Chanting the holy names of Lord (or nama) Hare Krishna Hare Krishna | Krishna Krishna Hare Hare | Hare Rama Rama Rama | Rama Rama Hare Hare is done in two ways - nama japa and nama sankirtana.
- Nama japa is a personal remembrance of Divine Lordships on japa-beads. It is a personal seva. It purifies the sadhaka's (devotee who chants) consciousness by destroying all anarthas (conditioning) from the heart and elevates him/her to the level of prema in a gradual process. For sincere and serious seekers, you can refer to the book Madhurya Kadambini by Srila Viswanath Cakravarti Thakura Prabhupada to learn more about the different stages of bhakti.
- Nama sankirtana is congregational singing and chanting of holy names of Lord. It is a group seva. It elevates the sadhaka gradually to the inner confidential pastimes of Lord, depending on his / her surrender and sincerity. In Kali Yuga, the entire scriptures culminate at Yuga-Dharma Harinam Sankirtana Yajna. Just by participating in more and more kirtan with full engagement, you will get the inner direction within your heart. Just keep remembering Srila Prabhupada, guru-shishya parampara and the Divine Couple during kirtan and things will be revealed gradually.
Aindra Prabhu says that nama japa is like nikunja seva and nama sankirtana is like rasa lila. He also adds that "dono chahiye" or both are important. For devotees who want to dive into this rasa, do read Aindra Prabhu's book The Heart of Transcendental Book Distribution by surrendering to the guru-shishya parampara. This book is highly recommended for devotees who are really serious about attaining vraja prema bhakti and going back to Godhead in this very one lifetime itself.
Devotees who are in Krishna Consciousness for more than 3-5 years and who have read the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatam and foundational books by Prabhupada must-read Aindra Prabhu's book to dive in the inner aspects of vraja-prema bhakti, which in fact is something Prabhupada has mentioned in all his books and lectures, but hidden it in a subtle manner so that sadhakas and aspiring seekers don't take it cheaply owing to lifetimes of conditioning (vikar), and with gradual vaidhi bhakti (rules-based bhakti) and mercy of Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, approach their bhajan sincerely with deeper understanding.
The stages of nama (both nama japa and nama sankitana) are of 3 types:
- Nama Aparadha
- Nama Abhas
- Shuddh Nama
- At nama-aparadha level, we might be chanting with the 10 offences or often for our material gain. This is a selfish type of chanting where if Krishna presents a test or struggle before us, we will stop chanting or neglect it altogether. It is more of a deal to gain materially to chant. It also might be to please or show-off to others or for recognition. This is nama aparadha. Nama-aparadha sankirtana is where the person leading or participating in the kirtan sings in melodious tunes for attracting a crowd and not for the pleasure of the Lordships. Even though this is the beginning stage of nama-japa or nama-sankirtana, nama is so powerful that it destroys the accumulated karma, cleans the heart of devotee and guides internally with causeless mercy depending on the devotee's sincerity.
- At nama-abhas level, the devotee is just chanting the holy names without any personal desire as such. It is a semblance of the holy name but not laden with rasa or prema. It is a neutral stage where devotee hears every syllable and meditates on the holy name without any other thought. A devotee can come to this stage by disciplined practice (vaidhi bhakti) and own strength. Now comes the most important one.
- Shuddh nama or pure names of Lord is the stage where Shri Harinam Prabhu, who is non-different from inner potency (or Sri Radha) of Lord dances on the lips of a devotee by His causeless mercy. This nama descends from Goloka Vrindavan and has full rasa of inner nitya-lilas of the Divine Couple, and is the rasa which our guru-shishya paramapara, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada have mercifully given us. This never stops on the tongue of the devotee, and at this stage, the devotee is a shudh or pure Rasika Vaishnav.
Shuddh nama sankirtana or shuddh nama japa is done only by Rasika Vaishnavas who have completely realised their personal individual relationship (swarup) with the Divine Couple by the causeless mercy of holy names, Vrindavan Dham, Sri Guru and Gauranga.
To go deeper in inner pastimes of Lord and fully realise one's individual identity with the Divine Couple, one must humbly surrender to guru-tattva and listen to their vani (instructions or lectures) and participate in their shuddh nama sankirtan which is laden with vraja prema bhakti. Kali Yuga has given us benediction of sound equipment like earphones or Bluetooth speakers where we can listen to kirtan of Rasika Vaishnavs 247. This shuddh nama goes deep down in the heart of the devotee (where the Paramatma is situated in every individual) and directs them to vraja-prema.
Only shudh nama will mercifully manifest the innermost confidential aspects of vraja-prema bhakti not even attainable to big yogis or demigods.
Hence, take shelter of nama by Rasika Vaishnavas. In this process, do not look down on other sadhakas (practising devotees) that they are not Rasika and not chanting shudh nama. We just have to look for our goal - that is the service of Divine Couple by pleasing our guru-shishya-paramapara. To be very frank, we are all Kali-yuga rejects (as stated by Sripad Aindra Prabhu in most of his lectures). He says to focus, refocus and constantly refocus on nama and meditation of Divine Couple.
The book 'Demystifying The Mystical Vrindavan' is the essence and crux of this entire website.
If you are considering to dive into the final goal of our Vedic Scriptures and spiritual life, and if Radharani inspires you, do get a copy of the book .
The vraj saints have given three rules for serious seekers to quickly advance in bhakti:
- Don't discuss anything else other than Radharani
- No finding faults (when we know well that we ourselves are battling so many vikar (conditioning) internally
- No being in touch with vimukh, or people who talk material non-sense and anything except Priya-Priyatam
Aindra Prabhu used to say, "First, save yourself, and then think of saving the world." He was instructed by Srila Prabhupada that bhajanandi is by default a gostanandi (preacher). It is important to be a bhajanandi first. Unless you are bhajanandi and have prema bhakti, how can you give prema bhakti to others? (Read this article on who is eligible to preach?)
Hence, we should take to 247 sankirtan from Rasika Vaishnavas. I know of many devotees who have been listening to sankirtana of Aindra Prabhu 247 on their Bluetooth and car speakers for years.
Even I have inculcated this habit of playing Aindra Prabhu's kirtan 247 at my home and work studio (by being inspired by few sincere vrajvasis). Nama is very powerful. It is non-different from Krishna. Everything will be taken care of just by 247 shudh-nama kirtan. Just surrender completely to nama, if not more, then for a month. I can bet that your journey ahead will undergo transformation beyond your imagination. Even if somebody says Hare Krishna once, their entry to Vrindavan Prema Rasa starts right then. It's a beautiful state and question of shraddha (faith) and kripa (mercy).
Nama Nama Nama
Harer Nama Eva Kevalam
Jai Jai Shri Radhe!
P.S. I write on this site as inspired within by Sri Vrindavan Dham and as heard from Rasika Vaishnavas just for my personal meditation and a reminder for myself to follow the vani and teachings of guru-shishya paramapara. Noway do I intend to assist anybody. Please use your discretion and inner voice to read the contents of this site. Check About Section for more information.
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