How to chant the Holy Names?

19 June 2019, Brazil
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Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how to practice devotional service to Lord. Specially in this Kali Yuga, there is no process by which we can attain to the Lord other than the chanting of the Holy Names.

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

(Brham-naradiya Purana, 38.126)

“To attain one’s spiritual goal in Kali Yuga, there is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way than to chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name.”

There is only one process in this Kali Yuga – nama-sankirtana. But how will we chant the Holy names? For this regard, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu clearly explains in the third verse of Siksastakam: 

tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

“One can chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking of himself as lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”

Kirtaniyah sada harih – always chant Krishna nama. But how will we chant the holy names? Trnad api – always being very humble, more than a blade of grass. Even a very small blade of grass has some ego. This is a characteristic of the conditioned soul. 

The first false ego is the bodily conception – identification to the body, dehatma-abhimana. When you think you are the doer and the maintainer, problems will come, but otherwise, if you think you are not the maintainer, not the doer, then you will become very humble. 

If you press your feet on the grass, it bends, but when you take out your feet, it stands up again. For this regard, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told us that we need to be humbler than a blade of grass. When we start to have this humility, we will be able to perfectly chant the Holy Names. This is the process.

Sometimes I tell you a story of a sadhu who every day, early in the morning, used to go to take a bath in the Ganges. After the bath, when he was returning to his house, an old lady, who lived on the way of the holy river, used to took all the dust on her floor and throw on his head. The sadhu never complained of this situation (Would you complain or not? Yes! You would go to her house and fight with her), but the sadhu never complained, because he used to see it as an opportunity to take bath in the Ganges twice.

Many months have passed but the sadhu never complained, when one day, early in the morning, returning to his house after taking bath, he noticed that the old lady did not throw the dust on him. Immediately he asked himself: “What happened? Why she did not throw the dust on my head? Maybe today she is sick”. 

Then the sadhu went to her house and knocked on her door. After some minutes, that old lady opened it and when she saw him, she became very angry: “Hey, sadhu! Why are you coming in my house?”. Very humble, he told: “Oh, my mother! Every day you throw dust on my head and for this reason I have the opportunity to twice take bath on the Ganges, but today you did not do it, so I’m thinking you must be sick. For this regard, I came to your house to help and serve you”.  

When she heard this, the old lady started to cry. “This is true. All night I was suffering from diarrhoea. I went to the bathroom 10-15 times, I was about to die. My neighbours did not even ask anything. I’m almost about to die”, replied the old lady.  “Don’t worry, mother. Come with me and I will put you in a hospital. I will give you some medicine and whatever you need”, he told. 

When that old lady listened his words, she started to cry and her heart was completely melted. Then she realised what is the meaning of sadhu

In this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed us the third sloka of Sri Siksastakam, trnad api sunicena… – how to develop tolerance and also keep patience.

sri-krsna-kirtane jadi manasa tohar
parama jatane tahi labho adhikar

(Sri Krsna kirtane Jadi Manasa Tohar, Bhaktivinod Thakur)

“If your mind is always absorbed in chanting the glories of Lord Krishna with great care, then by that process of Sri-krsna-kirtana you will attain transcendental qualification.”

Who is qualified to practice devotional service to the Lord? One who collected the four qualifications – humility, tolerance, don’t expect respect to yourself and give respect to others. 

Being more humble than a blade of grass means that you are giving up your dehatma-abhimana. All kind of unwanted things – anarthas, come from the bodily conception – dehatma-abhimana. When this conception comes and you are very healthy and strong, you think that you can chastise others and do this and that, but if you are very skinny, then you will not complain. Lord is very merciful and He gives us these things. Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, in the Nectar of Instruction, explains these things also. 

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told us, “If you want to chant the Holy Names, you must acquire these four qualifications:”

dainya, doya, anye mana, pratistha-varjan
cari gune guni hoi’ koroha kirtan

(Siksatakam song 3, Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur)

Mahaprabhu told us in this Bengai words: dainya, doya. Dainya means very humble and doya means giving mercy to all the living entities. Anye mana means how to give respect to others. But in this material world it is very difficult to give respect to others. And pratistha-varjan – give up your name, fame and reputation.

This is the process, and then you will become qualified to chant the pure Holy Names. Never think “I’m the doer, I’m the maintainer.” Always think that Krishna is our maintainer and protector. 

There are two things that I’m always reminding you – prema and maitri. Prema means love, maitri means friendship to others. Giving love and affection to all the live entities is very important in our spiritual line.

Maybe a question will come: “What to do when I want to give love to others but they don’t want to receive it?”. Always give respect. This is very important.

When you think you are the doer, Krishna will punish you. Always think that Krishna is our maintainer and protector, because without Krishna’s desires, nothing happens. He knows everything – what is good, what is bad. Because Lord Krishna is our ever well-wisher. 

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told us, amani manadena – always give respect to others and never expect name, fame and glorifications for yourself. In this way, if you practice devotional service to Lord and chant the Holy Names, you will attain to Krishna. 

In this life, do bhajana and sadhana. There is no guarantee about how long you will be in this world. You can read the story of Parikshit Maharaj in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and understand it. He got a curse from the son of a Rshi that in seven days a snake called Takshaka would come, bite him and he would die. When Parikshit Maharaj heard that, he became very happy, because at least he had a guarantee that he would be alive for seven days. Because rshi-vakhya, the curse of a rshi is very powerful. But we are here and we don’t have any guarantee. We have no guarantee if we are seeing the sun raise tomorrow or not. Why? Because you can have a heart attack or go to the toilet many times, become very skinny and die.

Parikshit Maharaj thought, “What should I do in my last seven days of life?” For this regard, he called different sadhuskarmi-sadhu, jñani-sadhu and bhakta-sadhu and received different instructions from them.

The karmi-sadhus told him to perform charity and donation. The jñani-sadhus told him to perform knowledge, jñana, and to concentrate his mind on how to immerse in Brahma. 

Finally, a bhakta-sadhu appeared in his court. Who was he? Sukadeva Gosvami Pada. When he arrived in that court, all the sadhus stood up and gave respect to him. There were many high sadhus there, and all of them gave so much respect to Sukadeva Gosvami Pada because they realised that he was not an ordinary person, he was just acting the role of a brahmavadi (impersonalist).

Parikshit Maharaj asked him what to do in his last seven days and Sukadeva Gosvami Pada answered very sweet words:

etan nirvidyamānānām
icchatām akuto-bhayam
yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ
harer nāmānukīrtanam

(SB 2.1.11)

“O King, it is finally decided that everyone, namely those in the renounced order of life, the mystics, and the enjoyers of fruitive work, should chant the holy name of the Lord fearlessly to achieve the desired success in their pursuits.”

In this material world, everything is temporary as like bubbles in the water. How long does a bubble last? Just one second and it bursts. In the same way, our body looks like that. There is no guarantee that we will live one hundred years. But the conditioned soul thinks: “I will not die today or tomorrow, maybe after a hundred of years”, but this is not true. Any second, any moment we can die.

Sukadeva Gosvami told to Parikshit Maharaj very nice sweet words: etan nirvidyamānānām… (SB 2.1.11) Everybody chant the holy names, that means, you should practice devotional service to Lord. So, listen Bhagavat-katha, hari-katha. You have to listen Bhagavat katamrtam.

Sukadeva Gosvami Pada said: “I am not giving this conclusion from myself. This is coming from all of our previous acharyas – the guru-parampara.”  

Nama-sankirtana is also included in shravana (listen about God). When you are listening, it is also counting on your japa-mala. Why we chant on it? To count and fix a number of rounds every day. 

My gurudev Shrila Vamana Goswami Maharaj used to say that the japa-mala is not different from Radha and Krishna. For this reason, don’t show it to others. Many people show it to others and chant, as like they are uttama maha hbagavatas or put it around their neck, but it is not the etiquette. The japa-mala should be always inside of the japa bag because it is not different from the Divine Couple Shri Shri Radha and Krishna. 

Even if someone asks you if Gurudev gave you a tulasi-mala, a neem-mala, which mala, don’t show it, otherwise people will disturb your mind. It is very important because it is your own bhajana and sadhana

Coming on this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how to chant the Holy Names – trnad api sunicena, and Sukadeva Gosvami told to Parikshit Maharaj to listen hari-katha and chant the Holy Names in his last seven days of life. 

Always chant the Holy Names, never expect name, fame and reputation for yourself and always give respect to others. If someone are envious, jealous and criticises Guru and Vaishnavas, they should be avoided by you. You don’t need to criticise them, just avoid them. 

Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that the character of the Vaishnavas is always pure. Never associate with those who criticise the sadhus

Shrila Jiva Gosvami Pada in Sandarbhas explains that in this Kali Yuga we need to only chant the Holy Names – nama-sankirtana. And read Shrimad Bhagavatam, or listen Shrimad Bhagavatam katha. When you read or listen it, your greed will come. If you don’t do that, how this feeling will come? Also read Chaitanya-chritamrtam and Chaitanya Bhagavata. In the morning I told you how Nimai was so much stubborn in his own words. If you listen this katha, automatically your greed will come: “I have to serve Krishna under the guidance of Nanda and Yashosa”. And to serve Shrimati Radhika under the guidance of Vrshabhanu Marahaj and Kirtida Devi will come. 

Who is your ista-deva? Krishna or Shrimati Radhika? Shrimati Radhika is our ista-deva, so you have to listen to Her sweet pastimes. 

When Krishna was a baby, He killed many demons. In the same way, when Shrimati Radhika was a small baby, She also killed many demons too. You have to listen this kathas and know Radha-tattva. 

Shri Raghunata Dasa Goswami explains: My mistress is Shrimati Radhika. If you think you are Her servant, automatically Krishna will accept you. 

You have to read the pastimes of Shrimati Radhika. In Vrndavan, Krishna killed many demons, without holding any weapons, proving that He is Bhagavan In the same way, Shimati Radhika also killed many demons. Which one? The crocodile. Not only this, many others also. you read this book, Madhu Smitha Sri Radha, where I collected many granthas, many kathas, and your knowledge about who is your ista-deva will come. 

I request to everybody: read this book and learn Shrimati Radhika’s childhood pastimes. Radha-tattva is very important. I always give emphasis in this, please read Radha-tattva, She is our ista-deva.

Jay Radharani ki jay! 
Jay Srila Gurudev ki jay!

Transcriber: Taruni Gopi Dasi (Matinhos/Brazil)
Editor: Acyuta Priya Devi Dasi (Sao Paulo/Brazil)

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