24 Even improper chanting of the holy name yields beneficial results

Even Improper Chanting Of The Holy Name Yields Beneficial Results

General instructions

Even if one chants the holy name imperfectly, he still easily attains liberation:

[A disciple of Prakasananda Sarasvati to an assembly of disciples]: "In this age of Kali, one cannot attain liberation without taking to the devotional service of the Lord. In this age, even if one does not chant the holy name of Krsna perfectly, he still attains liberation very easily."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 25.30

Even imperfectly uttered, the holy name frees one from sin:

[Haridasa thakura to Lord Caitanya]: Namacarya Haridasa thakura continued, "lf one offenselessly utters the holy name even imperfectly, one can be freed from all the results of sinful life."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.61

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 tide 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

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

Conditions of effectiveness of partial or improper uttering of the holy name:

[Haridasa thakura to Lord Caitanya]: "The letters of the holy name have so much spiritual potency that they act even when uttered improperly."

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati thakura states that the word vyavahita ("improperly uttered") is not used here to refer to the mundane vibration of the letters of the alphabet. Such negligent utterance for the sense gratification of materialistic persons is not a vibration of transcendental sound. Utterance of the holy name while one engages in sense gratification is an impediment on the path toward achieving ecstatic love for Krsna. On the other hand, if one who is eager for devotional service utters the holy name even partially or improperly, the holy name, who is identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, exhibits its spiritual potency because of that person's offenseless utterance. Thus one is relieved from all unwanted practices, and one gradually awakens his dormant love for Krsna.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.59

Whether vibrated properly or improperly, the holy name will liberate the chanter providing it is not done to facilitate sinning:

"'If a devotee once utters the holy name of the Lord, or if it penetrates his mind or enters his ear, which is the channel of aural reception, that holy name will certainly deliver him from material bondage, whether vibrated properly or improperly, with correct or incorrect grammar, and properly joined or vibrated in separate parts. O brahmana, the potency of the holy name is therefore certainly great. However, if one uses the vibration of the holy name for the benefit of the material body, for material wealth and followers, or under the influence of greed or atheism−in other words, if one utters the name with offenses−such chanting will not produce the desired result very soon. Therefore one should diligently avoid offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord.'"

This verse from the Padma Purana is included in the Hari−bhakti−vilasa (11.527) by Sanatana Gosvami.
Therein Srila Sanatana Gosvami gives the following explanation: 

sarvebhyah papebhyo 'paradhebhyas
ca samsarad apy uddharayaty 
eveti satyam eva; kintu nama−sevanasya 
mukhyam yat phalam, tan 
na sadyah sampadyate. tatha 
deha−bharanady−artham api nama
sevanena mukhyam phalam
asu na sidhyatity aha−tac ced iti.

The holy name has so much spiritual potency that it can deliver one from all sinful reactions and material entanglements, but utterance of the holy name will not be very soon fruitful if done to facilitate sinning.

tan nama ced yadi dehadi−madhye
niksiptam− deha− bharanady−artham eva
vinyastam, tadapi phala−janakam na bhavati kim?
api tu bhavaty eva, kintv atreha
loke sighram na bhavati,
kintu vilambenaiva bhavatity arthah.

The holy name is so powerful that it must act, but when one utters the holy name with offenses, its action will be delayed, not immediate, although in favorable circumstances the holy names of the Lord act very quickly.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.60

Even unconscious, unintentional, Or accidental chanting is effective

Even unconscious chanting of the holy name liberates one from birth and death:

[The sages at Naimisaranya to Suta Gosvami]: Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krsna, which is feared by fear personified.

The transcendental name of Krsna, even though uttered unconsciously or by force of circumstances, can help one obtain freedom from the hurdle of birth and death.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.16

Even if one chants the holy name of the Lord unintentionally, he is fully purified:

[Sukadeva Gosvami to King Pariksit]: That old man Ajamila had ten sons, of whom the youngest was a baby named Narayana. Since Narayana was the youngest of all the sons, he was naturally very dear to both his father and his mother. Because of the child's broken language and awkward movements, old Ajamila was very much attached to him. He always took care of the child and enjoyed the child's activities. When Ajamila chewed food and ate it, he called the child to chew and eat, and when he drank he called the child to drink also. Always engaged in taking care of the child and calling his name, Narayana, Ajamila could not understand that his own time was now exhausted and that death was upon him. When the time of death arrived for the foolish Ajamila, he began thinking exclusively of his son Narayana. Ajamila then saw three awkward persons, with deformed bodily features, fierce, twisted faces, and hair standing erect on their bodies. With ropes in their hands, they had come to take him away to the abode of Yamaraja. When he saw them he was extremely bewildered, and because of attachment to his child, who was playing a short distance away, Ajamila began to call him loudly by his name. Thus with tears in his eyes he somehow or other chanted the holy name Narayana. My dear King, the order carriers of Visnu, the Visnudutas, immediately arrived when they heard the holy name of their master from the mouth of the dying Ajamila, who had certainly chanted without offense because he had chanted in complete anxiety.

Since the old man was very attached to the child, he enjoyed the child's activities, and because the child's name was Narayana, the old man always chanted the holy name of Narayana. Although he was referring to the small child and not to the original Narayana, the name of Narayana is so powerful that even by chanting his son's name he was becoming purified (harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam [Adi 17.21]). Srila Rupa Gosvami has therefore declared that if one's mind is somehow or other attracted by the holy name of Krsna (tasmat kenapy upayena manah krsne nivesayet), one is on the path of liberation. It is customary in Hindu society for parents to give their children names like Krsnadasa, Govinda dasa, Narayana dasa and Vrndavana and get the chance to be purified…

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is kind to the conditioned soul. Although this man completely forgot Narayana, he was calling his child, saying, "Narayana, please come eat this food. Narayana, please come drink this milk." Somehow or other, therefore, he was attached to the name Narayana. This is called ajnata−sukrti. Although calling for his son, he was unknowingly chanting the name of Narayana, and the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so transcendentally powerful that his chanting was being counted and recorded… Somehow or other, Ajamila consciously or unconsciously chanted the name of Narayana at the time of death (ante narayana−smrtih), and therefore he became all−perfect simply by concentrating his mind on the name of Narayana.

It may also be concluded that Ajamila, who was the son of a brahmana, was accustomed to worshiping Narayana in his youth because in every brahmana's house there is worship of the narayana−sila. This system is still present in India; in a rigid brahmana's house, there is narayana−seva, worship of Narayana. Therefore, although the contaminated Ajamila was calling for his son, by concentrating his mind on the holy name of Narayana he remembered the Narayana he had very faithfully worshiped in his youth.

In this regard Srila Sridhara Svami expressed his verdict as follows:

etac ca tad−upalalanadi−sri−narayana−
namoccarana−mahatmyena tad−bhaktir evabhud
iti siddhantopayogitvenapi drastavyam.

"According to the bhakti−siddhanta, it is to be analyzed that because Ajamila constantly chanted his son's name, Narayana, he was elevated to the platform of bhakti, although he did not know it." Similarly, Srila Viraraghava Acarya gives this opinion:

evam vartamanah sa dvijo mrtyu−kale
upasthite satyajno narayanakhye putra
eva matim cakara matim asaktam akarod ity arthah.

"Although at the time of death he was chanting the name of his son, he nevertheless concentrated his mind upon the holy name of Narayana." Srila Vijayadhvaja Tirtha gives a similar opinion:

mrtyu−kale deha−viyoga−
laksana−kale mrtyoh sarva−dosa

−papaharasya harer anugrahat kale 
datta−jnana−laksane upasthite 

hrdi prakasite tanaye purna−jnane 
bale panca−varsa−kalpe

pradesamatre narayanahvaye
murti−visese matim smarana

−samartham cittam cakara
bhaktyasmarad ity arthah.

Directly or indirectly, Ajamila factually remembered Narayana at the time of death (ante narayana−smrtih)…

A person who performs sinful activities performs them with his body, mind and words. Therefore three order carriers from Yamaraja came to take Ajamila to Yamaraja's abode. Fortunately, even though he was referring to his son, Ajamila chanted the four syllables of the hari−nama Narayana, and therefore the order carriers of Narayana, the Visnudutas, also immediately arrived there. Because Ajamila was extremely afraid of the ropes of Yamaraja, he chanted the Lord's name with tearful eyes. Actually, however, he never meant to chant the holy name of Narayana; he meant to call his son.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti thakura remarks, hari−kirtanam nisamyapatan, katham−bhutasya bhartur nama bruvatah: the order carriers of Lord Visnu came because Ajamila had chanted the holy name of Narayana. They did not consider why he was chanting. While chanting the name of Narayana, Ajamila was actually thinking of his son, but simply because they heard Ajamila chanting the Lord's name, the order carriers of Lord Visnu, the Visnudutas, immediately came for Ajamila's protection. Hari−kirtana is actually meant to glorify the holy name, form, pastimes and qualities of the Lord. Ajamila, however, did not glorify the form, qualities or paraphernalia of the Lord; he simply chanted the holy name. Nevertheless, that chanting was sufficient to cleanse him of all sinful activities. As soon as the Visnudutas heard their master's name being chanted, they immediately came. In this regard Srila Vijayadhvaja Tirtha remarks: anena putra−sneham antarena pracinadrsta−balad udbhutaya bhaktya bhagavan−nama−sankirtanam iti jnayate. "Ajamila chanted the name of Narayana because of his excessive attachment to his son. Nevertheless, because of his past good fortune in having rendered devotional service to Narayana, he apparently chanted the holy name in full devotional service and without offenses."

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1.24−30

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

The holy name acts even when chanted without reference to the Supreme Lord by those bereft of Vedic culture:

One day Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu met Haridasa thakura as usual, and in the course of discussion He inquired as follows. "My dear thakura Haridasa, in this age of Kali most people are bereft of Vedic culture, and therefore they are called yavanas. They are concerned only with killing cows and brahminical culture. In this way they all engage in sinful acts. How will these yavanas be delivered? To My great unhappiness, I do not see any way." Haridasa thakura replied, "My dear Lord, do not be in anxiety. Do not be unhappy to see the condition of the yavanas in material existence. Because the yavanas are accustomed to saying, 'ha rama, ha rama' [O Lord Ramacandra], they will very easily be delivered by this namabhasa. A devotee in advanced ecstatic love exclaims, 'O my Lord Ramacandra! O my Lord Ramacandra!' But the yavanas also chant, 'ha rama, ha rama!' Just see their good fortune!"

If a child touches fire, the fire will burn him, and if an elderly man touches fire it will burn him also. Haridasa thakura says that a great devotee of the Lord exclaims, "ha rama, ha rama," but although yavanas do not know the transcendental meaning of "ha rama, ha rama," they say those words in the course of their ordinary life. For the yavanas the words "ha rama" mean "abominable," whereas the devotee exclaims the words "ha rama" in ecstatic love. Nevertheless, because the words "ha rama" are the spiritual summum bonum, the fact is the same both for a child and for an elderly man. In other words, the holy name of the Lord, "ha rama," always acts, even when the holy names are chanted without reference to the Supreme Lord. Yavanas utter the holy name in a different attitude than devotees, but the holy name "ha rama" is so powerful spiritually that it acts anywhere, whether one knows it or not. This is explained as follows.

Namacarya Haridasa thakura, the authority on the chanting of the holy name, said, "The chanting of the Lord's holy name to indicate something other than the Lord is an instance of namabhasa. Even when the holy name is chanted in this way, its transcendental power is not destroyed. 'Even a mleccha who is being killed by the tusk of a boar and who cries in distress again and again, "ha rama, ha rama" attains liberation. What then to speak of those who chant the holy name with veneration and faith?'"

This refers to an instance in which a meat−eater being killed by a boar uttered the words "ha rama, ha rama" again and again at the time of his death. Since this is a quotation from the Nrsimha Purana, this indicates that in the Puranic age there must also have been mlecchas and yavanas (meat−eaters), and the words "ha rama," meaning "condemned," were also uttered in those days. Thus Haridasa thakura gives evidence that even a meat−eater who condemns something by uttering the words "ha rama" gets the benefit of chanting the holy name that the devotee chants to mean "O my Lord Rama."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.49−56

Even unintentional chanting of the holy name, if offenseless, will take one back to Godhead:

[Sukadeva Gosvami to King Pariksit]: While suffering at the time of death, Ajamila chanted the holy name of the Lord, and although the chanting was directed toward his son, he nevertheless returned home, back to Godhead. Therefore, if one faithfully and inoffensively chants the holy name of the Lord, where is the doubt that he will return to Godhead?

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.49

Either deliberate or accidental chanting of the holy name immediately frees one from sinful reactions:

[Sukadeva Gosvami to King Pariksit]: If one who is embarrassed by hunger or who falls down or stumbles chants the holy name of the Lord even once, willingly or unwillingly, he is immediately freed from the reactions of his past deeds. Karmis entangled in material activities face many difficulties in the practice of mystic yoga and other endeavors to achieve that same freedom.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 5.24.20

Even if chanted in separate parts, The holy name is effective

The holy name is effective even if vibrated in separate parts (provided there are no offenses):

"'If a devotee once utters the holy name of the Lord, or if it penetrates his mind or enters his ear, which is the channel of aural reception, that holy name will certainly deliver him from material bondage, whether … properly joined or vibrated in separate parts.'"

This verse from the Padma Purana is included in the Hari−bhakti−vilasa (11.527) by Sanatana Gosvami. Therein Srila Sanatana Gosvami gives the following explanation:

vaci gatam prasangad van−madhye pravrttam api,
smarana−patha−gatam kathancin manah−sprstam api,
srotra−mulam gatam kincit srutam api;
suddha−varnam vasuddha−varnam api va;
'vyavahitam' sabdantarena yad−vyavadhanam
kincid uccarananantaram prasangad
apatitam sabdantaram tena rahitam sat.

This means that if one somehow or other hears, utters or remembers the holy name, or if it catches his mind while coming near his ears, that holy name, even if vibrated in separate words, will act. An example of such separation is given as follows:

yadva, yadyapi 'halam riktam'
ity ady−uktau hakara−rikarayor vrttya
hariti−namasty eva, tatha 'raja−mahisi'
ity atra rama−namapi, evam
anyad  apy uhyam, tathapi 
vyavadhayakam aksarantaram
astity etadrsa−vyavadhana−
rahitam ity arthah; yadva,
vyavahitam ca tad−rahitam capi va;
tatra 'vyavahitam'−namnah kincid
uccarananantaram kathancid 
apatitam sabdantaram samadhaya pascan
namavasistaksara−grahanam ity evam rupam,
madhye sabdantarenantaritam ity arthah, 
'rahitam' pascad avasistaksara−grahana−varjitam,
kenacid amsena hinam ity arthah,
tathapi tarayaty eva.

Suppose one is using the two words "halam riktam." Now the syllable ha in the word "halam" and the syllable ri in "riktam" are separately pronounced, but nevertheless it will act because one somehow or other utters the word "hari." Similarly, in the word "raja−mahisi," the syllables ra and ma appear in two separate words, but because they somehow or other appear together, the holy name rama will act, provided there are no offenses.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.60

Even if chanted jokingly, The holy name is effective

Because the holy name is absolute, it is effective whether one chants sincerely or jokingly:

Krsna consciousness is not at all to the liking of the demons of the present age. As soon as they see a Vaisnava dressed in saffron garments with beads on his neck and tilaka on his forehead, they are immediately irritated. They criticize the Vaisnavas by sarcastically saying Hare Krsna, and some people also chant Hare Krsna sincerely. In either case, since Hare Krsna is absolute, whether one chants it jokingly or sincerely, it will have its effect. The Vaisnavas are pleased when the demons chant Hare Krsna because this shows that the Hare Krsna movement is taking ground.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.7

Even chanting for the sake Of blasphemy is effective

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 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 demons who utter Krsna's name only for blaspheming Him attain liberation:

The conditioned soul, being envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, may accuse Him, saying, "Krsna is bad, Krsna is a thief" and so on, but Krsna, being kind to all living entities, does not consider such accusations. Instead, He takes account of the conditioned soul's chanting of "Krsna, Krsna" so many times. He sometimes punishes such demons for one life by putting them in a lower species, but then, when they have stopped accusing Him, they are liberated in the next life because of chanting Krsna's name constantly.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 7.1.25

Even if uttered to chastise Krsna, the holy name brings liberation:

[Svarupa Damodara to a Bengali poet]: "Sometimes it so happens that one who wants to chastise Krsna utters the holy name, and thus the holy name becomes the cause of his liberation."

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 5.155

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

Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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