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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Five hundred years ago in Jagannatha Puri, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya asked Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu which item is the most important form of devotional service.

bhakti-sādhana-śreṣṭha śunite haila mana
prabhu upadeśa kaila nāma-saṅkīrtana
harer nāma harer nāma, harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva, nāsty eva gatir anyathā

Sarvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya asked Caitanya Mahāprabhu, ‘Which item is most important in the execution of devotional service?’ Mahaprabhu replied that the most important item was the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. Then Mahaprabhu quoted a verse from Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa:

‘In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.’ (Caitanya Caritamrita,  Madhya 6.241-2)

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu always emphasized the supremacy of nama-bhajana in His preaching. In Jagannatha Puri, Mahaprabhu also instructed Sanatana Gosvami on this point:

bhajanera madhye śreṣṭha nava-vidhā bhakti
‘kṛṣṇa-prema’, ‘kṛṣṇa’ dite dhare mahā-śakti
tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
niraparādhe nāma laile pāya prema-dhana

Of all the different spiritual practices, the nine forms of bhakti (sravanam, kirtanam, etc) are the best because they have great potency to deliver Kṛṣṇa and ecstatic love for Him. Of these nine practices, nama-sankirtana is the best. By chanting the holy name without offense, one very easily obtains the priceless treasure of kṛṣṇa-prema. (Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya 4.70-1)

“The Caitanya-caritāmṛta states that of the nine ways of devotional service to obtain love of God, the foremost is nāma-saṅkīrtana. One who chants nāma without offenses surely achieves love of God. Bhakti-sandarbha says no form of bhakti (i.e. mathurā-vāsa, sādhu-saṅga, srī-murti sevā, and bhāgavata-sravana) is complete without Śrī Kṛṣṇa nāma-saṅkīrtana. The Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya says that saṅkīrtana is the best and foremost of all spiritual practices for attaining Kṛṣṇa’s mercy. If the other practices of bhakti are helpful to it, they should then be accepted.” (Sri Caitanya’s Teachings)

“Sri-nama bhajana is more powerful than all other forms of bhajana (nava-vidha-bhakti). There is no difference between nama (the holy name) and nami (Bhagavan, who possesses the name.) If you chant nama without offense, you will very quickly attain all perfection. All nine forms of bhajana are automatically carried out by performing nama-bhajana. When one utters sri-nama, he is engaged in hearing and chanting (sravanam, kirtanam). As one continues to chant, one also remembers the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, and within the mind one serves Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet (pada-sevanam), worships Him (arcanam), offers prayers (vandanam), serves Kṛṣṇa in the mood of a servant (dasyam) or friend (sakhyam), and offers one’s very self to Kṛṣṇa (atma-nivedanam).” (Jaiva Dharma ch. 4)

Upon completing the description of the sixty-four limbs of devotional service, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī mentions five of them as the most important items. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura clearly shows how each one of these five most potent devotional processes points to the chanting of the holy name.

Sarasvatī Ṭhākura once explained that after careful consideration of the five limbs of bhakti, the best practice is srī-nāma bhajana. The next entry shows how chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy names is the root of all nine forms of devotion and is glorified above all.

(1) Sādhu-saṅga­­­­­­­­­­­­­–associating with devotees is recommended to create a taste or inclination for srī-nāma bhajana. This comes from associating with holy saints who are attached to chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy names with firm faith and who systematically chant the names.

(2) Bhāgavata-śravaṅa–hearing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam which itself declares sri-nāma bhajana to be the highest virtue. In its beginning, middle (sixth canto, Ājamila story), and end, the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam repeatedly stresses the efficacy of sri-nāma bhajana.

(3) Mathurā-vāsa–sri-nāma bhajana is situated at the root of residence in Vṛndāvana or Śrīdhāma Māyāpur. The sādhus living in or visiting these holy places are always engaged in nāma-saṅkīrtana.

(4) Śrī-murti-sevā–the service of Kṛṣṇa’s Deity is always conducted with mantras full of God’s names. The Hari-bhakti-vilāsa and Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī say that Deity service must be accompanied with chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra for it to be accepted.

(5) Nāma-saṅkīrtana–is directly chanting the holy names.

“Of all means of bhajana (devotional service), the name of Kṛṣṇa is most purely spiritual. In describing the absolute duties, Hari-bhakti-vilāsa states that singing and meditating on Śrī Nāma (Kṛṣṇa’s holy names) is the best devotional activity.

“The most advanced devotees who have fully dedicated themselves to Śrī Kṛṣṇa take exclusive refuge in kṛṣṇa-nāma amongst all other practices of devotion. There is no other performance so pure and spiritual as singing the name of Kṛṣṇa.” (Nama-bhajana)

According to Sri Jiva Gosvami, chanting the holy name is not only the greatest form of sadhana, but it must accompany every other form of devotional service: “Chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa is the chief means of attaining love of God. This chanting does not depend on any paraphernalia, nor birth in a good family. All the Vedas proclaim that by humility and meekness one attracts the attention of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa is the greatest sadhana (mahā-sādhanānam), and the fulfillment of all sacrifice, penance and austerities. Simply by chanting one achieves ecstatic love of God and complete perfection in life. Therefore, whatever one does in executing devotional service must be accompanied with the chanting of the holy name.” (Bhakti-sandarbha 270)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

In the material world, both neophyte sadhakas and realized suddha-bhaktas chant the holy name. Dutiful beginners chant Hare Kṛṣṇa as a sadhana for purification, whereas adepts relish the sweetest nectar in the holy name. Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra is the eternal activity of every soul. Therefore, it is good to cultivate attachment and affection for one’s eternal companion–Kṛṣṇa’s holy names.

Harinama sankirtana goes on in the spiritual world as well among Kṛṣṇa’s eternal associates. The scriptures narrate many pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees chanting the holy names.

“Kṛṣṇa said to Uddhava, ‘Mother Yasoda is always singing My names in a deep mood of separation. As she takes long slow breaths, the sound “Ha Kṛṣṇa! Ha Kṛṣṇa!” comes from her throat. Profuse perspiration soaks her weary body, and tears gush from her eyes, soaking her clothes, as she stares intently at the road to Mathura waiting for My return.’ ” (Uddhava-sandesh)

“A sakhi tells Kṛṣṇa, ‘O Kṛṣṇa! When You are out tending the cows in the pasture, Radharani spends Her day, longing to see You again. Fixing Her eyes on the path where You will return with the cows, She engages Her tongue in repeating the two syllables kṛṣ and ṇa. Radhika’s ears yearn to hear the sound of Your flute, and Her heart is fixed in the happiness of thinking of You.’ ” (Ujjvala-nilamani ch.15)

“Kṛṣṇa said, ‘Hey Kundavalli! When I accidentally said the word “Radha”, Candravali became tortured with pain, as if violently wounded at heart. However, in order to pacify My embarrassment and bewilderment, she doubled the smile on her lotus face and spoke words filled with sweetness.’ ” (Ujjvala-nilamani ch.14)

“Vrnda-devi said to Paurnamasi, ‘Radharani gave a farewell embrace to the budding jasmine creeper She had planted on the Yamuna’s shore. She placed the farewell gift of Her very beautiful diamond necklace in Lalita’s hand. Radhika then entered a kadamba grove filled with buzzing sounds of bees and fainted. But She was reawakened by Her priya-sakhis chanting the name of Hari.’ ” (Ujjvala-nilamani ch.15)

“The wonderful sacred mantra Kṛṣṇa chants is the name of His dearmost Radharani. Srimati Radharani’s maha-mantra is the name of Lord Kṛṣṇa.” (Radha-Kṛṣṇa Ganoddesa-dipika)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

kṛṣṇa-mantra haite habe saṁsāra-mocana,
kṛṣṇa-nāma haite pābe kṛṣṇera caraṇa

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “The kṛṣṇa mantra (gopala mantra) gives one freedom from material existence. And kṛṣṇa nama (the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra) delivers one to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.” (Caitanya Caritamrita Ādi 7.73)

In this verse, Lord Caitanya describes the effects of chanting the eighteen-syllable gopala mantra and the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra. Of the two mantras, Sri Jiva Gosvami emphasizes chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra in Bhakti Sandarbha 284: “Mantras are actually composed of the names of the Supreme Lord. Mantras are distinct from the name because they include the word “namah” [or svaha], and have special powers that are given by the rsis or the Lord Himself. The holy names of the Lord, however, in themselves, being independent, can bestow the higest goal of life, Kṛṣṇa-prema. Thus the names of Kṛṣṇa are more suitable than mantras.”

In Kṛṣṇa Samhita, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes the various mantras given to liberate one in the different yugas. In Satya, Treta and Dvapara yugas these mantras, called tāraka-brahma-nāma, addressed the Supreme Lord with feelings of awe and reverence invoking His divine power, majesty and protection (aisvarya-bhava). The tāraka-brahma-nāma for Kali-yuga is the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra, a selfless call for loving service.

In the Gaudiya conception, samsara-mocana, or liberation means to realize one’s svarupa. At this stage, the Brahma Gayatri and the gopala mantra retire, but chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa continues to deliver one to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-carana), in the spiritual world. This is the final stage of spiritual evolution wherein one attains his vastu siddhi, (pure spiritual form), and engages in Kṛṣṇa’s eternal service.

Whether one is in Kṛṣṇaloka or the material world, chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy name is the eternal function of the soul. In the material world, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa is the primary activity for purification and spiritual elevation. Everything else is auxiliary or supportive of the main service of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. Upon entering the spiritual world, however, chanting the holy name will be in the background, helping and energizing. Serving Radha-Govinda will be in the foreground, distinct and most important. For example, when the gopīs churn fresh yogurt for Kṛṣṇa’s butter, they simultaneously sing His glories while keeping time with their bangles and waistbells.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

“Kṛṣṇa-nāma has been accepted by all to be an incarnation of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa on this earth. Although He appears like a word, Kṛṣṇa, still by His inconceivable power He is completely spiritual. The name is a special incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Kṛṣṇa and His name are identical, Kṛṣṇa has descended to earth as nāma. Kṛṣṇa-nāma is our first introduction to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, we first meet Kṛṣṇa in His name. With determination to reach Kṛṣṇa, we must first accept the name of Kṛṣṇa.” (Nama Bhajana)

“Nāma is also another incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Nāma-rūpe kali-kāle kṛṣṇa-avatāra. Because name and Kṛṣṇa are not different. Abhinnatvād nāma-nāminoḥ. There is no difference. In the material world there is difference between the name and the substance. But in advaya-jñāna, the Absolute world, there is no such distinction. The name and the person are the same, identical.” (SPT 30/10/72)

How does Hare Kṛṣṇa japa purify the chanter? “Chanting gradually diminishes the propensity to sin, and simultaneously purifies the consciousness. At this juncture, a taste for chanting begins to manifest. The inclination to commit sinful acts vanishes, though a faint residue of previous sinful acts still lingers in the consciousness. The receding sinful reactions leave an odor of sinful habits. But the chanter’s contact with the name produces a purity of mind and strength of willpower that overcomes the clinging smell of sin.” (Hari-nama-cintamani)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Kṛṣṇa’s holy name–full of mercy, full of compassion, full of affection, full of rasa and full of prema–is the rarest treasure in the world. Without hearing from sastra and saints, however, one can never understand the power, value and benefit of Sri Kṛṣṇa’s divine name, form, attributes, pastimes and holy abode (nama, rupa, guna, lila, dhama). Throughout the Vedas the transcendental glories of the holy name are recounted.

The following verse from the Padma Purana compares the holy name to a cintamani gem, a divine stone that can bestow one’s desired results. Such cintamani gems make up the transcendental land of Kṛṣṇaloka in the spiritual world. This verse clearly describes the transcendental identity of the holy name:

nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇaś, caitanya-rasa-vigrahaḥ
pūrṇaḥ śuddho nitya-mukto, ‘bhinnatvān nāma-nāminoḥ

The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is a transcendental wish-fulfilling gem (cintamani); it is the embodiment of all consciousness and sentiments; it is complete; it is pure; it is ever free because the name of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa Himself are one and the same.

Srila Prabhupada gives a wonderful expanded translation of this verse:

“The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Kṛṣṇa Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Kṛṣṇa’s name is complete, and it is the form of all the transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Kṛṣṇa Himself. Since Kṛṣṇa’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with māyā. Kṛṣṇa’s name is always liberated and spiritual. It is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa Himself are identical.” (Caitanya Caritamrita Madhya 17.133 p.)

The following story from Vaisnava tradition illustrates the incomparable value of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name.

Once a disciple asked his guru for the topmost secret of bhajana. The guru replied, “The most confidential secret of bhajana is to always chant the maha-mantra–Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!”

After leaving his guru’s asrama, the disciple met some poor washermen who were chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa while scrubbing clothes beside the Yamuna. He then heard some little girls chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa while collecting cow dung. When the disciple hired a ricksaw, the skinny old driver chanted Hare Kṛṣṇa all the way back to the asrama.

Meeting his guru, the disciple expressed a doubt about the maha-mantra, “Gurudeva! What kind of secret have you given to me that is known to every dhobi, ricksaw-walla and little girl in India? Is this really the most confidential secret of bhajana?”

Instead of a long explanation, the guru handed the disciple a precious jewel and said, “Show this jewel to the dhobi, ricksaw-walla and little girls, and see if they appreciate its value.” The disciple then showed the priceless jewel to the illiterate washermen, but they could not detect the value of the jewel. They said they would gladly accept it, and use it for beating their dirty cloth. The disciple refused to give them the gem, saying, “You have to pay the proper price for it. A stone or piece of wood is sufficient for beating dirty cloth.”

Upon seeing the jewel, the ricksaw-walla said, “Since it is a little rough, I think it is just suitable for scraping off the dry skin from my feet.” “Are you crazy!” said the disciple as he walked on to show the village girls. Failing to recognize the true worth of the jewel, the girls said, “We could use the jewel to pack our cow dung.”

The disciple again met with his guru and said, “Gurudeva! Nobody wanted to pay the proper price for the jewel. Nor could anyone appreciate the great value of the gem.”

“Yes, in the same way,” said the guru, “most people cannot appreciate the value of the holy name. For this reason, they are indifferent to the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa. The Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra is an open secret that is revealed only to the qualified.”

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
The Holy Name is Transcendental
What does it mean that the holy name of Kṛṣṇa is transcendental, and should never be considered a material sound vibration? The holy name has absolutely nothing to do with the mundane world of matter. The holy name is not a combination of material letters and syllables. The form of the holy name is sat-cit-ananda, eternal blissful consciousness. Although in this world, the holy name is not of this world. The divine name of the Lord is not a product of the material world. Only a liberated soul can purely pronounce the transcendental holy name. A conditioned soul covered by the modes of nature cannot utter the pure name (cintamani-nama).
“Nama is aprakrta-caitanya-rasa (a transcendental living mellow). Within nama there is not any scent of mundane consciousness. When the devoted jiva becomes purified through bhakti and renders service to sri-harinama, sri-nama personally manifests on his tongue. Nama cannot be accepted with material senses.” (Jaiva Dharma ch.20)
When the conditioned soul pleases Sri Guru and Sri Kṛṣṇa, the svarupa-sakti (internal spiritual potency) of the Lord descends upon him, and enables him to purely chant the divine name. Kṛṣṇa’s svarupa-sakti is a combination of hladini-sakti (bliss potency personified as Sri Radha) and samvit-sakti (knowledge potency personified as Lord Baladeva). Kṛṣṇa’s svarupa-sakti manifests the pure name in a surrendered heart saturated with devotion. Enriched with ecstatic rasas, the pure name then embraces the tongue in the dance of prema.
When explaining the transcendental nature of the holy name, Srila Prabhupada often compared the chanting of the word “water” to the name of Kṛṣṇa. The following quotes by His Divine Grace beautifully illuminate the essence of divine wisdom:
“In the relative world, the word “water” and the substance water are different. When I am thirsty, if I simply chant “Water, water, water,” my thirst will not be satisfied. I require the real water. That is the nature of the relative world and relative consciousness. But in the spiritual world or spiritual consciousness, the name is the same as the thing that is named. For instance, we are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. If Kṛṣṇa were different from the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, then how could we be satisfied chanting the whole day and night? This is the proof. An ordinary name­­­­–if you chant “Mr. John, Mr. John,” after chanting three times you will cease. But this Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra–if you go on chanting twenty-four hours a day, you will never become tired. This is the spiritual nature of the Absolute Truth. This is practical. Anyone can perceive it.” (Civilization and Transcendence ch. 7)
“Kṛṣṇa’s words and He are not different. That is omnipotency. Omnipotency means everything relating to Kṛṣṇa has the same potency. Just like here in this material world, if you are thirsty and want water, simply calling repeatedly, “water, water, water, water, water,” will not satisfy your thirst. Because the word “water” has not the same potency as water itself. You require the water as it is. Then your thirst will be satisfied. But in the transcendental, absolute world, there is no such difference. Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s name, Kṛṣṇa’s words and Kṛṣṇa’s qualities, Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes–everything is Kṛṣṇa.” (SPT 25/3/67)
“So immediately you can be in touch with Kṛṣṇa by vibrating this sound, Hare Kṛṣṇa. It is so potent. Nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇaś caitanya-rasa-vigrahaḥ. The name of Kṛṣṇa is cintāmaṇi, transcendental. It is not this material sound, material name. Nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇaś caitanya. Living force, caitanya. It is not dead sound. If you want water, if you chant only “Water, water, water, water,” you will not get water, because it is material sound. The water substance is different from the word “water”. Therefore, simply by chanting, “water, water” you cannot quench your thirst. You must have the substance water. That is material sound. Anything you take, simply by chanting the name, you will not get the thing. That is material.
“But in the spiritual world, the name and the person or the substance is the same. Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s name is the same. There is no difference. Therefore, those who are chanting “Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa,” they are becoming more and more enthusiastic to chant.” (SPT 22/1/75).
An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

The “Japa Mini Lila Meditation” series presents short audio files describing transcendental sevas and lilas to be meditated upon while chanting one to two rounds of Hare Krishna japa.
These Radha-Krishna nitya-lila meditations are very helpful for sadhakas aspiring to become eternal maidservants (manjaris) of Srimati Radharani. For other devotees, the meditations will give a taste of an amazing inner joy and satisfaction that arises from combining nama-japa with Radha-Krishna lila.

The Basic Meditation Technique
While attentively chanting japa and listening to the audio, try to mentally visualize the time, place, personalities and pastime being described. Completely forget this world and think that you are in the spiritual realm of Vrindavana, standing right beside Srimati Radhika and expertly serving Her in so many special and intimate ways.
Try to see, hear and take part (mentally of course) in all the loving exchanges of Radha-Madhava, Their sakhis and the manjaris in the lilas you are hearing. Try to feel what they are feeling, saying and doing by mixing your heart, even in small way, with the heart of Sri Radha and Her dasis, the manjaris. Intensely pray for the mercy of your beloved Gurudeva, and also Sri Rupa Manjari, Sri Tulasi-manjari (Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami) and Sri Radhika to help you identify, albeit in a tiny way, with Their feelings and moods during each wonderful lila.
In your known or desired mentally conceived and cherished spiritual body (siddha svarupa) try to visualize that you are seeing, hearing, speaking, serving and personally moving with Radha-Krishna in Their beautiful sweet pastimes as they flow on into eternity.
For the meditation to be fruitful, blissful and transforming, however, you must use your powers of concentration and visualization. Concentration means to withdraw your mind from all internal thoughts and external sense stimuli. Visualization means to mentally “see” the whole panorama of the setting, the personalities, the clothes, the colors and the various articles and places being described in the narration.
Focus all your conscious attention on the lila narration and the internal vibration of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. You can become peaceful and increase your concentration on hearing the Divine Name and visualizing the lilas if you close your eyes, relax your face, and breathe slowly and deeply while fixing your attention on the point between the eyebrows. Try to really feel and mentally identify yourself as a humble serving maid of Srimati Radharani who really wants to be there with Sri Radha, serving Her and Her beloved Sri Krishna from moment to moment in the eternal realm of loving bliss—Vrindavana.
Japa lila meditation is a sadhana, and like all sadhanas one must practice it every day without fail. In the beginning, it will be difficult to hear and chant while simultaneously concentrating and visualizing the pastimes. However, by daily practice (abhyasa), your ability to concentrate and visualize will improve more and more.
Within a short time of six months or so of diligent practice, you will definitely have some amazing meditations, and also experience an extraordinary taste of transcendental sweetness by this Japa Mini Meditation practice.
It is also very important to remember that during any sadhana practice, you must always remain humble and patient, feeling confident that our affectionate Loving Lord Sri Krishna will surely reciprocate with our efforts and bring us success.
So now let’s begin the Japa Mini Lila Meditations. Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

 

If a devotee can think, feel, act and become one with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s success formula, he/she will NEVER COMMIT NAMA APARADHA, and very soon attain Krishna prema.

Raising His beautiful golden arms into the sky, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu loudly declared, “Everyone please hear me! String the following verse on the thread of the Divine Name and wear it on your neck for continuous remembrance, ūrdhva-bāhu kari’ kahoṅ, śuna sarva-loka, nāma-sūtre gāṅthi’ para, kaṇṭhe ei śloka

“And if you take Krishna Nama in this way, I guarantee that pure love for Sri Krishna’s lotus feet will manifest in your heart, ei-mata hañā yei, kṛṣṇa-nāma laya, śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇe tāṅra, prema upajaya.” (Cc. 1.17.32; Cc. 3.20.26)

BHAKTI 100 % SUCCESS FORMULA:

Mahaprabhu continued, “One can constantly chant Krishna’s Divine Name, if in all respects one thinks, ‘I am more lowly and helpless than a blade of grass’, while always remaining as tolerant as a tree, free from pride and respectful to one and all.” (Cc. 1.17.31; 3.20.21)

tṛṇād api su-nīcena, taror iva sahiṣṇunā, amāninā māna-dena, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

 

TEN OFFENSES AGAINST KRISHNA’S DIVINE NAMES

In Padma Purana (Brahma-khanda cp.25), Sanat-kumara described the ten offenses (nama-aparadhas) to Narada Muni:

  1. The greatest offense [parama aparadha] is to criticize the devotee/saints who broadcast Krishna’s Divine Name. How can the Divine Name ever tolerate such a thing?

satāṁ nindā nāmnaḥ paramam aparādhaṁ vitanute

yataḥ khyātiṁ yātaṁ katham u sahate tad vigarhām

 

  1. It is an offense to think there is any difference between the names, qualities, etc. of Sri Vishnu and Shivaji. Such a person gets no benefit from chanting.

śivasya śrī viṣṇor ya iha guṇa nāmādi sakalaṁ

dhiyā bhinnaṁ paśyet sa khalu hari nāmāhita karaḥ

Comments: Sri Vishnu and Shivaji in his transcendental Sada Shiva form are both vishnu-tattva. Brhad-bhagavatamrta (1.2.31) says, “Sadashiva is directly Narayana as the vilasa or svamsha of svayam-rupa Sri Krishna. Sadashiva dwells in Shiva-loka (Vaikuntha).” However, Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the para-devata, and supreme aradhya-deva for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

  1. To disrespect the Guru, guror avajñā.

Comments: This includes all gurus and the guru principle itself. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti says (tika: SB 6.2.9-10), “This is the worst Nama aparadha!”

  1. To criticise the revealed Vedic scriptures, śruti śāstra nindana.
  2. To consider the glories of the Divine Name to be exaggerated, tatha ārtha vādo.
  3. To concoct or give imaginary meanings to the Divine Name, hari nāmni kalpanam.
  4. To deliberately commit sin on the strength of the Divine Name. Such a sinful offender cannot be purified by following any rules, nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa buddhir, na vidyate tasya yamair hi śuddhiḥ
  5. It is complete madness [pramada] to consider the performance of ordinary religious duties, vows, renunciation, sacrifices, and all other auspicious pious works to be equal to chanting Hari-nama, dharma vrata tyāga hūtādi sarva, śubha kriyā sāmyam api pramādaḥ.
  6. It is an offense to instruct a faithless person; one averse to God; or one who is unwilling to listen [to the glories of Bhagavan or His Name].

aśraddadhāne vimukhe’py aśṛṇvati, yaś copadeśaḥ śiva nāmāparādhaḥ

  1. One is offensive and considered low and fallen if even after hearing the glories of Nama, one still has no love for the Divine Name, and remains in the illusion of “me and mine”.

śrutvāpi nāma māhātmye yaḥ prīti rahito’dhamaḥ, ahaṁ mamādi paramo nāmni so’py aparādha kṛt

 

Comments: In his tika to Hari Bhakti Vilasa, Sri Sanatana Goswami adds that, (aham mam adi) also means being proud of one’s chanting. As in one saying, “O, did you know that I am chanting one lac a day!”

Prema-bhakti candrika (115) says, one should attain perfection in secret; always be humble and keep secret one’s realizations [or attainments] gupate sadhibe siddhi sadhana dainye sada.

(adapted, Sri Advaita Dasji) Namacharya Thakura Haridasji ki jai!

Hare Krishna maha-mantra ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

 

Devotees often say, “There are no hard and fast rules in chanting Hare Krishna.” Thus anything goes in the name of nama-japa: chanting on tulsi beads a fixed number of rounds of the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare—Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

 

Since there are no restrictions, many devotees think it’s okay to chant japa while surfing the I-net, driving a car, listening to a lecture, lying in bed, shopping, watching a video etc. etc.

 

To prove their no rules argument, such devotees cite Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Siksastakam verse 2:

 

Niyamitah smarane na kalah, “there are no restrictions regarding REMEMBERING the holy name of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.” Lord Gauranga only says here that there are no rules about remembering (smarane). Gauranga does not say there are no rules in nama-japa.

 

Mahaprabhu comments on this verse saying: khaaite shuite yathaa tathaa nama laya, kaala-desha-niyama naahi, sarva siddhi haya, “There is no regulation (niyama) regarding taking the name (nama laya), even while eating or lying down; it will grant all perfection (sarva siddhi).” (Cc. 3.20.18)

 

Misusing Mahaprabhu’s comment, many devotees conclude, “Just see Lord Caitanya said it’s okay to chant nama-japa while lying in bed, eating prasada, or doing anything…”

 

Sorry, this argument is completely wrong. Mahaprabhu is simply reiterating the all perfect power and efficacy of the Divine Name. Sri Chaitanyadeva is not encouraging one to chant japa while lying in bed or eating maha-prasada.

 

In His comment above and in the entire Siksastakam, Lord Gauranga is glorifying the unlimited power, mercy and benefit of Sri Hari Nama-SANKIRTANA (param vijayate sri krishna sankirtanam!).

 

In these two verses, Sri Caitanya Deva is not describing nama-japa, He is talking about the congregational chanting Sri Krishna’s sweet Holy Names.

 

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is saying you can remember or take Sri Krishna’s name anywhere, anytime in any circumstance. Of course, we should always remember Sri Krishna, and never forget Sri Krishna for even half a moment (lava nimesha).

 

And to do this we must always remember Sri Nama Prabhu, sing His holy names with every breath, and chant “Hari! Hari!” between every bite of food. Yes, basically there are no rules regarding kirtana or sankirtana.

 

BUT THERE ARE RULES IN CHANTING NAMA-JAPA

If we ignore these rules and chant japa incorrectly, then offenses will arise, and we will never attain our cherished goal of pure love for Radha-Govinda.

 

The mantra shastras, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, and the Gaudiya Vaisnava lawbook, Hari-bhakti vilasa no. 17 state many rules regarding chanting Hari-nama japa, the Gopala-mantra and other diksha mantras.

One should try his best to follow the rules below to quickly achieve success in chanting Hare Krishna nama-japa:

 

SIX GENERAL RULES FOR NAMA-JAPA:

  1. Avoid the ten offenses to Sri Nama Prabhu.
  2. Daily chant the same fixed number of malas. (ganitrikaam grhita ca mantram HBV 17.71, 191) “After vowing to chant a certain number of rounds daily (16, 32, 64) one must chant every day without fail, and not chant less than that.” (HBV 17.191)
  3. Chant on 108 tulasi beads mala.
  4. Beads should be ROUND in shape. The mala should be arranged in order from the biggest bead to the smallest. (HBV 17.89)
  5. One should not chant with unclean hands, or in an impure state e.g. without bathing, dirty cloth or in bed. (17.132, 137)
  6. One must not chant japa while talking, lying down, walking or yawning.

 

RULES FOR MAXIMUM JAPA BENEFIT: (HBV 17.121)

 

  1. Concentrate on Nama by withdrawing your mind from ALL other attractions (distractions).
  2. Cleanliness of mind, body, cloth, asana and chanting place.
  3. Chant Nama while continually meditating on the meaning of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
  4. Observe strict silence while chanting japa.

 

Hari-bhakti Vilasa (17.132-3) confirms this point: “If one speaks while chanting nama-japa, his japa will be fruitless. If while chanting nama-japa one engages in speaking, walking, lying down on bed, thinking of something else, sneezing, hiccupping, yawning, or having an agitated mind, one cannot attain perfection in his nama-japa.”

 

In other words, it is best not to speak ONE WORD until you finish your daily quota. If you do this, your mind will become very strong, pure, peaceful and determined. Then you can call yourself a Krishna bhakti-YOGI, a serious practitioner of devotional sadhana.

 

Obviously, any form of “interaction” with one’s mobile phone is breaking this law of silence. Be careful, perfection is not a joke. Will you take your mobile to Goloka Vrndavana?

 

  1. Maintain a peaceful mind, heart and attitude during nama-japa.
  2. Chant japa with intense eagerness, interest and enthusiasm. There are three ways of chanting Sri Krishna’s Holy Names: loudly, softly or silently. Loud chanting means speaking the maha-mantra loud enough that someone can hear it.

 

This is kirtana or sankirtana; IT IS NOT NAMA-JAPA. It is said that Namacarya Thakura Haridasa daily chanted 192 rounds; 64 chanted loudly as kirtana, 64 inaudible whispering japa (upamshu), and 64 silent in the mind (manasic).

 

In ISKCON’s beginning days, Srila Prabhupada set the example of early morning chanting by sitting in the temple with his disciples and chanting ONE round loudly. This anecdote however, does not mean that nama-japa should be chanted loudly. Although there are three forms of chanting Hare Krishna, there are only two forms of chanting nama-japa on beads: inaudible whisper (upamshu) and silent mental chanting (manasic).

 

Sri Hari-sauri Dasa personally told me that Srila Prabhupada chanted very softly to silently in upamshu. In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami describes sankirtana and japa as two distinct practices.

 

Of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti-sadhana, number 32 is sankirtana (uccair bhasha), “loud euphoric congregational chanting of Hare Krishna” and number 33 is japa, “silent meditative chanting on beads.” The specific japa verse says: mantrasya su laghu uccharo japa ity abhidhiyate, “very, very silent muttering or utterance of the maha-mantra is called japa.”

 

In correct upamshu japa, one mentally focuses on the meaning of the maha-mantra while fine tuning his hearing to the silent movement of the maha-mantra inside the mouth. The tongue and lips are barely moving as the mantra almost silently resonates within the mouth.

 

The more one meditates on the meaning and concentrates on the “silent sound within his mouth and heart,” the more and more silent the chanting becomes.

 

Eventually, the mantra meaning and sound merge in the totally absorbed, silent chanting of Hare Krishna within the mind. Soon Sri Krishna’s sweet all-attractive form arises from the concentrated mind, heart and internal hearing. This is manasic japa. The basic point is that japa chanting is a solitary and silent contemplative practice.

 

We say “I am chanting japa”, but here the word chanting really means “silently speaking” or mentally uttering inside the mouth; unheard outside of one’s lips.

 

Nama-japa is a deep, powerful form of meditation requiring seriousness of purpose, sense and mind control, and the utmost absolute concentration. Nama-japa brings one face to face with Radha-Krishna within the silent recesses of one’s pacified and pure heart.

 

Please take your nama-japa very seriously. Attentive, concentrated nama-japa is the best, quickest, easiest and most blissful way to fall in love with Krishna, and enter the eternal realm of joy-filled Vrndavana to lovingly serve Radhe-Syama forever. Om tat sat! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Nama Sankirtana ki jai! Mantra Japa & Dhyana ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

What is the meaning of nama-abhasa chanting of Krishna’s Holy Name? Is nama-abhasa a stage of japa in sadhana bhakti? Are devotees chanting nama-abhasa?

This subject is not very clearly understood by many devotees. First of all, the term nama-abhasa describes the type of Krishna nama chanting DONE BY NONDEVOTEES and it applies only to them.

The term nama-abhasa means unintentional, by chance, accidental chanting done once or more in a person’s entire life, as seen in Ajamila. Does any devotee pick up his japa mala in the morning and chant 16 rounds accidentally, by chance?

For every devotee chanting Krishna’s name is an intentional, regulated daily sadhana practice performed as a means to attain spiritual perfection. In no way is it unintentional, accidental or by chance! In other words, no one sits down and deliberately chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra by accident.

In fact, there is no shastra that says nama-abhasa is a stage of sadhana in chanting Hare Krishna. According to the absolute authority of shastra, nama-abhasa always refers to unintentional, accidental chanting as done by nondevotees.

To further understand the subject of nama-abhasa I researched the shastra. Other than the Bhagavatam and Chaitanya-caritamrta, the subject of nama abhasa is not mentioned in any Gaudiya Vaisnavas shastra. And for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas, these two sacred books are the topmost praman (proof) and final authority.

In the Ajamila story, nama-abhasa is described in SB 6.2.14:

säìketyaà pärihäsyaà vä stobhaà helanam eva vä

vaikuëöha-näma-grahaëam açeñägha-haraà viduù

“Chanting the name of the Lord while indicating someone else; or while joking in a friendly manner; or chanting the Lord’s name in order to fill up space while chanting verses; or chanting with neglect destroys unlimited sins and desires.” [these are the four types of nama-abhasa] Obviously, nama-abhasa and its stages does NOT apply to a devotee chanter.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti’s tika:

  1. Saìketyam means chanting while referring to someone/thing else but Krishna.
  2. Pärihäsyam means calling jokingly, but with affection, not with criticism. “O famous one! Your fame is like that of Krishna, so you can save me!”
  3. Stobham means to chant the name in order to provide proper meter during a discourse or song. Chanting name of Hari or Krishna to conclude a song.” See Note below:
  4. Helanam means chanting Krishna’s name with disregard and inattention. Also includes casual chanting of Krishna’s name while eating, playing or sleeping. Helanam chanting is also done without any criticism or disrespect.

NOTE: In their tikas to Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.14 (The Ajamila Story), Sridhara Swami, Sri Sanatana Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti all say the word STOBHA (a type of accidental, non-devotee chanting) means gitalapa puranartham krtam, as in completing a song.

For example, someone may conclude a mundane love song by saying, “I love you soooo much, Hari Hari, Hari”. These acharyas further say that derisive, contemptuous and hostile chanting, as in the case of Jarasandha’s 99 rebukes of Sri Krishna, CANNOT be called nama-abhasa.

Comment: The whole Ajamila story shows the phenomenal power of Sri Krishna’s transcendental name. Ajamila was a terrible sinner, a NONDEVOTEE, and somehow he ACCIDENTALLY CHANTED “Narayana” and became delivered. This is a clear example of nama-abhasa and the supreme power and mercy of Harinama.

The subject of nama-abhasa also appears in the Chaitanya-caritamrta (3.3.55-187), wherein Namacharya Sri Haridasa Thakura describes nama-abhasa as unintentional, accidental chanting. He cites the nondevotee Ajamila and a poor fellow being attacked by a wild boar as examples of nama-abhasa chanters.

Neither one of them was chanting Hare Krishna as a daily sadhana. Their chanting was purely unintentional, accidental. This is nama-abhasa! His discussion proves the great power of hari nama that even a nondevotee who contacts a mere glimpse of nama gets liberation, what to speak about devotee chanters.

In his entire delivery on nama-tattva, other than describing the nama-abhasa chanting of nondevotees, Sri Haridasa Thakura speaks only one verse (Cc. 3.3.185) about the chanting of devotees done as a daily sadhana:

aiche nämodayärambhe päpa-ädira kñaya

udaya kaile kåñëa-pade haya premodaya

“The first result of offenseless (shuddha-nama) chanting is that one’s sins are eradicated. As one continues chanting shuddha nama, one eventually attains Krishna prema.”

Comment: Here Sri Haridasa Thakura introduces shuddha nama, the stage after the offensive stage. This verse describes shuddha nama, which means chanting Krishna’s name without offenses. For devotees there are only TWO STAGES IN CHANTING: with offenses or without offenses, aka aparadha-nama and shuddha-nama.

In his comment on Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.14, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti says for a devotee there are only two stages in chanting Krishna nama: offensive and offenseless i.e. aparadha-nama and shuddha nama.

When a devotee BEGINS to chant shuddha nama, it brings the result of destroying all sins. As one continues to chant SHUDDHA NAMA, one will progress through the stages of nistha, ruci, bhava and on to Krishna prema which will appear in his heart as the culmination of shuddha nama chanting.

May all devotees avoid the ten offenses to Sri Harinama, chant shuddha-nama, and quickly progress to the nectar sweet ocean of Krishna prema!

Namacharya Sri Haridasa Thakura ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!