Srimad Bhagavatam 02.01.11 - Why Worship God (download mp3)
by Tarun Gauranga Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ
O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.
In the previous verse, the great necessity for attaining attachment to Mukunda has been accredited. There are different types of persons who desire to attain success in different varieties of pursuits. Generally the persons are materialists who desire to enjoy the fullest extent of material gratification. Next to them are the transcendentalists, who have attained perfect knowledge about the nature of material enjoyment and thus are aloof from such an illusory way of life. More or less, they are satisfied in themselves by self-realization. Above them are the devotees of the Lord, who neither aspire to enjoy the material world nor desire to get out of it. They are after the satisfaction of the Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In other words, the devotees of the Lord do not want anything on their personal account. If the Lord desires, the devotees can accept all sorts of material facilities, and if the Lord does not desire this, the devotees can leave aside all sorts of facilities, even up to the limit of salvation. Nor are they self-satisfied, because they want the satisfaction of the Lord only. In this verse, Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī recommends the transcendental chanting of the holy name of the Lord. By offenseless chanting and hearing of the holy name of the Lord, one becomes acquainted with the transcendental form of the Lord, and then with the attributes of the Lord, and then with the transcendental nature of His pastimes, etc. Here it is mentioned that one should constantly chant the holy name of the Lord after hearing it from authorities. This means that hearing from the authorities is the first essential. Hearing of the holy name gradually promotes one to the stage of hearing about His form, His attributes, His pastimes, and so on, and thus the necessity of the chanting of His glories develops successively. This process is recommended not only for the successful execution of devotional service, but also even for those who are materially attached. According to Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī, this way of attaining success is an established fact, concluded not only by him but also by all other previous ācāryas. Therefore, there is no need of further evidence. The process is recommended not only for the progressive students in different departments of ideological success, but also for those who are already successful in their achievement as fruitive workers, as philosophers or as devotees of the Lord.
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī instructs that chanting of the holy name of the Lord should be loudly done, and it should be performed offenselessly as well, as recommended in the Padma Purāṇa. One can deliver himself from the effects of all sins by surrendering himself unto the Lord. One can deliver himself from all offenses at the feet of the Lord by taking shelter of His holy name. But one cannot protect himself if one commits an offense at the feet of the holy name of the Lord. Such offenses are mentioned in the Padma Purāṇa as being ten in number.
The first offense is to vilify the great devotees who have preached about the glories of the Lord.
The second offense is to see the holy names of the Lord in terms of worldly distinction. The Lord is the proprietor of all the universes, and therefore He may be known in different places by different names, but that does not in any way qualify the fullness of the Lord. Any nomenclature which is meant for the Supreme Lord is as holy as the others because they are all meant for the Lord. Such holy names are as powerful as the Lord, and there is no bar for anyone in any part of the creation to chant and glorify the Lord by the particular name of the Lord as it is locally understood. They are all auspicious, and one should not distinguish such names of the Lord as material commodities.
The third offense is to neglect the orders of the authorized ācāryas or spiritual masters.
The fourth offense is to vilify scriptures or Vedic knowledge.
The fifth offense is to define the holy name of the Lord in terms of one’s mundane calculation. The holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord Himself, and one should understand the holy name of the Lord to be nondifferent from Him.
The sixth offense is to interpret the holy name. The Lord is not imaginary, nor is His holy name. There are persons with a poor fund of knowledge who think the Lord to be an imagination of the worshiper and therefore think His holy name to be imaginary. Such a chanter of the name of the Lord cannot achieve the desired success in the matter of chanting the holy name.
The seventh offense is to commit sins intentionally on the strength of the holy name. In the scriptures it is said that one can be liberated from the effects of all sinful actions simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord. One who takes advantage of this transcendental method and continues to commit sins on the expectation of neutralizing the effects of sins by chanting the holy name of the Lord is the greatest offender at the feet of the holy name. Such an offender cannot purify himself by any recommended method of purification. In other words, one may be a sinful man before chanting the holy name of the Lord, but after taking shelter in the holy name of the Lord and becoming immune, one should strictly restrain oneself from committing sinful acts with a hope that his method of chanting the holy name will give him protection.
The eighth offense is to consider the holy name of the Lord and His chanting method to be equal to some material auspicious activity. There are various kinds of good works for material benefits, but the holy name and His chanting are not mere auspicious holy services. Undoubtedly the holy name is holy service, but He should never be utilized for such purposes. Since the holy name and the Lord are of one and the same identity, one should not try to bring the holy name into the service of mankind. The idea is that the Supreme Lord is the supreme enjoyer. He is no one’s servant or order supplier. Similarly, since the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord, one should not try to utilize the holy name for one’s personal service.
The ninth offense is to instruct those who are not interested in chanting the holy name of the Lord about the transcendental nature of the holy name. If such instruction is imparted to an unwilling audience, the act is considered to be an offense at the feet of the holy name.
The tenth offense is to become uninterested in the holy name of the Lord even after hearing of the transcendental nature of the holy name. The effect of chanting the holy name of the Lord is perceived by the chanter as liberation from the conception of false egoism. False egoism is exhibited by thinking oneself to be the enjoyer of the world and thinking everything in the world to be meant for the enjoyment of one’s self only. The whole materialistic world is moving under such false egoism of “I” and “mine,” but the factual effect of chanting the holy name is to become free from such misconceptions.