~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

— 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.