam eva, maya samo nama kirtana paro anyah kah, which means [this is also the 10th offense to think], “Only I am spreading the chanting of the Holy Name all over the world. Who is equal to me in dedication to nama kirtana?”
One often meets such “messiah bhaktas” who openly criticize devotees who are trying to please Sri Hari and Sri Guru by concentrating on bhakti bhajana instead of preaching. Hence they are guilty of false pride, and the offense of “I and mine” mentality; the 10th nama-aparadha.
III. Thirdly, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada addresses the proud chanter, saying, madiya jihva dhinam eva namety adikam eva paramam pradhanam, “My tongue is the greatest chanter of the Holy Name. Chanting is under the control of my tongue, and I am chanting the Holy Name myself.”
Such pride contradicts Srila Rupa Goswamipada’s Bhakti rasamrta sindhu (1.2.234), which says that Sri Krishna’s Holy Name will never manifest through one’s material senses. But if one has a service attitude, then the Holy Name WILL APPEAR first in the tongue and other senses. The reality is that “I” am not chanting so many rounds of japa. But out of His mercy, Sri Nama Prabhu is appearing within me due to my humility, pridelessness and sincere service attitude.
To conclude this article, we will quote Srila Sanatana Goswamipada’s closing remarks on the 10th offense to the Holy Name: nama kirtanam ca kadacit sidhyati na va yasya tatha bhuto yah so piti. ata evadistam bhagavata: trnad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna, amanina manadena, kirtaniyah sada harih:
“Such a proud aham, mameti devotee rarely ever even does kirtana. For Sri Krishna has taught that one should be lower than a blade of grass, tolerant as a tree, not want honor and give all honor to others. This is how the Holy Name of Lord Hari should always be glorified.” Otherwise the Holy Name will not bestow its desired fruit. (HBV. tika trans. and concept from Sri Advaita dasji)
Sri Hari Nama Prabhu ki jai! Shuddha Hari Nama Japa & Kirtana ki jai!
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!
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