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The greatness of Naama Sankeerthanam: Part 1

From: V. Sadagopan (
Date: Wed Aug 06 1997 - 19:37:58 PDT



Dear Bhakthi group members : With a prayerful appeal 
to GodhA Piratti , I start the series on Naama Sankeerthana
Mahimai . 

As we go on a paada yathrai across the length and breadth 
of Bharatha Desam , we hear the dhvani of the Lord's names 
echoing from corner to corner . Our AzhwArs , AchAryAs , following 
the tattvams revealed by the sacred VedAs , Upanishads and 
PurANAs have sung the glory of Sriman NArAyaNA and 
benefitted from the specific potencies of the transcendental 
names of the names of the Lord saluted by Sri VishNu 
Sahasra Naamam . 

The bhakthAs of our Lord underwent the nine stages of Bhakthi
revealed in Srimadh Bhagavatham by the baala bhagavadhA ,
PrahlAdhA and reached tanmayathvam :

sravaNam keerthanam VishNO : smaraNam paadha sevanam I
archanam vandanam daasyam sakhyam aathma nivedanam II

Sri chaitanya MahAprabhu instructed one of his chief disciples
( Saanatana Goswaami ) that naama sankeerthanam is the most
important one to release the jivA from the bonds of SamsArA . His
view is based on Sukha Brahmam's own explanation to king Parikshith
that the recitation of the KrishNa mahA mantram is the sure 
deliverer of a samsAri from his bonds in this peculiar age of Kali :

kalEr dosha-nidhE Raajan asthi hyEkhO mahAn gunA : I
keerthanAdhEva KrishNasya mukthasanga: param vrajEth II

( Meaning ) : My Dear King Parikshith ! Although the Kali Yuga
is loaded with all types of blemishes , yet , there is one good 
quality about it . It is that the simple chanting of the NahA manthram 
of Sri KrishNA can make one free from the bonds of SamsArA 
and elevate them to the transcendental kingdom of Sri Vaikuntam .

Bruhan-nAradheeya PurANam picks up this thought further ,
when it declares with great perspicacity that there is no 
alternative for spiritual advancement in Kali Yugam than 
the recitation of the holy name of the Lord :

HarErnAma HarErnAma HarErnamAiva kevalam I
kalaou nAsthyEva nAsthyEva nAsthyEva gathiranyathA II

Thrice it is stated , " There is no alternative way " . Purusha
Sooktham stated only  once , Naanya: PanthA ---" 

The Kali-SantharaNa Upanishad reveals to us the  way 
to cross the dangerous ocean of SamsAra , which has 
been attested by the ancient VedAs :

HarE krishNa HarE KrishNa , KrishNa KrishNa HarE HarE 
Hare Raama HarE Raama , Raama Raama HarE HarE I
ithi shiodasakam naamAm kali-kalmasha nAsana, 
naata : paratarEpyeya : Sarva VedEshu drisyathE II

( Meaning )  The sixteen holy names of the Lord in 
unison ( HarE KrishNa ---Hare Raama HarE HarE ) 
are particularly potent to counteract the contaminations
(dhoshams ) of Kali Yugam . All the vEdAs consistently 
declare that the chanting of the sacred names of the Lord is 
the only path to cross the ocean of nescience . There is
no other alternative to reach parama padham . 

KulasEkhara AzhwAr  started therefore his Mukhunda Maalai
slOkam with the counsel to his tongue , " JihvE keerthaya 
Kesavam " . A fellow bhakthA from ParasurAma KshEthram ,
Sri LeelA Sukhar asked his speech to be purified by the utterances
of the Lord's name : 

maadhuryENa vijrumbhanthAm VAACHO NASTHAVA VAIBHAVAM I
chApalyEna vivardhanthAm chinthA nasthava saisavE II

(Meaning ) : May our speech elevate itself and grow in sanctity
by speaking about your auspicious glories ! May our minds 
purify themselves by the affectionate remeniscence of 
your baala leelAs at Gokhulam and BrindhAvanam .

Sri LeelA Sukhar went on to state in a chamaka paarAyaNam
sense the fruits of such a dhruva smrithi ( unceasing 
rememberance of the Lord ) attained thru naama sankeerthanam
this way :

prEmadham cha mE kaamadham cha mE 
vEdanam cha mE vaibhavam cha mE I
jeevanam cha mE jeevitham cha mE 
dheyvatham cha mE Deva naaparam II

(Meaning ) : O Deva Deva ! You are the One , who 
blesses me with affection (love ) ; You are the One ,
who fulfills my ishta kaamams ( wish -fulfiller ) ; 
You are the One , who gives me the true knowledge ;
You alone are my entire wealth ; You are my prANa naadi ,
( the life force ); You are my living days ;except You , there 
are no supreme beings for me ( MaRRor daivam aRiyEn ) .

The great NammAzhwAr declared in this context many centuries
before the author of KrishNa karNAmrutham :

" There is naught else ! We tell it in brief , to all the beings
of this world : sorrow not (maa suchi ) ; the thought of 
the GeethAchAryan is enough . Ah ! even if you do not attain Him , 
evil ( amangaLam) will not cross your  path ; learn the faultless
glory of the names of the Lord born as a cowherd in north MathurA 
and know it as best to live in its thought " -- ThiruvAimozhi 9.1.7 

PeriyAzhwAr confessed about his helpless state this way 
and then comforted himself with the thought of his sambhandham 
to the Lord  in his Periya Thirumozhi verse ( 5.1.1) :

" O Lord MaadhavA ! I am devoid of purity of speech , I am unfit 
to praise You ; still my tongue knows none but You ; I am therefore 
afraid ; it is also not under my control ; even if you get irritated that 
I am prattling like a fool , I can not manage my restless tongue ; 
O You Lord with Garuda Dhwaja ! You will see(cause ) eloquence 
even from a crow's mouth , O You primeval cause ! " 

NammAzhwAr expresses a similar thought about his own
inadequacies in his  Thiruvaimozhi ( 5.7.1) :

" I have no record of austerities : I do not possess any 
subtle knowledge : still , I can not be quiet even for a moment 
without (the thought of ) You , O Lord resting on Your serpent bed ! 
O Father ! I will not be too much burden to You ! " 

Thondaradipadi AzhwAr  , the RanganAtha pathivrathA , thundered 
about his special status as a result of learning about the sanctifying
naamam of the Lord in one of his ThirumAlai verses :

" Keeping the senses in safe custody  and jumping over evil ,
we are roaming about roaring victoriously over the heads of Death 
and his emissaries , all in the boldness of having learnt Your NAME ,
O Lord residing at Srirangam , O primeval purushA , who periodically
devours and spits out all these three worlds ! " 

Thirumangai , who had the revelation of the glory of the Lord's name
from the Lord Himself sang in two verses about the glory of Naama
SiddhAntham in His Periya Thirumozhi :

" I languished , I sorrowed in my heart , I identified myself
with my body , the home of the great misery , in which I was born ; 
thus I ran after young women , intent on the pleasures of the senses 
that they gave ; running thus , by the grace of You , the saviour ,
I came by the great state of knowledge and began seeking ; 
seeking I discovered the name nArAyaNA . " ( Periya Thirumozhi 1.1.1 )

" The name nArAyaNA will bless one with high birth and
unmatched affluence ;  it will raze to the ground all sufferings that its 
devotees (reciters ) have to pass through ; it will bless one with heaven 
and the great state of the Lord's service ; it will give success and 
all other auspicious things ; it will do for one beneficial things 
even more than one's own mother ; THAT word (naamam ) I have
found , the name nArAyaNA ." ( Priya Thirumozhi -- 1.1.9 ) 

Sriman NaarAyaNan ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam 
Oppiliappan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan