Power of the Holy Name

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Question:  Suppose a neophyte devotee chants the Holy Names loudly while making so many nāma aparādhas and suppose the listener, who is free from offenses, hears those holy names, then do the holy names reveal its full potency because the holy name does not reveal his potency during the offensive stage?

Answer: The Holy Name can reveal its power to a person who is free from offense. It does not matter who chants it. Caitanya Mahāprabhu felt ecstatic while listening to Gīta Govinda sung by a Deva Dāsī, and He ran to embrace her. Obviously, what He was experiencing was not experienced by the Deva Dāsī. So, the name or the līlā can reveal different potencies to different people. 

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Question: The Rāmānujācārya sampradāya chants “Oṁ namo Nārāyaṇāya” and the Viṣṇu Swāmi sampradāya chants “Śrī Kṛṣṇa śaraṇaṁ mama”. Do all get Kṛṣṇaprema while chanting their mantra? 

Answer: The mantra, if perfected, gives you what you want. Why should the chanting of “Oṁ namo Nārāyaṇāya” give them Kṛṣṇa-prema? They don’t chant it to get Kṛṣṇa-prema. Why do you think that everybody should get Kṛṣṇa-prema? Why do you want to force Kṛṣṇa-prema on everyone? What will happen to the other manifestations of Bhagavān, such as Rāma? You get what you want. If your interest is in being an associate of Nārāyaṇa, then that is what you will get when you attain perfection in your sādhanā

Question: Caitanya Caritāmṛta 3.3.257 says: 

mukti-hetuka tāraka haya ‘rāma-nāma’
’kṛṣṇa-nāma’ pāraka hañā kare prema-dāna

“The holy name of Lord Rāma certainly gives liberation, but the holy name of Kṛṣṇa transports one to the other side of the ocean of nescience and at last gives one ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa.” Does this mean that Lord Rāma’s name is inferior to that of Kṛṣṇa?

Answer: Yes, that is the point being made. Kṛṣṇa is Svayaṁ Bhagavān. Lord Rāma is not the same as Lord Kṛṣṇa. In the same way, the name of Lord Rāma is not equal to the name of Kṛṣṇa. 

Question: Also, there is the famous verse “vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhu” (SB 12.13.16). Then why is it said in the Rāmāyaṇa that Lord Śiva always chants Rāma Nāma? Particularly as Lord Śiva himself accepts the superiority of Kṛṣṇa’s name in CC M 9.33. 

Answer: Please understand that śāstra has to be interpreted according to context. If you take verses out of context, and then try to understand them, you will only end up in confusion. The comparison of the name of Rāma with Kṛṣṇa’s name is not to denigrate the name of Rāma, but to understand that Kṛṣṇa is Svayaṁ Bhagavān. Another point you have to understand is that a particular śāstra is for a particular type of people. For example, the Rāmāyaṇa is written to glorify Lord Rāma and therefore Śiva has to be shown as a devotee of Lord Rāma. If you read Śiva-Purāṇa, Śiva may be portrayed as superior to Rāma and also Kṛṣṇa.

Śāstra has its own way of explaining things and not everything is to be taken in its primary sense. It is very good that you are reading a lot of śāstra, but it would be better that you study from a qualified teacher. Otherwise, there will be no end to your questions and confusions. In fact, if you read Purāṇas like Śiva-Purāṇa, Liṅga-Purāṇa and Devi-Purāṇa, then you are bound to be confused. So what can be said about the Vamacara Tantras and Āgamas. Everything is not for everybody. There is adhikārī for each śāstra. If you desire to be a devotee of Kṛṣṇa then read books related to Kṛṣṇa bhakti. First become fixed on your own path and then you can read other books like Rāmāyaṇa. Otherwise you will be in a situation like Tapan Miśrā described in Caitanya Caritāmṛtam (1.16.8-16). He studied all types of books and became confused about sādhanā and sādhya.

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