— Chapter Eleven —

Equating Chanting with Pious Activities

All glories to Lord Gauracandra, the very incarnation of the holy name; all glories to the holy name of the Supreme Lord! The Lord's holy name is the essence of all Vedic conclusions.

The original form and status of the holy name

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.

"The scriptures have unequivocally declared the Supreme Lord Krsna to be the only subject and object of research, and the process to find Him has likewise been clearly indicated. According to the individual researcher's abilities, this singular process became many. Thus different paths like karma, jnana, bhakti etc. sprang up. Those who are engrossed in materialism are recommended to pursue the path of karma for purification of consciousness. For souls deluded by the illusion of maya, the suggested path is cultivation of monistic philosophy. And for the rest of the jivas, pure devotional service is most suitable.

What is karma?

"Persons absorbed in material life begin to worship the Supreme Lord out of fear of : The Lord's lotus feet are the perfect shelter, free from anxiety. They are the only means to cross over the unlimited, ocean of nescience. But when the process to obtain the protection of the Lord becomes colored by material motives, it becomes mundane; Even though the Lord is being worshipped, because the process of worship is mundane, it is known as pious activity or subhakarma. Subhakarma includes: altruistic work, sacrifices, ablutions and holy baths, fire sacrifices, charity, yoga, the practice of varnasrama-dharma, pilgrimages, vows, offerings to the forefathers, meditation, cultivation of empirical knowledge, propitiation of demigods, penances, austerities, etc. All these activities are on the mundane platform.

Gradually, through this mundane process, the performer obtains the goal of all his performances: the Supreme Lord. At this juncture, he abandons the temporary mundane process. He is not attracted any more to its material ways, for he now knows the genuine essence of all religious duties. He has found devotional. service to the Lord, bhakti.

The process of pious activities or subhakarma

"The jiva's contact with matter gives rise to his discontent and suffering, This is all by the master plan of Providence, which gradually guides the jiva to perfection. The conditioned souls cannot exist without close contact with matter. All their activities and thoughts are intimately woven into the fabric of materialism. Pious activities (subhakarma) provide the means for the jiva to approach pure devotion through material contact. Therefore, subhakarma is indeed a viable path for any conditioned soul to approach the ultimate goal, love of Godhead. Yet one fact must be clearly stated: reaching perfection through subhakarma is a time-consuming affair. The ultimate object is krsna-prema,

which is fully spiritual; but subhakarma is mundane. Thus there is a gulf of distance between the means and the objective.

The holy name is the means of sadhana

"Out of His causeless compassion, the Supreme Lord incarnated as the holy name, making Himself available to the jivas. Thus the holy name is accepted by the pious jivas as the best means of perfection. The scriptures recommend the Lord's name as the most efficacious means to obtain the Absolute, but the jivas misunderstood this to mean that chanting is one of many subhakarmas. This misconception is similar to Lord Visnu being seen as another demigod like Lord Siva and Lord Brahma.

"The holy name is fully spiritual and transcendental to material nature. It is untainted by matter. Though the jiva is spiritual, he thinks himself material due to gross ignorance. Consequently, he thinks that everything, including the holy name of the Lord, is likewise material. Thus chanting of Lord Krsna's holy name came to be categorized as a subhakarma; jivas with mayavadi leanings are convinced that this is right and proper. But those who adhere to this view are excluded from the path of devotional service.

The name is both the means and the end

"The holy name is the repository of perfect bliss; He has descended to this material world to become the means by which the summum bonum of bhakti is attained, The scriptures eulogize His divine glories, for Krsna's name is both the means and the end. According to the individual jiva's degree of spiritual perfection, he considers the Lord's name to be either the means or the end. As long as he has not attained self-realization, the the holy name as the means to reach this goal.

Subhakarma is secondary; the holy name is the principal means

"The means to self-realization are of two kinds: principal and secondary. Subhakarma is the secondary means, and the Lord's holy name is the principal means. Though the holy name is counted as a means, it is nevertheless eternally the principal means. All subhakarmas are always considered to be only secondary means. Once this point is clearly understood, the difference between the holy name and subhakarma will automatically become manifest. The scriptural verdict is that the holy name is the essence, and it is thus incomparable to any subhakarma. One who chants with a pure heart experiences how divine bliss enters his heart and makes it soar with sublime delight. This is the essential nature of the holy name. Even the bliss of realizing the pure self is not on this level.

The joy of sayujya mukti is a mere shadow

"The state of joy experienced in Brahman realization or sayujya liberation is merely the cessation of material suffering. The unlimited abundance of sublime bliss in the holy name of the Lord is far greater than anything.

"The wonderful quality of the holy name is that during the sadhana (practice) period it is the means, and in the perfected stage, it is the ultimate goal. Even while being utilized as the means, the holy name always remains the goal.

This cannot be said of other subhakarmas, which are all mundane.activities. The holy name is purely spiritual, self-manifest out of divine goodness. Even during the practice of sadhana, the holy name is situated in pure goodness; the sadhaka's imperfections and anarthas only seem to color it.

"The holy name must be chanted in the association of sadhus, then all the material inebrieties and anarthas disappear, being replaced by the pure name of Krsna. The practice of any subhakarma must be discarded upon attainment of the shelter of the ultimate destination; but chanters never have to give up the holy name, they simply chant the pure name in theperfected stage. The Lord's holy name is diametrically opposite in nature to the mundane subhakarma activities. In the sadhana stage, the devotee should, by the grace of his spiritual master and on the basis of Vedic proofs, comprehend the difference between the holy name and subhakarma.

"Sraddha, when sufficiently mature, brings one to the association of sadhus. In that association, one begins devotional service. The heart is cleansed of all anarthas by chanting the holy name of the Lord. As much as the heart is cleansed of anarthas, to that degree the chanting becomes pure. Gradually, one is fixed in devotion and develops taste for the holy name. The knowledge of these developmental stages must first be understood with faith by the sadhaka through the grace of his spiritual master. Otherwise, his anarthas will multiply due to his committing namaparadha. But with proper understanding and faith, the pure name manifests very quickly.

Remedy for this namaparadha

"The aparadha of equating the holy name with subhakarma is committed because of sinful activities. Immediate counter-measures must be undertaken. Offenses to the Vaisnavas are in fact sinful activities. As a result of these offenses, the jiva acquires the ed mayavadi unders tanding of the holy name. Only the association of devotees can exculpate such offenses. To rid himself of namaparadha, one must approach a householder Vaisnava who originally came from a very low caste; this is to stamp out any false understandings of designation and caste distinctions.

The offender should then smear all over his body with great respect and faith, the dust of the feet of that Vaisnava; He must also eat the remnants of the Vaisnava's food and drink the water that washed his feet. In this way, the proper attitude towards the holy name will again develop within the offender's heart. The whole world sings of how Kalidasa was saved from this namaparadha by the mercy of the Lord.

Haridasa Thakura's attachment to the holy name

"My dear Lord, my thoughts and my intellect are thoroughly mundane: therefore I simply mouth the names of the Lord, I am too unfortunate to experience the transcendental touchstone qualities of the holy name. O Lord! I beg You to please appear as the holy name and dance on my tongue. I fall at Your lotus feet and pray. If You like, You can keep me in this material world and deprive me of the spiritual sky; whatever You desire, You are free to fulfill. But please let me taste the divine nectar of Krsna's holy name. You have incarnated amongst the jivas to distribute the holy name, so kindly also consider me, an insignificant jiva. I am a fallen soul and You are the savior of the fallen. Let this be our relationship. O Savior! On the strength of this relationship, I am begging from You the nectar of the holy name.

Why the holy name is the religion of the age.

"In Kali-yuga all other processes except the holy name are incapable of redeeming the fallen souls. Therefore the chanting of the holy name is the yuga-dharma. The chanting of the holy name of the Lord is the most efficient religious practice in all the ages. In Kali-yuga, unlike other ages, there is no other religion available; thus the holy name appears as the only religion that can redeem the fallen souls."

I, Bhaktivinoda, am a lowly fallen soul. I, the author who gives Harinama Cintamani, am also a humble servant of Haridasa Thakura.