SC 16: Awakening Love of God
Atonement vs. Chanting the Holy Name
Here the Viṣṇudūtas say that the Vedic scriptures recommend various means of atonement, by which a person may be delivered from the reactions of his sinful activities. In Christianity there is also a means of atonement. If a Catholic commits a sin, for example, he is instructed to go to a priest and confess: "I have committed such-and-such sin." The priest is supposed to be an authorized representative of God, and so if he excuses the sinner, the sin becomes nullified.
However, such atonement cannot purify the sinful man as much as the purifying process of chanting the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The man who confesses to having sinned leaves the church and often commits the same sin again. In other words, there is no question of becoming purified by this process of atonement.
Still, atonement of various kinds is recommended in the
There are many such prescribed methods of atonement, but here the Viṣṇudūtas say, "Although these prescribed methods of atonement are authorized and true, they cannot purify the heart." We can see that even though the adherents of Hinduism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity perform such rituals of atonement, they cannot refrain from again committing the same sins. One who practices these principles of atonement is like a rascal patient who goes to a physician for treatment. The physician gives him medicine and instructs him how to take it, but the foolish patient takes the medicine according to his own whims, and so his condition worsens. Again he goes to the physician, crying "Doctor, please give me more medicine."
In this regard, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura describes an incident that took place when Sāmba, one of Lord Kṛṣṇa's sons, was rescued from the punishment of the Kauravas. Sāmba fell in love with Lakṣmaṇā, the daughter of Duryodhana, and since according to
Therefore such rituals of atonement as fasting and giving charity are not accepted by the Viṣṇudūtas. They say, "Such prescribed ritualistic ceremonies cannot purify a man as effectively as chanting the holy name of God." Undoubtedly one becomes free from all contamination of sinful life by executing particular religious principles, but these are ultimately insufficient, because the mind is so disturbed that even after being freed from the contamination of sinful reactions, the mind again becomes attracted to sinful activity.
The purificatory power of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, beginning with the chanting of the holy name, is stated in the
One cannot purify one's heart by atonement alone. A patient suffering from syphilis goes to the doctor, who gives him an injection and charges a high fee. Yes, he may be cured, but when he again engages in illicit sex, he once again contracts syphilis. So his heart was not purified of the desire for illicit sex. But if one takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he forgets illicit sex. That is the test of one's Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A sincere devotee never commits sin, because his heart has become purified by chanting the holy name and engaging in devotional service.
Of course, there are pseudodevotees who commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. They are great offenders against the holy name. We should not use the holy name like a machine, thinking that because the chanting process consumes sinful reactions we can freely commit more sin. This is the greatest offense against the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. Whatever sins we may have previously committed are immediately eradicated by offenseless chanting of the holy name of the Lord, even just once. But we must not sin again. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu forgave the sinful Jagāi and Mādhāi, who had been drunkards, woman-hunters, meat-eaters, and gamblers. But these two sinners fell down at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya and Nityānanda Prabhu and cried, "Sirs! We are so sinful! Kindly deliver us." Lord Caitanya agreed on the condition that they promise not to commit any more sins. He said, "Whatever you have done I shall excuse, but do not do it again." Thus Jagāi and Mādhāi vowed, "This is the end of our sinful activities. We shall not do them anymore." When a person is initiated by a spiritual master, the reactions of his sins immediately become nullified. But that does not mean he can again commit sins.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness means following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, and so we initiate disciples according to the principle he showed in the case of Jagāi and Mādhāi. We accept many people into our Society as duly initiated disciples, but only if they vow to observe these regulations: no more illicit sex, no more gambling, no more intoxication, and no more animal-killing or meat-eating. These regulations are necessary, because if one takes up spiritual life and at the same time goes on committing sinful activities, he will never be able to make progress. As Kṛṣṇa clearly says in the
yeṣām tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
"Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination."
If we are actually serious about entering into the kingdom of God, Vaikuṇṭha, then we should be very careful to follow the four regulative principles mentioned above. One must not have any sex except to have children within marriage. One must not indulge in intoxication. One must not gamble. And one must not eat meat, fish, or eggs or anything else beyond the foods established for human beings—grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, and sugar. Such foodstuffs are
Meditation on Kṛṣṇa's Form
If one chants the holy name of God—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—eventually he will see Kṛṣṇa's form, realize Kṛṣṇa's qualities, and remember Kṛṣṇa's pastimes. That is the effect of the pure chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments that the chanting of the holy name of the Lord has special significance that distinguishes it from the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies of atonement for severe, more severe, or most severe sins. There are twenty types of religious scriptures called
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī explains that it is because of the Lord's omnipotence that this is all possible simply by chanting His holy name. What cannot be achieved through the performance of Vedic rituals can easily be achieved through the chanting of the Lord's holy name. To chant the holy name and dance in ecstasy is so easy, sublime, and effective that one can readily achieve all the benefits of spiritual life simply by following this process. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu declares,
Although Ajāmila became fallen in his later days, in his youth he was a
That chanting and hearing the Lord's name and glories is the best means of purifying the heart of sinful propensities is confirmed at the beginning of the
śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi
vidhunoti suhṛt satām
"Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted."
It is the special mercy of the Supreme Lord that as soon as He sees a person glorifying His name, form, and pastimes, He personally cleanses the dirt from that person's heart. Even if one does not understand the meaning of the Lord's name, form, and pastimes, one is purified simply by hearing or chanting them.
One's main purpose in human life should be to purify one's existence and achieve liberation. As long as one has a material body, one is understood to be impure. In such an impure, material condition, one cannot enjoy a truly blissful life, although everyone seeks it. Therefore everyone requires purification. As Lord Ṛṣabhadeva says in the
Māyāvādīs, or impersonalists, cannot glorify the name, form, and pastimes of the Lord because they think that God has no form and that His pastimes are
God has a form, but it is not a form like ours. His form is
God's form is transcendental. That means His body is not material but spiritual. His form is of a different nature than that to which we are accustomed. In the
Unlike our knowledge, Kṛṣṇa's knowledge is unlimited. As He says in the
Thinking that God has no form is just imagination. It is material thought. We have a form, so He must have a form, though not a form like ours. Only fools think God is ultimately formless. Kṛṣṇa declares this in the
And just as Kṛṣṇa's form is not like our material forms, so His pastimes are also not of this material nature. Anyone who knows this is immediately liberated. Kṛṣṇa confirms this in the
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so 'rjuna
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains my eternal abode." Simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa purely, one can come to understand the pastimes of the Supreme Lord and thus become liberated. Chanting is easy and sublime. One who offenselessly chants Hare Kṛṣṇa will always remember Kṛṣṇa's form, pastimes, qualities, and entourage, and that remembrance will liberate him from all sinful reactions and all material bondage.
The Viṣṇudūtas here declare that although there are many methods prescribed in the
We simply care for Kṛṣṇa and how Kṛṣṇa will be happy. That is real happiness. We try to please Kṛṣṇa. Kaṁsa was also Kṛṣṇa conscious, insofar as he was always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, but his meditation was unfavorable. His meditation was on how to kill Kṛṣṇa. He was thinking of Kṛṣṇa, but he thought of Him as his enemy. That is certainly not
Lord Kṛṣṇa's Transcendental Pastimes
It is important to understand the difference between activities of
As mentioned above, hearing Kṛṣṇa's pastimes is very purifying, but such hearing has to be done with the right attitude. Some persons with material vision are very much attracted to Kṛṣṇa's
Generally people go to hear the
Therefore we instruct everyone first of all to read the first nine cantos of the
But even though ordinary hearers of
Unfortunately, most people do not hear the
The pure devotee's business is to satisfy Kṛṣṇa, and as soon as he chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa
Here the Viṣṇudūtas advise us in the same way: If we want to be freed from the reactions of
In Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or devotional service, there are nine processes: hearing about the transcendental name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord, chanting about these, remembering these, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering Him respectful worship, offering Him prayers, becoming His servant, considering Him one's friend, and surrendering everything to Him. One who practices one or more of these processes of devotional service throughout his life is sure to remember Kṛṣṇa at the time of death. That is the art of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We cannot abandon all activities and simply chant Hare Kṛṣṇa; therefore we keep ourselves constantly engaged in practical devotional service so that our mind is fixed upon Kṛṣṇa. Then, at the time of death, we are sure to attain total liberation from material existence.
One who is not practiced in devotional service cannot all of a sudden chant the holy name of Nārāyaṇa at the time of death. He must have prior practice in order to chant effectively. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has recommended,
paramaṁ puruṣaṁ divyaṁ
"He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, is sure to reach Me."
That Ajāmila remembered Kṛṣṇa was not accidental. He had chanted the name of Lord Nārāyaṇa earlier in his life, but he forgot the Lord due to bad association. Nevertheless, the transcendental effect of his earlier practice was there at the time of his death, even though he was calling out the name of his youngest son, not intending to call for Kṛṣṇa.
As stated in the
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail."
One who practices chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa
Although Ajāmila indirectly chanted the holy name of Lord Nārāyaṇa through the medium of the name of his youngest son, he at once remembered Lord Nārāyaṇa. Therefore in Vedic society children are given God's names. It is not that the child becomes God. If we name a child Nārāyaṇa, it is understood that he is Nārāyaṇa dāsa, the servant of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Similarly, we give our disciples spiritual names, such as Viṣṇu dāsa, Vāmana dāsa, or Kṛṣṇa dāsa. That Ajāmila remembered Lord Nārāyaṇa by calling his son of the same name is confirmed in the
One attains freedom from all sinful reactions immediately upon recitation of the holy name, even if one does not understand the potency of the name. Whether one is chanting with devotion and reverence or without any faith, more sinful reactions are vanquished than a sinful man can commit. Kṛṣṇa's name has such unlimited potency. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu was chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa
The chanting of Kṛṣṇa's holy name is like the sun rising in one's darkened heart. This universe is full of darkness, and only by Kṛṣṇa's arrangement for sunshine do we see light. As soon as the sun sets, the world comes under the influence of darkness. Likewise, our heart is full of the darkness of ignorance, but there is a light to dispel the darkness, and that light is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Due to impious activities we are in ignorance, but to those who constantly engage in the service of the Lord with love and affection, Kṛṣṇa reveals Himself in the heart. By Kṛṣṇa's special mercy, the devotees are always kept in the light of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa knows everyone's intention or motive, and His mercy is especially meant for those who are sincerely engaged in His service.
Kṛṣṇa is equal to everyone, and as such, His mercy is unlimited. However, He is very much inclined toward His devotees. If one is prepared to accept His mercy unlimitedly, then He is prepared to give it unlimitedly. On account of our envious nature, however, we are not prepared to take His mercy. In the
Naturally Kṛṣṇa bestows more mercy upon His devotee, because the devotee has the capacity to accept that mercy through service. The process of receiving the causeless mercy of the Lord is to render more and more service. We should be very enthusiastic to render service to the Lord. That enthusiasm will come when we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa with faith and determination.
Someone may argue, "I can see how chanting the holy name with faith is purifying, but if a man has no faith, then how will the holy name act?" Here are some examples: If an innocent child touches fire, knowingly or unknowingly, it will burn him. Or, if we give medicine to a child, it acts, even though he does not know the potency of the medicine or how it is acting. Poison also acts in this way. Similarly, the Hare
The potency of the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa is confirmed by the spread of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. In countries where the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is spreading, learned scholars and other thoughtful men are realizing its effectiveness. For example, Dr. J. Stillson Judah, a learned scholar, has been very much attracted to this movement because he has actually seen that it is turning hippies addicted to drugs into pure Vaiṣṇavas who voluntarily become servants of Kṛṣṇa and humanity. Even a few years ago, such hippies did not know the Hare Kṛṣṇa
Another analogy: fire will act, regardless of whether handled by an innocent child or by someone well aware of its power. If a field of dry grass is set afire, either by a man who knows the power of fire or by a child who does not, the grass will be burned to ashes. Similarly, a person may or may not know the power of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa
Extended Lease on Life
The servants of Yamarāja are so powerful that generally they cannot be hindered anywhere, but this time they were baffled and disappointed in their attempt to take away a man they considered sinful. Therefore they immediately returned to Yamarāja and described to him everything that had happened. They thought that it was unnatural that Ajāmila, who had seemed eligible to be brought before Yamarāja, had been released by the Viṣṇudūtas.
Now Ajāmila was fully Kṛṣṇa conscious. By the divine association of the Viṣṇudūtas, who were highly elevated Vaiṣṇavas, Ajāmila came to his full consciousness. He had been arrested, but then he had been released, and now he was free from all fear. This is liberation. When one is situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by the association of Vaiṣṇavas, or devotees of the Lord, one becomes free from all fear. This position is eternal. Ajāmila became fearless due to being reinstated in his constitutional position. At once he began to offer nice prayers to the Viṣṇudūtas:
Vaiṣṇavas are also Viṣṇudūtas because they carry out the orders of Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa is very eager for all the conditioned souls rotting in this material world to surrender to Him and be saved from material pangs in this life and punishment in hellish conditions after death. A Vaiṣṇava therefore tries to bring conditioned souls to their senses. Those who are fortunate like Ajāmila are saved by the Viṣṇudūtas, or Vaiṣṇavas, and thus they return home, back to Godhead.
Good examples of merciful Vaiṣṇavas are the six Gosvāmīs. They scrutinizingly studied all kinds of scriptures to establish the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In the
Spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as the six Gosvāmīs did, is the best welfare work for all humanity. There seem to be many other welfare activities, but their benefit is only temporary. The great welfare work of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness, undertaken by exalted personalities such as the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, has real value for all men because it is based upon substantial spiritual truth. The Vaiṣṇavas are just like desire trees (
Ajāmila heard the conversation between the Yamadūtas and the Viṣṇudūtas, and simply by hearing he was completely cleansed of all material contamination. Such is the purifying effect of hearing about Kṛṣṇa. Anyone who regularly hears the
Ajāmila was very grateful to the Viṣṇudūtas, and he immediately offered his respects by bowing down before them. Similarly, we have to make firm our relationships with the servants of Lord Viṣṇu. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said,
After Ajāmila had offered his respects to the Viṣṇudūtas, he prepared to say something out of gratitude. But they immediately took their leave because they preferred that he glorify the Supreme Lord instead. Since all his sinful reactions had been vanquished, Ajāmila was now prepared to glorify the Lord. Indeed, one cannot glorify the Lord sincerely unless one is free from all sinful activities. This is confirmed by Kṛṣṇa Himself in the
yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
"Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the duality of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination." The Viṣṇudūtas made Ajāmila aware of devotional service so that He might soon become fit to return home, back to Godhead. To increase his eagerness to glorify the Lord, they disappeared so that he would feel separation in their absence. In the mood of separation, glorification of the Lord is very intense.