One who realizes the value of hari-nama will choose to rely on chanting hari-nama rather than on other kinds of spiritual effort.
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das

Focus on the Holy Name Brings Everything Else into Focus

Excerpt from Sri Brihad Bhagavatamrita by Sanatana Gosvami, translation and summary of Sanatana Goswami's purports by Gopiparanadhana das, published by The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 2002

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Chapter One, Text 9
jayati jayati namananda-rupam murarer
viramita-nija-dharma-dhyana-pujadi-yatnam
katham api sakrid attam mukti-dam praninam yat
paramam amritam ekam jivanam bhushanam me
All glories, all glories to Lord Murari in the form of His all-ecstatic name! If any living being puts aside such tasks as meditation, ritual worship, and social duties and even once takes the Lord's holy name, the name will grant him liberation. That holy name is the greatest source of eternal pleasure and is my very life and ornament.

COMMENTARY
Among the various practices of devotional service, the most important is chanting of the holy names of the Lord. Chanting the Lord's name is ananda-rupam, pure bliss, because it makes ecstasy rise in the heart. Chanting the holy names is also ananda-rupam in the sense that it is the essence of ecstasy and it makes everything it touches ecstatic.

In this verse, the author again repeats the exclamation jayati, indicating that hari-nama, the name of the Lord, is the greatest manifestation of the Supreme Lord's attractiveness and mercy. One who realizes the value of hari-nama will choose to rely on chanting hari-nama rather than on other kinds of spiritual effort. Performing prescribed duties within the varnashrama system is troublesome. Persons who have lost interest in the ritual duties of varnashrama cultivate yogic meditation, either for impersonal perfection or as a means of devotional service, but in either case, this too is troublesome because it involves the difficulty of subduing the mind and senses. Worship of the Deity of the Lord is troublesome because the worshiper must purify all the items to be offered, and his own body and heart as well. And also troublesome are the other devotional practices, such as hearing, which can be correctly performed only after one fulfills difficult prerequisites, such as finding a suitably qualified Vaishnava to hear from. Therefore, putting aside concern about success in these methods, an intelligent devotee will simply focus his attention on hari-nama, and thus he will easily achieve the results of all the above methods.

Devahuti, the mother of Lord Kapiladeva, confirms this in a prayer to her son:

aho bata sva-pacho 'to gariyan
yaj-jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam
tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya
brahmanuchur nama grinanti ye te
Oh, how glorious are they whose tongues are chanting Your holy name! Even if born in the families of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable. Persons who chant the holy name of Your Lordship must have executed all kinds of austerities and fire sacrifices and achieved all the good manners of the Aryans. To be chanting the holy name of Your Lordship, they must have bathed at holy places of pilgrimage, studied the Vedas, and fulfilled everything required. (Bhagavatam 3.33.7)

Similarly, in Sri Vishnu Purana (6.2.17) we find the following statement:

dhyayan krite yajan yajnais
tretayam dvapare 'richayan
yad apnoti tad apnoti
kalau sankirtya keshavam
What was accomplished in the Krita Age by meditation, in the Treta Age by ritual sacrifices, and in the Dvapara Age by worship of the Deity of the Lord is accomplished in this Kali Age by loud chanting of the names of Keshava.

A doubting person may question the ease of success by hari-nama: "One might earn religious credit, economic success, and material enjoyment by hari-nama," he might say, "but liberation is something else. Liberation can be gained only by those who are spiritually fit. At best, devotees who chant hari-nama with perfect faith and devotion may achieve liberation through long practice." Srila Sanatana Sosvami refutes this doubt, declaring here that if any living being even once chants Lord Hari's name, even unintentionally or in ridicule, jest, or material distress, the holy name will surely grace that person with liberation. This chanting may be performed without true realization—it may be a mere reflection or shadow (namabhasa)—but still it will result in liberation. Srimad-Bhagavatam confirms this again and again:

etavatalam agha-nirharanaya pumsam
sankirtanam bhagavato guna-karma-namnam
vikrushya putram aghavan yad ajamilo 'pi
narayaneti mriyamana iyaya muktim
One is easily relieved from all sinful reactions by chanting the holy name of the Lord and chanting of His qualities and activities. This is the only process recommended for relief from sinful reactions. Even if one chants the holy name of the Lord with improper pronunciation, one will achieve relief from material bondage if one chants without offenses. Ajamila, for example, was extremely sinful, but while dying he merely chanted the holy name, and although calling his son, he achieved complete liberation because he remembered the name of Narayana. (Bhagavatam 6.3.24)
chitram vidura-vigatah sakrid adadita
yan-namadheyam adhuna sa jahati bandham
It is amazing that even a person beyond the jurisdiction of the four castes—in other words, an untouchable—is immediately relieved of bondage to material existence if he utters the holy name of the Lord even once. (Bhagavatam 5.1.35)
yan-nama-sakrich-chravanat
pukkasho 'pi vimuchyate samsarat
Merely by hearing the holy name of Your Lordship only once, even chandalas, men of the lowest class, are freed from all material contamination. (Bhagavatam 6.16.44)

The Prabhasa-khanda of the Skanda Purana also states:

madhura-madhuram etan mangalam mangalanam
sakala-nigama-valli-sat-phalam chit-svarupam
sakrid api parigitam shraddhaya helaya va
bhrigu-vara nara-matram tarayet krishna-nama
O best of the Bhrigu dynasty, the holy name of Krishna is the sweetest of the sweet and the most auspicious of the auspicious. It is the transcendental fruit of all the Vedas and is purely spiritual. Whoever chants it but once, whether with faith or with contempt, is liberated.

Although we normally think of chanting as being the business of the tongue, all of one's conscious faculties can be engaged with hari-nama. The mind can contemplate the syllables of the Lord's names and their meanings, and the external senses can interact with hari-nama each in their own way. Speech and hearing are obviously involved in hari-nama, but the sense of touch can also feel the name written in sacred clay on one's body, the eyes can see the name written in various places, the hands and legs can work to carry a banner inscribed with the name, and so on.

At the end of this verse, Srila Sanatana describes his own relationship with hari-nama. It is everything to him. Nothing else is important. For him hari-nama is the nectar of immortality, the happiness of true liberation. Countless times greater than the satisfaction of impersonal mukti, hari-nama is also greater than the bliss of Vaikuntha. It is sweeter than all other attractive things. It is Sanatana Gosvami's very life and only ornament, a limitless reservoir of auspiciousness, the entire focus of his attention.


Focus on the Holy Name Brings Everything Else into Focus/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
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