Offences stops the grace of Holy Name


How To chant Sri Harinaam

Chanting the Holy Name is the infallible way to gain prem. How to chant the Holy Name? Sriman-Mahaprabhu has Himself instructed us about this with His holy lips –
How should we chant the Holy Name so that we gain prem? O Swarup and Rama Roy, Listen to the process! We should be lower than a blade of grass and as tolerant as a tree, we should not expect any respect from others, yet respect everybody – in this manner we should constantly chant the Holy Name.” – (C.C.Antya.20.16)

Sriman-Mahaprabhu has explained further –
We should be superior in all respects, yet consider ourselves more useless than a blade of grass. We should be tolerant like a tree in two ways – a tree never protests even when it is cut, it dies of thirst, yet does not beg for water. In spite of this, it gives its wealth to whosoever asks for it. It bears the heat and rain, yet offers shelter to others. Similarly a Vaishnav should be superior and yet devoid of false ego. We should respect all living beings knowing that Sri Krishna is present in them. When we chant the Holy Name in this manner, we gain love for the lotus feet of Sri Krishna.
– (C.C.Antya.20.17-21)

Humility is needed to save from Naam aparadha:

The Holy Name is so extremely powerful that nothing can deter it – it is impossible for us to possess any anartha that
can prevent the Holy Name from leading us to prem – well, except one barrier – and that is ‘aparadh’. When Sriman-
Mahaprabhu spoke the above verse to Swarup-Damodar and Ramananda Roy, He axed the very root of nama-aparadha . He instructed us to chant the Holy Name with humbleness. Humility is the soul of devotional practice. Offenses alone can stop the Holy Name.

‘Humility’ is a bhav that makes us; although we may possess all good qualities, feel that we are amazingly worthless and fallen. When we possess such humility it will save us from committing Vaishnav-offense and then Sri Nam-Prabhu will be pleased with us. However we should not think that – “first I will acquire this great quality ‘humbleness’ and then I will start chanting” As we continue to chant the Holy Name the humility as described by Sriman-Mahaprabhu will arise in our heart on its own and make us chant inoffensively. Of course, if we wish to attain prem, we should pay great attention to all the offenses, and chant with utmost humility – this is the instruction of the great souls as well as of the scriptures.

Let us discuss the ten offenses briefly.

The First Offense

Sri Padma Puran says – “When we blaspheme the devotees we supremely offend the Holy Name. The devotees who steadfastly chant the Holy Name are preaching the glory of Sri Nam- Prabhu to the world; how can the Holy Name tolerate the blasphemy of such devotees?”

Amongst all the offenses this one is the strongest, hence we call it Mahadaparadh or ‘great offense’. Mostly it is this offense that obstructs us, although we firmly chant the Holy Name and practice devotion. It is the chief offense to the Holy Name; therefore the preceptors have posted it on top of the list.

Srimad-Bhagavatam says –
“nindanam dosha kirtanam”
Meaning – “ ‘Ninda’ or ‘blasphemy’ means ‘to glorify someone’s fault’.”

When our speech shows disrespect, intolerance, envy or violence towards a devotee – it is ‘ninda’. Just censuring a devotee is ‘great offense’ – then we can easily guess what huge offense we will commit if we treat him with envy and violence.

Often we think that if a devotee does something foul, then why should it be wrong to criticize? For are we not speaking out fact? To tell you the truth, even thinking like this amounts to an offense. The scriptures have stated that “ninda means ‘to discuss a fault’ ” – the question whether it is true or false does not arise. The scriptures say

– “suchakasyapi tad-bhavet” – this means “do not discuss a devotee’s fault”.

Here it is natural for us to raise this question. Who is a sadhu? The answer is – “’Sadhu’ refers to those who have taken the shelter of ‘Bhagavat-dharma’. A devotee has forsaken even the desire for liberation; he has accepted the path of devotional practice solely to gain the service of Sri Krishna’s lotus feet – so he is ‘sadhu’.”

Srila Vishwanath Chakravartipad has written in Madhurya-Kadambini – “We should not think that only those who are kind, peaceful, tolerant and are endowed with all good qualities are devotees or ‘sadhus’ in the real sense – if we blaspheme them, we commit an offense; however, there is no problem if we criticize those who do not have such sterling qualities.”

Actually, even if “sarvachara-vivarjitah shathadhiyo vratya jagad-vanchakah” – the ones who are devoid of all etiquettes, are big frauds and are cheating the entire world – if they worship Sri Bhagavan – we should count them as ‘sadhus’. This is because we should never blaspheme a devotee who adores Sri Bhagavan exclusively, even though he may be evil. We have to accept him as a ‘sadhu’.

Sri Krishna has Himself instructed Arjun –
“O Arjun, If one is extremely evil – that is – harms others, steals others’ property and wife – yet worships me exclusively (does not worship anyone other than me, does not practice any other path such as gyan or karma, resorting only to bhakti, does not wish to attain anyone other than me) – accept him as a ‘sadhu’. After all, he has taken to the best path (meaning – he has decided, whether I go to hell or get a lower form of life – I will worship none other than Sri Krishna), so he is a ‘sadhu’.” – (B.G.9.30)

If we blaspheme such a devotee we are bound to commit offence. Then we need not stress how much aparadh we will commit if we criticize a good devotee. When we see a bad devotee, we may criticize him, so the Lord has called him a ‘sadhu’ so that we remember not to blaspheme him. Whether we speak or hear bad about a devotee – both are offenses. Therefore if someone blasphemes a devotee, we should close our ears, remember Sri Bhagavan and leave that place.

Sriman-Mahaprabhu has illuminated this subject more in detail. The Lord said –“If I hear even once Sri Krishna-nam from someone’s lips, he is worthy of worship and the best of all.” – (C.C.Madhya.15.106)

“Hence, one who says Sri Krishna–nam once – I consider him a Vaishnav and revere him.” – (C.C.Madhya.15.111)

There is none who has not uttered Sri Krishna-nam even once, so we should forsake all criticisms. Then it will be easy for us to save ourselves from this ‘great offense’.

The Lord said – “No purpose is served by criticizing; sin is all that we gain. As a result, the one who does not criticize is the most blessed of all.”

“The one who does not criticize and constantly chants Sri Krishna-nam, he alone is invincible, his consciousness has awakened and he shall conquer Sri Krishna easily.” – (Sri Chaitanya Bhagabat)

The Second Offense:

“shivasya shri-vishnorya iha guna-namadi sakalam,
dhiya bhinnam pashyet sa khalu harinamahitakarah”

Meaning – “If we consider the qualities, name etc of Sri Vishnu and Sri Shiva as different from each other, it is not good for our Harinam (= offense).”

This indicates that we should not think that Sri Vishnu is a power and Sri Shiva is another power. Same goes for their names and qualities also. If we do make this distinction, we are endorsing polytheism – this displeases the Holy Name. Sri Vishnu is ‘the One without a second’. He is the Supreme Controller. Brahma, Shiva etc, are all His manifestations – no one has any independent power. To prove this Sri Brahma-Samhita has stated –

“Milk transforms into curds; curds is non-different from milk. In the same manner He descends as Shambhu to destroy the world – I adore That Primeval Lord Sri Govinda.” Actually Sri Krishna is the Supreme Controller. Brahma, Shiva and the other devatas have come from Him; so they are neither different from Him nor are they equal to Him. This is because He is the cause of all causes – Swayam Bhagavan (God Himself). As a result it is an offense to consider Sriman-Mahadev a different controller or equal to Sri Krishna is an offense.

The devotees who adore Sri Vishnu exclusively, consider Sri Shiva as a ‘Supreme Vaishnav’ and revere him. Some devotees consider him as Sri Vishnu’s gunavatar. The concluding part of Srimad-Bhagavatam says –
‘Just as Ganga is the greatest of all rivers, Sri Krishna is the supreme amongst devatas, Shambhu (Shiva) is the foremost Vaishnav, and similarly Srimad- Bhagavatam is the supreme most Puran.” – (S.B.12.13.16)

The Third Offense

If we disregard Sri Gurudev or consider him ordinary, we offend the Holy Name. This happens when we do not know the facts about Sri Gurudev. Then we take him in a worldly sense. Sri Krishna has Himself said to Sri Uddhav –
“Know Spiritual Master as non-different from me. Do not ever disregard him or consider him mundane and behave adversely towards him.” – (S.B.11.17.27)

If we think of Sri Gurudev as a human being all our efforts become fruitless. Sri Narad said –“The Spiritual Master is Sri Bhagavan manifested before us. He endows us with spiritual enlightenment. If we are as foolish as to consider him a mortal, all our spiritual efforts such as study of the scriptures become as useless as the Hasti-snan (elephant-bath).” – (S.B.7.15.26)

This also indicates that –
“When we adore the Spiritual Master as much as we love Sri Bhagavan, then we get all the inner meanings of the scriptures form that great soul”.
– (Shwetashwatar Upanishad)

Therefore we should always think about the good qualities of the Spiritual Master and sing his glory. We should consider his body as divine and not see any fault n him. We must realize that when we do not perform bhajan as per his instructions, and do not chant the mantras given by him, we disregard the Spiritual Master and it offends the Holy Name.

The Fourth offense

shruti-shastra-nindanam –

This refers to blaspheming the Vedas and scriptures following the Vedas. ‘Blaspheming’ includes disregard, irreverence or any other adverse behavior. The Vedas are transcendental and self-manifested. “Vedayatiti vedah” –“Veda is one who makes himself known”. The Itihasas, Puranas etc. elaborate the instructions of the Vedas. Srimad-Bhagavatam is in accordance with the Vedas. Criticizing and disrespecting these scriptures is an offense. The Vedas have three parts (called ‘kanda’ or ‘trunks’). They are karma-kanda, gyan-kanda and upasana-kanda. Naturally a devotee will not criticize the shrutis that extol devotion; however if a devotee thinks that those parts of the Vedas that instruct about karma and gyan are nonsense and because they do not directly deal with devotion, we can disrespect them – then he is committing an offense. We should realize that the Vedas are most compassionate. Not everybody is qualified for bhakti. There are people who are promiscuous and deeply attached to material enjoyments. The Vedas are resolved to enlighten even such fallen ones. The merciful Vedas instruct them in such a way that when these people follow the Vedic injunctions, someday they too will enter the temple of Bhakti devi. This is the root intention of those portions of the Vedas that preach karma and gyan. Thus when we know the truth about the scriptures, we will not commit the offense of criticizing them.

The Fifth Offense

tatha-artha-vado –

We see that the scriptures highly extol Sri Harinam. The glory of the Holy Name is incomparable. When we think that these are mere eulogies, and are not true, we commit offense. To tell you the truth, the magnificence of the Holy Name is like a fathomless ocean. It has no limits. How much of its glory have the scripture and preceptors been able to express?

They must have revealed only a drop of this ocean. Yet, if we think that it is merely ‘glory’ and not true – can we guess how much offense we are committing?
Here we may question –we find that the Vedas extol even devata-puja, sacrifices etc. and state that the joy in the heavenly planets never comes to an end, it is limitless and we should make it our supreme goal. Are they not exaggeration? When we, the devotees, boldly proclaim that these statements are not true, yet do not commit offense while saying so, then why do we offend the Holy Name when we think its glory too as false? The answer is that – the Vedas want to draw unfeeling lusty people who are highly attached to material comforts than to a spiritual life. So they eulogize heavenly-joy. By these statements the Vedas want to tempt these people and improve the quality of their lives. On the other hand, Sri Bhagavan is absolute, the One and only the Supreme Object. His Holy Name, bhakti and prem are so inconceivably great that even the Vedas fail to grasp them. They are beyond the Vedas. Hence there is no question of singing false glory.

“Sri Krishna is Truth and Sri Krishna-bhakti is love personified. Sri Krishna, His bhakti and the chanting of His Holy name are all blissful.” – (C.C.adi.1.9.6)

The Sixth Offense
harinamni kalpanam –
Srimat Jiva Goswamipad has explained this as –
“The Holy Name has incomparable glory. To prove that it is not so great, one may put forth some imaginary meaning of the Holy Name. It is an offense.”

The Holy Name is exceedingly great and has colossal impact. Intelligent people will not find it difficult to believe. In this world we can perceive the power of certain, gems, mantras etc. How these objects have such power – it is beyond our comprehension. But we cannot ignore their influence either. When the power of these material objects is beyond our intellect, how can we conceive the greatness of the Holy Name that is transcendental divine exceedingly inconceivable and extraordinarily powerful? The scriptures have forbidden us to analyze transcendental objects –

achintyah khalu ye bhava na tanstarkena yojayet,
prakritibhyah param yachcha tadachintasya lakshanam.

Meaning – “We are forbidden to speculate over inconceivable bhavs or objects. ‘Inconceivable’ refers to whatever is beyond the material nature.”
After all, we belong to this world. We come in contact only with objects that are transformation of Nature. Therefore while analyzing or debating, we use our material experience. As our intellect becomes transcendental, we will be able to absorb the knowledge of divine objects. Hence whatever the scriptures and the preceptors who have transcendental intellect have told us about the inconceivable, we should accept with respect and faith. We are forbidden to use material intellect in this regard. Those with material unclear intelligence try to use logic and analysis to diminish the inconceivable glory and power of the Holy Name; they verily commit a crime against Sri Nam-Prabhu.

The Seventh Offense

namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhirna vidyate yamairhi shuddhih

Meaning – “If one thinks he can commit an offense on strength of the Holy Name – even if he performs innumerable penances and undergoes untold suffering in hell – he will not get rid of this offense”

Explanation – We know that our sins are destroyed when we chant the Holy Name; now if out this knowledge to think – “Oh, I can continue to sin merely because after all, I am chanting and the Holy Name will destroy my sins” – then we are offending Sri Nam-Prabhu. It is true that to destroy mountainous sins is but a child’s play for Sri Harinam; yet we are supposed to take His shelter to achieve the topmost goal – eternal love or to make Sri Krishna happy by obtaining His seva. Now if we resort to the Holy Name to commit hateful sins displays audacity. Moreover this indicates that we are belittling the Holy Name, hence we collect offenses that are millions of times more dangerous than sins. As a result, even if we perform penances and suffer terrible punishments in the hell our chitta is not cleansed.

Here we should note the point that, when we take the shelter of the Holy Name with a pure intention, forget committing sins, we will not be interested even in pious activities. Therefore the one who has sought refuge of the lotus feet of Sri Harinam will never dream of committing sin. When we have some aparadh, then our chanting is called ‘namabhas’ (shadow of the Holy Name) and not ‘pure nam’. Even namabhas annihilates past sins and wipes out the tendency to sin. Even then, some sinful reactions do remain. In this state, if a sadhak thinks that he can continue to sin on the strength of the Holy Name he commits a horrible nam aparadh.

The Eighth Offense

“dharma-vrata-tyaga-hutadi sarva-shubha-kriya-samyam-api-pramadah”

Meaning – “It is an offense to equate the result of the Holy Name with the outcomes of righteous conduct, fasting, sacrifices, and other religious activities.’

This belittle the glory of the Holy Name, hence an offense. All the pious activities listed in the scriptures are material in nature, whereas the divine name is transcendental and indestructible. The pious activities are merely the means to attain heavenly comforts. They cannot be the goal. On the other hand, the Holy Name reaches us to the goal (eternal love) and is also the goal itself. Thus how can we consider Raganuga any good act equal to Harinam? In fact, the good acts grant us some miniscule fruits – if we pray to the Holy Name for the same results – we commit an offense, since this means we are equating the Holy Name with those pious activities.

Srimat Jiva Goswamipad has said –
“Sri Harinam is independent and all-powerful. If we engage Him to bestow those small products that karmas can give us, we are insulting Him. It is an offense.” – (purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.10-22)

The Ninth Offense

ashraddadhane vimukhe’pi shrinvati yashchopadeshah shiva-namaparadha –

Meaning – “It is an offense to instruct one to chant Harinam if he is irreverent and is averse to hearing the Holy Name.”

Faith and reverence are the prime requisites to enter the Bhakti-Mandir. Therefore only one who has shraddha is qualifies to chant the Holy Name. If we meet someone who has no respect for the Lord and disinterested to know the glory of the Holy Name we should not instruct such a person to chant. We should simply say –
“Harinam is above everything, it is the supreme most and if we chant the Holy Name all will benefit”. It is better to speak like this than directly saying – “You should chant the Mahamantra.” We should give Harinam only after we have tested that person’s faith. Otherwise we shall commit offense. The above verse states that if we instruct a faithless disrespectful person to chant, we are the offenders – and not the other person (for not having respect).

The Tenth Offense

“shrute’pi-nam-mahatmye yah pritirahito narah,
aham mamadi paramo namni so’paparadhakrit.”

Meaning – “In spite of hearing the glory of Sri Harinam, if we continue to think of the body as ‘I’ and body-related objects (persons) as ‘mine’ – and do not love the Holy Name – we commit an offense.”

This statement refers to the one whom a devotee is instructing to chant. When a devotee preaches the Holy Name to someone and if that person does not start chanting, he is committing an offense. This is because when we do not chant? When we take pride in our body that is highly destructible and consider ourselves the Lord and master of material possessions. It is then that we disregard the Holy Name and do not start chanting. In spite of hearing the vast greatness of the Holy Name when we do not chant it means that we are insulting Sri Nam-Prabhu. A devotee too should not instruct such a person to chant.

The saints and scriptures ordain that we should chant the Holy Name without committing these ten offences. The only way we can chant without offending is to obey Sriman-Mahaprabhu’s command – to be more humble than a blade of grass. However if we can really put this to practice, Sri Nam-Prabhu will certainly grace us with His bounties and we shall feel blessed. And this will happen extremely quickly.

Padma Puran has stated –
We can annihilate Nam-aparadh by resorting to chanting alone. We should chant without resting for a single moment – then we can destroy Nam-aparadh.

However if we offend a sadhu[1st naam aparadha], then we have to beg him to forgive us; when he is pleased, our aparadh is destroyed. What happens if we are unable to please him? Then we have to chant all day and night, and then it will be possible to wipe out that offense. We can burn the other offenses by repenting and chanting incessantly.

We may ask – “I have not committed a single offense, and I am chanting with respect; then how come Sri Nam- Prabhu is not showering His blessings on me?

The answer to this query is the same – “aparadh”. There is nothing to stop the grace of the Holy Name other than offense. Although knowingly we do not commit an offense – it is true. But still we cannot proclaim to be completely free of aparadh. We cannot guarantee that we do not have any offense collected over the past lives; also we do commit offenses unwittingly, do we not? However there is one solid way we can discern whether or not we have ‘offenses’. When we chant a lot many times, we should peep into our hearts. Am I feeling joyous? Have I got tears and goose flesh? If the  answer is ‘No’, then we should accept that offenses have made our hearts rock-hard.

In spite of chanting many times, when prem does not appear in our hearts, it is a sure sign of nam-aparadh. Srimad-Bhagavatam proves this point –
“tadshmasaram hridayam vatedam yad-grihyam-anair-harinama-dheyaih, na vikriyetatha yada vikaro netre jalam gatraruheshu harshah.”

Srila Vishwanath Chakravartipad has explained this verse as follows –
“When we chant repeatedly, yet our heart does not melt with devotion – it is expressed by tears, goose flesh and other symptoms of bhav – such a heart is hard like iron. It is a sign of nam-aparadh. Also, we cannot say that if one displays tears and goose flesh, his heart has melted; for some people who have unstable emotions too express such tears and other symptoms without possessing any bhav. They can do this with practice as well. The reverse is also true. Some very serious devotees do not express any sign of ecstasy although their chitta is full of bhakti. Hence this verse (from Srimad-Bhagavatam) actually means –

‘Even though one displays tears and goose flesh externally, if he does not have a heart that has melted with devotion, it means his heart is rock-hard. Although tears and goose flesh are the common symptoms of a change of heart, we should know that the real indications are the ‘nine symptoms’ such as forbearance, spending every moment in relation with Sri Bhagavan etc’

Srila Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj


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