śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 1 and Year 14, Issue 1
Posted: 4 March 2021, 26 February 2008
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda
In the very beginning of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in its middle and at its end, we have been repeatedly advised about the efficacy of śrī nāma-saṅkīrtana. The principle of śrī nāma-bhajana (loving service to the holy name) is deeply set at the root of the limb of devotion called Mathurā-vāsa, or śrī dhāma-vāsa - residence in the places of Śrī Bhagavān’s pastimes - for these holy places are frequently visited by sādhus who are always engaged in śrī nāma-saṅkīrtana. Furthermore, the principle of chanting the holy name accompanies the service of śrī mūrti, the transcendental deity, for it is conducted with mantras (incantations) framed with Śrī Bhagavān’s names. Thus śrī nāma-saṅkīrtana is glorified above all, and all success is available through it.
We also have the statement from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līlā 4.70):
bhajanera madhye śreṣṭha nava-vidha bhakti
‘kṛṣṇa-prema’, ‘kṛṣṇa’ dite dhare mahā-śakti
Among all forms of bhajana (loving service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa) the nine limbs of bhakti are best, for they have the great power to bestow both kṛṣṇa-prema and Krsna.
The foremost of these nine types of bhajana, again, is nāma-saṅkīrtana. One who chants the holy names without making spiritual offences (aparādhas) is sure to gain the wealth of transcendent love.
In the Bhakti-sandarbha (273) we find the following statement:
Even if, in Kali-yuga, there is some other form of devotion ordained as duty, that duty should be performed along with the limb of bhakti known as kīrtana.
No kind of bhakti – such as residence in Mathurā, association with holy saints, service to sri murti or hearing the message of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam – is complete without śrī kṛṣṇa-nāma-kīrtana. Only one who gives importance to śrī kṛṣṇa-nāma-kīrtana above everything else has access to the fruit it bears.
In Śrī Hari-bhakti-vīlāsa (11.137), a verse from an ancient scripture is cited:
yena janma-sataiḥ purvam vasudevaḥ samarcitaḥ
tan-mukhe hari-nāmāni sadā tiṣṭhanti bhārata
The holy names of Śrī Hari are always present on the lips of a person who has been properly worshipping Him – Śrī Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa - for hundreds of lives.
Indeed, among all spiritual practices, saṅkīrtana is the best and foremost means of attaining the grace of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Other types of sādhana, or devotional practices, are only worthy of being called sādhana if they favourably assist the performance of saṅkīrtana; otherwise they should be known as obstructions to actual sādhana. Whether one is a child or an old or young man, male or female, learned or illiterate, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, pious or sinful – regardless of the condition of life someone may be in – there is no spiritual practice for him other than śrī kṛṣṇa-nāma-kīrtana.
Kirtana is called saṅkīrtana when many people perform it together. But will it be worthy of the name saṅkīrtana if some worthless people, without any ardour for Śrī Bhagavān's service, come together to shout in unison? It will be true hari-saṅkīrtana when we join the saṅkīrtana of true devotees who are serving Śrī Bhagavān according to the principles established in the Vedas and allied śāstras. Contrastingly, it is not hari-saṅkīrtana when it is conducted for the prevention of the epidemics of cholera or pox, for prosperity in trade, for gain or for respect and fame. This kīrtana is māyā-kīrtana – chanting within the jurisdiction of the illusory potency.
As long as we do not join the perfect kṛṣṇa-kīrtana conducted by genuine devotees, maya will delude us in various ways. And if we join the kīrtana of the blinded self-deceivers who are not anxious for their true well-being then surely we will not attain our own true well-being. If we follow people who never receive instructions from the true Vaiṣṇavas but just imitate them by decorating their bodies with tulasī beads and other marks, and who shout out what appears to be names of God in external sound alone, we will not find śrī harināma-saṅkīrtana.
Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 23, Issue 10
by the Rays of The Harmonist team