08 The holy name cleanses the heart and frees one from material contamination

The Holy Name Cleanses The Heart And Frees One From Material Contamination

The holy name cleanses the mirror of the heart:

[Lord Caitanya to Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya]:¯ "Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing flre of material existence…"

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 20.12


One is purified by hearing the holy name of the Lord:

[Durvasa Muni to King Ambarisa]: What is impossible for the servants of the Lord? By the very hearing of His holy name one is purified.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 9.5.16


For internal cleanliness, one should chant the holy name:

One should always be careful to keep his body clean by bathing, brushing teeth, changing clothes, etc. As far as internal cleanliness is concerned, one should always remember the holy names of God and chant 

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

– Bhagavad gita As It Is 16.7

Cleanliness is essential for making advancement in spiritual life. There are two kinds of cleanliness: external and internal. External cleanliness means taking a bath, but for internal cleanliness, one has to think of Krsna always and chant

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

 This process cleans the accumulated dust of past karma from the mind.

– Bhagavad gita As It Is 13.8−12


One can directly perceive the results of chanting−transcendental pleasure and purification:

It is said that the execution of devotional service is so perfect that one can perceive the results directly. This direct result is actually perceived, and we have practical experience that any person who is chanting the holy names of Krsna 

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

 in course of time feels some transcendental pleasure and very quickly becomes purified of all material contamination. This is actually seen.

– Bhagavad gita As It Is 9.2


Whether pure or impure, one should begin the chanting process which elevates one to purity:

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."

The chanter has to purify himself so that the holy names will be perfectly effective. Chanting the holy name of the Lord inoffensively will help one get immediate shelter at Krsna's lotus feet. This means that by chanting purely, one will immediately be situated on the transcendental platform. We should note, however, that according to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's instructions, one should not wait to purify himself before chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Whatever our condition may be, we should begin chanting immediately. By the power of the Hare Krsna mantra, we will gradually be relieved from all material contamination and will get shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna, the ultimate goal of life.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 25.199


Whether one has pious credit or not, by chanting Hare Krsna, he will immediately be purified:

Krsna is present in the form of His transcendental name, and we can contact Him immediately by hearing His name. Simply by hearing the name Krsna we immediately become freed from material contamination.

As stated in the Seventh Chapter of 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."

It is herein stressed that one must be completely fixed in Krsna consciousness, devoid of duality, and must execute only pious activities. Because the mind is flickering, dualities will always come. One is always wondering, "Shall I become Krsna conscious, or should I engage in another consciousness," These problems are always there, but if one is advanced by virtue of pious activities executed in a previous life, his consciousness will be steadily fixed, and he will resolve, "I will be Krsna conscious."

Whether we acted piously in this life or a previous life really doesn't matter. This chanting of Hare Krsna is so potent that through it we will immediately be purified.

– The Path of Perfection


The holy name removes the darkness covering the heart:

It is due to a lack of knowledge that people say that God is dead, that there is no God, and that we have no relationship with God. These thoughts have been compared to the thoughts of a man haunted by a ghost. Just as a haunted man speaks all nonsense, when we become covered by the illusory energy of God we say that God is dead. But this is not a fact. Therefore, we need this chanting process to cleanse our heart. Take to this simple process of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. In that way, in your family life, in your club, in your home, on the road−everywhere−chant Hare Krsna, and this darkness covering your heart, covering your real position, will be removed. Then you'll understand your real constitutional position.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended: ceto−darpana−marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. Marjana means "cleanse," and darpana means "mirror." The heart is a mirror. It is like a camera. Just as a camera takes all kinds of pictures of days and nights, so also our heart takes pictures and keeps them in an unconscious state. Psychologists know this. The heart takes so many pictures, and therefore it becomes covered. We do not know when it has begun, but it is a fact that because there is a material contact, our real identity is covered. Therefore ceto−darpana−marjanam: one has to cleanse his heart… Simply chant Hare Krsna. It is the easiest and most sublime process. This is recommended, practical, and authorized. So take it. Accept it in any condition of life. Chant. There is no expenditure, there is no loss. We are not chanting a secret. No. It is open. And by chanting you will cleanse your heart.

– The Science of Self Realization


By chanting the Hare Krsna mantra offenselesely in the association of devotees one becomes pure in heart and loses interest in everything external:

[Lord Siva to Lord Visnu]: The devotee whose heart has been completely cleansed by the process of devotional service and who is favored by Bhaktidevi does not become bewildered by the external energy, which is just like a dark well. Being completely cleansed of all material contamination in this way, a devotee is able to understand very happily Your name, fame, form, activities, etc.

As stated in Srimad−Bhagavatam (3.25.25):

satam prasangan mama virya−samvido
bhavanti hrt−karna−rasayanah kathah
taj−josanad asv apavarga−vartmani
sraddha ratir bhaktir anakramisyati

Simply by the association of pure devotees one can understand the transcendental name, fame, quality and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has repeatedly said:

'sadhu−sanga': 'sadhu−sanga'−sarva−sastre kaya
lava−matra sadhu−sange sarva−siddhi haya
(Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 22.54)

Simply by associating with a pure devotee, one becomes wonderfully advanced in Krsna consciousness. Sadhu−sanga, or association with a devotee, means always engaging in Krsna consciousness by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and by acting for Krsna. Specifically, chanting the Hare Krsna mantra purifies one, and this chanting is therefore recommended by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Ceto−darpana−marjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] by chanting the names of Krsna, the mirror of the heart is cleansed, and the devotee loses interest in everything external. When one is influenced by the external energy of the Lord, his heart is impure. When one's heart is not pure, he cannot see how things are related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Idam hi visvam bhagavan ivetarah (S.B. 1.5.20). He whose heart is purified can see that the whole cosmic manifestation is but the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but he whose heart is contaminated sees things differently. Therefore by sat−sanga, or association with devotees, one becomes perfectly pure in heart.

One who is pure in heart is never attracted by the external energy, which urges the individual soul to try to dominate material nature. The pure heart of a devotee is never disturbed when he executes devotional service in the form of hearing, chanting, remembering, etc. In all, there are nine processes one can follow in the execution of devotional service. In any case, a purehearted devotee is never disturbed. The bhakti−yoga process must be carried out by avoiding the ten offenses one can commit while chanting the maha−mantra and the sixty−four offenses one can commit while worshiping the Deity. When a devotee strictly follows the rules and regulations, Bhaktidevi becomes very much satisfied with him, and at that time he is never disturbed by anything external… The conclusion is that when one's heart is purified by the association of devotees and by the avoidance of the offenses committed when chanting and worshiping the Lord, the transcendental name, form and activities of the Lord are revealed by the Lord.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24.59


Lord Caitanya introduced the congregational chanting of Hare Krsna so that the minds of the people in general may be cleansed:

Material existence is caused by dirty things within the mind. If one can cleanse his mind, he immediately comes to his original position of Krsna consciousness, and thus his life becomes successful. Therefore all the great saints in the devotional line very strongly recommend the process of hearing. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra to give everyone a chance to hear Krsna's holy name, for simply by hearing

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

, one becomes purified (ceto−darpana−marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]).

– Srimad Bhagavatam 5.18.11


In order to cleanse the heart of all contaminations (such as karma, jnana and yoga) and enthrone the Supreme Personality of Godhead there, one must chant the holy name:

Outside the gateway of the temple, all the roads were also cleansed, and no one could tell exactly how this was done.

In commenting on the cleansing of the Gundica temple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati thakura says that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was personally giving instructions on how one should receive Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within one's cleansed and pacified heart. If one wants to see Krsna seated in his heart, he must first cleanse the heart, as prescribed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka (ceto−darpana−marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). In this age, everyone's heart is unclean, as confirmed in Srimad−Bhagavatam (hrdy antah−stho hy abhadrani ) To wash all dirty things accumulated within the heart, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised everyone to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. The first result will be that the heart is cleansed (ceto−darpana−marjanam).

Similarly, Srimad−Bhagavatam (1.2.17) also confirms this statement:

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."

If the devotee at all wants to cleanse his heart, he must chant and hear the glories of the Lord, Sri Krsna (srnvatam sva−kathah krsnah [SB 1.2.17]). This is a simple process. Krsna Himself will help cleanse the heart because He is already seated there. Krsna wants to continue living within the heart, and the Lord wants to give directions, but one has to keep his heart as clean as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu kept the Gundica temple. The devotee therefore has to cleanse his heart just as the Lord cleansed the Gundica temple. In this way one can be pacified and enriched in devotional service. If the heart is filled with straw, grains of sand, weeds or dust (in other words, anyabhilasa−purna), one cannot enthrone the Supreme Personality of Godhead there. The heart must be cleansed of all material motives brought about through fruitive work, speculative knowledge, the mystic yoga system and so many other forms of so−called meditation. The heart must be cleansed without ulterior motive.

As Srila Rupa Gosvami says:

anyabhilasita−sunyam jnana−karmady−anavrtam 
anukulyena krsnanu− silanam bhaktir uttama

"One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Krsna favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service." Bhakti−rasamrta−sindhu 1.1.111.1.11].

In other words, there should not be any external motive. One should not attempt material upliftment, understanding the Supreme by speculative knowledge, fruitive activity, severe austerity and penance, and so on. All these activities are against the natural growth of spontaneous love of Godhead. As soon as these are present within the heart, the heart should be understood to be unclean and therefore unfit to serve as Krsna's sitting place. We cannot perceive the Lord's presence in our hearts unless our hearts are cleansed.

A material desire is explained as a desire to enjoy the material world to its fullest extent. In modern language, this is called economic development. An inordinate desire for economic development is considered to be like straws and grains of sand within the heart. If one is overly engaged in material activity, the heart will always remain disturbed. As stated by Narottama dasa thakura:

samsara visanale, diva−nisi hiya jvale,
judaite na kainu upaya

In other words, endeavor for material opulence is against the principle of devotional service. Material enjoyment includes activities such as great sacrifices for auspicious activity, charity, austerity, elevation to the higher planetary system, and even living happily within the material world.

Modernized material benefits are like the dust of material contamination. When this dust is agitated by the whirlwind of fruitive activity, it overcomes the heart. Thus the mirror of the heart is covered with dust. There are many desires to perform auspicious and inauspicious activities, but people do not know how life after life they are keeping their hearts unclean. One who cannot give up the desire for fruitive activity is understood to be covered by the dust of material contamination. Karmis generally think that the interaction of fruitive activities can be counteracted by another karma, or fruitive activity. This is certainly a mistaken conception. If one is deluded by such a conception, he is cheated by his own activity. Such activities have been compared to an elephant's bathing. An elephant may bathe very thoroughly, but as soon as it comes out of the river, it immediately takes some sand from the land and throws it all over its body. If one suffers due to his past fruitive activities, he cannot counteract his suffering by performing auspicious activities. The sufferings of human society cannot be counteracted by material plans. The only way suffering can be mitigated is by Krsna consciousness. When one takes to Krsna consciousness and engages himself in the devotional service of the Lord−beginning with chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord−the cleansing of the heart begins.

Impersonal speculation, monism (merging into the existence of the Supreme), speculative knowledge, mystical yoga and meditation are all compared to grains of sand. They simply cause irritation to the heart. No one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by such activities, nor do we give the Lord a chance to sit in our hearts peacefully. Rather, the Lord is simply disturbed by them. Sometimes yogis and jnanis in the beginning take to the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra as a way to begin their various practices. However, when they falsely think that they have attained release from the bondage of material existence, they give up chanting. They do not consider that the ultimate goal is the form of the Lord or the name of the Lord. Such unfortunate creatures are never favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for they do not know what devotional service is. They are described in Bhagavad gita in this way:

tan aham dvisatah kruran samsaresu naradhaman
ksipamy ajasram asubhan asurisv eva yonisu

"Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life." (Bg. 16.19)

The demons are always envious of the Lord and are therefore most mischievous. By His practical example, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has shown us that all the grains of sand must be picked up thoroughly and thrown outside. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also cleansed the outside of the temple, fearing that the grains of sand would again come within.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati thakura explains that even though one may become free from the desire for fruitive activity, sometimes the subtle desire for fruitive activity comes into being within the heart. One often thinks of conducting business to improve devotional activity. However, the contamination is so strong that it may later develop into misunderstanding, described as kuti−nati (faultfinding) and pratisthasa (the desire.for name and fame and for high position), jiva−himsa (envy of other living entities), nisiddhacara (accepting things forbidden in the sastra), kama (desire for material gain) and puja (hankering for popularity). The word kuti−nati means duplicity. As an example, one may attempt to imitate Srila Haridasa thakura by living in a solitary place. One's real desire may be for name and fame−in other words, one thinks that fools will accept one to be as good as Haridasa thakura just because one lives in a solitary place. These are all material desires. A neophyte devotee is certain to be attacked by other material desires as well−women and money. In this way the heart is again filled with dirty things and becomes harder and harder, like that of a materialist. Gradually one desires to become a reputed devotee or an avatara (incarnation).

The word jiva−himsa (envy of other living entities) actually means stopping the preaching of Krsna consciousness. Preaching work is described as paropakara, welfare activity for others. Those who are ignorant of the benefits of devotional service must be educated by preaching. If one stops preaching and simply sits down in a solitary place, he is engaging in material activity. If one desires to make a compromise with the Mayavadis, he is also engaged in material activity. A devotee should never make compromises with nondevotees. By acting as a professional guru, mystic yogi or miracle man, one may cheat and bluff the general public and gain fame as a wonderful mystic, but all this is considered to be dust, straw and grains of sand within the heart. In addition, one should follow the regulative principles and not desire illicit sex, gambling, intoxicants and meat.

To give us practical instructions, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cleansed the temple twice. His second cleansing was more thorough. The idea was to throw away all the stumbling blocks on the path of devotional service. He cleansed the temple with firm conviction, as is evident from His using His own personal garments for cleaning. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to see personally that the temple was thoroughly cleansed as clean as marble. Clean marble gives a cooling effect. Devotional service means attaining peace from all disturbances caused by material contamination. In other words, it is the process by which the mind is cooled. The mind can be peaceful and thoroughly cleansed when one no longer desires anything but devotional service.

Even though all dirty things may be cleansed away, sometimes subtle desires remain in the mind for impersonalism, monism, success and the four principles of religious activity (dharma, artha, kama and moksa). All these are like spots on clean cloth. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also wanted to cleanse all these away.

By His practical activity, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu informed us how to cleanse our hearts. Once the heart is cleansed, we should invite Lord Sri Krsna to sit down, and we should observe the festival by distributing prasada and chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to teach every devotee by His personal behavior. Everyone who spreads the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepts a similar responsibility. The Lord was personally chastising and praising individuals in the course of the cleaning, and those who are engaged as acaryas must learn from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu how to train devotees by personal example. The Lord was very pleased with those who could cleanse the temple by taking out undesirable things accumulated within. This is called anartha nivrtti, cleansing the heart of all unwanted things. Thus the cleansing of the Gundica−mandira was conducted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to let us know how the heart should be cleansed and soothed to receive Lord Sri Krsna and enable Him to sit within the heart without disturbance.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 12.135


The easiest way to cleanse the mind of material contamination in this age is to chant the Hare Krsna mantra:

When the mind is completely washed of all material contamination, the pure consciousness acts. The sound vibration from the spiritual sky can automatically cleanse all material contaminations, as confirmed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu: ceto−darpana−marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. We need only take the advice of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and chant the Hare Krsna mantra to cleanse the mind of all material contamination … As soon as the whole material contamination is washed away by this process of chanting, all desires and reactions to material activities become immediately vanquished, and real life, peaceful existence, begins. In this age of Kali it is very difficult to adopt the yogic process mentioned in this verse. Unless one is very expert in such yoga, the best course is to adopt the ways and means of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, sri−krsna−sankirtanam. Thus one can gloriously become freed from all material contamination by the simple process of chanting

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

 Just as life in this material world has its beginning in material sound, similarly spiritual life has its beginning in this spiritual sound vibration.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.23.17


Chanting the Hare Krsna mantra cleanses one of all material contamination:

Ceto−darpana−marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. This is the process of devotional service. Anyone can be purified by following the principles of devotional service in Krsna consciousness, for Krsna consciousness is so powerful that it can purify even the dirtiest class of men and transform them into the topmost Vaisnavas. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's movement aims at this purpose. Narottama dasa thakura says:

vrajendra−nandana jei, saci−suta hoilo sei, balarama hoilo nitai
dina−hina yata chilo, hari−name uddharilo, ta'ra saksi jagai−madhai

The appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this Kali−yuga is especially meant to deliver the fallen souls, who are always planning something for material enjoyment. He gave the people of this age the advantage of being able to chant the Hare Krsna mantra and thus become fully pure, free from all material contamination. Once one becomes a pure Vaisnava, he transcends all material conceptions of life.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.18.43

No one can be more pure than devotees. Anyone who once utters the name of Visnu immediately becomes purified, inside and outside (yah smaret pundarikaksam). Since a devotee constantly chants the Hare Krsna mantra, no contamination of the material world can touch him. He is, therefore, actually purified. Muci haya suci haya yadi krsna bhaje. It is said that even a cobbler or person born in the family of a cobbler can be elevated to the position of a brahmana (suci) if he takes to Krsna consciousness. Any person who is purely Krsna conscious and who engages in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is the purest in the whole universe.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.12.37


After [the prostitute offered] her obeisances to the tulasi plant and Haridasa thakura, she sat down at the door. Hearing Haridasa thakura chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, she also chanted, "O my Lord Hari, O my Lord Hari."

Herein one can clearly see how a Vaisnava delivers a fallen soul by a transcendental trick. The prostitute came to pollute Haridasa thakura, but he took it as his duty to deliver the prostitute. As clearly demonstrated here, the process of deliverance is very simple. With faith and reverence the prostitute associated with Haridasa thakura, who personally treated her material disease by chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. Although the prostitute had an ulterior motive, somehow or other she got the association of a Vaisnava and  atisfied him by occasionally chanting in imitation, "O my Lord Hari, O my Lord Hari." The conclusion is that associating with a Vaisnava, chanting the holy name of the Lord and offering obeisances to the tulasi plant or a Vaisnava all lead one to become a transcendental devotee who is completely cleansed of all matenal contamination.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.122


By chanting the maha−mantra, one is purified of material contamination and becomes eligible to engage in devotional service:

Because the people of this age are so fallen, they can simply chant the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. In this way they can rid themselves of the bodily conception of life and become eligible to engage in the Lord's devotional service. One cannot engage in the devotional service of the Lord without being purified of all contamination. 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)

Sometimes people are surprised to see young men and women take so seriously to the Krsna consciousness movement. By giving up sinful activity−illicit sex, meat−eating, intoxication and gambling and strictly following the injunctions given by the spiritual master, they have become purified of all contamination. They can therefore fully engage in the devotional service of the Lord.

Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 6.242


Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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