Somehow the pdf I downloaded for my Kindle has a mix of both Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Sanmodana Bhashyam and purports by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Now I don’t know when one ends and another begins.
They are both discussing the second verse of Siksashtaka, of course, which is about the powers of the Holy Names and Lord Chaitanya’s absence of attractions for them.
The main point about the Names is that they are non-different from the Lord and fully invested with all His energies, His forms, qualities and pastimes. I like that pastimes are included, too. I hope there will be something to spend time on once the Name finally reveals itself. Without pastimes, I’m afraid, I’ll get bored very easily.
There’s also a point that there are no rules or regulations for chanting the Names. Very handy in this day and age, I’m abusing this loophole in any way I can. Thanks.
Srila Bhaktivionda Thakura gives a list of supporting quotes from Srimad Bhagavatam that makes it look entirely convincing. Just say the Name once and get liberated, or get unalloyed devotional service. Then Bhaktivinoda Thakura openly admits that despite all this clear evidence from shastras we still can’t develop even a drop of attraction to chanting.
That’s how we come to “durdaiva”, the reason why. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says durdaiva is synonymous with ten offences against the Holy Name and then he lists those offences.
So far so good, fairly predictable.
It’s in Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s purport where things become quite frightening.
First there’s a bit about primary and secondary names. Krishna is a primary name, Vasudeva is also a primary name but in the reverential mood. Paramatma, the supersoul, is a secondary name. Still potent but not as much, only partially representing the potencies of the primary names.
Nothing to see here, too, moving on.
It’s the next part that prompted me to think a lot about it. I’ll just copy the whole paragraph
Because the spirit soul has turned away from the Lord, he has become imprisoned in maya’s illusory and ephemeral kingdom, bringing down upon himself his great misfortune all due to his reluctance to render service to Shri Krishna. Anyabhilasita or material desires, karma and jnana lead to different degrees of mundane enjoyment, deluding the spirit soul into forgetting his real spiritual identity, or svarfipa, thus causing him to fall into a veritable whirlpool of misery. Under the spell of lusty desires, he becomes intoxicated with sensual pleasures; while pious activities goad him into yearning for temporary heavenly joys. Thus battered about between bhoga and tyaga, or indulgence and renunciation, he searches for release seeking absorption in the undifferentiated brahman. The soul’s intrinsic nature and eternal duty is to serve Lord Krishna, but it has been obscured by the three impurities and as a result his good fortune is being slowly chiselled away. He becomes busy with mundane activities of religiosity, accumulating wealth and enjoying the senses. Or else he is: frustrated because he does not derive any satisfaction from committing impious immoral activities. Thus becoming the ignominious bearer of offences, when he attempts to chant the holy name he perpetrates ‘nama aparadhas’. He is unable to chant Krishna’s name purely, His chanting is offensive, for he cannot chant purely at this stage.
This is really depressing.
To make the long story short – fallen souls like me are torn between the desire to enjoy this world and the desire to reject it, between bhoga and tyaga. In either of these conditions the soul becomes an “ignominious bearer of offences” and is unable to chant the Holy Names purely.
This is me alright.
I guess there are plenty of people on this stage, too, but to me it brings unpalatable finality. There is simply no way I’m going to eradicate all offences from my heart. Not in this life time. Not in this life form, not in this body and not with this mind.
Yes, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati talks about the way to overcome the offenses – one must recognize and isolate the offenses; conscientiously avoiding them he must then chant continuously, just as I thought, but it doesn’t sound plausible at all.
I don’t see how I can forever avoid thinking about sex, for example. I think I can say even from my limited experience that lust pollutes the heart for many hours at a time. Chanting helps overcome it, true, but aftereffects still stay with me.
Yes, I admit I’ve seen progress dealing with it, but the reality is that three little spells of lust can ruin the whole day of chanting. In the beginning I had this romantic notion that as I chant more and more lust will magically disappear. It doesn’t. In fact it seems there’s a lot more of it going around.
When I was working and generally keeping myself busy I didn’t have time to think about sex. Now, when I walk around the empty house whole day long, I’ve finally got all the time in the world to entertain every fantasy I’ve ever had. This is not what I expected.
Idle hands, as the say, is the workshop of the devil. Chanting, it turns out, does not provide me with enough distractions.
I’m sure there’s a better, more optimistic way to look at it but I’m not buying it. Sure, I sometimes think that now I’m dealing with the crux of the matter, no more sweeping it under the carpet, taking on lust head on. I don’t believe it myself, not yet, at least.
Should I use the same tricks to cool off I used before? Should I find another subject to think about instead? Or should I just chant through the entire nightmare? Sometimes I think it’s okay to manage the mind, feed it less disruptive thoughts, sometimes I think this is just postponing the inevitable.
I want to try to chant through, try at least for a day or two, maybe the whole week. That guarantees I won’t see any repeats of my best rounds from the previous weeks but maybe it will be worth the while in the end.
There are plenty of other things that make me depressed, too. When I look at the clock, for example, I catch myself oscillating between bhoga and tyaga again. If I’m waiting for a break I’m in the bhoga mood, when I’m trying to chant faster I’m in the tyaga mood, dedicating my energy to escape from the unpleasant situation through faster chanting.
When my eyes pause of a magazine cover even for a second I catch myself doing bhoga, and when I turn them away in frustration I’m switching to tyaga.
For the entire day, ever since I’ve read that paragraph, I couldn’t spot one single time when I chanted the mantra purely for the Lord’s pleasure. Thanks to the book my eyes have been opened but I don’t like what I see, not at all.
Two things that still keep me going. First is the story of Dhruva Maharaja, he had no idea what devotional service was until he summoned Vishnu by his tapasya, so it is possible to get Lord’s attention even with impure motives. Second is that regardless of how depressed and frustrated I might feel, the only solution is to keep chanting.
I can continue chanting now, or I can sulk, give up, go do something else, but one day I will still have to resume from where I left and go through the same tribulations again, so why not do it now if I still can?