Not only the sound of the Holy Name of Krishna is necessary, but also the proper meaning, the substance, the spirit of the sound. Only the physical aspect of the Holy Name is represented in Nam-aparadh, offensive chanting, not the real Name. The real Name is all spiritual. Namaksara bahiraya bate tabu Nama kabhu naya: the sound of the letters of the Name alone is never the real Name. This is explained in the Prema-vivarta of Jagadananda Pandit, a book which is full of the philosophical conclusions of Krishna consciousness. It was published and edited by Bhakti Vinod Thakur. There you will find this passage, Namaksara bahiraya bate tabu Nama kabhu naya: merely the sound of the Holy Name of Krishna should never be thought of as the actual Name.

Even in Namabhas, the twilight dawning of the Holy Name which occurs before pure offenceless chanting, the sound of the Name is there, but the inner substance of the Name is not there. Namabhas can give us mukti, or emancipation from the negative side, the material world. But there we cannot trace participation in the positive side, the spiritual world. The Name is absent there. The Holy Name of Krishna is a positive thing, and if we really want a touch of the Holy Name, we must gain admission into the positive world. When we are in the negative side, how can we get the touch of the Name? Namabhas may give us liberation, but not participation in the devotional realm. So, the real Name is not to be found in Namabhas either.

Jewels of the Vedas

Only a particular group of liberated souls worship the Holy Name, not everyone. Srila Rupa Goswami has written in his Namastakam (1):

ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam
paritas tvam hari-nama samsrayami

«O Holy Name! The tips of the toes of Your lotus feet are eternally worshipped by the glowing effulgence radiating from the gemmed chapters of the Upanisads, the crest jewels of the Vedas. You are eternally adored and chanted by great liberated souls like Narad and Sukadev Goswami. O Hari-nam! Clearing myself of all offences, I take complete shelter of You.»

Rupa Goswami says that so many liberated souls worship the Holy Name of Krishna, offering their respects from all sides. He explains that the greatness of the Holy Name may not be found in the ordinary scriptures, but if you study all of them as a whole, you will find the very spirit of the Holy Name. Ordinary people may not find this in their study, but there are those who can collect the real substance, the real purpose from those vast writings, and detect the greatness of the Holy Name as the whole purpose of all the main Vedic scriptures.

Jungle of sounds

The principle codes in the sruti, the Vedas, are giving hints about the Holy Name of Krishna. Sruti means sabda: that which can be grasped by the ear, the sound form of the revealed truth which has descended from above. The Vedas naturally tell us that we can approach the Supreme Reality only through sound. Otherwise, they would be suicidal. If they do not say that by sound only we will attain the truth, then what is the necessity of the Vedas which are only embodied sounds? So, if we can trace their real characteristic, we shall find that the principle Vedas say that by the cultivation of sound we can attain the Lord. So, we can come to understand this only through sound (sabda-pramanam). Sound alone can deliver reality. The Vedas must say so, otherwise they will only be an ineffective jungle of sounds.

Sruti means that which can be received through the ear, and that sound is absolute. The srutis have come to declare to us that through sound alone we can attain the highest end. The main codes (sutras) of the sruti inform us: nikhila-sruti-mauli-ratna-mala. Mauli means the principle scriptures. They are like so many gems or jewels forming a necklace. By their lustre, the lotus feet of the Holy Name are being revealed. Just as while performing arati, we offer a lamp to show the Deity form of the Lord more clearly to the ordinary people, the principle srutis are helping us to have this perception: by sound only we can have the Supreme Lord.

Rupa Goswami says that if we are more attentive to their meaning, we will find that the principle srutis are only trying to show us the lotus feet of the Holy Name, just as during arati the ghee lamp helps us to see the figure of the Lord. We may have a general view of the Deity, but with the help of the lamp, we can have a particular conception of the different parts of the body of the Lord. Similarly, we find that the principle srutis with their light are trying to show us the lower portion of the Holy Name of Krishna. They are leading us and helping us to have a conception of the remotest part of the Holy Name, a vague conception that the Name is everything. Rupa Goswami says that those who are really liberated are all surrounding the Holy Name and offering praise and adoration. And he prays, «In this spirit, I take refuge in the Holy Name of Krishna.»

The real meaning of the Vedas is difficult to understand. Some people will say, «Chanting Hare Krishna is not recommended in the Vedas. Rather, sometimes ‘Krishna’ is mentioned as the name of a demon. Why should we chant the Name of Krishna?» In the Vedas (Chhandogya-upanisad: 8.13.1), we find this verse:

syamach chhavalam prapadye
savalach chhyamam prapadye

«By the help of black (syam), we shall be introduced to the service of white (savala); by the help of white (savala), we shall be introduced to the service of black (syam).» What is the meaning of this verse? Our Acharyas have explained that the Absolute can be understood by the help of the energy and the energetic. Syam means Krishna, who is blackish, and savala, white, means Radharani. So, by the help of Radha, we can have the service of Krishna, and by the help of Krishna, we can have the service of Radharani.

God through sound

So, Rupa Goswami says that only a superficial study of the Vedas will frustrate us. But if we search with a positive mind, by the grace of the sadhus, the acharyas, and the mahajans, we will find that the principle srutis are leading us towards the conception that the whole object of all the Vedic sounds is that central sound: the Holy Name of Krishna. There are so many sections of the Vedas that have come to distribute the tidings of the absolute realm, but there must be a centre. So, the principle sounds are all emitting light like a torch, to show us that they have a central sound which represents the supreme whole, and that is Krishna. So many liberated souls are all around offering their respects to the Name of Krishna, that central sound from which all Vedic mantras have come to give us some idea of the sound aspect of the absolute centre. This is Rupa Goswami’s argument.

The branches of the Vedas are all sounds, and so many sounds must come from a central position. They cannot but direct one who has a proper eye towards that fountainhead of sound, saying, «Go! Run towards that direction! In our source you will find everything. We are all partially representing so many things, but we have a centre; we have a fountainhead. Go in that direction and you will find the sound that can sufficiently satisfy you, and you may also be introduced to other aspects of that sound.»

The Holy Name of Krishna is most important; it is no less than Krishna Himself. It fully represents the whole. Rupa Goswami says, «O Holy Name, I take refuge under Your lotus feet. You are the grand, central sound who has given cohesion to all the sounds in the revealed scriptures.»

And Sanatan Goswami, who is the spiritual master of Rupa Goswami, says:

jayati jayati namananda-rupam murarer
katham api sakrd attam muktidam praninam yat
paramam amrtam ekam jivanam bhusanam me

«Let ecstasy in the service of the Divine Name be victorious. If somehow we can come in contact with that sound, Nama-rupam Murareh, then all our other activities will be paralysed; we will have no necessity of performing any other activity. Our many variegated duties will have no importance to us at all if we can achieve the service of the Divine Name of Krishna.»

Dharma means the business engagement of the karmis or fruitive workers. Dhyan means retiring from this physical world and performing meditation from within, trying to exploit the internal world. Both of these are stopped, paralysed by the ecstasy of service to the Divine Name.

The Ramanuja sect worships Laksmi-Narayan in the mood of opulence and veneration in Vaikuntha. By the ecstasy of the Holy Name, that will also be stopped. One who gets the real grace of the Divine Name of Krishna will retire from all phases of these different kinds of worship, namely varnasram-dharma, or social duty; dhyan, the internal meditation of the jnanis (mental speculators) and yogis; and puja, the opulent worship of Vaikuntha, after liberation, which attracts the followers of the Ramanuja sampradaya. The Holy Name will take us to the perception of Goloka, Krishna’s own abode, where we will have to completely retire from all these other phases of our divine life. We will have to retire from any work, even if it may be done for Krishna. We will have to give up internal meditation and calculation, and even puja, worship in awe and reverence.

The Holy Name will stop all these tendencies, and we will find so much sweetness in chanting the Name that we won’t be able to give attention to anything else. When we really come in contact with the sound aspect of the Absolute, then all our other enthusiastic endeavours and functions will be paralysed. We will be unable to attempt them. We will take to the Name only. Then, when the Name allows us to perform other services again, we will be able to do them. The Name has such power, such a high degree of potency, that it will stop all other branches of service and charm you.

«I want millions of ears!»

In the writings of Rupa Goswami, we find this verse:

tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham
chetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam krtim
no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krsneti varna-dvayi

When the Holy Name of Krishna descends and captures the tongue and lips, it controls them so strongly that it engages them in chanting the Holy Name as if the lips and tongue have gone mad. In this way, the power of the Name descends in them, and one feels that only one tongue and one mouth are not enough; thousands of mouths are necessary to taste the Name. Then, the Holy Name of Krishna enters the ear with such a great force and current that the ears are captured, and one thinks that only two ears are insufficient; he wants millions of ears to attend to the sweet current entering the ears. Two ears are nothing to him; he wants millions of ears. The nectar of the Holy Name is coming like a flood through his ears, pushing its way within the heart.

It is so sweet that as it goes to capture the heart, the centre of all senses, everything is paralysed. Wherever that sweet aggressor touches, the whole thing is captured with such intensity that everything else is ignored. Rupa Goswami writes, «I don’t know, I can’t say, I fail to express how much nectar there is in the Holy Name of Krishna. These two syllables contain so much sweetness and such a high quality of sweetness. And this sweetness is so aggressive that it captures everything.» This verse is found in the Vidagdha-madhava written by Srila Rupa Goswami.

In his book, Saranagati, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has explained the Namastakam, eight prayers in glorification of the Holy Name, written by Rupa Goswami. The whole thing is described there very beautifully.

He writes, «My heart is just like a desert, hot with the rays of the sun. This is my internal mental condition. The desire for mortal things cannot satisfy me because by nature they are death-producing. And not one or two, but thousands of such death-producing desires have taken shelter in my mind. So, my subconscious region is always burning. This is my condition.

«But somehow, by the grace of the sadhu and Guru, the Holy Name of Krishna with its infinite prospect has entered through the holes of my ears and reached the plane of my heart. And there, with some peculiar hope, with infinite, auspicious possibilities, it touched my heart with a new kind of nectar.

Ecstasy of the Name

«New hope is aroused by that sound. Then by force, it comes from the heart towards the tongue. Not that by the endeavour of my tongue I am producing that sound — no. What came from the heart of a saint through my ear, entered my heart, and that forcibly appeared upon my tongue and began to dance. That is the Holy Name proper. It descends from above. It cannot be produced by the material form of this tongue. Its source is above.

«And through an agent of the Absolute, it comes through the ear to the heart. From the heart it gathers some sympathy, then the Holy Name of Krishna forcibly appears upon the tongue and begins to dance. With great force, it comes to the end of the tongue, and that sweet sound begins its dancing.»

The real effects of the Divine Name have been described here. If it is a living and real Name, the voice will be choked up, there will be shivering in the body, and the legs will be unable to stand. Sometimes tears will flow in a current on the body, and one’s hairs will stand on end. Sometimes changes of colour will be found in the body, and we will be unable to find any trace of the mind or consciousness. We may fall in a swoon; the whole body and mind will appear as if it is being attacked, shivering, and influenced in different ways. Apparently, it may seem that so many troubles are created in the body and the mind, but the real heart is overflowing with a particular kind of strange, sweet juice.

Ocean of nectar

Sometimes one thinks, «I am in an ocean of nectar. My whole existence is within an ocean of nectarean liquid. I am beside myself. I can’t understand where I am. Where am I? What is this? What is all about me? It has almost made me mad. Am I a madman? Where is my past experience, my seriousness, my gravity, where are they? What am I?

«I have been converted wholesale by a foreign thing. I am a doll in the hands of a great force, which is also so affectionate to me. I can’t ascertain how it is possible that by my faith I have entered this great, unknown environment, unexperienced before.

«And at last I find that I am captivated. My entire being, within and without, has been captured by a particular sweet force. I can’t help being prey to such a sweet power. I can’t give any proper description of this. I came to take shelter under Him and accept Him as my guardian; now at His hand I am being dealt with in such a merciless and despotic way. Still, I feel that everything is very pleasing, beyond my experience. What is this?

«I can’t resist anymore. I am fully captured. Let my fate go anywhere. I can’t come out. I am a captive in the hand of a sweet friend; my whole independence is gone. There is no way left to me but to surrender. I am unable to describe my real position. I find that He’s an autocrat. Whatever He likes to do, He will do. Since it is not possible for me to give any resistance, I must surrender. Let me also cooperate with whatever He is pleased to do. Otherwise, what can I do? I am helpless.

«Sometimes I find that the sweetness of the Name is condensed like a blossoming flower, and very wonderful streams of sweet current are flowing from it. The Holy Name contains so many sweet variegated forms of current within Him, and He is wonderfully expressing Himself in different ways. Sometimes He emanates a peculiar type of colour and figure and disappears.

«So many charming aspects are shown as if to my eyes within, and He forcibly takes me to surrender at the foot of that altar. He shows Himself in His full-fledged form, in Vrndavan, in His Vraja-lila, with Radharani, and He takes me there. I find that I am in the midst of His peculiar, very sweet and loving paraphernalia. And He says, ‘You see! I have so many wonderful things. This is your home. I am not merely imagination, but concrete reality. You will find here that the environment is very favourable and sweet. You are to live here.’

«I see there that He is dealing in different ways with His associates, in different rasas. And I find that I have another body that has emerged from my previous one, and that has a permanent place here in His service. Such a new life I find here. And then I find ultimately that all consideration of my past life and experience has vanished. And it is true: my real life is here. This is proper, and that was a sham. That life has vanished.

«Then I find that chanting the Holy Name gives me new encouragement, a new prospect, and new hope. Whatever we want, whatever is our internal demand, it is supplied by the Name. If we take the Name, all our internal hankerings will be fulfilled. It is eternal, it is the purest of the pure, and it is full of ecstasy. Now I find I have been completely converted.

«Now, my innermost hankering is this: let whatever is against this sweet Name vanish eternally from the world. If anything is in opposition to this sweet life, let it vanish, and if necessary, I will give my life to make it disappear from the world forever. Then others will be able to enjoy it at their free will. No hindrance should come to that fulfilment of life. It has no other second. So, everyone may come here, and if necessary, I will sacrifice myself to finish any opposition, so that all can smoothly, peacefully, and without any danger, enjoy this absolute, sweet, and blissful life.» This is the statement of Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, in the final song of his book, Saranagati (Surrender).

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