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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

It is wrong to think that the unparalleled results of chanting harinama are exaggerations given to induce people to take up chanting. The holy name is completely independent and self-manifest. He does not depend on anything to manifest His splendor, so there is no question of any exaggeration in regards to His glories. The tiny human brain cannot even ascertain the actions of material mantras, herbs and healing stones, so how can it possibly perceive the inconceivable power of transcendental sound vibration.

Therefore, one should not doubt or disbelieve the glories of harinama. Sooner or later the faithful devotee will personally experience the marvelous results of chanting Kṛṣṇa’s name. The results are like seeds that fructify in due course of time. Success in chanting depends on two factors: 1) The mercy of Kṛṣṇa. 2) A sincere endeavor to avoid aparadha.

Fifth Offense: Rectification

One who is guilty of minimizing the glories of the holy name should humbly approach learned Vaisnavas, and attentively hear about Sri Kṛṣṇa’s qualities and pastimes. Full of regret, one should admit his offense, and remove his doubts by receiving proper knowledge regarding nama-tattva. The gentle devotees will then forgive the offender with compassionate embraces, and bless him with spiritual strength.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Offending Vaiṣṇavas is the first and foremost offense. Although Jagāi and Mādhāi committed every possible sin, they never committed the sin of blaspheming a Vaiṣṇava. Harināma cintāmaṇi says one can nullify this offense by repenting bitterly, and falling at the feet of the offended devotee. One should sincerely beg forgiveness with tears in the eyes and regret in the heart. One should then declare himself a fallen wretch in need of the Vaiṣṇava’s mercy. The kindly Vaisnava will surely absolve the offense.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

1.satāṁ ninda-namnaḥ param aparādham vitanute, yataḥ khyātiṁ yātaṁ katham u sahate tu tad vigarhām–To show envy or criticize a devotee or saintly person.

2.śivasya śrī visnor ya iha guṇa nāmādi sakalam, dhiyā bhinnaṁ paśyet sa khalu hari-nāmāhita-karaḥ–To think that the names or qualities of the demigods are equal to Kṛṣṇa.

3.guror avajñā–To disrespect or disobey the guru.

4.śruti śāstra-nindanaṁ–To disrespect the scriptures.

5.tathārthavādo–To think that the glorification of the Name is empty praise.

6.hari nāmni kalpanam–To imagine meanings of the Name.

7.nāmno balād yasya hi pāpabuddhir, na vidyate tasya yamair hi śuddhiḥ –To commit sin on the strength of the Name.

8.dharma-vrata-tyaga-hutādi-sarva, subha-kriyā sāmyam api pramādaḥ–To consider the Name on the same level as pious actions.

9.aśraddadhāne vimukhe’py aśṛṇvati, yas copadeṣaḥ śiva-nāmāparādhaḥ–To give the Name to unqualified people.

10.śrute’pi nāma-māhātmye yah prīti rahito naraḥ, ahaṁ mamādi paramo nāmni so’py aparādha-kṛt–Not to have faith or taste in the Name even after hearing its glories, and to accept the Name without giving up material attachment.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

“The accumulation of sins from nāma-aparādha is even more dreadful than the result of committing the five mahā-pāpa millions of times. Thus one can easily estimate the dire results of nāma-aparādha. Nevertheless, there are some good results.

“The holy name will give whatever result the nāma-āparādhī desires while he is chanting the names, but it will not award kṛṣṇa-prema. At the same time, the offender has to suffer the result of his offenses against the holy name. One who commits offenses to the holy name, and one who takes the name with a wicked mentality will get the following results: In the beginning, the nāmāparādhī chants the name with a wicked mentality, but after sometime he occasionally chants the name free from wickedness.

“This chanting without a crooked mentality causes him to accumulate sukṛti. Slowly, slowly, as that sukṛti increases, its influence enables him to get the association of saintly people who are chanting suddha-nama. The influence of saints induces the nāma-āparādhī to chant the holy names constantly, which eventually frees him from nāma-aparādhas.” (Jaiva Dharma ch. 25)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

By offending sri-nama one loses his taste and attraction for sadhana-bhakti. In other words, a devotee will no longer derive any happiness from hearing and chanting, sadhu-sanga and serving Sri Guru. The world of Kṛṣṇa and His devotees becomes dry, tasteless and hackneyed. Apathy toward Kṛṣṇa is a diseased condition of the soul. As a sick man taking medical treatment quickly regains his taste for palatable foods, similarly, an offender who continually chants the holy name will nullify his transgressions and regain a taste for the holy name.

nāmāparādha-yuktānāṁ, nāmāny eva haranty agham
aviśrānti prayuktāni, tāny evārtha-karāṇi ca

By continuous chanting, an offender to the holy name will gradually become free from sins and offenses. He will rise to the platform of offenseless chanting and eventually attain the ultimate goal of life, kṛṣṇa prema. (Padma P. Svarga-khanḍa 48,49)

Although a devotee tries to give up offenses, he is actually helpless and cannot do so alone. One can only get free from nama-aparadha through bhakti, the power of Kṛṣṇa’s name, and by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa’s associates.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting.

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Nama-aparadha is an utterance of the holy name that is made with enmity in the heart. It is the lowest form of chanting wherein one commits any of the ten offenses against the holy name. As long as one chants with offenses, it is absolutely impossible to attain love of God.

“Offenses against the holy name (nama-aparadha) are the most frightening of all kinds of sins and offenses. All other kinds of sins and offenses go away naturally and automatically as one utters harinama, but nama-aparadha does not go away so easily.” (Jaiva Dharma ch. 24)

The lives of Vijaya Kumara and Vrajanatha depicted in Jaiva Dharma show that continuous chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa japa frees one from material desires, and quickly elevates one to the perfectional stage of kṛṣṇa-prema, pure love of God. If these signs of spiritual advancement are not manifesting, one can conclude that he is a nama-aparadhi. Such an offender must understand that the holy name is the only shelter for one who offends the holy name. Filled with repentance and remorse, one must beg the holy name to forgive him and accept him in His service once again.

“In the book Nāma-kaumudī, it is recommended that if one is an offender at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, he should submit to that Vaiṣṇava and be excused. Similarly, if one is an offender in chanting the holy name, he should submit to the holy name and thus be freed from his offenses.” (SB 7.5.23-24 p.)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura eloquently explains the need to “welcome Kṛṣṇa properly” in the next quotation:

“Kṛṣṇa is sat-cit-ananda and that sat-cit-ananda will manifest in us as soon as we welcome the transcendental word. If we are sincere, He would come into our vision, and we would easily discover Him. We live in Kali-yuga, an atmosphere surcharged with erroneous impressions.

“So we cannot expect in the beginning to chant the Name properly without difficulty. We never welcome Kṛṣṇa properly by uttering His Name. In course of our chanting, hundreds of irrelevant things intervene due to our uncontrolled desires. We are full of many mundane impressions, so we must guard ourselves against committing the ten offenses while chanting the holy name of Hari.” (Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura)

Definition of Nama-aparadha

The word aparadha is composed of two parts: apa–which means against, without, to take away, or give up; and radha–which means success, prosperity, to please, flow of affection. Literally the term nama-aparadha means to displease the holy name. In other words, Sri Kṛṣṇa, who is non-different from His holy name, becomes displeased and unhappy with our offensive behavior toward His nama-rupa. Nama-aparadha is an offense committed against the holy name, which acts against one’s spiritual success by taking the flow of one’s affection away from the Supreme Lord.

Some acaryas say the word “aparadha” means against or without Radha. Nama-aparadha, therefore, is the lowest type of chanting where Kṛṣṇa (nama) is without (apa) Radha (radha). Offenses to Kṛṣṇa’s holy name are also offenses against Radha, who represents the topmost expression of loving affection for Kṛṣṇa. Bhakti or devotion cannot exist without the presence of Srimati Radhika.

If a minor obstacle stands in the way, the name chanted becomes a semblance of the name (namabhasa), which awards benefits after some time. If a major obstacle stands in the way, the name chanted becomes nama-aparadha, which can only be overcome by constant chanting. Committing any one of the ten offenses can constitute a major obstacle to chanting the holy name and should be carefully avoided.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

When the sastras describe the glories of the holy name there is no exaggeration because they are not referring to the material sound, but to the spiritual sound that appears through the material sound by a qualified person at the time of chanting. Sastras are not referring to the material sound composed of the various letters and syllables. Simply reciting the external syllables of the holy name: ha re kṛṣ ṇa ha re rā ma is not the actual holy name.

Reading, meditating on, and memorizing a few of the following verses will increase one’s appreciation and attachment for chanting Kṛṣṇa’s holy name.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

aparādha-śūnya ho’ye loho kṛṣṇa-nāma, kṛṣṇa mātā, kṛṣṇa pitā, kṛṣṇa dhana-prāna

Being careful to remain free of offenses, just take the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is your mother, Kṛṣṇa is your father, and Kṛṣṇa is the treasure of your life. (Gitavali, “Sri Nagar Kirtana”)

viceyāni vicāryāṇi, vicintyāni punaḥ punaḥ
kṛpaṇasya dhanānīva, tvan-nāmāni bhavantu naḥ

O Lord, just as a miser continually collects, counts and remembers his money, in the same way let us continually collect, count, and remember Your holy names. (Padyavali v. 30)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

One will strengthen his faith and determination to chant japa by repeatedly hearing the wonderful glories of the holy name, and by studying different slokas in praise of nama-bhajana. Such practices are endorsed by the previous acaryas such as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who said, “Chant the nama-mahima (glories of the holy name). Practice that daily. I also do that. Harinama is our life.”

Whether chanted correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully or carelessly, the all-powerful name of Kṛṣṇa will always give results. The unlimited glories of the holy name cannot be understood with logic, reason or intellect. Only by faith, devotion, and constant chanting can one realize the greatness of sri-nama. In this dark age of Kali, kṛṣṇa-nama is the easiest, quickest, safest and surest way to attain spiritual perfection in love of God. In the matter of self-realization, nama-japa is the “king of all sadhanas.”

Chanting Kṛṣṇa’s sweet names purifies the heart; sanctifies and steadies the mind; destroys the six enemies [lust, anger, greed, envy, illusion, madness]; stops birth and death; dissolves sins; scorches samskaras; annihilates attachment; induces detachment; uproots desires; empowers one; makes one fearless; removes illusion; bestows supreme peace; delivers prema; reveals the Lord and His dhama; shows one’s svarupa; showers bhakti-rasa; and engages one in his nitya-seva for the pleasure of Radha-Syama.

Nama Reveals the Spiritual Body

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura clearly explains that the experience of one’s internal spiritual form (siddha deha or svarupa), which is necessary for practicing raganuga-bhakti, is revealed by the grace of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name. Generally one realizes his spiritual form at the stage of bhava-bhakti. At this stage of perfection, which precedes prema-bhakti, Sri Kṛṣṇa’s suddha-sattva or svarupa sakti

(personal spiritual potency) is transmitted into the heart of the sadhaka from the heart of one of Kṛṣṇa’s eternal associates. This in turn reveals the specific attributes of one’s eternal spiritual form. By purely chanting the holy name, therefore, one can realize his spiritual body.

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting.

Mahanidhi Swami

While discussing japa, Sri Sanatana Goswami does not distinguish between harinama japa and diksha mantra japa. For both he gives the following important rules which all devotees should follow.

First of all, he defines japa as silent murmuring of the mantra, upamshu, and then lays down the rules for it. This is the way Srila Prabhupada chanted his daily nama and mantra japa. Sri Rupa Goswami says, “Very soft repetition of the mantra is called japa.” (Brs.1.2.149)

Sri Sanatana Goswami says, “If one speaks during japa, one’s japa will be fruitless. One will not attain perfection in his mantra chanting if he chants japa while speaking, walking, lying down on bed, thinking of something else, sneezing, hiccupping or yawning.” (HBV 17.132-3)

He furthers explains the dangers of public chanting saying, “Ghosts, Rakshasas, Vetalas and other subtle beings steal the benefits of japa done in public. Hence the wise must do japa in secret, bhuta, rakshasas, vetalas haranti prakatam tasmat guptam japet sudhih.” (HBV 17.131)

“After completing one’s daily japa sankhya, the japa mala should be worshiped and kept in a secret place [one’s temple room or home], japanya-kale malam tu pujayitva sugopayet.” (HBV 17.130)

Proper japa means solitary concentration on the mantra while sitting in a sanctified place with one’s mind and heart focused only on the mantra—its meaning and form. The Srimad Bhagavat Mahatmya (5.73) says, “Japa is lost through a restless mind.”

The key to success in bhakti is having the right attitude and feeling of devotion, sincere humility and hankering for mercy expressed through all of one’s sadhana practices. In bhakti, it is quality and not quantity that brings perfection and success in sadhana.

In this regard, Sri Vallabhacharya teaches, “Lots of sadhana does not please Sri Hari, na hi sadhana sampattya na hari toshanam. It is only the devotees’ humility that can satisfy Hari, bhaktanam dainyam evaikam harih tushyati.” Humility means submitting to and following the authority and orders of Sri Guru and Shastra.

Sri Rupa Goswami says that the holy name only manifests within someone who has a humble service attitude, sevonmukhe he jihvadau svayam eva sphurat yada. (Brs. 1.2.234)

Often it is seen that pride and ego manifest in one who chants a high number of japa without the right devotional attitude. In his tika on nama-aparadha # 10, Sri Sanatana Goswami explains how false pride—EGO manifests in different devotees. “To think ‘I’ and ‘mine’ to be the greatest in connection with the holy name is the 10th offence to the holy name. ‘I am chanting more than you’, aham bahutara-nama-kirtaka. My tongue is the greatest chanter of the holy name. Thus chanting is under the control of my tongue. I am chanting the holy name myself.” (HBV 11.524)

This kind of feeling and attitude—EGO—which often arises, is far far away from Mahaprabhu’s order to chant with the utmost humility.

Commenting on His own trnad api sunichena verse (Cc. 3.20.21) Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, ““These are the symptoms of one who [correctly] chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Although he is very exalted, he thinks himself lower than the grass on the ground, and like a tree, he tolerates everything in two ways. When a tree is cut down, it does not protest, and even when drying up, it does not ask anyone for water. The tree delivers its fruits, flowers and whatever else it possesses to anyone and everyone. It tolerates scorching heat and torrents of rain, yet it still gives shelter to others.

“Although a Vaiñëava is the most exalted person, he is prideless and shows respect to ALL LIVING ENTITIES knowing that Krishna is within them (jive sammana dibe jani krishna adhisthana). If one chants the holy name of Krishna in this way, pure love for Sri Krishna’s lotus feet will appear.” (Cc. 3.20.21-26).

In simple words, humility leads to prema and pride leads to failure. Chant Sri Krishna’s holy names with humility, full heart and attention, and soon the fruit of Krishna prema will be attained.

Sri Harinama Sankirtana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!