The following is an installment of our classroom series: Sri Upadesamrta, with Illuminations by Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami, published by Gosai Publishers, 2009.
syat krsna-nama-caritadi-sitapy avidyapittopatapta-
rasanasya na rocika nu
kintv adarad anudinam khalu saiva justa
svadvi kramad bhavati tad-gada-mula-hantri
Even Krishna’s name, form, qualities and pastimes, which are like sweet sugar candy, are distasteful to one whose tongue is afflicted by the jaundice of ignorance. However, when one constantly and faithfully chants the holy name of Krishna and becomes absorbed in His divine attributes then gradually they become sweet and one’s ignorance is destroyed at the root.
There must be an ear of the type which can catch nectar, the sweetness from divine sound. That which is sweet to one may be bitter to another according to the taste. In this verse Rupa Goswami says, “When our inner tongue is influenced by ignorance, the holy name of the Lord tastes very bitter.” If there is an attack of bile in the body, then the tongue is affected and sweet things taste bitter—avidya-pittopatapta. When there is an attack of bile, sugar candy tastes bitter, but when the disease is cured that sugar candy will taste sweet. The holy name, Krishna katha, tastes bitter and unpleasant now, but the holy name is the medicine to remove that defect from our inner tongue. First, sugar candy is bitter, but when we take more and more then the disease will go and the sugar candy’s taste will be sweet. If we apply this unpleasing medicine for some time, that bile will be removed and it will be found to be very, very sweet. Raso vai sa˙. It will gradually taste sweet, sweeter and sweetest. Krsna-nama is like that. To the ignorant it is very bitter and repulsive, but this is the medicine to remove that ignorance and gradually his glorious sweetness will come and charm the whole existence. With the help of the guru, the scriptures, and the previous experienced persons, I shall try to stand the test that, “Yes, because the bile is so strong, everything is tasting bitter. But this process will remove the bile. I shall have to wait for some time, and when the bile is gone, I shall taste sugar candy as sweet.” Maya santusta manasah sarvah sukha-maya disah – “For one who is satisfied with me, all the four directions will bring only good news to him.” All waves will carry welfare to that person who is satisfied with God only and nothing else. “I want God, and his interests are my interests. He is the loving father, guardian, and friend of everyone.”
When we take the holy name at the beginning, we think it is our duty to count so many rounds. Sometimes it is painful. But when we get a taste for the holy name, then the inner tendency excites us to take the holy name more and more—not as a duty, not just to finish sixteen rounds. When that inner sweetness comes to us, then we can go on with real bhajana. That is the stage of service. It becomes automatic, spontaneous. When the holy name tastes sweet, then only does natural service begin. It attains the stage of bhajana and divulges the rupa, then parikaravaisista lila. In this way it goes up. There are so many stages to pass through to dive deep into reality. Our progress and speed will be such that we will have to pass through all these coverings to enter into the substantial world. Otherwise we will remain in the realm of imagination and thereby we won’t get any strength within. First, our spiritual life begins with sraddha, where we inquire into the eternal life.
Then sadhu-sanga—association with the experts of that divine plane. The next stage is bhajana-kriya, where we must strictly observe what has been recommended for us by the sadhus in order to reach the next stage. Then anartha-nivrtti—the ulterior demands of our superficial nature will disappear. Nistha is the next stage – characterized by the continuous remembrance of Krsna consciousness. It is just as when oil is poured in one continual flow, not drop by drop but a continual flow. Similarly, Krishna consciousness will remain always in our mind in some form or other. After nistha, the negative side is eliminated. Nistha continues to increase into ruci. Sometimes we may find that we are in the midst of other aspirations; that is not ruci proper. If now and then some ruci appears within us, that is not real ruci. Proper ruci is to be traced after nistha. Nistha means continued association with Krishna—twenty-four hours living in the relativity of Krishna consciousness. The advent of ruci is only possible after the continued connection of Krishna, not before that. After nistha, when ruci will come, that will be reliable. That is proper ruci. And there will always be humility up to the last point. One will always think that, “I have no ruci.” Because the finite is coming in connection with the infinite, we can never be satisfied thinking, “I have got something!” If we think that we have ruci for Krishna, we have so much love and affinity for him, then we will commit many offenses and we will be hurled down. We must be very careful. After ruci, the next stage is asakti, when we cannot tolerate any separation from Krsna. Then there is the stage of bhava when we come in real connection with Vrindavana. Bhava is like the primitive stage of the flower, the bud. When that bud blossoms it becomes prema. At the stage when ruci and bhava appear within us, the holy name will be very, very sweet. The sweet taste will begin to dawn. That is the dawn of love, prema. Only that is rasa and all other things are virasa—tasteless.
One Tongue is Not Sufficient
In his Brhad-bhagavatamrta,Sanatana Goswami has written:
jayati jayati namananda rupam murarer
katham api sakrd attam mukti-dam praninam yat
paramam amrtam ekam jivanam bhussanam me
All glories, all glories to the most blissful holy name of Murari, which causes the devotee to give up all religious duties, meditation and worship. If somehow or other the holy name is chanted even once by a living entity, that person attains liberation. The holy name is the supreme nectar and it is my very life and my only treasure. (1)
Jayati jayati namananda rupam murarer—may the ecstasy in the service of the holy name always be victorious. Viramitanija- dharma-dhyana-pujadi-yatnam—if somehow we come in contact with that divine sound then all other activities become paralyzed. If one can get a little taste for that sort of divine bliss, then his charm for all religious activities vanishes. They have no necessity. First dharma, our sense of duty is paralyzed. Dharma means varnasrama-dharma; this business engagement of the karmi in this mundane world. There are so many variegated duties, but they have no necessity at all if we attain the service of the holy name. Dhyana, meditation, means to retire from this physical world and to meditate within, trying to exploit the internal world. That is also paralyzed when we serve the holy name. Puja—that is covering the Ramanuja sampradaya. They are very fond of arcana. When one gets the grace of the holy name, he becomes indifferent to other service, even arcana. There is no necessity. If you get the real grace of the holy name, then you will have to retire from all the phases of different types of worshipping: dharma, dhyana and puja. The holy name will take you to the conception of Goloka and you will have to retire completely from all these phases of your life. Any work, even if it may be for Krishna, the name can stop all this. You will not be able to give any attention to any other thing. You will find so much sweetness in taking the Holy Name. When you finally come in contact with the sound aspect of the Absolute, then all other enthusiastic attempts in you will be paralyzed.
cakse dhara dehe gharma, pulakita saba carma
vivarna haila kalevara
murcchita haila mana, pralayera agamana,
bhave sarva-deha jara jara
kari eta upadrava, citte varse sudha-drava,
more dare premera sagare
kichu na bujhite dila, more ta’ batula kaila,
mora citta-vitta saba hare
Tears flow from my eyes, my body perspires, my complexion becomes pale, my mind loses its equilibrium, I begin to feel devastated and my entire body becomes stunned by ecstatic feelings. During this disturbance, my consciousness is bathed by a shower of nectar from the holy name that drowns me in an ocean of divine love. It will not allow me to try to comprehend anything, rather it turns me into a lunatic by stealing away my mind and determination. (2)
All other functions are paralyzed. You can’t attend to them. You are only chanting the holy name. Then again, when that name allows you to to do other services, you can do them. The name has such a high degree of potency that it will stop all other branches of service and charm you. You will find so much sweetness in chanting the holy name. When you actually come in contact with the sound aspect of the Absolute all other enthusiastic attempts in you will be paralyzed. All other functions will be paralyzed. You can only take the name. Only when the holy name allows you to do other services, can you do that. The holy name has such a high degree of potency. It will stop all other branches of service and charm you. What a song! The simple holy name of Krishna—what voltage is within? Who can understand? According to the depth of ones realization, inwardly it will react. In his Vidagdha-madhava Rupa Goswami writes:
tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham
cetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam krtim
no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi
I do not know how much nectar the two syllables ‘Krs -na’ have produced. When the holy name is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and all the senses become inert. (3)
Tunde tandavini—when it comes down and captures the tongue, it strongly controls the lips and engages them in taking the holy name. The tongue and the lips become mad as that power descends in them. Ratim vitanute tundavali—and there also comes a feeling that only one tongue and one mouth is not sufficient. Thousands of mouths are necessary. One mouth is not sufficient to take the Name. Karna Kroda kadambini—when that current enters the ear and captures it with such great force, one thinks that only two ears are not sufficient. I want millions of ears to attend that sweet current that is entering into my ears. Two ears: that is nothing! That is very unjust of the creator. Millions of ears are necessary if you can hear the sweet name of Krishna, then your heart may be a little satisfied. We have an unquenchable desire for millions and millions of ears to attend to the sweet name of Krishna. It is like a flood pushing through the ear. So sweet, so sweet! Cetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam—as it goes to capture the heart, the center of all the senses, then everything becomes paralyzed. Wherever that sweet aggressor touches, the whole thing is captured with such intensity that all other things are ignored. No jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi: I do not know; I cannot say; I fail to express how much and what sort of quality of nectar is in the holy name of Krishna—only these two letters. These two letters can contain so much and of such a high quality of sweetness that it plays like this wherever it goes. Its nature is like that. That sweetness is so aggressive. Wherever it goes it captures the whole thing and nothing remains.
Drowning in an Ocean of Sweetness
This is experienced with Krishna’s flute also – the sound of Krishna’s flute has so much mystic power that it captures the whole dhama. We are told that the current of the Yamuna stops to hear this sound. The current is stabilized because that sweet sound is there. It attracts the trees, the birds, the beasts – everything is astounded in coming in connection with that sweet vibration coming from the flute. Rupa Goswami says –
rundhann ambu-bhrtas camatkrti-param
kurvan muhus tumburum
dhyanad antarayan sanandana-mukhan
autsukyavalibhir balim catulayan
bhindann anda-kataha-bhittim abhito
The sound of Krishna’s flute stopped the movements of the rain clouds, struck the king of the Gandharvas with astonishment, and disturbed the meditation of the great saints led by Sanandana. Brahma was amazed, the mind of Bali became disturbed and it made Ananta turn around as it penetrated the layers of the universe. (4)
When the sound of the flute came from Krishna what was the effect? Vedhasam autsukyavalibhir balim catulayan: Rupa Goswami has used this expression. Brahma was looking to this side and that side, “From what side is this sort of sound coming?” The creator of this world was perplexed. “Where is this peculiar sound coming from?” He was looking to this side and that side. And bhogindram aghurnayan – Anantadeva, who is supposed to carry this whole world on his heads—his head is reeling. He is the support of this whole material creation and his head is reeling! “Where is this vibration coming from? It is so sweet, so capturing.”
In this way Rupa Goswami says that when the sweet sound of Krishna’s flute comes it is of such a nature that its sweetness maddens us. It is so sweet, but we cannot adjust, we cannot capture it. We cannot utilize it for our purpose. It surpasses all our feelings of taste, of measurement, of good and bad, of pain and pleasure – they are all paralyzed. It surpasses everything! It is so sweet that it makes us mad. We forget everything. I am nowhere but in an ocean of joy. How much sweetness or ecstasy or pleasure and satisfaction can we take? How much capacity do we have to taste? Our capacity is very limited. That may be covered but this flute sound of Krsna will drown me in an ocean of sweetness.
The Inaugurator of Sankirtana
Sound vibration can play wonders. Sound has the highest capturing potency and power. Sound can make or mar; it can do anything. Sound has such an intrinsic capacity when that sound is absolute sweetness and goodness. That is universal, and that comes from the subtlest plane of ether. Such a universal characteristic—how it can capture! We are like blades of grass and the current of that sweet sound may move us. We cannot trace our own personality, we may lose ourselves there but we do not die, the soul is eternal. We are saved, but we are diving, going up and down, moved by the current of that sweet sound. That sound is so great and so sweet it can play with us in whichever way that it likes.
Nama-sankirtana is identical with absolute goodness and sweetness. We cannot suppose how much power that may have. Mahaprabhu says, “Don’t neglect that sound which has come, which is one and the same with Krsna. The sweetness and the goodness, everything there has been represented to you in a very cheap way. Nothing is required, no money nor physical energy; so many things are not necessary, only genuine souls. Take this sound sincerely and you will be so enriched that none can believe there is so much goodness. You may obtain it very cheaply, but you must receive it with whole-hearted sincerity.” Mahaprabhu laid stress on sankirtana because japa is within and there disturbances are allowed to attack. I may begin with some japa but my mind will wander here, there and everywhere. However, when I am engaged in kirtana I cannot but be allattentive. Additionally, others are not being benefitted from the chanting of japa. Mahaprabhu is the pioneer of sankirtana, not of japa.
yajanti hi su-medhasah
In Kali-yuga, those who are very intelligent will perform congregational chanting and worship the incarnation of the Lord who constantly sings the holy name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not dark, he is Krishna himself and he is accompanied by his associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions. (5)
Mahaprabhu came as Radha-Govinda combined and is the inaugurator of sankirtana. His advice is so valuable and so necessary for us. With this spirit we shall come and join this sankirtana, which is most purifying and all fulfilling. The positive attainment is that we may lose ourselves in the ocean of inconceivable sweetness of the holy name. That is Mahaprabhu’s grace. Param vijayate sri krsna sankirtanam.
1. Brhad-bhagavatamrta 1.9
2. Saranagati, Sri Nama-mahatmya 4
3. Vidagdha-madhava 1.15
4. Vidagdhamadhava 1.15
5. Bhag. 11.5.32