[Hari-kathā inspired by the Guru-varga]
Harināma is cintāmaṇi, but we must consider; is nāmābhāsa cintāmaṇi or not? Also is nāma-aparādha cintāmaṇi? This is a very important subject.
In a small seed there is the potency of an entire tree, and in a small boy, there is the potency of a man.
Vālmīki did not know what nāmābhāsa was. Nor did he know what nāma-aparādha or śuddha-nāma was. He only chanted ‘māra, māra’ and was purified. Nārada Ṛṣi was a pure Guru, and it was he who gave Vālmīki nāma-brahma. Ajāmila received nāma-brahma by the trickery of a wandering saint.
Guru gives brahma-upadeśa and nāma-brahma. This is indeed cintāmaṇi. By remembering, chanting, and being connected with the nāma that is related to Parabrahma, then that love appears in his followers. However much one remembers, chants and hears, then that much transformation occurs in his heart.
There may be a seed that has fallen on the ground, but if it has no water it will not grow. In so many places there is no vegetation, and in some places where there is rain, then even without planting seeds, so much greenery appears. Sad-guru bestows brahma, and instructions on chanting. Then by śravaṇa and kīrtana, the creeper of bhakti grows.
mālī hañā kare sei bīja āropaṇa
śravaṇa-kīrtana-jale karaye secana
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 19.152
[When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of śravaṇa and kīrtana, the seed will begin to sprout.]
tabe yāya tad-upari ‘goloka-vṛndāvana’
‘kṛṣṇa-caraṇa’-kalpa-vṛkṣe kare ārohaṇa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 19.154
[Being situated in one’s heart and being watered by śravaṇa-kīrtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, in the topmost region of the spiritual sky.]
We must perform śravaṇa and kīrtana. There are many kinds of śravaṇa and kīrtana. In the monsoon season so much vegetation comes up automatically when it rains. In the dry season, you can try so hard to distribute water over all the land, but still, green grass and vegetation will not grow. The monsoon season blankets the land in vegetation. The sun brings water from the ocean, lakes and rivers, storing it in the clouds. He does not dry the clouds. He dries or evaporates water from the land, purifies it and puts it in the clouds. Then he gives this water to all beings on Earth, giving them life. When this water comes from the clouds, all living beings are filled with strength. Similarly, that person who serves nāma-brahma and is related to number, when he gives instructions on nāma to another, even if that person performs only nāmābhāsa, the Lord does not count this. The world has seen few sinners as bad as Ajāmila. He was a murderer and a crook.
We are such sinful animals, but sad-guru comes and gives us instructions on nāma-brahma. Even if we chant backwards, lazily, without emotion or without desire; even if we only take a mālā in our hand just to show others that we are chanting, it is beneficial. Somehow, we must make some endeavor. Vālmīki chanted ‘Māra, māra, māra,’ and became “brahma-samāna”. Therefore, this nāma is cintāmaṇi.
Nāma is rasa-vigraha. First, nāma is described as cintāmaṇi. You can meet with anything you think of and everything will be favorable. You will not get an unfavorable or bad result. Nāma is not like that. Then nāma is described as rasa-vigraha. Which rasa? Kṛṣṇa-caitanya-rasa. Nāma gives consciousness by which one can come to the understanding of who Kṛṣṇa is. One will know who māyā is, who the devotees are, and what bhakti is. Before getting nāma however, everyone is mad in the mundane world.
parivadatu jano yathā tathāyaṁ
nanu mukharo na vayaṁ vicārayāmāḥ
bhuvi viluthāma natāma nirviṣāma
[The talkative people will rebuke us. Is it not? We do not care. We will drink the liquor of love for Lord Hari. We will become completely intoxicated. We will roll about on the ground. We will dance. We will experience ecstasy.
They do not drink hari-rasa, therefore they have no knowledge of Hari, bhakti, and true reality. They only have mundane knowledge. Yet by chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma which is cintāmaṇi, all knowledge of all spiritual subjects will come forth. At the same time, He bestows rasa. Without rasa, one will not be nourished and will lose his taste for chanting. He will not acquire strong faith. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa gives such rasa which is transcendental, as well as spiritual knowledge of this world, the jīvas and Bhagavān.
For crores of lives, one will never give up harināma, if it was a sad-guru who has given it. In the case of a seed, the farmer puts it in the field, gives it water, and then it grows up. When the monsoon season comes, the seed sprouts. Sad-guru bestows kṛṣṇa-cetana, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and association with devotees.
Until one receives the mercy of Bhagavān, he will not get the association of the devotees. Sometimes, without being called, the devotees come to one and give. Sat-saṅga will not leave you so easily. When the devotees are sent to us by God, they bestow hari-rasa. They do not give mundane rasa. They bestow vraja-rasa. By this, the soul’s eternal tendency begins to sprout. Before this it was like a seed, dormant for many millions of lives—trapped in the prison of a material body. The body has nice hands and feet, but they are only there to make the soul suffer. Those ears, hands and feet — whenever they experience pain, that pain goes to the soul. The hands and feet do not feel any pain. Why is this hell? As long as one is endeavoring to enjoy the material world, the material body gives pain. When the embodied soul is showered with spiritual rasa, then this material body becomes as if transcendental. Then one will not have to suffer material happiness and distress. Kṛṣṇa therefore says:
sukha-duḥkhe same kṛtvā
tato yuddhāya yujyasva
naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi
[Fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat—and by so doing you shall never incur sin.]
Where are you? What are you doing? Until you receive sat-saṅga and hari-rasa, you will suffer material happiness and distress, for this body is meant for only that, as long as you have jaḍa-rasa. But when Kṛṣṇa bestows transcendental rasa, then there is no material happiness or distress. When one accepts the instructions of Kṛṣṇa or the sādhus, then he is blessed with this transcendental rasa. Until that time, the senses are antagonistic to us. What will they do? The tongue tells us to eat rabaḍi and halava. Then, when we get diarrhea, the senses clap their hands and say, “Look, you are suffering so much now.” They impel one to do some activity, and then when one suffers as a result, they clap joyfully. When one accepts the instructions of sādhus however, he will not run towards jaḍa-rasa and will not have to suffer in the material world. This is pure intelligence.
Until you hear the sādhu’s instructions and hari-kathā, you will not get spiritual inspiration and intelligence. There are two types of intelligence. One is pure intelligence and the other is material intelligence. One is like a prostitute and one is like a chaste woman.
To help us, Vrajeśvarī and the Vraja-devīs will come to us with transcendental forms, like Tulasī, Gaṅgā, Yamunā, bhakti-svarūpiṇī Ekādaśī. These forms of the Divine Potency will help us.
Nāma is mukta, and one whoever takes nāma also becomes mukta, liberated. He attains a spiritual form and a transcendental position. He becomes completely pure, pūrṇa-śuddha and he no longer has any desire to accept material objects. Therefore people say to the sādhus, “Now I have lost my material life.” Now he will have no taste for performing material activities. Therefore, this Nāma Prabhu is described as pūrṇa-śuddha and nitya-mukta.
At this point, the sādhaka will understand that nāma and nāmī are non-different and his mood will be, “I am His and no one else’s.” He will not identify himself as the son of so-and-so in such-and-such blood-line or dynasty.
Once, Lava and Kuśa sang Rāmāyaṇa in the royal assembly of Ayodhyā. Vaśiṣṭha, Bharata, Śatrughna, Lakṣmaṇa, Kaikeyī, Sumantra, Lord Rāmacandra and His other associates were all sitting and listening to the recitation. Hearing the pastimes sung by the two boys they all wept profusely. Some rolled on the ground as if mad, in overwhelming emotion. They forgot the pain in their hearts. Everything was washed away. Where did this kathā-rasa come from? It came from Vālmīki to Lava and Kuśu, his anugata-siṣyas, or fully surrendered disciples. He first filled them with rasa. Then they went to distribute this and in the course of doing so, came to the palace of Rājā Rāmacandra, māryadā-puruṣottama.
Rāmacandra’s heart melted and in that assembly He lamented, “Alas!” Everyones’ hearts were as if shattered, hearing the glories of Sītā Devī and the pastimes of Rāmacandra.
The boys had received transcendental rasa from sad-guru. Everyone knows Sītā and Rāma, but guru-vāṇī is aprākṛta-rasa and that is not possessed by merely anyone. Why is this? Because they have not yet met with Guru and received this from him.
When everything became peaceful, and the enthralled listeners came back into bāhya-daśā, external consciousness, Rāmacandra said to Lakṣmaṇa, “Ask these boys to identify themselves.”
Lakṣmaṇa had some doubt. He asked Bharata and Satrughna to inquire from the boys, but they also hesitated. Finally, Sumantraji was sent. He asked Lava and Kuśa, “Dear boys, who is your mother and father? Whose sons are you?”
The boys answered, “Today we have come to the king’s palace, expecting that there would be ministers here as qualified as the king himself. We thought everyone would be very wise, intelligent and full of all good qualities. However, today we see that you are asking two brahmacārīs about who their mother and father is. Do you not know proper etiquette? Where has this bad intelligence come to you from? A brahmacārī lives in gurukula. You can ask him only this much: “Who is your Guru?” You have only the right to ask this when inquiring about identity. You have no right to ask a brahmacārī about their previous āśrama and their mother and father. This is a contemptible thing to do. The brahmacārī has given up everything and come to gurukula. They have relationship with Guru.”
As long as one does not have relation with Guru, then the rasa that is in the Guru’s heart will never be received. If we have come to Guru’s āśrama, but still have relationship with our previous āśrama; if we remember our mother, father, friends and relatives, then we have not actually come to Guru. By taking real shelter of sad-guru, one will have no relationship other than that which he has with the residents of the āśrama and the guru-paramparā. If one maintains any independent relationships, Guru’s heart will not be drawn to help the disciple. When the cow sees her calf, her udder swells with milk and she desires to feed her child. Similarly, when Guru sees the sādhaka completely surrendered, all his mercy comes, all rasa comes into his heart. This is one’s sādhana. We must take shelter of Śrī Guru.
Hearing the words of the two boys, Rāmacandra began to shake. “Glory to you!” He proclaimed. “You have truly taken shelter of Guru. This is the identification of a real disciple.”
The boys did not say, “We are the sons of brāhmaṇas,” or “Our father is a great king.” These are not real identifications. These are only of this material world. When we come to the material world, we have to receive someone’s help along the way. We have so many mothers and fathers in so many lives, but they are not our real mothers and fathers.
Guru is eternal. Every life we get mothers and fathers, but sad-guru is hard to find. That person who brings us to Parameśvara, the Supreme Lord is our real mother and father. Therefore in this verse it is said, ‘abhinnatvat nāma naminah.’
When you receive nāma from Śrī Guru, then the guru-paramparā, the Vaiṣṇavas and Bhagavān are your only family members. This then, is your identification. Now, if we come to the āśrama, but cannot see Guru and Vaiṣṇavas as our own and instead say, “He is an Oriya, he is a Muslim, he is a Hindu, he is an Englishman,” then there is no one as unfortunate as us.
Have you come to see skin and flesh? Are you here to look in drains? We have not come to the āśrama to take darśana of material bodies. When we really take nāma-cintāmaṇi, when we really chant kṛṣṇa-nāma, then kṛṣṇa-caitanya-rasa will come into the heart. Then pure intelligence and all qualities will come. Very soon, nāma, guṇa, rūpa and līlā will come into the heart and then we will have relationship with Kṛṣṇa.
How can rasa come? It comes only through Śrī Guru. That sad-guru who is a Vraja-vasi will give vraja-rasa. If he is an Ayodhyā-vāsī, he will give rāma-rasa. If he is a Guru from Vaikuṇṭha, then he will give nārāyaṇa-rasa and take you to Vaikuṇṭha dhāma, but this is all in sat-cit-ānanda-tattva.
Gopa-kumara went everywhere, but he did not become involved anywhere. He went further ahead. To obtain sad-guru and Vaiṣṇavas is the supreme good fortune. If one takes shelter of them and receives their affection and instructions, then there is nothing more valuable in the world than this. This is invaluable. This will separate us from the material existence. It will make us completely pure and eternally liberated—pūrṇa-śuddha nitya-muktaḥ. Then—abhinnatvān nāma-nāminoḥ—one will be separated from the material body and become connected to Pramātmā with an eternal relationship and service tendency. Then, one will not act to please ordinary people. How will they be happy? By serving God, one automatically satisfies everyone. By Bhagavān’s prasāda and transcendental rasa, the jīvas are given spiritual life. Then one can attain svarūpa-siddhi.
Mahāprabhu and Haridāsa Ṭhākura engage in beautiful kīrtana in this work known as Harināma-cintāmaṇi. What is jīva-śakti? What is māyā-śakti? What is antaraṅga-śakti? What is bahiraṅga-śakti? How does Bhagavān come to the jīvas in this world. Everything is discussed here in this grantha.
Mahāprabhu would daily come to Siddha-Bakula. He would attend Jagannātha’s maṅgala-āratī at the Śrī Mandira. He would tie whatever prasāda He received, like Tulasī or candana in the corner of his upper garment. He would take this and give it to Haridāsa Ṭhākura. This is the sambandha of our soul. The devotees share the objects related to Bhagavān and thus satisfy the one another.
One day after maṅgala-āratī, Mahāprabhu took some mahā-prasāda and knocked on the door of Sārvabhauma Paṇdita. Ārati was performed at 4:00 that morning and Sārvabhauma Paṇdita was still in bed. “O Paṇḍitaji, wake, wake!” Mahāprabhu called from outside the room. Sārvabhauma Paṇdita got up and opened the door. Mahāprabhu opened his shawl and gave him the prasāda. Sārvabhauma Paṇdita had not yet washed his mouth, chanted his mantras, nor applied tilaka, but regardless, he quickly put the mahāprasāda in his mouth.
Mahāprabhu said, “Yes. You have acted correctly. I am pleased.”
Thus, very quickly Sārvabhauma Paṇdita got paramārtha and pure bhakti. There was no need of sādhana or a long delay. Mahāprabhu gave a little prasāda, Sārvabhauma Paṇdita followed His desire, and by doing so got pure bhakti. After this incident he no longer had a hard heart, dried by jñāna.
Therefore my brothers, worship this nāma that Śrīla Gurudeva gives. Nāma is cintāmaṇi—a touchstone. Nāma knows what nāma will do. Do not worry about this.
madhura-madhuram etan maṅgalaṁ maṅgalānāṁ
sakṛd api parigītaṁ śraddhayā helayā vā
bhṛguvara nara-mātraṁ tārayet kṛṣṇa-nāma
[Kṛṣṇa-nāma is the sweetest of the sweet and the most auspicious of all that is auspicious. It is the flourishing creeper, the eternal fully-ripened fruit of the Bhāgavata and the embodiment of knowledge, cit-śakti. O Bhṛgu, even if someone chants the holy name only once, either with faith or indifference, he is immediately delivered from this ocean of birth and death.]
Śraddhayā helayā vā—in faith, in jest, or in any way chant harināma and never give it up. If you are making offenses, let it be. If you are doing nāmābhāsa, let it be. If your mind is running away, let it go. How far will it go? Wherever it goes it will have to come back. It will have to return to you—the soul. Let the mind run. It has no real foundation or path to run on. It will have to come back to you. But just chant. Chant, chant, chant.
There is no need to fear. This nāma is cintāmaṇi. Therefore this book is known as Śrī Harinama-cintāmaṇi. If we do not understand the import of this book’s name, then how will we realize the subjects inside?
Śrīla Gurudeva used to send us out to distribute books. We would go to any temple or religious place, perform kīrtana and tell people the essence of the book. We would distribute all our books in one place. Until people understand the importance of a book, they will remain uninterested if you request them to take it. They will look at the book, but when they see that there are no novels or tasteful stories in it, then they will never read it. They will do aparādha. When you offer a man a Gītā he may take it saying, “Yes I have heard about the Gītā.” But when he opens it he thinks, “Oh, I can’t understand what is written here. When I read ‘Gitapress’ books I can understand something, but I can’t understand this language.”
If you sit down and give people the essence of the book and illuminate the truth, they receive faith. This faith is the gateway to bhakti.
We went to many places and did hari-kīrtana. We would collect some donations in the daytime and in the evening we would perform kīrtana and hari-kathā. We made some kichari or halava and gave everyone prasāda. For 30 minutes to an hour we would speak about a particular book. When people understand the glories of a book, they take it. And when they do not understand anything, they come and inquire, then they make relationship and a connection to the devotees and cannot leave. You may distribute hundreds of thousands of books, but if people do not have faith and taste, then they will take the books and throw them in the dustbin. They will put them in some dark place or rip out the pages and use them for packaging what they cook and sell as a business.
One time, a religious businessman had an idea, “I will distribute the Gītā and Bhāgavatam freely all over India. Everyone’s houses will have these scriptures.”
One day as he was walking on the footpath of Calcutta, he passed under the Howrah Bridge. One month earlier he had distributed many Purāṇas and Upaniṣads at a great festival. Today under the bridge, he saw a person making jhāla-muri. The man mixed onions, and many strong spices with puffed rice and would sell it for one anā per packet. The wealthy man saw that this shop keeper was ripping paper from a book and using it to fuel the fire that cooked his muri.
He asked the shopkeeper, “Where did you get this paper?”
“I bought it in the market.”
“For how much?”
“Four rupees a kilo.” Then he showed him a large stack of Gitapress books.
The wealthy man said, “From today I will not distribute any books freely. Everyone takes them, fails to understand their worth, and then uses them for sinful business.”
In the attempt of manifesting śāstra, one can be implicated in aparādha or anartha. On the other hand, one who takes his mālā and enters a cave only thinking about his own welfare will not receive Bhagavān’s mercy. Such a person is a miser and a cheater. Paramārtha is transcendental and filled with rasa. Distribute this rasa, then Bhagavān will be pleased with you. This is Bhagavān’s service.
Mahāprabhu spoke with Haridāsa Ṭhākura on this subject of Harināma-cintāmaṇi. Sanātana Gosvāmī glorifies Haridāsa Ṭhākura with the words:
āpane ācare keha, nā kare pracāra
pracāra karena keha nā karena ācāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 4.102
[“Some behave very well but do not preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness, whereas others preach but do not behave properly.”]
ācāra pracāra nāmera karaha ‘dui’ kārya
tumi sarva-guru tumi jagatera ārya
[“You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and by your preaching. Therefore you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world.”]
If you want to do sādhana, you must practice and also preach. If I have learned well, then I will speak well. If I eat nicely, then I can feed others nicely. I studied well, so I will help others study. One should take the essence of śāstra from Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and then distribute to others. Then Bhagavān will be extremely pleased. We would tell Śrīla Gurudeva, “You are very aged now. Please sit peacefully.” He said, “I’m not a tree trunk. I will only stay as long as I can perform bhagavad-kīrtana and harikathā.”
What is our anartha? We eat so many opulent foodstuffs and then fall on our backs and sleep. We do not preach. This is our greatest misfortune. If you want to save yourself from this, then understand the essence of śāstra and do kīrtana. You have to make a good environment, otherwise a good building will not stay up. In an ashram, first you must make the āśrama-vāsīs very strong, then there can be progress. Without a foundation, our building will break. Do your own sādhana, and encourage others to perform sādhana. Then instruct others how to perform sādhana.
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gave these granthas like Harināma-cintāmaṇi. He came 400 years after this conversation took place. This grantha did not appear until Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. How was it manifested? There were three or four ślokas written by Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, who would write down what Svarūpa Dāmodara would come and repeat to him. He would write what we call “short notes”. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura found these and then revealed it to the world after a time of deep meditation. Just like when Vyāsadeva entered meditation upon being ordered by Nārada Ṛṣi to manifest Śrīmad-bhāgavatam. In his meditation Vyāsadeva realized:
pādau yadīyau prathama-dvitīyau
tṛtīya-turyau kathitau yad-ūrū
nābhis tathā pañcama eva ṣaṣṭhau
bhūjāntaraṁ dor-yugalaṁ tathānyau
kaṇṭhas tu rājan navamo yadīyo
mukhāravindaṁ daśamaṁ praphullam
ekādaśo yasya lalāṭa-paṭṭaṁ
śiro’pi tu dvādaśa eva bhāti
tam ādidevaṁ karuṇā-nidhānaṁ
[I worship the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam which is the auspicious sound incarnation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the abode of mercy and the origin of all demigods, whose transcendental form is black like the tamāla tree. He has appeared in the beautiful form of this Bhāgavatam just to make a bridge whereby materially conditioned souls can cross the otherwise insurmountable ocean of repeated birth and death. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has twelve cantos, which correspond to the twelve different parts of Kṛṣṇa’s divine form. The first two cantos are the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. The third and fourth cantos are His lotus thighs. The fifth canto is His lotus navel. The sixth canto is His torso and chest. The seventh and eight cantos are his lotus arms. The ninth canto is his throat. The tenth canto is his beautiful lotus face. The eleventh canto is His forehead, and the twelfth canto is His crown.]
artho ’yaṁ brahmasūtrāṇāṁ bhāratārthavinirṇayaḥ
gāyatrībhāṣyarūpo ’sau vedārthaparivṛṅhitaḥ
[“Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam explains the meaning of Brahma-sūtra, and is the purpose of Māhabhārata. It is the commentary on gāyatrī and the essence and explanation of all the Vedas.”]
Vyasadeva saw these ślokas in his heart. In the same way Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura saw these ślokas of harināma cintāmaṇi Then he absorbed himself in meditation and everything was revealed within his heart.
Our Guru-varga has said that this Harināma-cintāmaṇi has been manifested from the spiritual world and has the power to give aprākṛta-rasa. The Bhāgavatam is rasa-maya. It has twelve rasas. Everyone thinks his own rasa is the topmost. It is not so easy to enter madhura-rasa. That person who is in vīra-rasa will think it to be the highest rasa, but in Harināma-cintāmaṇi there is only madhura-rasa.
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]