the first six daṇḍas of the morning
(approximately 6:00 a.m. — 8:30 a.m.)
There is no consideration of proper or improper time in regard to chanting the Lord’s holy names, which are fully endowed with all potencies. This is described in the second verse of Śikṣāṣṭaka:
nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi
durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ
O Bhagavān, Your names bestow all auspiciousness upon the jīvas. Therefore, for their benefit, You are eternally manifest as Your innumerable names, such as Rāma, Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Mukunda, Mādhava, Govinda and Dāmodara. You have invested those names with all the potencies of Their respective forms. Out of Your causeless mercy, You have not even imposed any restrictions on the remembrance of these names, as is the case with certain prayers and mantras that must be chanted at specific times (sandhyā-vandana). In other words, the holy name of Bhagavān can be chanted and remembered at any time of the day or night. This is the arrangement You have made. O Prabhu, You have such causeless mercy upon the jīvas; nevertheless, due to my nāma-aparādha, I am so unfortunate that no attachment for Your holy name, which is so easily accessible and which bestows all good fortune, has awakened within me.
aneka lokera vāñchā aneka prakāra
kṛpāte karila aneka nāmera pracāra
khāite suite yathā tathā nāma laya
deśa-kāla-niyama nāhi sarva-siddhi haya
sarva-śakti nāme dila kariyā vibhāga
āmāra durdaiva nāme nāhi anurāga
The innumerable people in this material world have many different kinds of desires. Even so, Bhagavān is supremely merciful and appears in this world as His different names to fulfil these various desires. All perfection is attained by harināma, even if it is chanted while eating, drinking, sleeping or moving about; nor are place, time, rules and so forth considerations while chanting. All of Bhagavān’s potencies are invested in His names.
The holy names are of two kinds: primary (mukhya) and secondary (gauṇa). Names related to the material world, like Brahman, Paramātmā and Jagadīśa, are secondary names. Primary names are also of two kinds: those that are full of opulence (aiśvarya-para) and those that are full of sweetness (mādhurya-para). Names like Hari, Nārāyaṇa and Vāsudeva are full of opulence, and names like Kṛṣṇa, Madana-mohana, Govinda, Gopīnātha and Rādhā-ramaṇa are full of sweetness. From the names of Bhagavān that are related to this world (that is, the secondary names), one attains sense enjoyment (bhoga) and liberation (mokṣa), from aiśvarya-para names one attains the aiśvarya-prema of Vaikuṇṭha, and from mādhurya-para names one attains vraja-prema. The sādhaka chanting harināma will take shelter of a specific name according to his own mood and will thus have his heart’s desire fulfilled.
A prayer for attaining attachment for the holy name is given in the fifth verse of Nāmāṣṭaka:
praṇata-karuṇa-kṛṣṇāv ity aneka-svarūpe
tvayi mama ratir uccair vardhatāṁ nāmadheya
O Nāma Bhagavān, possessor of inconceivable glories, may my affection for You continue to increase, day and night. O Aghadamana! O Yaśodā-nandana! O Nanda-sūnu! O Kamala-nayana! O Gopīcandra! O Vṛndāvanendra! O Praṇata-karuṇa! O Kṛṣṇa! You have innumerable forms; may my attachment to them always increase.
As the rāgānuga-sādhaka chants the holy name under the guidance of pure devotees, he prays to Nāma Prabhu in great distress, “O Nāma Prabhu! Please manifest in my heart along with Your pastimes that relate to each name.”
Aghadamana – “He who protected His friends by killing the demon Agha.” The word agha means “sin” and damana means “to destroy”. He destroys the sins in the heart of the sādhaka, making it pure, and then He Himself comes to reside there. In relation to mādhurya-rasa, Aghadamana has another meaning: “He whose darśana destroys the gopīs’ feelings of separation and thus bestows great joy upon them.” During the day Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra goes to the forest, causing the vraja-sundarīs to burn in the fire of separation from Him. During the night, when He is in their midst, He makes their burning separation go far away, and He appears as pleasant as the cool moon as He sports in the pastimes of rāsa with them. Thus He tastes mādhurya-prema-rasa.
Yaśodā-nandana – “The son of Yaśodā.” All the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa’s affectionate mother are also found in Him. Therefore one of His names is Yaśodā-nandana. Yaśo dadāti iti yaśodā – this means that Mother Yaśodā is famous for her vātsalya-bhāva. The mood of this verse is, “May the compassionate Yaśodā-nandana, who possesses the same qualities as His mother, appear in my heart.”
Nanda-sūnu – “The son of Nanda.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.8.46) states:
nandaḥ kim akarod brahman
śreya evaṁ mahodayam
yaśodā ca mahā-bhāgā
papau yasyāḥ stanaṁ hariḥ
[Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired:] What most auspicious activity did the very fortunate Nanda Bābā perform, and what kind of austerity did the supremely fortunate Yaśodā perform that Bhagavān Himself drank her breast milk with His lotus mouth?
By chanting this name of Kṛṣṇa, the sādhaka prays, “May the son of the supremely munificent and most fortunate Nanda Mahārāja, Nanda-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, shower His mercy upon me.”
- Kamala-nayana – “Lotus-eyed one.” “May Kamala-nayana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose half-closed eyes resemble a red lotus due to His nocturnal amorous pastimes with His beloved vraja-devīs in the nikuñjas, manifest within my heart.”
- Gopīcandra – “The moon of the gopīs.” When Śrī Kṛṣṇa sees the rising full moon, remembrance of the moon-like faces of the vraja-devīs awakens in His heart.
- Vṛndāvanendra – “The Lord of Vṛndāvana.” This refers to He who makes the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana blissful by His unique quality of prema-mādhurya.
- Praṇata-karuṇa – “He who is merciful to the surrendered.” Śrī Kṛṣṇa displays His mercy and compassion to those who are surrendered to Him by making them taste His caraṇāmṛta. Remembering the mercy Kāliya-nāga received when Kṛṣṇa placed His lotus feet on Kāliya’s heads, the gopīs sing, “praṇata-dehināṁ pāpa-karṣaṇam – Your lotus feet destroy the past sins of all souls who surrender unto them.”
- Kṛṣṇa – This name is derived from the verbal root kṛṣ meaning “to attract”. Kṛṣṇa attracts everyone with His prema-mādhurya, and in this way bestows the bliss of divine love upon them.
Devotees pray according to their transcendental sentiments; thus Bhagavān appears to them according to their prayers and makes them joyful. The sādhaka chants a specific name of Bhagavān to increase his attachment to Nāma Prabhu.
Kṛṣṇa has invested all potencies in His name. The Skanda Purāṇa states:
dāna-vrata-tapas-tīrtha-yātrādīnaś ca yāḥ sthitāḥ
śaktayo deva-mahatāṁ sarva-pāpa-harāḥ śubhāḥ
ākṛṣya hariṇā sarvāḥ sthāpitāḥ sveṣu nāmasu
Whatever potency to nullify sins or bestow auspiciousness found in charity, vows, austerities, pilgrimage, the rājasūya- and aśvamedha-yajñas, knowledge of transcendental objects, and so forth, has been invested by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in His holy names (that is, the primary names).
dharma-yajña-yoga-jñāne yata śakti chila
saba harināme kṛṣṇa svayaṁ samarpila
The glories of the holy name are described in this Text. Nāma Prabhu easily bestows sense enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti). The mass of sins that are nullified by the performance of charity, vows, austerities, fire sacrifices, horse sacrifices and so forth, are destroyed by the mere semblance of Nāma Prabhu. The results obtained by those desiring liberation and by those desiring sense enjoyment are the secondary results of nāma-saṅkīrtana. The main result given by Nāma Prabhu is the qualification to relish Bhagavān’s sweetness, or the nectar of prema, through pure prema-bhakti. Pure devotees do not pray to obtain the secondary results of bhakti. Moreover, if these results are involuntarily obtained, they do not accept them; rather, paying respect from a distance, they disregard them. The lives of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī are exemplary in this regard.
In the performance of nāma-bhajana, there is no consideration of cleanliness or uncleanliness, nor of proper or improper time. This is corroborated in the Vaiśvānara-saṁhitā:
paraṁ saṅkīrtanād eva
rāma rāmeti mucyate
In chanting the holy name, there is no rule concerning place and time, nor is there one regarding cleanliness or uncleanliness. By repeating the name “Rāma”, or in other words by performing saṅkīrtana of the mahā-mantra, the topmost liberation – namely prema-bhakti – is obtained.
deśa kāla-śaucāśauca-vidhi nāme nāi
hare kṛṣṇa rāma nāme sadya tare yāi
When chanting the eternally perfect, transcendental holy name, there are no rules regarding place, time and so forth. In the performance of austerities and fire sacrifices one has to follow rules prescribed by the Vedas, but the holy name can be chanted under any circumstance, whether one is in a pure or impure state. By His own strength Nāma Prabhu purifies the heart of the sādhaka.
The story of Gopāla-guru is noteworthy in this context. A young boy named Gopāla was staying with Śrīman Mahāprabhu and serving Him. One day, as Mahāprabhu was going to the latrine, He caught hold of His tongue with His hand. When Gopāla asked why He was doing this, Mahāprabhu replied, “My tongue never gives up chanting harināma, so when I am in an impure condition I must restrain it.” The boy Gopāla then asked, “If someone were to die at such a moment, what would happen to him?” Hearing this, Mahāprabhu praised the boy and said, “What you say is true. One should not consider cleanliness, uncleanliness and so forth in chanting the immeasurably powerful names of Hari. From today, your name is Gopāla-guru.”
The characteristics of misfortune are described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.9.7):
daivena te hata-dhiyo bhavataḥ prasaṅgāt
sarvāśubhopaśamanād vimukhendriyā ye
kurvanti kāma-sukha-leśa-lavāya dīnā
lobhābhibhūta-manaso ’kuśalāni śaśvat
Those persons who refrain from the hearing and chanting of Your glories, which destroys all misfortune, and instead always engage in inauspicious activities, being obsessed with a desire for a particle of material sense enjoyment, are certainly wretched, for fate has stolen away their intelligence.
tomāra prasaṅga sarva, aśubha karaye kharva,
durdaiva prabhāve mora mana
kāmasukha-leśa āśe, lobha akuśalāyāse,
se prasaṅge nā kaila yatana
Glorifying Bhagavān, Brahmā says here, “Those persons who are averse to hearing narrations about Bhagavān and bhakti, and who continuously perform inauspicious activities, being engrossed in worthless sense gratification, are unfortunate and bereft of good intelligence.” Prahlāda Mahārāja also says, “A jīva who is attached to his home because of his undisciplined senses enters the deepest of hells. The intelligence of one who again and again chews the happiness and distress that has already been chewed can never become pure.” One who is absorbed in karma-kāṇḍa by following the honey-filled statements prescribed in the Vedas will be bound by the long rope of the Vedas. The only means for the lustful living entities to become liberated is to immerse themselves in the dust of the lotus feet of a great niṣkiñcana, paramahaṁsa Vaiṣṇava.