Harinama Initiation Lecture

By Vaisesika Dasa - 20.12 2016

Vaisesika Dasa: I offer my humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who out of his unlimited compassion saved me from the darkest regions of the material world, and continues in that to this very second.

I offer my prostrated obeisances to the lotus feet of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Sri Sri Radha-Madanamohanaji, Sri Sri Laksmi-Nrsimhadeva, Sri Salagram Maharaja, praying that we can all together continue to increase our service to Their lotus feet perpetually, by Their grace, and that They will grace this ceremony today.

I offer my humble obeisances unto the feet of our revered sannyasi godbrothers, His Holiness Giriraj Swami, His Holiness Kesava Bharati das Goswami Maharaja, who have both out of extreme mercy come here today to bless this event.

I offer my most humble obeisances unto the feet of all my godbrothers and godsisters, by whose association, friendship, love, mercy, I have any standing at all in devotional service, and I pray for your continued association and support.

I offer my respectful obeisances unto the feet of all the devotees at ISV, who are my very life and soul. You have been sent here by Lord Caitanya to push on this extraordinary mission started by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, and somehow or other you have become dearer to me than my own life.

I offer my obeisances to all the guests who are here today visiting for this occasion, for this ceremony. We heartily welcome you and pray that you’ l’ll come back again and again and give us your association.

Hare Krishna.

In this world that is controlled by the three modes of material nature, the gunas ‘ sattva, rajas and tamas ‘ the jiva is in a disadvantaged situation, becomes bound down by the modes of nature. And in that situation, in a dream like state, it is very difficult to do anything meaningful.

In fact the very name of this world is “dur-ga”, which means “difficult to go.” And in fact nowadays everyone is realizing more and more what that means. It is difficult to go anywhere in this world nowadays. Or its difficult to stay also. [Chuckling]

Therefore when someone decides to do something significant, and significant means, especially, according to the instruction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead,

“sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo, moksayisyami ma sucah” [B.G. 18.66]

He gives a very simple instruction: “Just surrender unto me, and I will deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear, do not worry, do not hesitate. It will solve all of your problems, immediately.”

However, Krishna also says, “manusyanam sahasresu, kascid yatati siddhaye, yatatam api siddhanam, kascin mam vetti tattvatah” [B.G. 7.3] Hardly anyone is ready to do that. Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection hardly one knows Me in truth.

So when someone decides to move forward in spiritual life, to make a surrender, it is an extraordinary event.

Krishna is the well-wisher of everyone. He is simply waiting within the heart to give facility to anyone who wants to approach Him. “Tesam satata-yuktanam, bhajatam priti-purvakam, dadami buddhi-yogam tam, yena mam upayanti te” [B.G. 10.10]

So when a devotee decides to come forward to take up this .. accept this initiation into the sampradaya, Krishna becomes pleased. In fact sastra says this over and over again. The acaryas state this very clearly, that this official entry and declaration, as we are doing here today, is very pleasing to the Lord.

Many people “almost” do something. A lot of people “think about” doing something. So when someone actually “does” something, rather than “almost” doing something, then it moves everyone else.

So we are very fortunate today that Bhakta Ramaswamy and Bhakta Leon have decided to formally enter into the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya, and that is why we are having this ceremony today.

So, a sampradaya means, Krishna’s mercy. He is eager that we come back home, back to Godhead. It’s not His idea that we stay here. His idea is for us to come back home back to Godhead.

And in fact the material world is miserable for a reason. He doesn’t want us to stay here. We are driving on the wrong side of the road …and then complaining about traffic tickets and accidents. [Laughter]

So Krishna sends his mercy. And the profound way that He extends Himself in this world is through His devotees. Through the sampradaya.

There are four Vaisnava sampradayas. One coming from Lord Brahma, one coming from Lord Siva, one coming from Laksmiji, one coming from catuh sana, the Four Kumaras. All of them have the same aim, and that is to expand the knowledge of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to everyone in the world.

They may have slightly different ways of doing it. Just like there are Republicans and there are Democrats. They are different parties, obviously, but their idea is the same. It is to promote the country, hopefully.

So, Krishna Himself says in the Bhagavad-Gita: “evam parampara-praptam, imam rajarsayo viduh, sa kaleneha mahata, yogo nasthah parantapa” [B.G. 4.2]

He mentions to Arjuna that this knowledge, which is the lifeline, which brings us back home back to Godhead, which gives us everything we need in this world, to be happy and go back to Godhead, is extended through His parampara. He passes it down, just as a ripe mango is picked from the top of the tree, its passed down carefully from one hand to the next, until it’s delivered safely, carefully, intact, to the recipient at the bottom of the tree.

So… this ceremony with fruits and flowers and a fire, and the assembly of devotees here before our beloved Lordships, before the exalted Vaisnavas, is meant to impress upon us the seriousness of accepting this sampradaya, of officially entering within this.

And making vows. Today Bhakta Leon and Bhakta Ramaswamy will make vows, which they will keep for the rest of their life, in order to please the Lord, in order to go back home back to Godhead.

So this kind of initiation, for the harinama, we also see Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu…he met first with His spiritual master, Sri Isvara Puri. He received instructions from him about chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra.

And then afterwards He came back to him for more instruction, because after chanting …Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, He asked His spiritual master, “Is it right that I’m going crazy'” “I’m going mad. I’m crying, I’m laughing, I’m falling on the ground, like a madman.”

And His spiritual master was very pleased. And he quoted a verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam, which is the essence of the teachings Srimad Bhagavatam

“evam-vrata sva-priya-nama-kirtya, jatanurago druta-citta uccaih, hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty, unmada-van nrtyati loka-bahyah” [S.B. 11.2.40]

He said, “When one takes a vow to chant this mantra, then the heart will melt. One will become extremely attracted to a particular name of the Lord, and then gradually, according to the rules and standards of this world, one will practically go mad. Not caring for outsiders, such a person may dance, may laugh, may cry, may roll on the ground.”

Of course not everyone shows this kind of emotion publicly. But the heart does melt. And one does meet Krishna through His name.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur, Jiva Goswami, they have all said that this process of taking harinama initiation is extremely authorized. In fact they say that, when one finds out about it, the serious practitioner should take it up, should take harinama initiation. Otherwise, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur says, if one doesn’t do this, one is chanting in nama aparadha. So it’s a serious matter for those who are very serious about chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra.

Bhaktivinode Thakur also mentions this initiation process ‘ and it is a process ‘ which he calls “panca samskara,” beginning with tapa, performing austerity, which means…beginning to realize that this world is not important. What’s important is going back home back to Godhead. I could leave this world at any minute. And therefore one performs some austerity, identifying oneself as a Vaisnava.

Pundra, which means to mark one’s body with tilak, and neck beads, and to begin to look externally like a Vaisnava, which is beneficial for oneself, and for the rest of the world.

Everyone knows when you walk around with tilak on people will notice you and wonder what you’re doing. According to the Nectar of Devotion just by seeing the tilak one becomes purified. It comes from the spiritual world.

Next is Nama. Nama means to officially accept the holy name of the Lord from the spiritual master.

After chanting for some time seriously, and becoming steady in the four regulative principles, in the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra, then one can accept from the spiritual master, mantra. The pancaratrika mantras have been passed down from great personalities like Narada Muni, and these are especially important in the kali yuga. Because in the kali age, “kalau sudra sambhava”. Its topsy-turvy, everywhere.

Very difficult to make spiritual advancement. “prayenalpayusah sabhya, kalav asmin yuge janah, mandah sumanda-matayo, manda-bhagya hy upadrutah” [S.B. 1.1.10]

“In this iron age of kali men have bout short lives, they are quarrelsome, lazy, unlucky, misguided, and above all, always disturbed.”

In this environment it is very difficult to make advancement spiritually. Therefore our great acaryas like Bhaktivinode Thakur, Jiva Goswami, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, have recommended this process.

And taking the mantra, the pancaratrika mantra means, in a purified state, one then can use those mantras to worship the Deities, yajna.

One of the five most important activities out of the 64 is to worship the Deity, and to properly approach the Deity in a pleasing way, pleasing to Krishna, means one should take this panca samskara process. And that is what these devotees are doing today.

The holy name of Lord Krishna is all powerful. “Nama cintamani krsnah, caitanya-rasa-vigrahah, purnah suddho nitya-mukto ‘bhinatvam nama-namino.” [Cc. Madhya 17.133]

It means that Krishna and His name are nondifferent. He is a person. And He is such a wonderful, transcendentally wonderful person that He is fully manifest when we say “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” All of His mercy, all of His… “abhinatvam nama-namino” means that there’s no difference at all between Krishna and His name.

And this Hare Krishna maha matra — three names of the Lord, Hare, Krishna and Rama, in 16 syllables — is highly authorized, having been given in the Kali Santarana Upanisad, Agni Purana, Brahmanda Purana: “iti sodasakam namnam, kali kalmasa nasanam, natah parataropayah, sarva-vedesu drsyate”

Its mentioned there that this mantra, “natah parataropayah, sarva-vedesu drsyate.” If you know what you are doing, by looking through the Vedas you will find that they are all speaking ultimately about the holy name of the Lord, Krishna. “Sarva vedesu drsyate.” Those who are wise can understand this.

This particular mantra, the Hare Krishna maha mantra, especially for the kali yuga age, will deliver us from all kinds of difficulties. “iti sodasakam namnam, kali kalmasa nasanam.” Any kind of trouble, obstacle from the age of Kali can be destroyed by chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra.

The Vedas have many aspects. They are speaking about brahman. They are speaking about our situation in the material world. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu said “srute apy upanisadam, dure hari-kathamrtam”… that these utterances from the Upanisads, like “so ‘ham”, “tat tvam asi,” are very far from the nectar that comes from chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra. “dure hari- kathamrtam.”

Because when one chants the Kare Krishna maha mantra, “krsna bolbe yabe pulak habe jhorbe ankhi boli tai.” One’s hairs stand on end, one will begin to cry, and one feels ecstasy by chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra without offense.

And therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu said Hare Krishna maha mantra, pointed to by all the Vedic literature, is very far from these utterances of the Upanisads.

So, Rupa Goswami says, to confirm this, “nikhila-sruti-mauli-ratna-mala-, dyuti-nirajita-pada pankajanta, ayi mukta-kalair upasyamanam, paritas tvam hari-nama samsrayami” [Sri Namasthakam, Verse 1]

That all of the Vedas personified are engaged in a worship, in a puja ceremony, and if one peeks inside that temple room where those Vedas personifies, are doing their puja, their worship, their mangal arati, one will find that they are worshiping the tips of the toes of the lotus feet of harinama, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”

Therefore through this samprayada, this Gaudiya sampradaya, the acaryas are pointing to this. Caitanya Mahaprabhu brought this holy name, and He asked everyone “Simply chant Hare Krishna.” Because by doing that, by taking the Holy Name, you will get everything.

“Sraddha sabde visvas kohe …sarva karma krta haya”…this is advancement. This is faith. This means, one who understands that if I chant Hare Krishna, everything good will come, that Krishna will make arrangements for everything. I don’t have to do anything else. Of course we have to do so many things, but one who has this faith that I don’t have to do anything else but chant Hare Krishna, that this is the root cause of all advancement in devotional service,

such a person is qualified to take this Harinama initiation.

So there are ways, because Krishna’s a person, to become more attractive to Him. In fact, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur said, “Don’t try to be a great devotee. Just try to be a good devotee.”

And there are instructions given by the great acaryas who are very advanced in Krishna consciousness, who have deep sentiment for Krishna, for His holy name, for His devotees, for His holy dhama, who instruct us exactly how to act in such a way that we can please Krishna.

And they’ve enumerated these for our benefit. We have all these literatures, like the Nectar of Devotion, like the Nectar of Instruction. Krishna has given the Bhagavad-Gita, we have the Srimad Bhagavatam, the Caitanya Carit… This is an avalanche of mercy coming down on us.

And the instructions we take from these revealed scriptures will give us the correct path how to go back to home, back to Godhead, especially by chanting the holy name of the Lord without offense.

So… its not that one can just chant Hare Krishna and attain all perfection, unless one is also extremely mindful, living a life which is dedicated to avoiding offenses to the holy name.

This is the meaning of the second stage of chanting Hare Krishna. Unless one is trying vigilantly at every minute to avoid offenses to the Holy Name of Krishna, one is chanting in namaparadha, making offenses, because it’s the nature of this world to be inattentive, to be crazy, to be neglectful, to be lazy. And therefore spiritual life means especially to chant Hare Krishna, but at the same time to vigilantly avoid offenses against the holy name.

And one who is doing that is qualified for initiation into the holy name of the Lord, and such a person will make rapid advancement in the chanting process.

So, there are 10 offenses in the matter of chanting the holy name of the Lord, and the first offence is to vilify the devotees of the Lord who are distributing the holy name.

Bhakti Devi is very generous. She’ll reach out to the lowest kinds of souls in this world. But She chooses to do so through Her devotees. That’s the process. That’s how Bhakti Devi, the svarup sakti, the internal energy of the Lord, Who actually connects us to the spiritual world, distributes herself to the devotees, particularly through the madhyama adhikaris: “isvare tad-adhinesu, balisesu dvisatsu ca, prema-maitri krpopeksa, yah karoti sa madhyamah.” [S.B. 11.2.46]

This madhyama adhikari is described in the 11th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, as one who gives all love to the Supreme Lord, who makes friendships with all the devotees, who gives mercy to those who are innocent, and who avoids those who are against the Lord.

Those persons move about this world, some of them in the sannyasi asram ‘ going door to door,

meeting people, staying for two or three days, just long enough to milk a cow, so they can give association ‘ some in the grhastha asrama. Bhaktivinode Thakur says that the grhastha asrama is very, very important for preaching, because grhastas can go everywhere, wedding ceremonies, bar mitzvahs [chuckles], uh, family reunions…

And in those circumstances they also give the holy name, they distribute to the innocent, they find where they are, they infiltrate, and they give the holy name. And this is how Bhakti distributes Herself, through the devotees.

Therefore, if one develops a disrespectful attitude toward those devotees who are distributing the holy name of the Lord, then Bhakti Devi can withdraw Herself. She is “sva tantra,” She is independent. She doesn’t have to go anywhere. And if someone is offensive in that way, She can withdraw her mercy.

And therefore the first offense, blaspheming devotees who have dedicated their lives to propagating the holy name of the Lord, is especially important. It’s called the hatimatha offense. The mad elephant offense.

If there’s a tiny little creeper growing, representing our bhakti lata or bhakti creeper. If you have a garden, if you let a wild animal into the garden, what to speak of an elephant, then your creeper will be trampled and ruined.

So, we should avoid this offense at all costs, in body, mind, words. And if we make some offense inadvertently, we should make up for it. Otherwise we will lose our taste for chanting the holy name of the Lord. Krishna will withdraw Himself from our vision, and our beadbag will feel like its 200 pounds. You’ll go to pick it up, and it will be very difficult to chant.

The second offense against the holy name of the Lord is to consider the names of demigods like Lord Siva or Lord Brahma to be equal to or independent of the holy name of Lord Vishnu.

Those who read Bhagavad Gita can understand very clearly Krishna’s supreme position. “mattah paritaram nanyat, kincid asti dhananjaya, mayi sarvam idam protam, sutre mani-gana iva. [B.G. 7.7] “There is no one superior to Me. Everything rests on Me as pearls are strung on a thread.”

The demigods are angas of the Lord, and they are not independent. Also we should not disrespect the demigods. We should see them in their proper place as servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they should be given proper respect. But to mistake them as being one is offensive to the holy name of the Lord. Lord Sri Krishna is supreme, and His holy name is also supreme.

The third offense is to disobey the order of the spiritual master. So Srila Prabhupada has quoted in this regard, “yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado, yasyaprasadan na gati kuto ‘pi.” If one pleases the spiritual master then one automatically makes advancement in spiritual life. And if one displeases the spiritual master, then as Prabhupada said, one is “lost in the wilderness.” If one gives up the order of the spiritual master, then “destination unknown.”

The spiritual master is acting on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Recently I received some packages from India. Of course, only half of them have arrived. I am still waiting, a month later, for the other half.

And, they were books, wrapped in cloth, they sew them up. So, one day I was going out of my house, and I saw the postman outside of my house with three bundles, which I knew were my books coming from Vrndavana. And he was trying to scan them with a little bar code on the outside. And I went over to him to say, you know, “I live here. Those are my books.”

But of course he had to go through the whole process of getting the numbers scanned in so he could track the packages. And that took some time, because they were coming from India and they were rather smudged. And while I was standing next to the postman I noticed that he looked like an ordinary person. And he was. He probably lives in my neighborhood, or in the Bay Area somewhere.

But simultaneously he was wearing the postal uniform. It’s a federal position. As Satyadeva Prabhu pointed out the other day, if I intentionally bumped into him or pushed him or something like that, I would have to go to jail. Right Satya’ It’s a felony, to assault a postman, federal offense.

So the postman himself is an ordinary person, but because he’s wearing the postal uniform and acting as an authorized representative of the postal service, and he has the badge. And he’s delivering the mail. He’s important for that reason. So Srila Prabhupada said the spiritual master is a postal peon. He’s delivering Krishna. He’s delivering Krishna’s message as he or she has received it from the spiritual master, and is passing it along.

So, for that reason, one should be very careful, if one accepts a spiritual master, to follow the order the spiritual master and try to please the spiritual master. This is the third offense. To disobey that order of the spiritual master, displease the spiritual master, is offensive to the holy name.

The Fourth offence is to blaspheme Vedic literatures or literatures in pursuance of the Vedic version. We don’t have vision in this world to understand anything. “Om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana salakaya … ” Our eyes are closed by the darkness of ignorance when we enter into this world, and through the senses its impossible to understand real knowledge. Therefore Krishna extends Himself to us through revealed scripture, through sastra. One who has faith in sastra is also qualified to move ahead in spiritual life.

So, if someone discounts the sastra or makes offense against the sastra, this is also offense to the holy name of the Lord.

The Fifth offense in the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra is to consider the glories of chanting Hare Krishna to be imaginary.

In the Nabadvip Dham Mahatmya, as Kesava Bharati Maharaja … one of his favorite verses and quotations, is that “If one becomes too much confident in one’s own intelligence, one will become empowered to reject the mercy of Lord Nityananda.”

Therefore we should not take shelter of our own materialistic intelligence. But we should take shelter of the instructions of the sastra ‘ guru, sadhu and sastra ‘ and understand that Krishna and His name are nondifferent, and that there is no exaggeration whatsoever when the sastra speaks about the holy name of the Lord and how powerful it is.

When Haridas Thakur was visiting a learned circle of brahmanas, the topic came up about the holy name of the Lord, and someone asked him to speak about that. “You are chanting all the time, so please, say something.”

And he humbly replied: “I don’t know much about sastra, but I will say that I do know that by chanting the holy name of the Lord, even in namabhasa, means just in the clearing stage, not completely purely, but just past the offensive stage, just by once chanting in that situation, one attains liberation from the material world.

And one of the so-called learned brahmanas in that assembly immediately objected. He was puffed up. And he said, “Who is this lowborn person speaking to us brahmanas’ And he’s saying that just by chanting Hare Krishna one becomes liberated from the material world’ Yogis practice jnana for many, many lifetimes to attain that position, and he’s saying that just by chanting Hare Krishna in nama abhasa he attains the same position’ This is ridiculous!”

And he said, “I curse you.” He said to Haridas Thakur, that “If this statement is not true, may your nose fall off!” And what happened was, a couple of days later, this impudent brahmana’s nose fell off himself, for offending Haridas Thakur.

The Sixth offense is to give some interpretation on the holy name of the Lord. When we chant Hare Krishna we don’t have to interpret. We don’t have to make up any meaning. Its very simple. In fact, we can never come to the end of understanding the holy name.

Krishna is “Adhoksaja.” In the Sanskrt alphabet there is “a” at the beginning and “sa” at the end, and all the letters in between: “ka kha ga gha nga, ca cha ja jha na, ta tha da dha na…” And Krishna is “Adhoksaja,” which means He’s beyond what you can express with all of those syllables.

Those who chant Hare Krishna purely like Rupa Goswami express that “If I had millions of ears, and millions and millions of tongues, I would not be able to sufficiently chant the holy name or hear the holy name.”

So, when we chant, there is no need to interpret, but simply to listen, and hear, and respectfully wait for the Lord to reveal Himself to us. “atah sri-krsna-namadi, na bhaved grahyam indriyam, sevonmukhe hi jihvadau, svayam eva sphuraty adhah”

This is recommended by the sastra, that if you simply chant, if you use your tongue to serve the Lord in that way, through chanting and tasting prasadam, then He will reveal Himself. You don’t have try to jump up through interpretation

The seventh offense is to commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name of the Lord. If one thinks that this is a mantra factory, and now I’ve got the great touchstone by which I can have the best of both worlds, and chant Hare Krishna, and make sinful activities, drinking water under water on a fast day — the oldest trick in the book ‘ forget about it!

Krishna knows everything. He is in our heart, and He responds to our sincerity of purpose and our honesty.

Eighth offense. What’s the eighth offense’ It’s to consider the chanting of Hare Krishna to be equal to some other sacrifice like those mentioned in the karma kanda section of the Vedas, in which one is desiring some fruitive result.

In fact in Caitanya Caritamrta there’s a statement by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami that, “If one thinks that performing a million asvamedha horse yajnas, at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna, during a solar eclipse, is equal to one time chanting Hare Krishna, that person is an atheist bound to go to hell.” [Laughter]

The chanting of Hare Krishna is so exalted, that Rupa Goswami [says] “nikhila-sruti-mauli-ratna mala … ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam” This is what’s performed by liberated people. This is what the very exalted souls do, they chant the holy name of the Lord. They have no interest in this world. Sukadeva Goswami and great acaryas, they are chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, in pure love of God, with no interest in the material world

So, to compare it to some kind of sacrifice, where there is some minuscule result. As Kesava Bharati Maharaja was saying the other night, as we were just rounding the bend towards my house, just out of the blue, he said: “One particle of dust from Goloka Vrndavana is more valuable than all of the wealth, combined, within the entire material world ‘ all the universes, together, one particle of dust.”

So, chanting Hare Krishna, the value of that is inestimable, and one should not compare it to anything mundane which is giving some reward in this world.

The ninth offense is to preach to those who are not interested. To preach to the faithless. It’s also an offense to accept for initiation those who don’t have faith in the holy name of the Lord. Which is completely the opposite of what’s happening today.

As I’ve given the example before, its one that I like, the example I like very much, that if you give finely sewn, embroidered clothes to a monkey, you’ve wasted it. And it’s a travesty, actually. The person who made it and all the work that went into it is profaned by giving it to such an unappreciative creature who will simply rip it to shreds and leave it hanging from some tree.

So be careful about who you give the Holy Name to. Because it is the most valuable thing in this world. In fact, when we present Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam to people in public, we also try to be very careful about that. Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy is unlimited and we shower them on everyone following in His footsteps, we are also mindful that people respect them, and we should be careful when distributing the holy name of the Lord whom we give it to.

Tenth Offense is to maintain material attachments, even after understanding so many instructions on the matter.

And maintenance, someone pointed out the other day in one of our email exchanges, Ramaswamy’ About maintenance’ It’s the hardest thing.

There is creation and destruction, which a lot of people are good at. And in fact, in certain communities, you know, people destroy things, they’re bent on destroying things. And its not that hard to use your intelligence to figure out ways to blow things up. I used to do it when I was a kid. Not in a big way. In a small way. And it was fun. And it was easy to blow things up.

And creating things is, a little harder, but not as hard as maintenance, because that requires steadiness. It requires balance. To maintain something over time. Well…It’s Vishnu’s job. Siva destroys, but only Vishnu is qualified to maintain.

So… If you’re gonna spend so much time maintaining something, then don’t maintain material desires. Your gonna put so much energy in, and if it’s so hard to maintain, then don’t maintain material desires. Maintain your devotional service. Maintain your sadhana. Maintain your humble attitude. Then your actually maintaining something that’s worth maintaining

So, the eleventh offense is the root cause of all the other offenses according to Bhaktivinode Thakur, and that is inattentive chanting. And the best example I’ve heard of this to imprint in our minds of inattentive chanting and how its offensive was given by his Holiness Giriraja Swami at our japa retreat

Getting ready to go to an interview for a job and, when you get there and you sit down and they begin the interview, you start getting up and walking around, or you turn your back, or you get on your cell phone, and you just completely dis.. What’s that’ Yeah, look at your watch. Cardinal sin. Never look at your watch. Because then immediately the person will become offended. And it is offensive.

What everyone desires in this world, actually. It’s not money. It’s not property. It’s attention! We want reciprocation. We want love. And that’s what Krishna wants, too.

And so, it doesn’t take that much, because Krishna’s so kind, to express that, especially by concentrating our mind when we chant just, at least, for 16 rounds a day. To do our utmost best to hear the holy name, to chant with full attention.

[cell phone rings]

That’s a good sound here because it means one Sri Isopanisad sold. Haribol!

Hare Krishna.

So…those are the ten offenses, or the eleven offenses, that are mentioned. And here are a couple of extra things. And that is that, numerical strength is important.

And this is why today you’re taking a vow to not only follow four regulative principles ‘ because if you chant and you also sin at the same time then your determination will be ruined. It will be very difficult to make advancement. And, it’s like lighting a fire, trying to burn a fire while pouring water on it at the same time.

The Goswamis of Vrndavan set the example in their sadhana, in their practice. “Sankhya purvaka nama gana natibhih kalavasanikrato…” That they were regulated. They counted how much they chanted every day, and it was very important to them. And by doing that on a regular basis with attention, fixing a certain number of rounds, which has been passed down to us through parampara, through Srila Prabhupada, at least 16 rounds a day.

One sannyasi asked Prabhupada, “What’s the number 16′ How is that important’ Is it a special number’ Can we chant more'” Prabhupada said, “If you can chant 16 thousand rounds a day, then go ahead and do that.” So we say “at least” 16 rounds a day. So fix yourself in some regulative practice in devotional service and it will give you all strength.

As Prabhupada said to one devotee very early in the movement: “If you follow the four regulative principles very carefully and you chant 16 rounds a day without fail, your devotional service will become as strong as the Himalaya mountains.”

So, numerical strength.

And the other day, just two days ago I was walking by, through the park, Washington Park, right near my house, and there was a baseball team practicing there. And they were going through these drills, over and over and over again. Man on first, man on third, two outs, what do you do now’ And then he’d hit the ball and…

Everybody doesn’t know about baseball so much maybe. I should have said cricket, but [laughter]

He’d hit the ball and everyone has to move into place and throw the ball to the right place.

So I stopped to watch them for a few minutes. And I learned some good things from the coach.

And one of the things he was yelling out to the team over and over again was, “Muscle memory, gentlemen. Muscle memory.” It means that, if you practice something over and over again, after a while, like baseball, man on first, man on third, two outs, ball goes down the first base line, and you’ve practiced it so many times, you don’t have to think about it. You know what to do.

And I was thinking how that relates to this, numerical strength. That, every day, if you make it your business, first thing when you wake up in the morning is to remember Krishna, and to chant your rounds carefully, and take this as your life and soul, as you are now, then it will become a part of your being, it’s in your muscle memory.

He also said, “Baseball 101, not 103.” So concentrate on the basics, the simple things, before you move on anywhere else, those will come automatically. If you follow the four regulative principles perfectly, and chant 16 good rounds a day, you are in elite company in this world. And that is the meaning of this initiation today.

Finally, take advantage of the power of humility. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said, “trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna amanina manadena kirtaniya sada harih.” That if you are humble like a blade of grass, if you are tolerant like a tree, if you are ready to give respects to all others and not expecting anything in return, then you can go on chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra with no obstruction.

In the Brhad-Bhagavatmrta, the concept of humility, its called “dainya,” means extreme humility, means that, when you find advanced stages of devotional service like prema, practically the two things are intertwined, this extreme humility and prema.

And Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita, “amanitvam adambitvam,” in discussing the process of knowledge, that the first two components are humility and pridelessness. Therefore take advantage of this, and in words, in mind, and in actions, cultivate humility towards all other living beings. And then Krishna will always bless your efforts, and help you advance in devotional service.

Hare Krishna.

So now, we will invoke the…um.. oh…the names. We will invoke the names … and the beads. [Chuckles] Sorry, it’s my first time. [Laughter]

So now, we have neck beads’ Okay. So, someone can put the neck beads on the… Are yours on already’ Three strands’ Okay. Can someone help Ramaswamy’ Bhakta Jonathan’ Take those off and put these other beads on.

So these neck beads, Prabhupada said, are like a dog collar, and keep us close to the spiritual master, to the devotees. Bhaktivinode Thakur sings how he wants to be a dog tied to the porch of the Viasnavas, and there he’ll reside and ward away any kind of bad visitors, and he’ll take the scraps of remnants from the Vaisnavas, living as a dog. So these three strands represent our dedication to the lotus feet of the Vaisnava.

So Ramaswamy Prabhu, if you’ll kindly pay your obeisances to the sannyasis, and then come forward and receive your japa mala and your name.

Hare Krishna. We need a bigger place. [Laughter]

Ramaswamy Prabhu came to ISV… A few year ago’ Was it three’ About two and a half years ago. And I remember, because I was here that day. And we went out on sankirtan the first day that I met him. Maybe it was the second time you came to the temple.

I remember how we went to, I think it was “India Cash and Carry.” And it was his first time. We said, “Do you want to go on sankirtan” And he said, “What is it'” He basically said, “Whatever it is, I’ll do it, as long as it’s service.”

And so we went out, and I remember the first book that he distributed, it was a Sri Isopanisad. And we were standing in front of the store ‘ I think it was Ramaswamy, me and Dayanidhi Prabhu ‘ and I think that you had only read by then the Bhagavad-Gita or something, at least you hadn’t read the Sri Isopanisad. So, I was busy, Dayanidhi was busy talking to people, selling a book, and then somebody else came over and wanted to buy a book, so I said, “Ramaswamy, show him a book.”

So he took a Sri Isopanisad. And I remember what he said, he said, “I’ve heard this is a really good book.” And immediately I knew he was going to be successful in spiritual life, because he was already following the principle of sruti praman. He had heard it was a good book and that gave him enough faith to want to give it to somebody else.

Since that time, your devotional service at ISV has steadily increased. Which is sort of an understatement. Kind of like a rocket going into space. You have endeared yourself to all the devotees. You are the first one here in the morning. You are the last one to go at night. You are always on sankirtan. You do everything that’s needful, and you do it in a humble way. And, in my heart of hearts you’re very much deserving of this initiation. I am very proud to give you these beads and a name. So, please say your vows, before the devotees, before the Deities.

Your name is Ramananda-Sakha dasa. [“Haribol!”] [Cheering.]

So Bhakta Leon offer your obeisances to the senior devotees.

Oh, Bhakta Leon. We met in Mayapur. I was just in Mayapur and I was remembering again when we met. It was in my mind especially, because now knowing you so well, and being very close to you, I think back to that time when we met in Mayapur, right outside Prabhupada’s samadhi, you walked up to me and asked me a question. And I didn’t know who you were, but you introduced yourself. And then, I think also we had met over the internet, you had written me some question.

And, um, since then over time… First of all you were known to us all here as “Leon of London”, and we talked frequently about “Leon of London,” and then “Leon of London” actually came here, a couple of years ago to visit, and stay, and since that time…

Of course, I also remember that we met in Vrndavana, that time. It was very important, those meetings. We were chanting every morning the prayers of Prahlad Maharaja up in my room in the MVT, and a bunch of devotees would show up. And somehow or other you also found out about it and you were in there, and we talked afterwards about it. So, you have become a part of this family at ISV and are in the hearts of all the devotees here.

You’ve been very sincere about devotional service for many, many years. And very recently have especially done so much service that it’s hard to calculate how much. If we went back and counted the amount of service you have done it would pile high and block out the sun.

So, your contribution to the sankirtan, and your sincerity and strength in taking the Hare Krishna maha mantra very seriously, the four regulative principles, has endeared you me, to all the devotees, and we’re very happy today to present you with harinama initiation.

So what are your vows, for the rest of your life, strictly every day’

So, its my great pleasure to welcome you, as we are welcoming Ramananda-sakha das, on behalf of the great acaryas in the entire disciplic succession, on behalf of Srila Prabhupada to the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya, and your name is Nitai-krpa dasa [Haribol!] [Cheering.]