~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

"The soul travels through many lifetimes in different bodies and at last gets the chance of a rare human birth, which is auspicious in every respect. The soul has rotated through 8,400,000 different species; by ajnata-sukrti, or involuntary pious activities, the soul finally attains a human body.

A birth in the human form is most uncommon, because only in that body are spiritual activities possible, not in any other species. A demigod or denizen of the heavenly planets is destined only to enjoy the reactions of his past pious activities; he cannot voluntarily initiate any saintly activities. Animals are likewise bound by karmic reactions and are too steeped in gross ignorance to undertake any pious activities independently. The human birth alone is most conducive for spiritual life and for service to the Supreme Lord.

SRILA HARIDASA THAKURA said, "My Lord! To criticize the Vedic literature and other literatures in pursuance of the Vedic version is a serious offense that denies a person the ecstasy of pure devotion.

"The sruti-sastra (the Vedic literature), which includes the Upanisads, the Puranas and other corollary scriptures, has emanated from the Supreme Lord Krsna's own lips. This literature establishes and proves the spiritual truth. It contains transcendental knowledge that is beyond the range of the material senses, and this knowledge is understood by Lord Krsna's grace alone. The senses are capable of experiencing only material objects; transcendence lies beyond their bounds.

HARIDASA THAKURA continued: "O Lord. Gauranga! The fifth offense or namaparadha is to think that the glories of the holy name are exaggerated. This is against the scriptural injunctions. For instance, it is offensive to think, "The scriptural presentation of the glories of the Lord's holy name is not entirely true, because hyperbole has been employed to increase the reader's faith in the chanting of the name."

"It is a fact that in the karma-kanda and jnana-kanda sections of the Vedas, ritualism and philosophical speculation have been greatly praised, and such praises are intended to elicit interest in these processes. But the same is not true in the case of the holy name; therefore to think so is an abominable offense.

SRILA HARIDASA THAKURA said, "The holy name is eternally situated in pure goodness. Only very fortunate jivas can take shelter of Krsna's holy name. Chanting quickly removes the ananthas from the heart; consequently, hrdaya daurbalyam (weakness of heart) disappears. When undeviating faith in the Lord's holy name develops, the propensity to sin is totally extirpated.

All previous sins are also dissolved. The heart shines with positive purity. Sinful desires in the heart are rooted in ignorance. These three—sin, the seeds of sin and ignorance—are the source of all suffering for the conditioned soul.

WITH HIS HANDS FOLDED and in a soft voice, Srila Haridasa Thakura said, "Now please hear about another namaparadha. The first essential requirement for chanting Krsna's holy name is sraddha or firm faith. One who is bereft of it cannot hear the name and is therefore unfit to chant.

High birth, respectable family, knowledge, strength, learning or wealth are not qualities that make a person eligible to chant the name. The scriptures extol sraddha to be the one indispensable ingredient for proper chanting. Lord Krsna's name is the jiva's most valuable treasure. Sraddha means to have complete conviction that chanting Lord Krsna's name will automatically fulfill all duties and complete all pious activities. Those who do not possess such faith are unfit to chant.

SRILA HARIDASA THAKURA continued, "O Lord, other pious activities can never be equal to chanting the name. The Supreme Lord is the transcendental sun, and His divine form is fully spiritual; this is the wonderful and mysterious truth. All His Deity forms are absolute. They are transcendental just like His name, abode, pastimes, etc. All His direct names are non-different from Him, unlike objects made of inert matter, which are separate from their names.

The holy name of the Lord chanted by the pure devotee descends directly from Goloka, the spiritual sky. The pure name then emanates out of his soul, and permeates his entire body, dancing on the top of his tongue. One who chants with this understanding is actually chanting the name; otherwise, one who nourishes a material concept of the name is drowned in despondency. He suffers eternally in hell, and a devotee should never see his face.

SRILA HARIDASA THAKURA further explained, "O Lord Caitanya, You instructed Srila Sanatana Gosvami here in Jagannatha Puri, and Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami in South India, that the holy name must be chanted attentively. Inattention in chanting is namaparadha. One may carefully avoid all other namaparadhas, yet still not experience the of the pure name. This is an indication of another type of namaparadha known as pramada, which restricts the natural growth of pure devotion.

DRENCHED IN TEARS of ecstatic love, Srila Haridasa Thakura went on to explain, in a choked voice, the last of the offenses to the holy name. "My Lord, this last namaparadha is the worst kind of offense. Its presence restricts the free flow of divine love, prema.

Even after having taken spiritual initiation, most materially attached persons cannot fully give up bodily designations. They maintain a 'me' and 'mine' mentality that sidetracks them from the path of devotion. Physical designations, e.g. 'I am a brahmana', 'I am Vaisnava', 'I am a King'; or 'this is my position, wealth, son, grandson and so on', symptomize spiritual immaturity and are deterrents to proper cultivation of devotional service. This terrible offense is only ameliorated when one surrenders to the holy name.