Narayanam Namaskrityam ….
Naam Naam Akaribahuda Nijasarva saktish …
O my Lord your Holy Name alone can render all benedictions to human beings and thus you have hundreds and millions of names like Krsna and Govinda. In these transcendental names you have invested all your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord out of kindness you enable us to easily approach you by your Holy Name but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
This is a prayer that is offered to the supreme lord by the lord himself in his incarnated in the form of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in order to show the people of this world how to worship. Lord Chaitanya is considered the Yuga Avatar. In each age it is described the lord descends to teach the process according to Kal Desh Patra, according to time, place and particular people of society – How they can perfect their life in devotion to God. As no one knows how to please God, therefore in regard to this matter of how to approach the Lord we accept Lord Chaitanya as supreme authority. Although he does not in any way contradict the teachings of previous acharyas or any of the previous incarnations, he comes to teach by his own example -what are the qualities which are pleasing to Krsna in the life of a devotee.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, through his life exhibited many beautiful passtimes and in the form of Chaitanya Bhagvat and Chaitanya Charitamrita , the exemplary behavior of a perfect devotee, is illustrated. And his followers headed by Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami, wrote many books explaining very systematically the philosophy of devotion to God. But Lord Chaitanya in his own life only wrote eight verses. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is praying to the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna, “Your Holy Name can render all benedictions to the living beings and thus you have hundreds and millions of names like Krsna and Govinda”. He is establishing the absolute nature of the name of God.
Essence of the Holy Name;
The name of God transcends and surpasses all sectarian boundaries. The name of God is in containing with it all the opulence, all the power and all the glory of Supreme Lord himself. Factually in this world Lord Chaitanya is describing- there is nothing as powerful as the name of the lord. And in the lives of so many great devotees throughout history of all religions we have found that they are confirming- that the shelter of the Lord of Vaikuntha can be found in total within the sound of his name. Therefore Srila Narottamadas thakur has prayed “My Lord I have seen in consider this whole world, I have everything, I have done everything and my conclusion is that it is your Holy Name alone that can save me”. It is described by BhaktiVinod Thakur, another great devotee of the Lord that in the whole 14 worlds there is nothing so sublime, there is nothing that can give such shelter other than the name of God. And Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was explaining that you have many names, in other words he is not teaching a particular sect, he is teaching universal principle of religion. He was simply asking people to follow him in a particular sectarian concept. But he is teaching; if you are a Muslim then you can chant Allah, if you are Christian then you can chant the name of Christ or Jehova and If you are a follower of sanatan dharma you could chant the name of Sri Rama or Lord Narhari or Lord Krsna, Govinda but in each and every names of God all glory, power, and oplence is within.
We find in the life Draupadi how when she gave up the sense of false ego and chanted the names of Krsna, Krsna was there to deliver her and similarly the name is there to deliver all of us but we have to give up this sense of false ego otherwise our chanting will have minimal effect. Lord Chaitanya says there are no hard and fast rules for chanting these names. In this age of Kali Yuga, it is said Kalau Sudra Sambhave.., practically no one has any good qualities. Therefore in any situation of life we can take the name of God. So therefore chanting of the Holy Name is a universal appeal because however you chant, if it is done with attention, if it is done correctly it will have the same affect. Recently at New Vrindavan there was an interfaith conference and people from various religious organizations came and they all shared with one other that they particularly chant the names of God and in form, in ritual there was great difference but devotees found that the essence was same provided the sincerity was there. Some people chant the Holy Names in great awe and reverence with only an organ playing, other chant the Holy Names with Mrdangas and Kartals like Lord Chaitanya himself dancing and chanting with ecstasy. Others chant the Holy Names by beating a drum and playing the same tune over and over again. People around the world chant the Holy Name in different ways. But Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is saying there is no hard and fast rule. Just take the name.
From the Heart;
Different religious leaders are teaching their disciples different ways of chanting to reach god but the supreme lord himself explains, there are no hard and fast rules as far as form and ritual are concerned. It is the quality of the heart that makes the chanting affective, not the form in which you chant. If your heart is wrong you will get minimal effect. In the Sikshatakam prayers, Lord Chaitanya is emphasizing the quality of the heart and what is the quality of the heart? He explains here-”My Lord out of your kindness you enable us to easily approach you by your Holy Names”. The name is so easy to approach, anyone can take it. It has descended upon each and every one of us in our lives but the problem is that we are not willing to accept it. Why? Lord Chaitanya says “Your Holy Names, you are so easy to approach through Holy Names but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them”. The essence of this verse is in this last sentence. Unless you develop this consciousness, no matter how you chant, your chanting will be very minimal, ineffective. Lord Chaitanya who is God himself explains “My dear Lord I have no love for you, I have no devotion for you. I have no attraction. Your name has causelessly descended upon all of us and I have no attraction for them therefore I am the most unfortunate of all souls”. And then in the next verse he continues where he leaves off. “Trinad api suni cena …”.
Who qualified to chant your name properly? One who considers himself more humble than grass. You step on the grass, you spit on the grass, no one even considers with any respect, integrity of the grass. One who is more tolerant than a tree, ready to accept any abuse, suffer the heat of summer and give shade to others. Suffer the freezing of the winter and give wood to heat others and even if someone comes to kill it the tree gives the woods of his body for that person to build a house. That is tolerance. One who is more humble than grass, more tolerant than the tree, who is ready to offer all respect to others and expect none in return, only such a person can chant the names of God constantly. This is the essence of learning the proper process of chanting. let us grasp the essence of Lord Chaitanya’s philosophy.”I have no attraction for chanting, I am most unqualified”. In other words, the greatest obstacle for spiritual advancement is false ego, to consider in terms of “me and mine”. Janasya moho … . The more we understand the glory of God, the more we understand how insignificant and tiny we truly are. As long as Draupadi considered herself or anything she had of any value, God was not responding to her chanting of the Holy Name. Not in full. But as soon as she raised her arms and understood that I am useless, I am hopeless, I am helpless, nothing I have, nothing I can do of any value, my dear Lord Krsna only your name can save me and the she cried out, “Hey Krsna!! Hey Govinda!!” with great attention, with great devotion and with great humility. Then Krsna descended and saved her. Factually a devotee admits that everything belongs to God. This is real humility. Humility doesnt mean superficially you are telling everyone that you are the most fallen. That is imitation. Real humility is to have the realization and the understanding that everyhting is the property of God. My body is God’s property, my intelligence, my brain, whatever powers I have to control my senses and mind its all the property of God. Bhaktivinod Thakur has prayed “Maanaso deho geho joho Kichu mor …”, “My Lord my body, my mind, my home, my family, my wealth, my prestige, my position they are all yours, I am offering all of this to you on this Holy day”.
It is a dream to consider anything of our own. To wake means to understand that everything is the property of God. Therefore what do you have to be proud of? Who are you to be proud of anything? To be proud is taking the recognition for what belongs to God.
Lord Chaitanya and the Brahman;
There is a story in the Chaitanya Charitamrita about Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who used to, every night have beautiful kirtan at the house of Srivasa Thakur and they would close all the doors and close all the windows because the ordinary men could not understand the divine nature of these Kirtans. Only one who is more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, ready to offer all respect to others and expect none in return, only such persons were allowed in house at that night. During the day Lord Chaitanya would go out in the streets to distribute the Holy Name to everyone and anyone. So there was one Brahman, very highly educated man, he was from a very high birth of the highest Brahminical family and he was very greatly well versed in the scriptures and he was very austere. It is said that this man only drank one cup of milk a day for many years. He would eat nothing else. He was very austere and very strict in performance of his yoga process. So he told Lord Chaitanya that I want to come, he came to house, they would not let him in. He came to Lord Chaitanya the next day, he said that you know that I am a learned brahman, I am from the highest class, I am very austere, I only drink a little milk every day, I am qualified to go into that house and chant with you. You should let me in. Lord Chaitanya told him that we are not concerned with what family you are from, we are not concerned with what nice way you speak and how many verses you know of the scriptures. We are not concerned with whether you drink one glass of milk or eat all day. We are only concerned with sincerity and humility of your heart and therefore this person became very angry and cursed Lord Chaitanya. He said that I curse you that you will loose your family life and you will loose all your opulence. Lord Chaitanya was very happy he said “Thank you very much”. “What do I have to it is all God’s. If God wants to take it away I will be very happy to accept that. If he wants me to use my life in his service then I will be very glad to use it in his service. A devotee has nothing to fear.” Because he has nothing, his everything belongs to God.
Ramanuja Acharya teaches his disciples a lesson;
There is another beautiful story; it was in the life of the great acharya-Ramanuja. It is described that when he was a very great acharya he had many thousands of disciples throughout India. His name and fame was spread in all directions. The purity and humility of his devotion was very great. It is said that he was born in a brahman family. Now there was a very great devotee of the name Kanchipurna, who was born of the shudra family which was considered low class. But every day he would sing beautiful songs before the deity of Vardaraj in the Holy city of Kanchipur. So on the first meeting, Ramanuja, who was a student, saw the devotion and humble qualities of this great saint and invited him to his home for prasad. And after feeding him prasad, Ramanuja got on his knees and began to massage this man’s feet. Kanchipurna said “no no, you should not be massaging my feet. Who are you and who am I. You are a brahman from a very distinguish prestigious family, you are very learned and I am a Sudra, a low class man. I am not very learned in scriptures. You should not be massaging my feet, I should be serving you”. When Ramanuja heard this he said “If being a brahman and being learned in the scriptures makes one proud and prevents one from serving great devotees like you then I consider it most unfortunate and most condemned to be a brahman and be learned in scriptures”. Kanchipurna was very pleased to see the humility of Ramanuja. So later on when Ramanuja became very famous, he was living in SriRangam which is near Trichi in south india. Once there was a very great festival taking place in SriRangam and the utsav murti, the small deity of Ranganath was taken to the streets on a beautiful palanquin and thousands of people came to chant, to play instruments, to dance and to see the beautiful form of the Lord. Everyone was so happy, their ears, eyes, body and mind was all engrossed in the beauty of the Lord and to glorify him and assist one another in the praise of God. But there was one man who stood out. He was very big, strong and stout and was wearing a big turban. He was standing next to a beautiful young girl and he was holding an umbrella to shade this girl from the sun. While everyone around him were glorifying God and chanting and dancing in ecstasy, his eyes were completely engrossed in this girl making sure not a ray of sun would disturb her. So people around were thinking what a crazy fellow he his. This is a festival for God and he was completely oblivious to the deity and all that was happening around him, the only thing in his mind was this girl.
A little later Ramanuja Acharya happened to see this man. He told one of his disciples “look at that man, he is making a complete fool of himself. Call him over to me”. So the disciple went over and called once, twice, three times, the man could not even hear. He was so engrossed; the disciple pushed him and said “the great saint Ramanuja wants to talk to you”. He said “O my God, such a great sadhu, Ramanuja Acharya wants to talk to me, I better go”. So he gave the umbrella to the girl and said “I will be back in a minute, just stay here”. So this man went to Ramanuja and Ramanuja, asked him “why dont you understand that you look like a very foolish person, you are standing and looking at this girl. Why are you acting like this?”. He said “My dear lord I have never seen a girl with such beautiful eyes. Therefore I cannot stop looking at them”. So Ramanuja Acharya told him “If I show you something more beautiful than the eyes of this girl, will you surrender to that?”. He said “yes of course”. Ramanuja then asked the man to come to his ashram the next day. So the next morning Ramanuja took this man to the beautiful temple of Rangakshetra and he brought him before the beautiful murti of Krsna in the form of Ranganath and said “now look at the eyes of the beautiful deity of Krsna”. Now by the mercy of Ramanuja this man was able to see the true beauty of the eyes of the Lord and he began to cry, his limbs began to tremble then he turned to Ramanuja and fell at his feet. He said “now I understand the goal of life. Om apavitra paritrovam… “, whether one is purified or unpurified, if one simply remembers the beautiful lotus eyes of the Lord he becomes purified within and without. So that man became a great devotee. He became completely detached from all material sinful activities and he surrendered to Ramanuja and became his very intimate associate. Ramanuja Acharya then gave this man the name Dhanur Das. When the girl heard about the great conversion and purification of this man she also came to Ramanuja and surrendered saying, “I want you to be my Guru”. Then Ramanuja told her to get married to Dhanur Das and they should live a simple life in the service of Lord Krsna. That should be their only consideration in life. Dhanur Das considered himself most fallen. But Ramanuja was constantly calling him and asking him to do very confidential forms of service for him. Ramanuja was often seen putting his hand on him and giving him very special mercy, practically more than any of the other devotees. Now most of Ramanuja devotees were very high class brahmanas, very learned in the scriptures. Dhanur Das was not learned in the scriptures because he was a low class sudra. So people began to make rumours about Ramanuja. “Why is he giving Dhanur so much mercy? Why is he becoming such a close friend of a sudra?”. People were criticizing him and later his own disciples began to criticize him. Amongst them they told “this does not look good, he is giving so much attention to a Sudra and he is practically neglecting the rest of us. We are all brahmanas and learned scholars”.
A little while later Ramanuja learned about the criticism he received from his disciples. The disciples would wash their clothes and dhotis and put them to dry every night before going to sleep. And then the next morning they would wear washed clothes. So on a particular night Ramanuja tore a little peace of cloth from each Dhoti. The next morning in the ashram, when all these diciples saw that someone had torn their dhotis they became very angry and started accusing each other and began fighting to such an extent that Ramanuja Acharya had to come to the ashram hearing all that hustle. On learning what had happened, he told them it was just a piece of cloth and they should not be so attached to it. So the next day Ramanuja Acharya told his disciples, “you know this disciple of mine Dhanur Das, he is very attached to household life, you are all brahmacharis you know the essence of renunciation and tapasya. But this man, he decorates his wife with nice jewelry and thinks about her way too much. I think we should teach him a lesson”. All the disciples were very happy to hear this from Ramanuja Acharya. So Ramanuja said, “we should reveal how fallen he is to everyone. What you should all do is call him tonight to do some seva for me, and while he is here you brahmacharis and sanyasis should sneek into his house and kidnap his wife and steal all their valuable and precious jewels and then let us see how disturbed he becomes”. The disciples liked their guru’s idea. So the next night the disciples went to Dhanur Das’s home and saw his wife sleeping, she was wearing beautiful jewels. So they very quietly took off her earrings, nose ring, bracelets and necklaces off. Now they were trying to very lightly turn her over and get the jewels off the other side of her body. Unknown to them she was awake the whole time, she knew exactly what they were doing, she was just pretending to be asleep. So when they found difficultly turning her over, she pretended to turn over in her sleep. But these disciples thought she must have woken up, afraid they ran back to Ramanuja and said “just see what we have got!! We have all these beautiful jewels, Dhanur is going to get very angry now”. Ramanuja said “ok, now you all have to go and see how Dhanur reacts when he finds out what has happened”. So they all went back to see what was happening at Dhanur Das’s place. Dhanur Das came home and his wife got up to greet him. He asked “Why do you only have jewels on half of your body??” so she said, “While I was resting some hungry brahmans came and tried to steal my jewels maybe to buy food so I just pretended to sleep while they stole the jewels on one side of my body. And then I thought if they are so hungry I should give them the remaining jewels which are on the other side of my body so I turned over so that they could take the rest of the jewels, but on seeing me turning they ran away. Dhanur on hearing this got very angry and he chastised his wife saying, “you foolish woman, what an opportunity you had to give charity to brahmans. Why did you turned over so abruptly? You should have turned over gently so that they wouldn’t have got scared”. He went on saying, “nothing belongs to us, everything belongs to God and the brahmans are the representative of God”. Hearing this she got tears in her eyes and she said, “yes my dear husband, what you are saying is correct. The fact that I still have these jewels on me means that I am less fortunate”. When the disciples saw this they became very shocked. They began thinking ‘this person is a grihasta from a lower class but he has such good qualities. So they went back to the ashram and told Ramanuja Acharya all what they saw. Ramanuja said “two days back when a small piece of your dhoti was missing how disturbed you were but this man Dhanur is a shudra and a grihasta. But when a Brahman stole his valuables he took that to be a blessing and felt fortunate. When one is actually humble he understands that everything belongs to God. This is what we should strive for because only when we sincerely desire to strive for this platform of consciousness can we truly get the complete benefit of chanting the Holy Name”.
There are many techniques which help us concentrate on chanting and these techniques should be accepted only if they help us because one of the ten offenses to the Holy Name maybe committed. The 11th offense is to chant inattentively. So we should accept whatever helps us to chant attentively. But if you do start chanting attentively, and you become proud; you think I am chanting attentive than everyone else then, in the eyes of God you are the lowest. Your chanting has no meaning. The qualification of one who is really chanting attentively is “trinad api suni cena…”.
Why do we chant 2 to 4 hours a day and rest of the day we are doing so much service? Why not just sit and chant all day?
It is because rest of the day by engaging in menial services to the Lord and his devotees, we are preparing our consciousness in the proper “humble service attitude” so that we can chant with quality. If in the day we do not do menial service our attitude changes negatively and our chanting looses its quality. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, said “naham vipro …”, I have no position that I aspire for except being the servant of the servant of servant. So while we are chanting the Holy Name, we should chant attentively; we should be very careful to chant in such a way that we can fix our attention to the Holy Name during that time. Ajamila chanted one name with quality and in a helpless condition of the heart and that one name saved him from death; saved him from hell. One can see God as it is described in the above sloka, Krishna is easily available through the sound of his name. But Lord Chaitanya is saying “unfortunately I have no attraction for them” which means he is not saying I am a very advanced devotee, I am an expert in chanting, I am an expert in preaching. He is considering himself the lowest. Krsnadas Kaviraj Goswami considered himself lower than the worm in stool. He said the worm in stool has a position in the stool but I have no position. I am lower. The two most sinful of all persons Jagai and Madhai, I am more sinful than them because of my pride. This is the way the great saints are pray.
Lord Jesus Message;
Lord Jesus said in the bible that those who put themselves first are last and those who put themselves last are first in the eyes of God. He said it is easier to put a camel through an eye of the needle than for a man who is proud of his riches to go back to the kingdom of God. Riches do not only mean money. Riches means whatever values you have. Whether it is your abilities, your birth, or your wealth; anything it is all fortune, it is all riches. So the name of God with all of the Lord potencies is ours simply by taking. So let us chant the Holy Name with great attention, with great concentration. But let us grasp the real quality of the heart which is necessary to chant the Holy Name. We have to free ourselves from the most deadly enemy-Pride. We have to understand-I am God’s slave. The slave has no independence, the slave does not even own himself; what to speak of anything else? I am the property of God and everything I have is the property of God. So let me use everything in his loving service and let me chant the Holy Name in this spirit of god consciousness.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare|Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Thank you very much.