Quotes by Swami B.G. Narasingha Maharaja on the topic of Nāma-tattva. These are quotes and excerpts that have been extracted from articles, lectures and letters by Swami B.G. Narasingha.

PROFESSIONAL KĪRTANEERS

You cannot succeed in self-realization with the Holy Name, with the mantra, with chanting, with kīrtana, if you have arrogance, if you have false pride. There’s another thing that’s called pratiṣṭhā (prestige). You can go on the internet and find a lot of kīrtanas that are musically amazing. But they are not always going to generate bhakti in the soul. They are what we call “professional kirtaneers.”

CONTROLLING THE MIND THRU KĪRTANA

Although japa is certainly an important aspect of the practicing life of a devotee, the equal and even superior process of kīrtana and saṅkīrtana should not be overlooked or underestimated. Kīrtana and other such forms of congregational chanting (such as preaching, writing, and book distribution), when led by a pure devotee, are fully absorbing and purifying. Kīrtana is highly recommended by our ācāryas, and in kīrtana the mind is easily controlled.

IF WE HAVE NO TASTE FOR THAT WINE…

T

he sweet wine of the Holy Name is addictive. We taste that sweetness again and again and we don’t want to give it up. But Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said, “Then we are in the plane of safety, if we have a taste for that sweet wine of the Holy Name. But if we have no taste then we’re not safe and there will always be so many tests.”

THE MOOD FOR CHANTING THE HOLY NAME

T he Name of Kṛṣṇa cannot be uttered by a material tongue, from a material heart filled with all sorts of desires – the Name of Kṛṣna cannot manifest. One place Śrīla Prabhupāda has written that those that don’t feel the pains of material existence cannot feeling chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. With great feeling one has to chant the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa. And if the feeling isn’t there, then with great respect chant the Holy Name.

WHAT IS SIXTEEN ROUNDS?

If you are eager for Kṛṣṇa, take kṛṣṇa-nāma. Let kṛṣṇa-nāma fill your mouth, fill your esophagus, fill your chest, fill your heart! Let kṛṣṇa-nāma take every atom of your existence and fill it and overflow beyond that! That is one small proof. If you really want Kṛṣṇa, take kṛṣṇa-nāma. Fully – not partially! What is sixteen rounds? Once you’re good at it, its not even two hours! The rest of the twenty-two – showering, talking, Time magazine, newspapers, earning – so many things. What is sixteen rounds?

THE MOST COMMON OFFENCE TO THE HOLY NAME

Only offences to the Holy Name can get in the way of the process once the Holy Name is received from a pure bona-fide source. Nothing can get in the way of the process except aparādha – and the aparādha that most people commit is remaining materially attached to sense enjoyment, even though they know its not good! That’s the most common offence.

AFFECTION FOR THE HOLY NAME

In order to chant, one must be attentive, and purification of the heart is required. This means keeping silent, that means avoiding unfavorable talking. While chanting, one must affectionately remember the meaning of the mantra. Steadiness, patience, and attachment to chanting are all the treasures of chanting. So one has to chant with whatever affection we have within us – we have to direct it towards the Holy Name. We have to be patient, and we have to be steady. Steady means continuously going on. And the way to establish steadiness is through regulation.

OUR ONLY BUSINESS

Chanting must be done without offense. If one becomes an offenceless chanter of the Holy Name then he is sure to attain the stage of love of God. Therefore, our ONLY business is actually to chant offencelessly. Everything else is a distraction from māyā.

USING ‘SERVICE’ AS AN EXCUSE FOR BAD CHANTING

Too busy to become Kṛṣṇa Conscious” – that’s what Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said. We can’t use service as an excuse for not diving deep into the Holy Name. We must do service – that is there, but we need to chant properly also. Both have to be there and both should be attentive. Many of us have time to sit around in the evening, talking all sorts of nonsense for hours, but we can’t even chant sixteen rounds, and we say, “Oh, I’m so busy to chant, I’m too busy with service” – all these things! If our devotees are not chanting properly, trying to avoid the ten offences, just talking prajalpa, and not cultivating Vaiṣṇava qualities, then how will they be effective in their preaching? Who will listen? We tell others to chant, but we are not even doing that, or we are not attentive. We’re not doing it properly. We’ll just be hypocrites. That’s why we feel some deficiency – “Oh, why don’t I have a real taste? Why does everything feel mechanical?” If you feel like that in your chanting and service then you can’t blame the process – the fault is with you. We have to change! Maybe its an internal thing – some anartha – or maybe the association we are in is preventing us from advancing. Whatever it is, if we are serious about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we have to take some steps to rectify the situation.

The truth is not a ‘head-thing’ – it’s a ‘heart-thing.’ Not the organ, but in that region. Its in the heart because consciousness is more acutely felt in the heart. The core of our being is where the truth will appear, not just in our head, in our brain! It is very, very difficult to understand Kṛṣṇa through the head! The head, the brain is just a material element.

PRAJALPA – WHATEVER YOU GOT OUT OF CHANTING IS GONE!

F or our own example, for the benefit of others, we should chant nicely and clearly, have a good service attitude, and also enthusiasm. Simply idle talk, talking nonsense – you can chant your rounds, and when you put down the bag and your tongue goes, “blah, blah, blah!” – all nonsense! Whatever you got out of the chanting – that is gone! Again an empty tank. Prajalpa is the opposite of hari-nāma. We should give up nonsense talk. Which means what? Talking about material things, worldly things, things that have no value in the service of Kṛṣṇa. We should try to see all of these points in order to make progress in the chanting of the Name.

ELIGIBILITY TO TASTE THE NAME

W e must take the Holy Name of Krsna in great earnestness and with the guidance of advanced devotees, then we will undergo purification and thus become eligible to taste the nectar of the Holy Name.

“I’VE ALWAYS CHANTED THE NAME PURELY!”

O ne day, a famous guru was asked, “How long have you been chanting the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa purely?” and he answered, “Since the beginning – I’ve always chanted the Name purely.” And a few days later I witnessed somebody ask Śrīla Purī Mahārāja about his chanting, and he held his beads in his hand and shook them and said, “Bābā, I’ve been chanting for eighty-seven years and I cannot chant the Name purely.” That response from him silenced everybody in the room. It all but made our hearts stop, and everybody thought, “Yes! This is what we want!” We want this humility and approach to Kṛṣṇa. We don’t want this other ‘humility’ of, “I’m a great saint, I am very pure and I’ve always been pure” and all these things. We don’t want that. We want this. We want something similar to this, even if it is partial.

HOW TO DEVELOP RUCI FOR THE HOLY NAME?

T his isn’t a game. It’s not about who has the most disciples, who has the biggest congregation, who has the most temples, who has the best festivals, who has the most money in the bank – it’s not even about who has done the most service. At the end of the day its all about who has developed real Vaiṣṇava qualities and ruci, a taste for the Holy Name. Actually, without ruci for the Holy Name, you can’t really fully develop Vaiṣṇava qualities. And how do we get ruci? Mahāprabhu says, “Kīrtanīya sadā hariḥ” – we must constantly chant. So along with service, we must develop a strong desire to chant kṛṣṇa-nāma at all times.

HAVING A PROPER CONCEPTION OF THE HOLY NAME

N o amount of form equals substance. No amount of ignorance equals knowledge. No amount of darkness equals light, and no amount of chanting nāma-aparādha, nāmābhāsa or misconception equals śuddha-nāma. One has to go on with prescribed chanting. but with a proper conception, otherwise there is no good result.

DON’T CHEAT YOURSELF!

W e’ve given up so much just to take up the Holy Name. Don’t be a self-deceiver! Don’t cheat yourself! In the name of living a certain lifestyle or of society consciousness – you may reproduce the very things that you walked away from. You have to keep the ideal in mind.

CONTROLLING THE MIND BY THE HOLY NAME

T he chanting of the Holy Name itself is the principle means of bringing the mind under control while chanting japa. Only the process of self-purification, by the chanting of the Holy Name, will remove anarthas from the heart and release us from offenses.

RESPECT FOR THE HOLY NAME

T he Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa is filled with the deepest mellows of devotional service. Therefore, we must approach the Holy Name with great attention and respect. This of course presupposes having received the Holy Name from the lips of a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Chanting that is done independent of the shelter of the Lord’s pure devotee will not have its full effect.

DON’T LET THE MĀYĀVĀDĪS STEAL OM!

E verything is in oṁ! Devotees generally hate oṁ! ‘Oh, oṁ is māyāvada!’ No! Oṁ is the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, and from the sound of oṁ, the first three-syllables of gāyatrī came. There is divinity there. Oṁ’s three syllables represent Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa, and the jīva. Rather than let the māyāvādīs run away with oṁ and claim it as their own, we should take it to its deeper side. The service doesn’t belong to the māyāvādīs – they are thieves and it belongs to us! So a deeper insight is needed.

MAKE EVERY DAY JANMĀṢṬAMĪ!

I f we go forward with the Holy Name, in a sense, every day is a Janmāṣṭamī because Kṛṣṇa is present every day. But on the day of Janmāṣṭamī, because you are consciously surrendering your free will to remember it’s Janmāṣṭamī, and to physically come to a place where Kṛṣṇa is being worshipped, to be in that environment, you feel something today. But that’s available every day! It’s only forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa that produces māyā, any kind of suffering, any kind of ignorance.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR!

S omeone asked me once, “You’ve been doing this for a while. What do you get out of this chanting?” The first thing it’s not what you get. It’s what you get rid of! You get rid of the asura. Numero uno – fear! People have fear of all types. Uncertainty, And ultimately, the fear of death. But that doesn’t come till you’re older. Go to the church – that’s the proof! The old people are in there like, “I don’t know what’s gonna happen. Dear God please…” Not the young kids. Why? Because it’s subtle fear. They may not say, “Oh, I’m afraid.” But it’s there. And throughout life so much fear is there. You see the uncertainty, the insecurity. Ignorance – the inability to understand, the inability to be able to deal with situations.

What you get first is spiritual strength and you get rid of all these other things that cause you to suffer. You get freedom from suffering, freedom from ignorance. And at the end of it all, you get love for God. And if you have love for Kṛṣṇa He’ll find you. Face to face.

RĀDHĀRĀṆĪ IS THE FIRST AND LAST WORD IN TRANSCENDENCE

W hat is the first and last word in transcendence? The Mahā-mantra begins with, ‘Hare’ and the Mahā-mantra ends with ‘Hare.’ ‘Therefore the first and last word of transcendance is Hare. Hare means Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the internal potency of Kṛṣṇa. Where you find that first is in śraddhā, faith, and Rādhārāṇī is Śraddhā Devī, the Goddess of Faith. The effulgence of Rādhā is śraddhā.

THE MOOD OF ENJOYING KĪRTANA

R ecently one of my godbrothers told a story – a kiītana was going on and when it was over they asked Prabhupāda how he liked it. He said it was just the noise of karatālas. Then Prabhupāda said that kīrtana must be very sweet, very nice and he invited the devotees to his room and they did another kīrtana. He led the kīrtana for about 45 minutes, and then when it was over he said, ”Like that. Very nice, very sweet.”

At the same time you get the other side – we cannot be just into the music, otherwise the chanting also becomes just a mundane sound. We cannot be in the spirit to enjoy the kīrtana also. This is what’s going on in the modern popular kīrtana-movement all over the world in what’s called the modern ‘bhakti movement.’ People go for a kīrtana and chant for hours and really enjoy it, but some of them don’t even believe in Kṛṣṇa. In fact, some of the most popular kīrtaneers don’t believe in Kṛṣṇa – they are not vegetarian, they smoke cigarettes and dope. They are just into the music. They are enjoying the kīrtana just like you go and enjoy a rock concert…

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU LEND YOUR EAR TO.

I ’m not a big ‘listener’ of kīrtanas, but what I do listen to has some purity – Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Bābājī, and I listen to some of the bhajanas that our devotees have done, like _____ and _____. But I’m very careful what I listen to. Personally, I’m really not a big fan of guitar or coordinated kīrtana with all these instruments, violins etc. I’m looking for the purity in the sound – not just something that is pleasing to the ear.

What _______ does…going on Youtube, here, there, listening to this bhajana and that bhajana, even sahajiya-kīrtanas – I really don’t appreciate that. That’s part of the reason that whenever I go there, nobody asks any philosophical questions. There’s a subtle contamination. Sound is the most subtle element. It can carry a mood, a conception or a misconception. Sound is the most subtle element, so it’s important to remember that. It’s important to be aware of what you lend your ear to.

AN ‘ECSTATIC’ KĪRTANA…

S ome devotees you see dancing in kīrtana, come back later and say, “Woah! You should have been to the āratika! It was an ECSTATIC kirtana!” That ‘ecstatic’ is nāmābhāsa. Nāmābhāsa is the good feeling and happiness that comes from being free from sinful activities and all kind of mundane things. Śrīla Prabhupāda once referred to that ‘ecstasy’ as simply “bile secretion.” When we enter the plane of ecstasy, ānanda, then it is steady. The same person who led that ‘ecstatic’ kirtana, ate so much sweet rice at the Sunday feast that on Monday morning you don’t even want to talk to this guy! He’ll blow your ears right off your head because he’s so grouchy! But the evening before he led an ‘ecstatic’ kirtana!! So this just becomes vocabulary. That’s not ecstatic. When one enters the ecstatic plane, he doesn’t come down from that.

THE HOLY NAME WILL GUIDE US

O ne can simply take to chanting the Holy Name enthusiastically and God has given His blessing. There is no other duty. Your family may not think so, your government may not think so, your neighbours may not think so, but He thinks so. There is no other obligation to fulfill if one takes sincerely to the Name. And the Name will do anything, and the Name will guide us. And it has brought us this far, and every once in a while it comes to us as a realisation and we enthusiastically increase our chanting.

SERVICE ATTITUDE WHILE CHANTING

C hanting itself must be done with a service attitude. We are serving the Name while chanting. There must be a service attitude in chanting – and in order to have a service attitude while counting the beads, we must be able to show a service attitude with hands, feet, mind and intelligence.

WITHOUT THE NAME EVERYTHING WOULD BE STAGNANT

T he whole Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement that was spread all over the world in the time of Śrīla Prabhupāda – it spread due to the Name. The Name did everything. The Name built the temples, the Name brought the lakṣmī, the Name brought the devotees. The Name manifested itself in the form of the Deity also. Without the chanting of the Name, what would have been the movement? There wouldn’t have been any movement! It would have been stagnant. There wouldn’t have been any movement. It all began with, and it ran on, and even it continues, everything is done by the Name.

HOW MUCH WILL BE REVEALED?

W hen you’re chanting, give attention to what you’re doing. And how much will be revealed? As much as Kṛṣṇa wants. It’s subjective. Whatever Kṛṣṇa wants you to understand when you’re ready to understand it, you will understand it.

OUR ETERNAL WEALTH

I n the endeavour for wealth, some devotees are prepared to leave their beads hanging on the hook. But the only wealth you have in this world is the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. That cannot be taken away from you. Everything else will vanish, today or tomorrow. Maintain your life in whatever way you can, but do not lose sight of your life’s wealth, the treasure of your life, the holy name of Kṛṣṇa.

CHANTING IS MEANT TO SOFTEN THE HEART!

W e have to have some beginning, and that beginning is vaidhi-bhakti. We have rules and regulations to follow. But even after following all those rules and regulations, if we have not imbibed the spirit, the heart of Vaiṣṇavism, then what is the use of all those rules and regulations? They mean absolutely nothing! If after following and doing so many things, one has not had a change of heart, then one has no special benefit whatsoever. Again one’s life is wasted! If after chanting the Holy Name for so many years, one’s heart still remains as hard as a rock, one has no feelings of affection for the Vaiṣṇavas, then one has no heart! And after preaching in a spiritual institution for years, if one is simply a politician, then what is the gain?