[Advaita-l] What does "Hare Krishna" Mean?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Jan 2 20:03:28 CST 2004

On Thu, 18 Dec 2003, Aravind Mohanram wrote:

> Haribol,
> >Because it can't.  There is no "magic spell" that can give anyone moksha.
> >Bondage is caused by ignorance so only the opposite of ignorance can
> >result in liberation.  It's not a question of whether one recites one name
> >or 100,000, if it is done without jnana it will not avail.
> May I know the sastric basis for the above statement?

As Vidyashankar wrote, there are no end to them because the idea that
jnana is the cause of moksha is the very purport of the upanishads.

> jnana and bhakti go hand-in-hand.

Advaitins say that jnana is the highest type of Bhakti.

> As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita,
> tesam satata yuktanam... (10.10)  - to those who are constantly devoted
> to me, I give the understanding by which they come to Me.

Exactly.  Note that it is "understanding" which causes "coming."  Also
note the text doesn't say "constantly devoted" it says "satata yuktanam"
i.e. "constantly _joined_"  This is why it is important to learn sanskrit
rather than rely on someone elses say-so.

> There have
> also been cases (when people are not able to understand the imports of
> sastras), pure chanting has made people advance in spiritual life or
> achieve liberation.

Advance in spiritual life yes.  As I said, there is no objection to this
as a practice.  But as a direct cause of liberation no.  If it were the
case we could just put on a tape 24/hrs a day and be done with it.

> Chanting is one of the nine processes of devotional
> services.

Yes *one* of nine.

> In ISKCON, chanting is emphasized because of several reasons.
> First, nama-sankirtanam is considered the means for self-realization in
> this age of Kali.

By whom?  There is a popular saying quoted by Bhaskara Raya "kalau
chandivinayakau" which suggests that in Kaliyuga worship of Mataji and
Ganesh Bhagavan is the means of moksha.

> Second and more important reason for emphasizing chanting over other
> devotional activities is that chanting is a call for service (pls see
> below) and so is the pre-requisite for all other activities. No one is
> encouraged to neglect other activities such as learning/reading
> scriptures but, nama-sankirtana gets the priority because of the reason
> stated above.

Neither the Bhagavata Purana or any other shastra that explains the
nine-fold path of bhakti gives a special priority to namasankirtana.

> Further, it can be done at anytime
> and by anyone. And, is especially meant for people in this age because
> people are always disturbed and anxious.

Personally I don't feel either disturbed or anxious.  In fact most people
around me are not disturbed or anxious.

> But, one should try to do this
> chanting without offenses. Ajamila chanted the name of Narayana and was
> saved from the pangs of death - it is important to note that this quick
> result was possible because he chanted without offenses, in a state of
> helplessness. So, one should strive to chant the names of Krishna
> concentrating well on the sound vibrations and avoiding offenses. By
> constant chanting, one's consciousness is purified of material
> contamination and the chanter raises above the three modes.

Ajamila was a wicked man his entire life and at his death was calling his
son whose name happened to be Narayana not God.  So he was in a state of
both sin and ignorance.  So how do you think he was without offenses?  Or
are you saying Bhagavan arbitrarily decides who is offensive and who is
not?  If so there is no pointing in chanting or anything.  You'll get
saved or damned regardless of your actions.

> The moksha of Vaishnavas is different from that of Adavitins. There are
> 5 kinds of moksha, that I have heard of.

The moksha we refer to is the final release from the cycle of birth and
rebirth.  It is the only moksha worthy of the name.

> But, interestingly, the goal of
> Krishna conscious devotees is not even moksha which is considered the
> final goal of life by Hindus. They actually look down upon
> liberation!!!. All they long for is eternal service for Krishna and His
> devotees, either in hell or heaven (please read the prayers of Prahlad
> Maharaj and other devotees in Srimad Bhagavatam). This is why chanting
> and Krishna conscious activities are purely selfless activites if done
> with proper consciousness and in a mood of service and humility.

This is why anyone who who is seriously practicing Bhakti will come to
jnana.  What kind of service can you give if you don't understand who you
are serving?  Take the example of a servant.  The loyal servant will not
just wait for orders but hasten to ascertain his masters wishes.  In the
case of Dharma the master wishes us to understand that in truth we are a
part of Him.  Even this is not incompatible with Bhakti.  Take the example
of lovers.  When two people are deeply in love a slight to one will seem
like a slight to the other.  Seperation will seem like torture.  You get
the idea.

> The Hare Krishna Maha-mantra means,
> "On, Internal Potency of the Lord (Hare), Please Engage Me in the
> Service of Hari".

That isn't the grammatical meaning.

> The mantra is found in the kali-santarana upanishad
> (which some may consider not authentic, although I haven't come across a
> good reason to reject). It's not "invented" by someone but given and
> made popular by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

If this "mahamantra" and "upanishad" is part of the most ancient Vedic
traditions don't you find it rather suspicious that staunch Vaishnavas
such as Ramanuja or Madhva have completely failed to mention it?  Or
openents of Vaishnavism -- even if only to refute it.  That even a
contemporary of Chaitanya like Vallabha have failed to mention it?  That
foreign travellers to India like Hsien Tang and Al Biruni who have written
descriptions of contemporary religious practices fail to mention it?
There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that either mantra or upanishad
existed prior to Chaitanya.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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