04 One must receive the holy name from proper spiritual authorities
The holy name must be received from spiritual sources:
One has to learn about the beauty and transcendental position of the holy name of the Lord by hearing the revealed scriptures from the mouths of devotees. Nowhere else can we hear of the sweetness of the Lord’s holy name.
It is said 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]. Chanting and hearing of the transcendental holy name of the Lord cannot be performed by the ordinary senses. The transcendental vibration of the Lord’s holy name is completely spiritual. Thus it must be received from spiritual sources and must be chanted after having been heard from a spiritual master. One who hears the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra must receive it from the spiritual master by aural reception. Srila Sanatana Gosvami has forbidden us to hear the holy name of Krsna chanted by non−Vaisnavas, such as professional actors and singers, for it will have no effect. It is like milk touched by the lips of a serpent, as stated in the Padma Purana:
avaisnava−mukhodgirnam putam hari−kathamrtam
sravanam naiva kartavyam sarpocchistam yatha payah
As far as possible, therefore, the devotees in the Krsna consciousness movement gather to chant the holy name of Krsna in public so that both the chanters and the listeners may benefit.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya- lila 1.101
One should receive the holy name from spiritual authorities:
[Sukadeva Gosvami to King Pariksit]: O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self−satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.
Here it is mentioned that one should constantly chant the holy name of the Lord after hearing it from authorities. This means that hearing from the authorities is the first essential.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 2.1.11
The transcendental sound must be received through a representative of the disciplic succession:
Communion with the Lord by transmission of the transcendental sound is nondifferent from the whole spirit Lord Sri Krsna. It is a completely perfect method for approaching the Lord… There is no bar for chanting this transcendental sound by anyone, provided it is received through Narada’s representative, coming down by the chain of disciplic succession, or the parampara system.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.39
If not received through the chain of disciplic succession, the holy name does not act:
One may receive a published mantra anywhere, but unless it is accepted through the chain of disciplic succession, the mantra does not act. It is said by authoritative sources that anymantra chanted without having been received from the disciplic succession has no efficacy.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.8.53
The disciple receives the authority to chant the holy name from the spiritual master:
[Lord Caitanya to Prakasananda Sarasvati]: “‘My dear child, continue dancing, chanting and performing sankirtana in association with devotees. Furthermore, go out and preach the value of chanting krsna−nama, for by this process You will be able to deliver all fallen souls.’ Saying this, My spiritual master taught Me one verse from Srimad−Bhagavatam. It is the essence of all the Bhagavatam’s instructions; therefore he instructed Me this verse again and again. ‘When a person is actually advanced and takes pleasure in chanting the holy name of the Lord, who is very dear to him, he is agitated and loudly chants the holy name. He also laughs, cries, becomes agitated and chants just like a madman, not caring for outsiders.’ I firmly believe in these words of My spiritual master, and therefore I always chant the holy name of the Lord, alone and in the association of devotees. That holy name of Lord Krsna sometimes causes Me to chant and dance, and therefore I chant and dance. Please do not think that I intentionally do it. I do it automatically.”
A person who cannot keep his faith in the words of his spiritual master but acts independently never receives the authority to chant the holy name of the Lord. It is said in the Vedas:
yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah
“Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23)
atah sri−krsna−namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah
“No one can understand Krsna as He is by the blunt material senses. But He reveals Himself to the devotees, being pleased with them for their transcendental loving service unto Him.” (Bhakti−rasamrta−sindhu 1.2.234)
bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah
tato mam tattvato jnatva visate tad−anantaram
“One can understand the Supreme Personality 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.” (Bg. 18.55)
These are Vedic instructions. One must have full faith in the words of the spiritual master and similar faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then the real knowledge of atma and Paramatma and the distinction between matter and spirit will be automatically revealed. This atma−tattva, or spiritual knowledge, will be revealed within the core of a devotee’s heart because of his having taken shelter of the lotus feet of a mahajana such as Prahlada Maharaja.6.23]
“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.”
This Vedic injunction is very important, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu supported it by His personal behavior. Believing in the words of His spiritual master, He introduced the sankirtana movement, just as the present Krsna consciousness movement was started with belief in the words of our spiritual master. He wanted to preach, we believed in his words and tried somehow or other to fulfill them, and now this movement has become successful all over the world. Therefore faith in the words of the spiritual master and in the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the secret of success. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never disobeyed the orders of His spiritual master and stopped propagating the sankirtana movement… It is to be understood that when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chanted and danced, He did so by the influence of the pleasure potency of the spiritual world. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never considered the holy name of the Lord to be a material vibration, nor does any pure devotee mistake the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra to be a material musical manifestation. Lord Caitanya never tried to be the master of the holy name; rather He taught us how to be servants of the holy name. If one chants the holy name of the Lord just to make a show, not knowing the secret of success, he may increase his bile secretion, but he will never attain perfection in chanting the holy name. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented himself in this way: “I am a great fool and do not have knowledge of right and wrong. In order to understand the real meaning of Vedanta−sutra, I never followed the explanation of the Sankara−sampradaya or Mayavadi sannyasis. I’m very much afraid of the illogical arguments of the Mayavadi philosophers. Therefore I think I have no authority regarding their explanations of Vedanta−sutra. I firmly believe that simply chanting the holy name of the Lord can remove all misconceptions of the material world. I believe that simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord one can attain the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. In this age of quarrel and disagreement, the chanting of the holy names is the only way to liberation from the material clutches.
“By chanting the holy name,” Lord Caitanya continued, “I become almost mad. However, after inquiring from My spiritual master I have come to the conclusion that instead of striving for achievement in the four principles of religiosity (dharma), economic development (artha), sense gratification (kama) and liberation (moksa), it is better if somehow or other one develops transcendental love of Godhead. That is the greatest success in life. One who has attained love of Godhead chants and dances by his nature, not caring for the public.” This stage of life is known as bhagavata−jivana, or the life of a devotee.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “I never chanted and danced to make an artificial show. I dance and chant because I firmly believe in the words of My spiritual master. Although the Mayavadi philosophers do not like this chanting and dancing, I nevertheless perform it on the strength of his words. Therefore it is to be concluded that I deserve very little credit for these activities of chanting and dancing, for they are being done automatically by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.92−96
The holy name should be received from, and chanted under the direction of, the bona fide spiritual master:
[The transcendental sound representation] should be received from the transparent agency of the bona fide spiritual master, and the chanting may be practiced by the direction of the spiritual master. That will gradually lead us nearer to the Lord. This method of worship is recommended in the pancaratrika system, which is both recognized and authorized.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.38
One can understand the glories of the holy name by the mercy of the spiritual master:
The holy name and the Lord are identical. One who is completely free from the clutches of maya can understand this fact. This knowledge, which is achieved by the mercy of the spiritual master, places one on the supreme transcendental platform. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented Himself as a fool because prior to accepting the shelter of a spiritual master He could not understand that simply by chanting one can be relieved from all material conditions. But as soon as He became a faithful servant of His spiritual master and followed his instructions, He very easily saw the path of liberation.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.73
The spiritual master delivers the disciple from maya by initiating him into the chanting of the holy name:
It is the spiritual master who delivers the disciple from the clutches of maya by initiating him into the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha mantra. In this way a sleeping human being can revive his consciousness by chanting
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
In other words, the spiritual master awakens the sleeping living entity to his original consciousness so that he can worship Lord Visnu. This is the purpose of diksa, or initiation. Initiation means receiving the pure knowledge of spiritual consciousness.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya- lila 9.61
One must receive the maha mantra from a guru, who makes it more powerful:
[Lord Siva to the sons of King Pracinabarhi]: Now I shall chant one mantra which is not only transcendental, pure and auspicious, but is the best prayer for anyone who is aspiring to attain the ultimate goal of life. When I chant this mantra, please hear it carefully and attentively.
Lord Siva voluntarily came to bless the sons of the King as well as do something beneficial for them. He personally chanted the mantra so that the mantra would be more powerful, and he advised that the mantra be chanted by the King’s sons (raja−putras). When a mantra is chanted by a great devotee, the mantra becomes more powerful. Although the Hare Krsna maha mantra is powerful in itself, a disciple upon initiation receives the mantra from his spiritual master, for when the mantra is chanted by the spiritual master, it becomes more powerful. Lord Siva advised the sons of the King to hear him attentively, for inattentive hearing is offensive.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24.31−32
Being preserved and transmitted through disciplic succession, the holy names of Lord
Krsna and Lord Caitanya have as much potency now as during the physical appearance of Lord Caitanya:
Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not manifest His natural ecstatic love, everyone became a pure devotee simply by seeing and hearing Him. Srila Rupa Gosvami has described Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as maha−vadanya−avatara, the most munificent incarnation. Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is not physically present now, simply by chanting His holy name
sri−krsna−caitanya prabhu nityananda sri−advaita
people throughout the world are becoming devotees. This is due to the ecstatic chanting of the holy name of the Lord. It is said that a pure devotee can see the Lord every moment, and because of this he is empowered by the Lord. This is confirmed in Brahma−samhita: premanjana−cchurita−bhakti−vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti [Bs. 5.38]. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared five hundred years ago, but it cannot be said that now the potency of the Hare Krsna maha mantra is less powerful than it was in His presence. By hearing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu through the parampara system, one can be purified. Therefore in this verse it is said: tathapi tanra darsana−sravana−prabhave. It is not that everyone is able to see Krsna or Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu physically, but if one hears about Him through books like Sri Caitanya−caritamrta and through the parampara system of pure Vaisnavas, there is no difficulty in becoming a pure Vaisnava, free from mundane desires and personal motivations.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya- lila 17.51