Offenses unto the Holy Name | Pearls from Padma Purana | Chant and Be Happy

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(The Following is an excerpt from Sri Jagadananda Pandita’s ‘Sri Prema Vivarta’)

(Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu recites from Padma Purana, Swarga Khanda, Chapter forty-eight and cites the discussion between Narada Muni and Sanat Kumara)

(Mahaprabhu quotes Narada muni)
Sri Narada muni said
‘Ke te paradhha vipendra namno bhagavatah krtah
Vinighnanti nrnang krtyang prakrtang hy-anayanti cha’

(Mahaprabhu paraphrases Narada’s words) ‘O Gurudeva Sanat Kumar, please enlighten me about the various offenses that can be committed against the holy name of the Lord.
Chanting the holy name of the Lord is certainly the principal duty of the living entity. Please tell me about the offenses that rob the living entity of this chief duty.
Offenses make one take to the chanting of the holy name as a mundane activity and make one waste this auspicious practice for trivial mundane results’.

(Mahaprabhu quotes Sanat Kumar)
Sri Sanat Kumar uvacha
satang ninda namnah param aparadham vitanute
yatah khyating yatang katham u sahate tad-vigarham
sivasya sri-visnor ya iha guna-namadi-sakalang
dhiya bhinnang pasyet sa khalu hari-namahita-karah

(Mahaprabhu paraphrases Sanat Kumara’s words) ‘If you understand the ten offenses unto the holy name individually, you shall be able to overcome them.
This verse discusses two such offenses against the holy name. Avoid them and try to chant the holy name in an offenseless way’.

Criticizing Sadhus (Saints)

(Mahaprabhu continues) One whose sole shelter is the holy name of the Lord should be awarded the title ‘sadhu’ (Saint). Such a person is eligible to liberate the whole world.
Such Sadhus have rejected the paths comprising mundane fruitive activities, speculative knowledge and have instead taken to the chanting of the holy name in the spirit of pure devotion.
Only such saintly people are eligible to propagate the holy name. Their criticism is intolerable to Krishna and His holy name.
Anyone who criticizes such saintly people or considers them to be insignificant certainly commits a grave offense unto the holy Name.
Carefully avoid this offense and engage in devotional service on the strength of associating with such saintly people.

The Holy Name and the possessor of the holy name are non-different

Vishnu, the embodiment of all auspiciousness, the Supreme Lord Hari is none other than Krishna, the enjoyer of Vrindavana, in His original transcendental form.
His Name, form, qualities and pastimes are all transcendental and are non-different from Him.
The Holy Name of the Lord and the Lord Himself are one and the same transcendental truth. There is no equivalence of this within this material world.
This pure knowledge can only be acquired on the strength of devotion (bhakti). The more one argues on this, the farther one is pushed from the truth.
You can realize this auspicious truth by the unification of your sincere pure devotional practice and strength of the mercy of saints and the Guru (spiritual master).
Until one realizes this truth, one cannot transcend his material consciousness.
Until then, one chants the holy name but does not fully realize its true spiritual nature. He only engages in Namabhasa chanting (chanting the holy name with offenses) and his devotional practice remains imperfect.
O, brother! Only after a lot of endeavors, one gains the realization of his true spiritual identity.
By chanting the holy name purely and offenselessly, one attains the intelligence to approach the ultimate goal (lotus feet of Krishna).
If you chant the holy name carefully and incessantly, even if your chanting is full of offenses (namabhasa), Lord Hari shall mercifully grant you the realization of your true spiritual self (Svarupa).

Lord Krishna is the master of all; Shiva and other demigods are His parts and parcels

Know for certain that Lord Krishna is the master of all. Shiva and all the other demigods are His parts and parcels.
The name, form, qualities, etc of these demigods are the transformation of Lord Krishna’s energy.
All the scriptures sing that if you realize that Lord Shiva and Vishnu are non-different in this sense (Shiva’s name, form, qualities, etc are a manifestation of Vishnu’s energy) then you shall understand the truth.
With utmost care, avoid the offense of thinking that Lord Vishnu and Shiva are different (they are qualitatively the same). Only then, by the mercy of the spiritual master, will you be able to serve the holy name.

Disrespecting the spiritual master

(Mahaprabhu quotes Sanat Kumara)
Guror avajna sruti-shastra-nindanam
Tarthartavado Harinamni kalpanam
Namno baladyasya hi papa-buddhir
Na vidyate tasya yarmairhi suddhih

(Mahaprabhu paraphrases Sanat Kumara’s words)

The spiritual master is one who has mercifully revealed Lord Hari to us and has introduced us to the chanting of the holy name of Lord Hari. He is a great personality and our worshipable master. If we disrespect him, then we offend the holy name.
Only a foolish clown would judge and consider his spiritual master, who has initiated him into chanting of the Lord’s holy name, to be belonging to a low class, devoid of material education or to be uninitiated.

Disrespecting the Vedic Literatures

The Sruti Scriptures (a portion of the Vedic literatures comprising that which has been heard and passed down through generations of disciplic successions) reveal the transcendental truth about the Lord’s holy name and propagate its glories throughout the world. One who shows discourtesy to such Vedic scriptures and instead glorifies the lesser paths of fruitive activities (as described in the Karma Kanda section of the Vedas) offends the Sruti scriptures (which also amounts to Nama-aparadha or an offense against the holy name of the Lord). This is announced in all Vedic scriptures.

Considering the glories of the holy name to be imaginary

The Holy Name of the Lord is an eternal wealth, which is forever spiritual and unfathomable. Holding the holy name to be imaginary is a grievous offense.

Desiring to sin on the strength of the holy Name

One whose heart is infested with the desire to sin on the strength of chanting the holy name of the Lord, is miserable.

Interpreting the holy Name

The (temporal) results gained by treading the path of fruitive activities (Karma marga), as attractively presented in the Vedas, are true. However, the results achieved by one who takes to the path of devotion are eternal.
There is no end to the glories of the transcendental holy name of the Lord. Those who assign mundane interpretations to it, holding its glories to be exaggerations, are foolish.

By carefully avoiding these five offenses, and by executing sincere devotional practice, you can attain the grace of the holy name.

All Pious Activities are Material

(Mahaprabhu quotes Sanat Kumar)
Dharma-vrata-tyaga-hutadi-sarva
Shubha-kriya-samyam-api pramadah
Asraddhadhhanevimukhepy asrnvati
Yas chopadesahsiva-namaparadhah

(Mahaprabhu Paraphrases Sanat Kumara’s words)

The regulations of Varnasrama (Class and social order), the dark rituals that are to be performed on the new moon or the full moon days, the practices of accepting sannyasa (renunciation), shaving your head or carrying the Sannyasa rod, acts of performing sacrifices either daily or periodically, the eightfold or sixfold practices of Yoga -and all such pious activities specified in the Vedic scriptures are all mundane.
These pious activities are a means to pursue the ultimate goal (devotion unto Krishna). If divorced from their ultimate objective, these actions are nothing but material.

Holy name is both the means and the Goal

The holy name is a completely transcendental spiritual activity. In the initial stages of practice, chanting the holy name is the means (upaya tattva) to achieve the ultimate goal. However, in the perfectional stage, the Holy Name becomes the principal engagement (upeya sara).
Therefore the holy name of the Lord is pure and spiritual. It is never equivalent to mundane means or fruitive activities.
If one deems that the holy name of the Lord is analogous to fruitive activities or speculative knowledge, then he commits a grave offense against the holy Name.

Instructing the faithless about the Holy Name

Instructing about the holy Name to those who lack sufficient piety and have no faith upon the holy Name, is an offense against the holy Name.
O, brother! Carefully avoid these two offenses by the mercy of a bonafide spiritual master and thereby attain the treasure of the Holy Name.

(Mahaprabhu quotes Sanat Kumar)

srutvapi nama-mahatmyam yah priti-rahito dhamah
aham-mamadi-paramo namni sohpy aparadha-krt

(Lord Chaitanya paraphrases Sanat Kumara’s words)

Despite hearing the glories of the holy name from the Vedic scriptures, some people do not develop any love for chanting the holy name. Being saturated with false ego in their body, they consider themselves to be all in all, and thirst for material gains, adoration, and distinction. They cannot stop themselves from engaging in sinful activities and yet they do not try to chant the holy name of the Lord sincerely. They have no interest in associating with saintly people and only seek pleasure from sinful activities. They abandon their conscience and the notion of detachment. Such people never develop a taste for chanting the holy name of Krishna and are debarred from joining Krishna’s family.

These are the ten offenses against the holy name. They obstruct one from taking its complete shelter and destroys one’s spiritual fortune.

(Sanat Kumara said)
sarvaparadha-krd api muchyate harisamsrayah
harer apy aparadhan yah kuryad dvipada-pamsanah
namasrayah kadachit syat-taraty-esa sa namatah
namno hi sarva-suhrdo hy aparadhat pataty adhah

(Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu paraphrases)

By taking shelter of Supreme Lord Sri Hari, a living entity is delivered of his sins, pains, and offenses.
Those who discard the family of Kali (Kali-yuga) and sincerely connect with Krishna’s family (Krishna’s family of devotees) commit no offenses.
The sins accrued by the living entity throughout his past lives are all destroyed when he accepts initiation into Lord Hari’s service.
When a living entity surrenders himself unto Krishna without any reservations, the Lord nullifies all of his previous sins.
He does not need to perform any atonement. All the scriptures declare that spiritual initiation alone destroys all of one’s sins.
When one honestly and sincerely takes shelter of the Supreme Lord, all of one’s offenses become nullified. He no longer feels any inclination towards any sins or sufferings and he gets freed from the cycle of piety and impiety. He wins over Maya or the illusory potency of the Supreme Lord.

Offenses in devotional service

But even then (after accepting initiation), he sometimes commits offenses while executing devotional service (Seva-aparadha). This hinders his devotional pursuits.
But when he takes shelter of the Holy Name in the association of sadhus (Vaishnavas), his seva-aparadha (offenses while executing devotional service) gets nullified.
When he receives the mercy of the Holy Name, the living entity becomes thoroughly purified. He can then approach Krishna and be engaged in His pure devotional service.

Offenses unto the Holy Name must always be avoided

But if a living entity commits Nama-aparadha (offenses unto the Holy Name), then he certainly falls from grace and loses his spiritual course.
The Holy Name is a friend of every living entity. However, offenses against it cannot be counteracted by any means and serve as obstacles in one’s spiritual life.

Hence one should very carefully avoid Nama-aparadha (offenses against the Holy Name). In this way, the living entity can attain all perfection and reach the lotus feet of Sri Hari.

(Sri Sanat Kumar said)
evam naradah sankarena krpaya mahyang muninang parang
proktang nama sukhavaham bhagavato varjyam sada yatnatah
ye jnatvapi na varjayanti sahasa namaparadhan dasa
kruddha mataram apy abhojana-parah khidyanti te balavat

(Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu paraphrases)

‘I (Sanat Kumara) had previously enquired from Shankara (Shiva) in Shivaloka (abode of Shiva) about the offenses against the holy name.
There on Mount Kailasa, seated amidst numerous sages, Lord Shiva mercifully advised me.
The Holy Name of the Supreme Lord (Krishna) brings happiness for all living entities. Offenses unto the holy Name of the Lord, however, is the source of all inauspiciousness.
Anyone who desires to attain auspiciousness must always carefully shun Nama-aparadha (offenses against the holy Name of Lord Hari).
You should very humbly approach sadhus (saints), Guru (spiritual master) and submissively study about the ten offenses against the holy Name from them.
Understanding these offenses, carefully shun them. You shall then be able to quickly attain divine love for Lord Hari’s holy Name.
One who chants the holy Name without avoiding these offenses is promptly seized by the ten offenses.
One who knows about the offenses against the holy name but is reluctant to shun them, is a fool who suffers perpetually.
A child who doesn’t eat being angry with his mother always suffers due to a lack of nourishment. Similarly, one who chants the holy name, without avoiding the ten offenses, is a fool who tosses his own good fortune’.

(Sri Sanat Kumara said)
aparadha vimukto hi namni japtang sadachara
namnaiva tava devarse sarvam setsyati nanyathha

(Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu paraphrases)

Sanat Kumara said (to Narada muni), ‘O best among the sages, always chant the holy Name of Lord Hari without offenses’.
No other means of salvation are necessary other than chanting the Holy Name of the Lord. The holy Name can award you with all perfections, O Narada’.

(Sri Narada Muni said)
Sri Narada uvacha
sanat-kumara priya sahasanam
viveka vairagya vivarjitanam
deha-priyarthhatmy-aparayananam
uktaparadhah prabhavanti no kathham

(Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu paraphrases)
Narada said, ‘O Sanat Kumara! You have achieved all perfections in your devotional service unto Lord Hari. It is for this reason you were able to to reveal so easily the hidden truths about the Holy name.
We, the practitioners, are always afraid of committing errors. So please explain how we can carefully avoid committing offenses?
Material objects act as our friend and it is on their strength that Maya binds all of our actions in her ropes.
Our conscience is without any trace of renunciation and our body has become our dearest friend. We are always busy accumulating material wealth.
Please explain how the practitioners can prevent these ten offenses from arising in our hearts?’

(Sri Sanat Kumara replied)
sri Sanat-kumara uvacha—
jate namaparadhe tu pramade vai kathanchana
sada sankirtayan nama tad-eka-sharano bhavet
namaparadha yuktanam namany eva haranty agham
avishranta-prayuktani tany evarthakarani cha

(Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Paraphrases)

The moment one takes shelter of the Holy Name, one is freed from Nama-aparadha (offenses unto the Holy name).
Still, if he commits offenses unto the Name again out of negligence, then those offenses shall hinder his progress in Bhakti (the practice of devotion).
When offenses are committed out of negligence, you should chant the Holy Name of the Lord at every moment and you should surrender unto the holy name with even greater resolve. On the strength of your intense and continuous chanting, you shall be delivered from your offenses.

Chanting of the Holy Name is the only means

Only the Holy Name of the Lord can destroy offenses committed against the Holy name (Nama-aparadha). Nothing else has the power to do so.
O Narada, let me reveal to you the essential truth about this subject which is widely sung in the Vedic scriptures.

(Sri Sanat Kumara said)
namaikam yasya vachi smarana-patha-gatam srotra-mulam gatam va
suddhham vasuddha-varnam vyavahita-rahitam tarayatyeva satyam
tachcheddeha-dravina-yanata-lobha-pasanda-madhye
niksiptam syan na phala-janakam sighram evatra vipra

(Sri Chaitanya Paraphrases)

“When the Holy Name of Krishna, which is the abode of all good qualities, is either uttered, remembered, or heard even once, and if the invocation of the Holy Name is without ‘vyavahita’, then the Holy Name delivers the invoker immediately.
The word ‘vyavahita’ has two meanings in this context – Either the holy name is obfuscated when the syllables comprising the Holy name are chanted too far apart from each other or else the Holy Name is invoked in ignorance and it hence appears to the invoker only in a mundane form. Knowing that the Holy Name and the Possessor of the name are non-different destroys this ignorance.
When the Holy Name is invoked without ‘vyavahita’ it manifests itself in its pure form. There is no consideration of mistakes concerning the proper and improper pronunciation of the Name’s letters.
Krishna has invested all of His powers in His transcendental Holy Name. There is no consideration of proper time or cleanliness when it comes to chanting His holy name.
So chant the Holy Name of the Lord at all times and under all conditions. You shall attain all good fortune and it shall drive away all of your inauspiciousness.

Chant the Holy Name rejecting all Mundane associations

Chanting the Holy Name of the Lord, accompanied by mundane attachments, does not always deliver auspicious results quickly.
Due to being attached to body, wealth, followers, greed, or sinful companions, the fault of ‘vyavahita’ (explained previously) arises when the Holy Name is chanted , thereby pushing the living entity into a terrible dilemma.
Therefore the first move is to reject all mundane associations. Taking absolute shelter of the Holy Name, one should solely serve the Holy Name.
By the mercy of the Holy Name, you shall be free from being negligent. The offenses shall go far away and you shall attain all good fortune.
Being free from offenses, chant the holy name of Lord Krishna. Then the Holy Name of the Lord, bestowing divine love, shall reside within your heart.
The symptoms of an offender of the Name is his deceitfulness. Carefully reject such association and take shelter of the Lord’s holy name”.

(Sri Sanat Kumara concluded)
idam rahasyam paramam pura narada sankarat
srutam sarvasubha-haram-aparadha-nivarakam
vidur visnv-abhidhanam ye hyaparadha-para narah
tesam-api bhaven muktih pathanad eva narada

(Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu paraphrases)
“Sanat Kumara said, ‘O best of the sages! Previously Shankara (Shiva) being merciful, revealed this mystery of the Holy Name unto me which destroys all inauspiciousness and nullifies the offenses.
An offender who chants the Holy Name of Vishnu after understanding (the truth about the Holy Name) shall at once attain liberation. I confirm this”.

Preaching the mystery of the Holy Name

(Lord Chaitanya continued)
O Swaroop Damodara and Ramananda Raya, you must carefully preach the collection of these hidden truths about the Holy Name of the Lord.
There are no other means of salvation for the conditioned living entities in this age of Kali. These hidden truths about the Holy Name shall enable them to cross over the ocean of material existence.
The same truth that I had previously described in my Siksastaka, has now been shown to you again in Vyasa deva’s words (in these above verses).
All of you must carefully preach the collection of these hidden truths concerning the Holy Name, discuss them and chant the Holy Name in that mood.

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