[Advaita-l] What does "Hare Krishna" Mean?

Raghavendra Hebbalalu hs_raghavendra at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 20 16:20:22 CDT 2003

Let me draw the attention of the list members to the
following popular shloka that comes at the end of the
viShNusahasranAma pArAyaNa.

ArtA viShaNNaH shitilAshcha bhItAH ghoreShu cha
vyAdhiShu vartamAnAH | 
sankIrtya nArAyaNashabdamAtram vimuktaduHkhAH sukhino
bhavanti ||

A rough gist is as follows: Whenever those in penury
or in fear or in great disease sing or chant *only*
the name of nArAyaNa, then they will be free from all
sorrows and be happy.

Please note that the key words here are sankIrtya
(which means having chanted) and nArAyaNashabdamAtram
- only the the word nArAyaNa. 

The story of ajAmiLa in the bhAgavata wherein ajAmiLa,
having led an extremely sinful life, calls out to his
son nArAyaNa during his time of death, illustrates the
efficacy of nAmasankIrtana. But at that time, the
dUtAs of shrImannArAyaNa appear to ward away the
yamadUtas. The dialog between the two can be studied. 

This story illustrates the importance of name
chanting. It can be construed as arthavAda also. 

Even in the lalitAsahasranAma, one name is
nAmapArAyaNAprItA - the one who is appeased by the
chanting of names. 

There are also numerous shlokas that illustrate the
efficacy of the name 'mahAdeva' or 'shiva'.

In the navavidhabhaktimArga, the second one is
kIrtanam or chanting the names of the Lord. 

One illustration commonly given by the votaries of
nAmasankIrtana is as follows. "Even as fire burns one
who touches it knowingly or unknowingly, just as
medicine has a beneficial effect on a diseased person,
irrespective of the person knowing about the chemical
composition of the medicine, taking the name of the
Lord knowingly or unknowingly is definitely

IMHO, the idea is that if one makes the habit of
repeating the Lord's names, at one point or the other
in their lives, they realise the greatness of it and
thus become closer to God. 

While jnAna is the sole path to mukti, nAmasankIrtana
is a very good method for chittashuddhi. If one
understands the meaning behind the names and recites
them, it is all the better for that person. If not,
however, it will lead to a stage conducive to

However, this does not mean that one has to forget
one's duties like sandhyAvandana and devatArchana and
resort only to nAmajapa. 

My 2c.

Best regards,

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:
> On Sun, 19 Oct 2003, S Jayanarayanan wrote:
> > The fact that the mere chanting of the Lord's name
> *without* any other
> > conscious effort (such as meditation on the Deity)
> can confer
> > liberation is mentioned in the shrImad BhAgavatam.
> I read this not in
> > an ISKCON flyer, but in a Kanchi-Math-based
> publication, so this
> > actually has scriptural support, which is
> difficult to debunk. I just
> > surfed the 'net to find the source and came across
> this:
> >
> > ----------
> > http://www.iskcon.com/basics/gloriesofname.html
> > (It's from ISKCON, but the reference to scripture
> can easily be
> > verified)
> >
> > Living beings who are entangled in the complicated
> meshes of birth and
> > death can be freed immediately by even
> unconsciously chanting the holy
> > name of Krishna, which is feared by fear
> personified.
> > (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.14)
> ApannaH saMsrtiM  ghorAM yannAm vivasho grNan |
> tataH sadyo vimuchyeta yadbibheti svayaM bhayaM ||
> 14 ||
> Those who have fallen into the terrible depths [of
> samsara] can even at
> the time of death be released by taking the name
> which is feared by Fear
> Himself.
> 1.  Nothing in this shloka says anything about
> taking the name
>    unconsciously. In fact 'taking' need not
> necessarily refer to chanting.
> 2.  Needless to say no mantra in particular is 'the'
> name.  While it is
>    obvious from the context that it is the name of
> Vishnu which is being
>    refered too, there is no reason why it
> exclusively has to be Krshna and
>    not Vasudeva or Narasimha or any other.
> 3. 'released' may refer to release from rebirth
> which is not the final
>    liberation in Advaita Vedanta.  We also believe
> in krama mukti in which
>    a soul is free of a body but continues gaining
> jnana in a higher world
>    like Vaikuntha until the final complete mukti. 
> This shloka is open
>    to interpretation either way.

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