~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

— Chapter Twelve —

Chanting Inattentively is Offensive

All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; all glories to all devotees of the Lord. I can perform congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord by their causeless grace alone.

Pramada or inattentive chanting

SRILA HARIDASA THAKURA further explained, "O Lord Caitanya, You instructed Srila Sanatana Gosvami here in Jagannatha Puri, and Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami in South India, that the holy name must be chanted attentively. Inattention in chanting is namaparadha. One may carefully avoid all other namaparadhas, yet still not experience the of the pure name. This is an indication of another type of namaparadha known as pramada, which restricts the natural growth of pure devotion.

Inattentiveness is negligence

"Inattentiveness and negligence are synonymous. Negligent chanting sows the seeds of ananhas, which soon fructify. Inattentiveness is of three kinds. The first is called audasinya, or apathetic devotional service, meaning a lack of fixed resolve in sadhana. The second type is jadya, 'laziness' or even 'inertia'. The third kind is viksepa, which means 'distraction' or misplacing one's attention in engagements not directly connected with sadhana-bhakti.

One must chant attentively to develop anuraga

"By a special stroke of good fortune, jiva develops enough sraddha to take shelter of the holy name. By regularly chanting a fixed number of holy names with special care and attention, he gradually progresses towards anuraga, or spontaneous attraction for the Lord's name. He should chant his prescribed number of rounds on a tulasi-mala and gradually increase his chanting with time. Before he reaches the stage of anuraga, he must be extremely cautious about his chanting.

"People are naturally attached to material things. Their memories are absorbed in matter. On the one hand, someone chants the holy name, but his mind and attention are far away from his chanting. Even if he chants one lakh (one hundred thousand) holy names on his mala, not a drop of taste for the Lord's name is produced in his heart. This is a vivid example of inattentive chanting and its result. It is difficult to restrain the heart of a materialist from such offenses.

The process of careful chanting

"One must make it his daily routine to chant for an hour in the company of a saintly Vaisnava in a lonely, secluded spot. Taking note of the Vaisnava's devotional attitude and his relish for the holy name, the neophyte should try to emulate this mood and gradually rid himself of his apathy to chanting. Step-by-step, his mind and attention becomes fixed in the holy name.

By constant chanting, the mellow of the holy name makes him anxious, to taste more of that nectar. He is attracted to be in the presence of Tulasi-devi and to reside in a place of Lord Krsna's pastimes. Always seeking the association of saintly devotees, he takes up their discipline. He follows in the footsteps of previous pure devotees in relishing the sublime joy of intimate devotional service, or bhajana. He begins with an hour of bhajana, then two, then increases it to four; finally, he chants not less than three lakhs of holy names a day. This helps him to soon sever his links with materialism.

"Another effective method to remove apathy towards the holy name is to sit in a closed room alone and meditate on the name as did the previous sages. If that is not possible, then one should cover the head and face with a cloth and concentrate on the holy name. Slowly, one develops attraction for the holy name. Apathy and inattentivencss will gradually vanish.