Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Twenty Two
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Twenty Four

Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana
Part Eleven: The Initial Discussion of Nāma-tattva

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Śrī Sarvabhāvana Prabhu)

The village of Bilva Puṣkariṇī, skirted by the holy waters of the River Gaṅgā on the north and west, is set in picturesque surroundings. An exquisite temple of Lord Śiva, named Bilva-pakṣa Mahādeva, is situated in the village on the banks of a sparklingly clear pond whose waters are cooled in summer by the generous shade of the bordering bilva trees. Not far from there is a place called Bhavatāraṇa. Nearby, at the periphery of Navadvīpa town, lies the little hamlet of Simuliyā, situated with Bilva Puṣkariṇī village on one side and the famous Brāhmaṇa Puṣkariṇī Lake on the other. There on the northern side of the main road between the Brāhmaṇa Puṣkariṇī Lake and Bilva Puṣkariṇī village the house of Vrajanātha is peacefully located.

After saying goodbye to his sister, Vijaya-kumāra left for home. Nevertheless, after a short distance, he turned around having made up his mind that he could not return home without having properly understood the spiritual science of chanting kṛṣṇanāma. Returning to the residence of his sister, he made her even happier by announcing that he was going to remain for a few days more.

That afternoon, Vijaya-kumāra and Vrajanātha were relaxing in the courtyard upon the caṇḍī-maṇḍapa. The sun had traversed the better part of the day and was preparing for a breathtakingly beautiful sunset, when two Vaiṣṇavas of the Rāmānuja-rāmānandī sampradāya, disciplic succession, with śrītilaka markings proudly upon their foreheads suddenly appeared near the entrance to Vrajanātha’s abode. After looking around, they chose the inviting shelter of the jackfruit tree in front of the house where they quietly collected strewn twigs, lit a small crackling fire, and began to smoke hemp.

Vrajanātha’s mother enjoyed showing hospitality to guests very much and observing that the Vaiṣṇavas seemed hungry she sent them vegetables and grains. Receiving them gladly, the sādhus immediately started preparing a simple meal of vegetables and flat bread rotis that they offered silently to the Lord and then honoured as prasādam.

Vrajanātha and Vijaya-kumāra—attracted by their calm composed countenances and peaceful demeanour—went over to visit them. Upon seeing the tulasī neck beads and neatly applied tilaka marks in the traditional twelve places upon the bodies of Vijaya and Vrajanātha, the travelling Vaiṣṇavas offered respect and invited Vijaya and Vrajanātha to join their serene gathering upon a welcoming outspread blanket. To Vrajanātha’s question about their intentions, one of the Rāmānandī bābājīs replied, “Respected Mahārājas, we are on a pilgrimage to Ayodhyā and along the way we have come to trace out Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, desiring to see the sacred places of Śrī Caitanya’s pastimes.”

Vrajanātha said, “Well, you have already arrived in Navadvīpa. For now have a proper rest and then you may take darśana of Śrī Yoga-pīṭha and of Śrīvāsāṅgana.” Expressing great joy, the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas chanted a verse from the Bhagavad Gītā, 15.6:

yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama

“‘One who reaches my spiritual abode never returns to this material world again.’

“Today we feel truly blessed, having had darśana of Śrīdāmā Māyāpura, the principal amongst all holy places.”

Then they all sat together and discussed the sacred text Artha-pañcaka, a small book of extremely esoteric treatises from the Rāmānuja sampradāya covering the five principles: svasvarūpa, the true identity of the jīva; parasvarūpa, the identity of the Supreme Being; upāyasvarūpa, the process of attainment; puruṣārthasvarūpa, the highest goal; and virodhīsvarūpa, the antithesis of spiritual endeavour. Finally they delved into the three prime truths of the Śrī sampradāya. At this point in the conversation, Vijaya-kumāra inquired about the views of the Śrī sampradāya upon nāmatattva, the principles of hari-nāma.

Talking together afterwards, Vijaya and Vrajanātha agreed that they were not satisfied with the answers they had received. Vrajanātha commented, “Uncle, I have pondered over this topic for quite some time and I have come to the conclusion that taking the shelter of kṛṣṇanāma is the most beneficial and auspicious practice for the jīva. The Lord of our hearts, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, came into this sacred land of Māyāpura-dhāma for the sole purpose of propagating śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma. In fact, just yesterday, Śrīla Gurudeva repeated the point that of all the different limbs of bhakti, chanting śrīnāma is the most important. He urged us to properly realize nāma-tattva. Let us go right away this evening and learn from Gurudeva the esoteric science that is śrī-nāma-tattva.”

More discussions followed and after making sure that their guests were well taken care of Vijaya and Vrajanātha left for Śrīvāsāṅgana at dusk, reaching Śrīvāsāṅgana whilst the evening āratī was still in progress. As usual the Vaiṣṇavas assembled after the āratī in the courtyard under the bakula tree, amongst them the venerable Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja who was sitting and chanting upon his tulasī beads. Vrajanātha and Vijaya-kumāra approached humbly and offered prostrate obeisances. Bābājī Mahārāja embraced them and told them to sit comfortably, asking, “How is your progress in chanting and the practice of bhakti?”

Vijaya-kumāra replied with folded hands, “Benign Gurudeva, by your mercy everything is auspicious for us. Please guide us in understanding the profound significance of nāmatattva.”

The face of Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī immediately lit up with joy and he began to speak, “There are two categories of hari-nāma: mukhya and gauṇya. From the time of the creation of the universe, those names of Kṛṣṇa that are associated with the material nature are gauṇyanāma, secondary names, for example, sṛṣṭikartā, creator; jagatpāla, the universal preserver; viśva-niyantā, the universal administrator; viśvapālaka, the universal maintainer; paramātmā, the Supersoul, and so on. The word brahman although free from the modes of material nature is also a gauṇya name. Though there are immense benefits from chanting these gauṇya names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, they rarely bring forth transcendental results.

“On the other hand, the names of the Supreme Lord associated with His transcendental spiritual abode are eternal and have nothing to do with the mundane plane. These names are absolute, spiritual and known as mukhyanāma, principal names, for example, Nārāyaṇa, Vāsudeva, Janārdana, Hṛṣīkeśa, Hari, Acyuta, Govinda, Gopāla, Rāma, and so on. The mukhya-nāma are of the spiritual sky and are non-different from the Supreme Lord Himself. The most fortunate souls in this universe attract the attention of mukhya-nāma with the purity of their bhakti, and mukhyanāma dances upon their tongues in pristine glory.

“The mukhya-nāma have no connection with this phenomenal plane and are endowed with the complete śakti of Śrī Bhagavān. They descend to this mundane illusory sphere to annihilate māyā. Therefore, the conditioned souls of this material world have no better friend and well-wisher than harināma.

“The Bṛhan-Nāradīya Purāṇa, 38.123, declares:

harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā

“‘Harināma is my life and soul, hari-nāma is my life and soul, harināma is my life and soul. In Kali-yuga, there is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way to attain spiritual perfection other than the chanting of harināma.’

Hari-nāma has wonderful unlimited power and uproots all the sins of the conditioned souls burning in the great forest-fire of sinful life. The Garuḍa Purāṇa, 1.232.12, states:

avaśenāpi yan-nāmni kīrtite sarva-pātakaiḥ
pumān vimucyate sadyaḥ siṁha-trastair mṛgair iva

“‘The ominous roar of a lion sends the deer scampering helter-skelter for their lives. Similarly, hari-nāma instantaneously disperses and extirpates all sins when chanted once, even unwittingly.’

“When one takes shelter of hari-nāma, one becomes free of all sufferings and disease. The Skanda Purāṇa states:

ādhayo vyādhayo yasya smaraṇān-nāma-kīrtanāt
tadaiva vilayaṁ yānti tam anantaṁ namāmy aham

“‘I bow down in prayer before the eternal Supreme Lord, Śrī Ananta Deva. Simply by chanting and remembering His sacred name all mental and physical ailments are instantly cured.’

“One who chants harināma purifies his family, friends and the entire world. The Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa states:

mahāpātaka yukto ‘pi kīrtayannaniśaṁ harim
śuddhāntaḥ karaṇo bhūtvā jāyate paṇkti-pāvanaḥ

“‘When even the most deleterious person engages in continuous chanting of hari-nāma, the deepest core of his heart is cleansed, and soon he ranks amongst the best of the twice-born brāhmaṇas.’

“One who is devoted to harināma becomes free of all unhappiness, impediments and disease. BṛhadViṣṇu Purāṇa states:

sarva-rogopaśamaṁ sarvopadrava nāśanam
śāntidaṁ sarvāriṣṭānāṁ harer nāmānu kīrtanam

“‘Constant chanting of hari-nāma is extremely beneficial and auspicious because it destroys all diseases, distress and impediments.’

“The sinful degrading effect of Kali-yuga cannot trouble one who loudly chants śrī hari-nāma. The Bṛhad Nāradīya Purāṇa states:

hare keśava govinda vāsudeva jaganmaya
itīrayanti ye nityaṁ na hi tān vādhate kaliḥ

“‘Those persons who always glorify the names of the Lord in kīrtana, loudly chanting, “Oh Hare! Oh Keśava! Oh Govinda! Oh Vasudeva! Oh Jaganmaya!” and so on, are protected from the evil influence of Kali-yuga.’

“Simply by hearing śrī-hari-nāma, the residents of Hell become delivered. The Nṛsiṁha Tāpanī states:

yathā yathā harer-nāma kīrtayanti sma nārakāḥ
tathā tathā harau bhakti mudva hanto divaṁ yayuḥ

“‘In whatever hellish planets the condemned sinners are situated, simply by chanting hari-nāma they attain bhakti and are promoted to the transcendental abode of the Lord.’

“By loudly chanting śrī-hari-nāma, one destroys one’s prārabdhakarma, the reactions to past pāpa and puṇya that are presently bearing fruit. The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 12.3.44, states:

yan-nāmadheyaṁ mriyamāṇa āturaḥ
patan skhalan vā vivaśo gṛṇan pumān
vimukta-karmārgala uttamāṁ gatiṁ
prāpnoti yakṣyanti na taṁ kalau janāḥ

“‘Śrī hari-nāma is glorious! Chanted in any condition of life, whether almost dead, deathly sick, slipping, falling, or in any semi-conscious state, the name of Śrī Bhagavān releases the chanting person from the bondage of karmic reactions and promotes him to the highest goal of spiritual achievement. The real pity is that the fallen people of Kali-yuga refuse to execute this devotional activity.’

Hari-nāma kīrtana is more glorious and beneficial than studying all the Vedas. The Skanda Purāṇa further states:

mā ṛco mā yajus tāta mā sāma paṭha kiñcana
govindeti harer-nāma geyaṁ gāyasva nityaśaḥ

“‘O respected sage! It is unnecessary to study at length the Ṛg Veda, Yajur Veda, Sāma Veda and Atharva Veda. The prime necessity, however, is to perform saṅkīrtana of the names of Śrī Hari, such as Govinda and so on. Just constantly perform this activity.’

“Chanting śrīhari-nāma is better than pilgrimage to all the tīrthas, holy places. The Vāmana Purāṇa states:

tīrtha-koṭi-sahasrāṇi tīrtha-koṭi-śatāni ca
tāni sarvāṇy avāpnoti  viṣṇor-nāmāni kīrtanāt

“‘The spiritual result accrued from millions of holy pilgrimages to sacred places is easily and fully obtained simply by performing kīrtana of the names of Śrī Viṣṇu.’

“Even chanting hari-nāmābhāsa, a semblance of harināma, gives infinitely more results than performing all kinds of material piety. The Skanda Purāṇa further states:

go-koṭi-dānaṁ grahaṇe khagasya
yajñāyutaṁ meru-suvarṇa-dānaṁ
govinda-kīrter na samaṁ śatāṁśaiḥ

“‘Admirable religious activities such as giving ten million cows in charity on the occasions of solar or lunar eclipses, living in holy places upon the banks of the Gaṅgā or at Prayāga, for as long as four yugas, conducting countless sacrifices, and donating gold in quantities exceeding the weight of Mount Meru are equivalent to a mere fraction of the result that is obtained by performing kīrtana of the names of Govinda.’

Harināma can bestow all kinds of artha, benefit. The Skanda Purāṇa states:

etat ṣaḍ-varga-haraṇaṁ ripu-nigrahaṇaṁ param
adhyātma-mūlam etad dhi viṣṇor-nāmānu kīrtanam

“‘Incessant kīrtana of names of Śrī Viṣṇu is the only means to conquer the six senses and stop the cycle of birth and death in material existence. Harināma is the root of all spiritual knowledge and the destroyer of the six enemies of the mind: lust, anger, greed, bewilderment, intoxication and envy.’

Śrī-hari-nāma has all śakti. The Skanda Purāṇa further states:

dāna-vrata-tapas-tīrtha-kṣetrādīnañ ca yāh sthitāḥ
śaktayo deva mahatāṁ sarva-pāpaharāḥ ṣubhāḥ
rājasūyāśvamedhānāñ jñana-sādhyātma-vastunaḥ
ākṛṣya hariṇā sarvāḥ sthāpitā sveṣu nāmasu

“‘The Devas have the power to destroy sins and shower boons and benedictions. Pious activities such as charity, penances, vows, pilgrimage, rājasūya and aśvamedha sacrifices, transcendental knowledge, and so on, possess wonderful power. However, the Supreme Lord, Śrī Hari, has collected together all these powers and infused them into His transcendental names.’

Śrī-hari-nāma gives bliss to the entire world. In the Bhagavad-gītā, 11.36:

sthāne hṛṣīkeśa tava prakīrtyā
jagat prahṛṣyaty anurajyate ca

“‘O Hṛṣīkeśa, the world becomes joyful upon hearing Your name and thus everyone becomes attached to You.’

“One who chants hari-nāma is worshipable to the entire world. The Bṛhan-Nāradīya Purāṇa states:

nārāyaṇa jagannātha vāsudeva janārdana
itīrayanti ye nityaṁ te vai sarvatra vanditāḥ

“‘Those fortunate souls who always perform hari-nāma kīrtana, loudly chanting, “Oh Nārāyaṇa, Oh Jagannātha, Oh Vasudeva, Oh Janārdana,” and so on, are worthy of being worshipped by the entire universe.’

Śrī-hari-nāma is the shelter of those who have no other shelter. The Padma Purāṇa states:

ananya-gatayo martyā bhogino ‘pi parantapāḥ
jñāna-vairāgya-rahitā brahmacaryādi-varjitāḥ
sarva-dharmojjhitāḥ viṣṇor nāma-mātraika-jalpakāḥ
sukhena yāṁ gatiṁ yānti na taṁ sarve ‘pi dhārmikaḥ

“‘Gross licentious materialists, men of violence, bereft of wisdom and renunciation, promiscuous libertines who neglect all religious rules and etiquettes have but one hope to be saved. By chanting the names of Śrī Viṣṇu, they are not only saved but obtain spiritual merits beyond the reach of all the most religious and pious souls.’

“One may chant hari-nāma at all times and in all circumstances. The Viṣṇu-dharmottara states:

na deśa-niyamas tasmin na kāla-niyamas tathā
nocchiṣṭādau niṣedho ‘sti śrī-harer nāmni lubdhaka

“‘Those elevated souls who are eager to chant hari-nāma are not subject to any restrictions upon their chanting in regard to any time, place or circumstance.’

“One desirous of mukti may have this desire fulfilled easily by chanting hari-nāma. The Varāha Purāṇa states:

nārāyaṇācyutānanta-vāsudeveti yo naraḥ
satataṁ kīrtayed-bhuvi yāti mallayatām sa hi

“‘The Supreme Lord said, “Those great souls who wander the earth and always engage in incessant chanting of the transcendental names of Nārāyaṇa, Acyuta, Ananta, Vāsudeva, and so on, are eternally connected with Me in pure devotion and reach My abode.’

“Similarly, the Garuḍa Purāṇa states:

kiṁ kariṣyati sāṅkhyena kiṁ yogair nara-nāyaka
muktim icchasi rājendra kuru govinda-kīrtanam

“‘O chief among men! What is the use of studying sāṅkhya philosophy or practising aṣṭāṅgayoga? O most powerful of kings! If you desire mukti, then simply be engrossed in chanting the transcendental names of Govinda.’

“Chanting hari-nāma enables the jīvas to easily attain Vaikuṇṭha. The Nandī Purāṇa states:

sarvatra sarva-kāleṣu ye’pi kurvanti pātakam
nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ-kṛtvā yānti viṣṇoḥ paraṁ padam

“‘Even a person who is mired in the morass of the most heinous sins committed throughout all time and place can acquire the highest possible destination, shelter the lotus feet of Śrī Viṣṇu, by continuously performing nāmasaṅkīrtana.’

“Chanting hari-nāma is the topmost way of pleasing Śrī Bhagavān. The Bṛhan-Nāradīya Purāṇa states:

nāma-saṅkirtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ kṣut-ṭṛṭ-prapīḍitādiṣu
karoti satataṁ viprās tasya prīto hy adhokṣajaḥ

“‘Dear brāhmaṇas! Śrī Viṣṇu is the transcendental Lord beyond the range of mundane sense perception.

Any soul who continues to perform saṅkirtanaṁ of His names in spite of being assailed by hunger, thirst and other distresses is surely successful in securing His pleasure and affection.’

Hari-nāma has the potency to control Śrī Bhagavān. The Mahābhārata states:

ṛṇam etat pravṛddhaṁ me hṛdayāṅ nāsarpati
yad-govindeti cukrośa kṛṣṇā māṁ dūra-vāsinam

“‘Draupadī has called out My name, “Hey Govinda!” in distress with great feelings of separation from Me who was far away. For this reason, I am completely indebted to her. And this debt has multiplied to such an extent that I am unable to forget it even today.’

Hari-nāma is the puruṣārtha, supreme goal, for the jīva. The Skanda Purāṇa and the Padma Purāṇa state:

idam eva hi māṅgalyam etad eva dhanārjanam
jīvitasya phalañ caitad yad dāmodara-kīrtanam

“‘Kīrtana of the name of the Lord Śrī Dāmodara evokes real auspiciousness, is the only eternal treasure, and is the only success and aim of human life.’

Śrī-hari-nāma-kīrtana is the most potent of all categories of bhakti-sādhana. The Vaiṣṇava-cintāmaṇi states:

agha-cchit smaraṇaṁ viṣṇor bahv-āyāsena sādhyate
oṣṭha-spandana-mātreṇa kīrtanaṁ tu tato varamv

“‘Although capable of destroying all sins, the remembrance of Śrī Viṣṇu is achieved only with extraordinary effort. On the other hand, simply by moving one’s lips one may perform kṛṣṇa-kīrtana and achieve the same success, and thus this process is superior.’

“The Viṣṇu-rahasya states:

yad-abhyarcya hariṁ bhaktyā kṛte kratu-śatair api
phalaṁ prāpnoty avikalaṁ kalau govinda-kīrtanam

“‘The spiritual benefit a person accrues by devoutly worshiping the Deity form of the Supreme Lord and by performing thousands of sacrifices in Satya-yuga is easily acquired in Kali-yuga simply by performing kīrtana of the names of Śrī Govinda.’

“The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 12.3.52, states:

kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ
dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt

“‘The supreme goal of human life was achieved in Satya-yuga through meditation upon Śrī Viṣṇu, in Tretā-yuga through the performance of elaborate sacrifices, in Dvāpara-yuga through dedicated temple worship, and in Kali-yuga the very same is attained through kīrtana of the transcendental names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.’

“Vijaya! Just stop for a moment to consider that even nāmābhāsa is superior to all varieties of satkarma, pious activities. Pious activities are primarily just a means to an end—material happiness. After their results have been offered and enjoyed, such pious works are depleted and become defunct. Further, in any circumstance, such satkarma is entirely materialistic, whereas chanting kṛṣṇanāma is a one hundred percent transcendental, spiritual activity. Thus, kṛṣṇa-nāma is simultaneously the most efficacious means for self-realization and at the time when the spiritual benefits of this practice mature kṛṣṇa-nāma is realized as the very goal, the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Another vital point is that all the different limbs of bhakti are anchored in the chanting of kṛṣṇa-nāma.”

Vijaya, “Gurudeva, I understand that hari-nāma is transcendental, however, to accept without a trace of doubt that hari-nāma is in fact absolutely transcendental even though the names are composed of apparently material sounds and syllables, then I must first realize how this is so. Kindly enlighten me on this aspect.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Padma Purāṇa states:

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

Kṛṣṇa-nāma is transcendentally blissful and bestows all spiritual benediction, for kṛṣṇa-nāma is Kṛṣṇa Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Kṛṣṇanāma is complete and the form of all transcendental rasa. Kṛṣṇa-nāma is not a material name under any condition and no less powerful than Kṛṣṇa Himself. Since kṛṣṇa-nāma is transcendental to any material quality, there is no question of kṛṣṇa-nāma being involved with māyā. Kṛṣṇa-nāma is always liberated and spiritual, never conditioned by the laws of material nature, because kṛṣṇa-nāma and Kṛṣṇa Himself are identical.”

Vijaya, “How can the sound vibration of kṛṣṇa-nāma be different from mundane sounds? How can it be supramundane?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Kṛṣṇa-nāma is not a product of this material universe. When the eternal spiritual spark, the jīva, attains his svarūpa in the transcendental realm, he is eligible to pronounce śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma. Now in his present condition—under the enslavement of māyā and covered with the gross material senses—the jīva is unqualified to utter śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma. Nonetheless, by the unconditional mercy of hlādinī-sakti Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, when the svarūpa of the purified jīva begins to emerge, then śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma automatically begins to manifest. Within the fertile field of purified consciousness, śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma appears and dances upon the devotionally enlivened tongue of the devotee by the infinite compassion of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. Kṛṣṇanāma does not possess a mundane form in the shape of material sounds and syllables, but possesses a saccidānanda form of eternal transcendental bliss and knowledge. When kṛṣṇa-nāma gambols upon the tongue of the śuddha-bhakta, He may appear to be material sounds and syllables to those whose consciousness is covered by māyā, however He is always pure and transcendental. This is the esoteric mystery which surrounds kṛṣṇanāma.”

Vijaya, “Which is the sweetest amongst the principal names?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The Śata-nāma-stotra states:

viṣṇor-ekaikaṁ nāmāpi sarva-vedādhikaṁ matam
tādṛk-nāma-sahasreṇa rāma-nāma-samaṁ smṛtam

“‘One name of Śrī Viṣṇu is superior to all the Vedic mantras, and one name of Śrī Rāma is more potent than a thousand names of Śrī Viṣṇu.’

“Then, the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa states:

sahasra-nāmnāṁ puṇyānāṁ trir āvṛttyā tu yat phalam
ekāvṛttyā tu kṛṣṇasya nāmaikaṁ tat prayacchati

“‘When the thousand transcendental names of Śrī Viṣṇu are chanted three times, they are equivalent to chanting one name of Kṛṣṇa.’

“Thus, we see that ‘Kṛṣṇa’ is the supreme name, therefore we should always follow the instruction of Śrī Gaurāṅga and chant the mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.”

Vijaya, “What is the process of hari-nāma-sādhana?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “One must chant hari-nāma upon a set of tulasī beads, but if beads are not

available, one may count upon the fingers. In any case, one must chant kṛṣṇa-nāma continuously without committing offences. The final benediction of chanting purely is kṛṣṇa-prema. The reason for chanting upon beads or counting upon one’s fingers is to ensure reaching a fixed number of kṛṣṇa-nāma and to note whether one’s chanting is increasing or not. Tulasī Devī is very dear to the Supreme Lord, therefore chanting hari-nāma in contact with her in the form of tulasī beads enhances one’s feeling and attachment for hari-nāma. While one is chanting, one should always remember that Kṛṣṇa and kṛṣṇanāma are identical.”

Vijaya, “Gurudeva, there are nine limbs of bhakti practice, which are further sub-divided into sixty-four items. Chanting hari-nāma is one of them. If we shall chant incessantly, where is the time to execute any of the other limbs?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī: “The proposal to chant incessantly does not present a contradiction, for the sixty-four divisions are included within the nine limbs of bhakti. These nine organs of bhakti can be executed in any form, through Deity worship in the temple, or by chanting in solitude, or by chanting in the association of elevated devotees. To hear, chant, remember, serve, and so on, in the presence of the Deities is factually in the category of chanting hari-nāma. When one is unable to chant before the Deities, one may recollect the Deities within one’s mind and then hear, chant, remember, and serve the Deities. In this way, one may execute all the nine processes of bhakti within the mind in the form of chanting hari-nāma. Those who are fortunate by the blessings of the Lord have a special ruci for constant chanting. Automatically, they are simultaneously engaged in all the nine branches of bhakti. Certainly chanting hari-nāma is the most potent of all the nine limbs. Therefore, when the devotee chants in full ecstasy, even though none of the other limbs are apparently visible actually there is nothing lacking.”

Vijaya, “What does it mean to chant incessantly?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “To chant incessantly means to be engaged in chanting hari-nāma at all times, even whilst eating, walking, bathing and performing all the regular physical duties—the only exception is sleep. There are no restrictions for chanting according to time, place, or circumstance; one may be in a pure or impure condition.”

Vijaya, “Alas Gurudeva! We dare not call ourselves Vaiṣṇavas until we receive your blessings, which will then empower us to chant hari-nāma continuously.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Just recall everything that I have said regarding the three different categories of Vaiṣṇavas. The dearest Lord of our heart Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught Satyarāja Khān that a Vaiṣṇava is he who chants śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma with sincere faith, even if not incessantly; a vaiṣṇavatara, an elevated Vaiṣṇava, is he who utters śuddhakṛṣṇa-nāma incessantly; and the vaiṣṇava-tama, the best of Vaiṣṇavas, is he who, just by being seen, inspires others to chant kṛṣṇa-nāma. By chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma with faith one becomes a true Vaisnava.”

Vijaya, “Kindly tell us whatever else we should know about śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma to attain pure chanting.”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “Śuddha-kṛṣṇa-nāma may be attained only when śraddhā fully matures into ananyabhakti, single-minded devotion. Any chanting at a level lower than ananyabhakti is either nāmābhāsa, the semblance of kṛṣṇa-nāma, or nāmāparādha, offensive chanting of kṛṣṇa-nāma.”

Vijaya, “Gurudeva, should hari-nāma be considered the sādhya or the sādhana?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “When hari-nāma is chanted at the stage of sādhanabhakti, then He may be considered the sādhana. Yet, when hari-nāma is chanted at the stage of bhāva-bhakti and premabhakti, then hari-nāma is indeed realized as the sādhya-vastu, the supreme goal of spiritual attainment. Śuddhakṛṣṇa-nāma manifests in degrees proportionate to the intensity of śuddha-bhakti of the chanter.”

Vijaya, “Are there any distinctions between kṛṣṇa-nāma and kṛṣṇasvarūpa?”

Raghunātha dāsa Bābājī, “The answer is negative, there are no differences whatsoever. However, there is one unique, even mystical feature in this subject: Hari-nāma is more merciful than kṛṣṇasvarūpa. Offences committed against kṛṣṇasvarūpa are never forgiven by Kṛṣṇa; however, offences against both kṛṣṇa-svarūpa and kṛṣṇa-nāma are both very kindly absolved by the mercy of hari-nāma. Therefore, one should understand and commit to memory the ten offences to hari-nāma. Then, one must meticulously avoid perpetrating these offences, because one must rise above nāmāparādha in order to chant śuddhahari-nāma. Remind me tomorrow to discuss nāmāparādha, the offences to hari-nāma.”

Vijaya-kumāra and Vrajanātha fell at the feet of their beloved spiritual master and requested permission to leave. They smeared the sacred dust of his feet upon their heads and departed. Walking home slowly, they were deep in thought about the glories and purely spiritual identity of śrī-hari-nāma.

Thus ends the twenty-third chapter of Jaiva-dharma, entitled:
Nitya-dharma: Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana, Part Eleven: The Initial Discussion of Nāma-tattva

Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Twenty Two
Jaiva Dharma - Bhaktivinoda ThakuraJaiva Dharma - Chapter Twenty Four

Share this chapter!