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[Posted February 26, 2006]

Perfection of Chanting

By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

Excerpt from Sri Chaitanya-bhagavata, Madhya-kanda, Chapter One

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Text 405, Translation
"You have studied and listened for many days; now let us chant the names of Krishna together to make everything complete."

The Lord said, "As a result of studying and hearing linguistic literatures for so long, I have understood that chanting the names of Krishna is the only essence and fruit of such studying and teaching. It is the only purport of the Vedas. Therefore, O students, you should constantly engage in sri-krishna-sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years, which extinguishes the fire of the conditional life of repeated birth and death, which is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon, and which is the life of all transcendental knowledge."

Text 406, Translation
The students asked, "How shall we perform sankirtana?" The son of Sachi [Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu] taught them by His own example.

While describing krishna-sankirtana in reply to His students' inquiries about the Absolute Truth and devotional service to Vishnu, Sri Vishvambhara, who is the husband of the transcendental goddess of learning, Sarasvati, taught those students about the descending process of accepting knowledge. Since the path of argument was not respected in His teachings, the uselessness of the ascending process has been revealed. The chanting of vishnu-mantras is recommended in order to check sinful attempts for temporary fruitive activities and impersonal knowledge on the useless ascending path described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.3.25 and 10.14.3) verses prayena veda tad idam and jnane prayasam udapasya. But the concocted artificial doggerel verses chanted by so-called Vaishnavas who maintain current misconceptions, who are averse to the descending path, and who are envious of Hari, Guru, Vaishnava were not instructed to anyone by either Mahaprabhu or the jagad-guru acharya preachers who are His nonduplicitous liberated servants. Rather, they gave instructions on chanting mantras and holy names that are received through disciplic succession. Mahaprabhu exhibited the pastime of receiving such mantras and holy names through disciplic succession and gave instructions on the same.

Text 407

"(hare) haraye namah krishna yadavaya namah
gopala govinda rama sri-madhusudana"

"O Lord Hari, O Lord Krishna, I offer my obeisances to You, who are known as Hari, Yadava, Gopala, Govinda, Rama, Sri Madhusudana."

In this instance, the fourth case of the names Hari and Yadava is used to indicate sharanagati or atma-samarpana, or self-surrender. In other words, a person who is desirous of chanting the holy names of Krishna should first receive transcendental knowledge by fully surrendering at the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master whose only resolution is to chant the holy names of Krishna and constantly engage in hearing the topics and holy names of Krishna from the mouths of the spiritual master and the Vaishnavas; he should loudly call out and always chant the holy names of Krishna without offence.

If one wants to chant with full surrender and without duplicity by using the fourth, or dative, case of the holy names of the Lord, then he is chanting mantra, and if one chants the holy names of the Lord as an address, by using the vocative case, then he is engaged in bhajana or worship of the holy names. Chanting the holy names in their fourth case indicates full surrender, whereas chanting the holy names in the form of an address indicates a desire for eternal service. An initiated person is liberated from the bondage of material existence by chanting mantra, and a liberated person exhibits his eternal bhajana by chanting the holy names as an address. By accepting krishna-mantra as sadhana and krishna-nama as sadhana and sadhya, both sadhya and sadhana are accepted as nondifferent from one another and as adjacent categories of devotional service. Both mantra and nama are nondifferent from Vishnu Himself. The practice of chanting mantra is meant to achieve knowledge of one's relationship with the Lord, and when one achieves perfection in chanting mantras, then the bhajana of such a liberated soul begins. In the Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila 7.73) it is stated:

krishna-mantra haite habe samsara-mochana
krishna-nama haite pabe krishnera charana

"Simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna [in the form of mantra] one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra [in the form of address] one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord."

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