Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 9. The most confidential Knowledge: Text 14
satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā
satatam — always; kīrtayantaḥ — chanting; mām — about Me; yatantaḥ — fully endeavoring; ca — also; dṛḍha–vratāḥ — with determination; namasyantaḥ — offering obeisances; ca — and; mām — Me; bhaktyā — in devotion; nitya–yuktāḥ — perpetually engaged; upāsate — worship.
Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.
Here in this verse Krishna talks about the activities of a pure devotee, about the importance of chanting, what are offences to be avoided while chanting, how can we chant purely with determination, the importance of cultivating knowledge, who is a pure Vaishnava, the 3 stages of chanting and how to worship Krishna with great devotion.
Chanting of the holy name or Sankirtan is the greatest innovation in Spirituality ever happened and it is Yuga Dharma as well. Vedic Dharma says, in this age of Kali the most effective process of self- realization is chanting the holy name of Krishna. We can see that people who are pious follow Vedic rituals go to temple, read scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharata, knows Vedas, Upanishads, follow their sampradaya but often they don’t even have a proper understanding why they are doing this process. They do this due to their family tradition. So here the goal of practice and the process of achieving the goal is not clear as well. So Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu presented Nama Sankirtan as the simplest form of every religious practice so we don’t have to spend our time memorizing lots of Vedic mantras and practice them which usually takes many years trying to even understand and learn them, and it is not easy. So by chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa
Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma
Rāma Rāma Hare Hare
Everyone will be equally benefitted regardless of age, skin color, gender etc., and it is simple, most available, easiest and it is the highest process.
Chanting the holy name of the Lord is prescribed in the Vedas also. For example Chanting “OM” it is the seed or the principle mantra of the Gayatri, and It is Supreme Lord name itself. It contains all the Vedas in it. If you understood the word “OM” you have understood the Vedas. “OM” is the essence of all the Vedas. Even Krishna says “I am the syllable OM of Vedic Mantra”, “ pranavah sarva-vedesu” (BG 7:8). The literal meaning of “Pranavah” is to praise the Lord so “OM” means to glorify the Lord. So Nama Sankirtan means to glorify the Lord by chanting his name. So the process of chanting is Universal and it is meant for everyone in this Kaliyuga for spiritual development and it is accepted by Gaudiya Vaishnavas and also by other sampradayas as well like Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya,Nimbarka, Alvars, Vallabhacharya as a perfect means for glorifying Lord.
On the other hand the Vedic mantra cannot be chanted loudly they are held as secret. Only 3 out of 4 Varnashrama can learn Vedic Mantra like Brahmanas, Vaishyas and Kshatriyas. Sudra’s, women and mleccha’s (below Sudras) are completely prohibited from learning Vedic Mantras. But the Name of the Lord can be chanted loudly that is why it is called Nama Sankirtan. If you want to take Vedic Diksha the Varna is taken in to consideration. But if you read puranas, especially Skanda purana it is said it is said” kalou sudra sambavah”: “In the Kali-yuga everyone is born as a sudra, and the chanting of holy name is for everyone and there is no qualification needed.
In Sri Siksastakam Verse 2 it is said
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamita smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah
Translation: “O my Lord, Your Holy Name bestows auspiciousness upon all. And you have unlimited names such as Krishna and Govinda, by which You reveal Yourself. In Your many Holy Names You have kindly invested all Your transcendental potency. And in chanting these names, there are no strict rules concerning time or place. Out of Your causeless mercy, you have descended in the form of divine sound, but my great misfortune is that I have no love for Your Holy Name.”
In Srimad Bhagavatam, 6.3.22 , Yamaraj, who is a Mahajan is talking to Yama Kinkaras.
etāvān eva loke ‘smin
puṁsāṁ dharmaḥ paraḥ smṛtaḥ
Translation: Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society.
How can we preach to faithless personal?
Scriptural injunctions also say we should not preach to faithless. In Kaliyuga most people do not have faith in God or in the process of understanding God. But as Kali progress this situation will degrade more and there will be more suffering. So Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu inaugurated this Nama Sankirtan where we can chant loudly so these faithless people can hear the chanting, that will build some Sukriti for them, and that spiritual sound vibrations will cleanse their heart and they will develop faith in their heart slowly .That is how we can preach them otherwise if we try to teach the philosophy they are not going to accept it. The holy name is so merciful that the faithless person can be benefitted by hearing it.
Shri Caitanya–caritāmṛta says that sincere chanting of Vedic Diksha mantra( Sandhya Vandana etc.) will deliver us from material existence, we will get liberation. But when we chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra every day with faith it will deliver us to Krishna’s lotus feet in Krishna Lokha. We develop a loving relationship with Lord by chanting his Holy name which is beyond Liberation. So understanding the real value of chanting is very important so we could chant with feelings.
In Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.36
kaliṁ sabhājayanty āryāguṇa jñāḥ sāra-bhāginaḥ
yatra saṅkīrtanenaivasarva-svārtho ’bhilabhyate
Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this Age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved by the performance of saṅkīrtana.
Only in Kaliyuga the process of self- realization is easy because just by performing Sankirtan we can attain perfection. So we have to take this opportunity and chant and all our sufferings will be taken away by chanting holy name of lord.
Some devotees chant for many reasons: to become famous, to be wealthy, to get rid of all sinful reactions, to get some peace. So here people are attached to the fruitive gain of chanting, which means to achieve material goal. Scriptures called this mentality as PratibimbaAbhasa: chanter is in touch with the reflection of the Holy name: Example) Sun in the sky is reflected on the water, its reflection is distorted. Similarly when the Lord’s Holy name is reflected on a materialistic conception or chanted for any material goal it is distorted, meaning they get some benefit not the real benefit. But when we chant with purely without any offences, with knowledge, by understanding the value of Holy name then we get pure benefit.
Sri Siksastakam verse give the analogy of white lotus touched by moon light
“Shreyah” means good fortune, “Karirava” means Lotus, “Chandrika” means moonlight,” vitaranam” means spreading.
When a sincere chanter comes in contact with the moon light of Krishna’s Holy Name, the white light of auspiciousness blossoms in their heart. This analogy shows that our life will become auspicious by chanting the Holy name of the Lord. How do we experience this auspiciousness in our life by chanting: There will be clarity in thought, soul is satisfied.
Sri Rupa Goswami says something is accepted as auspicious if it produces 4 effects in you and others around you:
- Our devotional activities are recognized as beneficial to everyone
- Our devotional service is attracted to everyone ( means attracted to you on the platform of bhakti and attracted to your sincere chanting)
- One displays all saintly qualities. All you lower tendencies, desires will go away from your heart
- One experience happiness superior to sense gratification.
We experience these things because Krishna name is non- different from Holy name. “Abhinatva naam namino (Padma Purana) so it bestows all benedictions
Even though people do Yuga Dharma according to shastras , chanting of Holy name is also done simultaneously. If we see, chanting is not only done in Kaliyuga but in every yugas also to attain perfection and to get immense benefit. Some of the examples are:
Satya yuga: Dhruva Maharaj( Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya )
Treta Yuga: Hanuman( chanting holy name of Ram),Valmiki Maharishi, King Nabhi
The Dvapara Yuga: Kunti Devi, Draupadi, Sudama
The idea of chanting the holy name prescribed by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is that even if you don’t perform any other devotional service like Vandanam, Archanam, Dasyam, Sakhyam etc. , just by chanting the Holy name of Lord we can attain the love of God and that is the real goal. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura calls the holy name of the Lord as Harinama Chintamani, (Mani means Jewel, chinta means our thoughts) the touch stone of the name of the Lord. Anything you desire, it manifests meaning the Lord can give you anything be it material benefits ,from the lowest to highest planet, liberation , love of Krishna……. Padma Purana says Krishna is Chintamani.
nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇaścaitanya-rasa-vigrahaḥpūrṇaḥ śuddho nitya-mukto’bhinnatvān nāma-nāminoḥ
Translation: The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Kṛṣṇa Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Kṛṣṇa’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Kṛṣṇa Himself. Since Kṛṣṇa’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with māyā. Kṛṣṇa’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa Himself are identical.
Any form of the Lord can give you anything be it material, liberation, or take you Vaikunta but only the form of Lord Krishna is very special- he is bestower of benedictions, highest rasas and highest bliss. Example there is no difference between Vishnu and Krishna, they are the same but the functions are different. Vishnu can bestow Dasya Rasa but you cannot be the mother of Vishnu, a friend, a lover. But Krishna can give those rasas too like Sakhya, Madhurya, Vatsalya. So the highest rasas can only give by Krishna. In the second line of the verse it is said “ caitanya rasa vigrahah”. “Vigrahah” means form, Krishna has a particular form not made of any material elements water, fire, ether etc. He is made of spiritual rasas. Because rasas give bliss Ananda, highest spiritual happiness and consequently the Lord name is non-different from Krishna. So by chanting the holy name of the Lord you can get the highest rasas and highest bliss . That is why Krishna is called akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti ,he is sum total of all rasas.
There are 5 primary rasas are:
SANTA RASA (REVERENCE), DASYA RASA (LOVING SERVICE), SAKYA RASA (FRIENDSHIP), VATSALYA RASA (PARENTAL AFFECTION), MADHURYA RASA (CONJUGAL AFFECTION):
7 secondary rasas are:
RAUDRA (ANGER), ADBHUTA (WONDER), SRNGARA( CONJUGAL LOVE), HASYA (COMEDY), VIRA (CHIVALRY),BHAYANKARA (HORROR), BIBHATSA(SHOCK)
The sum total of all these rasas is called affection or pure love. So the primary sense of love is manifested in Santa Rasa, Dasya Rasa, Sakya Rasa, Vatsalya Rasa and Srngara Rasa. When these 5 are absent love is present indirectly. Example wonder, chivalry, comedy. In Krishna all the rasas manifest that is why he gives complete bliss. So by chanting the Holy name of the Lord we can experience the highest bliss. So the name of Lord is very special. This verse talks about “Purnah” means perfectly complete. Some form of the Lord manifest in full qualities, some with less qualities because the qualities, the purpose and the actions, is different due to place, time and circumstances. For example Kapila Deva is the Supreme Lord but he is a sage who came to give Sankhya Philosophy but here the Lord does not kill any demons, nor play with cowherd boys, or do Rasa Lila, or kill Kamsa. Other example is Varaha Deva, the Supreme lord who kills Hiranyaksha and lifts mother earth from Garbhodaka Ocean.
Sri Rupa Goswami says there are 3 forms of the Lord which manifest most qualities and most activities. They are Krishna, Ramachandra, Nrsimha Deva. These are “Purnah” forms. Among these 3, Krishna qualities and activities manifest to the highest degree. So Krishna form is considered as the most “Purnah”. Example. You cannot be the mother of Nrsimha Deva. Arjuna was kicking Krishna when was a charioteer you cannot do that with Nrsimha Deva or with Lord Ramachandra who is Maryada Purushottam. You can have a casual relationship with Krishna. So Krishna is called “purnah uttamam”. When we chant the holy name we realize all the perfections of Krishna. Then this verse talks about “shuddho”. Even though Krishna has form like us, that form is not material. Even though Krishna has rasas or relationship with his devotees and does activities he is not bound by law of karma like us. In all sense he is beyond the material world that is called “suddho tatva”. The Holy name of the Lord appears as material sound but it actually spiritual sound, it travels through air, enters the ears, and goes in to our brain hence it is called “suddha”, eternal not subject to destruction. When we chant the Holy Name of the Lord it is imperishable practice “avvayam”, In BG 9.2 it says
su-sukhaḿ kartum avyayam
On the path of Bhakti the means and the end is one. The 9 devotional service we perform here same thing we perform in Vaikunta Lokha so it is called imperishable Dharma. Example at the time of death everything is wiped away, your family, your degree, your relationship, money but only the devotional service is not wiped away. If we chant today it will never be destroyed by death ,it will continue in next life time till you go back to Krishna. So by chanting the name of the Lord , the form or Rupa of the lord will be revealed, from Rupa we understand the qualities: the Guna then Lila comes: you see the pastimes of the Lord. The name has the power to give everything and to purify or cleanse our heart which is full of impurities like envy, lust, greed, pride, illusion as well. It is said that “ kali-kale nama-rupe krsna-avatara”,the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna in Kaliyuga”(CC Adi-lila 17.022).
When we read shastras we can understand the purity of Krishna. Lord Ramachandra before he entered in to Vishvamitra muni’s ashram he visited Gautama muni’s ashram. Ahalya Devi who was a sinner and as a punishment by her husband , transformed in to stone got purified by the touch of Lord’s lotus feet. Same way our hearts are like stone, due to overly attachment to material things like money, name, fame, possession is not conducive for spiritual emotions. When we chant the Holy name of Krishna and Rama it cleanses our stone like heart and we become wonderful human being and a wonderful devotee. Another example from Krishna’s pastime, a gentle touch of Krishna lips on Putana all her sins were eradicated and she was fit to enter the spiritual world and become like mother, another example is Aghasura, Krishna enters in to his mouth and purified him and gave him personnel Swaroopa in the spiritual sky. Lord is so pure; the most sinful people are benefited. So chanting the Holy name with faith we are associating with Lord himself , all the suffering, sinful reactions will go away and all auspiciousness will start.
Another word in this verse is “Nitya-mukto”: The Lord is eternally liberated. The Lord appears everywhere in the material world but he does not touch the material world nor contaminated but still very powerful and pure. So is the name of the Lord. In Kaliyuga we should have a simple process, simple goal, simple explanation for spiritual process. To carry out the process we need knowledge. When we chant the Holy name of the Lord with no knowledge (NAMA ABHASA)it is acceptable but the result will be different, but when we chant with knowledge (SHUDDHA NAMA) we get better affect and better results.
So to chant purely, we need knowledge:
- The basic knowledge presented in the scriptures called as sambandha–jñāna, to understand who is the Supreme Lord who is most powerful, more knowledgeable, supreme conscious entity , the cause of everything.
- Understand that the Lord has innumerable Shakthi or power. Out of these innumerable Shakthi , 3 are important energies:
- Antaranga- internal energy or potency
- Tatastha- jivas or marginal
- Bahiranga –material world
So, what is the difference with these energies and the Supreme Lord. This is sambandha–jñāna
3. The process of realizing the Supreme—we know the Supreme Lord, the 3 primary energies, and we are one of energies of the Lord and once you got this knowledge what will you do with this understanding. We will be performing devotional service to the Lord that is realizing the Supreme.
These are 3 points in sambandha–jñāna . If we want to go to Spiritual world we need to practice bhakti yoga that is chanting about the form, qualities and activities of the Lord.
What are the 3 stages of Chanting?
In chanting there are 3 stages
- Nama Aparadha: We commit offence to the Holy name. When we chant with offences to the Lord, his devotees, to the process of bhakti the effect of chanting goes down.
Example is thinking the name of the Lord and the Lord are different, chanting the Holy name is the imagination or material. We don’t progress by committing these offenses. To progress in bhakti we need faith, and faith will not develop when we commit Nama Aparadha.
- Nama Abhasa : it is better than Nama Aparadha. Abhasa means reflection. Chanting in the clearing stage. You understand the offenses mentioned above which you should not commit and you really want to chant to develop a loving relationship with Krishna and try your best to avoid offences and distractions while chanting that is called clearing stage. Even though you fall down at times, you get up and walk and hear the holy name with full attention.
The offences are caused due to unsub missive nature. We feel we are better, want to independent, so we get distracted while chanting. That distraction comes due to alternate attraction to something else, predominately lust meaning any desire separate from Krishna is lust,( the spirit of material enjoyment independent of Krishna ) and when we have this unsub missive attitude and attraction to something lower we become inattentive that causes to do all the 10 offenses like disrespect Vaishnavas, we compare Krishna with other Devatas, we find fault in Guru, Disrespect Guru, We put shastras down, disrespect the chanting of the Holy name thinking it to be imaginary or scriptural , we give our own mundane interpretation of Holy name, abuse the Holy name ( deeper disrespect), mundane comparison, cheaply distributing to those who does not deserve (it this done not include kirtan) , to achieve our Kama, so you lose focus on chanting and you commit Aparadh. If we avoid this we can chant the Holy name correctly
- Suddha Nama
Chanting with knowledge, full faith, minimum anarthas or no anarthas at all . In this type of chanting we get quick progress, love of Krishna. This can be achieved by serving Spiritual Master, authorities, associating with devotees who have taste for chanting, follow regulative principles strictly, hearing/ reading the shastras regularly, putting the endeavor by chanting the Holy name of the Lord by depending on the Lord and reach the stage of Suddha nama and attain the final goal of pure love of Krishna
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the illustration of chanting purely in different stages. When Mahaprabhu was staying in Jaganath puri at that time all the people from Nabadwip used to visit Puri to have darshan of Lord . So one time they asked the Lord who is a perfect Vaishnava. Mahaprabhu replied anyone who chants the holy name of the Lord once is a Vaishnava. The next year also they asked the same question, so MahaPrabhu replied anyone who chants the holy name of the Lord constantly is a Vaishnava. The devotees were satisfied and at the same time, they were wondering why Mahaprabhu gave two answers. The 3rd year they asked same question so Mahaprabhu said the one who inspire others to chant purely is a Vaishnava. So devotees understood that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is giving 3 categories of Vaishnava. One who chant purely once, one who chant purely always, and who inspire not only himself but others also to chant purely and the third one is the best of all. So we can understand that the chanting purely with faith is emphasized, don’t need any qualification for it. When we chant with faith we get better results.
How to get determination to chant
We need to have a good association with devotees who have a taste of chanting. In the association we get inspiration, knowledge , faith . So we need to develop faith in chanting. Then by hearing process we get attracted to Lord’s form, qualities and pastime. Regularly reading scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam also will help. We need to have desire for chanting purely. One simple technique is when we chant, recite the mantra, hear the mantra attentively and then push the beads. And make sure you don’t commit any offenses. To be inattentive while chanting is the root cause of all offenses that need to be avoided.
When we chant we start with Dasya rasa first, since our heart is full of contamination with all the 6 vices like lust, anger, greed etc. but when the Jivas come in contact with pure devotional service through the process of chanting and other process of devotional service (9 process), we get knowledge and Chant. When we chant the heart get cleaned, our desire to serve the Lord more and more will manifest and will look for more and more service instead of running away from service . This shows that you are chanting well, you have a clear understanding now that you are a Jivatma , and your constitutional position is to serve the Lord. As the service increase, the desire to service increases, our chanting quality also increases, our knowledge increases how to deal with this world, what are the religious principles, what do Krishna say how to lead our life. So we mold our life according to the teaching of scriptures and Krishna . As you advance you come to the point of Shuddha Nama where you chant purely and Krishna reveals himself to us and give us the different spiritual position. We all have a unique spiritual position in the spiritual world in Vaikunata or Golaka Vrindava that will be revealed to us. That may be Sakhya kind of relationship where Krishna wants to play, eat prasadam or have a playful fight. Here you are friend of Krishna but still serving him, the goal is to please the Lord by existence. So our original service will be revealed to us later.
In Sri Siksastaka it is said
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.” Unless one is meek and humble, to make progress in spiritual life is very difficult.
Example) Mother Yashoda want to cook and feed Krishna. She plays here motherly affection. She does not want to know how powerful the son is. Nanda Maharaj also care for his son like a good father providing whatever a son needs. That is his rasa. Radha rani plays with Krishna that is her service similarly Subhala and Madhumangala play with Krishna, so everyone serves the Lord by giving the pleasure and gaining ultimate happiness.