~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

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.