Have you ever taken a shower without becoming wet, without using any water? Yes, I know this sounds silly, but actually, many of us are doing this every day! At least I can speak for myself, I certainly do it all the time. Let me try to explain.
Chanting the Holy Name attentively cannot be stressed enough, and again, I’m preaching to myself here! As we know there are three stages of chanting: Nama-aparadha, chanting on the stage of offenses; Nama-bhasa, chanting on the stage of purification and Suddha-nama, the pure chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord. The pure stage of chanting is our goal, because only on this level is pure love of God, Krishna Prema, revealed. It is said that on this stage, Krishna personally appears on the tongue of such a chanter and dances there! Krishna fully reveals Himself, together with the entirety of His innumerable potencies. However, this stage is, for most of us, still far away. We are generally moving back and forth between the stages of Nama-aparadha and Nama-bhasa.
Nama-aparadha should be avoided. At this stage, it is absolutely impossible to attain pure love of God! One should aspire to progress to the next level as quickly as possible because by continuing to commit offenses against the Holy Name one loses taste in spiritual activities.
The root of all offenses is inattentiveness, also called pramada. Pramada literally means madness. We chant but are lazy in our attempt to be focused, we chant but do it not from the heart, not with enthusiasm but rather we would like to do something else. We easily interrupt chanting for more `important things` and are constantly distracted. The main problem here is that we have a lack of attraction and chant in a mood of indifference. This is called madness because after all, chanting Hare Krishna means to invite Krishna into our lives. We call out for Him „please accept me, please let me again reestablish our relationship and serve You!“. But when Krishna wants to manifest through His Holy Name, we are not there. This is like inviting a good friend and then, once he shows up, we do not give any attention to him. That's crazy, but this is exactly what we often do.
Therefore, we should at least progress to the stage of purification. On that stage, the Holy Name has not yet manifested His full potency, but the influence of the Holy Name is already manifesting in very powerful ways. One of the main effects of Nama-bhasa is that our hearts become purified. ceto darpana marjanam. Our heart is compared to a dusty mirror that gets cleansed through the process of chanting. The main symptom here is that we sincerely try to concentrate and focus our mind on the Holy Name while Nama-aparadha means to be spaced out while chanting.
With this understanding, we can easily ascertain the quality of our own chanting, which in some ways is like a barometer for our spiritual life. Whenever we chant and are distracted, whenever we think of so many other things other than Krishna and are not able to control the mind we are on the level of Nama-aparadha. But as soon as we are able to fix our mind on the transcendental sound vibration, we are at once chanting on the stage of Nama-bhasa, at least as long as we are able to maintain our focus.
Only then, when our chanting is focused, does real purification take place. This can be compared to taking a shower. If you want to become clean you need to stand under the water and get wet. Simply by just standing next to the shower without having any contact with the water will not help you to get cleansed. Similarly, if we want to get purified by the Holy Name, we need to be in touch with the Holy Name, we need to actually hear the Holy Name attentively.
Do you now understand my question at the beginning of today's blog? Let us properly get purified by diving deep into the nectar shower of the Holy Name by attentive chanting: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!
Picture from a Power Point Presentation that I gave here at the VIHE as part of my Bhakti Vaibava Course Text inspired by the Book ` The Nectar Ocean of the Holy Name` by H.H. Sacinandana Swami