— Chapter Three —

Namabhasa or the Unclarified 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.

The cloud of anartha the mist of ignorance

THE MERCIFUL LORD Caitanya stretched out His lotus-like hands and lifted up Srila Haridasa. The Lord said, "O Haridasa, please take hold of yourself. Explain clearly to Me about namabhasa. Once anyone understands namabhasa, he then strives towards chanting the pure name. The holy name is potent and endowed with such transcendental qualities that anyone can easily achieve liberation simply by chanting.

"Lord Krsna is the omnipotent spiritual sun, and He and His name are identical. Thus, the holy name is like the all-powerful, brilliant sun that disperses the darkness of maya or nescience. To stream mercy upon the conditioned souls, the sun of the holy name has arisen on the horizon of this material world.

"But sometimes clouds and mist obscure one's vision, and then the sun is not visible. The jiva is covered over by the cloud of anartha and the mist of ignorance. The cloud and mist spread a blanket over the jiva's vision so that he is unable to see the sun-like holy name. The sun is too big for any cloud or mist to cover, but if the jiva's vision is obfuscated, then the sun is hidden from him.

The mist of ignorance creates confusion

"Lack of knowledge of the transcendental nature and identity of the holy name creates a mist of ignorance that plunges the jiva into darkness. One who is ignorant about Lord Krsna's supremacy over all else becomes confused and begins to worship the demigods. Thus he becomes entangled in the cycle of fruitive action of karma. That person who hasn't realized the jiva's transcendental nature is in material consciousness, and is deluded and always in ignorance."

Srila Haridasa Thakura exclaimed in exhilaration, "O, I am so fortunate today! Lord Caitanya wants to hear about the holy name from me! One who is in ignorance does not know about either the spiritual nature of the holy name or Lord Krsna's supremacy over all; factually, the demigods are Lord Krsna's servitors, the jiva's nature is transcendental, and maya (illusion) is the nature of matter. Anyone who understands these truths is freed from the darkness of ignorance and attains enlightenment.

Anatomy of the cloud of anartha

"Hankering for things temporary and unreal, weakness of the heart and mind; and offenses produce a cloud of anarthas that keeps the jivas in constant suffering. Asat-trsna (thirsting for the illusory) indicates desires for things not related to Lord Krsna, or in other words, the craving for so-called material gains; hridaya-daurbalyam refers to propensities of the heart and mind that arise from a condition of spiritual weakness; and aparadha means offenses. These three anarthas are to be avoided, for they form a cloud that hides the sun of the holy name. The holy name is always perfect in itself, but namabhasa obfuscates the jiva's vision of it.

The extents of namabhasa

"As long as the jiva is not firmly established in the knowledge of sambandha-tattva, or the correct understanding of the relationship between God, His energies, and the jiva, he will continue to chant in the namabhasa stage. When the jiva takes full shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, he becomes expert in executing devotional service under his guru's guidance; then gradually the clouds and mist are dispersed.

Sambandha, ahidheya and prayojana

"Once the cloud and mist are dispelled, the sun of the holy name shines brilliantly once more and enlightens the devotee with love of Godhead.

"The bona fide spiritual master instructs the disciple in sambandha-jnana. The chanting of the holy name is the indication (abhidheya) of this eternal relationship (sambandha). The guru encourages the disciple to take up abhidheya or chanting. The sun of the holy name now shines stronger and evaporates the mist of anartha. Chanting at this stage, becomes an indispensable need (prayojana). Prayojana leads a devotee to love of Godhead. The jiva now experiences ecstasy in every moment of chanting.

"The guru first instructs his disciple in sambandha-jnana. This is to be exactingly explained, and the disciple must receive it with proper faith. The quintessence of this knowledge is that Lord Krsna is eternally the Supreme Personality of Godhead; the jiva is His eternal servitor, and the jiva's loving relationship with Lord Krsna is likewise eternal as an inherent trait of his nature. In contact with material nature, the jiva forgets his eternal relationship with the Lord and loiters aimlessly in this world of illusion searching for bliss. The material world is a veritable prison-house where the jiva is penalized for turning his back on Krsna. It consists of the fourteen planetary systems which together are known as the Devi-dhama; these planetary systems are the cells within the prison where the recalcitrant jivas are confined. Devi-dhama is not a place for experiencing happiness and bliss. The so-called material pleasures offered to the jivas here are only temporary, and hence simply cause further suffering; but since punishments are remedies, the jivas are reformed through such punitive measures.

"By the mercy of a Vaisnava devotee of the Lord, if the imprisoned jiva is once again instructed in the holy name and sambandha-jnana, he will gradually become enlightened with the essence of all religious practices, namely pure love of Godhead. To this fortunate soul, sayujya-muk or impersonal liberation is reprehensible. Until he is solidly grounded in the sam-bandha-jnana understanding, his chanting will be polluted by ananhas. This, then, is namabhasa: when the jiva cannot chant the pure name of Krsna.

The result of namabhasa

"The namabhasa stage is not to be underestimated, for it avails many positive benefits to the jiva and increases his piety. Verily, namabhasa is one of the jiva's greatest virtues. It offers him more good fortune than religiosity, vows, yoga, sacrifices and so on, put together. Now by chanting all his sins are absolved; he is thus liberated from the effects of Kali-yuga. Instead, Kali becomes a well-wishing servitor of the jiva providing security and equanimity. The miseries inflicted by demons, ghosts, hobgoblins, evil spirits and malefic planetary influences are easily averted. Even if a jiva is destined for the hellish planets he attains liberation; all his prarabdha-karma (sinful reactions of previous lives' activities that are taking effect now) is counteracted. Namabhasa is greater than the result of studying all the Vedas, of visiting every pilgrimage place or of performing every possible altruistic and pious work.

"The four goals offered in Vedas—religiosity, wealth, sense enjoyment and liberation—are all available from namabhasa chanting. It is endowed with unimaginable power that can reclaim any living entity. It bestows unlimited joy and elevates even the derelicts to a very exalted stage of realization. Namabhasa offers eternal residence in the spiritual abode of Vaikuntha, especially in Kali-yuga; this is stated in the scriptures.

Namabhasa's four attitudes

"The four attitudes in namabhasa chanting are sanketa (unintentionally) parihasa (in jest or ridicule), stobha (derisively) and hela (with disregard and neglect). Santeta is of two kinds: 1) when one, though intending to chant Lord Visnu's name, has a material conception of it, and 2) when one has something entirely different than the Lord or His name on his mind, but chants the holy name being somehow or other reminded of that transcendental sound. The yavanas eat cows, yet in spite of this they can attain liberation by uttering haram, an ordinary word in their language (Urdu) where Lord Krsna's name is automatically chanted. The power of the holy name is never diminished even if chanted in sanketa-namabhasa.

"Chanting in jest (parihasa) like Jarasandha did gets one liberated, as does chanting derisively (stobha) like Sisupala. Even chanting inattentively and with disregard results in deliverance from the pangs of material existence. Namabhasa chanting can purify anyone; people of low upbringing like mlecchas, gross materialists, and lazy persons can all avail of this opportunity to obtain liberation.

Sraddha-namabhasa and hela-namabhasa

"Faithful chanting that is still afflicted by anarthas is known as sraddha-nama, as You Yourself have explained, my Lord. The element of real sraddha (faith) is absent in the four attitudes of namabhasa chanting, and sanketa chanting is tinged with neglect. Nonetheless, even hela-namabhasa (chanting with neglect) gives one liberation, what to speak of faithful chanting. Chanting with faith establishes one on the platform of sambandha-jnana, which results in rati or attraction for the holy name. Sraddha-nama clears away anarthas very easily and quickly.

Anartha free namabhasa becomes nama

"Short of krsna-prema, every other success is available in namabhasa. When anarthas are nullified, then namabhasa is converted to nama or suddha-nama, the pure name. By pure chanting and by following the rules of sadhana as instructed by guru, sadhu and sastra,one slowly but surely acquires krsna-prema — love of Godhead. But namabhasa chanting can never give krsna-prema.

"I bow down to that fortunate soul who has freed himself from committing namaparadha, offenses against the holy name, in the namabhasa stage. This namabhasa stage is far beyond knowledge and fruitive work. And if one's sraddha is furthermore rooted in rati or attraction and is offenseless as well, then gradually it will lead to the pure name.

Two kinds of namabhasa: chaya and pratibimba

"The scriptures are filled with words like namabhasa, vaisnava-abhasa, sraddha-abhasa, rati-abhasa, prema-abhasa, mukti-abhasa, etc. The suffix -abhasa has a special meaning and is of versatile application. Let us discuss this now. Factually, abhasa (faint or indistinct presence) is of two sorts: svarupa-abhasa and pratibimba-abhasa. Svarupa-abhasa is the partial infiltration of the full brilliance; for example, on a cloudy day the light of the sun is present, but the full brilliance of the sun is shaded by the clouds. Now, in its first stage of appearance, namabhasa is shadowy. Still, it is of immense benefit to humanity; it is known as chaya-namabhasa or 'the faint shadowy name'. The way to the shadowy name is opened by chaya-sraddhabhasa or the faint shadow of sraddha (faith).

"On the other hand, pratibimba-abhasa reflects a distorted image of the real object, just as sunlight is misrepresented when reflected off the surface of water. This distorted reflection allows only inaccurate perception of the original source of light. Pratibimba-namabhasa appears when the rays of the holy name reflect off the lake of mayavadi thought, bequeathing sayujya-mukti upon the mayavadis who chant it. However, this will fail to generate the quintessence of chanting: krsna-prema. Indeed, this namabhasa is a major namaparadha; therefore it cannot really be counted as a namabhasa at all. Chaya-namabhasa or svarupa-namabhasa is the real namabhasa, and is subdivided into fourcategories, as described above. The scriptures, while praising namabhasa, profusely condemn pratibimba namabhasa. Chaya-namabhasa is had as a result of chanting the holy name with anarthas born of ignorance. But the chanting of the holy name with anarthas nurtured by wicked and perverted knowledge produces pratibimba namabhasa; it is considered a terrible obstacle to devotional service and a heinous offense.

"A vaisnava-abhasa chanter may not be recognized as a pure Vaisnava, but still should be respected as a neophyte devotee as long as he is not-contaminated by the mayavadi philosophy. He can easily become elevated by contact with saintly persons. The elevated Vaisnavas consider such neophytes to be innocent and so shower mercy on them. They must not be ignored and avoided like the agnostic mayavadis. The pure devotees will resuscitate the small spark.of devotion in them, encourage their propensity to worship the Deity, and gradually give them sambandha-jnana to establish them in devotional service of the Supreme Lord and His devotees. But if they exhibit strong inclinations to incorrigible mayavadi views then they must be avoided.

Pratibimba namabhasa

"When a person sees pure firm faith in others, he is impressed; thus sraddha-abhasa or the beginning of faith is invoked in him. He desires elevation and so chants constantly, though still with strong attachments to sense pleasures and the desire for liberation. His sraddha is not real but has the symptoms of sraddha. This is defined in the scriptures as pratibimba-sraddha-abhasa.

Hence chanting with pratibimba-sraddha-abhasa results in pratibimba-namabhasa. But if by circumstances this sort of namabhasa becomes aberrated by mayavadi philosophy, then the chanter begins to think that the perfect and transcendental name of the Lord is mundane and imperfect, requiring to be perfected by chanting with knowledge. This offense obliterates his little bit of genuine sraddha.

Chaya- and pratibimba-namabhasa

"Chaya-namabhasa arises simply from ignorance. It is rooted in hrdaya daurbalyam or weakness of the heart. It is a type of anartha. But all these faults are rectified by chanting the holy name. However, chanting in pratibimba-namabhasa increases one's offenses. According to the mayavadis, Lord Krsna's name, form, qualities and pastimes are all illusory, false, temporary and contaminated. They similarly misunderstand prema or spiritual love to be merely evanescent. Mayavadi philosophy characteristically contradicts the devotional path of bhakti at every turn. Therefore mayavadis are the biggest offenders. The mayavadi's chanting is not real chanting; the sound the Lord's name may emanate from his mouth, but it is bereft of the potency of the Lord. His chanting is filled with the yearning for sense pleasure and liberation, and all the time he thinks the Lord's name is material. Because he tries to cheat, his chanting results in unrelenting misery for himself.

How does the mayavadi redeem himself?

"If by some good fortune, the mayavadi relinquishes the desire for sense gratification and liberation and begins to chant, thinking himself a servant of Krsna, he becomes exonerated from his offenses and spiritual aberrations. He then takes shelter of the holy name and repents. This opens the way to hear from and associate with pure devotees. At this time his chanting leads him to comprehend sambandha-jnana. He must chant while continuously shedding tears of contrition; only then can he invoke the mercy of the holy name.

The mayavadi sees bhakti as material

"The mayavadi considers both the transcendental form of Lord Krsna and the jiva's inherent constitutional position as the Lord's eternal servitor to be transient and imaginary. This mayavadi philosophy is a grievous namaparadha. Namabhasa is truly a wish-fulfilling tree, for it even offers to the mayavadis the sayujya liberation so desired by them. Because the name is omnipotent, it offers mukti-abhasa or a semblance of liberation in the pratibimba-namabhasa stage. Amongst the five types of liberation, sayujya (becoming one with God) is considered abhasa, a mere hint of liberation. Material suffering is indeed terminated in sayujya, but certain spiritual doom follows.

"The mayavadis, captivated by maya find sayujya pleasurable, but it is only a ghost of actual happiness. They forever forfeit transcendental existence, knowledge, happiness and devotional service because sayujya-mukti obfuscates their remembrance of Krsna. Where is the question of eternal bliss when the eternal aspect of bhakti and prema is doubted?

Chaya-namabhasa can lead to suddhanama

"If the chaya-namabhasa chanter is not contaminated by atheistic concepts, then he has a good chance. His position is that he is ignorant about the potency of the holy name, but it is the inherent nature of the holy name to impregnate that knowledge into the chanter's heart. For example, the sun may not be visible when the sky is cloudy, but once the clouds are dispersed, the sun shines through in full glory. The chanter gains great benefit from taking shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, and in a short time is able to attain the pure name and krsna-prema.

Devotees must not associate with mayavadis

"Diligently avoid association of mayavadis! Please serve those who are attached to chanting purely! O Lord Caitanya, this is Your injunction and whoever follows it is very fortunate. Those who disregard and disobey this instruction are wretches who will suffer eternally. O, my Lordl please bless me so I can reject bad association and take shelter at Your lotus feet! There is no other way."

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.