Answers to questions about chanting Sri Hari-nam.

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

You can chant pure Hari-nam before diksa [gayatri initiation], but that must be without offence. Otherwise, it will not be real Hari-nam. How will you know that your chanting is without offence?

adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 4.15)

First sraddha is necessary, and then sadhu-sanga. If you take Hari-nam from the sadhu, then the real seed will come to you. You must chant that seed of Hari-nam without offence; then Hari-nam will give you the actual result. Diksa [gayatri initiation], purascharya [purificatory rites], and other things are not necessary. It is only necessary to take Hari-nam without offence, and with sadhu-sanga.

eka-bara krsna-name yata papa hare
patakira sadhya nahi tata papa kare

If you chant Krishna-nam once, all your sins will go away.

Student: Srila Sanatan Goswami gave the example of a touchstone which can change the worst metal into gold. In this example, the worst metal means being papamaya, right?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, papamaya: sinful, non-divine.

Student: But how can Hari-nam change a sinful person, if, as you say, Hari-nam, Suddha-nam, will only come when one has no sins and no offences?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: When you chant Hari-nam without offence, all your sins go away.

Student: But if someone is papamaya, how can they chant without offence?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is not possible for a sinful person to chant Suddha-nam. You are correct. That is the first thing. The second thing, though, is that the material senses cannot catch Hari-nam.

Student: Sanatan Goswami says that Hari-nam can transform a sinner into a pure Vaisnava. So, how can that person change if Hari-nam will not come until they are free from all offences (aparadha)?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: First, it is necessary to take Hari-nam from a sadhu. Then you will understand the process to chant Hari-nam. You must also follow the rules the sadhu gives. The sadhu will tell you the ten kinds of offences to Hari-nam (Namaparadha): “You must avoid that, that, and this thing.” Then, you have to take Hari-nam in that way.

Adau sraddha: the first thing is sraddha. “Hari-nam can give everything.” This kind of mental strength is sraddha. When sraddha comes, then you must do sadhu-sanga: take advice from the sadhu about Hari-nam and follow that advice. Then your Hari-nam may come. But you cannot chant pure Hari-nam with your material tongue. When real Hari-nam comes to you, your senses will be transformed—they will become transcendental—and your transcendental tongue can chant Hari-nam.

Diksa means,

divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya sanksayam
(Bhakti-sandarbha: 283)

[“Diksa is that which grants transcendental knowledge and destroys all sin.”]

yatha kanchanatam yati kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah
tatha diksa-vidhanena dvijatvam jayate nrnam
(Bhakti-sandarbha: 298)

[“By chemical manipulation, bell metal is turned into gold when touched by mercury. Similarly, when a person is properly initiated, they can acquire the qualities of a brahman.”]

Dvijatvam means one gets a brahman form; there is also sin in a brahman form, but it will be removed by diksa.

When you get the seed of diksa, it will not immediately remove sin; it is sata patra vedhah nyaya: when you push a needle through a bunch of one hundred leaves, it may appear that the needle is going through all the leaves at the same time, but it is actually going through them one by one. A person’s sin will go in this way. It will take a little time, but that time is very short within ananta kal, infinite time. It may even be in one birth.

Student: When someone receives Hari-nam from a sadhu, is that also called diksa, Hari-nam-diksa?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Yes, we call that Hari-nam-diksa, but diksa actually means receiving the seed that gives divya jnan, transcendental knowledge. Diksa also removes all sin from the body.

Student: Like prayaschitta?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Not like prayaschitta [atonement], it is more like purascharan [purificatory rites].

Student: And initiation is also not necessary, is that correct?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is not necessary to first take gayatri initiation and then receive Hari-nam. You can take Hari-nam anywhere, any time, and at any moment, but you must take it from a sadhu. You must take Hari-nam from a real saint, a sadhu.

Student: And what if somebody receives a scripture from a sadhu? The sadhu writes the scripture, and in that scripture he may instruct Harer Nama Harer Nama Harer Namaiva kevalam in writing and also give the mahamantra.

Srila Govinda Maharaj: If you read that, you will understand that Hari-nam is very essential, and if you want to know how you should chant Hari-nam, you can also search for that in the grantha, scripture; and when you search, you will see first:

‘sadhu-sanga’, ‘sadhu-sanga’ — sarva-sastre kaya
lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Madhya 22.54)

[“All the scriptures say, ‘Association with sadhus, association with sadhus’. All perfection is realised within one moment of association with sadhus.”]

This is the proper channel. Whatever you do must be through the proper channel.

Student: We want to chant Suddha-nam, but only Nam-aparadha is coming. What will be the benefit for us if we continue chanting Nam-aparadha?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: We are trying to properly chant Suddha-nam, and Nam-aparadha is coming, but while doing that, Suddha-nam must come once, and Suddha-nam will be merciful to us. Suddha-nam will think, “Oh, he needs this, but cannot do it. He wants to do it, but cannot do it. So, I will go there. He is trying heart and soul, but he cannot do it. I shall help him.” In this way, Suddha-nam will come Himself, and Suddha-nam will dance on his tongue; and that tongue must be transcendental.

Student: Sometimes I think, why are we doing japa if we are not chanting Suddha-nam?

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Through japa, we are remembering Krishna and developing some attachment to Krishna; and Krishna and Krishna-nam are the same. When I am chanting Krishna-nam, “Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna”, attachment is coming for Krishna, and Krishna must once come to me in the form of His Name.

Suddha-nam will come through sadhu-sanga. First sadhu-sanga, and then sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. This sloka is very important for explaining that:

atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 1.2.234)

[“Although Krishna’s Name, Form, Qualities, and Pastimes cannot be grasped by the material senses, they manifest themselves on the tongue and to the other senses according to one’s service attitude.”]

If somebody can understand this, they can understand everything about how it is possible. Then they will first search for the sadhu who is chanting Krishna-nam. Association with saints is necessary—through that association we will develop our mood of service to Krishna.

Student: Sometimes I think, Srila Guru Maharaj’s [Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj’s] nature is very strict and my nature is very bad, so he is not accepting me and I am not really getting sadhu-sanga. Therefore, I think I am not a sisya, disciple, of Guru Maharaj. He is giving his mercy, but I am not accepting it, so he is disgusted and does not want me as a sisya.

Srila Govinda Maharaj: Srila Guru Maharaj does not have any right to reject someone. If Guru Maharaj accepted me once, in any way, through Hari-nam, through diksa, or through sannyas—if he accepted me in any way, then he must look after me, and today or tomorrow, some result must come to me. This type of faith is necessary.

Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur said,

marabi rakhabi yo ichchha tohara
nitya-dase prati tuya adhikara
(Saranagati, 11.3)

[“You may kill me or protect me as You wish. You have full authority over Your eternal servant”]

raksa karabi tuhu nischaya jani
pana karabu hama yamuna-pani
(Saranagati, 23.5)

[“Knowing for certain that You will protect me, I will drink the water of the Yamuna (regardless of the fact that it is poisoned by the serpent Kaliya).]

Our faith is the most valuable thing. Faith is necessary. If Guru Maharaj accepted me, if he accepted me in any way, then I must get that in the future. I have no doubt. It may come today or tomorrow, but it must come. He cannot throw me out. If I commit many offences or commit Vaisnava-aparadha, then he will check himself. But when that is removed, the sun will shine, just as when clouds clear from the sky. We must keep this type of faith in our heart, and we must be benefitted by that. I feel this. I am not only telling this by word or by mouth: I feel it.

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern representative of the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Both definitive and progressive, his exemplary life, practice, and teachings brilliantly illuminate the path of divine love. For more information on Srila Govinda Maharaj, please visit his biography page.

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