Loud Chanting is superior
August 9, 2007

Summary: I recently had a discussion with a very serious devotee of Krishna who has great appreciation for Srila Prabhupada, and who has a long-term practice of chanting within his mind; he maintains this practice because he is convinced that this type of chanting is more effective than chanting aloud, although he greatly respects the process of chanting God's names aloud as we do in ISKCON. This discussion prompted me to gather some of the prominent scriptural quotes which address this specific topic.

While silent chanting *IS* also chanting, the passages cited within the attached file offer full reason as well as full scriptural quotation as to why chanting aloud is vastly superior. Although the sections from Brhad-Bhagavatamrta and Caitanya Bhagavat are somewhat long, I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the main flow of these passages.

The chanting of the holy name *IS* our principal practice and it *IS* the Yuga Dharma. Therefore the theology behind chanting is something we should all have a firm grasp of.

Reading Assignment

a) Bhajana-rahasya by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Chapter 1, Text 5

The superiority of kirtana is described in Vaisnava Cintamani (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 11.236):

aghacchit smaranam visnor bahvayasena sadhyate ostha-spandana-matrena kirtanan tu tato varam (Vaisnava Cintamani)

Sins are destroyed with great effort by remembering the Supreme Lord Vishnu, but by chanting His name, they are very easily destroyed. Kirtana is performed simply by using the lips to vibrate the name of Bhagavan and is far superior to smarana (remembrance).

madhura-madhuram etan mangalam mangalanam sakala-nigama-valli-sat-phalam cit-svarupam

sakrd api parigitam sraddhaya helaya va bhrgu-vara nara-matram tarayet Krsna-nama (Skanda Purana)

"Amongst the different limbs of bhakti chanting of the holy name is, according to all the scriptures, the most efficacious. Astanga-yoga necessitates much arduous physical and mental exercise in order to remember the Supreme Lord Vishnu. But simply moving the lips and chanting is the best form of glorification and remembrance of the Supreme Lord."

b) Third Chapter of Part Two of Srila Sanatana Goswami's Brhad Bhagavatamrta, entitled "Bhajana: Worship".

Texts 144-185 (The residents of Vaikuntha are speaking to Gopa Kumara about the relative merit of chanting aloud versus meditating on the Name, Form, etc of the Lord. Within the narration, reference is being made to a prior discussion which took place on Tapaloka, wherein a Rsi was arguing in favor of meditation. Here is a formal response to that prior argument.)

TEXT 144

param srimat-padambhoja- sadasangaty-apeksaya nama-sankirtana-prayam visuddham bhaktim acara

param - simply; srimat - divine; pada-ambhoja - of His lotus feet; sada - eternal; asangati-for the association; apeksaya-with the hope; nama-sankirtana-in the form of loudly chanting the Lord's names; prayam-mostly; visuddham-pure; bhaktim-devotional service; acara-you should practice.

Simply practice pure devotional service, mainly in the form of nama-sankirtana, with the hope of gaining the eternal contact of the Lord's divine lotus feet.

COMMENTARY: Bhagavan-nama-sankirtana, loud chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the most effective way to achieve Vaikuntha, or whatever else one may desire. But the chanting must be practiced in pure devotion, unmixed with motives of karma and jnana.

TEXT 145

tayasu tadrsi prema- sampad utpadayisyate yaya sukham te bhavita vaikunthe Krsna-darsanam

taya-by that (devotional service); asu-quickly; tadrsi-such; prema-of pure love; sampat-the treasure; utpadayisyate-will be realized; yaya-by which; sukham-easily; te-for you; bhavita-there will be; vaikunthe-in Vaikuntha; Krsna-darsanam-the sight of Krsna.

By that devotional service you will soon realize the treasure of prema, and you will easily see Krsna in Vaikuntha.

COMMENTARY: Pure love of God is the most sublime wealth. As Lord Brahma says in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.25) while describing his own vision of Vaikuntha:

yac ca vrajanty animisam rsabhanuvrttya dure yama hy upari nah sprhaniya-silah bhartur mithah su-yasasah kathananuraga- vaiklavya-baspa-kalaya pulaki-krtangah

Persons whose bodily features change in ecstasy and who breathe heavily and perspire due to hearing the glories of the Lord are promoted to the kingdom of God, even though they do not care for meditation and other austerities. The kingdom of God is above the material universes, and it is desired by me and other demigods.

TEXT 146

premno 'ntar-angam kila sadhanottamam manyeta kaiscit smaranam na kirtanam ekendriye vaci vicetane sukham bhaktih sphuraty asu hi kirtanatmika

premnah-of pure love; antah-angam-essential; kila-indeed; sadhana-uttamam-the highest means of achievement; manyeta-is thought; kaiscit-by some; smaranam-remembering; na-not; kirtanam-chanting; eka-indriye-in the single sense; vaci-speech; vicetane-unconscious; sukham-with ease; bhaktih-devotional service; sphurati-appears; asu-quickly; hi-indeed; kirtana-atmika-in the form of chanting.

Some think that remembering, rather than chanting, is the essential means of devotional practice, the means that most effectively leads to prema, for bhakti in the form of chanting appears quickly and easily, and in only one sense,that of speech, which is not itself alive and conscious.

COMMENTARY: This was the opinion expressed by the masters of yoga on Tapoloka, that of all the forms of devotional service the best is smarana, remembering. Pippalayana and others insisted that remembering the Lord, rather than chanting His names, is the most essential means of achieving prema. They reasoned that kirtana involves only one sense, that of speech, which is one of the karmendriyas, an unconcious material entity. And since the kirtana process is perfected very quickly, its result must be less than that of smarana.

TEXT 147

bhaktih prakrsta smaranatmikasmin sarvendriyanam adhipe vilole ghore balisthe manasi prayasair nite vasam bhati visodhite ya

bhaktih-devotional service; prakrsta—superior; smarana-atmika—in the form of remembering; asmin—in this; sarva-indriyanam—of all the senses; adhipe—the chief; vilole—turbulent; ghore—frightful; balisthe—mighty; manasi—the mind; prayasaih—by great efforts; nite—brought; vasam—under control; bhati—it manifests; visodhite—which has become completely purified; ya—which (bhakti).

Superior bhakti in the form of remembering, they think, appears within the mind—that turbulent, frightful, and mighty chief of all the senses—when by serious efforts the mind has been brought under control and fully purified.

COMMENTARY: Everyone has experience that the mind is difficult to control. To subdue and purify it is a great achievement. Because the mind is the ruler of the senses, when the mind is controlled the functions of the senses, including kirtana, are also controlled. In the words of the mendicant from Avanti in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.23.47, 45): mano-vase ’nye hy abhavan sma deva manas ca nanyasya vasam sameti bhismo hi devah sahasah sahiyan yunjyad vase tam sa hi deva-devah “All the senses have been under the control of the mind since time immemorial, and the mind himself never comes under the sway of any other sense. He is stronger than the strongest, and his godlike power is fearsome. Therefore, anyone who can bring the mind under control becomes the master of all the senses.” danam sva-dharmo niyamo yamas ca srutam ca karmani ca sad-vratani sarve mano-nigraha-laksanantah paro hi yogo manasah samadhih “Charity, prescribed duties, observing major and minor regulative principles, hearing from scripture, performing pious works, and observing purifying vows all finally aim at subduing the mind. Indeed, concentration of the mind on the Supreme is the highest yoga.” Therefore, in the opinion of the residents of Tapoloka, one achieves the highest perfection by controlling one’s mind and engaging it in remembrance of the Supreme Lord.

TEXT 148 manyamahe kirtanam eva sat-tamam lolatmakaika-sva-hrdi sphurat-smrteh vaci sva-yukte manasi srutau tatha divyat paran apy upakurvad atmya-vat manyamahe—we consider; kirtanam—chanting; eva—only; sat-tamam—most excellent; lola-atmaka—unsteady; eka—only; sva-hrdi—in one’s heart; sphurat—manifesting; smrteh—than remembering; vaci—in the faculty of speech; sva—in it (chanting); yukte—which is engaged; manasi—in the mind; srutau—in the sense of hearing; tatha—also; divyat—sporting; paran—others; api—also; upakurvat—it helps; atmya-vat—like oneself. But we consider chanting to be alone the most excellent form of bhakti, better than remembering, which appears only in one’s own turbulent heart. For chanting harnesses not only the faculty of speech, which it engages directly, but also the mind and sense of hearing. And chanting helps not only the person practicing it but others as well.

COMMENTARY: This is the Vaikuntha-dutas’ own opinion. Smarana is purely an internal function, but kirtana, which actively employs one’s power of speech, affects both one’s internal and external environments. Kirtana also acts on the mind, bringing it subconsciously into contact with all spiritual sensory functions. If this subtle contact were not established, the spirit soul could not awaken to his real life. When the transcendental sound of kirtana enters the ears, it pervades all the senses and makes them its own captive audience. The process of remembrance does not have such power. In fact, as long as the mind’s fickle character has not changed, smarana cannot manifest itself fully. Thus in the Vishnu Purana (6.8.57) the sage Parasara has said: yasmin nyasta-matir na yati narakam svargo ’pi yac-cintane vighno yatra nivesitatma-manaso brahmo ’pi loko ’lpakah muktim cetasi yah sthito ’mala-dhiyam pumsam dadaty avyayah kim citram yad aghah prayati vilayam tatracyute kirtite “One who fixes his mind on Lord Acyuta will never go to hell. Indeed, by thinking about Him one will attain heaven. For one whose mind is fully absorbed in thought of Him, even the world of Brahma is but an insignificant obstruction on the path. The infallible Lord bestows liberation on those pure souls in whose hearts He is present. Is it any wonder, then, that when Lord Acyuta’s glories are chanted all sins are destroyed?” By the kirtana of Lord Vishnu’s names even the sinful Ajamila, who could not remember the Lord at all, attained liberation. The beneficial results of meditation, sacrifice, and worship are all automatically obtained in the process of kirtana, especially in the present age: dhyayan krte yajan yajnais tretayam dvapare ’rcayan yad apnoti tad apnoti kalau sankirtya kesavam “What was accomplished in the Krta Age by meditation, in Treta by ritual sacrifices, and in Dvapara by worship of the Deity of the Lord, in this Kali Age is accomplished by loud chanting of the names of Kesava.” (Vishnu Purana 6.2.17) The claim made in this statement and others about the potency of hari-nama-sankirtana is not merely rhetoric; it is proven by the life histories of many successful Vaisnavas.

TEXT 149

bahyantarasesa-hrsika-calakam vag-indriyam syad yadi samyatam sada cittam sthiram sad-bhagavat-smrtau tada samyak pravarteta tatah smrtih phalam

bahya—external; antara—and internal; asesa—all; hrsika—senses; calakam—which moves; vak-indriyam—the sense of speech; syat—is; yadi—if; samyatam—brought under control; sada—constantly; cittam—the mind; sthiram—steady; sat—transcendental; bhagavat—of the Supreme Lord; smrtau—in remembrance; tada—then; samyak—properly; pravarteta—develops; tatah—then; smrtih—remembrance; phalam—as the fruit.

If the sense of speech, which sets all the external and internal senses in motion, is brought under constant control, then the mind becomes stable and can properly engage in transcendental remembrance of the Lord. Remembrance thus develops as the fruit of chanting.

TEXT 150 evam prabhor dhyana-ratair matah ced buddhyedrsam tatra vivecaniyam dhyanam parisphurti-visesa-nistha sambandha-matram manasa smrtir hi evam—thus; prabhoh—of the Lord; dhyana-rataih—by those attached to meditation; matah—considered; cet—if; buddhya—with their intelligence; idrsam—in this way; tatra—in that regard; vivecaniyam—should be discriminated; dhyanam—meditation; parisphurti—manifestation; visesa—with particular qualities; nistha—involving; sambandha—coming in contact; matram—merely; manasa—by the mind; smrtih—remembrance; hi—certainly. If those attached to meditation on the Lord still insist that remembering is of greater importance, with their intelligence they should make the following distinction: In meditation the Lord reveals Himself fully with His particular qualities, but in remembrance the mind merely comes in contact with the Lord.

COMMENTARY: Some sincere and intelligent Vaisnavas are firmly convinced that meditation on the Lord is the best form of devotional service. Since they perceive an authentic spiritual taste from their meditation, their opinion must be honored; but as the Vaikuntha-dutas here suggest, this opinion should be adjusted to make it exactly correct. The advocates of the meditational process think as follows: The faculty of speech has the power to mobilize all the senses, both external (like the ears) and internal (like the mind). If a person steadies his mind by controlling his speech, either through silence or through bhagavat-kirtana, he can begin the practice of remembering the Supreme Lord. So kirtana is the means to the goal of smarana. Scriptures may say that in Kali-yuga the perfection of kirtana is in itself the goal and automatically includes the results of smarana—but that is only in reference to the special situation of the modern age. It may also be said that the exceptional faults of Kali-yuga can be counteracted only by the very powerful process of kirtana, not by meditation alone or any other means, but actually there is no absolute rule that meditation on the Lord is less than enough to wash away the contamination of the modern age. Rather, hundreds of convincing statements of scripture confirm that simply remembering the Personality of Godhead destroys one’s sinful reactions. Thus meditation is the best form of devotional service. The Vaikuntha-dutas accept this opinion, as long as it is qualified by the understanding that true meditation on the Supreme Lord is a very mature stage of devotional development. In meditation the devotee realizes the Lord in the heart and directly perceives many details of the Lord’s exquisite beauty and charm, from His feet to the hair on His head. But in the more usual smrti, or remembrance, the mind only comes in contact with the Lord, as when one thinks “God exists” or “I am the Supreme Lord’s servant.”

TEXT 151 ced dhyana-vegat khalu citta-vrttav antar-bhavantindriya-vrttayas tah sankirtana-sparsana-darsanadya dhyanam tada kirtanato ’stu varyam cet—if; dhyana—of meditation; vegat—by the force; khalu—indeed; citta-vrttau—into the function of the mind; antah-bhavanti—become absorbed; indriya-vrttayah—the functions of the senses; tah—they; sankirtana— chanting; sparsana—touching; darsana-adyah—seeing and so on; dhyanam—meditation; tada—then; kirtanatah—than chanting; astu—let it be; varyam—superior. If by the force of one’s meditation all the functions of the senses—including sankirtana of the Lord, physical contact with Him, seeing Him, and so on—become absorbed into the function of the mind, that meditation may be accepted as better than chanting out loud.

COMMENTARY: If a devotee becomes so proficient in dhyana (meditation on the Lord) that the devotional practices he earlier performed with his speech, touch, eyes, and other senses become spontaneous activities of his mind, then of course for that devotee meditation has become the most suitable practice. He can inwardly continue his sravana, kirtana, and so on, with or without the participation of his external senses.

TEXT 152 pritir yato yasya sukham ca yena samyag bhavet tad rasikasya tasya tat sadhanam srestha-tamam su-sevyam sadbhir matam praty uta sadhya-rupam pritih—satisfaction; yatah—from which; yasya—whose; sukham—happiness; ca—and; yena—by which; samyak—complete; bhavet—is; tat—that; rasikasya—of a devotee with true spiritual taste; tasya—his; tat—that; sadhanam—devotional practice; srestha-tamam—best; su-sevyam—most fit to be followed; sadbhih—by saintly authorities; matam—considered; prati uta—rather; sadhya-rupam—as the aim of endeavor. Whatever the devotional method by which a man with true spiritual taste feels satisfaction and complete joy, that is the method saintly authorities deem most excellent and effective for him. It is not only the best of methods but the very aim of his endeavor.

COMMENTARY: How should we regard the meditation in which a Vaisnava does not experience the sensory functions of sankirtana, touching the Lord, and so on, but merely contemplates the Lord’s form? That style of devotional service should also be accepted as perfect for the devotee who derives pleasure from it. When a devotee feels eager attraction to any of the nine kinds of service, that devotional method becomes the means for him to quickly fulfill all his desires. Moreover, his practice will gradually evolve into prema, the final goal of devotional life.

TEXT 153 sankirtanad dhyana-sukham vivardhate dhyanac ca sankirtana-madhuri-sukham anyonya-samvardhakatanubhuyate ’smabhis tayos tad dvayam ekam eva tat sankirtanat—from sankirtana; dhyana—of meditation; sukham—the happiness; vivardhate—increases; dhyanat—from meditation; ca—and; sankirtana—of sankirtana; madhuri—from the sweetness; sukham—the joy; anyonya—mutual; samvardhakata—the quality of fortifying; anubhuyate—is experienced; asmabhih—by us; tayoh—of the two; tat—thus; dvayam—the two; ekam—one; eva—verily; tat—that. By sankirtana the joy of meditation grows, and by meditation the sweet joy of sankirtana. In our own experience, the two methods fortify one another and are therefore actually one. COMMENTARY: The Vaikuntha messengers’ own opinion is that both meditation and sankirtana are advantageous. The two methods support one another, and because one or the other may be more suitable in different times, places, and circumstances, their mutual dependence should not be a cause of confusion. Either may be done separately, but neither, in the end, is complete without the other. Regardless of which serves as the cause and which the effect, the two are essentially nondifferent.

TEXT 154 dhyanam ca sankirtana-vat sukha-pradam yad vastuno ’bhista-tarasya kasyacit citte ’nubhutyapi yatheccham udbhavec chantis tad-ekapti-visakta-cetasam dhyanam—meditation; ca—and; sankirtana-vat—like chanting; sukha-pradam—bestowing happiness; yat—as; vastunah—of an object; abhista-tarasya—most desired; kasyacit—certain; citte—in the heart; anubhutya—by perceiving; api—indeed; yatha-iccham—according to one’s desire; udbhavet—one attains; santih—peace; tat—so; eka—on one only; apti—goal of attainment; visakta—intent; cetasam—of those whose hearts. Meditation bestows the same joy as sankirtana when a meditating devotee directly sees the object of his heart’s desire. Such a devotee, intent only on reaching that one desired object he worships, is sure to find spiritual peace.

TEXTS 155–156 yatha jvara-rujartanam sitalamrta-pathasah manah-panad api trutyet trd-vaikalyam sukham bhavet tat-tat-sankirtanenapi tatha syad yadi sakyate satam atha vivikte ’pi lajja syat svaira-kirtane yatha—as; jvara—feverish; ruja—from a disease; artanam—for those who are suffering; sitala—cool; amrta—nectarlike; pathasah—of water; manah—with the mind; panat—by drinking; api—even; trutyet—is eradicated; trt—of thirst; vaikalyam—the agitation; sukham—happiness; bhavet—arises; tat-tat—of any of those (desired objects); sankirtanena—by chanting the glories; api—even; tatha—so; syat—is; yadi—if; sakyate—is possible; satam—by saintly persons; atha—and; vivikte—in seclusion; api—even; lajja—embarrassment; syat—occurs; svaira—uninhibitedly; kirtane—while chanting. As by drinking cool, nectarean water, even if only within the mind, a diseased person stricken by fever enjoys happiness as the distress of his thirst is quenched, so simply by chanting the glories of the object one worships one can attain peace. Yet when saintly persons chant without inhibition they may feel embarrassed, even in a secluded place.

COMMENTARY: In general, the tongue cannot fully describe everything going on in the mind. This is especially so in the ecstasy of hari-nama-sankirtana. Vaisnavas engaged in sankirtana may sometimes feel the urge to describe what is happening within their hearts and, although these matters are confidential, may sometimes, by their words and bodily expressions, disclose what should remain private. And this may leave them embarrassed, even when there are no witnesses.

TEXT 157 ekakitvena tu dhyanam vivikte khalu sidhyati sankirtanam vivikte ’pi bahunam sangato ’pi ca ekakitvena—alone; tu—but; dhyanam—meditation; vivikte—in seclusion; khalu—indeed; sidhyati—is successfully performed; sankirtanam—sankirtana; vivikte—in seclusion; api—also; bahunam—of many; sangatah—in the company; api—also; ca—and. Meditation one can successfully perform alone in a secluded place but sankirtana either in seclusion or in the company of many others.

COMMENTARY: The Vaikuntha-dutas have great respect for the process of devotional meditation, yet their own favorite process is sankirtana. Meditation is limited because to perform it one must be in isolation, so as not to be distracted.

TEXT 158 Krsnasya nana-vidha-kirtanesu tan-nama-sankirtanam eva mukhyam tat-prema-sampaj-janane svayam drak saktam tatah srestha-tamam matam tat Krsnasya—of Krsna; nana-vidha—among the various kinds; kirtanesu—of chanting; tat—His; nama-sankirtanam—chanting of the holy names; eva—indeed; mukhyam—chief; tat—for Him; prema—of pure love; sampat—the treasure; janane—of generating; svayam—by itself; drak—at once; saktam—capable; tatah—therefore; srestha-tamam—the most excellent; matam—considered; tat—that. Of the many ways to chant Krsna’s glories, foremost is His nama-sankirtana. It is deemed the best because it can evoke at once the treasure of pure love for Krsna.

COMMENTARY: Besides nama-sankirtana, chanting of the Lord’s names, there are other ways of performing kirtana, such as reciting the Vedas and Puranas, speaking one’s own narrations of pastimes of the Lord, singing devotional songs, and offering prayers. Nama-sankirtana, however, is the best of all, because it can at once independently awaken love of God in the heart. Lord Vishnu’s messengers are personally convinced of this, and as implied by the unspecific expression matam (“it is considered”), this is also the opinion of many other spiritual authorities.

TEXT 159 sri-Krsna-namamrtam atma-hrdyam premna samasvadana-bhangi-purvam yat sevyate jihvikayaviramam tasyatulam jalpatu ko mahatvam sri-Krsna—of Sri Krsna; nama-amrtam—the nectar of the name; atma-hrdyam—pleasing to the heart; premna—with love; samasvadana—of thoroughly relishing; bhangi-purvam—with the many varieties; yat—which; sevyate—is served; jihvikaya—with the tongue; aviramam—incessantly; tasya—of it; atulam—unequal; jalpatu—can describe; kah—who; mahatvam—the excellence. When relished with love in countless ways through service rendered constantly by the tongue, the nectar of Sri Krsna’s name delights the heart. Who can describe the unequaled excellence of that nectar of Sri Krsna’s holy name?

TEXT 160 sarvesam bhagavan-namnam samano mahimapi cet tathapi sva-priyenasu svartha-siddhih sukham bhavet sarvesam—of all; bhagavat—of the Supreme Lord; namnam—of the names; samanah—equal; mahima—greatness; api cet—although; tatha api—nonetheless; sva-priyena—by the one that is dear to oneself; asu—quickly; sva-artha—of one’s goals; siddhih—fulfillment; sukham—easily; bhavet—will be. Though all names of the Lord are equally great, a devotee most quickly, most easily achieves his goals by chanting the name he himself holds most dear.

COMMENTARY: Since the Supreme Lord’s names are all infinite in their glories, one name cannot be greater than another. Cintamani stones may appear in different forms, but they all have the same power; any cintamani can produce whatever a person wants. Nonetheless, if a devotee is especially attracted to a particular name, that name will most quickly and easily carry him to perfection. Thus the devotees who favor the name Rama like to cite the declaration by Lord Siva sahasra-namabhis tulyam/ rama-nama varanane: “My dear beautiful wife, the name Rama is equal to one thousand names of Vishnu.” (Padma Purana, Uttara-khanda 72.335)

TEXT 161 vicitra-ruci-lokanam kramat sarvesu namasu priyata-sambhavat tani sarvani syuh priyani hi vicitra—varied; ruci—whose taste; lokanam—of people; kramat—by turns; sarvesu—for all; namasu—the names; priyata—affinity; sambhavat—due to there being; tani—those; sarvani—all; syuh—are; priyani—dear; hi—indeed. Since people differ in their likings, each name of the Lord is dear to one person or another. All the names of the Lord are therefore dear.

COMMENTARY: A doubting person might ask whether only some of the Lord’s names are worshiped and others neglected. In fact, however, every name of the Lord has its devotees. The word hi in this verse indicates that this is certainly true. Some Vaisnavas prefer one particular name of the Personality of Godhead, and some are attracted to two names, three, or several.

TEXT 162 ekasminn indriye pradur- bhutam namamrtam rasaih aplavayati sarvanin- driyani madhurair nijaih ekasmin—in one; indriye—sense; pradurbhutam—manifest; nama-amrtam—the nectar of the Lord’s name; rasaih—by transcendental tastes; aplavayati—are flooded; sarvani—all; indriyani—the senses; madhuraih—sweet; nijaih—own. When the nectar of the Lord’s name appears in just one sense, all the senses are flooded with their own sweet tastes. Commentary: In this way, every enjoyment possible is derived from nama-sankirtana.

TEXT 163 mukhyo vag-indriye tasyo- dayah sva-para-harsa-dah tat prabhor dhyanato ’pi syan nama-sankirtanam varam mukhyah—principal; vak—of speech; indriye—in the sense; tasya—of it (the Lord’s name); udayah—appearance; sva—to oneself; para—and others; harsa-dah—giving pleasure; tat—thus; prabhoh—on the Lord; dhyanatah—than meditation; api—even; syat—becomes; nama-sankirtanam—chanting of His names out loud; varam—greater. Appearing mainly in the sense of speech, the Lord’s name gives pleasure to the chanter and to others. So even greater than meditation on the Lord is His nama-sankirtana.

TEXT 164 nama-sankirtanam proktam Krsnasya prema-sampadi balistham sadhanam srestham paramakarsa-mantra-vat nama-sankirtanam—the sankirtana of the names; proktam—is said; Krsnasya—Krsna’s; prema—of pure love of God; sampadi—for the treasure; balistham—most powerful; sadhanam—the means of attainment; srestham—best; parama—supreme; akarsa—which has power to attract; mantra-vat—like an incantation. The sankirtana of Krsna’s names is praised as the best and most powerful means to attain the treasure of Krsna-prema. It is like a potent mantra that can attract precious objects from a distance.

COMMENTARY: If one wants the ultimate success in spiritual life, one must take shelter of nama-sankirtana, as the Vaikuntha-dutas proclaim exuberantly in this verse. Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.39–40) describes how nama-sankirtana nourishes the devotee: srnvan su-bhadrani rathanga-paner janmani karmani ca yani loke Gitani namani tad-arthakani gayan vilajjo vicared asangah “An intelligent person who has controlled his mind and conquered fear should give up all attachment to material objects such as wife, family, and nation and should wander freely without embarrassment, hearing and chanting the holy names of the Lord, the bearer of the chariot wheel. The holy names of Krsna are all-auspicious because they describe His transcendental birth and activities, which He performs within this world for the salvation of the conditioned souls. Thus the holy names of the Lord are sung throughout the world. evam-vratah sva-priya-nama-kirtya jatanurago druta-citta uccaih hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty unmada-van nrtyati loka-bahyah “By chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord, one comes to the stage of love of Godhead. Then, fixed in one’s vow as an eternal servant of the Lord, one gradually becomes very much attached to a particular name and form of the Lord. As one’s heart melts with ecstatic love one laughs very loudly or cries or shouts. Sometimes one sings and dances like a madman, for one is indifferent to public opinion.”

TEXT 165 tad eva manyate bhakteh phalam tad-rasikair janaih bhagavat-prema-sampattau sadaivavyabhicaratah tat—this; eva—indeed; manyate—is considered; bhakteh—of devotional service; phalam—the fruit; tat—of that (devotional service); rasikaih—who are connoissuers; janaih—by people; bhagavat-prema—of pure love for the Supreme Lord; sampattau—with the treasure; sada eva—always; avyabhicaratah—because of invariable connection. Because nama-sankirtana invariably leads to the treasure of pure love for the Lord, true connoisseurs of devotional service consider nama-sankirtana the very fruit of bhakti.

COMMENTARY: According to many pure devotees, nama-sankirtana is not only the best means of devotional service but the final perfection itself. Of course, prema is the final goal of bhakti, but nama-sankirtana so quickly and infallibly leads to prema that the two are considered virtually identical. Wherever prema is seen to have developed, one can presume that nama-sankirtana must have been performed. Nama-sankirtana is the necessary and sufficient cause of prema.

TEXT 166 sal-laksanam prema-bharasya krsne kaiscid rasa-jnair uta kathyate tat premno bharenaiva nijesta-nama- sankirtanam hi sphurati sphutartya sat—real; laksanam—the symptom; prema-bharasya—of being fully in love; krsne—for Krsna; kaiscit—by some; rasa-jnaih—knowers of rasa; uta—indeed; kathyate—is said; tat—that; premnah—of love; bharena—by the weight; eva—indeed; nija—by one’s own self; ista—preferred; nama—of the name; sankirtanam—the chanting; hi—certainly; sphurati—manifests; sphuta—openly shown; artya—with distress. According to some knowers of rasa, the real sign of a person full of prema is this: As he performs sankirtana of the name he worships, the full force of spiritual agony erupts in him by the weight of his own love.

COMMENTARY: Other expert Vaisnavas consider sankirtana and prema to be altogether the same. They are mutually the cause of one another and therefore nondifferent.

TEXT 167 namnam tu sankirtanam arti-bharan megham vina pravrsi catakanam ratrau viyogat sva-pate rathangi- vargasya cakrosana-vat pratihi namnam—of the names; tu—and; sankirtanam—the sankirtana; arti—of distress; bharat—by the burden; megham—a cloud; vina—without; pravrsi—during the rainy season; catakanam—of the sparrows; ratrau—at night; viyogat—because of separation; sva-pateh—from their husbands; rathangi—of cakravaki birds; vargasya—of a flock; ca—and; akrosana-vat—like the distressful crying; pratihi—you should understand. Like the distressed crying of the cataka birds on a cloudless day of the rainy season, or the lamenting of a flock of cakravaki birds when parted from their husbands at night, the sankirtana of the Lord’s names arises when one is burdened by too much pain.

COMMENTARY: Nama-sankirtana in fact appears only when prema has been enhanced in a special way. Prema enriched with transcendental hankering results in sankirtana. To help us understand, the Vaikuntha-dutas mention, by way of analogy, the cataka and cakravaki birds. The plaintive call of the catakas, sounding like priya priya (“my dear one, my dear one!”), resounds on cloudless days of the rainy season. And the lament of the cakravakis fills the sky when their husbands are absent at night. In such a way, nama-sankirtana arises when one feels separation from the Lord in pure love of God. The true way of doing bhagavan-nama-sankirtana is to call out to one’s beloved Lord in agony, expressing one’s feelings in various sweet songs to attract Him. As the philosophical maxim states, siddhasya laksanam yat syat/ sadhanam sadhakasya tat: “The practitioner and the means of practice should be in accord with their goal.”

TEXT 168 vicitra-lila-rasa-sagarasya prabhor vicitrat sphuritat prasadat vicitra-sankirtana-madhuri sa na tu sva-yatnad iti sadhu sidhyet vicitra—variegated; lila—of pastimes; rasa—of the spiritual tastes; sagarasya—who is the ocean; prabhoh—of the Supreme Lord; vicitrat—variously; sphuritat—displayed; prasadat—by the mercy; vicitra—various; sankirtana—of chanting; madhuri—the sweetness; sa—it; na—not; tu—but; sva-yatnat—by one’s own endeavor; iti—thus; sadhu—adequately; sidhyet—is achieved. The wonderfully varied sweetness of sankirtana emerges only by the mercy shown in various wonderful ways by the Lord, the wonderful ocean of the varied rasas of pastimes. This sweetness one can never truly achieve by one’s own endeavor.

COMMENTARY: The devotees who prefer meditation to sankirtana might argue that chanting in full view of the public is risky in several ways: envious people may try to interfere, one may succumb to the allurement of popularity, one may not have the required physical strength, or one may be too sick to chant properly. These dangers do not arise when a devotee simply concentrates on the Supreme Lord in a secluded place. In answer to this objection, the Vaikuntha messengers say that nama-sankirtana cannot be disrupted by obstacles, for it develops by the mercy of the Lord, not by one’s own endeavor. No one can take away that which a devotee has gained as a gift from the Lord. This is true not only for sankirtana but for all the nine methods of bhakti.

TEXT 169 iccha-vasat papam upasakanam ksiyeta bhogonmukham apy amusmat prarabdha-matram bhavatitaresam karmavasistam tad avasya-bhogyam iccha-vasat—according to desire; papam—the sinful reaction; upasakanam—of worshipers; ksiyeta—is diminished; bhoga-unmukham—about to be suffered; api—even; amusmat—by that (nama-sankirtana); prarabdha—already manifest; matram—only; bhavati—there is; itaresam—for other people; karma-avasistam—remnant of karmic reaction; tat—that; avasya—necessarily; bhogyam—to be suffered. As the worshipers of the Lord desire, by the chanting of His holy names they see their sinful reactions dwindle to nothing, even the reactions they are about to suffer. And when other people somehow chant His names, they need suffer only that part of their karma already manifest.

COMMENTARY: This explains why devotees engaged in the all-powerful process of nama-sankirtana may sometimes still feel unhappy. In the beginning of their practice, they may carry some remnants of their past sinful karma. But the Lord’s names very soon clean those remnants away, including the reactions about to be suffered and even those already manifest (prarabdha) in the body and mind. Only if devotees for some reason want to keep their karma is that karma not removed. As the Lord says in Sri Hari-bhakti-sudhodhaya: karma-cakram tu yat proktam avilanghyam surasuraih mad-bhakti-prabalair martyair viddhi langhitam eva tat “The cycle of karma I have described is insurmountable for the demigods and the demons. But know that mortals empowered by My devotional service have already escaped it.” Sometimes nondevotees chant the Lord’s holy names in namabhasa—that is, casually or unintentionally. If they somehow avoid offenses in their chanting, they too are absolved of their sinful reactions, except for their prarabdha-karma, the reactions already manifest. These they must suffer, and by that suffering their prarabdha-karma also is depleted.

TEXT 170 mahasaya ye hari-nama-sevakah su-gopya-tad-bhakti-maha-nidheh svayam prakasa-bhitya vyavahara-bhangibhih sva-dosa-duhkhany anudarsayanti te maha-asayah—great souls; ye—who; hari-nama—of Lord Hari’s names; sevakah—servants; su-gopya—very confidential; tat—to Him; bhakti—of devotional service; maha-nidheh—of the great treasure; svayam—spontaneous; prakasa—of the revealing; bhitya—out of fear; vyavahara—of behavior; bhangibhih—by peculiarities; sva-dosa—their own faults; duhkhani—and miseries; anudarsayanti—show; te—they. The great souls who spontaneously serve the names of Lord Hari fear to reveal the vast ocean of His confidential devotional service. So they behave in peculiar ways to show their own faults and unhappiness.

COMMENTARY: What about advanced worshipers like Bharata Maharaja whose impending sinful reactions apparently kept going on? We should understand that when saintly devotees like Bharata, deeply absorbed in the moods of loving service to the Lord, seem to exhibit material attachment (as when Bharata became obsessed with the care of an infant deer) and when they seem to fall into bad association and miserable conditions (as when Bharata took his next birth as an animal), they are only pretending to be materially affected, in order to keep the confidential moods of devotional service hidden from public view. Such devotees would rather be treated with undeserved contempt than honored and worshiped.

TEXT 171 tan-nama-sankirtana-matrato ’khila bhakta hareh syur hata-duhkha-dusanah kecit tathapi prabhu-vat krpakula lokan sad-acaram imam prasasati tat—His; nama-sankirtana—by the chanting of the holy names; matratah—simply; akhilah—all; bhaktah—devotees; hareh—of Lord Hari; syuh—are; hata—freed; duhkha—of misery; dusanah—from the contamination; kecit—some; tatha api—nonetheless; prabhu-vat—like the Lord Himself; krpa—by compassion; akulah—disturbed; lokan—to the people in general; sat-acaram—civilized behavior; imam—this; prasasati—teach. All the devotees of the Lord are freed from every taint of misery simply by the sankirtana of His names. Yet some devotees, as disturbed by compassion as the Lord Himself, act in these ways to teach people civilized behavior.

COMMENTARY: Shouldn’t advanced devotees, in order to deliver the world from ignorance, let everyone see their greatness? Yes, but the so-called anomalous behavior of Vaisnvas like Bharata Maharaja is in fact their way of teaching sad-acara, civilized human behavior. By the examples of their own lives they show the consequences of violating the laws of God and material nature, for if people fail to learn how to act according to civilized standards their hearts will remain contaminated by sinful desires and they will never become inclined toward the Lord’s devotional service.

TEXT 172 duhsanga-dosam bharatadayo yatha durdyuta-dosam ca yudhisthiradayah brahma-sva-bhitim ca nrgadayo ’malah pradarsayan sva-vyavaharato janan duhsanga—of bad asociation; dosam—the fault; bharata-adayah—Maharaja Bharata and others; yatha—as; durdyuta—of gambling; dosam—the fault; ca—and; yudhisthira-adayah—Yudhisthira and others; brahma—of a brahmana; sva—for the property; bhitim—fear; ca—and; nrga-adayah—Maharaja Nrga and others; amalah—pure; pradarsayan—they showed; sva—their own; vyavaharatah—by the behavior; janan—the people. As Bharata and others showed the fault of bad association, Yudhisthira and others the fault of gambling, and Nrga and others the fear caused by taking a brahmana’s property, pure souls generally use their own behavior to teach the people.

COMMENTARY: Bharata Maharaja showed by his own life the danger of wrong association. Although almost perfectly devoted and renounced, he was distracted into caring for a newborn deer and therefore had to suffer birth as a deer. A similar case is that of Saubhari Rsi, who was deviated from meditation by seeing two fish engaged in sex. In the opinion of the Vaikuntha-dutas, however, in reality these elevated souls were faultless.

TEXT 173 bhakti-prabhavena vicara-jataih sanjayamanena sadedrsais tvam vighnati-vighnan kila jesyasiha sarvatra te hanta vayam sahayah bhakti—of pure devotional service; prabhavena—by the power; vicara-jataih—by many realizations; sanjayamanena—arising; sada—always; idrsaih—by such; tvam—you; vighna-ati-vighnan—the worst obstacles; kila—indeed; jesyasi—you will conquer; iha—here; sarvatra—everywhere; te—they; hanta—indeed; vayam—we; sahayah—helpers. By the power of bhakti you will have many realizations, time and again, and for certain you will conquer your most formidable obstacles. In all circumstances, be assured, we are your helpers.

COMMENTARY: Since devotees may have to endure formidable tests while practicing nama-sankirtana, Gopa-kumara may doubt his own fitness to take up the process. The visitors from Vaikuntha assure him, therefore, that he should not be doubtful and hesitant, but should begin nama-sankirtana with all confidence. If he is worried that he cannot expect to succeed without the blessings of pure devotees, he should rest assured that the Vaikuntha-dutas will always be there to help him wherever he goes. If he needs to understand anything philosophically or has any difficulties to overcome, they will give him the support he needs.

TEXT 174 sri-Krsna-candrasya mahanukampa- smabhih sthira tvayy avadharitasti lina na saksad-bhagavad-didrksa tvattas tapo-loka-nivasi-vakyaih sri-Krsna-candrasya—of Sri Krsna-candra; maha-anukampa—the greatest mercy; asmabhih—by us; sthira—firmly established; tvayi—in you; avadharita—ascertained; asti—there is; lina—dissolved; na—not; saksat—directly; bhagavat—the Supreme Lord; didrksa—eagerness to see; tvattah—from you; tapah-loka-nivasi—of the residents of Tapoloka; vakyaih—by the statements. The greatest mercy of Sri Krsna-candra, we have found, is firmly established in you, because even the arguments of the residents of Tapoloka could not dissolve your eagerness to see in person the Supreme Lord.

TEXT 175 rupam satyam khalu bhagavatah sac-cid-ananda-sandram yogyair gahyam bhavati karanaih sac-cid-ananda-rupam mamsaksibhyam tad api ghatate tasya karunya-saktya sadyo labdhya tad-ucita-gater darsanam svehaya va rupam—the form; satyam—absolutely real; khalu—indeed; bhagavatah—of the Supreme Lord; sat-cit-ananda—of eternity, knowledge, and bliss; sandram—the concentrated essence; yogyaih—which are fit; gahyam—perceivable; bhavati—is; karanaih—by senses; sat-cit-ananda-rupam—the sac-cid-ananda form; mamsa—of flesh; aksibhyam—by eyes; tat—that; api—also; ghatate—occurs; tasya—His; karunya—of the mercy; saktya—by the power; sadyah—at once; labdhya—by achieving; tat—for that; ucita—suitable; gateh—of the object; darsanam—vision; sva-ihaya—by one’s endeavor; va—or. The form of the Personality of Godhead, absolutely real, is the concentrated essence of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. Only with senses that are fit can one perceive that sac-cid-ananda form. Yet by the power of the Lord’s mercy, even with the present eyes, quickly one can see it. Thus one beholds the object most suitable for one’s vision. One achieves this by the Lord’s mercy, or even by one’s own endeavor.

COMMENTARY: This verse and the next summarize the opinions of Pippalayana Rsi, who on Tapoloka had recommended meditation to Gopa-kumara as the best method of realizing the Supreme Lord. Only with senses that are fit can one perceive the Lord, he had said, but the Lord’s mercy can transform the limited senses of a conditioned soul, making them fit to perceive the unlimited. By the Lord’s mercy potency (karunya-sakti), His personal form is revealed to a fortunate soul, or that soul may be empowered to discover the Lord even with his own senses. No material conditions can limit the influence of the Supreme Lord’s karunya-sakti.

TEXT 176 tad-darsane jnana-drsaiva jaya- mane ’pi pasyamy aham esa drgbhyam mano bhavet Krsna-krpa-prabhava- vijnapako harsa-visesa-vrddhyai tat—of Him; darsane—vision; jnana—of knowledge; drsa—by the eye; eva—indeed; jayamane—when it arises; api—even; pasyami—see; aham esah—I myself; drgbhyam—by my two eyes; manah—the presumption; bhavet—there may be; Krsna-krpa—of Krsna’s mercy; prabhava—by the power; vijnapakah—an indicator; harsa-visesa—special joy; vrddhyai—for increasing. Even though one’s vision of the Lord has its origin in the eye of knowledge, one may think, “I am seeing Him with my own two eyes.” This simply indicates the power of Krsna’s mercy, by which the devotee feels his own special joy unfurl.

COMMENTARY: Some less devotional thinkers would argue to Pippalayana that one can behold the Supreme Lord only with the eye of knowledge, not with external senses. If the Supreme were an object of material vision, they would say, He could not be transcendentally self-manifest. Pippalayana would respond that even if this is true, a special ecstasy is available only to one who presumes that he sees the Lord with his own eyes. And even if devotees only imagine themselves to be seeing the Personality of Godhead with their eyes, the ecstasy they experience is real. That ecstasy itself is proof that the potency of the Lord’s special mercy has descended upon them, making them rejoice with wonder: “The Supreme is impossible to see, but now I am seeing Him right before me!”

TEXT 177 prabhoh krpa-pura-balena bhakteh prabhavato va khalu darsanam syat atah paricchinna-drsapi sidhyen nirantaram tan manaseva samyak prabhoh—of the Lord; krpa—of mercy; pura—of the flood; balena—on the strength; bhakteh—of bhakti; prabhavatah—by the influence; va—or; khalu—indeed; darsanam—vision; syat—can occur; atah—thus; paricchinna—limited; drsa—by sight; api—even; sidhyet—can be achieved; nirantaram—constant; tat—that (vision); manasa—by the mind; eva—only; samyak—directly. By the force of the vast mercy of the Lord or by the natural influence of devotional service, one can see Him. So even with the limited eyes one can achieve the constant vision one may have with the mind in meditation.

COMMENTARY: Now the Vaikuntha-dutas, willing to go along no further with Pippalayana’s thinking, refute one of his ideas. Pippalayana might say, “Seeing the Supreme Lord with one’s own eyes is imperfect because by nature external perception is imperfect. Interruptions and obstacles will inevitably impede one’s external vision of the Lord. The mind, however, is extremely subtle; it can reach everywhere and enjoy undisturbed darsana of the Lord in all circumstances.” Although this is not one of the things Pippalayana told Gopa-kumara on Tapoloka, the Vaikuntha-dutas refute it in this verse. By the Supreme Lord’s infinite mercy, even external eyes can see Him in all His splendor. This is further evidence of the great efficacy of devotional service.

TEXT 178 na cet kathancin na manasy api syat svayam-prabhasyeksanam isvarasya ghanam sukham sanjanayet kathancid upasitah sandra-sukhatmako ’sau na—not; cet—if; kathancit—somehow; na—not; manasi—in the mind; api—even; syat—could occur; svayam-prabhasya—of the self-effulgent; iksanam—the sight; isvarasya—of the supreme controller; ghanam—intense; sukham—happiness; sanjanayet—could arise; kathancit—in any manner; upasitah—worshiped; sandra—concentrated; sukha-atmakah—the embodiment of happiness; asau—He. If this were not so, by no means would one be able to see the self-effulgent supreme controller, even within the mind. When the Lord is worshiped in any manner, He bestows intense happiness, for He is the very embodiment of such happiness.

COMMENTARY: If the Lord’s special mercy and the potency of devotional service were not the true causes of realizing Him, even a mental vision of Him would be impossible, for He is self-manifesting, never an object of sensory or mental perception. Because He is the completely independent controller of everyone, no one can force Him to reveal Himself. A proponent of inner meditation may argue that by perceiving the Lord internally the mind with its unlimited scope enjoys unlimited bliss, whereas the limited eyes can perceive only a small fraction of such pleasure. But the Vaikuntha-dutas reply that when devotees worship the Personality of Godhead by any of the methods of devotional service—whether by mental meditation or by the direct perception and activity of the external senses—the Lord bestows intense happiness. In fact, according to the Taittiriya Upanisad (2.7), boundless pleasure is the very nature of the Supreme. Raso vai sah, rasam hy evayam labdhvanandi bhavati: “The Supreme is rasa itself. When a living being obtains this rasa, he becomes blissful.”

TEXT 179 drgbhyam prabhor darsanato hi sarvatas tat-tat-prasadavali-labdhir iksyate sarvadhikam sandra-sukham ca jayate sadhyam tad eva sravanadi-bhaktitah drgbhyam—by one’s two eyes; prabhoh—of the Lord; darsanatah—from seeing; hi—indeed; sarvatah—everywhere; tat-tat—various; prasada—of mercy; avali—of an abundance; labdhih—the achievement; iksyate—is seen; sarva—to all; adhikam—superior; sandra—concentrated; sukham—happiness; ca—and; jayate—develops; sadhyam—the goal; tat—that; eva—indeed; sravana—from hearing; adi—and so on; bhaktitah—the devotional practices. We everywhere find that by seeing the Lord with the eyes one achieves His mercy in all its forms, and the most intense and excellent joy. Indeed, to see Him is the goal of hearing and of all the other ways of devotional practice.

COMMENTARY: Superior to the fruits of realizing the Lord inwardly are the fruits of seeing the Lord with one’s own eyes. Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Puranas record how Vaisnavas like Kardama and Prahlada received abundant mercy from the Supreme Lord when they met Him in person. On Tapoloka, the sage Pippalayana told Gopa-kumara about Sri Brahma’s attaining similar mercy from the Lord through meditation, but that kind of success from meditation occurs in only a few instances, for a rare, fortunate person like Brahma. And the Vaikuntha messengers declare, besides, that the joy felt from directly perceiving the Personality of Godhead with one’s senses is unequaled. This complete vision, gained by devotional service in the forms of hearing, chanting, remembering, and so on, is also the ultimate fruit of the devotional service performed by inward meditation.

TEXT 180 sarvesam sadhananam tat- saksat-karo hi sat phalam tadaivamulato maya nasyet premapi vardhate sarvesam—of all; sadhananam—spiritual disciplines; tat—that; saksat-karah—direct vision; hi—indeed; sat—true; phalam—the benefit; tada—then; eva—alone; amulatah—down to the root; maya—illusion; nasyet—is destroyed; prema—pure love of God; api—and; vardhate—flourishes. By all methods of spiritual discipline, seeing the Lord in person is the true reward to be attained. That alone destroys illusion down to the root, so that pure love of God may flourish.

COMMENTARY: The direct vision of Lord Vishnu, being the supreme fruit of all endeavors, is preferable even to realization of the Lord by meditation. In fact, when one sees the Lord directly one’s forgetfulness of Him, which is the root of all illusion, is destroyed. This is described in the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.21): bhidyate hrdaya-granthis chidyante sarva-samsayah ksiyante casya karmani drsta evatmanisvare “Thus the knot in the heart is pierced, and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions is terminated when one sees the Lord as master.” The entanglements of material work, the doubts and confusions of material consciousness, and the knots of material desire all encumber the conditioned soul, but when he again finds his dearmost friend, the Supreme Soul, he transcends all these anomalies. When one perceives the beauty and charm of prema for Lord Vishnu, the natural urge of pure love spontaneously arises in one’s heart.

TEXT 181 kayadhavader hrdi pasyato ’pi prabhum sadaksna kila tad-didrksa tatra pramanam hi tathavalokanad anantaram bhava-visesa-labhah kayadhava—of the son of Kayadhu (Prahlada); adeh—and others; hrdi—in the heart; pasyatah—who were seeing; api—although; prabhum—the Lord; sada—always; aksna—with their eyes; kila—indeed; tat—Him; didrksa—the desire to see; tatra—in this matter; pramanam—evidence; hi—indeed; tatha—thus; avalokanat—seeing; anantaram—after; bhava-visesa—of special ecstasies; labhah—the experience. Although devotees like Prahlada, the son of Kayadhu, saw the Lord in their hearts, they always yearned to see Him with their eyes. For this the proof is that when they finally saw Him they felt special ecstasies.

COMMENTARY: The experiences of Prahlada and other great devotees should be taken seriously because sad-acara, the behavior of elevated persons, is important evidence for judging what is of true value. According to Sri Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya, it was after Prahlada first saw Lord Nrsimha that Prahlada’s pure love fully blossomed.

TEXT 182 Krsnasya saksad api jayate yat kesancid aksi-dvaya-milanadi dhyanam na tat kintu mudam bharena kampadi-vat prema-vikara esah Krsnasya—of Krsna; saksat—directly; api—though; jayate—occurs; yat—which; kesancit—of some persons; aksi-dvaya—of the eyes; milana-adi—closing and so on; dhyanam—meditation; na—not; tat—that; kintu—rather; mudam—of joy; bharena—by the excess; kampa-adi—trembling and other symptoms of ecstasy; vat—similar to; prema—of pure love; vikarah—a transformation; esah—this. When some devotees, even while seeing Krsna in person, close their eyes and appear to withdraw into their minds, this may seem to be meditation, but in fact it is not. Rather, it is a transformation brought on by excessive joy, like the trembling and other signs of ecstasy in devotees in pure love.

COMMENTARY: This verse answers the possible objection that when Sanaka-kumara and his brothers met the Lord of Vaikuntha they went into a trance of meditation. As described by Maitreya Muni in the Third Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.44): te va amusya vadanasita-padma-kosam udviksya sundarataradhara-kunda-hasam labdhasisah punar aveksya tadiyam anghri- dvandvam nakharuna-mani-srayanam nidadhyuh “The Lord’s beautiful face appeared to them like the inside of a blue lotus, and the Lord’s smile appeared like a blossoming jasmine. After seeing the face of the Lord, the sages were fully satisfied, and when they wanted to see Him further they looked upon the nails of His lotus feet, which resembled rubies. Thus they viewed the Lord’s transcendental body again and again, and so they finally achieved meditation on the Lord’s personal feature.” In this verse the word nidadhyuh, from the verb nidhyai, “to meditate deeply,” seems to indicate that when the Kumaras saw the Lord they passively withdrew into meditative contemplation. But as the Vaikuntha-dutas point out, we should not judge simply from the outward appearance of these symptoms. Closing of the eyes and ceasing from bodily movements need not be signs of meditative trance; they may instead be physical expressions of bhavas, devotional ecstasies, similar to other physical signs of ecstasy like trembling, perspiration, and standing up of the bodily hair. Maitreya Muni described the ecstasy of the Kumaras as “meditation” only because it seemed so externally. Therefore the superiority of directly seeing the Lord with one’s own eyes stands undefeated.

TEXT 183 dhyanam parokse yujyeta na tu saksan maha-prabhoh aparokse parokse ’pi yuktam sankirtanam sada dhyanam—meditation; parokse—when He is invisible; yujyeta—is appropriate; na—not; tu—but; saksat—being visible; maha-prabhoh—the Supreme Lord; aparokse—when He is invisible; parokse—when He is visible; api—also; yuktam—suitable; sankirtanam—chanting of His names; sada—always. Meditation makes sense when the Supreme Lord cannot be seen, not when He is directly present; but sankirtana is always befitting, whether the Lord is visible or not.

COMMENTARY: Drawing the argument to a close on an especially sweet note (madhurena samapayet), the messengers of Vaikuntha reiterate the importance of nama-sankirtana. Seeing the Supreme Lord with one’s own eyes is more desirable than merely seeing Him in meditation, and the best means of achieving direct vision of Him is to chant His holy names. The behavior of all kinds of devotees of the Lord gives ample evidence that in every situation sankirtana is appropriate. For example, as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.33.7), the gopis of Vrndavana chanted His names while dancing with Him in their rasa-lila: pada-nyasair bhuja-vidhutibhih sa-smitair bhru-vilasair bhajyan madhyais cala-kuca-pataih kundalair ganda-lolaih svidyan-mukhyah kavara-rasanagranthayah Krsna-vadhvo gayantyas tam tadita iva ta megha-cakre virejuh “As the gopis sang in praise of Krsna, their feet danced, their hands gestured, and their eyebrows moved with playful smiles. With their braids and belts tied tight, their waists bending, their faces perspiring, the garments on their breasts moving this way and that, and their earrings swinging on their cheeks, Lord Krsna’s young consorts shone like streaks of lightning in a mass of clouds.” This is also described in Sri Vishnu Purana (5.13.52, 56): Krsnah sarac-candramasam kaumudi-kumudakaram jagau gopi-janas tv ekam Krsna-nama punah punah “Krsna sang about the glories of the autumn moon, whose beams awaken the night-blooming lotuses. Meanwhile, the gopis simply chanted Krsna’s name over and over again.” rasa-geyam jagau krsno yavat tarayata-dhvanih sadhu krsneti krsneti tavat ta dvi-gunam jaguh “Krsna sang a rasa-lila song, His voice becoming louder and louder. In response, the gopis sang twice as loud, ‘Wonderful, O Krsna! O Krsna!’” The Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam tells of several instances in which devotees chant Krsna’s glories in His absence, as in the prayers sung by the gopis before the rasa dance, and after Krsna disappeared from the dance, and later during Uddhava’s visit to Vrndavana.

TEXT 184 sriman-nama prabhos tasya sri-murter apy ati-priyam jagad-dhitam sukhopasyam sa-rasam tat-samam na hi srimat-nama—the holy name; prabhoh—of the Lord; tasya—His; sri-murteh—than the divine form; api—even; ati-priyam—more dear; jagat—for the whole world; hitam—beneficial; sukha—easily; upasyam—worshipable; sa-rasam—full of rasa; tat—to that; samam—equal; na—nothing; hi—indeed. Dearer to the Lord than even His own beautiful form, His easily worshiped holy name benefits the entire world. Indeed, nothing is as full of nectar as the holy name of the Lord.

COMMENTARY: In conclusion, the Vaikuntha-dutas say that they seize every opportunity to glorify sri-bhagavan-nama-sankirtana. Sankirtana is all-attractive, full with all power, beauty, and opulence. It exerts its powerful influence over anyone who takes part in it, anywhere and anytime. The Lord of Vaikuntha Himself is more attracted to His holy name than to His own supreme beauty. The Supreme Lord may indeed regard something as more dear than His own transcendental form. For example, in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.14.15) Krsna told Uddhava: na tatha me priya-tama atma-yonir na sankarah na ca sankarsano na srir naivatma ca yatha bhavan “Neither Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, Lord Sankarsana, the goddess of fortune nor indeed My own self is as dear to Me as you.” The holy name of the Lord is incomparable; nothing else can equal or surpass it. The holy name is the Lord’s supreme blessing for the world’s welfare, benefiting everyone—properly qualified or not—who serves it with any of the senses. It is easily worshiped, requiring only some movement of the tip of the tongue. And it is sa-rasa, “full of rasa,” a term that can be understood in several ways. Sa-rasa can mean “very gentle,” since the holy names consist of sweet-sounding syllables. It can also mean “composed of pure spiritual substance, sac-cid-ananda.” Or it can mean that the holy names are accompanied by all the various devotional relationships, the nine rasas, headed by srngara (madhurya-rasa). In the pure chanting of the holy names, all these varieties of prema-rasa are manifest, in the moods of both separation (viraha) and meeting (sanga). Rasa also means “attraction to Krsna” (raga), which devotees performing sankirtana unavoidably experience as their Krsna-prema is rapidly evoked by the holy names. In other words, the Lord’s sankirtana inspires His servants and everyone else to become attracted to the Lord. Rasa also means “special potency” (virya-visesa); the chanting of the holy names is extremely powerful. And rasa can mean “exceptional quality” (guna-visesa), indicating in the present context that nama-sankirtana has the power to deliver the most fallen persons in the world. Rasa also means “exceptional happiness” (sukha-visesa); hari-nama is the most concentrated essence of happiness. And it also means “exceptional sweetness” (madhurya-visesa). Nama-sankirtana is often glorified for its sweetness, as in this famous verse from the Prabhasa-khanda of the Skanda Purana: madhura-madhuram etan mangalam mangalanam sakala-nigama-valli-sat-phalam cit-svarupam sakrd api parigitam sraddhaya helaya va bhrgu-vara nara-matram tarayet Krsna-nama “O best of the Bhrgu dynasty, the holy name of Krsna is the sweetest of the sweet, the most auspicious of the auspicious. This transcendental fruit of all the Vedas is purely spiritual. Whoever chants it but once, whether with faith or with contempt, is liberated.” Even more meanings of the word rasa could be applied to interpreting this verse, but the above examples give at least some understanding of the greatness of sankirtana.

TEXT 185 tan manayan chivasyajnam ito nihsara satvaram Krsna-priya tamam sriman- mathuram tvam namama tam tat—therefore; manayan—respecting; Sivasya—of Lord Siva; ajnam—the order; itah—from here; nihsara—go; satvaram—quickly; Krsna-priya-tamam—most dear to Krsna; srimat-mathuram—to divine Mathura; tvam—to you; namama—we bow down; tam—to that Mathura. Therefore, honoring the order of Lord Siva, you should leave this place at once. Go to divine Mathura, the place most dear to Krsna. O Mathura, we bow down to you!

COMMENTARY: Lord Siva has already advised Gopa-kumara to leave Mahakala-pura and go to Mathura on the earth. Now the Vaikuntha messengers encourage him to do this at once. The very reason they came down from Vaikuntha was to make Gopa-kumara return to Bhauma-vrndavana. In case Gopa-kumara, having traveled so far to reach the abode of liberation, questions why he should go back to where he started from, the Vaikuntha-dutas assure him that Sri Mathura, Krsna’s favorite place, will shower him with the fulfillment of all his ambitions without delay.

TEXT 186 sri-gopa-kumara uvaca nipiya hrt-karna-rasayanam tat pramoda-bharena bhrto namams tan Sivau ca sadyo vraja-bhumim etam taih prapito ’ham bata mugdha-buddhih sri-gopa-kumarah uvaca—Sri Gopa-kumara said; nipiya—drinking; hrt—for the heart; karna—and ear; rasa-ayanam—tonic; tat—that; pramoda—of delight; bharena—with an abundance; bhrtah—filled; naman—offering obeisances; tan—to them; Sivau—to Lord Siva and his wife; ca—and; sadyah—at once; vraja-bhumim—to the land of Vraja; etam—this; taih—by them; prapitah—made to reach; aham—I; bata—oh; mugdha—stunned; buddhih—my intelligence. Sri Gopa-kumara said: Upon drinking this invigorating tonic for the ears and heart, I was filled with delight. I bowed down to the messengers from Vaikuntha and to Lord Siva and his wife, and by their grace I was swept at once to this Vraja-bhumi. Oh, how my mind was stunned!

COMMENTARY: A moment before, Gopa-kumara had been offering prostrate obeisances, and now when he looked up he suddenly found himself in Vraja-bhumi. This left him bewildered.

Thus ends the Third Chapter of Part Two of Srila Sanatana Goswami's Brhad Bhagavatamrta, entitled "Bhajana: Worship". 

C) Caitanya Bhagavat, Adi-Khanda, Chapter 16, Texts 264-297.

Haridas Thakur is explaining the superior position of chanting aloud versys chanting silently within one's mind

TEXT 264 bhakti-yoge lokera dekhiya anadara haridasa-o duhkha bada payena antara

Haridasa was particularly aggrieved to see the people's lack of interest in the process of devotional service. The attempt to either serve the Supreme Lord or act contrary to the service of the Supreme Lord on the pretext of anyabhilasa [ulterior desires], karma, yoga, or jnana can never be called devotional service. But people of the world at that time were all overwhelmed by such nondevotional considerations. Physical and mental propensities kept the conditioned souls away from the path of devotional service and concealed the shining glories of pure devotional service. Seeing such detrimental propensities in the materialists, Thakura Haridasa felt great distress at heart.

TEXT 265 tathapiha haridasa uccaihsvara kari' balena prabhura sankirtana mukha bhari'

In spite of this, Haridasa continued to loudly chant the holy names of the Lord.

TEXT 266 ihate-o atyanta duskrti papi-gana na pare sunite ucca-hari-sankirtana

The most sinful miscreants were even unable to hear this loud chanting. Due to their sinful propensities, people did not wish to hear the uninterrupted and unmotivated chanting of the names of Hari from the mouth of Haridasa Thakura. Actually, only unfortunate people develop such sinful and inauspicious propensities. But Haridasa Thakura is a nonduplicitous servant of the Absolute Truth, Lord Krsna, and devoid of all fear born of material absorption. Even after facing various impediments and obstacles from the sinful people, he did not desist from hari-sankirtana.

TEXT 267 harinadi-grame eka brahmana durjana haridase dekhi' krodhe balaye vacana

In this regard there was one impious brahmana that lived in the village of Harinadi. He once angrily said to Haridasa. There are two methods for ascertaining one's varna: (1) One is by seminal consideration. According to normal procedure, the varna of a child is the same as the varna of his legitimate father, because he is born from his semen. (2) The second is to ascertain one's varna according to his occupation, which is determined by his qualities and activities. The nature of people is of two types-pious and sinful. Vaisnavas who are engaged in the service of the Lord are pious, and proud persons who are averse to the Lord and devoid of good qualities are sinful, though they may belong to any one of the varnas. Although one may be identified as a brahmana according to seminal consideration, as a result of being envious of pious persons he is considered sinful. Whenever envy is directed to Vishnu, devotional service to Vishnu, or the devotees of Vishnu, then due to such demoniac propensities even respected so-called brahmanas are designated as sinful by the pious. At that time there was a famous village named Harinadi in the district of Yasohara. On seeing Sri Haridasa loudly and constantly chant the holy names, a local seminal brahmana who was envious of devotional service angrily put forward some false arguments.

TEXT 268 "aye haridasa! e ki vyabhara tomara dakiya ye nama laha, ki hetu ihara?

"O Haridasa, what is this behavior? Why are you are loudly chanting the names of the Lord? That foolish ignorant atheistic fallen brahmana said, "There is no injunction for loudly chanting the names of Hari in any scripture; rather, it is recommended that one chant within his mind. Therefore the loud chanting of Hari's names by Haridasa is prohibited by the scriptures. Therefore his engaging in such actions is most improper." Being controlled by such blind faith, that brahmana arrogantly asked Haridasa the reason for his loud chanting. His conception was that since Haridasa Thakura was not born in a seminal brahmana family, he was completely unqualified to act as a spiritual master, the giver of the holy names. Fearing that if Haridasa loudly chanted the names of Hari he would have to automatically hear the holy names from the mouth of a pure devotee and thus naturally become his disciple, so he wanted Haridasa to refrain from loudly chanting hari-nama, which is the function of a jagad-guru. This proves the brahmana's foolishness, ignorance, and mistaken ideas regarding the scriptural conclusions.

TEXT 269 mane mane japiba,-ei se dharma haya dadiya laite nama kon sastre kaya?

"The injunction is that one should chant in his mind. Which scripture says that one should chant loudly?

TEXT 270 ka'ra siksa,-hari-nama dakiya laite? ei ta' pandita-sabha, balaha ihate"

"Who has taught you to chant the name of Hari loudly? Please give your explanation before this assembly of learned scholars." The word siksa refers to one of the six corollaries of the Vedas by which word pronunciation is regulated.

TEXT 271 haridasa balena,-"ihara yata tattva tomara se jana' hari-namera mahattva

Haridasa said, "You all know the glories of the holy names.

TEXT 272 tomara-sabara mukhe sunina se ami balitechi, balibana yeba kichu jani

"Therefore now and in the future I'll simply repeat whatever I've heard from you. Thakura Haridasa, who never expected any honor but always honored others, humbly replied, "I have not learned the incomparable glories of Hari's names from the sastras through the path of argument. Now and in the future I simply repeat whatever I have heard from those are conversant with the glories of the holy names and who constantly chant the holy names of the Lord.

TEXT 273 ucca kari' laile sata-guna punya haya dosa ta' na kahe sastre, guna se varnana

"If one chants loudly, he gets one hundred times more benefit. The scriptures never condemn loud chanting, rather they glorify it." The result one achieves by mentally chanting the names of Hari is multiplied one hundred times by chanting loudly. This is the injunction of all scriptures. It is a fact that by chanting loudly one obtains one hundred times greater results. And there is no fault in such chanting. It is to be understood that those who consider the Hare Krsna maha-mantra should only be chanted softly in japa are averse to realizing the purport of the scriptures. The three names of address-Hare, Krsna, and Rama-are meant both for japa and kirtana. One can call the Lord in his mind or out loud. If one calls the Lord loudly, then many persons can hear the name of the Lord and obtain auspiciousness by such hearing. Hearing the names of the Lord is one of the nine principle limbs of devotional service. Unless the sadhus loudly chant the names of Hari, no one becomes qualified for the devotional process of hearing. Therefore the false arguments of those who are averse to loud chanting are certainly incited by Kali. The chanting of th holy names is more or less imperceptible in the activities of meditation, sacrifice, and Deity worship; that is why in Kali-yuga various controversies arise in the performance of meditation, sacrifice, and Deity worship. When those who are victims of Kali come forward to place obstacles in the path of the devotees' worship of Hari, then those devotees who are engaged in the Satya, Treta, and Dvapara processes of meditation, sacrifice, and Deity worship do not enter into argument; but those devotees who chant the names of Hari remove the wicked habits of the victims of Kali and chant the unlimited glories of the holy names for the eternal benefit of such people. This is the actual medicine for their argument-infected hearts.

TEXT 274 uccaih sata-gunam bhavet

"If one loudly chants the holy names of the Lord, he obtains one hundred times more benefit than by chanting softly or remembering the holy names."

TEXT 275 vipra bale,-"ucca-nama karile uccara sata-guna punya-phala haya, ki hetu ihara?"

The brahmana said, "How does one get one hundred times more benefit by chanting loudly?"

TEXT 276 haridasa balena,-"sunaha, mahasaya! ye tattva ihara, vede bhagavate kaya

Haridasa replied, "My dear sir, listen to the verdict of the Vedas and Srimad Bhagavatam in this regard."

TEXT 277 sarva-sastra sphure haridasera sri-mukhe lagila karite vyakhya krsnananda sukhe

Haridasa then revealed the purport of all the scriptures as he began his explanation in the ecstasy of Krsna consciousness.

TEXT 278 "suna, vipra! sakrt sunile Krsna-nama pasu, paksi, kita yaya sri-vaikuntha-dhama "

Listen, dear brahmana. If even animals, birds, or insects hear the holy names from the mouth of a pure devotee, they will go to Vaikuntha. "O brahmana, when the transcendental sound of Krsna's holy names emanates from the mouths of sadhus, bhaktas, or Vaisnavas and enters the ear holes of any living entity interested in serving the Lord, then that sound vibration certainly frees him from the bondage of maya. The transcendental sound vibration removes the living entities' propensity for enjoyment and awakens their propensity for service to the Supreme Lord. Since there is no ignorance or material enjoyment in the devotees' tongues, which are the abode of Vaikuntha, unlike those of conditioned souls in the material sky, and since the transcendental holy names are full manifestations of advaya-jnana, or the transcendental reality, they do not become entangled in material enjoyment while chanting. Therefore if a living entity chants the transcendental name of the Lord, he becomes jivan-mukta, liberated even in this life. In order to become liberated from the bondage to material existence, a conditioned soul should accept mercy by receiving mantra-disa, or initiation, from a liberated soul. When one has perfected his chanting he becomes qualified to loudly chant the holy names. Then he becomes extremely distressed by seeing the conditioned souls' anarthas born of prajalpa and mundane words that gratify the mind, both of which are unrelated to Krsna; as a jagad-guru, he removes their propensity for mundane enjoyment and sends them to the kingdom of Vaikuntha. Ordinary foolish people think, "The sastric statement that just by once chanting or hearing the transcendental name of the Lord one is certain to go back to Vaikuntha is simply an exaggeration." But actually the extraordinary influence of the transcendental name is not under the jurisdiction of the tiniest brains of such illusioned materialists who want to measure everything with their blunt material senses. If one considers the transcendental name to be in the category of a material object then his enjoyment prone evil propensity does not allow him to understand the extraordinary, transcendental, spritual names that are inperceivable to material senses. That is why the absense of faith in the Vedas or Vaisnava literatures in pursuance of the Vedas is proof of a living entity's misfortune.

TEXT 279 Once the cowherd men headed by Sri Nanda came to Ambika-vana on the bank of the River Sarasvati. After worshiping the demigods and brahmanas with a vow, they took rest there. At that time a fierce looking great snake began to swallow Nanda. Hearing Nanda's cry of distress, Lord Krsna, who maintains His surrendered souls and who is affectionate to His father, touched that great snake with His left foot. The serpent was immediately freed from his reptilian body and appeared in the effulgent form of a Vidyadhara, and by the order of the Lord he began to relate the history of his sinful activities in his previous life. While offering prayers, he described in this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam (10.34.17) the glories of receiving the touch of the Lord's lotus feet, which are rarely attained by the demigods. yan-nama grhnann akhilan srotrn atmanam eva ca sadyah punati kim bhuyas tasya sprstah pada hi te Anyone who chants Your name purifies all who hear his chanting, as well as himself. How much more beneficial, then, is the touch of Your lotus feet? "Moreover, O Lord, I have been directly touched by Your lotus feet. Now I will return to my own planet and purify everyone by my touch, as I have been purified by the touch of Your lotus feet." The statement, "By once chanting the holy names of the Lord a person purifies himself and others," refutes the argument that chanting the holy names requires prior faith (in other words, until knowledge of one's relationship with the Lord based on faith is awakened, there is no need to chant the holy names-the consideration is refuted). One can and should chant the names of the Lord while avoiding the ten offenses even during the four faithless situations of sanketa-indirectly; parihasa-jokingly; stobha-as musical entertainment; and hela-neglectfully. By the using the verb grhnan, or while chanting, in its present tense, the argument that the names are dependent on completeness (in other words, the necessity of considering that until one is able to fully chant the names of the Lord, it is improper and useless to partialy chant the names) is refuted. This means that one can and should chant the names of the Lord, even unclearly, improperly, and incompletely or partially. By using the word akhilan, or to the audience, the argument that chanting is dependent on qualification (in other words, the necessity of achieving mundane, temporary, external qualifications like taking bath, performing austerity, worshiping the Deity, maintaining purity, studying the Vedas, accepting sannyasa, practicing yoga, performing sacrifice, and accumulating piety) is refuted (in other words, any person in any condition can and should chant the holy names of the Lord). By using the word sadyah, or immediately, the argument that chanting is dependent on time (in other words, the consideration that one is purified by chanting only at particular times, not at any time) is refuted (in other words, if a person purely chants the holy names at any time, he can be fully purified). The use of the word srotrn, or to the audience, indicates that one should her the holy names of the Lord. The word eva, which in this verse bears the meaning of iva or api, indicates that the chanter of the holy names can purify the audience like himself. So by this example the glories of the holy name are further enhanced, because both the practices of hearing and chanting yield the same results. By using the word ca in this verse it is indicated that I will certainly and thoroughly purify persons who engage with me hearing and chanting because I have been touched by Your lotus feet. ??There is no doubt about this. (Sri Sanatana Prabhu's and Sri Jiva Prabhu's Vaisnava-tosani)

TEXT 280 pasu-paksi-kita-adi balite na pare sunilei hari-nama ta'ra saba tare'

"Although animals, birds, and insects cannot chant, when they hear the holy names they'll all be delivered.

TEXT 281 japile sri-Krsna-nama apane se tare ucca-sankirtane para upakara kare

"If one silently chants the names of Krsna, then he is delivered; but if one loudly chants, then he delivers others also. One who softly chants the transcendental names benefits only himself, whereas one who loudly and congregationally chants the transcendental names can benefit the audience along with himself. Only a spiritual master who is engaged in Krsna-kirtana is compassionate to all living entities and able to perform the highest welfare activities for all.

TEXT 282 ataeva ucca kari' kirtana karile sata-guna phala haya sarva-sastre bale

Therefore the scriptures say that one gets a hundred times more benefit by chanting loudly.

TEXT 283 japato hari-namani sthane sata-gunadhikah atmanam ca punaty uccair japan srotrn punati ca

"One who loudly chants the holy names of the Lord is a hundred times greater than one who silently chants, because those who chant silently purify only themselves, while those who chant loudly purify themselves as well as those who hear them."

TEXT 284 japa-karta haite ucca-sankirtanakari sata-guna adhika se puranete dhari

The Puranas say that a person who chants the Lord's name loudly is a hundred times more pious that the person who chants to himself. Persons who loudly and congregationally chant the holy names of Hari obtain one hundred times better results than those who chant the holy names softly. If a person secretly hears some ordinary words on the pretext of hearing hari-nama from a foolish so-called guru and being tempted by material enjoyment engages in motivated worship, then he will never achieve eternal auspiciousness. Whereas if one loudly chants the pure holy names heard from the mouth of a liberated maha-bhagavata spiritual master, then other Vaisnava listeners will discuss the glories of hari-nama with each other. As a result, the loud chanters are more benefited than the soft chanters. Those who cannot realize the difference between nama-aparadha, namabhasa, and suddha-nama often commit the first of the ten nama-aparadhas-criticizing a sadhu or Vaisnava who has fully taken shelter of the holy names-and they commit the grave offense of disregarding the spiritual master by considering him a mortal being and envying him. They commit offense byconsidering material objects as worshipable and seeing Lord Vishnu, the controller of all, as equal to the demigods. As a result, they become offenders of Vaisnavas by being faithless to the unalloyed Vaisnavas. They then become inattentive to the service of Sri Nama Prabhu, and the offenses of considering the glories of chanting the holy names as imaginary and giving some interpretation on the holy names capture them. They then consider the holy names as equal to pious activities and become attached to committing sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy names. Being greedy for daksina, such people accept the garb of a guru and like common merchants they pretend to give instructions on the holy names to faithless persons. In this way they bring inauspiciousness to the entire world. Being overwhelmed by thoughts of "I"and "mine," they gradually become averse to the Vedic literatures and literatures in pursuance of the Vedic version. These ten offenses result in the falldown of chanters, but by th influence of good association the loud chanters of the holy names understand these offenses and therefore they retire from the inconvenience of nirjana-bhajana.

TEXT 285 suna, vipra! mana diya ihara karana japi' apanare sabe karaye posana

O brahmana, listen carefully to the reason behind this. One who softly chants the holy names liberates only himself.

TEXT 286 ucca kari' karile govinda-sankirtana jantu-matra suninai pai vimocana

One who loudly chants the names of Govinda, however, liberates himself along with all living entities who hear him.

TEXT 287 jihva painao nara-vina sarva-prani na pare balite Krsna-nama-hena dhvani

"Although all living entities have a tongue, only the human beings are able to chant the names of Krsna. Apart from human beings, all other living entities also have tongues; and though they are able to make various sounds, apart from human beings, no other living entity is able to chant the names of Krsna. But some people may say, "The birds can also imitate making sounds like the name of Krsna, and as a result they can also attain a higher destination such as liberation." In reply to this, it may be said, "Imitating and following are two completely separate activities. Although the imitators may make various sounds preceivable to senses in the material sky as the name of Krsna, they are not uttering the pure holy name of Krsna situated in the spiritual sky and perceivable to purified senses by their service inclined tongues. The materially motivated sounds resembling the holy names that are uttered for the purpose of material enjoyment that is unrelated to Krsna are not vaikuntha-nama, or spiritual names. Since such sounds are able to award insignificant results, they are simply known as nama-aparadha, or offeses to the holy names, and as such they cannot awaken one's love of Krsna, which is the fruit of chanting the pure names.

TEXT 288 vyartha-janma ihara nistare yaha haite bala dekhi,-kon dosa se karma karite?

Therefore the lives of living entities other than human beings are useless. So please tell me: What is wrong with the loud chanting by which they will by delivered? Though all living entities are not able to chant the spiritual names, they can certainly hear the spiritual names chanted by devotees of the Lord. The lives of those who are not qualified to hear the spiritual names are most certainly useless. The loud chanting of the spiritual names, which by hearing all living entities can be liberated in this lifetime, can never be the subject of argument, faults, or criticism.

TEXT 289 keha apanare matra karaye posana keha va posana kare sahasreka jana

One person may maintain himself while another may maintain a thousand people.

TEXT 290 duite ke bada, bhavi' bujhaha apane ei abhipraya guna' ucca-sankirtane

Of the two, consider carefully who is better. This is the superior characteristic of loud chanting." A selfish person maintains himself, whereas another person may maintain a thousand persons apart from himself. Of the two, whom should we accept as greater? If we carefully consider, we will understand that the loud chanters are not selfish; rather, they are selfless benefactors of others. Therefore the loud chanters are superior to those who only chant softly, and loud chanting is hundreds and thousands of times superior to chanting only softly.

TEXT 291 sei vipra suni' haridasera kathana balite lagila krodhe maha-durvacana

After hearing the words of Haridasa, the brahmana began to angrily blaspheme him.

TEXT 292 darasana-karta ebe haila haridasa! kale-kale veda-patha haya dekhi nasa

Now even Haridasa has become a philosopher! I can see that Vedic culture is being destroyed by the course of time. That atheistic fallen brahmana angrily spoke the following insulting, "There are six famous basic philosophies in India. All these philosophies are more or less under the subordination of the Vedas. Now this consideration on liberated souls presented by Haridasa will become famous as the seventh philosophy. This is Kali-yuga, therefore by the influence of time the Vedic path (?) is now about to be destroyed (?) by the pure Vaisnava followers of the Vedas like Haridasa. So far Kapila, Patanjali, Kanada, Aksapada, Jaimini, and Vyasa were the propounders of six philosophies, but now Haridasa has come from somewhere and become the propounder of the seventh philosophy. I don't know how many more philosophies will crop up from time to time."

TEXT 293 yuga-sese sudra veda karibe vakhane ekhanai taha dekhi, sese ara kene?

It is stated that sudras will explain the Vedas at the end of Kali-yuga. But why only at the end of the age? We can see it happening now.

The phrase yuga-sese refers to the last part of Kali-yuga. A maha-yuga consists of the four yugas-Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali. The duration of these four yugas gradually diminishes from 4/10ths, to 3/10ths, to 2/10ths, to 1/10th of a maha-yuga. The duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000 earth years. A manvantara consists of 71 maha-yugas. A kalpa, or a day of Brahma, consists of fourteen manvantaras, or the duration of fifteen Satya-yugas subtracted from one thousand maha-yugas. This Kali-yuga comes in the twenty-eighth maha-yuga, or cycle of four yugas, in the reign of Vaivasvata, the seventh Manu, of the Sveta-varaha-kalpa. We have only passed a few years since the beginning of Kali-yuga. It is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam (12.1.36-41, 12.2.1-16, and 12.3.31-46) that at the end of Kali-yuga the varnasrama principles will be completely absent. We are already experiencing the future behavior of Kali-yuga in the beginning of the age. According to the varnasrama system, only the three varnas, brahmana, ksatiya, and vaisya, are eligible to study the Vedas; and of them, only the brahmanas are qualified to teach the Vedas. These three twice-born castes generally accept ten samskaras, or purificatory rites, but the sinful sudras are not at all qualified to undergo the samskaras of the twice-born. The sudras can never have any qualification for either studying or teaching the Vedas, but due to the influence of Kali, deviations and distortions in varnasrama principles are seen. Although there are deviations in varnasrama principles, the twice-born persons still desire to increase their prestige simply by external symptoms. In the consideration of varna, there are three types of birth-saukra, savitrya, and daiksa. Those who want to become twice-born through seminal birth must accept the savitrya samskara, or sacred thread ceremony. Then, by taking Vishnu-diksa after becoming a twice-born, one achieves the third, or daiksa, birth. A sudra, however, has no second or third birth. Due to the lack of authenticity in the garhadhana-samskara, it is more reasonable and faultless to ascertain one as a twice-born by his symptoms, nature, and agama-diksa, or Vedic initiation, rather than by seminal consideration. That is why the Vaisnava consideration does not approve of seminal consideration. Though persons engaged in fruitive activities do not highly regard Vaisnava considerations, the Vaisnava considerations based on sastras are the most respectable methods for ascertaining daiva-varnasrama principles. Since the ignorant community that is expert in material knowledge follows nonscriptural methods for ascertaining varna, the original ever-lasting method has recently become endangered. That is why sinful persons who are engaged in fruitive activities and who are envious of the Vaisnavas become bewildered by illusion while considering who is brahmana and who is a sudra. In this case also, the atheistic, meat-eating, nondevotee, seminal, so-called brahmana has presented external, mundane, gross bodily considerations of Vaisnavas. That fallen brahmana mistakenly and sinfully considered that since Thakura Haridasa was not born in a brahmana family, he was completely incapable of acting as a religious instructor. Moreover, taking shelter of vivarta-vada, the theory of illusion, that person angrily condemned the Vaisnavas, who reveal purpose of the Vedas, as sudras. Actually that atheist was himself an abominable sudra. Godlessness, cripple-mindedness, and untruthfulness made him averse to pure Vaisnavas in every activity of his life. Though he was a fallen sudra, proudly considering himself a brahmana, he considered a Vaisnava, who is spiritual master of the brahmanas, as belonging to a particular caste. In this way he committed a grave offense and went to hell. This fallen sinful sudra, who was envious of the Vaisnavas and proud of being brahmana, must have heard descriptions o Kali-yuga stating that sudras who are attentive to worldly subjects rather than the study of the Vedas will become so-called brahmanas and study and teach the Vedas in Kali-yuga. But the popular statement that one can also become a brahmana through saiva-diksa is not approved by Vedic literature.

Rather, according to the Pancaratras, on the strength of Vishnu-diksa, the devotees attain Vedic brahminical status. One cannot study the Vedas through saiva-diksa. This is clearly described in the Brahma-sutra. Sri Yamunacarya has completely refuted the atheists' view that "Vaisnavas are not brahmanas" by presenting evidence from the agamas [authorized works of Vedic literature] as follows: "Furthermore, the bhagavatas who have abandoned Vedic duties such as savitry-anuvacana (chanting the Vedic mantras which establish someone as a wearer of the sacrificial thread) and instead observe the forty samskaras enjoined in the Ekayana-sruti are properly adhering to the principles enunciated in the Grhya-sutras of their ownbranch and thus have never fallen from the status of brahmanas on account of not performing the rituals of a different branch. After all, if by not following the rules of all the Vedic branches a brahmana becomes fallen, then the followers of other branches would also have to be considered fallen from brahminical status because they do not perform the rituals of other branches." Among the devotees of South India, the title of Ayengara [or *Iyengar] is still current. This Tamil word refers to a brahmana who has undergone more than five samskaras. The nondevotee brahmanas who have undergone ten samskaras are known as Ayara [or Iyar]. The Ayengaras undergo fifteen samskaras. Among the Gaudiya Vaisnavas there are five additional samskaras. Therefore they undergo twenty samskaras. In his Samskara-dipika, which is an appendix to his Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami has mentioned these samskaras. The Vaisnavas state: svayam brahmani niksaptan jatan eva hi mantratah vinitanatha putradin samskrtya pratibhodhayet "When the guru gives mantra to his disciple according to the rules and regulations of pancaratrika-viddhi, then, by the influence of that mantra, the disciple never takes birth again. A humble disciple conducts himself with great respect for his spiritual master as if he is a son of the guru. To such a humble disciple, who has been purified by the appropriate samskaras, the guru teaches the meaning of the mantra." But since the uninitiated mental speculators who are opposed to Hari, guru, and Vaisnava do not accept the Vedic and Pancaratrika system, formidable errors have entered into their process of consideration. Following in the footsteps of such averse persons, this sinful fallen brahmana demonstrated the future behavior of Kali-yuga in the beginning of the age.

na sudra bhagavad-bhaktas te tu bhagavata matah sarva-varnesu te sudra ye na bhakta janardane

"A devotee should never be considered a sudra. All the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead should be recognized as bhagavatas. If one is not a devotee of Lord Krsna, however, even if born of a brahmana, ksatriya or vaisya family, he should be considered a sudra." It should be understood that those who disregard the above evidence of Vaisnava literature have no respect for the Vaisnavas or the pure devotional path; indeed, they are guru-drohi, or envious of the spiritual master.

TEXT 294 ei-rupe apanare prakata kariya ghare-ghare bhala bhoga khais buliya

"This is how you advertise yourself, so you can eat nicely at other's houses. That sinful fallen brahmana said to Haridasa Thakura, "Being a transcendental philosopher, you have presented an explanation that is hostile to the fruitive workers who are envious of devotional service in such a way that you can advertise your own glories to your followers and cleverly accumulate palatable foodstuffs."

TEXT 295 ye vyakhya karile tui, e yadi na lage tabe tora naka kana kati' tora age

"If the explanation that you have made is not true, then I will cut off your nose and ears." Hearing Haridasa Thakura's conclusive scriptural statements regarding the glories of the holy names, that atheistic fallen brahmana's animalistic propensity became more prominent. Out of anger, he cursed and swore as follows: "If the explanation on the glories of the holy names presented by Haridasa Thakura is not in agreement with the scriptures, then I will take revenge by publicly cutting off his (Haridasa Thakura's) nose and ears."

TEXT 296 suni' vipradhamera vacana haridasa `hari' bali' isat haila kichu hasa

Hearing the words of the sinful brahmana, Haridasa smiled and chanted the name of Hari.

TEXT 297 pratyuttara ara kichu tare na kariya calilena ucca kari' kirtana gaiya

He did not speak further to that atheistic brahmana, but left immediately while loudly chanting the holy names. Hearing that atheistic fallen brahmana's such unpalatable words, which would send him to hell, Thakura Haridasa did not reply but rather chanted loudly and immediately left that place, which was polluted with the offense of giving some interpretation on the holy names of the Lord.