2009 The Name Has Never Let Me Down
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your divine lotus feet. And all glories to you, deliverer of the greatest treasure: the holy names of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
When you were physically present, you repeatedly thanked your disciples for their words of “appreciation” and for the “sentiments” contained in their homages to you. You were so great and your achievements so numerous that there were unlimited things to appreciate in you and your divine service, and these appreciations constantly stirred sentiments of gratitude, obligation, and love towards you.
Today I would like to single out what I consider to be the greatest of Your Divine Grace’s achievements: your deliverance of the holy names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa to the world. I hope that my words of appreciation communicate the profound sentiments that have grown in my heart during the four decades I have been chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Recently Govinda Mahārāja and I were talking about how—despite the many things that didn’t quite work out as we had envisioned or planned in the early days of your movement—one thing never let us down: the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.
Whether we chant japa in solitude, sing kirtana before the Deities, or perform harināma on the streets or at festivals, the holy names always deliver the goods. They insulate us from material contamination, give us a taste of the divine, and attract anyone who hears them as they are spoken, chanted, or sung.
When I feel discouraged or frightened, enthusiastic or calm, the mahā-mantra brings me back to reality, to the state of awareness wherein Kṛṣṇa is the centre. I can then perceive all personal emotions and ambitions as subservient to the chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s names; and even failures become insignificant compared to the sweet chanting of those holy names. Nāma-saṅkīrtana always delivers the goods.
When I chant japa, the holy names dissolve the miseries of the mental platform, awaken remembrance of Kṛṣṇa, and bestow spiritual happiness, which naturally flows from such remembrance. When I sing in kīrtana, I reside in the reverberation of the holy names, the happiest and most satisfying place in which to live. The holy names dismantle all ego-centric barriers, unite devotees and non-devotees alike, reveal the most esoteric truths, and make the inconceivable conceivable.
For those who first come in contact with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the holy names of Kṛṣṇa are mystical, all-attractive sounds that gradually draw them to Kṛṣṇa, and to the spiritual world.
Śrīla Prabhupāda, you told us that all the other services we perform simply enable us to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa properly. You said that chanting is the solution to all problems, conflicts, and disease. You told us that chanting was the ultimate and only religious process for this age. And you also said that by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa we would become pure devotees and go back to Godhead.
Since I have personally experienced the fulfilment of some of the above statements, I have no doubt that as you have promised, in time I will experience the fulfilment of them all. Chanting delivers the goods.
A lot of water has passed beneath the ISKCON bridge; yet the holy names have remained, like you and Kṛṣṇa, unshakable pillars that never let a sincere devotee down.
Had we taken chanting more seriously, had we chanted more attentively, perhaps many of our personal failings and those of ISKCON could have been avoided, even transformed into victories. Didn’t you often point to our lack of commitment to quality chanting as the cause of our disparities?
In this meagre offering I have touched but a molecular portion of the glories of the holy names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and of the benefits they award to those who chant and hear them. You, Śrīla Prabhupāda, fulfilled Lord Caitanya’s prophesy by giving the fallen people of this age the greatest of treasures. Therefore you are as glorious as the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa. And as everyone knows, like the holy names, you always deliver the goods, the crown jewel of those touchstone-like-goods being pure affection for the holy names themselves.
On this glorious day, therefore, I pray to the holy names of Kṛṣṇa, that whenever I say the word “Kṛṣṇa” I shall remember you, my Prabhupāda. I pray to the wonderful mahā-mantra that I forever feel obligation, gratitude, and love for the spiritual master who has given me the Absolute Truth in the form of transcendental sound. And I pray to you, my divine master, that you bless me that I can perfect my chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s names and thus begin to repay you for giving me the most treasured delight of my heart.