— Chapter One —

The Glories of the Holy Name

All glories to Sri Gadadhara Pandit and Lord Sri Gauranga all glories to Lord Nityananda, the life of Srimati Jahnavadevi; glories to Sri Advaita Acarya and Mother Sita; all glories to Srila Srivas Pandit, and to all the devotees of Lord Caitanya.

The Supreme Lord and His Devotees

IN NlLACALA, WITHIN A TEMPLE near the ocean shore; the Supreme Personality of Godhead resides, visible in His form of wood known as Darubrahman (Lord Jagannatha). The Supreme Lord Hari descends to the material world in the Deity form to save the living entities; He gives, both material pleasure and liberation. In this same holy place, Lord Caitanya, the Supreme Personality, appeared in the role of a renounced sannyasi to benedict humanity; He stayed at Kasi Misra's residence and propagated the dharma necessary for this age of Kali, making everyone understand its real meaning.

Lord Caitanya gathered His devotees at Jagannatha Puri, and together they showered love of Godhead on everyone, just like a wish-fulfulling tree. For the proper dissemination of spiritual instructions, He arranged for different devotees to speak, on various subjects while He gave them a sober audience. He had Sri Ramananda Raya reveal the confidential mellows of the conjugal dealings of the Supreme Lord; Sri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya explained the truth about liberation; Sri Rupa Gosvami analyzed the levels and varieties of spiritual exchanges with the Lord; and Srila Haridasa Thakura glorified the supreme efficacy and excellence of the Holy Name.

The Lord Inquires from Haridasa

One day, having returned from His bath in the ocean, Lord Caitanya came to see Srila Haridasa Thakura. He found Haridasa sitting under the Siddha Bakula tree. Greatly pleased at meeting Srila Haridasa, the Lord then inquired from him the means by which the conditioned soul can easily attain liberation. Srila Haridasa fell at the Lord's lotus feet and clasped them tightly. His entire body went into rapture, and he offered humble prayers punctuated by shivering and tears.

In a choked voice Srila Haridasa said, "My Lord, Your wonderful pastimes are unfathomable. I am unfortunate and illiterate. My only anchor is Your lotus feet. What is the use of asking questions of a worthless person like me?"

Srila Haridasa continued: "You are Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has appeared in Navadvipa to save the living entities. O my Lord Gauranga, kindly shelter me in the shade of Your lotus feet. Only this can engladden my heart. Your pastimes are ever-expanding; You have manifested Your name, form, qualities and pastimes in this material world so that even a fallen wretch like myself can relish them. It is impossible for the jiva to perceive Your transcendental features, with mundane senses. Lord Krsna has mercifully manifest His transcendental feature of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the panca-tattva for the highest benefit of humanity. These direct manifestations of transcendence are immediate expansions of the internal spiritual potency of the Lord.

"You are the spiritual sun and I am an insignificant spark of Your effulgence; You are my Lord and master and I am Your servitor eternally. The ambrosia emanating from Your lotus feet intoxicates all my senses; my hope lies in the limitless nectar of Your holy name. I am fallen-what can I say of my own volition? I am here just to execute Your orders. I shall be greatly satisfied to speak the words You put into my mouth and I will not consider whether they are right or wrong.

The Truth of Lord Krsna

"Lord Krsna is the only Absolute Autocrat. He is beyond anyone's jurisdiction, for He alone is the Supreme Controller and Lord. He is endowed with inconceivable potencies, and is a fully independent, self-willed and conscious being. All energies or potencies are a part of His inherent nature; therefore they are not independent of Him. The omnipotent Lord is the fountainhead of all energies. Lord Krsna is the master of unlimited opulences and potencies, yet He is still one non-dual Brahman. Through the eightfold yoga system, the yogi can perceive this same, nondual Supreme Being, who is omnipresent, localized within the heart as paramatma, the Supersoul. This aspect of Lord Krsna is also a partial manifestation. Therefore, neither Brahman nor paramatma is a complete feature of Lord Krsna. Lord Krsna alone is fully replete with absolute potency, will, control and consciousness.

Lord Krsna and His energies are one

"The multifarious energies of Lord Krsna are never independent of Him. The Vedas declare that the Lord and His energies are nondifferent. Lord Krsna is the infinite, absolute vibhu, and His energies are exhibitions of His opulences (vaibhava). In spite of His endless excellences and multifarious potencies, He remains unaffected and indivisible.

The three kinds of opulences

"The Lord's energies are manifestations of His vaibhava (opulences); the Supreme Lord, therefore, can be perceived only through these energies or vaibhava. O Lord Gauranga! You are the repository of three types of vaibhava. They are as revealed in the scriptures: the spiritual potency (cit-vaibhava), the material potency (maya or acit-vaibhava), and the marginal potency (jivaviabhava).

Cit-vaibhava or spiritual potency

"Lord Krsna's cit-vaibhava (spiritual opulences) are a transformation of His internal transcendental potencies. This unlimited display of spiritual potencies includes His abode, generally known as the Vaikuntha-loka; His innumerable names like Govinda, Hari, etc.; His transcendental forms, like the three-fold bending form with two hands playing on a flute; His divine qualities, so sublimely pleasurable to His devotees; His super-excellent pastimes like the rasa dance in Vrndavana and its non-different appearance in Navadvipa as the congregational chanting of the holy names. Thus His spiritual potencies are countless.

"The Lord's cit potency is His superior energy. It is the natural result of the Lord's spiritual fullness. "The sandhini potency by which everything exists and is held together as an inter-related whole, including the relationships of all jivas to the Lord, is an emanation of the cit potency. From that same cit-vaibhava also comes the samvit potency, which gives knowledge of one's identity and of everything else; finally, from the cit-vaibhava comes the hladini potency, which gives birth to the ecstatic bliss of spiritual emotions, spiritual relationship and the divine exchange of rasas or mellows. The Lord's cit potency is His yoga-maya, and its transformations are all beyond the jurisdiction of the mundane modes and influences.

The cit potency is never affected by the inferior acit potency. Although it descends to this inferior mundane world it, is unaffected by material inebrieties. Forever spiritual, embodying the absolute nature of the Supreme Lord, the Vedic hymns sing of its supreme position as equal to the Lord Himself.

Krsna's energies are in the visnu-tattva category

"There is no tinge of material influence in Lord Krsna's energy; it is transcendental and exists in pure goodness (suddhasattva). Sattva is of two kinds: suddha-sattva (pure-goodness) and misra-sattva (mixed goodness). Everything in the category of cit-vaibhava is suddha-sattva, or pure goodness. All saliva in the material nature is mixed, or misra-saitva. Suddha-sattva is devoid of passion and ignorance. Birth indicates the mode of passion in action. The eternally existent spiritual essence, suddha-sattva, has never been touched by birth, which is a manifestation of passion, nor by annihilation, which is an act carried out in the mode of ignorance. Although the Supreme Lord's separated parts and parcels, the jivas, belong to the category of suddha- saliva, due to their contact with nescience or material nature they have come under the sway of the material modes of passion and ignorance, and hence are now in the mixed or misra-suddha category. Even demigods like Lord Siva, though far superior in many ways to the ordinary jivas, are nevertheless captivated by the material glare due to false identification, and so fall in the category of misra-sattva. The Supreme Lord is always in pure goodness. He descends to this material world by His inconceivable spiritual potency and is always the controller of the material nature, maya, who is ever ready to act as His maidservant.

"All the expansions and partial expansions of the Lord, such as Govirida, Vaikunthanatha, Mahavisnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu and Ksirodakasayi Visnu, are in the category of pure goodness, supreme and divine, and They are always absolutely spiritual. These visnu-tattvas, or Supreme Godhead belonging to the category of Visnu, may sojourn in any place, either the spiritual abodes of Goloka, Vaikuntha, the Causal Ocean or in this material universe, yet They are always the Master of maya and the Supreme Controller of every other living entity, great or small. Their remaining unaffected by the influence of the illusory potency is evidence of Their inconceivable spiritual position.

Misra-sattva and maya-tattva

Lord Brahma the creator, Lord Siva the destroyer and all other demigods belong to the category of jiva, and hence are misra-tattva, or in the mixed category; while all the incarnations of the Visnu category, Their pastimes, the spiritual sky, etc. are in pure goodness. On this side of the Viraja River, which separates the material universe from the spiritual abode, everything in all the fourteen planetary systems is acit-vaibhava or the temporary manifestation of matter. Elsewhere, this place has been described as devi-dhama, the abode of Durga-devi, who is the presiding deity of maya. The material universe is composed of the five gross elements, mind, intelligence, and false ego. Both the material universe and the physical bodies of the living entities are made of the same five material substances, namely earth, water, fire, air and ether. Mind, intelligence, and false ego comprise the jiva's subtle body which is the result of his desire; these are also material. Yet the jiva, who is by nature a product of the suddha-sattva as are his original mind, intelligence, and ego, is spiritual and distinct from the subtle body.

"The seven higher planetary systems such as Bhur, Bhuvar, Svarga, Mahar, Jana, Satya and Brahma, and the seven lower planetary systems Atala, Sutala etc. are all manifestations of maya, the illusory potency of the Lord. Cit-vaibhava is the complete whole, and maya is its shadow.

Liberated and conditioned souls

"The jiva is originally completely spiritual, but infinitesmal, and due to his spiritual nature he is also independent. The jivas are countless in number and spiritual bliss is their urgent need and perfection. In seeking after bliss, those who surrender their lives to Lord Krsna become liberated and reside eternally in the Lord's company as His confidential associates.

"On the other hand, the jiva-soul who contemplates self-aggrandizement and selfish pleasure becomes attracted by maya, who is always near at hand. He becomes eternally entrapped, enticed away from Lord Krsna's service, and receives a body manufactured by material nature, or maya, conducive to residence in devi-dhama. Thus he is bound in the cycle of inevitable karmic reaction, wandering in gross and subtle bodies. Sometimes he is elevated to the heavenly planets and next he has to descend to hell. In this way he travels through all the 8,400,000 species of life, suffering the pains of material existence.

Lord Krsna is always merciful

"O Lord, You are the Supreme Personality, and the jiva is Your part and parcel. You are always concerned for the well-being of Your servitors. Whatever situation the jiva may find himself in, Lord Krsna is always prepared to grant the jiva his heart's desire,

like a well-wishing friend who never deserts him. The relationship between Krsna and the jiva is eternal. Krsna is the Supreme Godhead and the jiva is the instrument through whom and to whom the Lord manifests His energies and opulences. The Lord is the Supreme Controller, and the jiva is the beneficiary enjoying the rewards of his actions. Whatever the servant considers desirable, the Lord mercifully bestows upon him.

"Anyone yearning for evanescent sense pleasure in the material world can also easily find it kindly provided by You. The means to attain such gratification is the performance of auspicious activities as recommended in the Vedas. They are: following the duties of the varnasrama system; performing sacrifices such as the fire sacrifice (agnistoma); executing the eightfold yoga process; offering havan or oblations; keeping vows on full-moon days; and giving in charity on auspicious days and on occasions productive of material benefit.

Although these activities are performed with Lord Visnu as the presiding Deity, there is no pure devotional attitude on the part of the performer; he unfortunately does not realize his want of spirituality because these activities never help him develop a pure spiritual mood. The results one accrues from these activities are material; one simply craves for enjoyment in higher planets. Such activities and their results can never satisfy the soul, the real self; illusion is their cause. These so-called auspicious activities only allow one to attain temporary heavenly pleasures diametrically opposed to transcendental bliss.

Deliverance from material piety

"If a person is fortunate enough to have association with a saintly personality and comes to know of his eternal identity as a servant of Lord Krsna, he easily surmounts the great obstacle of material nature. This is very rare. It happens only because of the results of huge amounts of previous pious activities that are never to be attained by the performance of fruitive works, which can give only insignificant results.

"The seeker of dry empirical knowledge understands material nature to be a place of suffering and so strives for liberation. You are merciful to them also; You have given them jnana-kanda section of the Vedas so they can pursue impersonal knowledge of the Absolute. Their final destination is absorption into the brahmajyoti. The brahmajyoti is Your spiritual effulgence and is situated on the bank of the Viraja River. All the demons killed by the Supreme Lord also end up merging with the brahmajyoti, which lies beyond the periphery of maya. Both the empiricists and the fruitive workers are non-devotees, disinclined to serve Lord Krsna. They can never relish the sweetness of Lord Krsna's service.

Pious activities leading to devotional service

"Sukrti, or pious activity, is of three varieties: 1) karmonmukhi or piety derived from fruitive activities, 2) jnanonmukhi or piety derived from the cultivation of knowledge and 3) bhakti-unmukhi or piety derived from devotional service. The first two result in enjoying the fruits of action and in liberation, respectively.

However, bhakti-unmukhi involves faith in and appreciation of pure devotional service. Such exalted piety is achieved by unknowing performance of pure devotional service, without spiritual knowledge (ajnata-sukrti). Bhakti-unmukhi is the most important kind of sukrti, and it leads the jiva to meet a pure, saintly devotee. By associating with a devotee of Krsna the jiva's faith becomes firm. Gradually he develops a taste for chanting the holy name, becomes compassionate toward all beings, and is fixed in devotional service.

A secondary process for the karmi and jnani

"O Lord! You are an ocean of magnanimity and the Supreme Controller of everyone. You are always keen to serve the conditioned souls, including the karmis (fruitive workers) and jnanis (empirical philosophers). Thinking of their welfare You have proposed a secondary devotional path. The karmi who follows varnasrama-dharma associates with saintly persons and executes his duties for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Hari. Such activities cleanse his heart and gradually destroy the desire for more fruitive work. In its place the seed of sraddha, or pure faith, is sown within his heart.

"On the strength of his piety, the jnani obtains the association of pure devotees of the Lord and invokes their inherent compassion towards himself. This helps him easily develop firm faith in the process of pure devotional service. The association of a pure devotee is a secondary devotional path for the jnani. You often say, O Lord, 'My servant, the jiva, succumbs to the treachery of My illusory potency. I always know what is beneficial for him and thus I inspire him to develop an aversion to sense enjoyment and liberation, and in its place I grant him attraction to devotional service unto Me. I lead the jiva in the pursuit of fulfilling his material desires and very subtly deflect his yearnings toward a secondary devotional path, and in this way strengthen his faith and love.'

"O Lord! You are most merciful and all this is a reflection of Your causeless mercy. Without Your loving intervention, how could the jiva ever become purified?

Religion has deteriorated in Kali-yuga

"In Satya-yuga, sages who took up the process of meditation were purified by the Lord and given the treasure of devotional service. In Treta-yuga, the same spiritual success crowned those who flawlessly performed opulent sacrifices to satisfy the Lord, and in Dvapara-yuga You granted devotion to those who adhered perfectly to the path of Deity worship. With the advent of Kaliyuga, O Lord, You saw the dreadful condition of the jiva and relinquished all hope in the processes of yoga, meditation, fruitive activities, sacrifices etc.

"People in Kali-yuga are short-lived, always harassed by disease, and are born with a weak physique and psyche. They are handicapped from the outset. The cultivation of varnasrama-dharma, sankhya philosophy, yoga and empiricism will not yield the strength needed to redeem the jivas in Kali-yuga. And the secondary sub-devotional paths of jnana and karma are extremely narrow and hazardous. The two secondary paths that lead to the shrine of devotional service are: 1) the association of saintly persons during spiritual discussions; and 2) work performed without desire for results in which everything is offered to the Supreme Lord. In Kali-yuga both have become contaminated. Genuine saintly persons, now rarely seen, have been displaced by a brand of crass, commercial pseudo-spiritualists. Religious activities are no longer performed for purifying the consciousness but for mere enjoyment of the results. Therefore these secondary paths are no longer beneficial. Even the process of Deity worship that gave the highest spiritual success in Dvapara-yuga has become impure and degraded.

"The jivas then tried other means to reach the final destination but were confronted with many insurmountable obstacles. The path that directs one to the goal is the actual means, and what is gained by the execution of the means or process is the final destination. Receiving the Lord's mercy is the goal of human life. But karma or jnana are not the pre-eminent means to achieve that highest goal, because although they bring one close to the destination, in the end they suddenly reach a dead end and disappear.

The prime process: chanting the holy name

"The process of chanting the holy name is not like that. The Lord's holy name is always present, therefore it is the most efficient process. When the means becomes the end, the process becomes identical to the objective, and thus it is easy for the jivas to attain liberation by Your mercy. In my case, O Lord, it is different: I am extremely fallen and am much engrossed in material life. Being the rascal I am, I never chanted Your holy name."

Saying this, Srila Haridasa, the incarnation of Lord Brahma, fell at the Lord's feet with tears cascading from his eyes and his body heaving with sighs. Only persons who appreciate Lord Hari, His devotees, and devotional service can take this Harinama Cintamani to heart.