Śikṣāṣṭakam Lecture (2) – Iskcon Radhadesh

Śikṣāṣṭakam Lecture (2) – Iskcon Radhadesh


Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

The Following is a Retreat Lecture on Sikshastakam given in ISKCON Radhadesh, Belgium, July 2011.


[Previous US President Bill Clinton receiving the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is in 2013.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami (BCS): Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Devotees: Hare Kṛṣṇa.

BCS:  Yesterday we did the first verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam, first out of the eight verses of Śikṣāṣṭakam. We will just repeat that verse again. Please recite after me.

ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaṁ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam prati-padaṁ purnamritasvadanam
sarvātma-snapanaṁ param vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam

Glory to the Śrī Krishna Saṅkīrtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years together and thus extinguishes the blazing fire of conditioned life, of repeated birth and death. The saṅkīrtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.

So, we go to text 2.

nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavān mamāpi
durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ

O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to the living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of transcendental names such as Kṛṣṇa and Govinda, in which you have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are no hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.

Who is saying this?

Devotees: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

BCS: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. So, in this particular verse what is He pointing out? Nāmnām akāri bahudhā, My Lord You have manifested Yourself in many, many transcendental names. Nāmnām akāri bahudhā, bahudhā means in many. Then nija-sarva-śaktis tatrārpitā. Tatra means there and arpita means You have reposed, You have infested, You have given. Tatrārpita. In those names You have reposed nijasarvaśakti, Your entire potencies.

So what are these names? If all Kṛṣṇa’s potencies are in the name, then what does it signify? What is the name? The name is Kṛṣṇa Himself, because His potency is what makes Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa. If you take the form of Kṛṣṇa without the potency then what will that form be? That form will be just an ordinary human being. So, what is the difference between an ordinary human being and Kṛṣṇa? Don’t they look alike? They look alike. Sometimes we see that somebody is playing the role of Kṛṣṇa, just painting himself blue. Looks like Kṛṣṇa, everyone thinks that he is Kṛṣṇa, but what is the difference between that actor and Kṛṣṇa Himself?

Devotees: Kṛṣṇa’s potency.

BCS: The difference is the potency. Kṛṣṇa is endowed with sandhinīsamvit, and hlādinī, three potencies. Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva sruyate [Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8]. He has many, many potencies but they fall in three principal categories. They are sandhinīsamvit and hlādinī, existence aspect, consciousness aspect and enjoyment aspect. These are the three aspects of Kṛṣṇa’s potencies. So, now you see form without the potency is jiva, but form with potency is Kṛṣṇa. Now, Kṛṣṇa’s name is what? The sound. Any name, people have their names, just the sound indicating the person. So, when that sound is invested with Kṛṣṇa’s potency then what is that sound? What is that name? Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So, nija sarva śaktis tatrārpitā, in Your names You have invested Your entire potency. How many names does Kṛṣṇa have? Unlimited. Are Kṛṣṇa’s qualities limited? Are Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes limited? So, what are Kṛṣṇa’s names? Kṛṣṇa’s names are synonymous with His qualities and pastimes. Just mention any name of Kṛṣṇa. Just say.

Devotee: Govinda.

BCS: Govinda. Does it mean anything? What does this word mean?

Devotee: The master of the senses and giver of pleasure to the senses and the cows.

BCS: The master of senses and giver of pleasure to the senses and the cows. Who does that?

Devotee: Kṛṣṇa.

BCS: So, this is Kṛṣṇa’s quality. Kṛṣṇa’s qualities are synonymous with Kṛṣṇa’s names, or Kṛṣṇa’s names signify Kṛṣṇa’s qualities or Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. Now, Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are unlimited and Kṛṣṇa’s qualities are unlimited. So, Kṛṣṇa’s names are unlimited. In all the names of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa has invested His entire potency, nija sarva śaktis. Actually all religions accept that aspect that God is all powerful. In Christianity, they have this concept very clear. Almighty is another name of God. They address God as Almighty. Almighty means? Might means what?

Devotee: Power.

BCS: Power. Almighty means all powerful. Allah means? Allah means great. Great in which sense? He is all powerful that is why He is great. He is not only great, He is the greatest. Bill Clinton was also great, but His greatness is not like that kind of transient, temporary greatness. He is great in all respects, at all times. So, nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija sarva śaktis tatrārpitā. Caitanya Mahāprabhu is defining what is the holy name. The holy name is Kṛṣṇa Himself. Why, because in the holy name, Kṛṣṇa has invested all His potencies. “In which You have invested all Your transcendental energies”, Śrīla Prabhupāda translated. So that means the name is Kṛṣṇa.

Just as, what is this Deity? Similarly we can go into the Deities. What is the difference between a statue and a Deity? What is the difference? Again, sarva śaktis tatrārpita. These Deities have all the potencies of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, They are Deities. These Deities are Kṛṣṇa Himself. Kṛṣṇa’s form is Kṛṣṇa Himself. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa’s name is Kṛṣṇa’s Himself. So, through Kṛṣṇa’s name, we can actually get Kṛṣṇa. When we call out to Kṛṣṇa, does Kṛṣṇa appear there or is Kṛṣṇa there? Kṛṣṇa is there, when you call. Now, if we want to approach the Deities, how do we have to approach the Deities? Is there any pūjārī here? How many of you render pūjārī service? Please do not feel shy raise your hand. So when you go to do your sevā on the altar how do you go there? Can you just walk in at any time, in any condition? What do you have to do?

Devotee: We have to do ācamana first.

BCS: Yes, and if it is early in the morning? Then you have to take your bath. You have to take your bath, you have to clean yourself, wear clean clothes and then go there. There are so many restrictions in worshipping the Deity. But with the holy name, do you have to take bath before you start chanting?

Devotee: Yes.

BCS: Very good, but you don’t need to. When you chant the holy name do you have to … If you take the Deities of Kṛṣṇa, can you put them anywhere, any place? Or do you have to sanctify the place? To worship Kṛṣṇa you have to purify the place. But in the case of the holy name there is no such restriction. Any time at any place you can chant the holy name, in any condition. In this respect there is a very nice anecdote, a very nice incident with Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

One morning Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came out of the toilet and He was biting onto His tongue with His teeth. Everybody was surprised, why Mahāprabhu is biting onto His tongue? When they asked, Caitanya Mahāprabhu said,

“I was in the dirty place, I was in the toilet and in even in the toilet My tongue is chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. I cannot stop My tongue to chant. So, that is why in order to stop my tongue from chanting, I am biting onto my tongue, trying to stop it.”

There was a five year old boy, his name was Gopal. So Gopal asked,

“If the time for someone to leave his body comes when he is in a dirty place, should he chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra or not?”

Isn’t it an interesting question from a five year old boy? What was Mahāprabhu’s answer? How many of you know? Prīti.

Various devotees: … [indistinct]

BCS: Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s answer was,

“I learnt a great lesson from Gopal.”

As a result of that, that five year old boy Gopal became known as Gopal Guru, because Chaitanya Mahāprabhu accepted him as His spiritual master. That also shows Mahāprabhu’s humble disposition. He was so humble that He would take lessons from anybody. What is the lesson? If death comes at a dirty place should we chant the holy name or not?

Devotees: Yes.

BCS: Yes. So, we should chant the holy name at any place, at any time, under any circumstances. When you are lying in the death bed, do you have time to take your bath? Do you say,

“Now I have to leave my body let me go take my bath and then I will come and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.”

Will there be any opportunity like that? When you are lying in your death bed probably for days together, we will not be able to take bath. When the body is that sick, where is the consideration of cleanliness? Therefore the point is when it comes to the chanting of the holy name of Lord there is no such restriction. Not only at any time, at any place, under any circumstances, but anybody can chant.

Here also let us consider, in the temple who can worship the Deities? Can anybody and everybody worship the deities? You have to be a brāhmaṇa. Unless you are a brāhmaṇa, you cannot worship the Deities. So much restriction when it comes to Deity worship, but when it is a matter of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, anybody can chant it. Even a caṇḍālaā-candāla sabāre uddhāre [CC Mad 15.108]. Ā-candāla means up to the caṇḍālaCaṇḍāla is the lowest of mankind. The lowest of mankind is the caṇḍāla. A caṇḍāla business, do you know what is the occupation of a caṇḍāla? Why it is so degraded to be a caṇḍālaCaṇḍālas occupation is to burn dead bodies. That is considered to be the most degraded occupation. That is their job, occupation, but their nature is also very dirty. They are very dirty people. They are dog eaters. Caṇḍālas eat dogs. In Vedic culture dog eating is allowed, but cow eating is not allowed. They tolerate up to a person who eats dogs, but cows no. In the Vedic culture there is no room for cow eating, but today we can see the society has become cow eaters, beef eaters. So, this is how the society has become degraded, but in this age everybody has hope. At that time they considered caṇḍāla, but now it is a consideration of beef eaters. Even the beef eaters can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. This is how merciful the Lord is in the age of Kali. Anybody does not matter who that person is. Niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ. So, as far as chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra is concerned, you can do it anytime, anywhere.

Yesterday Prashun was asking me, whether it is better to chant sitting down than walking? Yes, it is better to chant sitting down. That is better because when it comes to japa, it is meditation. So for meditation sitting down is conducive, but it does not matter you can walk and chant. Prabhupāda chanted while walking. While you are travelling you can chant. Generally the understanding is that any pious activity, spiritual activity, you should perform sitting down, but Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra even you can chant of lying down. Again we go to that point, at the time of death will we able to sit down and chant? No, we will be lying on bed, still we will have to chant, or we can chant. Nija-sarva-śaktis tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ.

Etādṛśī tava kṛpā. This is how you have displayed Your mercy my Lord. Etādṛśī tava kṛpā, my Lord You have displayed Your mercy in such a wonderful way, because since we are so unqualified, You have made this special arrangement for us. Just imagine if the holy name would not have been there what would have been the hope for us, the living entities in this age. Deity worship? In dvāpara-yuga what is the yuga dharma for dvāpara-yuga? Deity worship. So that is the closest. How many of us would have been able to do the Deity worship? Now of course many of you are doing Deity worship in the temple, but that you are doing because of ISKCON’s arrangement, Prabhupāda’s arrangement. Had Prabhupāda not come, you would not have been engaged in Deity worship. In order to be engaged in Deity worship, you had to be a brāhmaṇa. Prior to Prabhupāda the understanding was actually brāhmaṇa means born in a brahminical family, but Prabhupāda is making brāhmaṇas even from the beef eaters. Why Prabhupāda is doing that? Prabhupāda is doing that because the position of a vaiṣṇava is far superior than a brāhmaṇa. When one chants the holy name and becomes the devotee of the Lord, he becomes a vaiṣṇava. So when you have already been situated on a higher position, isn’t the lower position automatically included? So a devotee is far superior than a brāhmaṇa. Therefore, for a devotee, to become brāhmaṇa, although not born in a brahminical family is alright. That is Prabhupāda’s mercy. Prabhupāda is allowing us to become engaged in the spiritual activities, or rather we are able to be engaged in the spiritual activities simply due to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mercy. Had Prabhupāda not come, this would not have been possible.

Then He is saying durdaivam īdṛśamDurdaivam means, it is my misfortune. It is my misfortune that I have not developed any taste for the holy name of the Lord. I have not developed any taste for chanting the holy name of the Lord. I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for the holy name. Kṛṣṇa Himself has come down in the form of His name, so that anybody and everybody can have access to Him. Kṛṣṇa made such a wonderful arrangement that anybody can chant the holy names at any time, under any circumstances, at any place. But it is my misfortune that I have not developed a taste for the holy name. Nānurāga, na anurāga. Anurāga means attraction. I do not develop any attraction. In such a humble mood Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is saying that to indicate our situation. This is actually our situation. Now what to do? Why are we not able to chant the holy name? Why did we not develop any attraction? Then we go to the next verse, because the next verse shows the qualification of chanting the holy name. We do not have to become a brāhmaṇa, we do not have to become a very exalted personality, we do not have to be an erudite scholar, but there is a certain consideration for qualification. What are the qualifications? The third verse is describing that.

The qualification is tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā, amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ [Śikṣāṣṭaka 3]. Tṛṇād apiApi means more than. Tṛṇād means from a blade of grass. Sunīcena, nīca means low and śunica means very low, very humble. So, developing the mood like that, being more humble than a blade of grass. One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind thinking oneself lower than a straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than a tree, taror api sahiṣṇunā, more tolerant than a tree.

And amāninā devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respects to others. Amāninā means desiring no respect for oneself and mānadena means offering all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly. So, do we want to chant the holy name constantly, or just sixteen rounds is enough? Sometimes we think sixteen rounds is enough. Prabhupāda also sometimes said that. Prabhupāda said,

“Now I have finished my sixteen rounds and I can do any nonsense.” Now I can do any non sense. Of course Prabhupāda would never do any nonsense and besides that, the point is if you chant sixteen rounds then you cannot do any nonsense. So, chant your sixteen rounds. Do not worry about your nonsense activities.

Although our day to day practice is to chant sixteen rounds minimum, but what is the main consideration? The consideration is to chant the holy names of the Lord twenty-four hours a day. Twenty-four hours a day, that is our goal. We should try to chant the holy name all the time. When will that happen? That will happen when we get the taste. What is the meaning of the taste? Taste means appreciating it so much that we want to do it all the time. Isn’t it? For example, you like some food; you like to eat some food. Don’t you want to eat it, eat it and eat it until you are full in your stomach. Now, if your stomach had unlimited capacity and if the taste is delicious, wouldn’t you want to eat it again and again and again? Unfortunately our problem is that after sometime our stomach becomes full and we cannot take it anymore. That is why we stop eating. Why? Because that is the taste. When we like the taste, we want to do it again and again. Like Rūpa Gosvāmī is saying what happens when one gets the taste for the holy name? He is saying, tuṇḍe tāṇḍavinī ratiṁ vitanute tuṇḍāvalī-labdhaye [Vidagdha-mādhava 1.15; CC Ant 1.99]. When I chant this holy name of the Lord, I wish to have many, many tongues. Just one tongue is not sufficient. I want to have many, many tongues. Why? Because it is so wonderful, so relishable to chant. Karṇa-kroḍa-kaḍambinī ghaṭayate karṇārbudebhyaḥ spṛhām [Vidagdha-mādhava 1.15; CC Ant 1.99]. When the holy name enters through my ears, what do I want? I wish that I had millions of ears, arbudebhyaḥ spṛhām. Arbuda means ten million. I desire to have ten millions, not only ten millions, tens of millions of ears. So that is the meaning. That is what happens when we develop the taste for holy name.

Now, when will that happen? Sometimes devotees ask,

“We are chanting for so long, but how come we are not developing any taste?”

What is the reason? We have not been able to become tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā amāninā mānadena. That’s why we are not able to kīrtanya sadā hariḥ. Kīrtanya sadā hariḥ. So our goal actually is to chant the holy name all the time, sadā hariḥ, kīrtanya sadā hariḥ. We should chant the holy name all the time. Now when will it happen? It will happen when we develop the genuine taste for chanting the holy name. When will that happen and when will we develop the genuine taste? Will it happen just by chance? No. We have to qualify for that. What is the qualification? The qualification is tṛṇād api sunīcena. Tṛṇād api sunīcena means being more humble than a blade of grass. Have you seen how humble the blade of grass is? But here Mahāprabhu is saying more humble than a blade of grass. What is it? Why He is saying more humble? Because you see when we step, grass is so humble. You step on to the grass, does it protest? But if somebody steps on to you how do you react? Not only you, just take even an ant. You push the ant, the ant stands up. Why did you do that to me? Don’t you know who I am? I am Mr. Ant. Who do you think you are? So, even an ant protests. Similarly, grass although it does not protest, but grass what happens after we step on to the grass? As we lift your feet the grass stands up again. But a vaiṣṇava, if somebody pushes him down, he will remain in that position, he won’t stand up. That is the purpose of tṛṇād api sunīcena.

Taror api sahiṣṇunā, even more humble than a tree, more tolerant than a tree. Look at the tree’s tolerance. A tree’s tolerance is; somebody is cutting the tree. Does the tree protest? No, it doesn’t say a word. You are cutting, go ahead cut. Not only that, the tree is so tolerant that although the person is cutting the tree, it is giving him the shade from the scorching sun. He is cutting the tree and now he is little hungry. The tree is offering him the fruit,

“Come and eat the fruit.”

He is cutting the tree, but it is offering him shade, it is offering him fruit. So this is the example of humbleness, the humble disposition of a tree. Now a vaiṣṇava has to become as tolerant as a tree and amāninā, desiring no respect for himself. Mānadena, he is prepared to offer all respect to others. Devoid of all false prestige and offering all respects to others, a vaiṣṇava is ready to show his utmost humility and inconceivable tolerance. Then only kīrtanya sadā hariḥ. Then only we will be able to chant the holy name constantly. The question is do you want to chant the holy name constantly?

Devotees: Yes.

BCS: Then what do you have to do?

Devotees: We have to develop the qualities.

BCS: What are the qualities? Tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ. Thank you very much. Does anybody have any question or comment? Yes Niṣikanta.

Niṣikanta Dasa: Guru Maharaja how do you go about developing these qualities? Is it through Vaiṣṇava service?

BCS: How do you develop these qualities? Through practice. Practice makes a man perfect and that practice should also be supported with proper understanding. Why we should do that? How should we do that? It should not be artificial. It should be genuine. That means as the heart becomes purer and purer and purer, we will not desire anything from material nature. When we are devoid of any desire for material position, material designation, material prestige, consideration of material loss and profit, then only we can become so humble and so tolerant.

The main consideration is that the material things, or material attractions, will become meaningless at that time. Say for example, the children are playing with toys. Children are playing. What do the toys mean to them? The toys are such valuable things for them, but when the child grows up do the toys have any significance for him? He does not care if somebody takes the toy or breaks the toy. But when the child is playing with the toy, is attracted to the toy, is attached to the toy, then if somebody takes the toy away from him, how will he react? He will cry, he will protest. His entire world will fall apart. But when he grows up, he grows out of it. Similarly with the spiritual practice, we will grow out of our material attachments and at that time we do not need anything. So at that time we can cultivate and develop these qualities to become more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree.

Another thing is … You are a doctor so you will understand this. When an anesthetic is given, a local anesthetic, and you cut the finger, the finger is cut, do you feel any pain? You do not feel any pain. Why not? Because that awareness of consciousness is not there. At that time if somebody cuts you, [you do not feel anything]. [Similarly,] a vaiṣṇava’s consciousness is withdrawn from the body. Why it is withdrawn from the body? Because it is projected onto Kṛṣṇa. He is not in bodily consciousness. Therefore at that time he can afford to be as tolerant as a tree. First of all, material things, the objects of sense gratification, do not have any value for him and he is devoid of bodily consciousness. At that time is he concerned, when he is not at all in bodily consciousness? Will he be concerned about the prestige concerning his body? No. At that time only because he is a vaiṣṇava and he is seeing everybody as a spirit soul, he is able to offer all respect to others. Sarva jīvera kṛṣṇa tiṣṭhāmi. He sees Kṛṣṇa’s presence in every living entity. Therefore he has absolute respect for everybody. So that is the state of pure devotional service. That is the state of pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The point is when we are purely situated in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then we will be able to chant the holy name all the time, or not able to chant the holy name all the time, we will be chanting the holy name all the time. The way to achieve that state is through practice. Any other question? Yes.

Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja. You mentioned earlier about a beef eater can also chant the holy name. One of the regulative principle is no meat eating. So, can a person continue to eat beef and still carry on chanting?

BCS: Good. Very good. Very good point. Yes. A beef eater can become can also chant the holy name, but then he has to stop eating beef.

Devotee: How will that happen?

BCS: By following not only beef eating, but following all four regulative principles. You see, the thing is you may be sinful, but when you take to the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, all your sins will be obliterated. All your sins will be eradicated, but then you do not commit any more sins. You may be a criminal and you ask for amnesty. The government or the king awards you amnesty, but will the government tolerate it if you continue to be a criminal after that. The understanding is that you have reformed yourself. You may have been a criminal. That is alright. That is in the past, but now that you have asked for amnesty, now that you have asked for forgiveness and you have been awarded it, do not go back to criminal life. So it does not matter how criminal one may have been, one can approach Kṛṣṇa. When one approaches Kṛṣṇa, all his sinful reactions are taken care of, ahaṁ tvam sarve pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi ma śucaḥ [BG 18.66]. Kṛṣṇa is telling that, but then the consideration is no meat eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex and no gambling. These four regulative principles are of absolute importance because dharma is standing on four pillars. When those pillars are broken, these four sinful activities develop. So that is why we abstain from these sinful activities.

Devotee: Thank you Mahārāja.

BCS: Yes.

Devotee: Why does a vaiṣṇava not get up when he being is pushed down?

BCS: Not all vaiṣṇavas, but a first class vaiṣṇava, a pure devotee. He thinks, his attitude is alright, if that pleases you it is fine with me. Or it is, if Kṛṣṇa wants me to be in this way, let it be. But the point is, that pure devotee, he may not defend himself, but Kṛṣṇa protects him. He himself does not want to defend himself. Kṛṣṇa gives him all protection. Kṛṣṇa goes out of His way to protect a devotee. The condition of a pure devotee is like that of a child, devoid of material consciousness. So when you do not have material consciousness, does it really matter to you how others are treating you? Does the child protest if somebody abuses him? No, but the father will become furious if he sees that somebody is maltreating his child. So a vaiṣṇava’s situation is like that. He is completely withdrawn, because his consciousness is not here. Therefore he does not care how people are treating him. But although a vaiṣṇava himself does not care for himself, but Kṛṣṇa gives him protection.

Just consider Prahlāda Mahārāja. Did Prahlāda Mahārāja protest? But what happened to Hiraṇyakaśipu? First of all could he harm Prahlāda Mahārāja? Why not? Because Kṛṣṇa protecting him, no harm could touch him. Finally when it reached the limit, then Kṛṣṇa came and finished off Hiraṇyakaśipu. In this way the vaiṣṇavas do not care for themselves, but other vaiṣṇavas protect him and Kṛṣṇa protects him.  A vaiṣṇava may be humble, but if vaiṣṇavas see that somebody is taking undue advantage of that vaiṣṇava’s humble disposition, then they become like a lion. Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Yes Prashun.

Prashun: What is the difference, if any, in the potency of listening to the chanting of holy name as opposed to chanting holy name?

BCS: I see. What is the difference between listening to the holy name and chanting the holy name. You see the first aspect is hearing and second aspect is chanting. Chanting also includes hearing. Because when one is chanting, he is automatically is hearing. The difference is that chanting is more beneficial than just hearing, provided the person is qualified. That he has properly received the holy name. Then the other aspect, or advantage, of chanting is when one chants loudly then those who are hearing also benefit. You get the point? So it is like this, in the initial stage we hear and then at an advanced stage we chant and in the more advanced stage, we involve others to chant and then it becomes saṅkīrtana. So, hearing is important but more effective than hearing is chanting and more effective than just chanting is to make others hear and even more effective is to engage others also in chanting. That is the yuga-dharma. Does it answer your question, Prashun?

Prashun: Just a slight … [indistinct] … from a practical point of view if you have a cassette or a video or mp3 playing all day long is it not a potent way of actually improving your consciousness?

BCS: Ultimately the consciousness is not dependent upon the external conditions. The consciousness is dependent upon our internal situation. Somebody may be completely silent apparently, but if his consciousness is pure, without any external aids, he will be Kṛṣṇa conscious. Whereas, Prabhupāda was here, a pure devotee was chanting, how many people took advantage of that? Because their consciousness was not pure enough, but those who were, those who had certain degree of purity, they took advantage of Prabhupāda’s presence and created an inconceivable good fortune. In this way Prabhupāda’s mercy is flowing and we can see that more and more people taking advantage, because they are becoming purified. When Prabhupāda was here in the western world very few people were pure. But now by the arrangement that Prabhupāda has made, many, many people are becoming pure. They are becoming vegetarian, they are developing an attitude in the mode of goodness and as a result of that they are appreciating Kṛṣṇa consciousness. With the passing of time that will happen more and more. Because this arrangement that Prabhupāda has made, due to book distribution and prasādam distribution and so forth, is creating the good fortune for people and as they become purified, they will become more and more Kṛṣṇa conscious. Thank you. Yes.

Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja. Mahārāja you said Kṛṣṇa has invested His potencies in His hundreds and millions of transcendental names. So is there a special significance of the mahāmantra Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, rather than any of His other names?

BCS: Very good point. Although Kṛṣṇa has millions of names, the names also have categories. Some names are directly related to Kṛṣṇa, some are less directly related to Kṛṣṇa, and some are even more directly related to Kṛṣṇa. We can consider Kṛṣṇa’s name in Vaikuṇṭha and Kṛṣṇa’s name in Vṛndāvana. Kṛṣṇa’s Vṛndāvana names which are related to Kṛṣṇa’s Vṛndāvana pastimes and Vṛndāvana qualities, are the most elevated of all His names. Of those Kṛṣṇa is the most attractive. Kṛṣṇa and Rāma are most attractive, because Kṛṣṇa means all attractive, all attractive. It is so attractive that this name attracts even Kṛṣṇa’s incarnations. Even His incarnations become attracted to Him. Rāma, indicating ramate iti rāma, is non-different from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is all attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead and He is the supreme enjoyer, ramate iti rāma. Therefore these two names are most important, most powerful, most potent. Last question, Sarada. Oh you have a question?

Devotee: Haribol Mahārāja. I would like to know about restrictions, you gave the restrictions for example in driving a car, where it is an aparadha  if we are chanting while driving … [indistinct]  … but Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that there is no restriction in chanting … [indistinct]

BCS: Yes, good point. There are no restrictions, but there are offenses to the chanting. There are ten offenses to the chanting. Offenses means, that there are certain acts which displease the holy name, certain acts which displeases Kṛṣṇa. As a result of that, Kṛṣṇa doesn’t bestow His mercy. So that is the nāmāparādha. While chanting if the aparādha is there then it is not the holy name. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākur said, that is chanting of aparādha. It is not chanting the holy name. It is the chanting of aparādha. So when the aparādha starts to become clear, then it becomes the clearing stage, when the aparādha starts to reduce. At that clearing stage one attains liberation and when one becomes completely free from offenses then it is the holy name. The chanting of the holy name is Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Devotee: … [indistinct]

BCS: Yes, even if offenses are there, keep chanting. Because by chanting the offenses will go away and you make an effort on your part not to commit offenses.

Devotee: Thank you Mahārāja.

BCS: Haribol. So last question Sarada.

Sarada: Hare Kṛṣṇa Guru Mahārāja and my question is, how one can remain humble and tolerant when someone is provoking all the time while we are performing sevā and watching and lectures or during the Deity worship … [indistinct]. We know that we have to do because this is our constitutional position, but at the same time … [indistinct] … how can we avoid that?

BCS: Yes, I mentioned that earlier. To be truly humble one has to go beyond this material nature and become situated in the spiritual platform.  Just like to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. Pure means to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. So, Kṛṣṇa conscious means what? Your consciousness is in Kṛṣṇa. When your consciousness is in Kṛṣṇa do you have any body consciousness? Do you have any experience of taking anesthetics? Then do you have any consciousness of that part of the body? Why? Because the consciousness is not flowing. Anesthetic, what does it do? Anesthetic actually prevent the consciousness to flow through the body, through the nervous system. So, when consciousness is not flowing then does it matter with you if the body is cut, or the body is burnt? No. You see anesthetics do it artificially. Artificially it stops the flow of consciousness into the body, through the nervous system. But through the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness we do it naturally. Consciousness is flowing this way. Kṛṣṇa consciousness means consciousness flowing that way. So where is the consciousness now? With Kṛṣṇa and the body is under anesthetic. Then whatever happens to the body, does it affect you? If somebody insults the body, if somebody cuts the body, if somebody kicks the body, one does not register it.

Sarada: … [indistinct]

BCS: Can you say it a little louder?

Sarada: I said it is nothing to do with the body but if while performing the sevā if someone is … [indistinct]. What do you do in that situation?

BCS: Performing your sevā. So you should execute your sevā in a humble state of mind. Do you have any difficulty?

Sarada: Sometimes.

BCS: Tell me practically. What happened? What is your problem? You are worshiping the Deity, Deity worship, and then what happens?

Devotee: Someone is disturbing me.

Devotee: She means how to remain in a humble state of mind when she is constantly provoked by another devotee?

BCS: Constantly?

Devotee: Provoked. Other devotees are disturbing her.

BCS: Disturbed by other devotees. Tell them, “Prabhu, why you are disturbing me?” So, do not be humble that way. When it comes to service and if there is an impediment to your service, yes, then you do not have to be that humble. You can actually ask them to rectify that situation. Alright? Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Maybe I should make another point here. You see the vaiṣṇava  is in three stages:  Kaniṣṭha-adhikāramadhyama- adhikāra and uttamaadhikāra, This stage that Mahāprabhu is describing is the uttamaadhikāra stage. But in the madhyamaadhikāra stage we have to deal with our surroundings. In the kaniṣṭhaadhikāra stage one does not even understand what is devotion and what is a devotee. Generally in ISKCON we function on the madhyamaadhikāra platform, because we have to preach and we have to render service. So while rendering service if there is an impediment then you do not have to become tṛṇād api sunīcena.

Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Gaura premānande

Transcription: Anonymous helper
Editing: Rāmānanda Rāya Dāsa & another anonymous helper.