— Chapter Two —

Chanting the Holy Name

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

Unflinching devotion is superior

SRILA HARIDASA CONTINUED to weep in ecstatic love. Lord Gauracandra encircled him with His arms in a loving embrace and said "O Haridasa, a devotee of your caliber is rarely found. You are well-versed in all spiritual conclusions and you are always unaffected by maya.

"Taking birth in a low family and caste, you have proven to the world that Lord Krsna is not obtained merely by amassing wealth, position, lineage or refinement. Whoever has developed unflinching faith in unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Lord is factually superior to the demigods.

"You are learned in all the truths of the holy name of the Lord; your spiritual conduct is exemplary; and you are an expert preacher. So, Haridasa! Kindly reveal to Me the unlimited glories of the holy name. Allow Me to savor your words.

Symptoms of different Vaisnavas

"One who chants the holy name even once is considered a Vaisnava devotee; he should be respected by the householders. The devotee who constantly chants Krsna's name is a more elevated Vaisnava, for he is endowed with all good qualities. The most advanced Vaisnava of all is he who inspires others who see him to immediately chant the Lord's name. When he chants the holy name even once, attraction to rendering continuous devotional service to the Lord is instantly established. Kindly tell Me how the jivas can be made to chant the Lord's name in this manner. Please reveal to Me this all-auspicious prescription."

The spiritual identity of the holy name

Srila Haridasa clasped his hands together. His eyes brimming with tears and voice choked in spiritual love, he began his reply in soft, gentle tones: "Lord Krsna's name is like an eternal and transcendental touchstone. A touchstone can grant all desirable objects; the touchstone of Lord Krsna's holy name can give religiosity, wealth, sense pleasure and liberation to a materialistic person. To a surrendered devotee, it offers pure love of Krsna.

"Lord Krsna and His holy name are identical; They are one and the same Absolute Truth, the all-inclusive yet supremely independent form of dynamic spirituality, full of emotion, without beginning or end. Always situated in pure goodness, the holy name descends to this world in the shape of letters as the complete incarnation and embodiment of the highest sweetness: rasa.

"Any object is known by four characteristic features: name, form, qualities and activities. Lord Krsna is the Supreme Object; thus He is knowable in terms of His unlimited and eternal name, form, qualities and pastimes. The absence of these four features in anything denies its status as object. For example, impersonal Brahman is formless; hence it is not an object unto itself, but simply a distinctive trait of the Supreme Lord.

The holy name is all-attractive

"Lord Krsna is the non-dual absolute object who perfectly manifests Himself in these four features. These features are fully potent and able to express Him in totality; they exist and are sustained by the Lord's sandhini (eternal existence) potency. They are eternal and transcendental. As Lord Krsna attracts all living entities, similarly the holy name, which is non-different from Him, also attracts everyone.

Krsna's sixty-four transcendental qualities

"Lord Krsna's exquisite form is non-different from Him, and Krsna's name and form are likewise identical. Remembering and chanting Krsna's name immediately invokes His beautiful form in the mind, and both reside there harmoniously. Similarly, Lord Krsna's sixty-four qualities* are of an unlimited and transcendental character.

"The sixty-four transcendental qualities of Krsna are as follows: 1) beautiful features of the entire body; 2) marked with all auspicious characteristics; 3) extremely pleasing; 4) effulgent; 5) strong; 6) ever-youthful; 7) a wonderful linguist; 8) truthful; 9) talks pleasingly; 10) can speak fluently in all languages; 11) highly learned; 12) highly intelligent; 13) a genius; 14) artistic; 15) extremely clever; 16) expert; 17) grateful; 18) firmly determined; 19) an expert judge of time and circumstances; 20) sees and speaks on the authority of the Vedas; 21) pure; 22) self-controlled; 23) steadfast; 24) forebearing; 25) forgiving; 26) grave; 27) self-satisfied; 28) possesses equilibrium; 29) magnanimous; 30) religious; 31) heroic; 32) compassionate; 33) respectful; 34) gentle; 35) liberal; 36) shy; 37) the protector of surrendered souls; 38) happy; 39) the well-wisher of devotees;

40) controlled by love; 41)all-auspicious; 42) most powerful; 43) all-famous; 44) popular, 45) partial to devotees; 46) very attractive to all women; 47) all-worshipable; 48) all-opulent; 49) all-honorable; 50) the supreme controller, 51) changeless; 52) all-cognizant;.53) ever-fresh; 54) possessing an eternal, blissful spiritual body; 55) possessing all mystic perfection; 56) possessing inconceivable potency; 57) innumerable universes are generated from His body; 58) the original source of all incarnations; 59) the giver of salvation to His enemies; 60) the attractor of liberated souls; 61) the performer of wonderful varieties of pastimes, especially His childhood pastimes in Vrndavana; 62) He attracts living entities all over the universes by playing on His flute; 63) He is surrounded by devotees endowed with wonderful love of Godhead; 64) He has a wonderful excellence of beauty that cannot be rivalled anywhere in the creation.

"All the expansions and incarnations of the Lord are partial. Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, His qualitative expansions, only partially display the nature of the Supreme Lord. Everything about the Supreme Lord Krsna is infinite, eternal, unlimited and absolutely spiritual. He alone has the full sixty-four qualities, whereas His expansions, starting from Lord Narayana to Lord Ramacandra, are ornamented with only the first, sixty of His transcendental qualities. Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the other demigods possess but the first fifty-five of these qualities, and these only to a partial degree. Ordinary jivas have just the first fifty, visible in mere fractional degrees, like small drops. Only Krsna, even amongst all His Visnu expansions, displays the pre-eminence of being the master of four-exceptional spiritual qualities unique to Him alone.

"If the Lord's qualities are compared to waves, then His pastimes mingle with these waves and continuously form, crest and reshape themselves again. Wherever they may be enacted, either in Vaikuntha, Goloka or on Earth in Vrndavana, they are always transcendental. Hence the Lord's name, form, qualities and pastimes are of the same spiritual substance.

"The conditioned jiva in contact with the illusory material nature experiences a state of consciousness diametrically opposed to Krsna consciousness. Because he identifies with his material body, the jiva's name, form, qualities and activities are all separate and different from his real spiritual self. Once he is purified of his material contamination, these four features take on the same spiritual nature and are non-different from him. But until he is purified and liberated by Lord Krsna's grace, the jiva has to suffer the pains of false identification. With Lord Krsna, who is Absolute and Supreme, it is different. He never experiences such suffering.

The holy name is the fountainhead

"Of the four characteristic features (name,form, qualities and activities), the Lord's holy name is the original, because it awards cognition of the other three. Therefore chanting the holy name is the prime religious activity of a Vaisnava. From the holy name gradually blossom the Lord's form, qualities and pastimes. The entire panorama of Lord Krsna's pastimes is present in the holy name. You have personally declared that Your name is the highest Absolute Truth.

* For a detailed discussion of Krsna's sixty-four transcendental qualities, refer to The Nectar of Devotion, Chap. 21-24 (for more information, see the Bibliography)-Ed,

Two spiritual objects in this world

"This material nature has nothing more superior to offer than the holy name. The holy name is the most precious treasure in the Lord's storehouse. The jiva and the holy name are the only two supra-mundane objects in this material universe; everything else is inert matter. The jiva is living here in a conditioned state of consciousness due to the Lord's will. The jiva initially was the only spiritual presence here. We have been counted amongst the jivas, or the Lord's separated parts and parcels.

Principal and secondary holy names

"The holy name can be categorized into two types: principal and secondary. By taking shelter of the principal names of the Lord, the jiva obtains the essence of spiritual life. The principal names of Lord Krsna describe His transcendental pastimes and contain all of the Lord's spiritual excellences. They are, for example: Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Sri Nandanandana, Radhanatha, Hari, Yasomati-Pranadhana, Madana-Mohana, Syamasundara, Madhava, Gopinatha, Brajagopala, Ra khala, Yadava, etc. Anyone who chants these names of the Lord, which depict His eternal pastimes, can attain the Lord's supreme abode.

Secondary names and their symptoms

"The Vedas address the Lord with names that characterize His affiliation with the material nature. These are His secondary names, e.g. Creator, Supersoul, Brahman, maintainer and annihilator of the world, Yajnesvara, Kara, etc. Such names of the Lord are invoked by those pursuing fruitive activities and empirical knowledge. In keeping with the Vedic directions, the chanting of such names of the Lord will succeed in giving one piety and liberation. However, the most consequential result of chanting the Lord's names—love of Godhead—is to be attained only by saintly souls who invoke the principal names of Krsna.

The pure name and namabhasa

"If the holy name is chanted just once, though impurely, or if it is simply heard, the sound penetrating within, then the living entity is immediately liberated, regardless of his high or low caste. This is a scriptural fact. And beyond this, when the holy name is chanted in the clearing stage (namabhasa—the stage when impurities are swept from the heart of the chanter), then the highest goal is attained after some delay. All the other auspicious and pious results, including liberation, can be quite easily achieved, but the attainment of love of Godhead is suspended for a while.

In the clearing stage of chanting the jiva is absolved of all sins, and by following this path he gradually reaches the highest stage of chanting: suddhanama or the pure name. One obtains love of Krsna only after reaching this stage of pure chanting. When namabhasa is complete, all sins and anarthas (unwanted desires in the heart) are dissipated, and the devotee chants purely. Then suddhanama offers the devotee the highest spiritual success: love of Krsna.

Vyavadhana or disruption causes offense

"Chanting should be free from any form of disruption because this will result in offenses against the holy name, which in turn pose an insurmountable obstacle on the path to success, Vyavadhana, or disruption, is of two kinds. The first type is known as varna-vyavadhan or disruption in the syllables. For example, in the Bengali word hathikari, the first syllabic ha- and the last syllabic -ri can be put together to give Hari, a name of Krsna. But because the syllables thi-ka are inserted in the middle, the repetition of hathikari will not give the actual benefit of chanting the holy name, i.e. krsna-prema. Yet the Islamic word haram is not perverted by such disruption of the syllables or varna-vyavadhan. In the word haram, the syllables comprising the holy name Ram are uninterrupted; hence, speaking 'haram' gives liberation because it is namabhasa.

"The second type of vyavadhana is called tattva-vyavadhana or disruption in the philosophy or conclusions. This is a very heinous offense. Lord Krsna's name and Lord Krsna Himself are non-different. But someone who is polluted by the mayavadi philosophy imagines them as two dissimilar entities. Such offensive conclusions will totally destroy his spiritual life; it is clearly against the Vcdic teachings. It is impossible to obtain krsna-prema from such chanting.

"The devotee who chants Krsna's name purely, free from both the vyavadhana offenses, is to be considered a very elevated Vaisnava. He must be worshipped with great care and affection.

When anartha is destroyed, the pure name appears

"Anyone wanting to attain the highest spiritual success of chanting purely must approach a bona fide spiritual master and serve him sincerely and with care. Gradually, as all the anarthas or unwanted desires in the heart are destroyed, the transcendental name of Krsna appears and dances on the tongue of the devotee. The devotee must relish the holy name, now nectarcan in taste, at every moment. Thus spiritually intoxicated, the devotee always feels like dancing. As the holy name dances, the devotee likewise dances, and at that moment the ecstasy of love of Godhead also enters dancing into devotee's heart. The entire world falls at his feet and maya runs away.

The holy name is omnipotent

"The Supreme Lord invested all His potencies in His transcendental name and offered it to the living entities. One who has sufficient faith in the holy name is eligible to chant it. One who chants Lord Krsna's name is properly executing his prescribed duties. The holy name is so potent that chanting is not dependent on conditions of time, place, rules, cleanliness, etc. Pious activities like giving charity, performing sacrifices and ablutions, and chanting of Vedic mantras are all regulated by stringent rules. But the only prerequisite for chanting the holy name is faith. One who takes shelter of the holy name with unflinching faith will attain all perfection. The jiva in Kali-yuga must become free from deceit, enroll himself as a member in Lord Krsna's family of devotees, and continuously chant the holy name.

Accept things favorable to chanting

"One must accept everything favorable to performing devotional service and at the same time reject all unfavorable things. He must seek out the association of devotees and utilize his life in constant chanting and remembering of the Lord's holy name.

He must forgo all other religious practices and pious activities, and never worship any other person. Nor may he think others to be independent from the Supreme Lord. One who always chants the holy name and serves the devotees will surely obtain love for Lord Krsna."

Srila Haridasa Thakura again placed his head on the Lord's lotus feet. Weeping, he begged the Lord that he might develop attachment for the holy name. One who is blessed with love and devotion and takes pleasure in serving Srila Haridasa Thakura's lotus feet will find this book, Harinama Cintamani, as valuable as life itself.