Hearing and Chanting Srimad-Bhagavatamand the Mahamantra
By Narasimha das
The tenth offense to the holy name is to “become disinterested” in the holy name of the Lord and to remain attached to material desires. After having so many negative experiences in this mundane world, and after hearing many instructions regarding the value of renunciation and the glories of Krishna’s holy names, intelligent persons begin chanting Hare Krishna with determination. (See: SB.2.1.11, Purport) Often in Vedic prescriptions the most important instruction comes last. Without becoming disinterested in material existence, we may become inattentive or “disinterested” in chanting Hare Krishna.
Material desires make it difficult for us to chant the divine names with faith, humility and attention. This is described by Queen Kuntidevi in her prayers to Lord Krishna.
The First Result of Chanting and Hearing:
Hearing and chanting Krishna’s holy names with careful attention is the only means of attaining perfection in this age. Real devotional service, or bhakti, begins when we are freed from false ego and its associated false ambitions. Inattentive chanting is said to be the mother of offenses in chanting the holy names because it gives rise to the other offenses. Fully attentive and pure chanting is not possible without careful renunciation of material desires. Such renunciation helps lead us to pure chanting of the holy names, and this is also the first step to understanding Srimad-Bhagavatam. “The effect of chanting the holy name of the Lord is perceived by the chanter as liberation from the conception of false egoism.” (SB. 2.1.11, Purport) Material desires are born and breed due to “false egoism”.
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami, a genuine paramahamsa, has indicated that other Vedic proponents and students in the realm of karma, jnana and yoga are barred from understanding the real purpose and essence of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He mentioned that his father, Srila Vyasadeva, rejected His own disciples because they remained attached to these pursuits. Srila Vyasadeva apparently didn’t consider them qualified to receive the transcendental realizations offered by the Bhagavatam. Our first qualification for deep understanding of Srimad-Bhagavatam is our willingness to renounce material ambitions.
Srila Vyasadeva Rejects His Disciples:
It appears that among the disciples of Sri Vyasadeva, not all were pure devotees—not all were free from material desires. Not all were on the same level, and not all were qualified to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Srila Sukadeva Gosvami has explained, “…The incarnation of Godhead Vedavyasa, rejecting his disciples, headed by Paila, instructed Srimad-Bhagavatam to me because I was free from all material desires…”
“O King Pariksit, mainly the topmost transcendentalist, who are above the regulative principles and restrictions, take pleasure in describing the glories of the Lord.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.7)
Srimad-Bhagavatam is especially meant for paramahamsas. It’s real meanings and purposes can’t be understood or appreciated by materialistic persons. Without the special assistance and mercy of the great devotees in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, no one in this age is qualified to understand the Bhagavatam, which is described by Srila Prabhupada as the “post-graduate” study of Vedic literature. Srimad-Bhagavatam is best studied daily according the sadhana Srila Prabhupada established for his temples. In this way, by regular attendance in classes of Srimad-Bhagavatam all that is “inauspicious in the heart” becomes almost completely vanquished.
The best way for hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam is in association with non-duplicitous devotees, following the format Srila Prabhupada prescribed. A similar format was shown by great devotees when Srila Sukadeva Gosvami first spoke it to Maharaja Pariksit on the banks of the Ganges, and again when Sri Suta Goswami spoke it to the assembly of great sages in the sacred forest of Naimisaranya. (We should always hear and chant Srila Prabhupada’s translations and purports found in his original, authorized editions.)
Chanting Hare Krishna is the Only Way:
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said that there are “no hard and fast rules” for chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Chanting the holy names can be effectively done anywhere and everywhere by all persons in all times and all places. In a series of classes on Nectar of Devotion in Vrindaban (Nov. 12 and 13, 1972), Srila Prabhupada mentions that anyone can attain perfection— “even if he doesn’t read any scripture”—simply by chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
“O King, constant chanting of the holy names 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, and also those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, as well as those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.11)
It mentions above that even those “who desire all material enjoyment” should chant Hare Krishna for success. Such materialists may achieve their desired objectives by chanting, but they can never attain liberation or prema-bhakti. Gradually, however, by chanting Hare Krishna for a long time and associating with devotees, materialists may learn to detest material desires. The problem for materialists, however, is that it is hard for them to associate with devotees or chant regularly and attentively.
What is the solution for offensive chanting? Chanting Hare Krishna is the way to become freed from the reactions of all kinds of offenses, but what is the solution for one who chants offensively? According to great authorities, there is no remedy for offenses to the holy name—other than constant chanting. We can save time and suffering by chanting Hare Krishna and avoiding the 10 offenses in chanting. In this we can quickly arise to the level of pure chanting with full attention, by the mercy of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and Srila Prabhupada. At this stage, pure devotional service really begins and becomes truly effective. Srimad-Bhagavatam assures us that this the “doubtless and fearless way of success for all”.