— Introduction —
by Bhaktivinoda Thakura
This book is not meant for the faithless materialist. Only those who have developed unflinching faith in Lord Caitanya and in the process of chanting the holy name are eligible candidates to hear the topics discussed in this book. Amongst the different levels of sadhana-bhakti, he who is convinced that all perfections are obtained by chanting the holy name alone is the topmost sadhaka or practitioner. Lord Caitanya has personally instructed this lesson in His Sri Siksastaka. He ordained Srila Haridasa Thakura as the namacarya or spiritual authority on the subject of chanting the holy name of the Lord.
Scrutinizing research of authorized texts has yielded the following facts regarding Srila Haridasa Thakura's life: He was born into a Muslim family living in a village called Budham, near Vanagram in West Bengal. At a very early age, his previous births' spiritual proclivity began to manifest; he took up devotional activities and renounced home and family. He built a small
shack in the forest of Benapol and embarked upon a program of intense chanting and meditation. Some mischievious men were hindering his bhajana there, so he left his shack and and took sanctuary on the banks of the river Ganges. In another incident he was disturbed by unscrupulous men, who sent a young to make him break his spiritual vows. But Srila Haridasa Thakura's chanting had a purifying effect on her; she became a devotee, giving up her old ways. Srila Haridasa Thakura initiated her into harinama, and settling her in his shack in Benapol, he left that area.
Walking along the banks of the Ganges immersed in chanting the holy name, he eventually arrived at Srila Yadunandana Acarya's house in Saptagram. He began to frequent the courts of Hiranya and Goverdhan Mazumdar (father of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami), the landlords of Saptagram. A certain inferiorclass brahmana named Gopal Cakravarty one day challenged Srila Haridasa Thakura's explanations of the glories of the holy name in an abrasive and offensive manner. Hiranya Mazumdar and his brother immediately sacked Gopal Cakravarty from his services. Soon after he contracted leprosy in the throat. On hearing this news Srila Haridasa Thakura was very greatly affected. He left the village and came to Phulia, taking shelter of Advaita Acarya. He lived in a cave on the banks of the Ganges and engrossed himself in chanting and meditation.
A sincere devotee always avoids, even detests, society and fame. But by the force of his purity he cannot remain anonymous. So as his name and reputation spread, the Muslims became envious and agitated. They influenced the local Muslim ruler and had Srila Haridasa Thakura severely beaten in public. Srila Haridasa is a very compassionate saintly soul. He did not blame his tormentors, but blessing them and exonerating them from their offenses, he returned to his cave.
Shortly after this incident, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advented in Navadvipa-dhama. Together with Advaita Acarya, Srila Haridasa Thakura surrendered himself at Lord Caitanya's lotus feet. Srila Haridasa Thakura became known as the nam-acarya, or the preceptor and propagator of the holy name. When Lord Caitanya settled in Jagannatha Puri, He arranged a permanent place of residence and bhajana for Srila Haridasa near the famous Siddha Bakula tree. Srila Haridasa Thakura's passing away was glorious. Lord Caitanya personally conducted the last Vaisnava rites for Srila Haridasa Thakura, first bathing his body in the ocean and finally interring his transcendental form within the sand.
A unique feature of Lord Caitanya's pastimes is that He made the devotee who excelled in a particular aspect of devotional service His mouthpiece for broadcasting that topic to the world. By enquiring about a few points on chanting from Srila Haridasa, the Lord preached the principles of the holy name. These subjects have been discussed in scriptures like Caitanya-caritamrta, Caitanya Bhagavat, etc. Inspired by certain Vaisnavas, we compiled the teachings of Haridasa Thakura into the present book form. We received several other books about Srila Haridasa. Unfortunately, many of them contained unauthorized and scripturaliy fallacious statements, and had to be rejected. One of them, however, appeared to have been written by an elevated Vaisnava. It explained the esoteric mellow of chanting the holy name. Reading it gave us considerable joy. We could surmise that Srila Haridasa must have instructed a saintly Vaisnava on the philosophy of the holy name. That Viasnava in turn penned these valuable teachings in a book dedicated to his initiating spiritual master. We extended our heartfelt gratitude to the sender of the book from Srihatta. The Harinama Cintamani has recorded these precious edicts glorifying the holy name. This book, therefore, is being published for the pleasure of the devotees surrendered to the Lord and His transcendental name. We firmly believe that only those who have taken shelter of the holy name will read the book; others will not. Therefore we do not expect any arguments or challenges about the holy name from them.
There are many disciplines and processes of worship, but the process of chanting the holy name is paramount. All the saintly Vaisnavas since Lord Caitanya have followed the same singular method of chanting as enunciated by Srila Haridasa Thakura.
Even the ancient Vaisnava sages residing in Vrajadhama Vrndavana have chanted in this same manner. The elevated Vaisnavas residing in Puri whom we were fortunate to have seen with our own eyes and who were constantly relisting the divine nectar of the holy name, are following the same method of chanting. Both Sanatana Gosvami and Gopal Bhatta Gosvami have unequivocally established in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa that the singular procedure for chanting the holy name is to do it free from offense, incessantly and in a secluded spot-away from the hubbub of material activities.
The Harinama Cintamani is written in couplets. It can be read by women, young students and others not knowing Sanskrit; they can easily understand Lord Caitanya's teaching. So that they are not inconvenienced, all Sanskrit quotations are also deleted. Another book by the name of Pramanmala has been written with
compilations of relevant Sanskrit slokas that substantiate every statement in Harinama Cintamani. If Lord Krsna so desires, then that book will also soon be published for the satisfaction of the devotees.