02 Qualifications and disqualifications for understanding and chanting the holy name

Qualifications And Disqualifications For Understanding And Chanting The Holy Name

Only the devotee can understand the transcendental nature of Krsna's name:

[The demigods to Lord Krsna in the womb of DevaKi]: O Lord, Your transcendental name and form are not ascertained by those who merely speculate on the path of imagination. Your name, form and attributes can be ascertained only through devotional service.

As stated in the Padma Purana:

atah sri−Krsna−namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmuKhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah

"No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krsna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him." (BhaKti−rasamrta−sindhu 1.2.234)1.2.234]

"One cannot understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Sri Krsna through one's materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him."

Since Krsna and His transcendental name, form and activities are all of a transcendental nature, ordinary persons or those who are only slightly advanced cannot understand them. Even big scholars who are nondevotees thinK that Krishna is fictitious. Yet although so-called scholars and commentators do not believe that Krishna was factually a historical person whose presence on the Battlefield of KuruKshetra is recorded in the history of Mahabharata, they feel compelled to write commentaries on Bhagavad-gita and other historical records. SevonmuKhe hi jihvadau sveyam eva sphuraty adah: Krsna's transcendental name, form, attributes and activities can be revealed only when one engages in His service in full consciousness. This confirms Krsna's own words in Bhagavad−gita (18.55):

bhaKtya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah
tato mam tattvato jnatva visate tad−anantaram

"One can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the Kingdom of God."

Only by sevonmuKha, by engaging oneself in the Lord's service, can one realize the name, form and qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The Lord is also Known as Giridhari or Girivara−dhari. Because Krsna, for the saKe of His devotees, lifted Govardhana Hill, the devotees appreciate the Lord's inconceivable strength; but nondevotees, in spite of directly perceiving the Lord's inconceivable strength and power, regard the Lord's activities as fictitious. This is the difference between a devotee and a nondevotee. Nondevotees cannot give any nomenclature for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yet the Lord is Known as Syamasundara and Giridhari. Similarly, the Lord is Known as DevaKi−nandana and Yasoda−nandana because He accepted the role of son for mother DevaKi and mother Yasoda, and He is Known as Gopala because He enjoyed the sport of maintaining the cows and calves. Therefore, although He has no mundane name, He is addressed by devotees as DevaKi−nandana, Yasoda−nandana, Gopala and Syamasundara. These are all transcendental names that only devotees can appreciate and nondevotees cannot.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 10.2.36


Although not advanced in purity or Vedic education, the young people of the West could accept the chanting of the holy name because they were not offensive:

[Lord Caitanya to a brahmana]: "I have brought a heavy load to sell in this city. To taKe it bacK again is a very difficult job; therefore if I get but a fraction of the price, I shall sell it here in this city of Kasi."

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was selling the transcendental holy name of the Lord. However, Kasi was a city of Mayavadis (impersonalists), and such people will never chant the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. Consequently Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was feeling disappointed. How could He teach the Mayavadis the importance of chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra? The attraction for chanting the holy name of the Lord belongs absolutely to pure devotees, and there was no possibility of finding pure devotees at Kasi. Consequently Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's commodity was certainly very heavy. The Lord therefore suggested that even though there were no pure devotees in Kasi, if someone was a little inclined to chant the Hare Krsna mantra, He would deliver this big load, although the proper price was not paid.

Actually we experienced this when we came to preach the Hare Krsna movement in the West. When we came to New YorK in 1965, we never expected that the Hare Krsna maha−mantra would be accepted in this country. Nonetheless, we invited people to our storefront to join in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, and the Lord's holy name is so attractive that simply by coming to our storefront in New YorK, fortunate young people became Krsna conscious. Although this mission was started with insignificant capital, it is now going nicely. The spreading of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra in the West has become successful because the young people were not offenders. The youths who joined this movement were not very advanced as far as purity was concerned, nor were they very well educated in Vedic Knowledge, but because they were not offenders, they could accept the importance of the Hare Krsna movement. We are now very happy to see that this movement is advancing more and more in the Western countries. We therefore conclude that the so−called mlecchas and yavanas of the Western countries are more purified than offensive Mayavadis or atheistic impersonalists.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 17.145


The taste of the Hare Krsna mantra can be tasted by one who is free from material hanKering:

nivrtta−tarsair upagiyamanad bhavausadhac chrotra−mano−'bhiramat
Ka uttamasloKa−gunanuvadat puman virajyeta vina pasughnat
(S.B. 10.1.4)

Pariksit Maharaja said to the great sage SuKadeva Gosvami, "The discourses on Srimad−Bhagavatam that you are giving me are not ordinary. These Bhagavata discourses are relishable for persons who are nivrtta−trsna, free from hanKering." Everyone in this material world is hanKering for enjoyment, but one who is free from this hanKering can taste how relishable the Bhagavatam is. The word bhagavata refers to anything in relationship to Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, and the Hare Krsna mantra is also bhagavata. Thus PariKsit Maharaja said that the taste of the Bhagavata can be relished by one who is free from hanKering to satisfy material desires.

– Teachings of Queen Kunti


We can understand the name of God as much as our spiritual understanding is developed:

Srila Prabhupada: Because God is absolute, His name, His form, and His qualities are also absolute, and they are nondifferent from Him.

Father Emmanuel: But our understanding of the name of God is limited.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we are limited, but God is unlimited. And because He is unlimited, or absolute, He has unlimited names, each of which is God. We can understand His names as much as our spiritual understanding is developed.

– The Science of Self Realization


By chanting, one comes to understand Krsna (and His holy name):

"'Therefore material senses cannot appreciate Krsna's holy name, form, qualities and pastimes. When a conditioned soul is awaKened to Krsna consciousness and renders service by using his tongue to chant the Lord's holy name and taste the remnants of the Lord's food, the tongue is purified, and one gradually comes to understand who Krsna really is."

– BhaKti−rasamrta−sindhu (1.2.234)
– [cited: Sri Caitanya−caritamrta Madhya lila 17.136]


The holy name can be heard by those who have developed love of Godhead:

[The maha−mantra] is not a material sound liKe the sounds we hear on the radio. It is a spiritual sound that comes from the spiritual world. Even in the material world we can release a sound from one place, and it can be heard thousands of miles away. A spiritual sound can be released from many trillions of miles away, and it can be heard, provided that one has the machine to capture it. That machine is bhagavat−prema. Those who have developed love of Godhead can hear it.

– Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti


One cannot understand the glories of the holy name simply by logic and argument:

[Haridasa thaKura to an assembly of scholars]: "One cannot understand the glories of the holy name simply by logic and argument. Therefore this man cannot possibly understand the glories of the holy name."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.206


The transcendental nature of the holy name cannot be understood by logic and argument, but by regular chanting with faith:

The holy name of the Lord

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

is a transcendental vibration because it comes from the transcendental platform, the supreme abode of Krsna. Because there is no difference between Krsna and His name, the holy name of Krsna is as pure, perfect and liberated as Krsna Himself. Academic scholars have no entrance by means of logic and other argument into the understanding of the transcendental nature of the holy name of God. The single path in understanding the transcendental nature of

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

is the chanting of these names with faith and adherence.

– Teachings of Lord Caitanya


Empiricists who reject the parampara system cannot understand the transcendental activities of the holy name:

The principles of the parampara system were strictly honored in the ages of Satya yuga, Treta yuga and Dvapara yuga, but in the present age, Kali yuga, people neglect the importance of this system of srauta−parampara, or receiving Knowledge by disciplic succession. In this age, people are prepared to argue that they can understand that which is beyond their limited Knowledge and perception through so−called scientific observations and experiments, not Knowing that actual truth comes down to man from authorities. This argumentative attitude is against the Vedic principles, and it is very difficult for one who adopts it to understand that the holy name of Krsna is as good as Krsna Himself. Since Krsna and His holy name are identical, the holy name is eternally pure and beyond material contamination. It is the Supreme Personality of Godhead as a transcendental vibration. The holy name is completely different from material sound, as confirmed by Narottama dasa ṬhaKura: goloKera prema-dhana, hari-nama-sanKirtana. The transcendental vibration of hari-nama-sanKirtana is imported from the spiritual world. Thus although materialists who are addicted to experimental Knowledge and the so−called "scientific method" cannot place their faith in the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra, it is a fact that simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra offenselessly one can be freed from all subtle and gross material conditions. The spiritual world is called VaiKuntha, which means "without anxiety." In the material world everything is full of anxiety (Kuntha), whereas in the spiritual world (VaiKuntha) everything is free from anxiety. Therefore those who are afflicted by a combination of anxieties cannot understand the Hare Krsna mantra, which is free from all anxiety.

A name which represents an object of this material world may be subjected to arguments and experimental Knowledge, but in the absolute world a name and its owner, fame and the famous, are identical, and similarly the qualities, pastimes and everything else pertaining to the Absolute are also absolute.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.74


Being ignorant about and offensive to Krsna, Mayavadis cannot underatand or chant the personal names of the Lord:

The brahmana's mind was already purified by seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He therefore went to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and described what tooK place before the Mayavadi sannyasi PraKasananda. Hearing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu mildly smiled. The brahmana then spoKe again to the Lord. The brahmana said, "As soon as I uttered Your name before him, he immediately confirmed the fact that he Knew Your name. While finding fault with You, he uttered Your name three times, saying, 'Caitanya, Caitanya, Caitanya.' Although he spoKe Your name three times, he did not utter the name of Krsna. Because he uttered Your name in contempt, I was very much aggrieved. Why could PraKasananda not utter the names of Krsna and Hari? He chanted the name Caitanya thrice. As far as I am concerned, simply by seeing You I am moved to chant the holy names of Krsna and Hari." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "Mayavadi impersonalists are great offenders unto Lord Krsna; therefore they simply utter the words Brahman, atma and caitanya. The holy name of Krsna is not manifest in their mouths because they are offenders unto Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is identical with His holy name  Because the Mayavadis are great offenders and atheistic philosophers, the holy name of Krsna does not come from their mouths."

PraKasananda Sarasvati viiified and blasphemed Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Words liKe brahma, caitanya, atma, paramatma, jagadisa, isvara, virat, vibhu, bhuman, visvarupa and vyapaKa all indirectly indicate Krsna. However, the chanter of these names is not actually attracted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna and His transcendental pastimes.

One may get a little light from these names, but one cannot understand that the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord. One considers the Lord's names material due to a poor fund of Knowledge. Mayavadi philosophers and the pancopasaKas cannot in the least understand the existence of the spiritual world and the blissful variegatedness there. They cannot understand the Absolute Truth and its spiritual varieties−name, form, qualities and pastimes. Consequently they conclude that Krsna's transcendental activities are maya. Due to this, one has to directly cultivate Knowledge about the holy name of the Lord. Mayavadi philosophers do not Know this fact, and therefore they commit great offenses. Mayavadis believe that the Absolute Truth is ultimately impersonal. When an incarnation of God or God Himself comes, they thinK He is covered by maya. In other words, Mayavadi impersonalists thinK that the Lord's form is also a product of this material world. Due to a poor fund of Knowledge, they cannot understand that Krsna has no body separate from Himself. His body and Himself are both the same Absolute Truth. Not having perfect Knowledge of Krsna, such impersonalists certainly commit offenses at His lotus feet.

Therefore they do not utter the original name of the Absolute Truth, Krsna. In their impersonal way, they utter the name of impersonal Brahman, spirit soul. In other words, they indulge in indirect indications of the Absolute Truth. Even if they happen to utter the name of Govinda, Krsna or Madhava, they still cannot understand that these names are as good as Govinda, Krsna or Madhava the person. Because they are ultimately impersonalists, their uttering of the personal name has no potency. Actually they do not believe in Krsna but consider all these names to be material vibrations. Not being able to appreciate the holy name of the Lord, they simply utter indirect names liKe Brahman, atma and caitanya.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 17.123−30, 132, 143


Because the Mayavadis cannot understand the transcendental nature of the holy name, they cannot utter it:

According to the material conception, there is duality between the name, form, quality, emotions and activities of a person and the person himself, but as far as the transcendental vibration is concerned, there is no such limitation, for it descends from the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there is no difference between the name of the person and the quality of the person. Of course in the material world there is a difference. Because the Mayavadi philosophers cannot understand this, they cannot utter the transcendental vibration.

– Teachings of Lord Caitanya


Lord Caitanya was disappointed because the Mayavadis of Kasi could not accept the chanting of the holy name:

[Lord Caitanya to a brahmana]: "Because the Mayavadis are great offenders and atheistic philosophers, the holy name of Krsna does not come from their mouths. I have come here to sell My emotional ecstatic sentiments in this city of Kasi, but I cannot find any customers. If they are not sold, I must taKe them bacK home. I have brought a heavy load to sell in this city. To taKe it bacK again is a very difficult job; therefore if I get but a fraction of the price, I shall sell it here in this city of Kasi."

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was selling the transcendental holy name of the Lord. However, Kasi was a city of Mayavadis (impersonalists), and such people will never chant the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. Consequently Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was feeling disappointed. How could He teach the Mayavadis the importance of chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra? The attraction for chanting the holy name of the Lord belongs absolutely to pure devotees, and there was no possibility of finding pure devotees at Kasi. Consequently Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's commodity was certainly very heavy. The Lord therefore suggested that even though there were no pure devotees in Kasi, if someone was a little inclined to chant the Hare Krsna mantra, He would deliver this big load, although the proper price was not paid.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 17.143−45


One can mentally respect, but should avoid the association of, praKrta−sahajiyas who chant the Hare Krsna mantra:

We can see from practical experience that there are different types of Vaisnavas. The praKrta−sahajiyas generally chant the Hare Krsna maha−mantra, yet they are attached to women, money and intoxication. Although such persons may chant the holy name of the Lord, they are not yet properly purified. Such people should be respected within one's mind, but their association should be avoided.

– The Nectar of Instruction Text 5


Sometimes yogis and jnanis chant the maha−mantra, but without proper understanding:

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.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 12.135


Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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