03 The Holy Name frees one from the reactions to sins

The Holy Name Frees One From The Reactions To Sins

General instructions

The holy name vanquishes the results of all sinful activities:

"'The holy name of Lord Krsna … is the annihilator of all sinful reactions…'"

– Padyavali (29), by Rupa Gosvami
[cited: Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 15.110]

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: Ajamila has already atoned for all his sinful actions. Indeed, he has atoned not only for sins performed in one life but for those performed in millions of lives, for in a helpless condition he chanted the holy name of Narayana. Even though he did not chant purely, he chanted without offense, and therefore he is now pure and eligible for liberation. 

The Yamadutas had considered only the external situation of Ajamila. Since he was extremely sinful throughout his life, they thought he should be taken to Yamaraja and did not know that he had become free from the reactions of all his sins. The Visnudutas therefore instructed that because he had chanted the four syllables of the name Narayana at the time, of his death, he was freed from all sinful reactions. In this regard Srila Visvanatha

Cakravarti thakura quotes the following verses from the smrti−sastra:

namno hi yavati saktih papa−nirharane hareh
tavat kartum na saknoti patakam pataki narah

"Simply by chanting one holy name of Hari, a sinful man can counteract the reactions to more sins that he is able to commit." (Brhad−visnu Purana)

avasenapi yan−namni kirtite sarva−patakaih
puman vimucyate sadyah simha−trastair mrgair iva

"If one chants the holy name of the Lord, even in a helpless condition or without desiring to do so, all the reactions of his sinful life depart, just as when a lion roars, all the small animals flee in fear." (Garuda Purana)

sakrd uccaritam yena harir ity aksara−dvayam
baddha−parikaras tena moksaya gamanam prati

"By once chanting the holy name of the Lord, which consists of the two syllables hari, one guarantees his path to liberation." (Skanda Purana)

These are some of the reasons why the Visnudutas objected to the Yamadutas' taking Ajamila to the court of Yamaraja.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.7

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: Authorities who are learned scholars and sages have carefully ascertained that one should atone for the heaviest sins by undergoing a heavy process of atonement and one should atone for lighter sins by undergoing lighter atonement. Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, however, vanquishes all the effects of sinful activities, regardless of whether heavy or light. 

One should take shelter of Krsna−Balarama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose protective power is so great that it cannot be equaled in the material world. However powerful the reactions of one's sins, they will immediately be vanquished if one chants the name of Hari, Krsna, Balarama or Narayana.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.16

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: At the time of death, this Ajamila helplessly and very loudly chanted the holy name of the Lord, Narayana. That chanting alone has already freed him from the reactions of all sinful life. Therefore, O servants of Yamaraja, do not try to take him to your master for punishment in hellish conditions.


[The sages to Lord Indra]:  One who has killed a brahmana, one who has killed a cow or one who has killed his father, mother or spiritual master can be immediately freed from all sinful reactions simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Narayana. Other sinful persons, such as dog eaters and candalas, who are less than sudras, can also be freed in this way.

It is said in the Brhad visnu Purana:

namno hi yavati sa papa nirharane hareh
tavat kartum na saknoti patakam pataki narah

Also, in the Prema vivarta by Jagadananda Pandita it is said:

eka krsna−name papira yata papa−ksaya
bahu janme sei papi karite naraya

This means that by once chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can be freed from the reactions of more sins than he can even imagine performing. The holy name is so spiritually potent that simply by chanting the holy name one can be freed from the reactions to all sinful activities. What, then, is to be said of those who chant the holy name regularly or worship the Deity regularly? For such purified devotees, freedom from sinful reaction is certainly assured…

These verses name the performers of various sinful deeds. In the Manu−samhita the following names are given. A son begotten by a brahmana and born from the womb of a sudra mother is called a parasava or nisada, a hunter accustomed to stealing. A son begotten by a nisada in the womb of a sudra woman is called a pulkasa. A child begotten by a ksatriya in the womb of the daughter of a sudra is called an ugra. A child begotten by a sudra in the womb of the daughter of a ksatriya is called a ksatta. A child begotten by a ksatriya in the womb of a lower−class woman is called a svada, or dog eater. All such offspring are considered extremely sinful, but the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so strong that all of them can be purified simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra.

The Hare Krsna movement offers everyone a chance to be purified, regardless of birth or family. As confirmed in Srimad−Bhagavatam (2.4.18):

abhira−sumbha yavanaa khasadayah
ye 'nye ca papa yad−apasrayasrayah 
sudhyanti tasmai prabhavisnave namah

"Kiratas, Hunas, Andhras, Pulindas, Pulkasas, Abhiras, Sumbhas, Yavanas, members of the Khasa races, and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of devotees of the Lord, for He is the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful  beisances unto Him."

Even such sinful persons can certainly all be purified if they chant the holy name of the Lord under the direction of a pure devotee.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.13.8−9

[Lord Brahma to Narada Muni]: The leader of the elephants, whose leg was attacked in a river by a crocodile of superior strength, was much aggrieved. Taking a lotus flower in his trunk, he addressed the Lord, saying, "O original enjoyer, Lord of the universe! O deliverer, as famous as a place of pilgrimage! All are purified simply by hearing Your holy name, which is worthy to be chanted."

The elephant addressed the Lord as tirtha−sravah, or "as famous as a place of pilgrimage." People go to places of pilgrimage in order to be delivered from the reactions of unknown sinful acts. But one can be freed from all sinful reactions simply by remembering His holy name. The Lord is therefore as good as the holy places of pilgrimage. One can be free from all sinful reactions after reaching a place of pilgrimage, but one can have the same benefit at home or at any place simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 2.7.15

When Subuddhi Raya consulted the learned brahmanas at Varanasi, asking them how his conversion to Muhammadanism could be counteracted, they advised him to drink hot ghee and give up his life. When Subuddhi Raya consulted some other brahmanas, they told him that he had not committed a grievous fault and that consequently he should not drink hot ghee and give up his life. As a result, Subuddhi Raya was doubtful about what to do. In his state of perplexity, Subuddhi Raya met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when the Lord was at Varanasi. Subuddhi Raya explained his position and asked Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu what he should do. The Lord advised him, "Go to Vrndavana and chant the Hare Krsna mantra constantly." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu further advised Subuddhi Raya: "Begin chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, and when your chanting is almost pure, all your sinful reactions will go away. After you chant perfectly, you will get shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna. When you are situated at the lotus feet of Krsna, no sinful reaction can touch you. This is the best solution to all sinful activity." 

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 25.195−200

By chanting the holy names Krsna and Hari, one is certainly liberated from sinful activities, such as killing cows or insulting brahmanas and Vaisnavas. The karma incurred by such activity is very great, but one can immediately nullify all this karma by surrendering to Lord Krsna and chanting His holy name.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 16.189

Specialized instructions

The chanting of the holy name is the best means to atone for sinful activities because it attracts the attention and protection of the Supreme Lord:

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: The chanting of the holy name of Lord Visnu is the best process of atonement for a thief of gold or other valuables, for a drunkard, for one who betrays a friend or relative, for one who kills a brahmana, or for one who indulges in sex with the wife of his guru or another superior. It is also the best method of atonement for one who murders women, the king or his father, for one who slaughters cows, and for all other sinful men. Simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Visnu, such sinful persons may attract the attention of the Supreme Lord, who therefore considers, "Because this man has chanted My holy name, My duty is to give him protection."

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.9−10

By always chanting the maha mantra, Krsna will protect us from sinful reactions:

One cannot commit sinful activities and at the same time advance in Krsna consciousness. But Krsna says, aham tvam sarva−papebhyo moksayisyami: "Surrender unto Me, and I shall rescue you by giving you liberation from all kinds of sinful reactions."

Every one of us, life after life, is knowingly or unknowingly committing sinful activities. I may knowingly kill an animal, and that is certainly sinful, but even if I do it unknowingly, it is also sinful. While walking on the street we unknowingly kill so many ants, and in the course of our other ordinary dealings−while cooking, while taking water, while using a mortar and pestle to crush spices−we kill so many living beings. Unless we remain Krsna conscious, we are liable to be punished for all these unknowingly committed sinful acts.

If a child unknowingly touches fire, does it mean that the fire will excuse the child and not burn? No. Nature's law is so strict, so stringent, that there is no question of an excuse. Even in ordinary law, ignorance is no excuse. If we go to court and say, "I did not know that this action was criminal," this plea does not mean that we shall be excused. Similarly, ignorance is no excuse for transgressing nature's laws. Therefore, if we actually want to be free from the reactions of sinful life, we must be Krsna conscious, for then Krsna will free us from all sinful reactions. It is therefore recommended, kirtaniyah sada harih [Cc. adi 17.31] one should always chant 

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

 so that Krsna will save us.

– Teachings of Queen Kunti

Thinking of Krsna, by chanting His holy name, cleanses one of all sins:

In the material planets there are different grades of sinful activities, of which disrespecting a brahmana or Vaisnava is the most sinful. Here it is clearly stated that one can overcome even that grave sin simply by thinking of Visnu, not even favorably but in anger. Thus even if those who are not devotees always think of Visnu, they become free from all sinful activities. Krsna consciousness is the highest form of thought. Lord Visnu is thought of in this age by chanting 

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

 From the statements of the Bhagavatam it appears that if one thinks of Krsna, even as an enemy, that particular qualification−thinking of Visnu or Krsna cleanses one of all sins.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 3.16.31

A single uttering of "Krsna" wipes away the results of all sinful activities:

In the Visnu−dharma there is a statement glorifying this process of congregational chanting: "My dear King, this word 'Krsna' is so auspicious that anyone who chants this holy name immediately gets rid of the resultant actions of sinful activities from many, many births." That is a fact. There is the following statement in Caitanya caritamrta: "A person who chants the holy name of Krsna once can counteract the resultant actions of more sinful activities than he is able to perform." A sinful man can perform many, many sinful activities, but he is unable to perform so many that they cannot be wiped out by one single uttering of "Krsna."

– The Nectar of Devotion

By chanting the holy name, one is freed from the sinful reactions of many millions oflives:

[Lord Caitanya to a Muhammadan holy man]: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "Please get up. You have chanted the holy name of Krsna; therefore the sinful reactions you have accrued for many millions of lives are now gone. You are now pure."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 18.205

Simply by hearing the holy name chanted by a pure devotee, one is purified of all sinful activities and becomes eligible to render devotional service:

[Haridasa thakura to a prostitute]: "Tomorrow I will surely finish, and my vow will be fulfilled. Then it will be possible for me to enjoy with you in full freedom."

Haridasa thakura never wanted to enjoy the prostitute, but he tricked her to deliver her by giving her a chance to hear the holy name of the Lord while he chanted. Pure devotees chant the Hare Krsna mantra, and simply by hearing this chanting from a purified transcendental person, one is purified of all sinful activities, no matter how lowborn or fallen one may be. As soon as one is thus completely free from the reactions of sinful activities, he is eligible to render devotional service to the Lord. This is the process for engaging the fallen souls in devotional service. As Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad gita (7.28):

yesam tv anta−gatam papam jananam punya−karmanam
te dvandva−moha−nirmukta bhajante mam drdha−vratah

"Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.126

Chanting frees one from sinful reactions if the chanting is offenseless:

[Lord Caitanya to Satyaraja]: "Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna, one is relieved from all the reactions of a sinful life…"

One can be freed from all sinful reactions by chanting the holy name without committing offenses.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 15.107

[Chand Kazi to Lord Caitanya]: "After hearing their complaints, in sweet words I told them, 'Please go back home. I shall certainly prohibit Nimai Pandita from continuing His Hare Krsna movement.' I know that Narayana is the Supreme God of the Hindus, and I think that You are the same Narayana. This I feel within my mind." After hearing the Kazi speak so nicely, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu touched him and smilingly spoke as follows. "The chanting of the holy name of Krsna from your mouth has performed a wonder−it has nullified the reactions of all your sinful activities. Now you have become supremely pure. Because you have chanted three holy names of the Lord−Hari, Krsna and Narayana−you are undoubtedly the most fortunate and pious."

Confirming the potency of the sankirtana movement, these words from the very mouth of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu express how people can be purified simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Krsna. The Kazi was a Muhammadan mleccha, or meat−eater, but because he several times uttered the holy name of Lord Krsna, automatically the reactions of his sinful life were vanquished, and he was fully purified of all material contamination…

Here the Supreme Lord, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, confirms that anyone who chants the holy names Hari, Krsna and Narayana without offense is certainly extremely fortunate, and whether Indian or non−Indian, Hindu or non−Hindu, he immediately comes to the level of the most pious personality.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 17.214−18

If one chants the holy name without offenses and without further sinful activities, he is freed from all reactions of sins:

Simply chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra without offenses vanquishes all sinful activities. Thus pure devotional service, which is the cause of love of Godhead, becomes manifest.

One cannot be situated in the devotional service of the Lord unless one is freed from sinful life. This is confirmed in Bhagavad gita:

yesam tv anta−gatam papam jananam punya−karmanam
te dvandva−moha−nirmukta bhajante mam drdha−vratah

"Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination."

(Bg. 7.28) A person who is already cleansed of all tinges of sinful life engages without deviation or duality of purpose in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. In this age, although people are greatly sinful, simply chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra can relieve them from the reactions of their sins. Eka krsna−name: only by chanting Krsna's name is this possible. This is also confirmed in Srimad−Bhagavatam (kirtanad eva krsnasya). Caitanya Mahaprabhu has also taught us this. While passing on the road, He used to chant:

krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna he
krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna he
krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna raksa mam
krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna krsna pahi mam
rama raghava rama raghava rama raghava raksa mam
krsna kesava krsna kesava krsna kesava pahi mam

If one always chants the holy name Krsna, gradually one is freed from all reactions of sinful life, provided he chants offenselessly and does not commit more sinful activities on the strength of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. In this way one is purified, and his devotional service causes the arousal of his dormant love of God. Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and not committing sinful activities and offenses, one's life is purified, and thus one comes to the fifth stage of perfection, or engagement in the loving service of the Lord (prema pumartho mahan ).

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 8.26

Even the lowest class of men is delivered from sinful activities simply by hearing the holy name of the Lord:

[King Citraketu to Lord Sankarsana]: My Lord, it is not impossible for one to be immediately freed from all material contamination by seeing You. Not to speak of seeing You personally, merely by hearing the holy name of Your Lordship only once, even candalas, men of the lowest class, are freed from all material contamination. Under the circumstances, who will not be freed from material contamination simply by seeing You?

As stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam (9.5.16), yan−nama−sruti−matrena puman bhavati nirmalah: simply by hearing the holy name of the Lord, one is immediately purified. Therefore, in this age of Kali, when all people are very contaminated, the chanting of the holy name of the Lord is recommended as the only means of improvement.

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
[Adi 17.21]

"In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way." (Brhan−naradiya Purana)

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced this chanting of the holy name five hundred years ago, and now through the Krsna consciousness movement, the Hare Krsna movement, we are actually seeing that men who are considered to belong to the lowest class are being delivered from all sinful activities simply by hearing the holy name of the Lord. Samsara, material existence, is a result of sinful actions. Everyone in this material world is condemned, yet as there are different grades of prisoners, there are different grades of men. All of them, in all statuses of life, are suffering. To stop the suffering of material existence, one must take to the Hare Krsna movement of sankirtana or Krsna conscious life.

Here in it is said, yan−nama sakrc chravanat: the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so powerful that if once heard without offenses, it can purify the lowest of men (kirata−hunandhra−pulinda−pulkasah). Such men, who are called candalas, are less than sudras, but they also can be purified simply by hearing the holy name of the Lord, not to speak of personally seeing the Lord.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.16.44

One can become free from all contamination, especially that due to animal killing, by chanting the holy name:

[Narada Muni to the hunter]: "Narada Muni continued: 'All the animals that you have killed and given unnecessary pain will kill you one after the other in your next life and in life after life.' In this way, through the association of the great sage Narada Muni, the hunter was a little convinced of his sinful activity. He therefore became somewhat afraid due to his offenses."

Those who kill animals and give them unnecessary pain as people do in slaughterhouses−will be killed in a similar way in the next life and in many lives to come. One can never be excused from such an offense. If one kills many thousands of animals in a professional way so that other people can purchase the meat to eat, one must be ready to be killed in a similar way in his next life and in life after life. There are many rascals who violate their own religious principles. According to Judeo−Christian scriptures, it is clearly said, "Thou shalt not kill." Nonetheless, giving all kinds of excuses, even the heads of religions indulge in killing animals while trying to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society bring about unlimited calamities; therefore occasionally there are great wars. Masses of such people go out onto battlefields and kill themselves. Presently they have discovered the atomic bomb, which is simply awaiting wholesale destruction. If people want to be saved from the killing business life after life, they must take to Krsna consciousness and cease sinful activity. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness recommends that everyone abandon meat−eating, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling. When one gives up these sinful activities, he can understand Krsna and take to this Krsna consciousness movement. We therefore request everyone to abandon sinful activity and chant the Hare Krsna mantra. In this way people can save themselves from repeated birth and death… This is a chance to become purified by associating with this Krsna consciousness movement and strictly following the rules and regulations. By chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra, one can become free from all contamination, especially contamination brought about by the killing of animals. Lord Krsna Himself requested:

sarva−dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva−papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

We should take this instruction from Krsna and follow in the footsteps of Narada Muni in the disciplic succession. If we simply surrender unto Krsna's lotus feet and take this Krsna consciousness movement seriously, we can be freed from the karma incurred by sin. If we are intelligent enough, we shall engage in the loving service of the Lord. Then our lives will be successful, and we shall not have to suffer like the hunter life after life. By killing animals, not only will we be bereft of the human form but we will have to take an animal form and somehow or other be killed by the same type of animal we have killed. This is the law of nature. The Sanskrit word mamsa means "meat." It is said: mam sah khadatiti mamsah. That is, "I am now eating the flesh of an animal who will some day in the future be eating my flesh."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 24.251−52

A sinful person destined for hell can be delivered by the holy name of the Lord:

[Durvasa Muni to Lord Narayana]: O my Lord, O supreme controller, without knowledge of Your unlimited prowess I have offended Your most dear devotee. Very kindly save me from the reaction of this offense. You can do everything, for even if a person is fit for going to hell, You can deliver him simply by awakening within his heart the holy name of Your Lordship.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 9.4.62

Chanting the holy name is more effective than Vedic ritualistic ceremonies for eradicating sin:

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: By following the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies or undergoing atonement, sinful men do not become as purified as by chanting once the holy name of Lord Hari. Although ritualistic atonement may free one from sinful reactions, it does not awaken devotional service, unlike the chanting of the Lord's names, which reminds one of the Lord's fame, qualities, attributes, pastimes and paraphernalia. The ritualistic ceremonies of atonement recommended in the religious scriptures are insufficient to cleanse the heart absolutely because after atonement one's mind again runs toward material activities. Consequently, for one who wants liberation from the fruitive reactions of material activities, the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, or glorification of the name, fame and pastimes of the Lord, is recommended as the most perfect process of atonement because such chanting eradicates the dirt from one's heart completely.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti thakura comments that the chanting of the holy name of the Lord has special significance that distinguishes it from the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies of atonement for severe, more severe or most severe sinful actions. There are twenty types of religious scriptures called dharma−sastras, beginning with the Manu−samhita and Parasara−samhita, but herein it is stressed that although one may become free from the reactions of the most sinful activities by following the religious principles of these scriptures, this cannot promote a sinful man to the stage of loving service to the Lord. On the other hand, chanting the holy name of the Lord even once not only frees one immediately from the reactions of the greatest sins, but also raises one to the platform of rendering loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is described as uttamasloka because He is famous for His glorious activities. Thus one serves the Lord by remembering His form, His attributes and pastimes. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti thakura explains that this is all possible simply by chanting the Lord's holy name because of the Lord's omnipotence. What cannot be achieved through the performance of Vedic rituals can be easily achieved through the chanting of the Lord's holy name. To chant the holy name and dance in ecstasy is so easy and sublime that one can achieve all the benefits of spiritual life simply by following this process. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declares, param vijayate sri−krsna−sankirtanam: "All glories to Sri Krsna sankirtana!" The sankirtana movement we have started offers the best process for becoming purified of all sinful reactions and coming immediately to the platform of spiritual life…The statements in this verse have been confirmed previously in Srimad−Bhagavatam (1.2.17):

srnvatam sva−kathah krsnah punya−sravana−kirtanah
hrdy antah−stho hy abhadrani vidhunoti suhrt satam

"Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted."

It is the special mercy of the Supreme Lord that as soon as He knows that one is glorifying His name, fame and attributes, He personally helps cleanse the dirt from one's heart. Therefore simply by such glorification one not only becomes purified, but also achieves the results of pious activities (punya−sravana−kirtana). Punya−sravana−kirtana refers to the process of devotional service. Even if one does not understand the meaning of the Lord's name, pastimes or attributes, one is purified simply by hearing or chanting of them. Such purification is called sattva−bhavana.

One's main purpose in human life should be to purify his existence and achieve liberation. As long as one has a material body, one is understood to be impure. In such an impure, material condition, one cannot enjoy a truly blissful life, although everyone seeks it. Therefore Srimad−Bhagavatam (5.5.1) says, tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam suddhyet: one must perform tapasya, austerity, to purify his existence, in order to come to the spiritual platform. The tapasya of chanting and glorifying the name, fame and attributes of the Lord is a very easy purifying process by which everyone can be happy. Therefore everyone who desires the ultimate cleansing of his heart must adopt this process. Other processes, such as karma, jnana and yoga, cannot cleanse the heart absolutely.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.11−12

The chanting of the maha mantra is a special concession in the Kali yuga to save people from the reactions to known or unknown sinful activities:

Anyone in this material world, however careful he may be, must commit some sinful activities, even though he does not want to. For example, one may trample many small ants and other insects while walking on the street and kill many living beings unknowingly. Therefore the Vedic principle of panca−yajna, five kinds of recommended sacrifice, is compulsory. In this age of Kali, however, there is a great concession given to people in general. Yajnaih sankirtana−prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah: [SB 11.5.32] we may worship Lord Caitanya, the hidden incarnation of Krsna. Krsna−varnam tvisakrsnam: although He is Krsna Himself, He always chants Hare Krsna and preaches Krsna consciousness. One is recommended to worship this incarnation by chanting, the sankirtana−yajna. The performance of sankirtana−yajna is a special concession for human society to save people from being affected by known or unknown sinful activities. We are surrounded by unlimited sins, and therefore it is compulsory that one take to Krsna consciousness and chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 9.16.23

For one who always chants the holy name, unintentional sins are excused:

[Yamaraja to the Yamadutas]:Considering all these points, therefore, intelligent men decide to solve all problems by adopting the devotional service of chanting the holy name of the Lord, who is situated in everyone's heart and who is a mine of all auspicious qualities. Such persons are not within my jurisdiction for punishment. Generally they never commit sinful activities, but even if by mistake or because of bewilderment or illusion they sometimes commit sinful acts, they are protected from sinful reactions because they always chant the Hare Krsna mantra. 

A pure devotee is one whose intelligence is clear; he is truly thoughtful because he engages in the service of the Lord−not as a matter of show, but with love, with his mind, words and body. Nondevotees may make a show of religion, but it is not very effective because although they ostentatiously attend a temple or church, they are thinking of something else. Such persons are neglecting their religious duty and are punishable by Yamaraja. But a devotee who commits sinful acts, which he may do unwillingly or accidentally because of his former habits, is excused. That is the value of the sankirtana movement.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.26

Even a faint light from the holy name eradicates sinful reactions and brings liberation:

[Haridasa thakura to Lord Caitanya]: "Even a faint light from the holy name of the Lord can eradicate all the reactions of sinful life… Because of even the faintest rays of the effulgence of the Lord's holy name, one can attain liberation. We can see this in all the revealed scriptures."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.63−65

In any condition or for any reason, if one chants the holy name of the Lord, he is freed from all sins:

[Sukadeva Gosvami to King Pariksit]: Even if he be distressed or degraded, any person who chants the holy name of the Lord, having heard it from a bona fide spiritual master, is immediately purified. Even if he chants the Lord's name jokingly or by chance, he and anyone who hears him are freed from all sins.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 5.25.11

Whether one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the holy name will free one from all reactions to sinful activities:

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: As a fire burns dry grass to ashes, so the holy name of the Lord, whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly, burns to ashes, without fail, all the reactions of one's sinful activities. If a person unaware of the effective potency of a certain medicine takes that medicine or is forced to take it, it will act even without his knowledge because its potency does not depend on the patient's understanding. Similarly, even though one does not know the value of chanting the holy name of the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be very effective. 

Fire will act, regardless of whether handled by an innocent child or by someone well aware of its power. For example, if a field of straw or dry grass is set afire, either by an elderly man who knows the power of fire or by a child who does not, the grass will be burned to ashes. Similarly, one may or may not know the power of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, but if one chants the holy name he will become free from all sinful reactions… 

In the Western countries, where the Hare Krsna movement is spreading, learned scholars and other thoughtful men are realizing its effectiveness. For example, Dr. J. Stillson Judah, a learned scholar, has been very much attracted to this movement because he has actually seen that it is turning hippies addicted to drugs into pure Vaisnavas who voluntarily become servants of Krsna and humanity. Even a few years ago, such hippies did not know the Hare Krsna mantra, but now they are chanting it and becoming pure Vaisnavas. Thus they are becoming free from all sinful activities, such as illicit sex, intoxication, meat−eating and gambling. This is practical proof of the effectiveness of the Hare Krsna movement, which is supported in this verse. One may or may not know the value of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, but if one somehow or other chants it, he will immediately be purified, just as one who takes a potent medicine will feel its effects, regardless of whether he takes it knowingly or unknowingly.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.18−19

Even chanting that is indirect, frivolous, neglectful, (etc.,) frees one from sin:

[The Visnudutas to the Yamadutas]: One who chants the holy name of the Lord is immediately freed from the reactions of unlimited sins, even if he chants indirectly [to indicate something else], jokingly, for musical entertainment, or even neglectfully. This is accepted by all the learned scholars of the scriptures.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.14

Even if the holy name is chanted for the sake of blasphemy, the holy name is so powerful that it frees one from reactions of sinful activities:

[Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami to Lord Caitanya]: "Jagai and Madhai had but one fault−they were addicted to sinful activity. However, volumes of sinful activity can be burned to ashes simply by a dim reflection of the chanting of Your holy name. Jagai and Madhai uttered Your holy name by way of blaspheming You. Fortunately, that holy name became the cause of their deliverance."

Jagai and Madhai chanted the name of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by way of blasphemy, but because they simply chanted His name, they immediately became free from the reactions of sinful activities. Thus later they were saved.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 1.194−95

Even blasphemers can be freed from sinful activities by chanting the holy name:

Jaya and Vijaya inwardly knew that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but they purposely became His enemies to be delivered from material life. From the very beginning of their lives they thought of Lord Krsna as an enemy, and even though blaspheming Lord Krsna, they chanted the holy name of Krsna constantly along with their inimical thoughts. Thus they were purified because of chanting the holy name of Krsna. It is to be understood that even a blasphemer can be freed from sinful activities by chanting the holy name of the Lord.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 7.1.26

A devotee should always appreciate his fortune in having been delivered from sinful activities by the chanting of the holy name:

Ajamila continued: I am a shameless cheater who has killed his brahminical culture. Indeed, I am sin personified. Where am I in comparison to the all−auspicious chanting of the holy name of Lord Narayana? I am such a sinful person, but since I have now gotten this opportunity, I must completely control my mind, life and senses and always engage in devotional service so that I may not fall again into the deep darkness and ignorance of material life.

Those engaged in broadcasting the holy name of Narayana, Krsna, through the Krsna consciousness movement should always consider what our position was before we came and what it is now. We had fallen into abominable lives as meat−eaters, drunkards and woman hunters who performed all kinds of sinful activities, but now we have been given the opportunity to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. Therefore we should always appreciate this opportunity. By the grace of the Lord we are opening many branches, and we should use this good fortune to chant the holy name of the Lord and serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. We must be conscious of the difference.between our present and past conditions and should always be very careful not to fall from the most exalted life…

Every one of us should have this determination. We have been elevated to an exalted position by the mercy of Krsna and the spiritual master, and if we remember that this is a great opportunity and pray to Krsna that we will not fall again, our lives will be successful.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.34−35

Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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