02 The role of the Holy Name in the progression of devotional service

The Role Of The Holy Name In The Progression Of Devotional Service

Regulative and spontaneous hearing and chanting in the development of pure devotional service:

[Lord Caitanya to Sanatana Gosvami]: "If, by good fortune, a living entity develops faith in Krsna, he begins to associate with devotees. When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles and chanting and hearing. When one is freed from all unwanted contamination, he advances with firm faith. When firm faith in devotional service awakens, a taste for hearing and chanting also awakens. After taste is awakened, a deep attachment arises, and from that attachment the seed of love for Krsna grows in the heart. When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life's ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 23.9−13

If, due to some righteous activities which provoke devotional service, one is influenced by the service attitude and takes shelter of the good association of pure devotees, he develops attachment for hearing and chanting. By developing chanting and hearing, one can advance further and further in regulative devotional service to the Supreme Lord. As one so advances, his misgivings about devotional service and his attraction for the material world proportionately diminish. By advancing in hearing and chanting, a devotee becomes more firmly fixed in his faith, and gradually his initial faith develops into a taste for devotional service, and that taste develops into attachment. When attachment becomes pure, it exhibits the two characteristics of bhava and rati. When rati increases, it is called love of Godhead, and love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of human life.

– Teachings of Lord Caitanya


Hearing and chanting of the maha mantra waters the seed and creeper of devotional service:

Lord Caitanya likens transcendental devotional service to the sowing of a seed in the heart of the living entity. There are innumerable living entities traveling throughout the different planets of the universe, and out of them there are a few who are fortunate enough to meet a pure devotee and get the chance to understand devotional service. This devotional service is just like a seed, and if it is sown in the heart of a living entity, and if he goes on hearing andb chanting, 

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

 that seed fructifies, just as the seed of a tree fructifies with regular watering. The spiritual plant of devotional service gradually grows and grows until it penetrates the covering of the material universe and enters into the brahmajyoti effulgence in the spiritual sky. In the spiritual sky also that plant grows more and more until it reaches the highest planet, which is called Goloka Vrndavana, the supreme planet of Krsna. Ultimately, the plant takes shelter under the lotus feet of Krsna and rests there. Gradually, as a plant grows fruits and flowers, that plant of devotional service also produces fruits, and the watering process in the form of chanting and hearing goes on. This plant of devotional service is fully described in the Caitanya caritamrta. It is explained there that when the complete plant takes shelter under the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, one becomes fully absorbed in love of God; then he cannot live even for a moment without being in contact with the Supreme Lord, just as a fish cannot live without water. In such a state, the devotee actually attains the transcendental qualities in contact with the Supreme Lord.

– Bhagavad gita As It Is 10.9


The progressive development of the chanting of the holy name:

A bona fide spiritual master chants the holy names

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

and the transcendental sound vibration enters into the ear of the disciple, and if a disciple follows in the footsteps of his spiritual master and chants the holy name with similar respect, he actually comes to worship the transcendental name. When the transcendental name is worshiped by the devotee, the name Himself spreads His glories within the heart of a devotee. When a devotee is perfectly qualified in chanting the transcendental vibration of the holy name, he is quite fit to become a spiritual master and to deliver all the people of the world. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful that it gradually establishes its supremacy above everything in the world. The devotee who chants it becomes transcendentally situated in ecstasy and sometimes laughs, cries and dances in his ecstasy.

– Teachings of Lord Caitanya


Simply by chanting, one becomes free from sinful life, steady in devotional service, and elevated to the platform of mahatma:

To cultivate knowledge for worshiping Krsna culminates after many, many births and deaths when one actually becomes wise. When one becomes wise in this way, he surrenders to Krsna, recognizing Him at last to be the cause of all causes and all that is. That sort of great soul is very rare. So those who have surrendered to Krsna life and soul are rare sudurlabha mahatmas. They are not ordinary mahatmas.

By the grace of Lord Caitanya that highest perfectional status of life is being distributed very freely. The effect is also very encouraging; otherwise, how are boys and girls without any background of Vedic culture quickly occupying the posts of rare mahatmas simply by
vibrating this transcendental sound, Hare Krsna? And simply on the basis of this chanting, the majority of them (those who are very sincere) are steady in devotional service and are not falling down to the four principles of material sinful life, namely 

(1) meat eating,
(2) illicit sexual connection,
(3) taking of intoxicants, including coffee, tea, and tobacco, and
(4) gambling. 

And that is the last sutra of the Vedanta−sutra, i.e., anavrttih sabdat ["By sound vibration one becomes liberated"].

One has to learn by the result (phalena pariciyate). Our students are ordered to act like this, and they are not falling down. That they are remaining on the platform of pure spiritual life without hankering to culture the above principles of avidya, or sense gratification, is the test of their proper understanding of the Vedas. They do not come back to the material platform, because they are relishing the nectarean fruit of love of God.

– The Science of Self Realization


Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra brings one to the point of full surrender to the lotus feet of Krsna:

[Haridasa thakura to the reformed prostitute]: "Chant the Hare Krsna mantra continuously and render service to the tulasi plant by watering her and offering prayers to her. In this way you will soon get the opportunity to be sheltered at the lotus feet of Krsna."

At least five thousand years ago, Lord Sri Krsna expressed His desire that everyone surrender to Him (sarva−dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]). Why is it that people cannot do this? Krsna assures us, aham tvam sarva−papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah: "I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." Everyone is suffering from the results of sinful activities, but Krsna says that if one surrenders unto Him, He will protect one from sinful reactions. Modern civilization, however, is interested neither in Krsna nor in getting relief from sinful acts. Therefore men are suffering. Surrender is the ultimate instruction of Bhagavad−gita, but for one who cannot surrender to the lotus feet of Krsna, it is better to chant the Hare Krsna mantra constantly, under the instruction of Haridasa thakura… Although Krsna wants everyone to surrender to His lotus feet, because of people's sinful activities they cannot do this. Na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah: [Bg. 7.15] rascals and fools, the lowest of men, who engage in sinful activities, cannot suddenly surrender to the lotus feet of Krsna. Nevertheless, if they begin chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and rendering service unto the tulasi plant, they will very soon be able to surrender. One's real duty is to surrender to the lotus feet of Krsna, but if one is unable to do so he should adopt this process, as introduced by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His most confidential servant, Namacarya Srila Haridasa thakura. This is the way to achieve success in Krsna consciousness.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.137


When one revives his loving service to Krsna, he automatically advances in spiritual progress by the mercy of the holy name:

Love of Godhead is the original function of the spirit soul, and it is as eternal as the soul and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This eternity is called sanatana. When one revives his loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it should be understood that he has been successful in achieving the desired goal of his life. At that time everything is automatically done by the mercy of the holy name and the devotee automatically advances in his spiritual progress.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.84


Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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