Question: In the introduction to Bhagavat Sandarbha, you write:
“Similarly, just as Bhagavān’s form is non-different from His essential being, so too His name is identical with Him. It has the same power as Bhagavān and is similarly beyond the grasp of the material senses. Realizing His name even once can free one from the bondage of the material world.”
I understand the name is transcendental but there exists a duality. On the one hand, we chant and hear with our material senses, but on the other hand, the name exists as a transrational entity. What does this mean?
Answer: The name is transcendental and one with Kṛṣṇa. It is one with and different from Him simultaneously. When we chant the name, two things happen simultaneously. One is our using vocal cords to utter the name and the other is the manifestation of the name on our tongue. Nāma is not material and cannot be generated with our material senses. It is eternal and manifests when we wish to utter it. Although the manifestation of nāma and our simultaneous utterance with the tongue appear as one event, they are actually two separate things.
Question: What is the relationship of the “mood” of chanting with our ability to perceive the transcendental aspect of the names?
Answer: The manifestation of the name on our tongues is in relationship to the purity of our heart. If our heart is conditioned with material desires, then the name does not manifest its full potency. We may not even feel the name and may only experience our own chanting.
Question: What does it mean to realize the name even once?
Answer: It means that the name manifests fully on your tongue.
Question: What can I do as a sādhaka to have this experience in this life?
Answer: To experience nāma, the chanter must have purity of heart, especially freedom from nāma-aparādha. As long as we have nāma-aparādha, the pure name will not manifest because these two cannot coexist. To be free from nāma-aparādha, one must avoid nāma-aparādha and engage in pure bhakti, especially in nāma-japa and nāma-kīrtana.
Question: I have heard that chanting at least 64 rounds is ideal, as instructed by Mahāprabhu. But I am unable to find the determination or enthusiasm to chant such a high number of rounds. Is there any chance of achieving spiritual realization or experiencing the nectar ocean of Krishna’s name without chanting so many rounds?
Answer: First you have to decide whether you really want to chant 64 rounds or not. If you are convinced that you must chant 64 rounds and that it is the instruction of Mahāprabhu, then my humble suggestion is that you approach the very same person from whom you heard this statement. I am not prescribing to chant 64 rounds nor have I read anywhere that Mahāprabhu did so. I also haven’t read it in BRS or Bhakti Sandarbha, which are the two major books delineating the process of bhakti and its practice. I also don’t find any such mention in Hari-bhakti-vilasa.
As far as I am concerned, the important factor is not the number of rounds but the quality. I prefer to chant pure rounds with proper concentration over 64 rounds like a superfast train. The name has all the power, but it has to be chanted purely. I don’t think when you are in a hurry to complete 64 rounds that you can focus on it. This is possible only if you have nothing else to do, which I am sure is not the case. Otherwise, you would not have asked me.