Lecture by His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj

harer näma harer näma

harer nämaiva kevalam

kalau nästy eva nästy eva

nästy eva gatir anyathä

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke this verse to Prakasananda Saraswati who is powerful learned scholar, who had tens and thousands of disciples who were sannyasis of the mayavada school. He was like an emperor amongst renunciates, so deeply learned in Vedas. He challenged Lord Caitanya, “Why you are singing and dancing with all low-class sentimental people? Why you do not come in our section and study Vedanta and discuss such subjects? After all, you are sannyasa of our line. Come, be amongst your comrades.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, although the supreme, all powerful, cause of all causes, accepted such a humble position. He said, “My guru maharaj told Me that I am not qualified to study Vedanta. What will I learn? Very difficult subject. He told Me that I will realize everything by simply chanting the holy names. And then my guru maharaj gave Me this precious jewel of the verse and told Me to keep it with Me always within My heart

harer näma harer näma

harer nämaiva kevalam

kalau nästy eva nästy eva

nästy eva gatir anyathä

That in this age of Kali there is no other way except the chanting of the holy names of Lord Hari. And, I have taken that instruction as my life. My guru maharaj told Me that, ‘You take this name,’ and I started chanting and tears were flowing from My eyes, My hairs were standing on end, My voice was choked up, My limbs were trembling, I’m becoming mad. What is this name doing to Me? So I went to My Gurudev and asked him, ‘What’s happening?’ He said ‘Very nice My son! You have attained perfection.’ ”

That is the power of the holy name. Nothing else has this power to awaken the dormant ecstatic love of God from our very heart, to awaken the sleeping soul.

Jiv jago, jiv jago, gauracanda bole

kota nidra jao maya- pisacira kole

Bhakti Vinoda Thakur explains, how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He roamed from town to town and village to village with this message, “Wake up, sleeping souls! You are all eternal servants of Krishna.

nitya-siddha-kåñëa-prema ‘sädhya’ kabhu naya

çravaëädi-çuddha-citte karaye udaya

The love of God which is the only true happiness of the soul is dormant within your heart but you are sleeping, you are sleeping in a vast dream on the lap of maya. Wake up!” Mukunda! Madhava! Hari! And He taught this is how we wake up—by loudly chanting the Lord’s names, by hearing the Lord’s names in the association of devotees. There’s no other way in the age of Kali. What is supreme benediction?

daivé hy eñä guëa-mayé

mama mäyä duratyayä

mäm eva ye prapadyante

mäyäm etäà taranti te

Krishna warns us that this divine energy of Mine consisting of the three modes of material nature is very difficult to overcome. Maya is Krishna’s energy, His external energy. It is all-powerful. The tatastha sakti, jivatma, our only free will is either to be utterly controlled and subjugated by maya and tossed around in these waves of the material ocean or to be completely subordinate and dependant on the gracious, all-attractive love of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is our choice. Prabhupada uses example of how the cat holds the rat in its mouth and her beloved kitten in its mouth. So same cat, the same mouse, but there is a difference. For the rat, the cat is death personified. For the kitten, the cat is the most loving affectionate mother. The rat is always trying to figure out every type of way to escape from the cat but the kitten is always seeking shelter of the cat. If the little kitten does not see the cat for even a minute, it’s in anxiety, feeling alone, unprotected, trying to find her beloved caring mother to protect and nourish her. So the conditioned souls are like the rat. We’re trying to escape the shelter of Krishna and therefore Krishna manifests as maya, the external energy and ultimately as death personified.

Krishna’s non-different than His name. ‘kali-käle näma-rüpe kåñëa-avatära,’ Krishna has descended within His name to give us shelter. He’s incarnated within the name to give us shelter, to nourish us and to reveal all of His love to us. Because the name of Krishna, ‘näma cintämaëiù kåñëaç, caitanya-rasa-vigrahaù,’ it is the most precious cintamani jewel of creation. There is nothing so precious because nothing else can give us the benediction of eternal life and eternal love. But we must understand the value of chanting Krishna’s names. And it is for this reason His Holiness Niranjan Swami Maharaj has come to this extraordinary city of Bombay to enlighten us in the supreme value of the holy name. One of the greatest misfortunes is if you have something great but you do not understand its value, you waste it, you will not take the full advantage of it, you’ll take it as something ordinary and you’ll think that things have no real value at all and more important, but that’s what we’re doing every day. When we’re trying to chant the holy name, the mind is wandering to so many ideas, so many thoughts, so many desires, so many aspirations which really means your mind is trying to deceive you to think that to fix its attention on something else will give you a greater value than keeping it in Krishna’s name. And this is how maya through our mind is stealing away our life moment by moment. When we understand with faith, the power and glory of Krishna’s name then only can we take shelter, otherwise our chanting is casual or perhaps ritualistic, inattentive. Two things are very important—a very mature and honest understanding of the dangers and sufferings of material existence and faith that the holy name of God has descended to give us supreme shelter.

What is the power of material existence? What arrangement can we make to come out of its miseries? ‘janma-måtyu-jarä-vyädhi-duùkha,’ birth, old age, disease and death. Everything in this material world is temporary therefore, it is a miserable place. How does maya keep us trapped to remain in this miserable network, ‘dukhalayam asasvatam’? By putting us in the illusion that we can find happiness. She gives us enough happiness to keep us entangled where we don’t really want to get out. Study the power of material existence.

bhümir äpo ‘nalo väyuù

khaà mano buddhir eva ca

ahaìkära itéyaà me

bhinnä prakåtir añöadhä

There are eight material elements. Any one of these elements can cause mass destruction at any moment. We hear it but we don’t believe it. If we believed it, we would surrender to Krishna today. But we don’t really take it seriously. But it is a fact, it is all around us—air.

Now let us take ether. Ether is just the atmosphere or air, such a subtle element. If there’s little or too much ether or air we suffocate and die. Yes, people die of suffocation. They just don’t get quiet enough air. And what happens if there is too much air? Cyclones, hurricanes, tornados. The most powerful material country in the world, America, just earlier this year was rampaged by hurricanes one after another after another. Hurricanes are cyclones. It’s nothing but air, just swirling air that just goes out of control. Actually it’s in control, it is out of our control [Laughter]. But it’s perfectly under the control of Maya Devi and when these hurricanes are coming, massive damage. One hurricane—billions of dollars of damage, sometimes hundreds and thousands of people dead. A few years ago, when this one hurricane was heading toward NASA or Cape Kennedy. Yes? One of the most expensive, scientific, technological enterprises in all America, this is the place where they invent and put rocket ships into space and all kinds of experimentation was other types of very high technology of weapons and so forth. And when this hurricane was heading toward it, what did they do? Did they shoot the rockets at the hurricane? No, they all ran away. They evacuated to a safe place. The President of the United States said “Close the place and get out or, you will die.” Haribol! That is the power of just one little swirling piece of wind.

And fire. I’m from Chicago, so is Trnakarta Prabhu. Last century, there was an old lady named Mrs.O’Leary and she was milking her cow and after milking she went to go to sleep. But she left her lantern and the cow kicked over the lantern. The cow must have been Krishna. Through the cow, because Chicago would be later on the largest place in the world for slaughtering cows—the stockyards. Yes? Union stockyards. Millions of cows, so sweet revenge, that cow just kicked the lantern, set fire to the hay, the entire city of Chicago burned to the ground. Sri Krishna Bhagavan ki jai! You’re not supposed to be so happy about that [Laughter]. I was testing you paradukhä-dukhi, we’re supposed to feel compassion. But actually one little, all of it was a flame just this big, that’s all. What’s in a lantern? A flame, this big. But one little flame like that became such a fire that all the fire departments and everybody, they were fighting. But they couldn’t do anything. All they could do is run away or die. And whether you are multimillionaire in a big beautiful mansion on Michigan Avenue or whether you are just living in some ghetto, everything burned to ashes. The power of fire. There’s forest fires every year that blaze sometimes for months and there is nothing they could do except just pray to God to send rain. Hare Krishna! So now we’re talking about water.

First let’s talk about earth—earthquake. Just earth, what’s an earthquake? The earth just moves. That’s all. Yes? Truly a simple thing. If you are living on another planet and heard about an earthquake and analyzed it, it’s no big thing, the earth just moves. Just one little part of the earth, may be a few miles long just goes like this [graphic sound] and buildings are falling and bridges are breaking, and people are dying and being crushed, sometimes by the thousands and thousands. There was an earthquake in Mexico City, thousands and thousands of people died within seconds. Latur, Gujarat, what is it? The power of earth—just one little movement. It just moves a little—mass destruction. And what if it moved a lot? There would be no life left to talk about it.

And water. If there is not enough water, there is drought; there is no possibility of survival. If there is too much of water—flood, devastation. The crops are destroyed, cities are just… I have seen in Bombay, the most economically powerful city in all of India and becoming a giant in the world. But one cloud just pours down water and the city is paralyzed. You have seen? The trains stop, the airport stops, the traffic stops except Srinathji has a submarine car that could take you through that rain. He is very expert. I was once, I had to go to airport. There was huge monsoon storm, massive monsoon storm and even the water was so deep that people even in their big beautiful cars, they just left it and were just walking barefoot. There was no taxis there was no anything, they had to walk miles and miles and miles and Srinathji was driving through it all. We are the only vehicle that worked. Some mystic power. But it was our pleasure to be going but everybody else because as were going, wherever it went, it was creating you know when the car moves through the water just ..[graphic sound] everybody around was practically knocked down by the water that was coming from the car as it was moving. Yes? So water.

And we have just seen what a little combination between earth and water can do to the world. It’s a tragedy, it’s a crisis that we weep over. But we should also understand ‘padaà padaà yad vipadäà na teñäm.’ It’s serious. There is danger at every step in this world. When water goes a little bit out of control—utter devastation—tidal wave. Hundreds and thousands are dead, billions of dollars of property destroyed, so much suffering. And this is the elements that God has given to actually sustain the planet. But when there is massive sinful activities, the very gifts of God that sustain our lives react in a massive way to create destruction.

And the bombs that people are building, what is it? It’s just the fine elements of God’s creation being put together by the minds of human beings to be weapons that can destroy tens and millions within seconds. It’s not man’s power. It’s the power of nature. Man is just trying to manipulate the powers of nature and what does he manipulate with it? The mind, which is another element of nature. When the mind is controlled, Krishna says, it is the best friend. But what is the mind when it is not controlled? Does anyone know? Your best friend? The only enemy, the worst and only enemy is our own mind. See what utter havoc human beings have created in this world because they allow the mind to go out of control. And the worst tragedy that this uncontrolled mind steals our consciousness way from Krishna and that is the beginning, the essence of all suffering.

Mantra means that divine sound vibration that reconnects the mind to God. That actually brings about a healthy, peaceful mind, our best friend.

déna-héna yata chila,     hari-näme uddhärila,

tä’ra säkñé jagäi mädhäi

This is the power of the name. Even demons like Jagai and Madhai become pure and humble servants of the Lord, dance in ecstasy while chanting the mahamantra. [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.]

In this age of Kali, a tsunami, tidal wave of ignorance has just devastated, devastated and flooded the shore of humanity. What is ignorance? Do not understand that I am the eternal soul and I have an eternal relationship as a servant to Krishna and this material existence is Krishna’s energy meant to be used in harmony with His will. That is knowledge. Ignorance means to think I am this body, I am the enjoyer and this world is mine to enjoy and control. The tidal wave of this ignorance has crushed human society and devastated morality, ethics and spiritual values practically completely and there is great need for relief work. When the tidal wave of water hits, we see what type of devastation and its every human beings duty to help his brothers and sisters. People suffer because we are egoistic and selfish. Srila Prabhupada, one man from India went around the world 13 times to give the charity of the holy name. When there is devastation, if we have something, it’s our duty to help others. But this tidal wave of ignorance, its devastated human values throughout the world. People are becoming drug addicts, alcoholics, suicidal, wasting their lives in greed for money and lust for sex, frustrated for intoxications. And this is considered to be high society, this is considered to be culture. What is this non-sense culture? Culture is the humility, morality and the wisdom of the heart expressed through life style and arts. That is culture. Not how you dress or what music you listen to.

I was discussing earlier today that one of our dear godbrothers from Germany told me how his family was at one time friends with one of Hitler’s number two men, Himmler. If any of you know about that regime, he was one of the master mind demons that was responsible for ordering and murdering tens and millions of people, innocent. That was his work. But in his private life he was considered to be such a cultured gentlemen. He wore the finest clothes. He had all the mannerisms of politeness, the etiquette of speaking in nice respectful ways to others. He knew how to eat according to the very aristocratic manners. He was a patron of the fine arts, he loved classical music and gave so much charity to promote classical music and poetry and theatre. From every materialistic way of looking at what we consider culture, he was a very cultured gentleman. He spoke sweetly and he did all the things that the high echelons of cultural society respects and adores. But in his heart, he was such a ruthless murderer that he slaughtered millions of innocent children, women, and helpless men even in old age, tortured.

Kali yuga is the age of superficialities. People do some religious rituals, people give in a little charity and they act in a very sophisticated cultured way and people think they’re great. But behind the scenes, they are lying, they are cheating and for their own wealth or greed, they don’t care if they crush other people’s lives and leave them with nothing. This is Kali yuga. People are so pathetically superficial. What is substance? The substance is the character and the values of a person’s heart and that is what makes a person great.

yad yad äcarati çreñöhas

tat tad evetaro janaù

sa yat pramäëaà kurute

lokas tad anuvartate

What great people do, the common people will follow. Look at Kali yuga. What kind of a tidal wave of devastation has come upon us? Throughout the world, the leaders of the society who people all over the world are trying to follow their example and imitate are people of low character. People with physical power, athletes. Now actually, if a person is a great athlete and by his example and words he’s teaching values, morality and spirituality, that’s a great thing. But so many of them, they are just greedy for money, they are drunkards and woman hunters, taking intoxications. These are the great heroes of today, athletes. Many have no moral values whatsoever. And who are even greater than the athletes? The cinema stars and television stars. So powerful is their influence. I spoke before, there was a great actor in the 1940s and 1950s, he smoked a cigarette and it just looked so sophisticated, the way it would hang from his mouth. And he would talk while smoking that cigarette and he would make love while smoking that cigarette and would shoot people dead while smoking that cigarette. Millions of Americans and Europeans started smoking cigarettes and holding it the same way. ‘yad yad äcarati çreñöhas.’ He is their hero, we must be like him. Yes?

I spoke with a big person from the television industry in America, some years ago, and he told me that practically all of these people are so degraded, but they love to put a masquerade that they look very nice–so selfish, so egoistic, so much immorality. The profession is not that. What is good or bad is one’s character. So yes, these are the people, who people want to become like, who want to imitate. These are the heroes of Kali yuga or, sometimes politicians, who would do anything just to gain power and stay in power. I am not saying, they are all like that. There are good, honest politicians too somewhere [Laughter]. All respects to any good politician. But many, they will look very charitable and nice and kind to get the votes. But behind the scenes, what they may do to gain their power and keep their power. So much corruption. So this is the age of Kali where the leaders and heroes of society are generating the wrong message and therefore, the masses are lost, devastated of practically all good qualities.

Krishna tells, “Religion is taken to be irreligion and irreligion is taken to be religion.” Therefore, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu told us this tidal wave of ignorance has hit the earth in a most powerful way and the inner virtues of humanity are devastated. There must be relief work. Therefore

bhärata-bhümite haila manuñya-janma yära

janma särthaka kari’ kara para-upakära

We need welfare in this work. He ordered every person in India and He ordered every one of His followers, be an instrument of compassion. We have heard from Niranjan Swami Maharaj, the priceless value of the holy name. We have it, it’s given to us. Why are we lusty and passionate for the broken glass of this world? However it sparkles and shines, if you become attached to that glass, it’s gonna cut you and make you bleed in your heart. So warning, and it’s true. So yes, we must understand, what is this age of Kali? What is the condition of our own heart and what is the condition of the world? And we must also understand what Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared to be the prime benediction for all humanity. nämnäm akäri bahudhä nija-sarva-çaktis. Krishna has descended with all of His power, with all of His beauty and sweetness. The full-fledged love of God is to be realized in chanting His holy name. [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare]

Thus Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur has told us, Niranjan Swami Maharaj sang the song so beautifully last night that the essence of all religion is to show compassion to others especially by broadcasting the glories of the holy name. To chant the Holy name, to serve the vaisnavas and to show compassion to others is the essence of all religion. And what is the greatest compassion we could do? Physically, we show compassion by doing welfare work for those who are suffering. Emotionally, we show compassion by encouraging people, by kindness to others. Spiritually, which is foundational to everything else, spiritually, we show compassion by trying to give people an understanding of the priceless value of Krishna’s name so that when we chant, we actually take shelter. The name of the Lord is avatara of Krishna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught in every state of His life, from His infancy, He would cry to induce everyone to chant. “Wake up, Sleeping souls!” The holy name has descended with all powers to bestow änandämbudhi-vardhanaà the inner fulfillment that everyone is searching for.”

And there are no hard and fast rules for chanting. That is why it is so suitable for Kali yuga. Yajna—so many hard and fast rules, meditation, to do it properly—so many hard and fast rules, deity worship—many hard and fast rules. Who could do it in Kali? But in every time and any place even if you are a candala, ‘aho bata çva-paco ‘to garéyän, yaj-jihvägre vartate näma tubhyam,’ even a candala who has no education whatsoever, who’s just trampled on by egoistic society as been worthless, outcast, even that person, if he simply has faith in the holy name and take shelter in the holy name, that person, Kapila Dev says, Mahaprabhu says and all the great brahmanas and rsis who know the truth say that, ‘That candala will not only be able to completely purify himself but could be the guru for the entire world.’ Is that the candala’s power? That is the power of the holy name. No hard and fast rules and its for everyone. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu understood so much sinfulness, egoism and vain superstitions in the name of religion were just haunting the people of Bengal. Therefore, He told Nityananda Prabhu and His associates, “Go there like a mad-man and save them. Don’t consider who is fit or unfit because if you consider that you have nothing to do. With the tidal wave of naam sankirtan, devastate all lust, envy, anger, greed, pride, illusion, all ignorance. Wash the heart clean and allow the pure essence of love to awaken.” That is the benediction of chanting the Holy name. [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare]

When Srila Prabhupada came to New York city, he had no money. 40 rupees which could not be converted. He had nothing. He did not have a healthy body, he had an old sickly body materially, at least appeared that way. He had no wealth, he had nothing. He had a box of books and what did those books tell? Those books told the whole philosophy of Srimad Bhagavatam which culminates in the last verse of Bhagavatam that in this age of Kali, the only hope is bowing down with humility to the Lord and chanting His Holy name. [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare] All he had was faith in the holy name and the compassionate order of his guru to spread the holy name all over the world. And see the power. Thank you very much. Srila Prabhupad ki jai!

Would you like to speak few words?

Another Maharaj speaking……

Hare Krishna!

This is a great time to be in Chowpatty. It seems like it’s been a constant transcendental party the last week. I was thinking of when Maharaj was talking about dancing in kirtan. One devotee asked “Prabhupada”, he said “How, I don’t feel ecstasy when I dance in kirtan, so what to do?” Prabhupada said, “You keep dancing and gradually this ecstasy will come.” And it’s a fact, you know we have to sometimes be aggressive to dance for Krishna, not that we want to make a display. Krishna says, “All that you do, all you eat, as well as your offering give away, as well as austerity you perform, do it as an offering for me.” So we can dance for Krishna in such a way that Krishna will say “Yes” and we will feel ecstasy. This is the process. So now, is anybody going to force you to dance, you have to try to do it on your own and this ecstasy will come. In America they have western movies, you know about western movies? And sometimes they will tell a guy to humiliate him. They would say. They would shoot bullets at his feet and say, “Dance Dance.” So nobody is going to force you like that to dance for Krishna. So we have to try to dance on our own and gradually we will feel this ecstasy. Be a little transcendentally aggressive.

There was one mataji in Chicago, I remember back in the sankirtan, back in the 70s and Jagadatri Devi Dasi, she asked Srila Prabhupada a question when Prabhupada was in Chicago. She said “Srila Prabhupada, as women we are taught to be humble and meek and all these qualities of women. So how is it that when we go out to the airport that we’re supposed to be aggressive?” And Prabhupada said, “Just like when you go to the airport and there’s a man sitting in a chair and he is sleeping or whatever and you go up to him and say, “Please, wake up! Take this book. Jiva jago! Get out of ignorance”. So Prabhupad said, “This is aggressiveness for Krishna, for preaching Krishna consciousness. It’s transcendental. But then when you come back to the temple, you have to reverse your role, become humble and meek. Wear this necklace of tåëäd api sunécena around your neck.” So it’s a nice process, it makes Krishna Consciousness very ecstatic. Then you have aggressiveness on the other side. People are aggressive thieves. Right? They steal and plunder but then they talk about morality. Isn’t it? Some thieves may plunder a village and then they go out into the forest to divide up all the riches and one thief will say, “Now let’s divide this up morally.” The Europeans came to America. Right? And what did they do? They plundered, they killed the poor Indians, cheated the amount of land for some beads and this and that. And now the Americans, they talk about morality, but they are killing every year so many cows, so many babies, polluting the air. Right? Polluting the water. So we have a great opportunity in Krishna Consciousness by the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the mercy of Srila Prabhupada to give the world a little light which is simply in darkness. And what is that light?

harer näma harer näma

harer nämaiva kevalam

kalau nästy eva nästy eva

nästy eva gatir anyathä

There is no other way, other than getting the taste for the holy names. Right?

We can learn so much scripture and we can have so much jyana and it’s good. We should learn as devotees for preaching. But really our aim should be getting the taste for the holy names. So we can dance in ecstasy and feel transcendental joy and happiness. Srila Prabhupada was giving a lecture in Hawaii one time and he gave a very deep philosophical lecture and then at the end of lecture Srila Prabhupada closed the book and he said, “What is the use of all this philosophy? We simply want to know what is in Krishna’s lunch basket.” So we need to, you know, again develop this taste for chanting Hare Krishna and of course it comes first and foremost through our humility, our service attitude towards vaisnavas and then Krishna will see us and then we will automatically want to dance in kirtan and feel this transcendental joy. So these two great Maharajas—Radhanath Swami and Maharajas are so wonderful, they are very hard act to follow. So I’ll stop here and we can all chant Hare Krishna, dance. Haribol!

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.