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Vedic Psychology – By Dr. Joshika Richmond
Bhakti-Ratna Course 4
Prīti Sandarbha – By Babaji
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Vedic Psychology - By Dr. Joshika Richmond
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Spiritual Names and Their Powers
Questions & Answers

Spiritual Names and Their Powers

Question:  The second nāmāparādha, mentioned in Padma Purāṇa, Brahma-khaṇḍa 25.15, says:

“One who sees differences between any of Lord Śiva’s qualities and names and those of Śrī Viṣṇu is an antagonist to hari-nāma” (śivasya śrī-viṣṇor ya iha guṇa-nāmādi-sakalaṁ
dhiyā bhinnaṁ paśyet sa khalu hari-nāmāhita-karaḥ).

Śiva says, mukti-pradātā sarveṣāṁ viṣṇur eva na saṁśayaḥ: There is no doubt that Viṣṇu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone. Śiva cannot even give mukti. To equate the svayam siddha name of Kṛṣṇa to the name of demigods displeases the name because only Kṛṣṇa’s name has nāma nāmi abheda. How to understand this?

Answer: When it is said that it is an offense to distinguish between the name of Śiva and Viṣṇu, the meaning is that one should not think the name of Śiva is independently powerful. Rather, one should know that the name of Śiva has power that is dependent on the name of Viṣṇu. Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa is the only independent reality. The meaning of the word “difference” here is independent. When we say that a table is different from a chair, we mean the existence of the table is not dependent on the existence of the chair. If the chair is destroyed, the table will still continue to exist. Such, however, is not the case with the name of Lord Śiva. Moreover, when it is said that two things are not different, it does not mean that they are exactly the same, because of the very fact that they are two. If they were exactly the same, there would be no point in saying that they are different. 

Furthermore, when one thing is nondifferent from another, it can be a part of it, just like the relationship of fire and heat. Heat is nondifferent from fire, yet heat is not fire. Fire has light, which heat may not have. Similarly, it has to be understood that Śiva’s name is dependent on Kṛṣṇa’s name.

Question:  Are the name of Śiva and Śiva nondifferent?

Answer: Yes. 

Question:  Is this also true for nitya siddha pārṣadas? I have read that only Viṣṇu is śaktimat tattva, and everything else is śakti tattva. The name of anyone other than śaktimat tattva cannot have individual potency. 

Answer: Yes, they don’t have independent potency, but that does not mean that they don’t have any potency. They have potency, which is nondifferent from the potent object. In the spiritual world, there is no duality as we have it in the material world. Rādhā is also śakti, but Her name is nondifferent from Her, and that is the case with everyone else in the spiritual world. 

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?

Sri Caitanya

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 Devī Dāsī, and He ran to embrace her. Obviously, what He was experiencing was not experienced by the Devī Dāsī. So the name or the līla can reveal different potencies to different people.

Question: Can nāmābhāsa of the names of Kṛṣṇa’s associates give benefit if they are chanted? 

Answer: Yes, but only if the names are said in relation Kṛṣṇa, not independently.

Question: So without sādhana, how does such a person (who benefited from nāmābhāsa) know what to do in the spiritual world? 

Answer: After listening to nāmābhāsa, when he becomes liberated, he does not drop dead immediately. He will continue to live, but now he will become a devotee and do sādhanā. This was seen in the life of Ajāmila. Alternatively, even without sādhanā, when he becomes liberated, it will be revealed to him what he has to do.

Question: Śrīnātha Cakravartī in his Caitanya-mañjuṣā ṭīkā of SB 6.3.20-21 writes that Vyāsadeva did not know the glory of the Holy Name as revealed by Mahāprabhu before his meeting with Nārada Muni. How can Śrī Vyāsadeva who wrote all the Vedic literature not know Śrīmad Bhāgavatam?

Answer: For the sake of līlā, it is possible that one does not know something at a particular point in time. Not all associates of Kṛṣṇa know that He is Svayam Bhagavān. This is not a defect.

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 “Om Namo Nārāyaṇāya” give them Kṛṣṇaprema? They don’t chant it to get Kṛṣṇaprema. Why do you think that everybody should get Kṛṣṇaprema? Why do you want to force Kṛṣṇaprema on everyone? What will happen to the other manifestations of Bhagavān, such as Rāma?

Question: CC 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 Svayam 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” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 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 Madhya) 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. 

Question: As Śrī Haridās Śāstrī Mahārāja said, other avatāras, generally can give dāsya bhava. So can they not give sakhya or vātsalya?

Answer: Yes, they can give these also. 

Question: It appears as if the Daṇḍakāraṇya’s Ṛṣis took birth in Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, and their wishes were granted by Lord Rāma. Then all avatāras should have this potency, or so should their name. This contradicts the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa:

bhaktis tu bhagavad-bhakta-saṅgena parijāyate
sat-saṅgaḥ prāpyate pumbhiḥ sukṛtaiḥ pūrva-sañcitaiḥ

“‘Devotional sentiments are evoked by the purifying association of advanced devotees. The jīva is able to come into close contact with a pure devotee only by accruing sufficient pious results from many previous births.’

So without mahat-pāda-rajo-‘bhiṣekam, how can the Lord can directly give bhakti to anybody?

Answer: Your understanding is faulty. If the Lord wants, He can also bestow bhakti.