Vrajanätha and Vijaya Kumara were extremely happy to learn the glories of sri-nama and nama-svarupa-tattva. When they arrived home, they chanted fifty thousand names on their tulasimala without offense, and by this chanting of suddha-nama they received direct experience of Krsna’s mercy. It was late at night when they finally took rest.
When they rose the next morning, they discussed the events of the previous night and became very blissful as they expressed their own realizations. They passed the day in bathing in the Ganga, worshiping Krsna, taking hari-nama, performing kirtana, studying Dasa-mula, reviewing Srimad-Bhagavatam, and performing vaisnava-seva and bhagavat-prasada-seva. That evening, they presented themselves at the venerable Babaji Mahasaya’s kutira at Srivasangana. After offering sastanga-pranama, Vijaya Kumara inquired about the topic of nama-aparadha-tattva that had been introduced the previous evening.
On hearing Vijaya Kumara’s eagerness to know about this tattva, Babaji Maharaja was pleased, and lovingly said, “Just as nama is the highest truth, so nama-aparadha (offense against sri-nama) is the most frightening of all kinds of sins and offenses. All other kinds of sins and offenses go away naturally and automatically as one utters sri-nama, but nama-aparadha does not go away so easily. In the description of the glories of sri-nama in the Padma Purana, Svarga-khanda (48, 49) it is said:
nama-aparadha-yuktanam namany eva haranty agham
avisranta-prayuktani tany evartha-karani ca
For those infected with nama-aparadha, sri-nama will certainly remove the sin, provided the sadhakas chant tirelessly and unremittingly. Sri-nama Himself will effect their deliverance.
Just see, it is so difficult to destroy nama-aparadha. Therefore, one must avoid nama-aparadha when one chants sri-nama. If one tries hard to stop committing nama-aparadha, suddha-nama will manifest very quickly.
One may take sri-nama and be chanting continually, with the hairs on his body standing on end and streams of tears flowing from his eyes; but it may still be that, because of nama-aparadha, he is not uttering suddha-nama. Therefore, sadhakas must give very special attention to this; otherwise, they will not be able to chant suddha-nama.
Vijaya: Prabhu, what is suddha-nama (the pure holy name)?
Babaji: Suddha-nama is hari-nama that is free from the ten kinds of offenses. There is no consideration of purity or impurity with regard to pronunciation of the syllables of sri-nama.
namaikam yasya vaci smarana-patha-gatam srotra-mulam gatam va
suddham vasuddha-varna-vyavahita-rahitam tarayaty eva satyam
tac ced deha-dravina-janata lobha-pasana-madhye
niksiptam syann aphala-janakam sighram evatra vipra
Padma Purana, Svarga-khanda (48. 60-61)
O best of brahmanas, if only one holy name appears on the tongue, or enters the ear, or arises on the path of one’s remembrance, that nama will certainly liberate one. The purity or impurity of one’s pronunciation of the syllables of sri-nama (nama- aksara) in accordance with vidhi (regulation of sastra) is not so important. That is to say, sri-nama does not make such considerations. What is considered is that the real fruit of chanting will not come quickly if this all-powerful name is chanted in the interests of the body, house, wealth, material development, sons, and family, or with greed for gold, women, and prestige.
There are two kinds of obstacles or offenses: ordinary and great. Sri-nama that is chanted with ordinary obstacles is nama-abhasa, which awards its benefit some time later. Nama impeded with great obstacles is nama-aparadha. This aparadha does not go far away unless one chants sri-nama constantly.
Vijaya: It seems to me that the sadhaka should know about namaaparadha.
Please be merciful and tell us in detail about it.
Babaji: There is a very deep and essential analysis of the ten kinds of nama-aparadha in the Padma Purana:
satam ninda namnah param aparadham vitanute
yatah khyatim yatam katham u sahate tu tad-vigarham
(1) Criticizing or blaspheming saints and great bhaktas increases terrible offenses towards sri-nama. How can Sri Krsna tolerate blasphemy of great souls who are devoted to sri-nama, and who preach the glories of sri-krsna-nama in this world? Therefore, the first offense is to blaspheme the bhaktas.
sivasya sri-visnor ya iha guna-namadi-sakalam
dhiya bhinnam pasyet sa khalu hari-namahita-karah
(2) In this material world, Sri Visnu’s name, form, qualities, pastimes and so on are all-auspicious for all beings. If one considers them to be material phenomena and different from Sri Visnu Himself, this is detrimental to one’s chanting of sri-hari-nama. It is also nama-aparadha to believe that Siva and the other devas are independent and equal with Sri Visnu.
The other offenses are:
(3) guror avajna: to disrespect sri-guru who knows namatattva by considering him an ordinary, mortal human being, with a body made of the five material elements.
(4) sruti-sastra-nindanam: to blaspheme the Vedas, the Satvatas, the Puranas, and other sastras.
(5) artha-vadah: to think that the glorification of sri-harinama in sastra is an exaggeration.
(6) hari-namni kalpanam: to interpret sri-hari-nama (in a mundane way) or to think that nama Himself is a product of the imagination.
namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhir
na vidyate tasya yamair hi suddhih
(7) It is certain that one who is engaged in sinful activities on the strength of sri-nama cannot be purified by artificial yoga practices such as yama, niyama, dhyana, and dharana.
subha-kriya-samyam api pramadah
(8) It is an offense to think that rituals and pious material activities such as dharma, vrata, tyaga, and homa are equal, or even comparable to Bhagavan’s sri-divya-nama (transcendental name).
asraddadhane vimukhe’py asrnvati
yas copadesah siva-nama-aparadhah
(9) It is nama-aparadha to give instructions on auspicious sri-nama to those who are faithless or averse to hearing srinama. srute ‘pi nama-mahatmye yah priti-rahito narah aham-mamadi-paramo namni so’py aparadha-krt
(10)One is a nama-aparadhi if, even after hearing the wonderful glories of sri-nama, he does not show love or enthusiasm for chanting sri-nama and clings fast to the material conception, of ‘I’ and ‘mine’; that is to say, “I am this body, composed of blood, flesh and skin, and things relating to this body are mine.”
Vijaya: Please make us understand all these offenses by explaining each sloka completely.
Babaji: The first sloka describes two offenses. It is a great offense to blaspheme, censure, or disrespect bhaktas who have completely given up materially motivated practices such as karma, dharma, jnana, yoga and tapasya, and who with an exclusive mood of devotion, have taken shelter of Bhagavan’s sri-nama. Sri-Hari-Nama Prabhu cannot tolerate blasphemy of those who preach the factual glories of sri-nama in this world. One should not blaspheme those bhaktas who are one-pointedly devoted to sri-nama. Instead, one should accept them as the best of saintly persons. One should remain and perform nama-kirtana in their association. One will certainly attain the mercy of sri-nama quickly by doing so.
Vijaya: Now we can understand the first offense clearly. Kindly explain the second offense.
Babaji: The second offense is mentioned in the second part of the first sloka, and it has been explained in two ways. The first explanation is that it is an offense to sri-nama to consider that Sadasiva and other leaders of the devas are independent of Sri Visnu. According to bahv-isvara-vada (the doctrine of many controllers), Sadasiva is a perfectly powerful controller, who is independent and separate from Bhagavan Sri Visnu. However, this conception creates an obstacle to one-pointed hari-bhakti. Sri Krsna is actually the controller of everything and everyone, and Siva and the other devas only achieve their positions as controllers through His power. These devas have no separate power of their own, and it is nama-aparadha to perform hari-nama thinking that they do.
The second explanation is that it is also an offense to sri-nama to consider that the all-auspicious, intrinsic svarupa of Sri Bhagavan’s names, forms, qualities and pastimes is different from Bhagavan’s eternal, perfect form (vigraha). Krsna’s intrinsic nature, Krsna’s name, Krsna’s qualities and Krsna’s pastimes are all transcendental and non-different from each other. One should perform krsna-nama-sankirtana with this knowledge and realization, otherwise there will be an aparadha (offense made to sri-nama). Thus, one should perform krsna-nama after first comprehending sambandha-jnana; this is the process.
Vijaya: I can understand the first and second nama-aparadhas very well, because you have kindly explained to me the relationship of simultaneous oneness and difference between Sri Krsna’s transcendental spiritual form and Sri Krsna Himself, who possesses the form; between His transcendental qualities and He who possesses those qualities; between His names and He who possesses those names; and between the parts and the whole. One who is taking shelter of sri-nama must also learn from Gurudeva about the respective natures of the cit (conscious) and acit (unconscious) tattvas, and about the relationship between them. Now kindly explain the third offense.
Babaji: The sri-nama-guru is he who awards instructions about the superiority of nama-tattva, and one’s duty is to maintain fixed and resolute bhakti towards him. It is nama-aparadha to minimize the position of nama-guru, thinking that he knows only about nama-sastra, whereas the scholars of Vedanta philosophy and other sastras actually know the meaning of the sastras. Actually, no guru is superior to the nama-tattva-vid guru, and it is an offense to think that he is less important.
Vijaya: Prabhu, I am assured of well-being if I can maintain pure bhakti towards you. Please explain the fourth offense.
Babaji: There is a special instruction in the sruti regarding the ultimate goal. There, the glories of sri-nama are declared to be the foremost of spiritual processes.
om asya jananto nama-cid-viviktanas
mahas te visno sumatim bhajamahe
om tat sat
O Sri Visnu, one who chants sri-nama thoughtfully and properly will not be confused and disturbed in his bhajana and other regulative practices. In other words, when one accepts sri-nama, there is no question of the place, time and person being favorable or unfavorable, because srinama is the all-illuminating, personified form of knowledge, and the supreme knowable object. Therefore, we offer our prayers to sri-nama.
om padam devasya namasa vyantah / sravasya vasrava annamrktam
namani cid dadhire yajniyani / bhadrayante ranayantah sandrstau
O most worshipable Lord, I am offering obeisances to Your lotus feet again and again. Hearing the glories of Your lotus feet may give bhaktas the adhikara for fame and liberation, but what is the value in that? Still more glorious are those bhaktas who engage in discussions and debates to establish Your lotus feet as the ultimate abode, and together cultivate their service relationship with You through the performance of sankirtana. When asakti appears in their hearts, they take sole shelter of Your caitanya-svarupa-nama (fully conscious name) to achieve darsana of Your lotus feet.
om tam u stotarah purvam yathavida
rtasya garvabham janusa piparttana
asya jananto nama cid-viviktana
mahas te visno sumatim bhajamahe
Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.274-276), Rg Veda (1.156.3)
The letter ‘u’ indicates utter astonishment that we cannot
make our lives successful by performing kirtana of Sri
Krsna as you do, glorifying that supremely renowned primeval
and complete tat and sat Reality (padartha). The reason
is that we do not know how His stava (prayers) and
kirtana should be performed. Therefore our eternal duty is
to fulfill the purpose of our human life by engaging in incessant
All the Vedas and Upanisads proclaim the glories of sri-nama, and it is nama-aparadha to blaspheme the mantras that reveal the glories of sri-nama. Some people unfortunately neglect the srutimantras that give these instructions, and give more respect to the other instructions of the sruti. This is also nama-aparadha, and the result will be that the offender will not have any taste for nama. You should perform hari-nama with the understanding that these main sruti-mantras are the life and soul of the sruti.
Vijaya: Prabhu, it seems as if nectar is pouring from your mouth.
Now, I am very eager to understand the fifth offense.
Babaji: The fifth offense is to give mundane interpretations of sri-nama. The Jaimini-samhita explains this offense as follows:
ye’rthavada iti bruyur na tesam niraya-ksayah
Those who consider that the mantras of the Vedas, Puranas, Upanisads and other Vedic literatures have exaggerated the glories of Bhagavan’s nama will go to everlasting hell, and never return.
In the Brahma-samhita, Sri Bhagavan has said to Sri Brahma:
yan-nama-kirtana-phalam vividham nisamya
na sraddhadhati manute yad utarthavadam
yo manusas tam iha duhkha-caye ksipami
If a human being does not become faithful when he hears the glories of hari-nama, but believes them to be exaggeration, I put him into the terrible cycle of birth and death with all kinds of miseries.
In the sastras it is said that Bhagavan’s names contain all His saktis. Sri-nama is completely spiritual, and therefore He is successful in destroying the illusion of this material world.
krsneti mangalam nama yasya vaci pravarttate
bhasmi-bhavanti rajendra mahapataka-kotayah
O King, millions of sins are burned to ashes if the supremely auspicious form of Krsna’s nama resides in one’s mouth.
nanyat pasyami jantunam vihaya hari-kirttanam
sarva-papa-prasamanam prayascittam dvijottama
O best among the brahmanas, sri-hari-nama is the atonement that destroys all forms of sins, and I consider that one who gives up sri-nama to be no more than an animal.
namno hi yavati saktih papa-nirharane hareh
tavat kartum na saknoti patakam pataki narah
The potency of sri-hari-nama can remove more sins than the most sinful person can possibly commit.
All these glories of sri-nama are the supreme absolute truth, but when people active in karma and jnana hear them, they concoct explanations to protect their own activities. Their explanation
is that the glories of sri-nama mentioned in sastras are not really the truth, but are exaggerations intended to create a taste for sri-nama.
Nama-aparadha will prevent such offenders from getting a taste for hari-nama. You should perform hari-nama with full faith in the statements of the sastras, and never take the association of those who give mundane explanations. Furthermore, if they unexpectedly appear before your eyes, you should take bath with all your clothes on. That is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instruction.
Vijaya: Prabhu, it appears difficult for householders to chant suddha-hari-nama because we are always surrounded by offensive people who are not at all devotional. It is very difficult for brahmana-panditas like ourselves to have sat-sanga. Prabhu, please give us the strength to give up bad association. The more I hear from your mouth, the more my thirst for hearing increases. Now please explain the sixth offense to us.
Babaji: The sixth offense is to consider sri-bhagavan-nama to be imaginary. Mayavadis and fruitive materialists think the changeless, nirvisesa-brahma to be the Absolute Truth. Those who believe that the rsis have imagined sri-bhagavan-nama such as Rama and Krsna as a method to attain perfection are nama-aparadhis. Hari-nama is not imaginary; He is an eternal, spiritual vastu. Srisad-guru and the Vedic sastras instruct us that when we engage in the process of bhakti, hari-nama manifests within our spiritual senses. Therefore, hari-nama must be accepted as the Absolute Truth, and if one thinks that He is imaginary, one can never attain His mercy.
Vijaya: Prabhu, before we took shelter of your fearless lotus feet, due to bad association, we also thought in that way. Now, by your mercy, this conception is vanquished. Please explain the seventh offense to us.
Babaji: One who is engaged in sinful activities on the strength of sri-nama is a nama-aparadhi. If one performs sinful activities in the belief that sri-nama will purify him, one cannot become free from those mountains of sins by following the rules and regulations of Vaisnava conduct, because all these activities then assume the form of further sins that are in the category of nama-aparadha, and only the process for nullifying nama-aparadhas can destroy them.
Vijaya: Prabhu, if hari-nama can destroy all sins without exception, then why does it not destroy the sins of one who chants srinama, and why is he deemed an offender?
Babaji: On the day that the jiva accepts suddha-nama, one name that he utters certainly destroys the sum total of all his prarabdha and aprarabdha-karma, and through the second name, prema will arise. Those who chant suddha-hari-nama have no desire to perform even pious activities, and what to speak of their maintaining papa-buddhi, a mentality that “I shall commit sin and then chant nama to exonerate myself from that sin.” A person who has taken shelter of sri-nama will never commit a sin. However, it may be that a sadhaka only utters nama-abhasa, and not suddha-nama, because of some remaining nama-aparadha. The sins that he performed before chanting nama-abhasa are being destroyed, and there is no taste for committing new sins. Nama-abhasa also very slowly destroys whatever sinful karma remains because of previous practice. Sometimes he unexpectedly commits new sins, but they also go away because of his nama-abhasa. However, it is nama-aparadha to take shelter of sri-nama and then engage in sinful activities, thinking, “Since the influence of sri-nama destroys all my sins, certainly it will also destroy the sins that I am committing now.”
Vijaya: Now kindly tell us about the eighth offense.
Babaji: Sat-karma refers to all kinds of dharma (in the general sense), that is to say, varnasrama, performing charity and other pious activities, observing vows (vrata) and other kinds of auspicious activities, renouncing the results of all activities (sannyasadharma), all kinds of yajnas, astanga-yoga, and whatever else sastra has defined as auspicious activity. These are all counted as material dharma (jada-dharma), whereas Bhagavan’s sri-nama is transcendental to material nature. All these sat-karma are only auxiliary means to attain the transcendental, blissful goal; they are not the goal themselves. However, hari-nama is the means at the time of sadhana, and is Himself sadhya, the goal at the time of achieving the result. Therefore, sat-karma cannot possibly be compared with hari-nama, and those who consider that sat-karma is equal to hari-nama are nama-aparadhis. One who prays to srihari-nama for the insignificant results of performing sat-karma is a nama-aparadhi, because his activity exposes his conception that the various forms of sat-karma are equal to sri-nama. You should take refuge of hari-nama with spiritual intelligence, knowing that the result of sat-karma is very insignificant. This is the understanding of the process of sadhana (abhidheya-jnana).
Vijaya: Prabhu, we have understood very well that there is nothing equal to hari-nama. Now mercifully enlighten us about the ninth offense.
Babaji: Of all the various instructions in the Vedas, the instructions on hari-nama are the most important, and only those who have faith in exclusive bhakti are qualified to hear sri-nama’s glories. It is an offense to give instruction on hari-nama to those who do not have faith, who are averse to the transcendental service of Hari, or who have no taste for hearing nama. It is beneficial to give instruction that hari-nama is the most exalted of all spiritual practices, and that all who accept hari-nama will become most fortunate, but one should not give such instructions on hari-nama to the unqualified. When you become a parama-bhagavata, then you will also be able to transmit sakti. Such a great Vaisnava can first create faith in sri-nama by bestowing spiritual sakti on the jivas, and after that instruct them about hari-nama. However, as long as you remain a madhyama Vaisnava, you must neglect those who are faithless, disinterested and envious.
Vijaya: Prabhu, how should we understand the behavior of those who give hari-nama to unqualified people out of greed for wealth, name and fame?
Babaji: They are nama-aparadhi.
Vijaya: Please explain the tenth offense.
Babaji: People in the material world think, “I am such-and-such a person. This wealth, sons and relatives are all mine.” They are madly engrossed in such material consciousness. If by coincidence they hear the glories of hari-nama from learned people, a moment of renunciation or knowledge may appear, but then if they knowingly do not keep their attachment for sri-nama, they are also nama-aparadhis. Therefore it is said in the second sloka of Siksastaka:
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah
O Bhagavan, You have manifested Yourself in various names, such as Krsna, Govinda, Gopala, Vanamali, and so on. You have invested all your saktis in these names, and there is no question of improper time or place for remembering sri- nama. You are so causelessly merciful, but unfortunately, because of my aparadhas, I have no taste for srihari-nama, whom You have made so easily available.
One should remain free from the ten kinds of nama-aparadha, and engage in hari-nama. If one does so, sri-nama will swiftly award you His mercy in the form of prema, and transform you into a parama-bhagavata.
Vijaya: Prabhu, I can now understand that Mayavadis, karmis and yogis are all offenders to sri-nama. Since this is the case, is it proper for pure Vaisnavas to participate when many people congregate to perform nama-kirtana?
Babaji: It is not proper for Vaisnavas to participate in sankirtana groups in which nama-aparadhis are prominent and the lead singer is a nama-aparadhi. However, there is no fault in participating in sankirtana groups in which pure Vaisnavas or general bhaktas who are nama-abhasis are prominent. On the contrary, in such sanga there will be gain in the form of ananda in nama-sankirtana. Now it is late. Tomorrow I will speak to you on namabhasa.
Vijaya and Vrajanatha became ecstatic with nama-prema. After
offering prayers to Babaji Maharaja, they took his precious
footdust on their foreheads and returned home, singing kirtana,
hari haraye namah krsna yadavaya namah!