Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha


(excerpts from a seminar of Swami Tirtha on the holy name, Ludashto, July 2013) 

(continues from the previous Monday)

In Bhaktivinod Thakur’s Harinama Chintamani it is described that there are primary and secondary names of the Supreme.[1]

“The characteristics of the principal and secondary names: Namnam akari bahuda… – “Ah, my Lord! Your holy name alone can render all benediction to the living beings. And thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your divine energies and there are no hard and fast rules for chanting Your name. Ah, my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach you by chanting Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction to them.”[2] Here is a hint on the primary names of God. You know the classical story when a disciple asked his master: “Gurudev, please tell me, what is the best pronunciation of the name of Krishna?” And the master said: “Ah, the best name of Krishna is Govinda.” In this situation even krishna-nam is a kind of secondary, kind of general. Because if we want to pin down who that God Krishna is for us – this is Govinda. Therefore the master said: “For me the best name is Govinda. Because He is my Lord. Not somebody generally, not another feature of the Supreme, but this one. This is my beloved. Therefore it is hinted here, that Krishna, Govinda and many others are primary names.

“The secondary names of God and their symptoms – According to the Vedas, the secondary or the inferior names of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna are those which are in connection with the material world. For example God, Creator of the universe, Paramatma, Supersoul, Brahman, Maintainer, Destroyer, Savior, Lord of sacrifice, He who takes away – are some inferior or secondary names of the Lord.” These are functions, it’s not God properly, it’s not Him, it’s something about Him. Therefore these are secondary names – I think it’s obvious.

But what are the fruits of the principal names and the secondary names? There are different fruits for these different names, approaches. “These inferior names of the Lord are called upon by those, who are on the path of karma and gyana. According to the scriptures one who calls these names gets piety and liberation. On the other hand the result of chanting the principal names of the Lord – like Govinda, Gopala, Rama, Nandanandana, Radhanath, Hari, Yashomati-pranadhana, Madan-mohan, Shyamasundara, Madhava, Gopinath, Vrajagopa-rakhala, Yadava – gives krishna-prema. In this way the saintly attains love of Godhead by chanting the principal names of Godhead, while those who are attached to karma and gyana get merely piety and impersonal liberation by chanting inferior or secondary names, because their conception of Godhead is also secondary and inferior.”

This is something very important from the Harinama Chintamani – this distinction between the primary and the secondary names. The result will be different. Those who chant on the secondary platform get some blessings – like material merits or they achieve liberation. And what is the goal of a bhakta who chants the primary names – not this. Divine love, prema-bhakti. Therefore there is a distinction between the results of the different paths. Karma (action, sacrifice) and gyana (knowledge) will lead us to either good life in heaven – this is the material benefit, or liberation – which is to get out of the material entanglement. But bhakti as a process, as an approach will lead us to the divine love of Godhead. So totally different achievement. Compared to that, liberation, knowledge renunciation or whatever is only a secondary side effect.

Therefore a devotee has to clarify his picture about the Supreme. How do you see the Lord? What is your conception about God? Who is He for you? What aspect do you perceive from His multiple character? If you see only a general picture, you will achieve only general results. If you see a specific feature, you will achieve specific results.

 “O killer of demon Agha, o son of Yashoda, o son of Nanda, o Lotus-eyed, o Moon of the gopis, o Lord of Vrindavan, o Merciful to the submissive, o Krishna, You have manifested Yourself in innumerable forms out of Your infinite mercy. Let my devotion to You go on increasing without any impediment!” says Rupa Goswami in Krishnanamashtakam. And this verse is also from Rupa Goswami: tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye…[3]“I don’t know how much nectar is in these two syllables ‘krish-na’! When the holy name of Krishna is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. Then we shall have desire to have many-many mouths. And when that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire to have millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind and therefore all the senses become inert.”


[1] Harinama Chintamani Chapter 2

[2] Sikshashtaka 2

[3] Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.1.99, quoted from Vidagdha Madhava


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