[The following is an excerpt from the upcoming Bhaktabandhav publication, Sri Harinama Cintamani]
Harināma is supremely helpful for the jīvas. Harināma Prabhu is omnipresent. He has all qualities to benedict the living entities. All śakti is present in Kṛṣṇa’s names. When one by chance utters harināma, taking shelter at svarūpa-śakti’s feet, he receives all auspicious opportunity, qualities, and mercy. He also develops a strong relationship with Harināma Prabhu. However, if one follows māyā-śakti; the external potency, then Nāma Prabhu will not protect or help him.
Repeating the name of ordinary men who happen to have the names “Rama” or “Krsna” is not the same as chanting the holy name with connection to svarūpa-śakti. When one chants the name of the Lord, directing it to mundane people and keeping them in one’s mind, then it will lack this special connection. However, when sad-guru gives these names of the Lord to his disciples, by repeating those names this connection becomes possible.
In other yugas, nāma is simply Brahma. Now in Kali-yuga, nāma with svarūpa-śakti is available. You must take shelter of the transcendental potency, svarūpa-śakti. She will give you pure help and the fire of your material existence will be extinguished. One who has relation with māyā travels throughout the 14 planetary systems of the material universe without being able to escape or cross into the spiritual sky. One may chant harināma, but because he is attached to māyā, he will only receive the objects of māyā.
The living entity is very small and has no strength to understand what is good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes he hears something or reads something and begins to follow the path described, but has no power to discern what the truth is. When a person takes shelter of svarūpa-śakti, She gives him the strength to understand what is the right path and what is the wrong path. Māyā can only give knowledge of māyā. How then can one cross beyond māyā? The frog in the well cannot see beyond his well. He only moves about in the small amount of water within the walls of the well, without ever escaping. Similarly, we are in this jail of māyā where Durgā-devī is the warden. She gives mundane objects to the living beings, and being very insignificant and weak, they become enamored by māyā and trapped, continuously traversing the cycle of birth and death.
Spiritual guides come into this world to uplift the fallen souls. God sends them to this world to help all living entities. They are not attached to anything in this world. From their birth, liberated souls have no taste for any of māyā’s objects. They also have no taste for material love and affection. They are beyond all these things and they have no previous karma.
From Prahlāda Mahārāja’s very birth, he would not take blood or meat like the demons around him. In Kali-yuga, Mīrābai and many other great devotees were not attracted to any mundane food, relatives, or dwellings. They were solely attracted to Kṛṣṇa. When a sādhaka meets with a liberated soul, a sad-guru, or a pure devotee, he becomes very happy and engages in bhakti. Some sādhakas come to Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, but still only search for the fulfillment of their senses’ desires. They cannot maintain a mood of eagerness to serve or study śāstra. They hide and watch movies or read novels. Even though they are with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, they cannot give up their taste and habitual nature of being engrossed in objects of māyā. Still, by being in the proximity of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, then just how iron is attracted to a magnet, they also can become empowered and gradually give up their taste for māyā.
When living entities come to Hari, Guru, the Vaiṣṇavas, Tulasī Devī, and the holy dhāma, they experience a special enthusiasm. However, this enthusiasm can be lost in bad association. Still, if someone has respect and remembers sādhus and the dhāma, then their power will come and pull them back to the dhāma. It does not matter which far corner of the world they may be in—even if they are in hell—by remembering the sādhus, Gaṅgā, Tulasī, etc., they will get spiritual strength and will be dragged out from that place. They will lose their taste for mundane food and housing. When there is spiritual strength, the soul will not allow the senses and mind to engage in sinful activities like lying and stealing.
Haridāsa Ṭhākura now describes Kṛṣṇa’s kindness. To help the jīvas, Kṛṣṇa sends His beloved associates. Kṛṣṇa bestows whatever the devotees desire and what is beneficial for their bhakti and bhajana. He arranges everything to help devotees who desire to follow bhakti and serve Kṛṣṇa. He takes this upon Himself as a personal loving duty, just like how parents think of the welfare of their own children. Any living being who takes shelter of God and remembers Him with love will be empowered with so much mercy. Bhagavān helps and provides for all beings, but those who are antagonistic to Him cannot realize His mercy.
Sometimes the conditioned souls undergo many kinds of austerity, such as chanting the holy name, performing nirjala-vrata on the day of Ekādaśī, offering prostrated obeisances, going on pilgrimage, eating once a day during cāturmāsya-vrata, and practicing celibacy. But what is their intention for doing these things? After all this sacrifice, they pray to God, “Give me a beautiful wife. Give me a good husband. Give me a nice house with many cars and servants.”
This is only śubha-karma. Someone who does this is like a businessman who tries to buy boons from God through the performance of sādhana. Such a person has no spiritual inclination. He is like a laborer who takes a wage and then uses that income to buy intoxicants. He comes to the temple, works there, receives a wage from God, and then runs back into māyā.
There may be another person who works in a mundane place, collects money there, and then brings what he has collected to the temple to engage in God’s service. In this way he develops his spiritual sukṛti. He will obtain bhakti and gradually have the chance to perform more and more intimate services. This is thousands of times better than someone who exploits the temple for their material desires. Someone who serves Hari, Guru, Vaiṣṇavas, the temple, and the dhāma, and then takes a wage, will progress towards hell. This is the ignorant nature and material tendency of the conditioned soul, like an eagle flying in the sky looking down at a carcass on the ground. This is our nature. We stay in the temple, but if we find the chance to meet with a wealthy company manager who comes as a guest, we will intently serve him, desiring that he will some day give us large amounts of money.
Sometimes people perform hatha-yoga, but this is karma-khāṇḍa; a materialistic activity. They study the Bhagavad-gītā, Rāmāyaṇa, and Mahābhārata, but their aim and object is only material enjoyment. They want to enjoy the results of their activities, and they make exchanges only with their own relatives and followers. We see this now even in the temple. A guru will only give something to his disciples and not a farthing to his god-brothers, who he thinks are cheaters. Such a guru has no faith in any of his god-brothers, nor in any other devotee or even in God Himself.