Bilva-puskarini is a charming village where Bhagavati Bhagirathi flows in both the northern and western directions. In one corner of the village, there is a beautiful lake surrounded by bael trees. On the shore of the lake is the Bilva-paksa Mahadeva Temple, and Bhavatarana is splendidly situated a little distant from this temple. The village of Simuliya is between Bilva-puskarini and Brahmana-puskarini, and all three villages are within the town of Navadvipa. A wide road leads through the center of Bilva-puskarini, and Vrajanatha’s house is on this road towards the north.
Vijaya Kumara had bidden his sister farewell and walked for some distance, but on the way he began to think that it would be fitting to learn sri-nama-tattva from Babaji before he went home. Thinking like this, he returned to Bilva-puskarini, and said to his sister, “I will stay here for one or two more days, and then I will return home.”
Vrajanatha became very happy to see his maternal uncle Vijaya Kumara return. They sat together in the Candi-mandapa and began discussing the instructions of Dasa-mula. By now, Suryadeva was preparing to set on the western horizon, and the birds were quickly flying towards their nests. Just at that time, two Vaisnava sadhus from the Sri Ramanuja-sampradaya arrived. They put their asana beneath a jackfruit tree in front of Vrajanatha’s house, collected some sticks from here and there, and lit a fire. Their foreheads were beautifully adorned with the tilaka of the Sri Sampradaya, and a sublime peace emanated from their faces.
Vrajanatha’s mother was very hospitable towards guests. Knowing that they must be hungry, she collected various kinds of edible ingredients, and placed them before the sadhus, requesting them to cook and eat. They were satisfied, and began to prepare their rotis. When Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara saw these Vaisnavas’ peaceful faces, they came and sat with them. Both Vaisnavas were very pleased to see tulasi-malas on the necks of Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara, and the twelve marks of tilaka on their bodies. Spreading their blanket out more, they very respectfully had them sit down.
In order to become acquainted with them Vrajanatha asked, “Maharaja, where are you coming from?”
One of the babajis answered, “We have come from Ayodhya. For many days, we have wanted to take darsana of Sri Navadvipadhama, the pastime place of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We are so fortunate that by Bhagavan’s mercy we have arrived in Sri Navadvipa-dhama today. We would like to stay here for a few days and take darsana of the pastime places of Sriman Mahaprabhu. “You have certainly arrived in Sri Navadvipa,“ said Vrajanatha. “You should rest here today, and take darsana of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s birthplace, and of Srivasangana.” When these two Vaisnavas heard Vrajanatha’s words, they became very blissful and recited a sloka from the Gita (15.6).
yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama
When one goes to My abode, he does not have to return to this world.
“Today our lives have become blessed. We have become blessed by taking darsana of Sri Mayatirtha, which is the chief holy place of the seven Puris.”
Thereafter, both Vaisnavas reflected on artha-pancaka, and presented Sri Ramanuja’s views on these five subjects: sva-svarupa, para-svarupa, upaya-svarupa, purusartha-svarupa and virodhisvarupa. Upon hearing these topics, Vijaya Kumara in turn explained tattva-traya, that is to say, he spoke on Isvara, jiva, prakrti and their interrelationship. After some time, he said, “What is the siddhanta in your sampradaya regarding sri-nama-tattva?” However, Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara were not very impressed or appreciative of the reply that the two Vaisnavas’ gave.
Thereafter, Vrajanatha said to Vijaya Kumara, “Mamaji, after much deliberation I have concluded that the jiva can only find his welfare by accepting krsna-nama; there is no other way. The Lord of our life, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, has descended to this Mayatirtha to teach suddha-krsna-nama in the world. When Sri Gurudeva last instructed us, he said that sri-nama is the foremost of all of the angas of bhakti and that we must make a separate attempt to understand nama-tattva. So let us go this very day and try to understand sri-nama-tattva conclusively.” Then, after taking care of the needs of the guests, they departed.
The sandhya had arrived, and darkness was spreading. In Srivasangana, Sri Bhagavan’s sandhya-arati had begun, and the Vaisnavas were sitting on the platform of the bakula tree. The elderly Raghunatha dasa Babaji was also sitting there in their midst, chanting nama on his tulasi mala and keeping count (sankhya-purvaka). Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara offered sastangapranama at his feet, and Babaji Mahasaya embraced them, saying, “Is the bliss of your bhajana increasing?”
Vijaya Kumara folded his hands and said, “Prabhu, by your mercy, we are well in all respects. Now, kindly bestow your mercy on us this evening and instruct us on nama-tattva.”
Being very pleased, Babaji Maharaja replied, “Sri Bhagavan has two kinds of names: His primary names (mukhya-nama) and His secondary names (gauna-nama). Names such as the Srsti-karta (Creator), Jagat-pata (Protector of the universe), Visva-niyanta (Controller of the universe), Visva-palaka (Maintainer of the universe), and Paramatma (Supersoul) are related to the creation within the shelter of the material modes. These are called gauna (secondary), because they are related to the gunas (modes of material nature). There are many such gauna names, including names such as brahma. Although their fruit is extremely great, they do not easily yield a transcendental result (cit-phala).
The names that are always present both in the spiritual and material worlds are spiritual and primary. For example, names such as Narayana, Vasudeva, Janardana, Hrsikesa, Hari, Acyuta, Govinda, Gopala, and Rama are all primary. These names are present in Bhagavan’s abode (bhagavad-dhama), and are one with His form (bhagavat-svarupa). In the material world, these names only dance on the tongues of very fortunate people to whose bhakti they are attracted. Sri-bhagavan-nama has no connection at all with the material world, and all the saktis of Bhagavan’s form (bhagavat-svarupa) are present in sri-nama. Therefore, the names also possess all these saktis. They have descended into the material world and are engaged in destroying maya. The jivas have no friend in this material world except for hari-nama. In the Brhan-naradiya Purana, hari-nama is said to be the only way.
harer namaiva namaiva namaiva mama jivanam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
Brhan-naradiya Purana (38.126)
Meditation is the predominant process for perfection in Satya-yuga, yajna (sacrifice) in Treta-yuga, and arcana (Deity worship) in Dvapara-yuga. But in Kali-yuga harinama is my only life, hari-nama is my only life, hari-nama is my only life. In Kali-yuga, other than sri-hari-nama, there is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way.
Hari-nama has unlimited great and wonderful sakti which can destroy all kinds of sins within a moment.
avesenapi yan-namni kirttite sarva-patakaih
puman vimucyate sadyah simha-trastair mrgair iva
Garuda Purana (232.12)
A person who performs the kirtana of Sri Narayana with absorption becomes at once freed from all sins. They fly away from him just like frightened deer who hear the roar of a lion.
When one takes shelter of sri-hari-nama, all his miseries and all kinds of diseases disappear.
adhayo vyadhayo yasya smaranan nama-kirttanat
tadaiva vilayam yanti tam anantam namamy aham
I offer obeisances to the supreme Lord, who is known as Anantadeva. Remembering Him and chanting His name immediately dispels all kinds of diseases and miseries completely.
One who performs hari-nama purifies his family, his society and the whole world.
mahapataka-yukto’pi kirttayann anisam harim
suddhantah karano bhutva jayate pankti-pavanah
Even if one is very sinful, if he constantly performs harinama, his heart becomes pure, he attains twice-born status, and he purifies the whole world.
One who is dedicated to sri-hari-nama is relieved of all unhappiness, all disturbances, and all kinds of disease.
santi-dam sarva-ristanam harer namanukirttanam
When one performs sri-hari-nama-kirtana, all kinds of diseases go away, all kinds of disturbances are appeased, all kinds of obstacles are destroyed, and one attains supreme peace.
hare kesava govinda vasudeva jaganmaya
itirayanti ye nityam na hi tan badhate kalih
Kali cannot cause any impediment, even for a moment, to those who perform constant kirtana, chanting “O Hare! O Govinda! O Kesava! O Vasudeva! O Jaganmaya!”
One who hears sri-hari-nama becomes liberated from hell.
yatha yatha harer nama kirttayanti sma narakah
tatha tatha harau bhaktim udvahanto divam yayuh
If even the residents of hell chant hari-nama, they achieve hari-bhakti, and enter within the divine abode.
Chanting hari-nama destroys prarabdha-karma (the results of past pious or impious activity which is now bearing fruit).
yan namadheyam mriyamana aturah
patan skhalan va vivaso grnan puman
vimukta-karmargala uttamam gatim
prapnoti yaksyanti na tam kalau janah
If a human being helplessly chants just one name of Sri Bhagavan at the time of death, in an afflicted situation, or when falling down or slipping, all the bondage of his karma is destroyed and he will obtain the highest goal. But alas! Due to the influence of Kali-yuga, people do not worship Him.
Hari-nama-kirtana is more glorious and beneficial than studying the Vedas.
ma rco ma yajus tata ma sama patha kincan
govindeti harer nama geyam gayasva nityasah
There is no need to study and teach the Rg, Sama and Yajur Vedas, and so on. Simply perform constant sankirtana of Sri Hari’s name, Govinda.
Performing hari-nama is better than visiting all tirthas (holy places).
tirtha-koti-sahasrani tirtha-koti-satani ca
tani sarvany avapnoti visnor namani kirttanat
Kirtana of Sri Visnu’s names gives all the results obtained by going to millions of tirthas.
Even a dim glimmer of hari-nama (hari-namabhasa) gives unlimitedly more results than all kinds of sat-karma (pious fruitive activities).
go-koti-danam grahane khagasya
govinda-kirter na samam satamsaih
One may give cows in charity on the day of a solar eclipse;
one may reside in Prayaga on the banks of the Ganga for a
kalpa; or one may perform thousands of yajnas, and give in
charity a mountain of gold as high as Mount Sumeru. Still,
all these cannot even be compared with a one-hundredth
particle of sri-govinda-kirtana.
Hari-nama can yield all kinds of benefits (artha).
etat sad-varga-haranam ripu-nigrahanam param
adhyatma-mulam etad dhi visnor namanukirttanam
Sankirtana of Sri Visnu’s names conquers the six senses and the six enemies (beginning with kama and krodha) and is the root of knowledge of the Supreme Self.
Hari-nama is invested with all sakti.
dana-vrata-tapas-tirtha-ksetradinan ca yah sthitah
saktayo deva mahatam sarva-papaharah subhah
akrsya harina sarvah sthapita svesu namasu
There are so many auspicious qualities within charity (dana), vows (vrata), austerity (tapa), the holy places (tirthaksetras), the devatas, within all kinds of sin-removing righteous activities, in the aggregate of all powers (saktis), in the Rajasuya and Asvamedha sacrifices, and in the goal of knowledge of the identity of the self (jnana-sadhya of atma-vastu). However, Sri Hari has assembled all of these potencies and invested them within His own names.
Sri-hari-nama gives bliss to the whole world.
sthane hrsikesa tava prakirttya / jagat prahrsyaty anurajyate ca
O Hrsikesa, the world becomes delighted on hearing the kirtana of Your name and fame, and thus everyone becomes attached to You.
One who chants sri-hari-nama is worshipable in the world.
narayana jagannatha vasudeva janardana
itirayanti ye nityam te vai sarvatra vanditah
Those who always perform kirtana, chanting “O Narayana! O Jagannatha! O Vasudeva! O Janardana!” are worshiped everywhere in the world.
Sri-hari-nama is the only method for those who have no way.
ananya-gatayo marttya bhogino’ pi parantapah
sarva-dharmojjhitah visnor nama-matraika-jalpakah
sukhena yam gatim yanti na tam sarve’ pi dharmikah
Those who simply perform kirtana of Sri Visnu’s name may do so because they have no other means of support, and they may be absorbed in sense enjoyment. They may be troublesome to others, bereft of celibacy and other virtues, and outside all dharma. Still, the destination that they achieve cannot be attained by all the combined efforts of religious people.
Hari-nama can be performed at all times and under all circumstances.
na desa-niyamas tasmin na kala-niyamas tatha
nocchistadau nisedho’sti sri-harer namni lubdhaka
O you who are greedy for sri-hari-nama, there is no rule of time and place for kirtana of sri-hari-nama. One may perform hari-nama-kirtana in any condition, whether one is purified or contaminated, for example, if one’s mouth is not clean after eating.
Hari-nama certainly gives mukti very easily to one who desires it.
narayanacyutananta-vasudeveti yo narah
satatam kirttayed bhuvi yati mal-layatam sa hi
The person who wanders about the earth always chanting the names Narayana, Ananta, Acyuta and Vasudeva will go with Me to My planet.
kim karisyati sankhyena kim yogair nara-nayaka
muktim icchasi rajendra kuru govinda-kirttanam
O best of men, what benefit can one derive from studying sankhya philosophy or practicing astanga-yoga? O King, if you desire liberation, just perform Sri Govinda’s kirtana.
Hari-nama enables the jivas to attain Vaikuntha.
sarvatra sarva-kalesu ye’pi kurvanti patakam
nama-sankirttanam krtva yanti visnoh param padam
Even one who has performed sinful activities always and
everywhere attains the supreme abode of Visnu if he
Chanting hari-nama is the topmost means of pleasing Sri Bhagavan.
nama-sankirttanam visnoh ksut-trt-prapiditadisu
karoti satatam vipras tasya prito hy adhoksajah
O brahmanas! Adhoksaja Visnu remains very satisfied with those who incessantly perform sankirtana of Visnu’s name, even when troubled by hunger and thirst.
Hari-nama has the sakti to control Sri Bhagavan.
rnam etat pravrddham me hrdayan nasarpati
yad-govindeti cukrosa krsna mam dura-vasinam
When I was far away from Draupadi, she called out to Me, “Ha Govinda!” I am very much indebted to her for her distressed call, and I have not been able to remove that debt from My heart even today.
Hari-nama is the purusartha (supreme goal of life) for the jivas.
idam eva hi mangalyam etad eva dhanarjanam
jivitasya phalan caitad yad damodara-kirttanam
Skanda and Padma Puranas
Kirtana of Damodara, is certainly the cause of all auspiciousness, and the source of real wealth. The only benifit of having life is to perform such kirtana.
Hari-nama-kirtana is the best of all the different kinds of bhaktisadhana.
agha-cchit-smaranam visnor bahv-ayasena sadhyate
ostha-spandana-matrena kirttanam tu tato varam
Sri-visnu-smaranam destroys all sins but is attained only after much endevor. Visnu- kirtana, however, is superior because the same benefit is attained simply by vibrating sri-nama upon one’s lips.
yad-abhyarcya harim bhaktya krte kratu-satair api
phalam prapnoty avikalam kalau govinda-kirttanam
The same entire benefit obtained by performing hundreds of yajnas in Satya-yuga, can be achieved in Kali-yuga by performing kirtana of Sri Govinda’s names.
krte yad dhyayato visnum tretayam yajato makhaih
dvapare paricaryayam kalau tad dhari-kirttanat
Simply performing kirtana of Sri Hari’s Nama in Kali-yuga gives the same results as those that are achieved by meditating on Bhagavan in Satya-yuga, by worshiping Him with great yajnas in Treta-yuga, and by performing formal Deity worship in Dvapara-yuga.
Vijaya: Prabhu, I have full faith that hari-nama is completely spiritual, but still, in order to be free from doubts with regard to nama-tattva, it is necessary to understand how sri-hari-nama can be spiritual, when it is composed of syllables (which are apparently material). Will you please clarify this point?
Babaji: The svarupa (nature and form) of sri-nama has been explained in the Padma Purana.
nama cintamanih krsnas caitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah suddho nitya-mukto ’bhinnatvan nama-naminoh
Sri-krsna-nama is cintamani-svarupa. This means that it
awards the supreme goal of life and all transcendental good
fortune. This is because sri-hari-nama is non-different
from Him who possesses sri-nama. For the same reason sridivya-
nama is the very form of mellows (caitanya-rasasvarupa),
and is complete, pure, and eternally liberated
from contact with maya.
Sri-nama and sri-nami (He who possesses sri-nama) are nondifferent in tattva. Therefore, sri-krsna-nama has all the spiritual qualities present in Krsna Himself, the possessor of sri-nama. Srinama is always the complete truth, and has no contact with dull matter. He is eternally liberated, because He is never bound by material modes. Sri-krsna-nama is Krsna Himself, and that is why He is the personified form of the aggregate wealth of transcendental mellows. Sri-hari-nama is a wish-fulfilling gem (cintamani), and thus can award all that one desires from Him.
Vijaya: How can the syllables of sri-hari-nama be beyond the realm of illusory, material words?
Babaji: Hari-nama has not taken birth in the material world. The conscious, spark-like jiva is qualified to utter hari-nama when he is situated in his pure, spiritual form. However, he cannot perform pure hari-nama with his material senses which are bound by maya. When the jiva obtains the mercy of the hladini-sakti, then the activity of realizing his svarupa begins, and suddha-nama arises at that time. When suddha-nama appears, He mercifully descends on the mental faculty, and dances on the tongue which has been purified through the practice of bhakti. Sri-hari-nama is not a form of letters, but when He dances on the material tongue, He is manifest in the form of letters; that is the secret of krsna-nama.
Vijaya: Which name is the sweetest of all the primary holy names?
Babaji: The Sata-nama-stotra says,
visnor ekaikam namapi sarva-vedadhikam matam
tadrk-nama sahasrena rama-nama-samam smrtam
Chanting one name of Visnu gives more benefit than studying all the Vedas, and one name of Rama is equal to a thousand names (sahasra-nama) of Visnu.
Again, it is stated in the Brahmanda Purana,
sahasra-namnam punyanam trir avrttya tu yat phalam
ekavrttya tu krsnasya namaikam tat prayacchati
If one utters sri-krsna-nama once, one obtains the same result that comes from chanting the pure visnu-sahasranama three times.
The purport is that a thousand names of Visnu equals one name of Rama, and three thousand names of Visnu – that is to say, three names of Rama – equals one name of Krsna. Chanting Krsna’s name once gives the same result as chanting Rama’s name three times.
Sri-krsna-nama is certainly the supreme name. Therefore, we should follow the instruction of the Lord of our life, Sri Gauranga. Sundara, and always take sri-nama as He has given it: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Hare, Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.
Vijaya: What is the process of hari-nama-sadhana?
Babaji: One should constantly perform hari-nama by counting the names properly on a tulasi-mala or in the absence of that, counting on the fingers. One should always stay far away from offenses. The fruit of sri-hari-nama—krsna-prema—is attained by chanting suddha-nama. The purpose of keeping count is for the sadhaka to understand whether his practice of sri-hari-nama is increasing or diminishing. Tulasi-devi is very dear to Hari, so touching her while taking hari-nama means that hari-nama bestows more benefit. When one is practicing nama, one should understand that srikrsna-nama is non-different from His svarupa (eternal, intrinsic form).
Vijaya: Prabhu, there are nine or sixty-four different angas of sadhana, but chanting sri-hari-nama is only one form. If one is always practicing nama, how can one have time for the other forms of sadhana?
Babaji: That is not difficult. The sixty-four different angas of bhakti are all contained within the nine-fold process of bhakti. The nine angas of bhakti, whether in the worship (arcana) of sri-murti (the Deity) or in nirjana-sadhana,1 can be performed anywhere. Simply by the pure hearing, chanting, and remembering of sri-krsna-nama in front of sri-murti, one has accomplished nama-sadhana. Where there is no murti, simply remember the murti, and perform sadhana to that murti with the limbs of navadha (nine-fold) bhakti, in the form of hearing and chanting sri-nama, etc. One who is fortunate enough to have special ruci for nama always performs nama-kirtana. Thus, he automatically follows all the angas of bhakti. Sri-namakirtana is the most powerful of all the nine processes of sadhana: sravanam kirtanam etc. During kirtana, all the other angas are present, although they may not be evident.
Vijaya: How is it possible to perform continuous nama-sankirtana?
Babaji: Continuous nama-kirtana means performing kirtana of srihari-nama at all times, while sitting, getting up, eating, or working, except when sleeping. In nama-sadhana there is no prohibition regarding time, place, situation or cleanliness. That is, one may be in a pure or impure condition.
Vijaya: Oh, the mercy of nama-bhagavan is unlimited, but we have no hope of becoming Vaisnavas until you give us your mercy and bestow upon us the power to perform nama constantly.
Babaji: I have already explained that there are three kinds of Vaisnava: kanistha, madhyama, and uttama. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu told Satyaraja Khan that anyone who takes krsnanama is a Vaisnava. One who constantly takes krsna-nama is a madhyama Vaisnava, and the uttama Vaisnava is he whose very sight makes krsna-nama appear spontaneously in one’s mouth. Since you sometimes take krsna-nama with faith, you have already obtained the position of a Vaisnava.
Vijaya: Please tell us whatever else we should know about suddhakrsna-
Babaji: Suddha-krsna-nama is krsna-nama that has arisen through
undivided bhakti resulting from full faith. Other than that, the
chanting of sri-nama will be experienced as either namabhasa or
Vijaya: Prabhu, should we understand that hari-nama is sadhya (the aim and purpose) or sadhana (the means)?
Babaji: When one takes hari-nama in the course of sadhana-bhakti, that nama can be called sadhana. However, when the bhakta takes hari-nama in the course of bhava-bhakti or prema-bhakti, that manifestation of sri-hari-nama is sadhya-vastu, or the aim and object of practice. The sadhaka’s realization of the contraction or expansion of sri-hari-nama will depend on his level of bhakti.
Vijaya: Is there a difference in the experience of krsna-nama and krsna-svarupa?
Babaji: No, there is no difference in the experience, but one should understand the confidential secret that krsna-nama is more merciful than krsna-svarupa. Krsna’s svarupa (form) does not forgive whatever offense is made to Him, but krsna-nama forgives both offenses committed to the svarupa and offenses committed towards Himself. When you take nama, you should understand the namaaparadhas very clearly and try to avoid them, because you cannot chant suddha-nama until you stop committing offenses. The next time you come, we will discuss nama-aparadha. When Vrajanatha and Vijaya Kumara had learned about the glories of nama and nama-svarupa-tattva, they took Sri Gurudeva’s footdust, and slowly returned to Bilva-puskarini.