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Nāma-aparādha: The Ninth and Tenth Offenses
Bhakti Sandarbhas

Nāma-aparādha: The Ninth and Tenth Offenses

Mahamantra board on asana

Offenses of the Instructor and the Instructed

To give a valuable object to an unqualified person is indirectly disrespectful to the valuable object. An unqualified person does not understand the value of the object and thus will not respect it. The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is as respectable as Kṛṣṇa Himself, being nondifferent from Him. Therefore, it should not be given to those persons who do not understand its value. Such people will only be offensive towards the name. This offense is discussed in the following subsection of Bhakti Sandarbha.

Anuccheda 265.9

The ninth offense, to instruct the glories of the name to a person who is devoid of faith, oblivious to Bhagavān, and disinterested in hearing, is applicable to anyone who instructs such faithless people.

Having pointed out the offense of the instructor (upadeṣṭṛ), the text goes on to describe the offense of the person to whom the instruction is given (upadeśya) in the next verse. Because of the person’s singular absorption in the conceptions of “I” and “mine” in regard to the body, he remains devoid of reverence for the name.

Previously [in Anuccheda 153], this verse was quoted from Padma Purāṇa:

It is indeed a fact that just one holy name appearing in the midst of a person’s speech, on the pathway of his recollection, or in the root of the ear, whether it is enunciated correctly or incorrectly, and with or without the intervention of other syllables, certainly delivers that person. But if the same name is cast among atheistic people who are greedy to enjoy the body, wealth, or followers, then, O vipra, it does not quickly manifest its result. (Brahma-khaṇḍa 25.24)

In this verse, the word pāṣaṇḍa, “an atheist,” who is so designated because of his greed to enjoy the body, wealth, and similar pursuits, indicates the ten offenses against the name because of the atheism (pāṣaṇḍamayatva) that is inherent in them.

In addition, the Vaiśākha Māhātmya of Padma Purāṇa mentions another offense that is applicable to such people:

Those people who disrespect the singing of Bhagavān’s names and leave the area are destined for a terrible hell because of this sinful act. (PP 5.96.63)

That the name is the only atonement for all these offenses is also stated in Padma Purāṇa:

The divine names alone can cleanse the sins of those who commit offenses against the name. Only when these names are sung ceaselessly will they bring about the intended result. (PP Brahma-khaṇḍa 25.23)

If, however, one commits an offense toward a devotee, one should continuously sing the names of Bhagavān with the specific intent to appease that devotee, for it is seen in the history of King Ambarīṣa that [Durvāsā’s] offenses could be forgiven only by Ambarīṣa alone [and not even by Bhagavān Himself]. In Nāma-kaumudī also, it is said: “An offense to a great devotee is mitigated either by suffering the result or by the grace of that devotee.” Therefore, because of the absence of any other means, it was appropriately said in the beginning of this anuccheda:

O King, for those seeking fulfillment of material desires [icchatām, i.e., kāminām], for those who are indifferent to worldly existence and seeking liberation [nirvidyamānānām, i.e., mumukṣūṇām], and for those already established in immediate realization of the Truth [yoginām, i.e., jñāninām], this constant chanting of the holy name of Bhagavān Hari has been ascertained [both as the means of attainment (sādhana), in the case of the first two, and as the completion state (sādhya), in the case of the last]. (SB 2.1.11)

Śrī Nārada made a similar statement in Bṛhat Nāradīya Purāṇa:

Even the great sages and the Manus cannot fathom the glory of the name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. So how can I, of petty intellect, worship Him.

Commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa

One should not impart instructions about the name to a person who has no faith in it, who is not at all devotionally inclined, and who has no interest in hearing about it. To insist on instructing such a person is the ninth offense against the name. If a person is not interested in hearing but is forced to hear, he will only disrespect the name, which is an offense. The instructor will also become implicated in the offense, because he is the cause impelling the disinterested person to become offensive. The conclusion is that if an instructor becomes instrumental in making another person commit an offense, then he is also an offender.

The tenth offense applies to the person who receives instructions about the name. Even after hearing the glories of the name, if one does not take an interest in surrendering to it but remains entangled in materialistic ways, then he demonstrates disrespect toward the name. Such a person can be compared to a patient who is suffering from a terminal disease and, on coming to know of a sure remedy, does not show any interest in it. By the same token, if the patient rejects the person who mercifully offers the cure, will the latter not feel hurt by the rejection of his selfless offer of help?

The main point to understand is that the name is a fully conscious entity, endowed with all noble qualities and inconceivable powers. It is not inert sound. Consequently, one has to be careful while dealing with the name, just as one would adopt a respectable manner of behavior when dealing with a person of honor. One should try to use one’s common sense besides what has been described in these ten offenses. For example, one should not despise or create obstacles for those who are performing kīrtana. On the other hand, a practitioner should not do loud kīrtana if it is disturbing to the neighbors, because this will incite them to commit offenses. As stated above, this too falls into the category of offensive behavior.

If one offends a devotee, one should try to pacify her or him. It is not that one simply takes recourse to chanting the name but does not try to appease the offended devotee. Durvāsā offended Ambarīṣa, a great devotee, by creating a hobgoblin to kill him. Viṣṇu’s disc, however, came to the rescue of Ambarīṣa, and Durvāsā had to flee for his life. He approached various devas, such as Śiva, seeking protection from Viṣṇu’s weapon, but all of them expressed their powerlessness in this regard. Finally, he approached Viṣṇu Himself. Viṣṇu, however, advised Durvāsā to go back to Ambarīṣa and take shelter of him. He informed Durvāsā that there was no one else who could help him. Thus, if one commits an offense to a devotee, one should either pacify that devotee or face the consequences. There is no third solution. If, however, one does not know the cause of one’s offenses, one should continuously chant the name while avoiding further offenses.