21 The holy name evokes ecstasy

The Holy Name Evokes Ecstasy

Offenseless chanting of the holy name brings ecstasy:

[Lord Caitanya to Prakasananda Sarasvati]: "After describing the potency of the Hare Krsna maha mantra, My spiritual master taught Me another verse, advising Me to always keep the name within My throat. 'In this age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress than the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord.' Since I received this order from My spiritual master, I always chant the holy name, but I think that by chanting and chanting the holy name I have been bewildered. While chanting the holy name of the Lord in pure ecstasy, I lose Myself, and thus I laugh, cry, dance and sing just like a madman. Collecting My patience, therefore, I began to consider that chanting the holy name of Krsna had covered all My spiritual knowledge. I saw that I had become mad by chanting the holy name, and I immediately submitted this at the lotus feet of My spiritual master. 'My dear lord, what kind of mantra have you given Me? I have become mad simplyby chanting this maha mantra! Chanting the holy name in ecstasy causes one to dance, laugh and cry.' When My spiritual master heard all this, he smiled and then began to speak. 'It is the nature of the Hare Krsna maha mantra that anyone who chants it immediately develops his loving ecstasy for Krsna.'"

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu prays in His Siksastaka:

yugayitam nimesena caksusa pravrsayitam
sunyayitam jagat sarvam govinda−virahena me

"O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence."

It is the aspiration of a devotee that while he chants the Hare Krsna maha mantra his eyes will fill with tears, his voice falter and his heart throb. These are good signs in chanting the holy name of the Lord. In ecstasy, one should feel the entire world to be vacant without the presence of Govinda. This is a sign of separation from Govinda. In material life we are all separated from Govinda and are absorbed in material sense gratification. Therefore, when one comes to his senses on the spiritual platform he becomes so eager to meet Govinda that without Govinda the entire world becomes a vacant place… In this verse [83] it is explained that one who chants the Hare Krsna mantra develops bhava, ecstasy, which is the point at which revelation begins. It is the preliminary stage in developing one's original love for God. A neophyte disciple begins by hearing and chanting, associating with devotees and practicing the regulative principles, and thus he vanquishes all of his unwanted bad habits. In this way he develops attachment for Krsna and cannot forget Krsna even for a moment. Bhava is almost the successful stage of spiritual life. A sincere student aurally receives the holy name from the spiritual master, and after being initiated he follows the regulative principles given by the spiritual master. When the holy name is properly served in this way, automatically the spiritual nature of the holy name spreads; in other words, the devotee becomes qualified in offenselessly chanting the holy name. When one is completely fit to chant the holy name in this way, he is eligible to make disciples all over the world, and he actually becomes jagad−guru. Then the entire world, under his influence, begins to chant the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha mantra. Thus all the disciples of such a spiritual master increase in attachment for Krsna, and therefore he sometimes cries, sometimes laughs, sometimes dances and sometimes chants. These symptoms are very prominently manifest in the body of a pure devotee. Sometimes when our students of the Krsna consciousness movement chant and dance, even in India people are astonished to see how these foreigners have learned to chant and dance in this ecstatic fashion. As explained by Caitanya Mahaprabhu, however, actually this is not due to practice, for without extra endeavor these symptoms become manifest in anyone who sincerely chants the Hare Krsna maha mantra… While chanting and dancing or hearing the holy name of the Lord, one automatically remembers the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and because there is no difference between the holy name and Krsna, the chanter is immediately linked with Krsna. Thus connected a devotee develops his original attitude of service to the Lord. In this attitude of constantly serving Krsna, which is called bhava, one always thinks of Krsna in many different ways. One who has attained this bhava stage is no longer under the clutches of the illusory energy. When other spiritual ingredients, such as trembling, perspiration, tears, etc., are added to this bhava stage, the devotee gradually attains love of Krsna. 

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.75−83

One who chants offenselessly develops symptoms of ecstasy and becomes eligible to enter the kingdom of God:

[Lord Brahma to the demigods]: Persons whose bodily features change in ecstasy and who breathe heavily and perspire due to hearing the glories of the Lord are promoted to the kingdom of God, even though they do not care for meditation and other austerities…

When one is free from all ten offenses in chanting the holy name of God, he develops the ecstatic bodily features called pulakasru. Pulaka means "symptoms of happiness," and asru means "tears in the eyes." The symptoms of happiness and tears in the eyes must appear in a person who has chanted the holy name offenselessly. Here in this verse it is stated that those who have actually developed the symptoms of happiness and tears in the eyes by chanting the glories of the Lord are eligible to enter the kingdom of God. 

– Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.25

By hearing the holy name, the devotee is merged in transcendental bliss:

[Lord Caitanya to Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya]: "In conclusion, dealings in affection with the Supreme Personality of Godhead bring happiness many millions of times greater than dealings with Him in awe and veneration. Simply by hearing the holy name of the Lord, the devotee is merged in transcendental bliss."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 10.140

The holy name enables one to taste the full nectar of transcendental life at every step:

[Lord Caitanya to Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya]: "… The chanting of the holy name of Krsna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 20.12

One who chants the holy name is blessed by Krsna and experiences devotional ecstasy:

[Lord Caitanya to Amogha]: "Therefore, Amogha, get up and chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra! If you do so, Krsna will unfailingly bestow mercy upon you." After hearing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and being touched by Him, Amogha, who was on his deathbed,  immediately stood up and began to chant the holy name of Krsnu. Thus he became mad with ecstatic love and began to dance emotionally. While Amogha danced in ecstatic love, he manifested all the ecstatic symptoms−trembling, tears, jubilation, trance, perspiration and a faltering voice. Seeing these waves of ecstatic emotion, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began to laugh.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 15.277−79

Chanting brings one to the spiritual platform of ecstasy:

By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this maha mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum. In the beginning, there may not be the presence of all transcendental ecstasies, which are eight in number.

These are: 

(1) being stopped as though dumb,
(2) perspiration,
(3) standing up of hairs on the body,
(4) dislocation of voice,
(5) trembling,
(6) fading of the body,
(7) crying in ecstasy, and
(8) trance.

But there is no doubt that chanting for a while takes one immediately to the spiritual platform, and one shows the first symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the mantra. We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting and dancing. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a little more time to come to the standard point, but even such a materially engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly.

– The Science of Self Realization

A small attachment for chanting Hare Krsna (etc.) can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte:

Rupa Gosvami has stated that the five kinds of devotional activities−namely, residing in Mathura, worshiping the Deity of the Lord, reciting Srimad−Bhagavatam, serving a devotee, and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra−are so potent that a small attachment for any one of these five items can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte.

– The Nectar of Devotion

If materialistic persons would use their dry tongues to chant the holy name, they would taste sweet nectar and enjoy life:

O my merciful Lord Caitanya, may the nectarean Ganges water of Your transcendental activities flow on the surface of my desertlike tongue. Beautifying these waters are the lotus flowers of singing, dancing and loud chanting of Krsna's holy name, which are the pleasure abodes of unalloyed devotees. These devotees are compared to swans, ducks and bees. The river's flowing produces a melodious sound that gladdens their ears.

Lord Caitanya's movement of Krsna consciousness is full of dancing and singing about the pastimes of Lord Krsna. It is compared herein to the pure waters of the Ganges, which are full of lotus flowers. The enjoyers of these lotus flowers are the pure devotees, who are like bees and swans. They chant like the flowing of the Ganges, the river of the celestial kingdom. The author desires such sweetly flowing waves to cover his tongue. He humbly compares himself to materialistic persons who always engage in dry talk from which they derive no satisfaction. If they were to use their dry tongues to chant the holy name of the Lord

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

as exemplified by Lord Caitanya, they would taste sweet nectar and enjoy life.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 2.2

By the simple process of chanting, one's transcendental bliss simply increases:

[Krsna consciousness] is called avyayam. Vyaya means "exhaustion." For example, one may have a hundred dollars, and if they are spent one after another, the next day it will come to zero. That is vyaya, exhaustible. But Krsna consciousness is not like that. If you cultivate this knowledge of Krsna consciousness, then it will increase. That is certified by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Anandambudhi−vardhanam. Ananda means "pleasure," "transcendental bliss," and ambudhi means "ocean." In the material world we see that the ocean does not increase. But if one cultivates Krsna consciousness, then his transcendental bliss will simply increase. Anandambudhi−vardhanam. And I shall always remind everyone that the process is very simple. Anyone can chant, anywhere, without taxation or loss, but the gain is very great.

– The Science of Self Realization

The word rasa means "taste," or "mellow." We enjoy sweets or candy because of their taste. Everyone is trying to enjoy some taste, and we want to enjoy sex because there is some taste there. That is called adi taste. Material tastes are different because they are tasted and quickly finished. Material tastes last only a few minutes. You may take a piece of candy, taste it, and say, "Oh, that is very nice," but you have to taste another in order to continue the enjoyment. Material taste is not unlimited, but real taste is without end. Spiritual taste cannot be forgotten; it goes on increasing. Anandambudhi−vardhanam. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, "This taste is always increasing." Spiritual taste is like the ocean in the sense that it is very great. The Pacific Ocean is always tossing, but it is not increasing. By God's order, the ocean does not extend beyond its limit, and if it extends, there is havoc. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that there is another ocean, an ocean of transcendental bliss, an ocean that is always increasing.

pratipadam  purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma−snapanam param vijayate

By chanting Hare Krsna, our pleasure potency increases more and more.

– The Path of Perfection

A pure devotee absorbed in chanting the holy name of Krsna merges into the ocean of love of Krsna:

To realize our relationship with Krsna, we have but to follow in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya and His chief associates, the six Gosvamis−Sri Rupa, Sanatana, Sri Jiva, Gopala, Raghunatha dasa, and Raghunatha Bhatta. These Gosvamis were always engaged in chanting Hare Krsna and dancing in ecstasy. They taught that when one is merged in krsna−kirtana, or the chanting of the holy names of Krsna, he merges into the ocean of love of Krsna. As soon as the sound of Krsna's name is vibrated, one can immediately merge into the ocean of love. That is the sign of pure devotion. Thus at kirtanas the six Gosvamis would merge immediately into the ocean of love of Godhead.

– The Science of Self Realization

A devotee should long for the day when, by chanting the holy name, symptoms of ecstasy will appear in his body:

The fruit of love of Godhead distributed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu is such a great intoxicant that anyone who eats it, filling his belly, immediately becomes maddened by it, and automatically he chants, dances, laughs and enjoys… The great gardener, Lord Caitanya, personally eats this fruit, and as a result He constantly remains mad, as if helpless and bewildered. With His sankirtana movement the Lord made everyone mad like Himself. We do not find anyone who was not intoxicated by His sankirtana movement. 

While chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sometimes fainted and remained unconscious for many hours. He prays in His Siksastaka:

yugayitam nimesena caksusa pravrsayitam
sunyayitam jagat sarvam govinda−virahena me

"O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence." (Siksastaka 7)

This is the perfectional stage of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and eating the fruit of love of Godhead, as exhibited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. One should not artificially imitate this stage, but if one is serious and sincerely follows the regulative principles and chants the Hare Krsna mantra, the time will come when these symptoms will appear. Tears will fill his eyes, and he will be unable to chant distinctly the maha mantra, and his heart will throb in ecstasy. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that one should not imitate this, but a devotee should long for the day to come when such symptoms of trance will automatically appear in his body.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 9.49−52

A devotee's aspiration to chant in ecstasy:

"O lotus−eyed one, when will I be able to always chant Your holy name, and being inspired by that chanting, when will I be able to dance on the banks of the Yamuna?" 

– Bhakti−rasamrta−sindhu (1.2. 156)
– [cited: Teachings of Lord Caitanya]

"My dear Lord, O lotus−eyed one, when will that day come when on the bank of the Yamuna, I shall become just like a madman, and continue to chant Your holy name while incessant tears flow from my eyes?"

– Narada−pancaratra
– [cited: The Nectar of Devotion]

The whole universe becomes ecstatic by the influence of the transcendental vibration of the holy name:

The goodness of the great sage Narada Muni is described herewith. He always chants about the pastimes of the Lord and delivers the fallen souls back to Godhead. In this regard, Srila Bhaktivinoda thakura has sung:

narada muni, bajaya vina, 'radhika−ramana'−name
nama amani, udita haya, bhakata−gita−same

amiya−dhara, varise ghana, sravana−yugale giya
bhakata jana, saghane nace, bhariya apana hiya

madhuri−pura, asaba pasi', mataya jagata−jane
keha va kande, keha va nace, keha mate mane mane

panca−vadana, narade dhari', premera saghana rola
kamalasana, naciya bale, 'bola bola hari bola'

sahasranana, parama−sukhe,'hari hari' bali' gaya
nama−prabhave, matila visva, nama−rasa sabe paya

sri−krsna−nama, rasane sphuri', pura 'la amara asa
sri−rupa−pade, yacaye iha, bhakativinoda dasa

The purport of this song is that Narada Muni, the great soul, plays a stringed instrument called a vina, vibrating the sound radhika−ramana, which is another name for Krsna. As soon as he strokes the strings, all the devotees begin responding, making a very beautiful vibration. Accompanied by the stringed instrument, the singing seems like a shower of nectar, and all the devotees dance in ecstasy to the fullest extent of their satisfaction. While dancing, they appear madly intoxicated with ecstasy, as if drinking the beverage called madhuri−pura. Some of them cry, some of them dance, and some of them, although unable to dance publicly, dance within their hearts. Lord Siva embraces Narada Muni and begins talking in an ecstatic voice, and seeing Lord Siva dancing with Narada, Lord Brahma also joins, saying, "All of you kindly chant 'Hari bol! Hari bol!'" The King of heaven, Indra, also gradually joins with great satisfaction and begins dancing and chanting "Hari bol! Hari bol!" In this way, by the influence of the transcendental vibration of the holy name of God, the whole universe becomes ecstatic. Bhaktivinoda thakura says, "When the universe becomes ecstatic, my desire is satisfied. I therefore pray unto the lotus feet of Rupa Gosvami that this chanting of harer nama [Adi 17.21] may go on nicely like this."

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.22

Nama sankirtana makes the world dance in ecstasy:

[Lord Krsna, thinking to Himself]: "I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age−Nama sankirtana, the congregationalchanting of the holy name. I shall make the world dance in ecstasy, realizing the four mellows of loving devotional service."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 3.19

To taste the nectar of the holy name, great demigods and sages, and even Krsna Himself, descended in human form:

During the incarnation of Lord Caitanya to inaugurate the Krsna consciousness movement, even such personalities as Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the four Kumaras took birth upon this earth, being allured by ecstatic love of Lord Krsna. All of them, including the great sage Narada and devotees like Prahlada, came here as if human beings, chanting the holy names of Lord Krsna together and dancing and floating in the inundation of love of Godhead. The goddess of fortune and others, allured by love of Krsna, also came down in the form of human beings and tasted the holy name of the Lord in love. What to speak of others, even Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, personally descends to taste the nectar of love of Godhead in the form of the chanting of Hare Krsna.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.262−65

Those who have tasted the nectar of chanting the holy name do not care for any other spiritual bliss or for material comforts:

[The personified Vedas said:] "The most intelligent devotees do not take to any means of self−realization except devotional service and constant engagement in the nine different processes of devotional life, especially hearing and chanting. When hearing and chanting about Your transcendental pastimes, Your devotees do not care even for the transcendental bliss derived fromliberation or from merging into the existence of the Supreme. Such devotees are not interested even in so−called liberation, and certainly they have no interest in material activities for elevation to the heavenly planets for sense gratification. Pure devotees seek only the association of paramahamsas, or great liberated devotees, so that they can continually hear and chant about Your glories. For this purpose the pure devotees are prepared to sacrifice all comforts of life, even giving up the material comforts of family life and so−called society, friendship and love. Those who have tasted the nectar of devotion by relishing the transcendental vibration of chanting Your glories, 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

, do not care for any other spiritual bliss or for material comforts, which appear to the pure devotee to be less important than the straw in the street." 

– Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead

Bhava results from understanding that Krsna's person and name are identical:

The transcendental ecstatic attachment for Krsna which results from perfectly understanding that Krsna's person and name are identical is called bhava. One who has attained bhava is certainly not contaminated by material nature. He actually enjoys transcendental pleasure from bhava, and when bhava is intensified, it is called love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya told Prakasananda Sarasvati that the holy name of Krsna, called the maha mantra (great chanting), enables anyone who chants it to attain the stage of love of Godhead, or intensified bhava.

– Teachings of Lord Caitanya

The bliss derived from chanting the holy name is far greater than the happiness of impersonal Brahman realization:

[Lord Caitanya to Prakasananda Sarasvati]: "Compared to the ocean of transcendental bliss which is tasted by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, the pleasure derived from impersonal Brahman realization [brahmananda] is like the shallow water in a canal."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.97

Impersonalists' apparent ecstatic reactions to chanting the holy name are merely reflections of ecstatic love:

Sometimes impersonalists who are not actually in devotional service may also exhibit such symptoms of ecstatic love, but this is not accepted as actual ecstasy. It is a reflection only. For example, sometimes in Varanasi, a holy city for impersonalist scholars, there may be seen a sannyasi crying from hearing the glories of the Lord. Impersonalists also sometimes chant the Hare Krsna mantra and dance, but their aim is not to serve the Lord. It is to become one with the Lord and merge into His existence. Rupa Gosvami therefore says that even if the reactions to chanting are manifested in the impersonalist's body, they should not be considered to be symptoms of actual attachment, but reflections only, just like the sun reflected in a dark room through some polished glass. The chanting of Hare Krsna, however, is so nice and transcendental that it will eventually melt even the hearts of persons who are impersonalists. Rupa Gosvami says that the impersonalists' symptoms are simply reflections of ecstatic love, not the real thing.

– The Nectar of Devotion

Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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