Deliverance through the Name

Question: The following quote is from CC, Antya Līla 3.50-54: 

yavana-sakalera ‘mukti’ habe anāyāse
’hā rāma, hā rāma’ bali’ kahe nāmābhāse

Haridāsa Ṭhākura in Bangladesh

Murti of Nāmācārya Haridāsa Ṭhākura in Bangladesh

One day Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu met Haridāsa Ṭhākura as usual, and in the course of discussion He inquired as follows, “My dear Ṭhākura Haridāsa, in this Age of Kali most people are bereft of Vedic culture, and therefore they are called yavanas. They are concerned only with killing cows and brahminical culture. In this way they all engage in sinful acts. How will these yavanas be delivered? To My great unhappiness, I do not see any way.”

Haridāsa Ṭhākura replied, “My dear Lord, do not be in anxiety. Do not be unhappy to see the condition of the yavanas in material existence. Because the yavanas are accustomed to saying ‘hā rāma, hā rāma‘, they will very easily be delivered by this nāmābhāsa. A devotee in advanced ecstatic love exclaims, ‘O my Lord Rāmacandra! O my Lord Rāmacandra!’ But the yavanas also chant, ‘hā rāma, hā rāma!’ Just see their good fortune!” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 3.49-54)

An otherwise sinful person can be delivered by chanting the Holy Name even to indicate something else. Can you clarify what it means when Haridāsa Ṭhākura says “easily delivered”?

Does it mean that an otherwise sinful person who says “hārām” will go back to Godhead at the end of their life? Achieve impersonal liberation? Get a chance to become a devotee in a future life?

How does the position of one of our devotees, who is consciously trying to chant the Holy Name, but who may commit many offenses, compare to a sinful person who unknowingly chants the Name to indicate something else? A devotee follows principles at least better than most materialists, follows many aspects of devotional culture, does not kill cows and brahminical culture, etc., but may maintain material attachments, chant inattentively, neglect the order of their spiritual master, maybe even be critical of Hare Krishna leadership and thus commit Vaiṣṇava aparādha. Is such a devotee, guilty of committing offenses to the Name, in a more fortunate position or a less fortunate position than a sinful yavana who occasionally chants nāmābhāsa?

In short, the yavanas are “easily delivered” by chanting nāmābhāsa. Are neophyte devotees, who may be full of many offenses, also “easily delivered”? I gave up cow killing and have tried to do a little devotional service, including daily chanting of the Holy Names, although I admit that my chanting is very poor and I am guilty of countless offenses in my chanting. Do you think I will be “easily delivered”?

Thank you very much for your time! Hare Krishna.

Answer: The name of Krsna is nondifferent from Him because He is absolute, devoid of any duality. Being nondifferent from Him, the Name is potent like Him. Therefore, the Name can grant everything, whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly. But there is a condition. That is that the chanter must be free from offense. Indeed, bhakti is very simple and easy for a person who is free from offense, but as long as the offense is there, the Name does not manifest its power fully. Just as if a person puts a match stick to a stack of hay, then it will immediately burn – provided, the hay is dry. If it is not dry, then the matchstick will not burn the hay but will evaporate some of the water from it and then extinguish. Similarly, if a person is only sinful but not offensive, then such a person can be delivered even by nāmābhasa, but if one has committed offenses in this life or past lives, then the Name or nāmābhāsa will first work to neutralize the offense and the person is not going to be “easily delivered”.

The example of Ajāmila, which is given later on by Haridās Thākur, is such a case. Ajāmila was sinful, but not offensive. Therefore he got delivered by nāmābhāsa. But this does not happen to people in general who all chant nāmābhāsa. This shows that they are not free from offense.

A person who gets delivered by nāmābhāsa will not attain impersonal liberation but will go to the abode of God at the end of his life. The case of Ajāmila is a little special. Not only that he chanted nāmābhāsa, but he did it very affectionately, because he had much affection for his son, whose name was Nārāyaṇa. Therefore he was given the opportunity to practice devotion in the same life and when he attained love, he entered into Vaikuṇṭha. So the type of mukti that one will get from nāmābhāsa will also depend on the mood in which one chants nāmābhāsa, besides being free from offense.

As far as your question regarding who is more fortunate, a non-believer who chants nāmābhāsa or a believer who chants the Name but may commit offenses – it is the believer who is more fortunate. The reason is that the ultimate benefit awarded by nāma is not mukti but bhakti, or prema. The non-believer will only get mukti although it may be immediate, but a believer will ultimately get prema, although it may be delayed.

Nama Tattva

Nama Tattva

Certainly attaining prema is much superior, even if it comes belatedly. One may argue that Ajāmila got prema in the same life. In his case, it is to be understood that when he got prema, he was no more a non-believer, but he was affected by the dialogue between the Viṣṇudūtas and Yamadūtas and understood the supremacy of bhakti over varnāśrama dharma. Thus he gave up his home and family and went to Haridwar, where he attained pure devotion. So it was not nāmābhāsa that led him to achieve prema, but the Name. Formore details on this subject you may read my book “Nāma Tattva.”

14 Responses to Deliverance through the Name

  1. Jay Sri Radhe!

    Could You please define the difference between sinful and offensive person?
    As I understand, offense is an action against God’s will? And sin – against society’s? Could they be controversial?

    Thank You.

    Angana dasi


    • Offense is any act that displeases God and sin is against the injunction of God.



  2. Hare Krsna! Since Ajamila’s affection for his son was a mundane material attachment, and since the Holy Name is absolute and beyond duality, how can the result attained by Ajamila’s chanting of namabhasa be influenced by affection for his son? Is this not the same as saying that the Holy Name is involved in duality?

    Raul Domingo


    • Hare Krsna. Are you talking about nāmābhāsa being influenced by duality of the Holy Name? It appears that you are equating nāmābhāsa and the Holy Name.



    • Babaji: Hare Krsna. Are you talking about nāmābhāsa being influenced by duality of the Holy Name? It appears that you are equating nāmābhāsa and the Holy Name.

      Raul: Please accept my humble obeisances. Excuse me if my question was not clear. It is not my intention the equate namabhasa with the Holy Name. I simply presumed that since the Holy Name is beyond duality, its abhasa is also beyond duality and not tainted by any qualities of prakrti.
      If namabhasa is non-material, then dualistic worldly emotions arising from the gunas such as affection for one’s son, should not have any effect on the fruit of namabhasa.
      Alternatively, if one asserts that worldly affection effects the fruit of namabhasa, as mentioned in the above article, the implication that namabhasa is material in nature seems unavoidable. How can we reconcile the apparent contradiction?

      Raul Domingo


    • “I simply presumed that since the Holy Name is beyond duality, its abhasa is also beyond duality and not tainted by any qualities of prakrti.”
      This is not true.

      “Alternatively, if one asserts that worldly affection effects the fruit of namabhasa, as mentioned in the above article, the implication that namabhasa is material in nature seems unavoidable. How can we reconcile the apparent contradiction?”

      Where is the contradiction? In your alternative assumption, namabhasa and the worldly affection both are material.

      The difference between namabhasa and the Holy Name could be compared with the example of a plastic snake and real snake. You are afraid of a snake, which is real. When you encounter a plastic snake in the ground, you may also fear that. The plastic snake can be considered as snake-abhasa, it cannot bite you and doesn’t have the power of the real snake, but it can still instill fear in you.

      The plastic snake may even hiss, being operated by some battery. This will cause even more fear than seeing the plastic snake without hissing. This hissing-abhasa has nothing to do with the hissing of a real snake, but it has an influence on you. Similarly, when you recite Krsna’s name, then Krsna is influenced by that, because it is His own name. You may also call the name of your friend, which happens to be Krsna. Your friend is not Krsna, but because there is a similarity between your friend’s name and His name, Krsna becomes influenced by hearing it, even though your friends name is material and Krsna’s is not. When you call your friend Krsna, that is not chanting the name but namabhasa. Just as namabhasa can have an influence on Krsna, although it is not the name, the emotions related with namabhasa can also influence accordingly.

      However, in all this analysis you have to remember that the influence of namabhāsa was experienced by Ajamila because he was free from offence.



  3. Although Ajāmila was a fallen brāhmaṇa of ancient times and his case seems to be special, it is possible that a sensitive and reprehensible person of our postmodernity may receive inspiration or teachings about śrī-nāma from viṣṇudūtas through some kind of hypnagogic state? In any case, could an individual receive śikṣā about śrī-nāma from vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs through an altered state of consciousness?



    • 1. Yes, it is possible if the person is free from offence, as was the case with Ajāmila and if his life is in danger like Ajāmilas, which means he would have to be attacked by Yamadūtas even though he does not deserve it. In other words, the same condition that applied to Ajāmila must apply to such a person of the postmodern age.
      2. No, I don’t think so, because from the story of Ajāmila we understand that the Viṣṇudūtas did not come to instruct Ajāmila, rather they came to give him protection from the Yamadūtas in the process there happened to be dialogue between the Yamadūta and Viṣṇudūtas which Ajāmila was able to hear. There is no correlation between an altered stated of consciousness and the Vaikuṇṭha-vāsīs. I think this is an unintended extrapolation of this story.



  4. Dear Vaishnavas,
    Please accept my humble obeisances.
    When Haridas Thakur is saying ‘all the sinful people will be delivered’, it should also mean offensive people as well. Otherwise what chance I have? I have envy and I am offensive, at least in the mind. Many times reading Shastra or hearing Sadhu a part of myself speaks out, this cannot be right, this should be like this. Or, This person has this problem, how can he be a vaishnava, hence speaking against that, how that could be an vaishnava aaparadh?

    Sinful is all kinds of sin. All sin is attributed to envy Krishna at root, including offending His devotees. In the BG 7.15 – “Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.”

    So, my question is, when a person is part of these 4 types, I am also one of them, and grossly sinful, what chances are there for them, if we differentiate between sin and offences?



    • Dear Sanjaya,
      there is a difference between sin and offence. Just by you, me or anyone else considering them as one will not make them one. They are different and they must be understood in their own light. When Krsna is speaking about 4 types of people in Bhagavad Gita in 7.15, He clearly says these 4 types of people do not surrender to Him. So if they do not surrender to Him where is the possibility of them being delivered? So if you consider yourself as one among these four types, then I seriously think that you have no chance. So my sincere advice to you is to join the four types of people who surrender to Him that are mentioned in 7.16.
      The second thing to be done is stop committing offence in future. If you continue to commit offence, then for sure there is no chance of deliverance. So you have to decide whether you want to be delivered or you want to be offensive. These two just don’t go together.



  5. Thank you very much for your kind reply, Bābājī. I regret to have used the term “altered stated of consciousness” (ASC) without clarification, since there is no a unique and precise definition of it and even has negative connotations. By ASC, I simply wanted to point out sharpened and transitory subjective states in which we can participate in unusual experiences (as in some kind of hypnagogic states: na pratyakṣam na jāgrati). In fact, Ajāmila’s perception of the legal debate between dūtas falls within what is known as near-death experience, which some researchers consider inside the umbrella of ASC.



  6. Jai Sri Radhey!
    Obeisances to honorable Vaishnavas!

    Can anyone please address my following questions:

    1. I have heard the cause of soul’s ignorance is envy for Krishna. Well, what I understand is the soul’s ignorance is acausal. It isn’t a result of a cause, it is beyond the cause-effect dynamics.

    The soul has always been in ignorance.

    So, to say, the soul has envy for Krishna, seens fictional to me.

    Kindly enlighten if I’m wrong.

    2. In Treta Yuga Krishna incarnates in Red. What’s that Red? What about Lord Ram?

    Thank You!

    Parikshit Chauhan


    • Dear Parikshit, as for your first question, you are right. The cause of the jīva’s bondage is anādyavidyā. Since jīva has never had knowledge of Kṛṣṇa, there cannot be envy. We do not subscribe to envyvāda.



    • The red form is called Pṛṣnigarbha. He appeared as the son of Pṛsṇi and Sutapā who were born as Vāsudeva and Devakakī in Dvāparayuga. Please read SB verses 10.3.32-41 and also 10.5.26.



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