by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
“O Holy Name! The tips of the toes of your lotus feet are eternally worshipped by the glowing effulgence of the Upanisads, the crest jewels of the Vedas. You are eternally adored and chanted by great liberated souls like Narada and Sukadeva Goswami. O Harinama! Clearing myself of all offences, I take complete shelter of You.” Rupa Goswami says that so many liberated souls worship the Holy Name of Krsna, offering their respects from all sides. He explained that the greatness of the Holy Name may not be found in the ordinary scriptures, but if you study all of them as a whole, you will find the very spirit of the Holy Name. Ordinary people may not find this in their study but there are those who can collect the real substance, the real purpose from those vast writings and detect the greatness of the Holy Name as the whole purpose of all the main Vedic scriptures. The principal codes in the Sruti, the Vedas, are giving hints about the Holy Name of Krsna. Sruti means sabda: that which can be grasped by the ear, the sound form of the revealed truth which has descended from above.
The Vedas naturally tell us that we can approach the supreme reality only through sound. Otherwise they would be suicidal. If they do not say that by sound only we will attain the truth, then what is the necessity of the Vedas which are only embodied sounds? So if we can trace their real characteristic we shall find that the principal Vedas say that by the cultivation of sound we can attain the Lord. So we can come to understand this only through sound.
Sound alone can deliver reality. The Vedas must say so, otherwise they will only be an ineffective jungle of sounds. Sruti means that which can be received through the ear and that sound is Absolute. The Srutis have come to declare to us that through sound alone we can attain the highest end. The main codes of the Sruti inform us: nikhila sruti mauli ratna mala. Mauli means the principal scriptures. They are like so many gems or jewels, forming a necklace. Just as while performing arati, we offer a lamp to show the Deity form of the Lord more clearly to the ordinary people, the principle Srutis are helping us to have this perception: by sound only we can have the Supreme Lord. Rupa Goswami says that if we are more attentive to their meaning, we will find that the principal Srutis are only trying to show us the lotus feet of the Holy Name, just as during arati the ghee lamp helps us to see the figure of the Lord. We may have a general view of the Deity, but with the help of the lamp, we can have a particular conception of the different parts of the body of the Lord. Similarly, we find that the principal Srutis with their light are trying to show us the lower portion of the Holy Name of Krsna. They are leading us and helping us to have a conception that the Name is everything.
Rupa Goswami says that those who are really liberated are all surrounding the Holy Name and offering praise and adoration. And he prays, “In this spirit, I take refure in the Holy Name of Krsna.” Rupa Goswami says that only a superficial study of the Vedas will frustrate us. But if we search with a positive mind, by the grace of the Sadhus, the Acharyyas, and the Mahajanas, we will find that the principal Srutis are leading us towards the conception that the whole object of all the Vedic sounds is that central sound: the Holy Name of Krsna. There are so many sections of the Vedas that have come to distribute the tidings of the Absolute realm, but there must be a centre. So, the principal sounds are all emitting light like a torch, to show us that they have a central sound which represents the supreme whole, and that is Krsna.
So many liberated souls are all around, offering their respects to the Name of Krsna, that central sound from which all Vedic mantras have come to give us some idea of the sound aspect of the Absolute centre. This is Rupa Goswami’s argument. The branches of the Vedas are all sounds, and so many sounds must come from a central position. They cannot but direct one who has a proper eye towards that fountainhead of sound, saying “Go! Run towards that direction! In our course you will find everything. We are all partially representing so many things but we have a centre, we have a fountainhead. Go in that direction and you will find the sound that can sufficiently satisfy you, and you may also be introduced to other aspects of that sound.” The Holy Name of Krsna is most important; it is no less than Krsna Himself. It fully represents the whole. Rupa Goswami says, “O Holy Name, I take refuge under Your lotus feet. You are the grand, central sound who has given cohesion to all the sounds in the revealed scriptures.” Sri Rupa Goswami – Namastakam 1
The chanting of the Holy Name of Krsna cleanses the mirror of the heart and extinguishes the fire of misery in the ocean of birth and death. At that time, real auspiciousness begins for the soul. Just as the evening lotus blooms in the moon’s cooling rays, the heart begins to blossom in the nectar of the Name, and at last the soul awakens in full knowledge of its real inner treasure – a life of love with Krsna in the highest mellows of devotion. Again and again tasting nectar, the souls dive and surface in the ever-increasing ocean of joy. In this way, all phases of the self are fully satisfied and purified by bathing in the nectarine mellows of the Holy Name of Krsna. Therefore, let the Sankirttan of the Holy Name be victorious. (This verse is explained as follows in “Golden Volcano of Divine Love.”)
What are the different stages through which we will pass while chanting the Holy Name of Krsna? The first stage is that it cleanses the mirror of the mind. If the mirror of the mental system is covered with dust, we cannot see things clearly and scriptural advice cannot be properly reflected there. What are the different kinds of dust covering the mind? Our infinite fleeting and organised desires are considered to be dust, and our heart and minds are covered with layers and layers of this dust. Therefore we cannot see things properly; they cannot properly reflect in our mind because it is covered with the infinite ordinary desires of this mundane world. So the first effect of Sri Krsna Sankirttan is the cleansing of the mind. The first instalment of Nama-sankirttan gives us the end result of varnasrama-dharma: purification of the heart and mind. Then we can understand Vedic advice properly.
The next effect of chanting the Holy Name is that it extinguishes the fire of material existence in the forest of repeated birth and death. WE are forced to come into creation and again die. The mundane wave catches the soul which mingles with that vibration in different stages. That is stopped by the second effect of Sri Krsna Sankirttan and we become liberated. With the first stride, the intelligence is purified. With the second stride, the Holy Name effects liberation from the great conflagration of threefold miseries. The threefold miseries are, adhyatmika (miseries within the body and mind such as disease and mental anxiety), adhibhautika (miseries from our neighbours, man, bests, insects and so many other living beings), and adhidaivika (natural catastrophes like famine, flood and earthquake). We have to suffer from these three kinds of miseries which burn in our heart like fire. But everything is extinguished forever by the second stride of Nama-sankirttana which gives us relief from material existence.
The next stage is sreyah-kairava candrikavitaranam: the Holy Name bestows upon us the supreme goal of life. After doing away with these two negative engagements, our positive engagement begins and ultimately takes us to reality, to the real truth, which is eternal, auspicious and beautiful. It takes us to that auspiciousness which is above this world of difficulty and in a general way we achieve the supreme goal, the highest auspiciousness, the great good, from chanting the Holy Name of Krsna. If we analyse this scrutinizingly, we find that in this stage the Holy Name takes us to an intimate personal relationship with Krsna, which includes neutrality, servitude, friendship and filial affection (santa, dasya, sakhya and vatsalya rasa). Sreyah covers the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, for it is by His Grace that we may be allowed to worship Radha and Krsna in Vrndavan (nitaiyer karuna habe, braje radha krsna pabe.)
The next stage is vidya-vadhu-jivanam. The Holy Name prepares us for the wholesale surrender to Krsna that is found in conjugal love (madhura-rasa) where the devotees surrender themselves infinitely at the disposal of Krsna.
The next stage is anandambhudhi-vardhanam. When we come to the proper level while chanting the Name of Krsna, we find the transcendental ocean that is above all sorts of experience. The Name comes to assert Himself over us according to the degree of our surrender and when our surrender is complete, we feel a new type of ecstatic joy, we experience an infinite ocean of joy which is not static but dynamic. There we find new life and a new type of blissfulness. It never becomes stale or static, but at every moment gives us a taste of the infinite ocean of ecstasy.
The last effect is that our entire existence is purified. This kind of enjoyment does not pollute – it purifies. Enjoyment means exploitation. Mundane enjoyment creates a reaction and pollution attacks the enjoyer, but here, because Krsna is the aggressor, the result is purification. All enjoyment that comes from the centre, from the autocratic desires of Krsna, purifies us completely. In this verse the words sarvatma-snapanam mean that all different phases of the self which may be conceived are fully satisfied and purified at once by chanting the Holy Name of Krsna.
And there is another meaning of savatma-snapanam. If we praise Krsna congregationally, we will be purified according to our capacity. Both the singer and the audience as well as anyone who comes in connection with the transcendental sound, will be purified. Snapanam means purifying. The vibration of the Holy Name of Krsna purifies everyone and everything that comes in touch with it. After passing through so many conceptions and the charm of so many prospects, we have left them all behind and have come to the shore of the ocean and begin to swim in the waves of Nama-sankirttan, the nectar of the nectarine, by the grace of our Guru and the mercy of the Vaisnavas. It is their property and we are their slaves. We have such audacity to throw our body into this ocean of Nama-sankirttan and swim in that nectarine ocean (anandam-budhi-vardhanam).
Swimming in Radhakunda, the highest conception of spiritual attainment, can also be found in the highest form of Nama-sankirttan. This verse represents the positive side of the unlimited ocean of Sri Krsna sankirttan. So Mahaprabhu says, “Go on with sankirttan, the congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Krsna.” Of course, sankirttan must be genuine, so association with saints is necessary. It is not an empirical attempt. We are attempting to have a connection with the higher unconditioned realm which can descends to help us here. We must have that connection with higher reality for that is all important. The Holy Name of Krsna is not mere physical sound, it is not lip-deep only, but it has a greater and higher aspect. It is all spiritual. We are in the marginal plane of existence, so some higher connection is necessary in order that the wave will descend from that higher realm and come to us and spread its influence outside as well.
Wherever it goes, the sankirttan of the Holy Name of Krsna will produce these sevenfold results. This is the purport of Mahaprabhu’s first verse. The first effect is that the Holy Name cleanses the souls which are attacked by the dirt of desires from the mundane world. By the second effect it gives mukti, liberation, perfect independence from material forces. The third effect brings real fortune – the opening of the soul’s treasure.
The innate resources of the soul are gradually awakened by the Holy Name of Krsna. Here Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu includes the other forms of relationship with the personal Absolute. In describing the next step, He takes the mood of conjugal devotion where one is absolutely disposed for Krsna’s enjoyment, unconditionally surrendering everything for His maximum pleasure. The next effect is the tasting of His ecstatic association. This has been taught to us by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who said, “Properly chant the Holy Name, the sound representation of Absolute sweetness.” Sri Krsna sankirttan is praised by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the inaugurator of the sankirttan movement who came as Radha-Govinda combined.
His advice is most valuable and necessary to tell us that with a sincere spirit we must come to join this Sri Krsna sankirttan, the most purifying transcendental sound which effects liberation, gives all fulfilment and grants us such a positive attainment that we lose ourselves in the ocean of joy and inconceivable sweetness. This is Sriman Mahaprabhu’s grace, and He proclaims, “Let Sri Krsna sankirttan be explained into this mortal world that it may benefit the whole world. It is all-comprehensive. It releases us from all sorts of troubles establishing us in the highest position of attainment.”
The following is a purport given by Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaj of a song by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur.
My heart is just like a desert, hot with the rays of the sun. This is my internal mental condition. The desire for mortal things cannot satisfy me because by nature they are death-producing. And not one or two, but thousands of such death-producing desires have taken shelter in my mind, so my subconscious region is always burning. This is my condition. But somehow by the grace of the sadhu or Guru, the Holy Name of Krsna with its infinite prospect has entered through the holes of my ears and reached the plane of my heart. And there, with some peculiar hope, with infinite auspicious possibilities, it touched my heart with a new kind of nectar. New hope is aroused by that sound. Then by force it comes from the heart towards the tongue, not that by the endeavour of my tongue I am producing that sound – no. What came from the heart of a saint through my ear entered my heart and that forcibly appeared upon my tongue and began to dance. That is the Holy Name proper. It descends from above. It cannot be produced by the material form of this tongue, its source is above. And through an agent of the Absolute it comes through the ear to the heart. From the heart it gathers some sympathy, then the Holy Name of Krsna forcibly appears upon the tongue an begins to dance. With great force it comes to the end of the tongue and that sweet sound begins its dancing. The real effects of the Divine Name have been described here. If it is a real and living Name, the voice will be choked up, there will be shivering in the body and the legs will be unable to stand. Sometimes tears will flow in a current on the body and one’s hairs will stand on end. Sometimes changes of colour will be found in the body and we will be unable to find any trace of the mind or consciousness. We may fall in a swoon, the whole body and mind will appear as if it is being attacked, shivering and influenced in different ways. Apparently it may seem that so many troubles are created in the body and the mind, but the real heart is overflowing with a particular kind of strange, sweet juice. Sometimes the devotee thinks, 'I am in an ocean of nectar.' My whole existence is within an ocean of nectarine liquid. I am beside myself. I can’t understand where I am. Where am I? What is this? What is all about me? It has almost made me mad. Am I a madman?
Where is my past experience, my seriousness, my gravity, where are they? What am I? I have been converted wholesale by a foreign thing. I am a doll in the hands of a great force which is also so affectionate to me. I can’t ascertain how it is possible that by my faith I have entered this great unknown environment, inexperienced before. And at last I find that I am captivated. My entire being, within and without, has been captured by a particular sweet force. I can’t help being prey to such a sweet power. I can’t give any proper description of this. I came to take shelter under Him and accept Him as my guardian, now at His hand I am being dealt with in such a merciless and despotic way. Still, I feel that everything is very pleasing, beyond my experience. What is this? I can’t resist any more, I am fully captured. Let my fate go anywhere. I can’t come out. I am a captive in the hand of a sweet friend. My whole independence is gone. There is no way left to me but to surrender. I am unable to describe my real position. I find that He’s an autocrat. Whatever He likes to do, He will do. Since it is not possible for me to give any resistance, I must surrender. Let me also co-operate with whatever He is pleased to do, otherwise what can I do? I am helpless.
Sometimes I find that the sweetness of the Name is condensed like a blossoming flower and very wonderful streams of sweet current are flowing from it. The Holy Name contains so many sweet variegated forms of current within Him and He is wonderfully expressing Himself in different ways. Sometimes He emanates a peculiar type of colour and figure and disappears. So many charming aspects are shown as if to my eyes within, and He forcibly takes me to surrender at the foot of that altar, shows Himself in His full-fledged form In Vrndavan, in His braja-lila with Radharani and He takes me there. I find that I am in the midst of His peculiar very sweet and loving paraphernalia. And He says, “You see! I have so many wonderful things. This is your home. I am not merely imagination, but concrete reality. You will find here that the environment is very favourable and sweet. You are to live here.” I see there that He is dealing in different ways with His associates in different rasas. And I find that I have another body that has emerged from my previous one and that has a permanent place here in His service. Such a new life I find here. And then I find ultimately that all consideration of my past life and experience has vanished. And it is true – my real life is here. This is proper and that was a sham, that life has vanished.
Then I find that chanting the Holy Name gives me new encouragement, a new prospect and new hope. Whatever we want, whatever is our internal demand, it is supplied by the Name. If we take the Name, all our internal hankerings will be fulfilled. It is eternal, it is the purest of the pure and it is full of ecstasy. Now I find I have been completely converted. Now my innermost hankering is this – let whatever is against this sweet Name vanish eternally from the world. If anything is in opposition to this sweet life, let it vanish and if necessary, I will give my life to make it disappear from the world forever. Then others will be able to enjoy it at their free will. No hindrance should come to that fulfilment of life, it has no other second. So everyone may come here and if necessary I will sacrifice myself to finish any opposition, so that all can smoothly, peacefully and without any danger enjoy this Absolute, sweet and blissful life. Sri Kalyana Kalpataru Vol. 1 no. 4