~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

— 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.