There are seven stages of transcendental purification and elevation that takes place when we chant the Holy Names of Krishna. Those who are sincere to make progress in Krishna consciousness should very carefully understand this particular verse.
First Purification: ceto darpanam marjanamLord Caitanya begins by chanting: Ceto darpanam marjanam. That the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord cleanses the mirror of our consciousness. Originally we are all pure Krishna conscious entities. Mamai vamsa jiva loke, jiva bhuta sanatana. Jiva soul is part and parcel of the supreme soul, Krishna. Nithya siddha krsna prema sadhya kabhu naya. Pure love of Krishna is within the heart of every living being. Ecstatic bliss is within the heart of every living being. But somehow the consciousness, which is compared to the mirror, has been covered with layers and layers of dust.
Why is Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu comparing the consciousness to the mirror? Because the function of the mirror is to reflect the true identity and the nature of our own self. When we look in the mirror, we do not expect to see someone else. It is reflecting the real beauty of our self. The soul is unlimitedly beautiful, because it is qualitatively one with Krishna, Who is the supreme beauty. Krishna explains one spark of His beauty is creating all the intoxication for pleasure within this entire material existence.
Far greater than the perverted reflection of the spark within this material universe is the soul. Factually the beauty of one infinitesimal jivatma within any species of life has more qualitative beauty and enchantment than all the things within this entire cosmic manifestation, all the way up to the Brahma loka. What is the beauty of a soul that we cannot even imagine? It is part and parcel of Krishna, the all beautiful.
When we look into the mirror, we are supposed to see the reflection of our self. The nature of our consciousness is to be the mirror of the very nature of our soul. Our soul is meant to love Krishna and to feel the ecstasy of loving Krishna. But it is covered by layers and layers of dust that has been accumulated birth after birth. And so we cannot see … we cannot see who we are or what we are meant to be. All we see is that dust.
Lord Caitanya explains what that dust is – it is all of our selfish, egoistic desires to want to enjoy this material existence. It is the dust of lust. We have so many ambitions, aspirations of how we will enjoy. We are intoxicated by the illusory phantasmagoria of so called beautiful things of this world, which are compared to mirages. We are chasing after these mirages birth after birth looking for happiness but finding no real satisfaction.
When that is unfulfilled, we often become very angry and frustrated. Our selfish desires are not satisfied, so we want to put the blame on someone else … or something. And we make so many offenses. And if somehow or other we get a little bit pleasure in this material world, we are not satisfied. We want more and more. So we become greedy which is another species of dust.
Krishna explains, just like fire … What will satisfy a fire? The more fuel you put in, the hungrier it becomes. The more you have, the more you become greedy for more and more. And if somehow or other someone has something you want or something more than what you want, then the dust of envy manifests. You become hateful of that person. You are wishing and praying that this person will loose everything and suffer. You become envious. Why does he have? Why not me? I deserve.
And through all of this – lust, anger, envy we become very proud of whatever little we have. Even the pauper is proud of his penny. We think we are very great … and illusion … we become mad by all this illusion. So this false ego, this desire to enjoy and all the by products that come along with it and the reactions are the types of dust are that cover the mirror of the soul.
Sometimes less intelligent people, frustrated in so many ways with dissatisfaction of all the pursuits in the material life, they take to a process of religion where they want to be liberated, by becoming God, which is another type of dust. Bhukti, mukti. Material enjoyment and the desire to be God are the dust that cover our heart and obscure the true blissful nature of the soul. So the first stage of chanting the Holy Names of the Lord removes all the dust from the mirror of the mind.
Second Purification: bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanamWhich means the chanting of the Holy Names extinguishes the forest fire of material suffering. This world is, Krishna says, dukhalayam asasvatam. It is a place of suffering. We are trying to be happy in a place of suffering. It is just like trying to be dry when you are submerged in the ocean. Is it possible? Can you get dry when you are in the ocean? If you want to get dry, you have to get out of the ocean. So if you want to enjoy, you need to get out of this material existence. We can have only little pleasure in this material world. That pleasure is actually not meant for happiness. That pleasure is meant to keep us suffering. It is maya’s trick. She gives you enough pleasure to make you never want to leave and then you never stop suffering.
Because all you want to do is to get out of material existence. Chant the Names of God and go back to Godhead. So why are we staying in this material existence? Maya’s great power is … The only thing that keeps us here is our desire to stay here. And she gives us these few tokens of happiness … just so that we can feel oh … I like it here. It’s worth all these miseries and sufferings … death after death. Just to get some nice food. Or touch some soft object or to just watch some television. It is worth it! In this way, she keeps us in this miserable situation.But actually this material existence is compared to a burning forest fire. What can extinguish a burning forest fire? No fire brigade has any hope. Only by the power of God, when He sends rain showers it is possible. So the chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna is like that rain storm. What is impossible for us to do individually or what is impossible for the whole collective human society and earth to do, extinguish a forest fire, can be done by Krishna’s mercy alone.
Sometimes there are big forest fires. America is a very prominent country. Just a few years ago there was such a big forest fire. Thousands of acres just burned and burned. The US Army, the Navy, and all the politicians in Washington DC and the whole population of so many hundreds of millions of people in America – collectively and individually – there was nothing they could do about the forest fire. It was out of control.
A fire that is millions of times greater is burning within our hearts. And the flames of that fire implicate us in the 3 fold miseries of material existence: Adhiatmika – miseries of our own body. Which has so many inconveniences, and discomforts. Like the trains in Bombay – It is Adhyatmika express. People are not happy. Rarely do you see smiling blissful faces. Everyone is hoping to get out. There is disease. One little creature enters your body and can cause so much misery. And then there are the miseries of the mind – mental anxiety and distress … and lamentation and disappointment. So many tears flow from tour eyes due to these miseries of adhyatmika.Then there are the miseries caused by others – maybe our brothers and sisters, our families. Often times – husbands and wives. Sometimes politicians and insects, there are so many other living beings that create suffering to the conditioned soul.
Then there is adhybhautika – the miseries caused by natural disturbances. Too much heat, too much cold, too much rain, too little rain. In this material world, too much or too little of anything and you suffer. Everything has to be just right in the middle in order for there to be any relief or happiness. When there is a drought we pray for rain; when there is a flood we pray for drought. Let the rain come .. no no … I changed my mind, let the rain stop. When it is too hot … we are praying … let there be a nice breeze. And then a frigid cyclone comes and … no .. no … I changed my mind, I don’t want this breeze, let it be hot. The dualities of material existence are always there. Earthquakes, cyclones, tornados, floods etc. These are all the miseries of material nature.No one can control the infliction of the 3 fold miseries upon us. And therefore birth after birth after birth there is so much pain, miseries.
So the second stage of chanting of the Holy Name, is bhava maha davagni nirvapanam. Krishna’s mercy flows as a reciprocation to the chanting of the Holy Name, just like a rain storm that completely extinguishes the blazing forest fire of material existence and we achieve mukti in the truest sense – in the sense we are alleviated from all suffering for ever from material existence.
Third Purification: sreyah kairava candrika vitaranamWe have just eliminated the negative. And now the positive is being introduced. We have cleansed the mirror heart of all the dirt and filth of the anarthas of material attachment. We have extinguished the blazing forest fire of material existence, which is the cause of all miseries and sufferings and now at this stage our actual blissful position of our spiritual nature begins to awaken.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu compares the Holy Name to the beautiful full moon. Of all things within this material existence, the two most pristine symbols of beauty are the full moon and the lotus flower. When we talk about the beauty of the Lord, we talk about His feet like lotuses, we talk about his eyes like lotuses, his heart like lotuses. And we also describe Him as so many moons. His moon-like face – Vrndavan candra. Because the beautiful full moon creates such natural beauty and when the full moon comes in contact with this fresh beautiful lotus flower, that is the exchange of ultimate beauty within this material creation.
The Holy Name of Krishna is non-different than Krishna. The Holy Name is radiating an oceanic quantity and quality of benedictions and blessings. And when the rays of the benedictions of the full moon come in contact with the lotus, which is compared to our own soul, then that soul begins to blossom.
When the lotus flower is closed, its fragrance and beauty cannot be enjoyed. But when it comes in contact with the light of the moon, when that lotus blossoms, all of its fragrance … all of its beauty is manifested to the world. So this is the effect of the Holy Name, when it touches our hearts. It awakens the natural, beautiful loving qualities of our souls. And we realize and understand our own spiritual existence in our relationship with Vrndavan candra, Krishna. As that relationship develops, it manifests in five different rasas – as in neutrality, as a servant of the Lord, as a friend of the Lord, as the parent of the Lord or as the lover of the Lord. These transcendental qualities are unfolded as we come in contact with the sweet ambrosial sound of Krishna’s name.
Fourth Purification: Vidya vadhu jivanamWhen that lotus of our own soul blossoms, then we can understand what is real knowledge,who we really are. What is our real purpose and what is that purpose? To surrender completely to the will of God. This awakening is the next stage that comes through chanting Hare Krishna – utter surrender to the will of God. To the degree we surrender, to that degree we feel ecstasy. To the degree we are complacent or reluctant or we refuse to surrender to the will of Krishna, to the service of Krishna, to that same degree we are cheating ourselves of the nectar of transcendental love, which is our very eternal birth right. Complete surrender is the expression of knowledge of the true nature of our self, of our soul. Krishna explains in the Gita, Sarva dharman parityaja…. Abandon all other occupational ideas and all other religious conceptions and just surrender to Me. I shall protect you from all sinful reactions, do not fear.
In the material sense surrender means to give up against our will and it is a miserable idea. Just when you are fighting a war you want the other side to surrender. And nobody likes to surrender. It means you loose everything. In the spiritual sense it is just the opposite.
In the spiritual sense you are surrendering at all times. It is just the question of who you are surrendering to. Because everyone is in a subordinate position in this material world. Krishna has 3 energies – His internal spiritual energy, external material energy, and His marginal energy. The Jiva soul is the marginal energy. We have the independent free will to either surrender to Krishna’s spiritual energy or to surrender to Krishna’s material energy. But surrender you do in any case.
Every time when you have a desire to see something, taste something, hear something, you are surrendering to the modes of material nature. Sattva guna – the mode of goodness, raja guna – the mode passion; tamas – the mode of ignorance. Guna also means rope. You are bound by these ropes and you are constantly pulled one way or the other. And which ever way it is, you are surrendering. But yet, we think, it is our free choice. That is the illusion. In this way when we surrender to maya, the illusory energy, bhava maha dvagani – we are not released from the burning fire, we are plunged deeper and deeper into the burning fire. Every time you surrender to any of your desires the fire is getting hotter and hotter and you are getting into it deeper and deeper.
The only means of being free from the power of maya is to surrender to Krishna who is the all good, the all beautiful, the reservoir of all pleasure. Why should we be reluctant to surrender to Krishna? Because we are habituated to surrendering to maya. It is such a simple thing. Krishna says, ‘Just surrender to Me’. Actually it is the easiest, simplest, natural thing to surrender to Krishna. But we have become so much unnatural in our thinking, feeling, willing, that it appears to be very difficult. But through the power of the Holy Name, as the dust of our heart becomes cleansed … as the burning forest fire of material existence and the suffering of our actions and reactions of sinful activities, are extinguished, as the true knowledge in the lotus of our hearts become opened, then it becomes our very nature to surrender to Krishna. What does surrender mean – to love Krishna, to serve Krishna. The expression of love is to serve.
Fifth Purification: anandam buddhi vardhanamWhen we surrender to Krishna and agree to live in harmony with Krishna, be the servant of the servant of His servants, then by the grace of Krishna, He places us in an unlimited ocean of transcendental ecstasy. The happiness of this world is like a drop of water in the desert. But the happiness that is achieved through the chanting of the Holy Names is like being submerged in an ocean of nectar, an ocean of ecstasy.
The soul being naturally servant of Krishna is longing for unlimited ecstatic joy of re-uniting with Krishna. Krishna is All-beautiful. Then Krishna reveals to us in reciprocation to our desire and sincerity, what pleasure there is in Krishna; the beautiful form of His three-fold bending swarup. It is so intoxicating. Srila Rupa Goswami warns us, if you are attached to your home, if you are attached to the material aspects of your family, wealth and society or anything of this world then I warn you – do not go to the banks of Yamuna – kesi ghat, where Govindaji, Krishna is standing in His beautiful 3-fold bending form. Once you see that beauty of Krishna then you are aware that the things of this world that are charming your heart are insignificant. Jamunacarya, the spiritual master of Ramanujacharya and many other great souls, prayed in this way. He was remembering back to the days when he was young and he was a king, and he had so much pleasure and facility for enjoyment. He said, now I am tasting the sweetness and pleasure of service to Krishna … when I think of all the enjoyments of this world – and even the king of all enjoyments – sex pleasure, he says, my lips curl in distaste and I spit at that thought. There is no pleasure and no charm. When we realize that we are not this body, what is so great about material pleasure? It has nothing to do with the soul and nothing to do with the reality.
We see a beautiful thing and it is just some light entering into our eye, and it is making us mad. If it is dark, you cannot even see it. Or some frequency entering our ear and we get mad. Something scraping our tongue … what is tongue … just a lump of flesh wiggling around. But when something touches its surface we go mad. That is what material enjoyment is, and we take it so seriously.
If we do not taste the pleasures of the soul, all that we have left is to try to enjoy through the senses. Through the tongue, through the eyes and all these things… What an humiliating experience for a blissful spiritual soul, that is a part of Krishna that belongs in the spiritual world, to be trying to enjoy like this? It is very sad. It breaks our hearts.
But the beauty of Krishna is how He is Hari – one little glimpse of beauty and charm of Krishna will completely take our minds … steal our minds forever from this material existence. The sound of Krishna’s flute; the river Yamuna would become paralyzed. It couldn’t even flow. The little calves couldn’t even suck the milk from their mothers. The Gopis would leave all their household duties and run to see where Krishna is. The supreme power of Krishna is not in creating this material world, but in His all attractive beauty to attract and charm the hearts of all his living entities for all of eternity. Because that love can conquer everything. One drop of love for Krishna can conquer the entire 14 worlds in a second.
Srila Rupa Goswami explains all that power, all that beauty, all the love and all the opulences are within His name … But we have to chant in the mood of sankirtan. That is chanting in such a way that Krishna completely manifests Himself in the sound of His Name. In one sense, the word Sankirtan means – when Krishna completely manifests Himself within the sound of His name. Rupa Goswami says, when I chant that name with my little tongue, the name dances on my tongue. Krishna is dancing on my tongue. What is this one tongue to taste the sweetness? That sweetness is so great, so unlimited, it is so intoxicatingly ecstatic, what is this little tongue I have? I want millions and millions of tongues to taste the Holy Name. And when that Name enters into my ears – why has the creator cheated me, by giving me these two tiny little holes for these ears? I want millions and millions of ears to drink the nectar of this spiritually blissful sound of Krishna’s Name and when that Name enters into our heart, then all aspirations, desires, for anything but the service of that Name cease to exist.
This is how Rupa Goswami chants the Holy Name of the Lord. This is his experience when he is chanting the Holy Name of the Lord. Anandam buddhi vardhanam. We are merged into the ocean of transcendental love – Bhakti rasamrta sindhu. In fact Srila Rupa Goswami explains that the aspiration of the jnanis, the Salvationists is to receive mukti. They want to enter into Brahman. He said compared to the unlimited ocean of happiness that is derived from serving Krishna with pure love, the pleasure of mukti is like a particle of one tiny little drop.
Sixth Purification: Sarvatma snapanam, param vijayateThe next aspect of this great sankirtan movement is this – sarvatma snapanam. This pleasure is very different than the pleasures of the material world. The pleasures of the material world pollute us. The more pleasure we get, the more our hearts are polluted with the misconception that we are the enjoyer. But the pleasure of this anandam buddhi vardhanam, the pleasure of Krishna Consciousness purifies us. The more we are happy, in Krishna consciousness, the more we become purified.
Sometimes devotees ask this question, we are not supposed to enjoy, we are supposed to be enjoyed by Krishna, but when I am in kirtan, I am enjoying so much … Sometimes, when I am in kirtan, it is more enjoyable than sense gratification. So is this bad to be attached? Because I am enjoying … it is good to enjoy in this way.This type of enjoying from the chanting and hearing the Names and Glories of the Lord completely purifies our heart and through this type of enjoyment, we become sarvatma – completely purified. No trace is left. Not even any seeds in your heart of the weeds of material enjoyment. Sometimes when we cut down the weeds, it appears that everything is safe. But the seeds are still in the ground and it is just a matter of time before they grow again. But the Holy Name has the power to completely purify us to the extent that even the seeds of material desires cease to exist as we are drowning in the ocean of Krishna Bhakti and Krishna prema.
Seventh Purification: Param vijayate Sri Krishna sankirtanam
Go on with this chanting. Lord Caitanya says … Go on with this Sri Krishna Sankirtan. Let it be victorious in all directions. This is His benediction. That the Holy Name alone of the Lord when it is chanted by sincere devotees, it not only performs these previous 6 wonderful benedictions, but it spreads out and expands to create victory over illusion and maya and it creates victory throughout the world. Wherever the Holy Name is chanted by the Lord’s sincere devotees these seven effects will take place. Param vijayate. Supreme victory. The supreme ultimate victory is accomplished through the chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
And this was Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s great desire. Srila Prabhupada, our beloved Guru Maharaj, as Lord Caitanya desired, as the humble servant of servant of the servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, wanted to expand this great victory throughout the world through the chanting of Krishna’s Holy Name. Param vijayate Sri Krishna sankirtanam. Sri means radharani. The pleasure potency of the Lord. Sri Krishna Sankirtanam means the full congregational chanting of Radha and Krishna. So there is no greater opportunity in all of this human existence that is being given to us by the Lord than the chanting of the names of Krishna – hare nama hare nama hare nama eva kevalam. In this age of Kali Yuga, there is no other way no other way no other possible way of deliverance or save, except for the chanting of the Holy Names of Lord Hari.
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann asti hy eko mahan gunah kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet
This age of Kali Yuga is an ocean of faults. But there is one benediction. That simply by chanting the Holy Name of Krishna we can achieve the perfection of liberation. What could be attained in Satya Yuga through thousands of years of celibacy, tapasya, and strict meditation in Treta Yuga by elaborate yajnas, in Dvapara Yuga in worshipping the Lord through various rituals and forms of devotion is easily attained in this age of Kali Yuga simply by chanting the Holy Names.
Therefore, the Bhagavat explains that the great sages worship this Kali Yuga as the best of all ages. It is an age of quarrel and hypocrisy. It is an age where friction and conflict can come about between anybody and any time unless we keep Krishna in the center. Kali kale nama rupe krsna avatar. Krishna has descended in His name in such a way that we can always keep Him in the center. The only protection from the evils of this age of Kali is the sincere chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord.
But this chanting must be done sincerely. That means we must have the association of the Lord. Without keeping the company of the devotees of the Lord, we cannot properly have the consciousness to chant the Holy Name that is required. And we must have a spiritual master to guide us and train us in such a way that we are approaching the Holy Name in the proper way. To achieve the full benefits of the Holy Name, we have to approach in the mood of being a servant, not in the mood of being an exploiter. Krishna in His name will reveal Himself as you approach Him. So service is essential. Association of devotees is essential. Guidance from a proper guru is essential for us to approach the Holy Name in a proper way that the Name will reciprocate.Sometimes impersonalists chant the Holy Name of Krishna. Sometimes people who are too much aspiring for material enjoyment approach the Holy Name. But Krishna doesn’t properly reveal himself to people who don’t have the proper devotion. So we must be very sincere. It is so simple. Lord Nityananda Prabhu and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu have induced us in this way … Chant the Holy Name of Krishna … Worship Krishna … Hear about Krishna and give this message to others. Krishna is your mother, Krishna is your father. Krishna is your true wealth and your very life and soul.
We are all looking for wealth and working so hard in our occupations to find wealth. But we don’t know that there is an unlimited treasure of wealth right within the heart of your own soul and the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord is the key that opens your own heart and reveals the supreme treasure of transcendental bliss. Therefore chanting this Name in the association of other devotees is the ultimate benediction for all humanity.
Veda Vyasa is Krishna Himself. He descended and wrote the Vedas. It was Veda Vyasa, with the help of Ganapathi, who wrote the entire Mahabharat which includes the Bhagavad Gita, at Badrik ashram. It was him who wrote the 4 vedas – rg, yathur, atharva and the sama. He worte the Upanishads, puranasa, itihasas and the various histories. The Vedic literatures that are meant to elevate the consciousness of humanity to its ultimate perfection. And after this most extensive and exhaustive expression of His mercy to humanity by writing all these scriptures, he was not satisfied. In his ashram in Badrinath, sitting at the banks of Saraswati, Narada Muni approached him and told him you have not exclusively presented a scripture which speaks nothing but pure unalloyed devotion to the supreme lord Krishna. That is the ultimate culmination of all transcendental knowledge. So the last written statement of Veda Vyasa was the Srimad Bhagavatam. The most perfect, spotless Purana. The culmination of all knowledge. His own commentary on the Vedanta Sutra, the essence of the Vedas. And after describing the pure devotion of so many great devotees, mahajans, and then describing the personal lila of Krishna in Vrndavan, in Mathura, in Dwaraka … Krishna’s instructions to Uddhava … The last verse of Veda Vyasa is:
nama-sankirtanam yasya sarva-papa pranasanam pranamo duhkha-samanas tam namami harim param
In this age of Kali Yuga, the chanting, the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna will relieve you from all sinful reactions and award you the perfection of life. Srimad Bhagavatam ends, concludes, culminates with this glorification of the Sankirtan movement and in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. We understand how Caitanya Caritamrta begins where Srimad Bhagavatam ends.
Bhagavad Gita ends with surrender to Krishna. It begins with you should not be in illusion. Understand the difference between body and spirit and ultimately you should surrender to Krishna by always remembering Him. So where Bhagavad Gita ends, Srimad Bhagavatam begins. It is the graduate study of the Gita. It begins by describing the pure devotee’s lives and how they are surrendering to Krishna. What is Prahlad’s surrender. What is Ambarisa Maharaj’s surrender. What is the pandavas’ surrender. What is sukadeva Goswami and Pariksit Mahraj’s surrender. Srimad Bhagavatam is a collection of the pure devotees reciprocating their love with Krishna. And then it reaches its heights when it reaches the 10th canto, where it describes Krishna personally descending in His original form and having beautiful rasa with the Gopis in Vrndavan, the most intensified relationship with His devotees and the Bhagavatam concludes nama sankirtanam yasya – this will all be realized through the congregational chanting of the Holy Name.
Where Bhagavatam ends, Lord Caitanya begins. The first thing that He teaches chant the Holy Names of Krishna. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is considered to be non-different from the personification of the teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam. It can all be realized in perfection through the sincere chanting of Krishna’s Holy Names. And here in the beautiful verse, Siksastakam, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is personally glorifying the unlimited virtues of this sankirtan movement. The ultimate benedictions that come through the chanting of the Holy Names. I hope this shed some glimmers of light on the unlimited ocean of light that is emanating from the first verse of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s siksastakam.
If we offer the oblations of our faith and devotion into the seven flames of this fire of Harinam sankirtan, we will attract the unlimited mercy of Krishna. To share this message with others is the greatest of all service to humanity. So please let us chant Hare Krishna very loudly and be very happy.
‘Let there be all victory for the chanting of the Holy Name of Lord Hari, Lord Krishna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon which spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.’
Sri Harinam Sankirtan Ki Jaya!
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