In order to constantly chant hari-nama, Sri Krishna Chaitanya-deva gave the following instruction:
trinad api sunichena taror api sahishnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih
One who is humbler than a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree who gives due honor to others without desiring it for himself is qualified to always chant the Holy Name of Krishna. (Cc. Adi. 17.31)
Srila Rupa Goswami has said:
ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam
paritas tvam harinama samshrayami
O hari-nama, the tips of the toes of Your lotus feet are constantly being worshiped by the radiance emanating from the jeweled necklace known as the shruti. You are eternally adored by liberated souls. O hari-nama, I take full shelter of You. (Namashtakam 1)
To practice the instructions of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the followers of Sri Rupa Goswami to chant hari-nama twenty-four hours a day is the reason why we are presently here. The imitation of chanting hari-nama while maintaining the deceptive desire for dharma, artha, kama or moksha is not pure hari-nama kirtana. Lila-kirtana is only possible along with nama-kirtana. Sri Rupa has composed eleven verses and he has also written Sri Krishna-Namashtaka. The first shloka of that Namashtaka is nikhila-shruti-mauli etc.
prathamam namnah shravanam-antah-karana-shuddhy-artham apekshyam. shuddhe chantah-karane rupa-shravanena tad-udaya-yogyata bhavati. samyag udite ca rupe gunanam sphuranam sampadyeta, sampanne ca gunanam sphurane parikara-vaisisthyena tad-vaisisthyam sampadyate tatas teshu nama-rupa-guna-parikareshu samyak sphuriteshu lilanam sphuranam susthu bhavati.
First it is necessary to hear the Holy Name in order purify the heart. When the heart is purified, after hearing about the Lord’s form, the proper qualification manifests. When the form is manifested, then all of the Lord’s qualities manifest. When the qualities appear, then the speciality of His associates becomes revealed. Then manifests Krishna’s particular behaviour with His various associates. And when their names, forms, qualities and associates manifest properly, then lila clearly manifests. (Krama-sandarbha 7.5.18)
We should not disregard this point. If we begin in error, then nothing will come of it. If the rupanuga system of accepting the Holy Name is rejected, then the result of nama, which is krishna-prema, will never be attained. We start to perform kirtana according to the rupanuga-dhara (the path of the followers of Sri Rupa). In regards to those who perform lila-kirtana in other ways, we remain at difference with them.
The secondary desires (anyabhilasha) for sense-gratification (bhoga) and renunciation (tyaga) that are on the mirror of our consciousness, as well as acceptance of karma and jnana are like particles of dust that accumulate lifetime after lifetime. By hearing vaikuntha-nama, all that dust can be removed. The performance of karma, jnana, yoga, vratas, etc. cannot sweep away the dust.
vaikuntha-nama-grahanam asheshagha-haram viduh
One who takes up the Name of the Lord becomes freed from unlimited sins. (Bhag. 6.2.14)
The Lord, who is Adhokshaja (beyond the limits of mundane perception), cannot be perceived by our material senses. It is only possible to become separated from the materialistic tendency of sensual perception (akshaja) by hearing instructions at the lotus feet of Sri Guru. By neglecting the lotus feet of Sri Guru and the shrauta-pantha (the process of pure hearing) and listening to worldly topics, one will never perform hari-nama-kirtana.
Bound jivas cannot perform kirtana of the Holy Name. If a desire to engage in service arises within them by hearing instructions from those who are liberated, then hari-nama may manifest upon their tongues.
I will take shelter of the Holy Name in the correct manner. Following non-Vedic Vaishnava dharma is to take shelter of the deceptive and verbose path of the Buddhist disposition. I do not wish to become bewildered by the brilliant and scholarly Vedanta commentary of Acharya Shankara, who descended to bewilder those who were against the Lord. I will take shelter of Sri Svarupa-Damodara, the greatest scholar of Vedanta and learn the true meaning of the shruti-shastras. The Vedantic discussions of Gopala Bhattacharya, the younger brother of Bhagavan Acharya, were not pleasing to Mahaprabhu – thus, Sri Svarupa-Damodara had no desire to hear them.
Mahaprabhu exclaimed that the acceptance of kevaladvaita philosophy by the Vedantist Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya was opposed to the deliberation of the scriptures (shruti-vichara). The meaning of the shruti or the Upanishads according to Prakashananda was opposed to real theism – later, Prakashananda himself and the sannyasis of Kashi understood this. The explanation of the Shrutis is not Mayavada – they are not inimical towards service to the Supreme Lord. Sriman Mahaprabhu exclaimed –
veda na maniya bauddha haya ta’ nastika
vedashraya nastikya-vada bauddhake adhika
Buddhists are considered to be atheists because they do not accept the Vedas. However, those atheists that claim to accept the Vedas are even worse than the Buddhists. (Cc. Madhya 6.168)
Accepting the shruti, but destroying the purpose of the shruti, which is the process of service to the Lord (bhagavata-seva), is a worse kind of atheism than direct Buddhism. In the name of discussing the shruti-shastra, many deceptive philosophies have entered the world. Deliberations on the shrutis or Vedanta by various groups of Mayavadis such as the recent explanation of the Vedas by the Arya-samaj, and the discussions on the Vedic scriptures by Raja Rama-mohana etc. are conceptions covered over by maya which are opposed to the lotus-feet of Krishna and Sri Hari-nama that are beyond our sensual perception (adhoksaja). All the shrutis offer homage to the lotus-feet of Sri Hari-nama Prabhu. By giving distorted interpretations of the shruti, such groups become deprived of the mercy of the Holy Name and simply produce materialism.
It is our duty to discuss the Vedanta-shastra. However, it is necessary to do so simultaneously with kirtana of Sri Hari-nama Prabhu.
kaler dosha-nidhe rajan asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krishnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet
O King, Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, yet it has one good quality : if one simply chants the Holy Name of Krishna, one can achieve liberation from the fetters of this material world and attain the supreme abode. (Bhag.12.3.51)
May these instructions of the Srimad Bhagavata be our eternal topics of discussion.
ashvamedham gavalambham sannyasam pala-paitrikam
devarena sutotpattim kalau pancha vivarjayet
In Kali-yuga these five activities are forbidden – the ashvamedha sacrifice, offering a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of sannyasa, offering flesh to the ancestors, and siring children with the younger brother of one’s husband. (Cc. Adi 17.164)
This verse explains that certain fire sacrifices are not possible now. In the age if Kali, sannyasa according to the path of karma is completely rejected. Those on the path of jnana accept sannyasa with the understanding of aham brahmasmi (“I am Brahman”) – but it is actually rejecting service to the Supreme. By accepting sannyasa they renounce bhagavat-bhajana (service to the Supreme Lord). Actual sannyasa is established in bhagavata-bhajana. The Mayavadi sannyasis renounce all of Krishna’s eternal name, form, qualities, associates and pastimes. But the sannyasa of a devotee of Krishna means giving up both bhukti (material enjoyment) and mukti (liberation). In renouncing bhukti, the Mayavadis also renounce bhakti. The devotees of the Lord renounce the desires for bhukti and mukti and take shelter at the feet of Sri Bhakti-devi.
Shruti-devi worships the toenails of the Divine Name, and the devotees of the Lord never renounce the cultivation of the Name, because they never consider the Holy Name to be temporary.
The Vedas and Vedanta-shastra performs arati to the lotus-feet of Sri Nama-Prabhu. This process of exclusive service to the Holy Name is not Buddhism. The discussions on the prakrita-sahajiya Vaishnava dharma of Bengal by Maha-mahopadhyaya Shastri Mahashaya(1) do not apply to genuine Vaishnava dharma. Topics on Hari-nama Prabhu are discussed within the Vedanta-shastra.
artho ’yam brahma-sutranam bharatartha-vinirnayah
gayatri-bhashya-rupo ’sau vedartha-paribrimhitah
The Bhagavatam is the commentary to the Vedanta and the Mahabharata. It is the meaning of the gayatri-mantra and gives the correct understanding of the Vedas. (Garuda Purana)
The meaning of the Mahabharata is specifically ascertained in Srimad Bhagavata. The Isha, Kena, Katha, Shvetashvatara, etc. are the eleven main Upanishads. Superior to these are the Nrsimha-tapani, Rama-tapani, etc. and the greatest of all that has manifest is the Gopala-tapani Upanishad. The Gopala-tapani Shruti performed many austerities and ultimately attained service to Madana-Gopala and Gandharva. The Shrutis perform austerities to obtain the shelter of the gopis. Some consider shanta-rasa to be the highest rasa and madhura-rasa to be the lowest rasa – but such a perception is born from their mundane understanding. Driven by this mundane perception and considering the ten Upanishads such as the Isha, Kena etc. to be of an impersonal character or a symbol of shanta-rasa, they propagated them as the main Upanishads. In fact, within the aprakrita realm, madhura-rasa is the greatest rasa and shanta-rasa is the lowest of rasas. Accordingly, the devotees of the Lord accept the Gopala-tapani to be principal amongst the Upanishads. By following the purports of the Bhagavata, the devotees of the Lord can find sufficient evidence of service to the Lord and His pastimes also within the ten Upanishads.
Sri Gaurasundara has exclaimed:
ya ya shrutir jalpati nirvishesham sa sabhidhatte savisheshameva
vicharayoge sati hanta tasam prayo valiyah savisheshameva
The Shruti describes the Absolute as impersonal and also describes Him as having attributes. Considering both these opinions, the conception of Him having personality is stronger. (Hayashirsha Pancharatra)
Service at Sri Radha-kunda during midday has some special significance. The servant of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha, Kaviraja Goswami Prabhu, has discussed this process of service (bhajana-pranali) in the book Govinda-lilamrita. If one confidentially discusses with Sri Guru the Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, written in Bengali, then one can get a hint of such topics of bhajana. All these topics have been especially explained by Srila Thakura Mahashaya in his Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-chandrika, as well as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Bhajana-rahasya and Rupanuga-bhajana-darpana. Only by chanting the Holy Name purely will we achieve auspiciousness by deliberating upon all these topics.
naitat samacharej jatu manasapi hy anishvarah
vinashyaty acharan maudhyad yatharudro’bdhi-jam visham
Those who are not great controllers should never imitate the behaviour of ruling personalities even in their minds. If one does so out of foolishness, one will certainly be destroyed, just as a person who is not Rudra kills himself by trying to drink an ocean of poison. (Bhag. 10.33.30)
anarthopashamam sakshad bhakti-yogam adhokshaje
lokasyajanato vidvamsh chakre satvata-samhitam
yasyam vai shruyamanayam krishne parama-purushe
bhaktir utpadyate pumsah shoka-moha-bhayapaha
The anarthas (unnecessary miseries) that the living being experiences can be directly mitigated by engaging in bhakti-yoga to the transcendental Lord (Adhokshaja). Yes most people do not know this, thus the learned Sri Vyasa compiled this divine literature (the Bhagavatam), which is in relation to the Absolute. If one just listens to this literature, devotion to the Supreme Personality Sri Krishna manifests in the heart of the living being, and all lamentation, illusion and fear are removed. (Bhag. 1.7.6-7)
namnah shravanam antahkarana-shuddhy-artham
One should hear the Lord’s Names to become purified within. (Bhakti-sandarbha)
Without understanding the meaning of these shlokas, without following the process step by step, by imitation one will never make advancement in bhajana – instead one’s bhajana will be obstructed.
lavanyamrita-vanyabhih snapitam glapitendiram
In the morning, Srimati Radharani is bathed in the ambrosial waves of compassion; at midday She bathes in the nectarean stream of youthfulness; in the evening She bathes in the waters of beauty – thus She eclipses even Goddess Lakshmi. (Premambhoja-marandakhya-stavaraja)
Whatever conceptions Srila Raghunatha Prabhu expressed in all these shlokas, and all the conceptions that Sri Raya Ramananda Prabhu discussed within the eighth chapter of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, may they be the object of our discussions. There is no harm in reflecting upon the intentions of liberated persons with the intention of following in their footsteps. But in the name of following in their footsteps, if we only imitate them, considering that which is to be followed to be the object of our enjoyment, then we will certainly fall from bhagavata-bhajana forever.
It is not possible to take hari-nama in the association of those that are bound in this world. The Prakrta-sahajiyas can never take darshan of the effulgent toenails of Radhika. If one wishes to serve Radhika’s toenails then one should proceed with great caution. Those within the Prakrta-sahajiya sampradaya never take darshan of the effulgence of the toenails of the lotus-feet of a genuine spiritual master; therefore they cannot take darshan of the effulgent toenails of Sri Radhika.
Please listen – your barren field will become fertile and very quickly you can attain the goal. I have been instructed to give an explanation on the ten Upanishads. I have a little knowledge of languages. It is not possible for a jiva who has forgotten Krishna to have knowledge of languages. I have no understanding of Hari-namamrita-vyakarana. Whatever Sri Guru reveals within my heart manifests upon my tongue. Become a little acquainted with the words of liberated persons. Gradually the seed in your field will sprout and bear fruit.
Beginning from the lotus-feet of Sri Krishna in the shrauta-parampara and culminating at the lotus-feet of my guru, there is complete clarity. But you kindly rectify whatever contamination occurs in the mirror of my heart.
ishavasyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyam jagat
tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma gridhah kasya sviddhanam
Everything that exists within this universe belongs to the Lord. One should accept only one’s allotted quota and never endeavour to usurp the property of others. (Ishopanishad 1)
O sense-enjoyers – why do you regard this world as enjoyable? If you remain within the realm of sense gratification then hari-bhajana will not be possible. There is also no hari-bhajana simply in renunciation. The entire world is an instrument for the service of Bhagavan. It is a place meant for His enjoyment, for Bhagavan is the exclusive enjoyer of everything (advitiya-bhokta). Radha-kunda descended to this world, and Giri-Govardhana also descended. It is not a place for sense-enjoyment or renunciation. It is not a place of non-differentiation (nirvishesha) like Brahmaloka. Vaikuntha’s mood of aishvarya is not predominant here. It is the zenith of madhurya-dhama. It is the land where the topmost service is rendered unto Sri Krishna’s lotus-feet. It is here that Arishtasura, the representation of four-legged dharma, was killed.
eta saba chadi’ ara varnashrama-dharma
akinchana hana laya krishnaika-sharana
Giving up all material attachment and varnashrama-dharma, one should become akinchana (devoid of any material attachment) and take exclusive shelter of Krishna. (Cc.Madhya 22.93)
You must discuss the Brahma-sutras and all the Shrutis. If you try to understand all the shrauta-shastras by means of the path of asrauta (hearing from the wrong sources), you will not be able to grasp the real meaning of the Shruti and you will be in trouble. You should discuss the shruti following the direction shown in the Srimad Bhagavata.
Srimad Bhagavata is the essence of the whole Vedanta – in that shastra the significance of all the Shrutis has been ascertained. The ultimate object ascertained in the Srimad Bhagavata its goal cannot be different from that of Shrutis.
dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
vedyam vastavam atra vastu shivadam tapa-trayonmulanam
srimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krite kim va parair ishvarah
sadyo hridy avarudhyate ‘tra kritibhih shushrusubhis tat-kshanat
Rejecting all kinds of fruitive religious activities, this Bhagavata Purana explains the highest truth, which is understood by those devotees who are pure and non-envious. The highest truth is that reality which is distinguished from illusion, benefits all and uproots the threefold material miseries. What is the need of any other scripture besides this beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled by that great sage (Vyasa)? The Supreme Lord is swiftly established within the hearts of those who hear it attentively. (Bhag. 1.1.2)
I have just alluded to some primary topics in order to explain the Shrutis – topics concerning sambandha-jnana. I will discuss abhidheya at midday, according to my capability. The conception of abhidheya is especially discussed in the Srimad Bhagavata. In the evening, we will listen to the Sri Charitamrita and the Padavali kirtanas of Thakura Mahashaya. All these topics were also clearly revealed by Thakura Bhaktivinoda, and I had the opportunity to hear them from him. If by seeing you remembrance of all those words is aroused, then they will all become manifest. I shall discuss with you some of the things that were instructed to me by Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura at the time of writing his commentary on the Charitamrita.
Rejecting the path of argumentative speculation, one should accept the path of srauta. One should listen – first one should not see with his eyes, otherwise one will become impertinent. If one tries to understand the behaviour of mahajanas through the medium of the eyes, one will become a fraud and get into trouble. Such endeavors are like the drama of that person who was showing some perverted imitation of detachment by drinking water from a human skull to express his pride that he was superior to Gaura-kishora Dasa Babaji Mahashaya.
In the morning we shall discuss Shruti. At midday we will discuss the rasa-shastras from the works of Sri Rupa-Raghunatha; in the afternoon Srimad Bhagavata and in the evening Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. The ultimate result of studying the Shruti is the exclusive taste to chant the Holy Name. You should not cease hearing and chanting hari-nama. Our purpose is not to explain the Shrutis the same way that the Mayavadis do. We are not going to discuss the Shrutis in order to become covered atheists. The assembly of the Shrutis showed the example by attaining the dust of the feet of the gopis and performing arati to the lotus-feet of Sri Nama Prabhu – that example will be the specific topic of our discussion.
(From the weekly Gaudiya 14th Volume, 22nd Issue, 1935)
(1) The famous Bengali academic, Sri Hara-prasada Shastri (1853-1931) opined that Bengali Vaishnavism originated from the earlier Buddhist sahajiya cults of Bengal.