Swami B.V. Tripurari about the chanting of Gaura-nama (Sanga-letter from the 27th November 2004)

 

Q. Some devotees cite passages from Gaudiya scriptures to promote the chanting of the holy names of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (Gaura) and his principal associate Shri Nityananda Prabhu (Nitai). They do so with the intention of establishing that chanting the names of Gaura and Nitai is more important than the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. How do you feel about this?

 

Answer from Swami B.V. Tripurari:
The philosophy that puts undue emphasis on Gaura Nama is a distortion of the teachings of our guru-parampara. Although Nityananda Prabhu and various Gaudiya saints have preached in this way at times, this preaching is the overflow of their divine madness of love for Gaura. Through the mercy of Nityananda, one can taste a drop of this love by sincerely following the teachings of Mahaprabhu in guru-parampara, not by manufacturing a philosophy that is contrary to those teachings.   It is well known that Mahaprabhu asked all of his followers to principally chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. After Mahaprabhu cited Brhan-naradiya Purana's famous verse harer nama harer nama harer nama eva kevalam, which is followed by the maha-mantra, he commented to Tapan Misra thus:

ei sloka nama bali' laya maha-mantra sola-nama batrisa-aksara ei tantra sadhite sadhite yabe premankura habe sadhya-sadhana-tattva janiba se tabe

"This verse is called the maha-mantra. It contains sixteen holy names of the Lord composed of thirty-two syllables. If you continually chant this maha-mantra, the seed of love of God will sprout in your heart. Then you will understand the goal of life and the process for achieving it."

In Kali-yuga, Krishna descends as his holy name, kali kale nama rupe krsna avatara. Shri Jiva Goswami calls this descent of Krishna nama the varna-avatara (syllable avatara). Although Mahaprabhu is Krishna himself, he came to teach us to chant Krishna nama, and thus he himself chanted this name of God, which is universally acknowledged by all Gaudiya Vaisnavas as the foremost name of God.

It is this name of God that the supreme abhidheya-tattva sloka of Shrimad-Bhagavatam refers to when it tells us to worship the avatara of Kali-yuga by sankirtana--yajnaih sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah. Indeed, the Caitanya avatara is Krishna's acarya-lila, in which he teaches by his personal example. What did he do? Krishna varnam, he uttered the syllables krs-na. We are to follow this example and by it worship Gauranga.

Mahaprabhu empowered Shrila Rupa Goswami in particular to teach us how to practice. Shri Rupa has done so both in his writing and by his personal example. He is our abhidheya-tattva acarya. Thus regardless of the preaching of Nitai and his love for Gaura, as sadhakas we are to follow the example of Rupa Goswami. This does not mean that we cannot learn from Nitai. Indeed, we cannot advance without his mercy. Inspired by his example of love for Gaura, we must follow our guru-parampara in terms of how to apply ourselves in sadhana-bhakti. We cannot imitate Nityananda Prabhu's madness in love of Gaura, but we can attain it by his mercy, which brings us to an authorized guru-parampara. There you will find that the names of Gaura and Nityananda are chanted profusely, but not in a way that seeks to dislodge Krishna nama from the supreme position that it holds in Gaudiya Vaisnavism.

Creating a doctrine that promotes the chanting of the names of Gaura-Nitai over the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra sets oneself on a path other than that which had been established by the previous acaryas headed by Shri Rupa. The path of Shri Rupa, based on the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, is time-tested and authorized by no one less than Mahaprabhu himself. Changing the emphasis on that path from chanting Krishna nama to chanting Gaura nama, as if some new revelation mandated such a change, is an artificial imposition on the spiritual practices established by Mahaprabhu through the Six Goswamis of Vrndavana. Any concoction that undermines their essential teachings is simply an effort to attract attention to oneself as a great preacher or guru. It follows that one whose preaching is motivated by such pratistha (desire for name and fame) will fall prey to the influence of Kali-yuga because without Krishna-sakti, no one can effectively preach the glory of nama sankirtana, krsna-sakti vine nahi nama pravartana. Krishna-sakti is derived from strictly following the essential teachings of our guru-parampara. While chanting the names of Gaura-Nitai are also encouraged, the principal and essential means of worshipping Gaura-Krishna in the Gaudiya sampradaya is the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

 

Gauraharis answer to this assertions against Gaura-nama

 

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