Saturday, January 31, 2009

F: An Eulogy to Six Goswamis

kRSNotkIrtana-gAna-nartana-parau premAmRtAmbho-nidhI
dhIrAdhIra-jana-priyau priya-karau nirmatsarau pUjitau |
zrI-caitanya-kRpA-bharau bhuvi bhuvo bhArAvahantArakau
vande rUpa-sanAtanau raghu-yugau zrI-jIva-gopAlakau || 1 ||

“Absorbed in praising Krishna with songs and dance, they are oceans of the nectar of prema; Dear to the serious and the capricious, they give joy to all, free of envy and worshipable; Bearing the grace of Sri Chaitanya, they are deliverers of the burden of the world. Praise to Rupa-Sanatana, the two Raghus, Sri Jiva and Gopala!”

Immersed in Krishna-kirtana, these six saints are oceans of prema personified – such is the nature of kirtana! We have many forms of kirtana, the two basic forms being nAma-kIrtana and padAvalI-kIrtana, and the latter is further divided into a number of sections such as guNa-kIrtana, in praise of Krishna's qualities, rUpa-kIrtana, in praise of the beauty of Krishna's form, and lIlA-kIrtana, in praise of pastimes. Padavali-kirtana in particular has wondrous power to uplift the heart of the sadhaka – so much so that kIrtana naturally transforms into utkIrtana, a loud, whole-hearted crying out of the soul, as the waves of the song sweep the heart afar to the shoreless ocean of prema. kIrtana is the natural state of a spotless heart – entranced in kIrtana, the heart blossoms with joy.

This loving emotion transforms the devotee's heart with its diverse tastes, creating a loving nature that makes him dear to all, the gentlemen and the ruffians alike. They spare their love from none, and even the greatest of fools can appreciate the beautiful, well-wishing nature of their hearts. The language of love is universal, felt by all people regardless of education or cultural sophistication. Only the vilest of men, naturally inclined to slander devotees and the Lord in their firm conviction to be the hedonistic enjoyers of the world, find fault even in places where good qualities are present in abundance, in hearts where envy shines with its absence and where there is only good will for all.

Such a wondrous state of heart is brought about with the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; without that, the hearts of the fallen folk of the age of Kali hardly transform and take on the qualities of supreme devotion. With the presence of such a treasure in their hearts, the loving devotees become deliverers of the world; whosoever comes in touch with them will find their lives naturally effected, their hearts' concerns transformed from the petty affairs of the world to something far beyond, something so meaningful and beautiful.

Praise to Rupa-Sanatana, the two Raghus, Sri Jiva and Gopala!

UP 3 - The deliverer of the worlds, The qualities of the self-controlled devotee

Commenting on sarvAm apImAM pRthivIM sa ziSyAt, the commentator notes:

sarvA pRthvIM ziSyAditi vAg-Adi-vega-sahanopayogena
saMvRddhayA bhaktyA sarvapAvanatvAt |

"With 'instructing the whole world' and so on, it is said that the quality of being able to deliver all is there, when devotion thrives through the means of controlling urges headed by speech."

He then cites a verse that illustrates vividly the nature of the devotee, who has controlled the urges and is deep in his devotional feeling.

vAg gadgadA dravate yasya cittaM
rudaty abhIkSNaM hasati kvacic ca |
vilajja udgAyati nRtyate ca
mad-bhakti-yukto bhuvanaM punAti || bhp 11.14.24

"He whose voice is choking, whose consciousness melts;
Who cries again and again, and at times laughs, too;
Without shame, he sings loudly and dances as well,
Endowed with devotion for me, he purifies the world."

One does not, then, attain the quality of being able to deliver one and all merely on the merit of self-control. Rather, this self-control provides a platform on which devotion can flourish, and through that, the quality of sarva-pAvanatva is attained.

- The first verse says that one who can control the six urges can "instruct the whole world". You mentioned that this is a poeticism of Srila Rupa Goswami, which can otherwise be understood to mean that one who has renounced the six urges gains tremendous power with which to perform bhajan. Where does the concept come from?

This understanding is drawn from the following statement of Radha Raman Goswami's: sarvA pRthvIM ziSyAditi vAg-Adi-vega-sahanopayogena saMvRddhayA bhaktyA sarvapAvanatvAt | - "With the statement 'The whole world as disciple' and so forth, it is said that the quality of sarva-pAvanatva, being able to deliver all, comes when devotion is fortified by the means of controlling the urges headed by speech." The word saMvRddha means "increased", "thriving", "prospering" and so forth, by the upayoga or "application" of vega-sahana, "controlling the urges".

The GVS edition of Upadeshamrita, unfortunately, is not a very accurate representation of Radha Raman Goswami's original tika. It elaborates unnecessarily, it misses important nuances. It is, regardless, helpful for reference.

Aside the above pramana, this is a natural and logical understanding. When one is no longer distracted by other things, his bhakti gains a power of focus. Moreover, the giving up of the unworthy for the sake of the Lord invokes his mercy, which is what the power of all devotional practice is made of.

- Also, can you understand this verse to have two meanings? First, as you've discussed, as a list of prerequisites for entrance into powerful bhajan and second, as a list of qualities an aspirant should look for in selecting a Guru?

Yes, these are certainly two possible readings of the verse. They are not really two separate meanings as such; each individual who gains the quality of sarva-pAvanatva, a quality appearing when devotion is fortified with self-control, is a de facto guru on the virtue of his spiritual accomplishment, regardless of whether he "officially" acts in such a capacity. As in Devakinandana Dasa's famous Vaishnava Vandana, mahAprabhura gaNa saba patita pAvana, "All the devotees of Mahaprabhu are the saviors of the fallen," and brahmANDa tArite zakti dhare jane jane, "Each and every one of them carries the power to deliver the universe."

- If the second reading is also valid, and part of what Rupa Goswami wants to instruct, how essential is it that one select a Guru with such qualities? Are other qualifications, such as knowledge and realization of sastra (as per SB 11.3.21) not more important? Are the two inseperably connected? It seems as though one can be very admirably renounced without being strongly fixed in the devotional conclusions of our line.

The aspect of brahmaNy upazamAzrayam of the abovementioned verse corresponds best with the themes of this verse; having given up all material pursuits and surrendered to the Lord, the devotee has rejected all pursuits for sense-objects, knowing them to be contrary to devotion.

Knowledge, in the sense of knowledge of the content of the scriptures, and realization, in the sense of yukti or logic in understanding and cross-referencing scriptures, amounts to paNDitya, scolarship. Therefore it is said that the guru is zabde pare ca niSNAtam, "deeply familiar with the scriptures and the supreme": His knowledge and his practice has born the fruit of personal encounters with the Lord, a deep, vivid relationship of loving interaction has been forged. If the knowledge of the scripture, no matter how eloquently presented, is not accompanied with realization in the sense of all that brahmaNy upazamAzrayam implies, the "qualification" is but an empty shell.

This eloquent, empty shell is often mistaken for a sign of great advancement. I have seen this even in my own case, hearing people say that "you must be very advanced to write like this", while I am painfully aware that I am not very advanced, and at the time of hearing such statements even my daily devotional routine wasn't very exemplary. I'm sure we can also think of some other examples, even from the recent history of our samaj, of people writing the most eloquent of philosophies and rasa-laden presentations, while their practice and heart's condition was something rather different.

Therefore, do not be fooled by words alone. Spend time with the guru, observe his behavior. The rule of Hari-bhakti-vilasa is that the guru and the disciple should spend a year together, examining each other, before diksha is to take place. Hardly anyone pays attention to this. Yet, the disciple should, for his own welfare, ensure that the guru truly practices what he preaches, and thereby possesses the potency to truly infuse the divine truths into your heart. If this potency is not there, the heart of the disciple will not be transformed in the desired manner.

UP 3: Jihva-udara-vega and foods of bad nature, The urges of the tongue and the belly

NB. the views on the specifics of dietary restrictions in this post do not reflect the position of mainstream Gaudiya Vaishnavism, but rather a subsection among the babaji-ascetics I was familiar with. It does, however, for the most part derive from Puranas and dharma-shastras.

Jihva-vega and udara-vega, or the urges of the tongue and the urges of the belly, go largely hand in hand. The tongue is affected by the lower modes of nature, and therefore seeks to always eat items reflecting its character. The zAstra-kAras have, however, for our upliftment, given dietary recommendations, advising us to avoid foods tainted by ignorance and passion to uplift our consciousness.

Such recommendations have been issued in works such as Hari-bhakti-vilasa and the sattvika-puranas headed by Varaha, Vishnu, Padma and the rest. Some common items that are tainted with the lower modes of nature and hence to be avoided are onion, garlic, eggplant, carrots, cabbages, cauliflower, red lentils, radish, buffalo milk and products thereof, tomatos, beetroot, hing and others sharing a similar nature. Additionally, excessive use of oil, spices or heat-generating products taints the food with the mode of passion.

The general principles concerning foods in the three modes of nature are outlined in the Gita as follows:

AyuH-sattva-balArogya-sukha-prIti-vivardhanAH |
rasyAH snigdhAH sthirA hRdyA AhArAH sAttvika-priyAH || bg 17.8

"Foods that increase life-span, perseverance, strength, health, joy and satisfaction, that are juicy, fatty, solid and pleasing to the heart are dear to those in the mode of sattva."

kaTv-amla-lavaNAty-uSNa-tIkSNa-rUkSa-vidAhinaH |
AhArA rAjasasyeSTA duHkha-zokAmaya-pradAH || bg 17.9

"Foods that are too bitter, sour, salty, hot, astringent or burning are dear to those in the mode of passion, and are causes of sorrow, lamentation and disease."

yAta-yAmaM gata-rasaM pUti paryuSitaM ca yat |
ucchiSTam api cAmedhyaM bhojanaM tAmasa-priyam || bg 17.10

"Food that is old, tasteless, of bad odor, decomposed, left over by others or untouchable, is dear to those in the mode of ignorance."

One who wishes to lead a life of bhajan should always cultivate the mode of sattva, from which follows peace of mind, focus and so forth, qualities instrumental in becoming absorbed in devotional practice.

- Doesn't renunciation automatically follow bhakti? Why is there any need for separate endeavor?

While it is certainly true that bhakti makes one disinterested in material pleasures, one anga of bhakti, one among the ten first that are specially emphasized in the beginning to be precise, is kRSNarthe bhogAdi-tyAga, "Giving up enjoyments and so forth for the sake of Krishna." When the varieties of urges prove to be a distraction for bhakti, they must be immediately forsaken; if one does not do that, he acts against the spirit of surrender, anukUlyasya saGkalpaH, pratikUlya-vivarjanam.

I am positive you were not suggesting that one can freely indulge the senses while believing that bhakti will eventually free one from the such. Yet, such ideas are sometimes heard, and they deserve a mention.

- How to attain sattva-guna, and why is it important?

I was reading Sri Ananta Das Babaji's Rasa Darshan the other day. Early on in the text, he discusses the need for the presence of sattva-guna and the withdrawal of rajas and tamas as a prerequisite of being able to taste rasa; even the rasa present in mundane drama!

I am copying the relevant passage below. I apologize for possible mistakes in the Sanskrit, I don't have the original work at hand, and the English edition is a bit erratic with diacritics. I have revised the translations.

The question may arise, "How can we acquire sattva-guna?" One may then reply that by eating sattvika food, wearing sattvika clothes, living in a sattvika environment and by keeping the company of sattvika people, one's sattva-guna will be nourished.

zaucAt sattva-zuddhi saumanaH ekAgrendriya jayatAm Atma-darzanam yogyatAni ||

"Through zauca, pure habits, existence is purified, the mind becomes satisfied, the senses are conquered and one becomes qualified for perceiving the self."

The Upanishad says:

AhAra-zuddhau sattva-zuddhiH sattva-zuddhau dhruvA smRtiH smRti-labdhe sarva-granthInAM vipramokSaH ||

"Through pure eating, existence is purified. With the purification of existence, meditation becomes constant. With the attainment of meditation, all knots of bondage loosen."

- By which mode are buffalo milk and urad dal tainted?

Both are tainted by both passion and ignorance. Buffalo milk is specifically tainted by the rajas that sometimes arises in buffalos, a familiar sight for everyone living among them I'm certain. Urad dal is primarily in the mode of ignorance.

- What for those who can't get sattvic foodstuffs? Don't they have any scope for doing ideal bhajan? Is he exempted from the effect?

It is hard to imagine a situation where sattvic foodstuffs would absolutely not be available. Fruits are everywhere. Potato, cucumber, zucchini and so forth are widely available. Rice and varieties of other grains are everywhere.

Can someone be exempted from the effect of eating items tainted with the modes of passion and ignorance? Can someone's body be exempted from the effects of heat and the eventual sun-stroke if no shadow is in sight? The body is a machine, the mind is a machine. They behave in accordance with the fuel fed to them.

- If somebody has to eat foods in mode of passion but if he is feeling absolutely no attraction to that foodstuff, then what about him? Can he save himself from the effect?

That does not save him from being effected, though the inner spirit described will certainly serve to cut off its worst edge. It will eventually lead him to a situation where he can eat only sattvik foodstuffs, no doubt.

- How much time (and amount) does it take for the mode of a particular foodstuff to act? Maybe this varies from person to person but on what all factors does this depend?

The effects are instant. However, someone covered over by tamas and rajas, being accustomed to the presence of the two since his birth, may not be able to observe the difference. Therefore, I have suggested that an experiment first be preceded with an endeavor to bring oneself to sattva.

The more regular the consumption is, the deeper one sinks into the modes. An accidental, one-time consumption is easily nullified with the power of bhajan. However, one should remember: nAmno balAd yasya hi pApa-buddhir, na vidyate tasya yamair hi zuddhiH - "For the one, who thinks he can sin on the strength of the Name, it is unknown what may be done be redeemed in the eyes if Yama."

Therefore, if one ends up in a situation where an unwanted activity is committed, or has been committed, to avoid this nama-aparadha, one should rather think, "Alas, let this wretch get everything he deserves!"

UP 2 - Manasa-vega: The urges of the mind, The uncontrolled mind

The urges of the mind are at the heart of all urges. The mind is the central hub of all longings, and of all emotion. Riddled by vAsanas (subconscious impressions) and active desires of infinite varieties, accumulated since time beginningless, it is difficult to overcome indeed. In Arjuna's words:

caJcalaM hi manaH kRSNa pramAthi balavad dRDham |
tasyAhaM nigrahaM manye vAyor iva su-duSkaram || bg 6.34

"The mind is restless, O Krishna; it harasses, it is powerful, it is obstinate.
Subduing it, I think, is as hard as trying to control the wind!"

Sri Bhagavan then replies:

asaMzayaM mahA-bAho mano durnigrahaM calam |
abhyAsena tu kaunteya vairAgyeNa ca gRhyate || bg 6.35

"Without a doubt, O mighty-armed one, the flickering mind is hard to overcome;
Yet, with practice and detachment, O son of Kunti, it may be seized."

The mind must, therefore, be engaged in activities of devotional service; Its inclinations must be purified, for any one of the remaining material facets of our being, if left untended, will be the cause of our downfall:

indriyANAM hi caratAM yan mano ’nuvidhIyate |
tad asya harati prajJAM vAyur nAvam ivAmbhasi || bg 2.47

"Indeed, if the mind runs along with any one of the roaming senses
One's discrimination is plundered, like a boat swept away by the winds."

Therefore, wholesome engagement of all human faculties in bhakti-sadhana is called for. The mind must be systematically conditioned to acts of devotional service in arranging for its purification. Without a purified mind, absorption in smarana is not possible, in Sri Krishna's words:

asaMyatAtmanA yogo duSprApa iti me matiH |
vazyAtmanA tu yatatA zakyo ’vAptum upAyataH || bg 6.36

"In my view, yoga is hard to attain for the one with an uncontrolled mind;
Yet, engaged with a controlled mind, its attainment is possible by adopting the proper means."

This is why the initial verses of Sri Upadeshamrita focus on curtailing evils, and why the direct means of attainment are elaborated on later on in the work.

How to really get rid of all ego even in the mind?

Don't get rid of all ego. Develop a positive ego, cultivate an identity in the service of Radha and Krishna. Understand how all the worthy things you've gained are a matter of their bestowing grace on an unworthy recipient.

At the age of Kali, do the sins contemplated within the mind go unpunished?

While the reaction is certainly less on account of the level of ignorance prevailing over the current age, contemplating on the sins pollutes the mind all the same. Contemplation leads to desires, desires lead to action. One should never think that thoughts are "harmless"!

How do we tangibly increase affection for harinama?

The process begins with the realization of a burning need for the increase of the taste, following in the wake of Sriman Mahaprabhu's Siksashtakam, nAmnAm akAri ... durdaivam IdRzam ihAjani nAnurAgaH! Taste and affection for the Name is something one must beg for, cry for. This is a topic that we'll be looking deeper into in our studies on the seventh shloka of the work.

- What should one do, confronted with a raging mind desirous to go to unworthy directions?

Prabhu said, prathamei zAkhAra karaye chedana - "At the very moment of their appearance, one should cut off the weeds!" The word "prathame" means as the first thing, and the "i" is added for emphasis, "right then and there you should do it!" Don't cut slack for the mind. Take shelter of the Name, your constant friend and companion. He has the power to deliver you.

- What should one do, noticing that the mind has already gone its ways?

The answer to this is found in the Bhagavata:

jAta-zraddho mat-kathAsu nirviNNaH sarva-karmasu |
veda duHkhAtmakAn kAmAn parityAge ’py anIzvaraH ||
tato bhajeta mAM prItaH zraddhAlur dRDha-nizcayaH |
juSamANaz ca tAn kAmAn duHkhodarkAMz ca garhayan || bhp 11.20.27-28

"He, whose faith for narrations of me has awakened, and who is disgusted with all works,
knowing all varieties of kAma as imbued with grief, is still unable to renounce them;
He should worship me, engaged with love, with faith and with firm conviction,
Reproaching the desires that lead to misery."

Humility and regret are instrumental in helping one arise beyond the flickering mind.

Suggested questions:

- What are the urges of the mind?
- Why should one learn to control the mind?
- What should one do, confronted with a raging mind desirous to go to unworthy directions?
- What should one do, noticing that the mind has already gone its ways?

UP 2: Krodha-vega - The urge of anger; Anger, the destroyer of all world

Thakur Mahashaya, discussing the evils of anger in his Prema-bhakti-chandrika, says: krodha vA nA kare kibA, krodha tyAga sadA dibA - "What can anger not accomplish? Always give up anger!" On the evils anger will accomplish, Dharmaraja Yudhisthira speaks in the Vana-parva of Mahabharata:

krodha mUlo vinAzo hi prajAnAm iha dRzyate |
kruddhaH pApaM naraH kuryAt kruddho hanyAt gurUn api ||
kruddhaH paruSayA vAcA zreyaso'pyavamAnyate |
vAcyAvAcye hi kupito na prajAnAti karhicit |
nAkAryam asti kruddhasya nAvAcyaM vidyate tathA ||
kruddho hi kAryaM suzroNi na yathAvat prapazyati |
nA kAryaM na ca maryAdAM naraH kruddho'nupazyati ||

"Anger is seen at the root of all human destruction. Due to anger, people commit sins, due to anger they may even slay their gurus. When an angry person speaks beneficial words, they'll be disregarded still. The incensed man never knows not what is to be said and what to be left unsaid. There is no forbidden deed the angry will not do, nor is there anything he cannot say. O Draupadi! The deeds accomplished by anger are unforeseen and unpredictable. The angry man does not know what is to be done, nor does he act according to proper etiquette."

Anger has a great captivating power over the mind. Anger drags the mind down to a hellish state. The sequence of the growth of anger is described as follows:

dhyAyato viSayAn puMsaH saGgas teSUpajAyate |
saGgAt saJjAyate kAmaH kAmAt krodho ’bhijAyate ||
krodhAd bhavati sammohaH sammohAt smRti-vibhramaH |
smRti-bhraMzAd buddhi-nAzo buddhi-nAzAt praNazyati || bg 2.62-63

"As one contemplates on sense-objects, association arises. From association, desires come about, and due to desires anger awakens.
"From anger comes madness, from madness the bewilderment of memory, from the bewilderment of memory the destruction of intelligence. With the destruction of intelligence, one perishes."

Anger is overcome with wisdom and humility. The desired wisdom is discussed in the Bhagavata:

tat te ’nukampAM su-samIkSamANo
bhuJjAna evAtma-kRtaM vipAkam |
hRd-vAg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jIveta yo mukti-pade sa dAya-bhAk || bhp 10.14.8

"Always longing for Your compassion,
Enduring all as the fruits of one's own deeds,
Offering respects to You with heart, words and body,
The feet of Mukunda become one's due inheritance."

Always regard evils that befall upon us as the fruits of our own misdeeds. Do not fault others for carrying the fruits of your ill acts. Rather, within your heart, call for their forgiveness for having to carry out the fruits of your karma. Always find a lesson in the tribulations you meet, face them with gratitude.

Now, Thakur Mahashaya has also said, krodha bhakta-dveSi-jane -- "Be angry to those hateful of devotees." Yet, this krodha is not to be brought out as an outburst of rage. Within there is fire, without there are only good wishes for another. Whichever medium the inner fire assumes, it is done with the sole purpose of rectifying the offender.

The 11th canto of the Bhagavata mentions that the medium-grade devotee neglects (upekSa) the envious (dveSi). Why? Because he may not have the power it takes to rectify the offender, and may only cause the offender to make further offence, thereby plunging himself ever so deeper into the net of madness he is already enrapt in.

Is there more to it where the quote from Mahabharata came from?

The Shanti-parva of Mahabharata contains lengthy discussions on anger and its evils. The following words of wisdom from Bhishma struck me:

"Assailed with harsh speeches, one should not assail in return. Indeed, one who, under such circumstances, renounces wrath, succeeds in burning the assailant and taking away all his merits. That person who when assailed with harsh speeches does not utter a harsh word in reply, who when praised does not utter what is agreeable to him that praises, who is endued with such fortitude as not to strike in return when struck and not to even wish evil to the striker, finds his companionship always coveted by the gods. He that is sinful should be forgiven as if he were righteous, by one that is insulted, struck, and calumniated. By acting in this way one attains to success." (MBh. 12.300)

Suggested questions:

- Why is anger harmful for devotion?
- What are the different ways of controlling anger, and moreover, of getting rid of it for good?
- What should one do if has given room for this urge to manifest, and notices the same?
- Why do madness and the rest follow anger, as in Gita 2.62-63?

UP 2: Vac-vega -The urges of the speech, Purifying the faculty of speech by proper engagement

The first of the six obstacles is vacas-vega, the urge of the speech. The urge of speech manifests as indulgence in countless unworthy topics that lead the mind astray from the path of devotion.

Ninda, or blasphemy, is the gravest of the varieties of contrary speech. The people of this world, to elevate themselves above others, have a natural inclination to discuss the shortcomings and evils of others. This should be avoided at all cost, as indulgence in criticizing others, especially in the case of other Vaishnavas, reeps destruction on the delicate field of bhakti.

Prajalpa - prattle, gossip. Discussing the juicy topics of the village. Discussing so many unworthy topics. The mind is an endless pool of topics to discuss. A wise person will contain the thoughts and block them from reaching the level of speech, as a mere thought will come and go, but when indulged in, it'll create a strong samskara of remembrance and entangle both the speaker and the hearer.

One should purify the vacas-vega in the company of devotees by discussing the virtuous pastimes of Sri Krishna, inquiring about the ways of bhajan, praising Guru, Vaishnavas and Hari, and so forth.

Is over glorification, which in some cases leads to destruction of humility, an offense?

Glorification should also be undertaken as a matter of service. If one glorifies another in a manner that bewilders him, then the glorifier is at fault, and that is certainly an offense.

What should one do if hearing prajalpa is unavoidable?

This is something we'll be touching when we come to examine asat-sanga.

The gist of it is, when one is free of attachment, one remains aloof and beyond influence. Do not be impolite to people, yet avoid indulgence in topics of prajalpa and try to arrange your life in such a way that it becomes minimized.

Suggested questions:

- Why is ninda, or indulgence in critique, harmful for devotion?
- What should one do when confronted with the inner urge to speek unbefitting topics, how is it overcome?
- What should one do if has given room for this urge to manifest, and notices the same?

UP 1 - Introduction - The proper application of renunciation with bhakti

The opening verse of the text, and the main object of this study, reads as follows:

vAco vegaM manasaH krodha-vegaM
jihvA-vegam udaropastha-vegam |
etAn vegAn yo viSaheta dhIraH
sarvAm apImAM pRthivIM sa ziSyAt || 1 ||

“The urge of the speech, the urges of the mind and the anger,
the urge of the tongue, the urges of the belly and the genitals –
he who withstands these urges is sober;
The whole world is his student indeed.”

Our study of Upadeshamrita will contain many instructions on activities that should be avoided, as well as on practices that are obligatory. The negative undertakings, are they not a form of renunciation, and is it not said that renunciation does not bring about devotion? Moreover, is it not said that renunciation hardens the heart?

In pondering the matter, let us turn to Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu and the first ten of the 64 aspects of bhakti, the ten that should be priorized on in the beginning. Among them, we find bhogAdi-tyAgaH kRSNasya hetave - "Giving up enjoyments and so forth for the sake of Krishna." We renounce as a matter of love. We leave aside acts our beloved Thakur would not want us to engage in. Is that not devotion? Yes, it is! And indeed, is there devotion if this attitude isn't there? No, there truly isn't!

Renunciation as a separate undertaking is not an aspect of bhakti, though it may come in handy (BRS 1.2.248) at the early steps of the path, in entering devotional practices; a renounced person is generally less distracted and has more time at his disposal. The renunciation advocated in Srila Goswamipad's work, however, is not renunciation as a separate undertaking. The aspects of renunciation recommended are mentioned as a matter of direct cultivation of bhajana, as a matter of clearing aside obstacles from the desired devotional practices.

One should be willing to make sacrifices for the sake of devotional progress. With this thought in our hearts, we'll embark on this study of Sri Upadeshamrita.

- How does one relate to sense objects while acting according to yukta-vairagya?

Rupa Goswamipad has defined yukta-vairagya as follows:

anAsaktasya viSayAn yathArham upayuJjataH |
nirbandhaH kRSNa-sambandhe yuktaM vairAgyam ucyate || brs 1.2.255

"Devoid of attachment to sense-objects, engaging them in a manner related to Krishna -- this is called befitting renunciation."

One should therefore measure the worth of objects in terms of their relationship with bhagavat-seva. If they are unsuitable, they are to be renounced. If they are suitable, they may be accepted. That does not, however, mean that everything that in theory could be used for Krishna should be embraced! One should only accept as much as is required for the sustenance of the body and other such necessities. One should beware taraGga-raGgiNI, or "enjoying the waves" of bhakti's byproducts, thereby getting entangled with selfish enjoyments in the name of service for Krishna.

The sense-objects neither repulse nor attract the devotee. This is the meaning of "unattached". Attraction and repulsion are both symptoms of the presence of a selfish relationship.

- What could we sacrifice in the spirit of devotional renunciation to please Sri Krishna and progress in bhakti?

The spirit of saranagati calls us, AnukUlyasya saGkalpaH prAtikUlya-vivarjanam (HBV 11.676) - "To embrace the favorable, to shun the contrary." Whatever aspects of our lives run contrary to a life of devotion deserve to be re-molded. Some aspects are fit to be changed in an instant, some aspects need work over a period of time. All of that is to be embraced, all of that falls under proper devotional renunciation.

- What are examples of objects used for REAL yukta-vairagya?

- Wearing a cloth to cover the mid-part of your body.
- Keeping a pot and some firewood for cooking to your deity, taking his remnants for sustenance.
- Seeking shelter in extreme weather conditions to keep the body fit for bhajan.

Beyond that, it's all individual. In my case, having electricity and keeping a laptop to keep up with the study group and the rest is yukta-vairagya. For someone else, having a laptop may be an unnecessary diversion. For my wife, having a heater here at mid-winter is yukta-vairagya, as without it she would fall sick immediately. Since my body does not call for one, for me to insist on having one would be outside the scope of yukta-vairagya.

The question one needs to be asking is, "Does this improve the quality of my seva?" If it doesn't, chances are it's unnecessary and worth giving up.

- Which aspects of renunciation may prove to be useful at the early steps of the path of bhakti?

Certain aspects of renunciation, such as those noted in verses 1 to 3 of the work, are beneficial for devotion, as they ease the mind's absorption in devotional works and thoughts. Some nsoteworthy aspects:

1. Renunciation from excessive talk (vac-vega) and idle talks (prajalpa).

2. Control of the mind (manasa-vega), withdrawing the senses from the world, abstaining from anger (krodha-vega).

3. Regulated eating (jihvA-vega, udara-vega), avoiding of excessive eating (atyAhAra).

4. Abstaining from sex (upastha-vega) and the company of people longing for it (jana-saGga), as well as from other unholy company.

5. Withdrawing from excessive endeavors in the mundane realm (prayAsa).

6. Fortitude (dhairya) in following principles (niyamAgraha) and engaging in appropriate activity (tat-tat-karma-pravartana).

7. Not pursuing worldly interests (laulya).

8. Enthusiasm (utsaha) in faithfully (nizcaya) pursuing other-worldly attainments.

9. Maintaining a purity of conduct (sad-vRtti).

All of the above are very helpful, when applied in the context of devotional practices.

- Which aspects of renunciation are contrary to bhakti, and why?

As a matter of general principle, renouncing that which ought to be duly employed in the worship and service of Hari is contrary to bhakti. Some examples:

1. Renouncing company altogether, thereby missing the opportunity for devotional company (sAdhu-saGga).

2. Believing that all exchanges of love in this world are worldly, behaving in the company of devotees in an utilitarian manner without developing attachment for them. (See verse 4, loving exchanges with devotees.)

3. Regarding the passion for devotion (anurAga) present in various degrees in both the advanced sadhakas and the nitya-siddha Vrajavasis as an unwelcome disturbance in one's mental equilibrium, and therefore unreal.

4. Avoiding responsibility for varieties of services (sevA) for the pleasure of Guru, Vaishnavas and Krishna, regarding it as an unwelcome entanglement.

5. Disregarding external worship (arcana) and the collection and maintenance of related paraphernalia to avoid entanglement with the world.

6. A dislike for musical and artistic expression, failure to see them as sound mediums of devotional expression, and indeed as integral aspects of devotion both in this world and beyond.

In this way, there are countless ways of false renunciation, renunciation that misses the point of service and deprives one from the good fortune of devotional engagement.

UP 1: Introduction - The Ladder of Devotion, A call for sequential progress

The eleven verses of the text present are presented in a wonderful sequence, outlining the steps to be taken before the attainment of progressive stages becomes a feasible reality. This is the ladder of bhakti-sadhana.

Jumping and jumping, the stubborn baddha-jiva attempts to reach for the sky. Exhausted in the end, having wasted tremendous amounts of time and endeavor, he realizes that mere attempts to jump will not help one get off the ground level. Then, giving up his independent ways and turning to sadhus and bhakti-shastras for guidance on the systematic process of bhajan, he attains his desired success.

- Is the text a practical exposition on the adau sraddha verse?

Adau zraddhA tataH sAdhu-saGgo 'tha bhajana-kriyA
tato 'nartha-nivRttiH syAt tato niSThA rucis tataH

athAsaktis tato bhAvas tataH premAbhyudaJcati
sAdhakAnAm ayaM premNaH prAdurbhAve bhavet kramaH

These famous verses of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.4.15-16) are certainly the framework in which devotional growth takes place. Yet, mere knowledge of the said stages will not do. One has to apply practices accordingly at each stage.

There must be a platform to begin with, a foundation must be laid. Before lila-smaran becomes a feasible reality, there must be a platform of sadachar to keep the mind shielded from external influences, and there must be a platform of nama-bhajan. When the senses, the mind and the intellect have been cultivated through appropriate sadhana-activities, the body becomes imbued with shuddha-sattva, which is the playground of the lila.

One also has to cultivate his bhava accordingly. In the stage where removal of anarthas is predominant, one should keep the songs of the mahajans that long for mercy and deliverance at the forefront. In the stage where taste overwhelms the practice, one is ready to shift the focus onwards to the praise of the loved deity. When bhava gains foothold, one is naturally filled with countless longings for seva. In this way, the sadhana flows naturally and free of obstructions.

If a particular facet of sadhana does not seem to be unfolding despite our perseverance in attempts to apply it in practice, it is indicative of the fact that we lack adhikara for the same. We must then ask, "What am I missing?" "What must I do to prepare myself?" "What must I do to make myself fit?"

One may certainly take a peek of what's beyond one's current adhikara. After all, we must know what lies ahead of us to know what to strive for. Regardless, a wise student will graduate from the first and second grade before attempting to master matters of the fifth grade.

- Is there a difference in knowing the steps of the bhakti-ladder and acting in a manner that honors this principle?

Yes, there is a grand deal of difference. Someone may memorize the entire text by heart and not follow the first one of the verses. To be able to know much and to eloquently speak and write of the subject matter does not mean one has embraced the teaching. When the teaching has not been embraced, one has no adhikar for bhakti-sadhana, and the potency in such an individual's instruction is weak. One who does not practice will not be changing hearts, not those of others, not his own.

- What are examples of neglecting the sequential progress?

- What are the harmful effects that may come as a result of neglecting the proper sequence of devotional cultivation?

Some examples have been given below.

1. Someone does not strive to overcome krodha-vega (verse 1) and has not understood how to relate to the devotees' apparent faults (verse 6), yet engages in loving exchanges with devotees (verse 4). He becomes angry with devotees, his bhajan is ruined by aparadha.

2. Someone does not cultivate utsaha (enthusiasm), nizcaya (firm faith) and dhairya (fortitude), yet expects, having heard the glories of nAma-bhajan, the heart to be quickly cleansed. He becomes disappointed and disheartened.

3. Someone engages in loving exchanges with devotees (verse 4), cultivating a relationship, yet he does not know how to discriminate and behave between the different classes of devotees (verse 5). He falls into the company of mixed devotees, he misplaces his faith and is mislead from the path of true fortune.

4. Someone engages in dedicated nAma-bhajan, and the by-products of devotion headed by lAbha (material attainment) arise, yet he is unaware of the danger of prayAsa, excessive endeavoring (verse 2). He embarks to build big temples and ashrams, he is distracted from his bhajan.

5. Someone engages in raganuga-bhajan (verse 8) while disregarding tat-tat-karma-pravartana, of firmly doing the daily devotional duties (verse 3) and niyamAgraha, neglect of devotional rules (verse 2). He is also ignorant of sato vRtti, or sadAcAra, the ways of the conduct of the saintly (verse 3). His bhajan will never bear a fruit.

6. Someone engages in nAma-bhajan to purify the heart from the material condition (verse 7), yet he does not shun asat-sanga (verses 2 and 3). His bhajan is like the proverbial bath of the elephant: As much as he cleanses himself by worship of the Name, he instantly pollutes himself by embracing the company of the unholy.

7. Someone wishes to engage in the confidential seva of Radha-kunda (verse 9), yet his heart is not always in Vraja (verse 8), nor has he cast his heart at the feet of the anurAgi-jana who are at the heart of the Vraja-pastimes (verse 8). One day his mind longs for bhajan, the next day for varieties of material comforts (verse 2: laulya, fickleness); his bhajan will be fruitless unless and until he attains the good fortune of climbing the ladder of devotion.

8. Someone has conquered over the urges (verse 1) and cultivates bhajan with all due enthusiasm (verse 3), shunning bad company (verses 2 and 3). Yet, he does not realize the vital importance of the company and service of those devotees who are of pure heart and always steeped in smaraNa and manasI-sevA. His bhajan will progress slowly, he may be overcome with desires for the mundane on account of lack of powerful divine samskara gained in such blessed company.

9. Someone engages in raga-bhajan while worshiping in the spirit of the residents of Vraja (verse 8). Yet, on account of failing to understand the gradation of excellence of the divine abodes (verse 9), he embarks on pilgrimage to other holy places, such as Dwaraka or Ayodhya. On account of this, his bhajan becomes halted until the fruits of unchastity at the feet of Radha are cleansed with the fire of separation.

10. Someone engages in the desirable company of the highest devotees (verse 5), discussing confidentially a wide range of topics (verse 4), yet fails to understand the detrimental effects of idle talk (verse 2). While thus introducing unworthy topics, he brings pain to the heart of the sadhu, and may risk losing his company altogether, lest the fault be quickly rectified.

11. Someone attempts to engage in raga-bhajan (verse 8) without embracing the heart-healing process of ample nAma-bhajan (verse 7). His heart is not prepared as a suitable, pure vessel for carrying fruitful smaraNa. He is disheartened, concluding that the glory of the attracting potency of the lila he has heard of is false. He disregards the lila, his taste for Vraja-bhajan dwindles and is overcome with mundane longings.

In this way, neglecting the sequential approach to bhajan, many ill fruits are born. Therefore, one should seek firm shelter of the appropriate path and diligently apply the steps described to attain all good fortune in his devotional worship.

- If someone doesn't feel attracted to a step-by-step approach, what is it indicative of?

It is indicative of the presence of mundane desire born of powerful and unworthy samskaras. This condition will only be healed when, by some unforeseen good fortune, one attains the company of affectionate devotees who are realized in the ways of bhajan. He then comes to realize the futility of his attempts to transcend the prescribed path in the name of spontaneous devotion, and swiftly embraces the sequential process from the very first verse onwards to prevent any further waste of the precious days of his blessed human life.

UP 1: Introduction - The Author, Foundational works of direct inspiration

To establish the motive for studying the text, we need to understand the glory of the author. Thakur Mahashaya praises Srila Rupa Goswamipad with the following words:

zrI-caitanya-mano'bhISTaM sthApitaM yena bhU-tale |
so'yaM rUpaH kadA mahyaM dadAti sva-padAntikam ||

"He, who established Sri Chaitanya's heart's desire in this world,
That Rupa -- when will he give me the shelter of his feet?"

It was with a force no other than Sri Chaitanya's direct inspiration that his works were composed. Krishnadas Kaviraja writes in the introductory shloka of Rupa-siksha (CC 2.19.1):

vRndAvanIyAM rasa-keli-vArtAM
kAlena luptAM nija-zaktim utkaH |
saJcArya rUpe vyatanot punaH sa
prabhur vidhau prAg iva loka-sRSTim ||

"The topics of the rasa-laden pastimes of Vrindavan
were lost in the course of time; eagerly, with his own potency
the Lord empowered Rupa to unearth them once again,
just as he once empowered Brahma at the dawn of creation."

In brief he taught Rupa from without, from within he filled him with astonishing power for compiling bhakti-shastras, unveiling the sadhana (method) and the sadhya (object) for the benefit of one and all.

The works of Sri Rupa, and with him, the other Goswamis of Vrindavan, are the foundation of our sampradaya. They are the foremost of our siksha-gurus. Wholeheartedly embracing and applying their teachings is a wonderful seva indeed, delivering a matchless gift of devotional feeling.

- I know that some of the pastimes were lost. But can anybody list all the pastimes he unearthed? And of course how?

What does it mean, how were the pastimes lost? Knowledge of them was lost.

There are essentially two ways in which the pastimes were "unearthed". The first is, of course, through direct descriptions of the said pastimes. The second is through giving instructions through which the people of this world could come to a point where they can personally witness the nitya-lila within their hearts -- even in this lifetime!

Aside express narrations of lila, his works are filled with buds of pastimes. All the examples of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu and Ujjvala-nilamani, for example, that demonstrate a particular aspect of bhava are snippets of an unfolding pastime, and the worship and contemplation of such verses will unveil the full beauty of the pastimes.

How were they discovered once again? Through direct perception of the divine reality.

- The Muslim rulers devastated most of the temples in Vraja, right? So the six Goswamis unearthed the pastime-places and built temples there. Inner-guidance via Mahaprabhu.

I believe the devastation of temples primarily took place in the post-Goswami period. With the influence of time, the precious pastime-places had fallen into forgetfulness. The discovery of pastime-places, lupta-tIrtha-uddhArana played an important role in re-establishing the glory and the knowledge of the Vraja-pastimes. As Mahaprabhu called to be done, lupta-tIrtha saba tAhAG kariha pracAraNa - "Make known all the lost sacred places."

How does a Nitya Siddha like Sri Rupa Manjari know how to save the baddha-jivas in a step by step path?

There are two prominent reasons for this.

1. When coming to this world, his knowledge is covered by yoga-maya, allowing him to experience the course of a "regular" sadhaka's life. Therefore, we find the early acharyas writing such heartfelt prayers of longing as found in Thakur Mahashaya's Prarthana.

2. A person in the highest awareness can understand the principles at work on the lower stages through observation even without personal experience.

- This sounds a little to me as if such prarthanas were written under the influence of (yoga)maya. Isn't it possible that our Acharyas also wrote longingly with the intention of setting an example or representing a model of what a Gaudiya aspirant's mood should be?

For a prayer to contain the full potency, one must directly feel what he writes. A mere emulation will not do. Therefore, Bhagavan has arranged in such a way that his nitya-siddha parshadas have also tasted the bhajan-madhuri present at the different stages of bhakti-sadhana. That being said, of course they set an example, a model of what the ideal mood ought to be.

UP 0: Sri Upadeshamrita - The Nectarine Teaching

The following is a series of post from a brief study group I led on the first verse of Rupa Goswami's Upadeshamrita at the Vilasa Kunja forums. The study follows a formula of opening text followed by questions and answers. Sometimes the initial questions I drafted weren't taken up, though they would have been pertinent; in such cases, I have left them in the end for the reader to reflect on.

Introduction to the work

Sri Upadeshamrita, included in Sri Rupa Goswamipad's Stava-mala, is perhaps the most famous, yet concise, delineation of the sequence of bhajan to be adopted in our sampradaya.

In its eleven verses, the author examines the following themes:

1. The urges to be overcome for gaining eligibility for bhakti-sadhana;
2. The six items that destroy the practice of devotion;
3. The six items that perfect the practice of devotion;
4. The six flavors of loving exchange with devotees;
5. Behavior to be adopted with three different kinds of devotees;
6. Relating to the apparent flaws and shortcomings of devotees;
7. Purifying the heart through worshiping the name;
8. The sequence of bhajan, embracing the raga-marga;
9. The gradation of divine abodes, the glories of Radha-kunda;
10. The gradations of dearness to Krishna, the glories of Sri Radha;
11. The great fortune and blessing of this path of worship.

One who wishes to perfect his practice of bhajan, and become accomplished like mahatmas of yore, should diligently study this text and implement the instructions into his life of bhajan. The sequential path presented by the author contains immeasurable potency for the upliftment of the sadhaka when applied in all earnestness and sincerity of heart.

The work contains two flavors of amrita-instructions. The first amrita is that which leads us to immortality, which lifts us beyond the mundane world in the form of the varieties of restrictions given with the aim of shielding the creeper of devotion from unwanted and destructive influences. The second amrita is the nectar flooding the heart as the gates to the kingdom of devotional worship open and one embarks on the tasteful path of bhajan.

Neglecting the instructions in this eleven-fold treatise on the sequential practice of sadhana, one wastes his precious days reaching for the flower on the sky, the utopia that will never become concrete by neglecting the recommended approach. Let us, therefore, study this text with due enthusiasm and embrace the power it yields through practical implementation.

- What is the proper spirit in which the text is to be studied?

The text should be studied with an open, receptive heart. One should feel willing to take the instructions seriously and to amend one's life accordingly. All of this, in a spirit of service to the author and to one's guru-varga, with all due gratitude, recognizing that without the said instructions we would be aimless, lost in a shoreless ocean of confusion.

- Where does the uplifting potency of the work arise from?

There are two main factors. First, following the instructions prepares our heart to contain the treasure of bhakti and molds our minds into a form in which they are always bent on engaging in devotional activities. Second, a great power arises from the satisfaction of the author, as he feels that his work has become successful, that someone has taken it seriously and applies it in all earnestness. The power of the grace of Sri Rupa and other purva-acharyas is powerful indeed. zrI-rUpa-kRpAya mile yugala-caraNa.

- How to get that uplifting potency of work? Is it only some motivation system or something even superb? By the "work" I'm assuming meaning "following the instructions perfectly".

Cast your heart at the feet of the author, your instructing guru. Hold nothing in your life as important as embracing those instructions. That'll attract the presence of the grace-potency contained in the text and propel you swiftly onward on the path of devotion.
Which Gaudiya acaryas have commented on Sri Upadeshamrita? In your class you mention Radha Raman das Goswami as an important commentator -- can anything be said about him, his life, when he lived, other writings, etc?

To the best of my knowledge, there is only one old commentary, that of Radharaman Goswami. In the commentary, the author identifies himself as a disciple and grand-son of of Jivana Lal Goswami. Though the commentary does not specifically state so, I am under the impression that Jivana Lal was a disciple of Gopinath Adhikari, a disciple of Gopal Bhatta Goswami's, reasoning by the course of the mangalacharan going directly from Gopinath to Jivana Lal.

If this assumption is correct, he lived in the fourth generation after the Goswamis. Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhan mentions that Radharaman Goswami has also written a commentary called Dipika-dipani on Sridhar Swami's Bhavartha Dipika. In that work, the author notes that he is the son of Govardhan Lal Goswami. I do not have access to that work, and cannot therefore say how elaborate it is or whether further biographical data would be contained therein. His commentary on Upadesamrita, the Upadesha-prakasika, is concice, mainly offering definitions of words and relevant references from the Bhagavata and other sources.

As for other commentaries, what is commonly available are the commentaries of Bhaktivinoda Thakur (Piyusa-varshini) and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati (Anuvritti). Then, there are also other commentaries from Bhaktisiddhanta's followers, such as the tika of Bhaktiprasad Puri. There is a publication on the market with several commentaries from Gaudiya Math acharyas. Then, of course, there is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's rendition published as "The Nectar of Instruction", drawing largely from Bhaktivinoda's and Bhaktisiddhanta's editions.

Baladeva has commented on Stava-mala, at least on some sections of the work. I have never seen the text, it does not seem to be available on the market. I would expect that, had he commented on Upadeshamrita, it would be available in print along with Radharaman Goswami's. There may be some manuscripts of other tikas stacked up somewhere, I am not aware of anything noteworthy.

The English rendition of Radharaman Goswami's tika published from GVS leaves room for improvement in accuracy. God willing, we'll present the tika, bundled with further annotations, in the course of this study. The Sanskrit text of the tika will be available shortly, as I finish keying it in.

- Upadeshamrita doesn't seem to have received much attention back in the early days, and seems to have been first popularized by the Gaudiya Math.

Some titles just seem to come into vogue later on. The Gita, as a famous example, saw its first Gaudiya commentary with Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur, followed soon after by Baladeva's.

Commentaries on Vilapa Kusumanjali are very few and far between. The edition published by Sri Ananta Das Babaji features the rather short and technical tika of Bangeshwar Vidyalankar, and incorporates material from the comments of Madhusudan Das Adhikari and the notes made of the lectures of Ananda Gopal Goswami. I believe Bangeshwar dates to somewhere in the 19th century, and the other two are both 20th century figures.

Radha-rasa-sudhanidhi of Prabodhananda Sarasvati is another such title. I don't have a copy at hand just now, but I believe Babaji Maharaj mentions some earlier work of Madhusudana Das Adhikari's in his preface - beyond that, I am not aware of any tikas.

I believe Baladeva has written a tika on the entire Stava-mala. I've never gotten my hands on a copy of the work, I would be very interested. Many of the smaller works of the Goswamis are really not very extensively commented on.

- Is the content of Upadeshamrita entirely original?

Verses one though three are adaptations of earlier verses on similar themes. The source of the first is unknown to me. The second and the third are near-identical adaptations from Hatha-yoga-pradipika, a 13th century yogic text. SaDbhir yogo prasidhyati! The principles are fairly universal, so I guess there's no need to re-invent the wheel - just polish it a bit.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

References to Maha-Mantra - Early Sources

The following is a slightly contextualized compilation of references on the Hare Krishna maha-mantra from the era predating Sri Chaitanya. Regrettably many of them are from second-hand sources and as such lack proper exact references.

In the Radha Hridya Khanda of the Brahmanda Purana, Romaharsana Suta prays to Sri Veda Vyasa as follows:

yat tvayA kIrtitaM nAtha hari-nAmeti sanjitam |
mantraM brahma-padaM siddhi karaM-tad-vad-no-vibho ||

“O master, O mighty one! Please glorify the Hari-nama mantra situated in transcendence, the cause of all perfection!”

gRhaNAd yasya mantrasya dehI brahma-mayo bhavet |
sadhyaH pUtaH surApo ‘pi sarva-siddhi-yuto bhavet
-ahaM te ‘bhidhAsyAmi mahA-bhAgavato hamsi ||
hare kRSNa hare kRSNa kRSNa kRSNa hare hare |
hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare ||
iti SoDazakaM nAmnAM tri-kAla kalmaSApaham |
nAtaH parataropAyaH sarva vedeSu vidhyate ||

“The embodied soul who accepts this mantra will become filled with transcendence, and by accepting it, even a drunkard will attain all perfections. I will recite this mantra to you, for you are a swan-like maha­bhagavata. ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.’ These sixteen names can destroy the sins of the three worlds, and nothing higher than them is to be found in all the Vedas.”

Agni Purana states:

hare kRSNa hare kRSNa kRSNa kRSNa hare hare |
raTanti halayA vApi te kRtArthA na saMzayaH ||

“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare: Whoever chants this mantra, even neglectfully, will attain the supreme goal of life. Of this there is no doubt.”

Padma Purana states:

dvAntriM-sad-akSaraM mantraM nAma-SoDa-zakAnvitam |
prajapan vaiSNavo nityaM rAdhA-kRSNa-sthalaM-labhet ||

“Any Vaishnava who chants the mantra consisting of thirty-two syllables and sixteen names will attain the abode of Radha and Krishna.”

The following statement on the congregational chanting of the Hari-nama maha-­mantra also found in the Padma Purana:

harer nAma mahA-mantrair nazyet pApa pizAcakaM |
harer agra svarair uccair nRtyaM stan-nAmakrin-naraH |
punAti bhuvanaM vipra! gaGgAdi salilaM yathA ||
hare pradakzinaM kurvann uccais tan nAma krin naraH |
karatAlAdi sandhAnaM susvaraM kAla zabditam ||

“Anyone who dances in front of Sri Hari and loudly chants the hari nama maha-mantra will destroy all witches of sin. Just as the water of sacred rivers like the Ganga purify the universe, similarly those who circumambulate Sri Hari and loudly perform nama sankirtana of the 16-word maha-mantra with sweet voices and while clapping the hands, purify the entire universe.”

The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is also related in the Brahmanda Purana, Uttara­khanda, 6.55. The Pippalada-branch of the Atharva Veda states:

svanAma-mUla-mantreNa sarvaM hlAdayati vibhuH |
sa eve mUlam-mantraM japati haririti kRSNa iti rAma iti ||

“The name is the root of all mantras, the splendid one bringing joy to everyone. This root-mantra is chanted as Hari, Krishna and Rama.”

Kali-santarana Upanisad (2) of Krishna Yajur Veda states:

hare kRSNa hare kRSNa kRSNa kRSNa hare hare |
hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare ||
iti soDazakaM nAmnAM kali-kalmaSa-nAzanam |
nAtaH parataropAyaH sarva-vedeSu dRSyate ||

“The sixteen names of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra – ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare’ --destroy all the inauspiciousness of the age of Kali. This is the conclusion of all the Vedas.”

Some renditions of the text reverse the two lines of the maha-mantra, starting with Hare Rama. The Gaudiya tradition, however, does not concur with the alternative reading. Rama-tapaniyopanisad (1.6) explains the meaning of the maha-mantra as follows:

harati tri-vidhaM tapaM janma-koti-zatodbhavam |
pApaM ca smarataM yasmAt tasmAd dharir iti smRtaH ||

“The Lord is known as Hari because He takes away the sins and three types of suffering accumulated over millions of births, of those who remember him.”

kRSir bhUr-vAcakaH zabdo nas ca nirvRti-zucakaH |
tayor aikyaM paraM brahma kRSNa ity abhidhIyate ||

“The root krs indicates the supreme attractiveness of the Lord, the suffix na indicates the supreme joy. Thus, the name Krishna indicates the Supreme Brahman who is the acme of these two characteristics.”

ramante yogino ’nante satyAnande cid-Atmani |
iti rAma-padenAsau paraM brahmAbhidhIyate ||

“The yogis take pleasure in the Supreme Self which is existence, knowledge and bliss absolute. Therefore that truth, known as the Param Brahman is also called Rama.”

The Chaitanya Upanisad published by Kedarnath Bhaktivinoda also has a reference to the Hare Krishna maha-mantra:

sa eva mUla-mantraM japati harir iti kRSNa iti rAma iti || 11 ||

“He chants the original mantra consisting of Hari, Krishna and Rama.”

harati hRdaya-granthiM vAsanA-rUpam iti hariH | kRSiH smaraNe tac ca Nas tad ubhaya-melanam iti kRSNaH | ramayati sarvam iti rAma Ananda-rUpaH | atra zloko bhavati || 12 ||

“He who removes the knot in the heart in the form of material desire, is called Hari. The union by the remembrance of the root krs- and the affix -na, is the hymn of praise - Krishna. He who gives pleasure to everything is the form of bliss - Rama. Thus the verse becomes.”

Ananta-samhita, one among the voluminous pancaratra-agamas, also suspected to be a post-Chaitanya work, states:

hare kRSNa hare kRSNa kRSNa kRSNa hare hare |
hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare ||
SoDazaitAni nAmAni dvAtriMzad varNakAni hi |
kalau yuge mahA-mantraH sammato jIvatAraNe ||
varjayitvA tu nAmaitad durjanaiH parikalpitam |
chandobaddhaM susiddhAnta viruddhaM nAbhyaset padam ||
tArakaM brahma-nAmaitad brahmaNA guruNAdinA |
kalisantaraNAdyAsu zruti-svadhigataM hareH ||
prAptaM zrI brahma-ziSyeNa zrI nAradena dhImatA |
nAmaitad-uttamaM zrauta-pAramparyeNa brahmaNaH ||
utsRjyaitan-mahA-mantraM ye tvanyat kaepitaM padam |
mahAnAmeti gAyanti te zAstra-guru laNghanaH ||
tattva-virodha-saopRktaM tAdRzaM daurjanaM matam |
sravathA parihAryaM syAdAtma-hitArthinA sadA ||
hare kRSNa hare kRSNa kRSNa kRSNa hare hare |
hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare ||

“‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare’ -- This sixteen-name, thirty-two syllable mantra is the maha-mantra in the age of Kali by which all living beings can be delivered. One should never abandon chanting this maha-mantra and take to other so-called purificatory processes which are practiced by rascals, or engage in chanting other metrical compositions of the name of Krishna that are against the pure conclusions of the scriptures, or are filled with rasabhasa.
About this divinely spiritual maha-mantra, which delivers one from material existence, the original guru, Lord Brahma, has said, kali-santararadi srutite, ‘The srutis have declared this mantra to be the best means of deliverance in the age of Kali’. Having all heard this from Brahma, the sons and disciples of Brahma, beginning with Narada, all accepted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and, having meditated on it, attained perfection.”

In Jnanamrita Sara, a scripture belonging to the Pancaratrika corpus of literature, the following statement is found:

ziSya ‘syodaG mukha-sthasya harer-nAmAni SoDaza |
saMzrAvyaiva tato dagdhAn mantraM trai-lokya-mangalam ||

“Located next to him (the guru), the disciple should hear the sixteen names of Hari from his mouth, thus taking shelter of the mantra which protects from inauspiciousness and causes auspiciousness for the three worlds.”

In the Brahma Yamala, belonging to the tantrika corpus of literature, the following statement is found:

hariM binA nAsti kiJcat pApani-stArakaM kalau |
tasmAl-lokod-dhArANa-ArthaM hari-nAma prakAzayet ||
sarvatra mucyate loko mahA-pApAt kalau yuge |
hare-kRSNa-pada-dvandvaM kRSNeti ca pada-dvayam ||
tathA hare-pada-dvandvaM hare-rAma iti dvayam |
tad-ante ca mahA-devI rAma rAma dvayaM vadet ||
hare hare tato brUyAd harinAma samud dharet |
mahA-mantraM ca kRSNasya sarvapApa praNASakamiti ||

“Without Hari, there is no way to eradicate the sins of the age of Kali, and therefore it is essential that Hari-nama should be manifest in all the worlds. In this way the entire world can be delivered from the great sins of the age of Kali. First one should twice chant ‘Hare Krishna’, then twice ‘Krishna’, then twice ‘Hare’, then twice ‘Hare Rama’, and in the end, O Maha-Devi, one should chant ‘Rama’ twice, and then ‘Hare Hare’. In this way one should pronounce Krishna’s Hari-nama maha-mantra, which destroys all sins.”

In the Radha Tantra, the following discussion is found:

zRNu mAtarmahAmAye vizva-bIja-svarUpiNi |
hari nAmno mahAmAye kramaG vad surezvari ||

“Hear me, O mother Mahamaya, seed of the universe personified, mistress of the gods! Please explain the sequence of Hari-nama.”

hare kRSNa hare kRSNa kRSNa kRSNa hare hare |
hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare ||
dvAtriM zadakSarANyeva kalau nAmAni sarvadam |
etanmantraM suta zreSTha prathamaM zRNuyAnnaraH ||

“O best of sons! ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare’, these thirty-two syllables and sixteen names are always the names for the age of Kali. This mantra should be first heard by all human beings.”

References to Maha-Mantra - Commentary on the Mantra

The following are a series of commentaries unearthing a number of esoteric meanings and patterns extracted from the mantra otherwise consisting of just three names, repeated a total of sixteen times in pattern.

from Sri Caitanya Siksamritam
(Translated by Madhavananda Das)

he hare - mac cintaM hRtvA bhava bandhanAn mocaya |

O Hare! Steal my mind and free me from bondage.

he kRSNa – mac cittam AkarSa |

O Krishna! Let my mind become attracted to You.

he hare – sva-madhuryaNa mac cintam hara |

O Hare! Steal my mind with your sweetness.

he kRSNa - sva-bhakta-dvArA bhajana jnAna-dAnana mac cittaM zodhaya |

O Krishna! Purify my mind and give me knowledge of bhajana bestowed through the medium of your devotees.

he kRSNa - nAma rUpa guNa lIlAdiSu man niSThaM kuru |

O Krishna! Make me fixed in your name, form, qualities, pastimes and so forth.

he kRSNa - rucir bhavatu me |

O Krishna! Give me taste.

he hare - nija sevA yogayaM maM kuru |

O Hare! Make me qualified for serving You.

he hare – svasevAm Adezaya |

O Hare! Order me in Your service.

he hare - svapreSThena sah svAbhISTa lIlAM zrAvaya |

O Hare! Let me hear about Your pastimes with your dear ones, which I aspire to attain.

he rAma - preSThayA sah svAbhISTa lIlAM mAm zrAvaya |

O Rama! Let me hear of your pastimes with your beloved one, which I aspire to attain.

he hare - SvapreSThena sah svAbhISTa lIlAM maM darzaya |

O Hare! Please let me behold Your pastimes with Your own dear one, which I aspire to attain.

he rAma - preSThayA sah svAbhISTa lIlAM maM darzaya |

O Rama! Please let me behold Your pastimes with Your dear one, which I aspire to attain.

he rAma - nAma rUpa guNa lIlA smaraNAdiSu mAM yojaya |

O Rama! Engage me in remembering your name, form, qualities and pastimes.

he rAma - tatra maM nija sevA yogayaM kuru |

O Rama! Please make me qualified for Your specific services.

he hare - maM svAngI kRtya ramasva |

O Hare! Make me a limb of Yours and take pleasure in me.

he hare - mayA sah ramasva |

O Hare! Please enjoy with me.

By Jiva Goswami
(Translated by Jagadananda Das)

hare kRSNa hare kRSNa kRSNa kRSNa hare hare |
hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare ||

(1) sarva-ceta-haraH kRSNas tasya cittaM haraty asau |
vaidagdhI-sAra-vistArair ato rAdhA harA matA ||

Krishna steals everyone’s mind, but Radharani steals even His when She makes use of Her divine talents. Therefore She is known as HarA.

(2) karSati svIya-lAvaNya-muralI-kala-niHsvanaiH |
zrI-rAdhAM mohana-guNAlaGkRtaH kRSNa Iryate ||

Because He forcibly pulls Radha from Her home with the sound of His flute filled with His loveliness, that Lord of all enchanting virtues is known as Krishna.

(3) zrUyate nIyate rAse hariNA hariNekSaNA
ekAkinI rahaH-kuJje hareyaM tena kathyate ||

It is heard that doe-eyed Radha was taken by Krishna during the Rasa dance to spend time with Him alone in a secret grove in the forest. She is therefore known as HarA.

(4) aGga-zyAmalima-stomaiH zyAmalIkRta-kAJcanaH |
ramate rAdhayA sArdhaM kRSNo nigadyate ||

The black effulgence of Krishna’s body turns even the gold of Radharani’s skin to black when He embraces Her. He is thus known as Krishna. 

(5) kRtvAraNye saraH-zreSThaM kAntayAnumatas tayA |
AkRSya sarva-tIrthAni taj-jJAnAt kRSNa Iryate ||

When Radharani ordered Krishna to build the most beautiful water tank in the world (as a penance for killing Arishtasura), He called all the holy rivers and tanks to bring water to fill it. Thus He is known as Krishna.

(6) kRSyate rAdhayA premNA yamunA-taTa-kAnanam |
lIlayA lalitaz cApi dhIraiH kRSNa udAhRtaH ||

Because He is forcibly attracted into the forests on the Yamuna’s banks by Radha’s ecstatic love, where He becomes Her playful lover, He is known by the wise as Krishna.

(7) hRtavAn gokule tiSThann ariSTaM puSTa-puGgavam |
zrI-haris taM rasAd uccai rAyatIti harA matA ||

While living in Gokula, Krishna destroyed the powerful demon known as Arishta. At that time, Radha called out to Him with great emotion. Doing so, she stole His mind and so is known as HarA.

(8) hy asphuTaM rAyati prIti-bhareNa hari-ceSTitam |
gAyatIti matA dhIrair harA rasa-vicakSaNaiH ||

Filled with sweet affection, Radha sometimes glorifies Krishna’s pastimes quietly, and sometimes She sings them aloud. Thus those who know the secrets of divine rasa call Her HarA.

(9) rasAveza-parisrastAM jahAra muralIM hareH |
hareti kIrtitA devI vipine keli-lampaTA ||

Sometimes Krishna becomes so absorbed in Radha’s love that His beloved flute slips from His hand. Mad with the desire to enjoy pastimes in the forest bowers with Krishna, Radha steals Krishna’s flute. That goddess is thus known as HarA.

(10) govardhana-darI-kuJje parirambha-vicakSaNaH |
zrI-rAdhAM ramayAmAsa rAmas tena mato hariH ||

When Krishna, the expert embracer, makes love with Radha in the forest bowers or the caves of Govardhan, He is known as Rama.

(11) hanti duHkhAni bhaktAnAM rAti saukhyAni cAnvaham |
harA devI nigaditA mahA-kAruNya-zAlinI ||

Radha most compassionately destroys the miseries of Her devotees and gives them great joy every single day. Therefore she is known as HarA.

(12) ramate bhajato cetaH paramAnanda-vAridhau |
atreti kathito rAmaH zyAmasundara-vigrahaH ||

Krishna, with His beautiful blackish form, submerges the minds of those who worship Him in an ocean of supreme bliss. Therefore He is known by the name Rama.

(13) ramayaty acyutaM premNA nikuJja-vana-mandire |
rAmA nigaditA rAdhA rAmo yutas tayA punaH ||

In a temple forest groves, Radharani brings the infallible Krishna to the pinnacle of joy with Her love. Therefore She is called RAmA. Since Krishna is always by Her side, He is known as Rama.

(14) rodanair gokule dAvAnalam azayati hy asau |
vizoSayati tenokto rAmo bhakta-sukhAvahaH ||

When Krishna heard the cries of the Vrajavasis, who were afraid of the forest fire, He quickly swallowed it up, drying their tears. By giving them joy in this way, He is known as Rama.

(15) nihantum asurAn yAto mathurA-puram ity asau |
tadAgamad rahaH-kAmo yasyAH sA’sau hareti ca ||

Krishna left Vraja for Mathura in order to slay the demons, but later returned, drawn by the desire to be alone with Radha. Because She attracted Him back to Vraja, She is known as HarA.

(16) Agatya duHkha-hartA yo sarveSAM vraja-vAsinAm |
zrI-rAdhA-hAri-carito hariH zrI-nanda-nandanaH ||

When the son of Nanda returned to Vraja after many years in Mathura and Dvaraka, He took away all the distress of its residents. His every action steals the heart of Srimati Radharani, and so He is known as Hari.

By Raghunatha Das Goswami
(Translated by Jagadananda Das)

ekada krsna-virahad dhyayanti priya-sangamam |
mano-baspa-nirasartham jalpatidam muhur muhuh ||

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare |
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare ||

One day, Radha was feeling separation from Krishna and was meditating on the reunion she hoped to have with him. In order to rid herself of the depression she felt in his absence, she began to repeatedly chant his names. hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare, hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare. 

he hare sva-madhuryena mac-ceto harasi | 

O Hare! You steal my mind with your sweetness.

tatra hetur he krsna iti krs-sabdasya sarvarthah nas ca ananda-svarupa iti svarthe nah sac­cid-ananda-svarupaka iti sviyena sarva-dik-paramanandena sarvadhika-paramanandena va pralobhyeti bhavah |

With her next utterance of the name Krishna, she explains how that is possible. The name Krishna comes from the combination of the syllables krs, which means everything, and na, which means an identity steeped in bliss. Thus Krishna is the form of eternity, knowledge and bliss who attracts and tempts everyone in every direction with the supreme joy of his own being, a joy which is superior to any other.

tatas ca he hare dhairya-lajja-guru-bhayadikam api harasi ||

So, Hari, you take away even my most strongly held character traits, like self-control, shame, and fear of my superiors.

tatas ca he krsna sva-grhebhyo vanam prati mam akarsasi || 

Then, Krishna, you draw us out of our houses and into the forest. 

tatas ca he krsna vanam pravistaya me kancukim sahasaivagatya karsasi || 

Then, when I have entered the woods, you suddenly appear out of nowhere and start pulling on my blouse.

tatas ca he krsna mat-kucau karsasi ||

Then, Krishna, you start touching my breasts. 

tatas ca he hare sva-bahu-nibaddham mam puspa-sayyam prati harasi ||

Then, O Hari, you wrap me in your arms and lead me off to the bed of flower petals.

tatas ca he hare tatra nivesitaya me antariyam api baladd harasi ||

Then, O Hari, while I am sitting there helplessly, you tear off my skirt as well. 

tatas ca he hare antariya-vasana-harana-misenatma-viraha-pidam sarvam eva harasi || 

And so, O Hari, by taking my clothes off my body, you take away all the sufferings accumulated in my soul as a result of my separation from you.

tatas ca he rama svacchandam mayi ramase ||

Then, O Rama, you enjoy with me to your full satisfaction. 

tatas ca he hare yad avasistam kincin me vamyam asit tad api harasi ||

By so doing, O Hari, whatever little recalcitrance was left in me, that too was stolen by you.

tatas ca he rama mam ramayasi svasmin purusayitam api karosi ||

And so, O Rama, I become so frenzied with passion that I take the initiative in lovemaking, like a man. 

tatas ca he rama ramaniya-cudamane tava navina-vaktra-madhuryam api nihsankam tad atmanam tava ramaniyakam man-nayanabhyam dvabhyam evasvadyate iti bhavah || 

Then, O Rama, you who are the crest-jewel of the charming! Without any interference, I can now relish the beauty of your youthful face, indeed the very beauty of your very soul with both of my eyes.

tatas ca he rama na kevalam ramana-rupenapi ramana-kartr-ramana-prayojakah | kintu tad-bhava-rupa rati-murtir iva tvam bhavasiti bhavah || 

Then, O Rama, not only do you engage me in lovemaking by actively taking the role of a lover, even though this is true. It is as though you were also incarnate in the very act of love itself as its essence.

tatas ca he hare mac-cetana-mrgim api harasi, ananda-murccham prapayasiti bhavah || 

Then, O Hari, you who are like a lion, capture the deer of my mind. In other words, your loving makes me faint.

yato he hare simha-svarupa tad api rati-karmani prakatita-maha-pragalbhya iti bhavah || 

Because you are a lion, O Hari, you have shown such self-confidence, proficiency and boldness in the art of love.

evambhutena tvaya preyasa viyukta ksanam api kalpa-kotim iva katham yapayitum prabhavamiti svayam eva vicaraya iti nama-sodasakasyabhiprayah | tatas ca namabhis cumbakair iva krsnah krsnaya sahasaivakrsto milita-paramananda eva | tasyah sva­sakhinam tat-parivara-vargasya tad-bhava-sadhakanam arvacinanam api sri-radha-krsnau manasam sampurayatah ||

Being separated from you, my dearest lover, it seems that even a moment is like a million millennia. How then will I be able to suffer through this age-long separation? Please consider this fact. This is the summary meaning of the sixteen names of the Mahamantra. Having chanted them in this spirit, Krishna is attracted by Radha's chanting of these magnet-like names and he suddently appears to experience the ecstasy of union. May the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha-Krishna fulfill the desires of her sakhis, his cowherd friends, as well as of all those who today are engaged in the practices of devotional service in the hope of one day attaining the same mood of love.

(Translated by Jagadananda Das)

(1) hare - he hare, mac-cittam hrtva bhava-bandhanan mocaya | 

Hare! O Hari, steal my mind and deliver me from bondage to this material world. 

krsna - he krsna, mac-cittam akarsaya | 

Krishna! O Krishna, attract my mind. 

hare - he hare, sva-madhuryena mac-cittah hara | 

Hare! O Hari! Capture my mind with the sweetness of your name, form and pastimes.

krsna - he krsna, sva-bhakta-dvara bhajana-jnana-danena mac-cittam sodhaya | 

Krishna! O Krishna! Send me the association of your devotees who will purify my mind through instructions about your devotional service. 

krsna - he krsna, nama-rupa-guna-liladisu man-nistham kuru | 

Krishna! O Krishna! Give me unflinching faith in your name, form, qualities and pastimes.

krsna - he krsna, rucir bhavatu me | 

Krishna! O Krishna! Give me a taste for your name, form, qualities and pastimes. 

hare - he hare, nija-seva-yogyam mam kuru |

Hare! O Hari! Make me worthy to engage in your service. 

hare - he hare, sva-sevam adisaya |

Hare! O Hara, Radha! Order me personally in the service you wish me to perform. 

hare - he hare, sva-presthena saha svabhista-lilam sravaya |

Hare! O Hara, Radha! Give me the opportunity to hear about your own favorite pastimes with your beloved Lord.

rama - he rama, presthaya saha svabhista-lilam mam sravaya |

Rama! O Rama! Give me the opportunity to hear about your own favorite pastimes with your beloved Radha.

hare - he hare, sva-presthena saha svabhista-lilam darsaya | 

Hare! O Hara, Radha! Give me the opportunity to see your intimate pastimes with your beloved Lord. 

rama - he rama, presthaya saha svabhista-lilam mam darsaya |

Rama! O Rama! Give me the opportunity to see your intimate pastimes with your beloved Radha.

rama - he rama, nama-rupa-guna-lila-smaranadisu mam yojaya | 

Rama! O Rama! Engage me in hearing, chanting and remembering your name, form, qualities, pastimes.

rama - he rama, tatra mam nija-seva-yogyam kuru | 

Rama! O Rama! As I enter into those pastimes by the path of meditation, make me worthy to engage in your service.

hare - he hare, mam svangikrtya ramasva | 

Hare! O Hari! Please accept me and take pleasure from the service that I offer you. 

hare - he hare, maya saha ramasva | 

Hare! O Hari! Take pleasure in me and enjoy with me.

(2) hare - krsnasya mano haratiti hara radha, tasyah sambodhane he hare | 

Hare! Radha is known as Hara because she steals Krishna's mind. I call out to her, O Hare! O Radhe! 

krsna - radhaya manah karsatiti krsnah, tasya sambodhane he krsna | 

Krishna! The Lord is known as Krishna because he attracts Radha's mind. Therefore I call out to him, O Lord! O Krishna!

hare - krsnasya lokalajjadhairyadi sarvam haratiti hara radha, tasyah sambodhane he hare | 

Hare! Radha steals Krishna's sense of public shame and his self-possession. She steals everything of his and is thus known as Hara. I therefore call out to her, O Radhe! O Hare! 

krsna - radhaya lokalajjadhairyadi sarvam karsatiti krsnah, tasya sambodhane he krsna | 

Krishna! He drags away all of Radha's sense of shame and her self-possession. Therefore I call out to him, O Lord! O Krishna!

krsna - yatra yatra radha tisthati gacchati va tatra tatra sa pasyati krsno mam sprsati balat kancukadikam sarvam karsati haratiti krsnah, tasya sambodhane he krsna | 

Krishna! Wherever Radha is standing, or wherever she happens to be going, she thinks, Krishna is watching me, he is touching me, he he is pulling on my bodice. He is pulling on me. I call out to him, O Lord! O Krishna!

krsna - punar harsatam gamayati vanam karsatiti krsnah, tasya sambodhane he krsna |

Krishna! Then Krishna makes her feel a thrill of excitement as he pulls her to the woods. I call out to him, O Lord! O Krishna!

hare - yatra krsno gacchati tisthati va tatra tatra pasyati radha mamagre parsve sarvatra tisthatiti hara, tasyah sambodhane he hare | 

Hare! Wherever Krishna goes, wherever he is situated, he sees Radha in front of him, by his side, all around him. In this way she disturbs his mind. I call out to her, O Radhe. O Hare!

hare - punas tam krsnam harati sva-sthanam abhisarayatiti hara radha, tasyah sambodhane he hare |

Hare! She once again steals Krishna away, making him come to her kunja. She is thus known as Hara. I thus call out to her, O Radhe! O Hare! 

hare - krsnam vanam harati vanam agamayatiti hara radha, tasyah sambodhane he hare | 

Hare! She once again steals Krishna away, making him come to her kunja. She is thus known as Hara. I thus call out to her, O Radhe! O Hare! 

rama - ramayati tam narma-niriksanadiniti ramah, tasya sambodhane he rama |

Rama! Krishna is known as Rama because he brings Radha pleasure with his joking words and his loving glances. I thus call out to him, O Krishna! O Rama! 

hare - tatkalikam dhairyavalambanadikam krsnasya haratiti hara radha, tasyah sambodhane he hare |

Hare! She robs Krishna of the momentary self-control he is able to muster in her presence. She is thus known as Hara, and so I call out to her, O Radhe! O Hare! 

rama - cumbana-stana-karsanalinganadibhi ramate iti ramah, tasya sambodhane he rama | 

Rama! Krishna delights in kissing Radha, in touching her breasts and in embracing her. He is thus known as Rama, and so I call out to him, O Lord! O Rama! 

rama - punas tam purusocitam krtva ramayatiti ramah, tasya sambodhane he rama | 

Rama! Krishna causes Radha to reach the pinnacle of sexual excitement, so that she becomes aggressively active in the love battle, like a man. He is thus known as Rama, and so I call out to him, O Lord! O Rama!

rama - punas tatra ramate iti ramah, tasya sambodhane he rama |

Rama! All this brings extra delight to Krishna. He is thus known as Rama, and so I call out to him, O Lord! O Rama!

hare - punah rasante krsnasya mano hrtva gacchatiti hara radha, tasyah sambodhane he hare |

Hare! Once again, at the end of the Rasa dance, as she leaves to return home, she steals Krishna's mind and takes it away with her. She is thus known as Hara, and I therefore call out to her, O Radhe! O Hare! 

hare - radhaya mano hrtva gacchatiti harih krsnah tasya sambodhane he hare | 

Hare! Krishna also steals Radha's mind, taking it with him as he leaves. He is thus known as Hari, and I call out to him, O Krishna! O Hare!

(Gaura pada tarangini, taranga, uchhvasa 2, pada 59)

nara harinAma antare acchu bhAvaha
habe bhava sagare pAra
dhara re zravaNe nara harinAma
sAdare cintAmaNi uha sAra
yadi kRta-pApi Adare kabhu mantraka
rAja zravaNe kare pAna
zrI kRSna caitanya bale haya tacchu durgama
pApa tApa saha trANa
karaha gaura-guru-vaisNava-Azraya
laha nara harinAma-hAra
saMsAre nAma lai suktRi haiyA
tare ApAmara durAcAra
ithe kRta-viSaya-tRSNa pahuJa-nAma-hArA
‘yo dhAraNe zrama-bhAra
kutRSna jagadAnanda kRta-kalmaSa
kumati rahala kArAgAra

“O brother! When you have internally realized this hari-nama, you can cross the ocean of birth and death (samsara). “O brother! When this hari-nama is very respectfully placed in the ear, it can be drunk‚ heard and absorbed because its very essence is cintamani. Even if sinful persons or kings drink sri nama by respectfully hearing this mantra, then Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that all of their sins will be vanquished along with all the miseries in the burning fire of this material world.

“O brother! Please take the shelter of Gaura, Guru, and Vaisnavas and take this
garland of sri hari-nama. Even the most wretched and sinful will find relief in chanting this hari-nama, and all their material desires and endeavours will be revealed as so much useless labour. Jagadananda says that any sinful person whose mentality is wicked and who has innumerable mundane desires will always reside in this material jail, but, by chanting sri hari-nama, one will leave all maya and reach the lotus feet of Sri Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha Krishna.”


The following explanations are also common, though their source is presently unknown to the compiler of this document. They seem to be hybrids drawn from several sources.

The first commentary (aisvarya-mayi):

harati trividhaM tApaM janmakoTi ‘ztod bhavam |
papaM ca smaratAM yasmAt tasmAd dhaririti smRtaH ||

kRSirbhUvAckaH zabdo Nazca nirvRtivA-cakaH |
tayoraikyaM paraM brahma kRSNa ityabhidhIyate ||

ramante yogino ‘nante satyAnande cidAt mani |
iti rAmapade nAsau paraM brahmA ‘bhidIyate ||

"Bhagavan Sri Krishna is known as Hari because He destroys the three-fold afflictions of countless births as well as the sinful activities performed by the body, mind and words of those devotees who remember Him.
"Krs means ‘all attractive’ and Na means ‘joyful’. The combination of these syllables refers to Sri Krishna, the all-attractive parabrahma.
"Yogis on the transcendental platform derive great joy by meditating upon Him as the infinite form of supreme bliss (nityananda-svarupa), and as He who has a transcendental form (cinmaya svarupa). For this reason, He is called Rama (the supreme enjoyer).”

The second commentary (madhurya-mayi):

mano harati kRSNasya kRSNa hlAdasvarupiNI |
tato harA zrI rAdhaiva tasyAH saMbodhanaM hare ||
apagRhma trapAM dharmaM mAnaM vrajastriyaH |
veNunA karSati gRhAt tena kRSNa’ bhidhIyate ||
ramayatyanizaM rUpa lAvaNyair vraja yoSitAm |
manaH paGcendriyaNIha rAmastasmAt prakIrtitaH ||

"Because She steals Krishna’s mind and because she is the embodiment of Krishna’s divine joy, Radha is known as Hara. Hare is the vocative form of that name.
"Because he robbed the women of Vraja of their shame, their religious principles, their self-possession, and their pride, and through the playing of his flute drew them out of their homes and into the forest, he is known as Krishna.
"Krishna is glorified by the name Rama because he constantly causes the Vraja cowherd women's minds and senses to enjoy the charms of his beauty."