Secret to Receive Lord's Mercy

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.02.39(A) - Secret to Receive Lord's Mercy (download mp3)
by Damodar Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 11.2.39
srnvan su-bhadrani rathanga-paner
 janmani karmani ca yani loke
gitani namani tad-arthakani
 gayan vilajjo vicared asangah

An intelligent person who has controlled his mind and conquered fear should give up all attachment to material objects such as wife, family and nation and should wander freely without embarrassment, hearing and chanting the holy names of the Lord, the bearer of the chariot wheel. The holy names of Krsna are all-auspicious because they describe His transcendental birth and activities, which He performs within this world for the salvation of the conditioned souls. Thus the holy names of the Lord are sung throughout the world.

Since the holy names, forms and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unlimited, no one can hear or chant about all of them. Therefore the word loke indicates that one should chant the holy names of the Lord that are well known on this particular planet. Within this world, Lord Rama and Lord Krsna are very famous. Their books, Ramayana and Bhagavad-gita, are studied and relished all over the world. Similarly, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is gradually becoming famous all over the world, as He Himself predicted. Prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama/ sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama: “In every town and village on this earth the glories of My name will be chanted.” Therefore in conformity with the authorized statement of this verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Krsna consciousness movement emphasizes the maha-mantra — Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare — along with the Pañca-tattva maha-mantra: sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrnda.

According to Srila Sridhara Svami, this blissful process of chanting the holy names of the Lord without any material conception is called sugamam margam, a very enjoyable path. Similarly, Lord Krsna has described the process of bhakti-yoga as susukham kartum, very joyfully performed, and Srila Locana dasa Thakura has sung, saba avatara sara siromani kevala ananda-kanda. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s process for worshiping Krsna is kevala ananda-kanda, simply joyful. In this connection Srila Prabhupada has stated that people in any part of the world can assemble, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, read from authorized books such as Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and accept krsna-prasadam sumptuously, just as Caitanya Mahaprabhu did in Navadvipa.

To be successful in this program, however, Locana dasa Thakura has warned, visaya chadiya: one must give up material sense gratification. If one indulges in material sense gratification, surely he will be in the bodily concept of life. One who is in the bodily concept of life will undoubtedly have a materialistic understanding of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus, by considering the Lord’s pastimes mundane, one will come within the category of Mayavada, or impersonalism, in which one considers the transcendental body of the Lord to be a creation of material nature. Therefore the word asangah in this verse is very significant. One must chant the holy name of the Lord without mental speculation. One must accept Lord Krsna as He presents Himself in Bhagavad-gita, wherein He states that He alone is Purusottama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that His transcendental form is eternal (ajo ’pi sann avyayatma).

Srila Jiva Gosvami has emphasized, yani sastra-dvara sat-parampara-dvara ca loke gitani janmani karmani ca, tani srnvan gayams ca: if one wants to be successful in chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, one must adopt the process as it is coming down in the sat-parampara, the transcendental disciplic succession. And the sat-parampara can be identified by reference to bona fide Vedic scriptures. Contrary to the opinion of uninformed critics, the followers of Krsna consciousness are not mindless or fanatical. They intelligently follow the system of checks and balances called guru, sadhu and sastra. That is, one must accept a bona fide spiritual master, who must in turn be confirmed by the opinion of great saintly persons and revealed scriptures. If one accepts a bona fide spiritual master, follows the example of great saintly persons and becomes conversant with authorized literature such as Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Srimad-Bhagavatam, one’s program of chanting the holy names of the Lord and hearing about the Lord’s pastimes will be completely successful. As Krsna states in Bhagavad-gita (4.9):

janma karma ca me divyam
 evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
 naiti mam 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 the material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has stated that throughout the world the Supreme Lord is known by many names, some of them expressed in vernacular language, but any name used to indicate the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is one without a second, beyond the influence of material nature, can be accepted as a holy name of God, according to this verse. That is indicated by the word loke.

One should not misinterpret the word vicaret, “one should wander,” to mean that while chanting the holy names of Krsna one may go anywhere or engage in any activity without discrimination. Therefore it is stated, vicared asangah: one may wander freely, but at the same time one must strictly avoid the association of those who are not interested in Krsna consciousness or who are engaged in sinful life. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has stated, asat-sanga-tyaga — ei vaisnava acara (Cc. Madhya 22.87): a Vaisnava is known by his complete avoidance of all mundane association. If in the course of traveling and chanting the glories of the Lord a Vaisnava preacher finds a submissive nondevotee who is willing to hear about Krsna, the preacher will always give his merciful association to such a person. But a Vaisnava should strictly avoid those who are not interested in hearing about Krsna.

According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, those who do not engage in hearing the astonishing pastimes and holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who do not relish the Lord’s pastimes are simply executing mundane, illusory activities or indulging in false, materialistic renunciation. Frustrated living entities sometimes take to dry impersonalism and avoid the descriptions of the Supreme Lord’s eternal name, form, qualities, entourage and pastimes. But if one gains the association of a pure devotee, one gives up the path of dry speculative argument and becomes situated on the actual Vedic path of devotional service to the Lord.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that the word dvaita, or “duality,” expresses the false understanding that some object has a substantial existence independent of Krsna. The Mayavada conception of advaita, which lacks any spiritual distinctions, is simply another manifestation of the mind’s function of acceptance and rejection. The eternal appearance and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead never contradict the concept of advaya-jñana, or transcendental knowledge beyond duality.