What is the one thing that all of us really need at the core of our beings? It is love. We can exist without it but we cannot really live without it. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the greatest scholar in India yet He wrote only 8 beautiful spiritual teachings all centering on kirtan — the nectar of love (bhakti) — the heart and soul of yoga. Learn more in this beautiful yoga wisdom lecture by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda,
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu & Kirtan:
The Nectar Of Love
Jagad Guru: So today we’re going to be reading some of Lord Chaitanya’s prayers. Lord Chaitanya, as great a scholar as He was, wrote only eight verses, and these eight verses contain in them the entire Absolute Truth. They contain bhakti, which is beyond salvation. Bhakti means love for God, pure love for God, untainted love for God. Untainted, no contamination of self-interest.
So this evening we are going to read these, a few of these prayers, because I will read a prayer and automatically I will want to speak on it so we’ll see how far we get. Okay?
Glories to the Sri Krishna sankirtan. Glories to the congregational chanting of the holy names of God which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtan, or chanting movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge, it increases the ocean of transcendental bliss and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
Here, Chaitanya is making it very clear that in this age of Kali yuga, the way to become cleansed of all the sinful reactions which cover our hearts and minds, all the sinful reactions can be cleansed away by God’s Names. God is not only all pure, He’s all purifying and the hearing and chanting of God’s Names has the effect of purifying a person of all past karmic reaction. In other words, a person achieves salvation through the Holy Name of God and this is also accepted in the Old Testament which states, in Psalms, that, “Our salvation is in Your Name, O Lord.”
The Name of God, the Names of God, save us from being caught on the wheel of birth and death. A person is caught on the wheel of birth and death due to being caught by his… or contaminated by sinful reactions. He is forced to take birth in the material world, and suffer birth and death because he’s contaminated by karmic reaction. The names of God purify a person of this karmic reaction so that the repeated birth and death, this conditional life, is extinguished.
Then more than that, beyond that, there is another effect and this other effect is stated here. “It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss. It enables us to taste fully, to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.”
We are living beings, parts and parcels of the Supreme Living Being. We are spirit souls, part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. What nectar is it that we are anxious for, that we need to taste, that we want to taste? If you have a fish and he’s out of water and he’s barely gasping and he’s on the side of the, you know the side of the water there on like on a catwalk or… have you ever seen fish on catwalks or you see fish on the, you know… in the harbors you have sometimes fish flapping on the cement or something, or in mud ponds you see sometimes they’re on the mud. What are they anxious for?
Jagad Guru: The water! We are parts and parcels of God and we belong in the ocean of God. We are anxious for God. God Himself is that nectar for which we are anxious. Love for God is not separate from God. Love for God is God. We are anxious for the nectar of love for God. We want to taste the nectar of love for God. We try to find this nectar in so many things in this world. We try to experience the nectar by having loving relationships with other living beings, other spirit souls and we think, “This is it.”
You know like sometimes, usually when a person’s not too old in the West, you meet that first girl, or that first boy and for some reason it just makes your heart go…. what’s the cliché? Pitter-pat, pitter-pat. (laughter) You know, you know the… I finally met her. (laughter) You don’t do it on purpose, it just happens and it, because you haven’t experienced it before, at least in this life, you see, you’re just sort of overwhelmed by it. “Gee, isn’t this wonderful?” You meet that girl and meet that boy — puppy love and they’re just so… Oh, they’re so happy.
This is just a perverted reflection of the real thing though. It always ends up a real bitter thing and a real bummer and I guess that’s why only young kids get it, see. So you get burned out pretty quick after three or four of those things. You start flashing on what they are, you know, and then they just stop coming. But that’s really what we’re anxious for. Why do people go to the beach, for example? We’ve talked about this before, I think. Why do people go to the beach? It’s such a miserable place, you know. It’s like going to the desert to relax, (laughter) you know, with no clothes on, this little pair of shorts and you go out on the desert and just relax, you know. Getting all sandy and sweaty and you get up and the sand’s all stuck on your back, you know. And everybody goes, “Oh for the water.” You have to brush the top away, you know. (laughter)
Sometimes I go swimming and you know, I try to wade out as far as I can, brushing my way through the things floating on the top, that sort of brown, sort of, you know stuff and the little candy wrappers, and you know what I mean? (laughter) You just sort of… you dive in and try not to take any of it in and you hope that you don’t get ear infections, you see. They don’t go for that; I mean, it’d be more refreshing to go into the shower, just take a cold shower, you know.
Even people with swimming pools, you see, go to beaches. If they like the beach so much, why don’t they make the thing around their swimming pools out of sand? (laughter) You ever notice that when people make swimming pools they don’t, you know… they make it, they make it so that there’s sand but there’s also cement there to hold it together, okay? (laughter) Why is this? Because sand is not really all that nice; it’s just a bunch of dead bodies, after all. Sand is nothing more than prehistoric bodies crushed… crushed corpses is really all sand is. It’s just a giant… a beach is nothing more… I mean I’m sorry, you know, (laughter) to ruin anything here but that’s really what a beach is. It’s just, it’s just, you know, it’s a very big graveyard. Isn’t it? I mean what… I mean that is what it is.
So why do they go to the beach? With the hope that they will be able to taste the nectar of love. They’re going to find someone to love. That’s why they go to the beach, that’s why they go to school. They want to have some nectar, the nectar of loving somebody. Then college, same way. It’s the same thing in college. Beaches, college… everybody’s always looking, looking and somebody, they find someone in college, or after college or whatever and they become in love and they marry and they fall in love, then they fall out of love, and they divorce, and then they’re feeling lonely, a desire for some nectar so they go, not knowing what to do, how to do it, “I forgot how to do it,” you know. “I haven’t done this for so long.” So they maybe go to a singles bar. What’s that place? This is a place where everybody comes who wants to meet somebody. What for? Oh, for sex life, yes, but after all, you could have that by yourself. I mean really, the orgasm’s not that big a deal, is it? I mean, it’s not really worth that much, is it?
I know everybody likes to act like they’re not interested in love but in fact, they are. They want love, they want to love somebody. Maybe they’re afraid to love other people, they’re afraid to love somebody else but that’s what they want. They want to actually love someone.
So this desire for the nectar of loving someone is a natural, inseparable part of the living being. Buddhist philosophers would have us believe that it’s bad, and that we should try to kill it or destroy it or void it out. But Chaitanya and the Vedic literatures and Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament are teaching something different. They’re teaching that this love and this need to love someone is a natural part of your very being, in the same way that you are eternal. You’re eternal by nature and you’re also blissful by nature and you’re full of knowledge by nature. Your inner core, your natural condition, not when you’re conditioned, when you’re overwhelmed by the influence of material nature, ignorance, but in this natural state, your real, normal condition is sat-cit-ananda. Sat is eternal, eternality. Cit means knowledge and ananda is bliss, blissfulness.
So blissfulness is the blissfulness of love, love for God. That is blissful. That is bliss. The sex orgasm is not bliss. Love for the Supreme Person, this is bliss and a person gets a little taste of this nectar but mixed with bitter, bitter life in this world when they have some loving relationship in this world, when they really love someone in this world. But the bliss we’re discussing, ananda, is the bliss of the nectar, the taste of love for the Supreme Person. And it’s this nectar which we are anxious for, it’s this nectar which we need, we can’t live without it.
We can exist without it because we’re eternal already and we’re going to exist no matter what. Existing is no problem. But living, that’s another thing. The question is not is there life after death, the question is whether or not there’s life after birth. Are people living?
You know, Jesus gave that one example once. He was going, speaking to people and he told this guy, “Follow me.” I forget the exact situation. Anyway he told the guy to follow him. “Come with me. Learn from me. Follow me.” And the guy said, “I’d like to but first I’ve got to go bury my father. I got to… I can’t come. I’ve got to bury my father.” So Jesus remarked to him, “Let the dead bury the dead. Let the dead bury the dead!” What does it mean? It means that people can appear to be living but they’re dead. They’re existing but they’re dead. Why are they dead? Because they don’t have ananda. They don’t have the bliss of love for God. They’re dead. They’re not living. They’re dead.
So Chaitanya, Lord Chaitanya has come to make it possible for us to taste that nectar, to drink fully of that nectar for which we are always anxious. And when He appeared He went everywhere throughout India chanting God’s names. And anyone who heard Him saying God’s names, immediately they were transported into the realm of love for God. He Himself was in the realm of love for God. He is Himself drinking that nectar fully and distributing it to everybody. And therefore it is described that wherever Chaitanya went, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people were going mad with love for God, going crazy. And tens of thousands of them would want to follow Him. They didn’t even remember family, anything. They just want to go where He’s going, and He says, “No. Stay here and chant the holy names of the Lord. Go back to your villages. Go back to your towns and be guru. Save the people. Hari nama, Hari nama, Hari nama, Hari nama eva kevalam, kalau nasty eva, nasty eva, nasty eva gatir anyatha. The names of Hari, the names of the Supreme Person, distribute them to the people. Give them to the people and let them be saved and let them taste the nectar of love for God.
Chaitanya goes on in His second verse and He says, “Oh 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, Govinda, Allah; so many names, hundreds and millions of names. In these transcendental names you have invested all Your transcendental energies. You’ve invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even, there’s not even any hard and fast rules for chanting Your holy names. O my Lord out of Your kindness You enable us to easily approach You by chanting Your Holy Names.” He says, “You’re so kind You enable us to easily approach You by chanting Your holy names, but unfortunate as I am, I have no attraction for them because I am so contaminated.” This is Chaitanya’s attitude.
The names of God are not separate from Him therefore they are as powerful as Him. Chaitanya appears and the Holy Name appears. Chaitanya and the Holy Name are non-different. Lord Chaitanya and the names of the Supreme Person are non-different.
So the names of the Supreme Lord are being given to us by the Supreme Lord Himself and there’s no hard and fast rules for chanting His Holy Names, and if we chant the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord we will more and more become cleansed of sinful reactions and more and more begin to taste the nectar of love for the Supreme Person. This is our natural condition. This is natural.
So we offer all our respects to Lord Chaitanya Who so kindly appeared some 500 years ago in order to save us by inaugurating this movement centered on chanting of the names of the Supreme Person.
It is completely non-sectarian. We don’t say that Allah is the only name of God. We don’t say that Jehovah is the only Name of God. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not teach sectarianism. He did not say Krishna is the only name of God or Gopala is the only name of God. He says, “Oh my Lord, You have hundreds and millions of names and each and every one of Your Holy Names is invested with all Your power.”
We should not lose this opportunity, waste this opportunity that Chaitanya is giving us. Lord Jesus Christ is telling us, “Love the Supreme Father with all your heart, all your mind, your entire being and do His will. Love Him.” In the Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna is saying, “Love Me!” Chaitanya is coming and saying, “Here’s how you can come to that platform of love. Here’s how you can come to the platform where you are actually loving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here’s how. Chant the holy names of the Lord. Chant the holy names, chant the holy names, chant the holy names.” Haribol. Haribol means chant the Holy Names of God. Haribol.
Thank you very much.