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The Transcendental Sound Vibration

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—by Jadurani devi dasi

Sound has form eternal. According to the Sankhya philosophical system disclosed to the world by Lord Kapiladeva at the dawn of creation, the whole material world is produced by sound. This is also a scientific fact and scientists are now engaged in researching the importance of sound. In the physical sciences, such as electronics, they are studying sound, and discovering that the material sound vibration has great power. As one can perceive the existence of air by the medium of touch, he can understand the existence of ether or space simply by clapping his hands—by sound. Sound means there is space batween the two objects—between the speaker and the person receiving the information. According to the stringent laws of nature, everything is already established; there is nothing new we can create—by sound we develop our intimate relationship with the world. For example, stones and cement are already here; but by hearing we can understand how to utilize them and can construct a house. If material sound has so much power we should try to understand the power of the spiritual sound, because real, original sound is coming from the Spiritual World. This material world can be compared with a record player. The sound is originally coming from a person and the record player is simply reproducing that sound, and is not the original source. Whatever sound there is in the material world, the original sound is produced from the spiritual sky—from God. In the Bible it is said, “Let there be creation,” and simply by dint of this sound vibration, the whole creation is flowing out; God’s Word is sufficient. During the autumn months the leaves fall to the ground in only a few days. And again, at the beginning of spring, everything immediately becomes green. If we were to decorate even one tree or take all the leaves off that tree it would take months. But God does not require any engineering work. Simply His Words, “Let there be creation,” are sufficient.

As sound is the cause of this material world, it is also its destruction. That same sound which destroys this cosmic manifestation elevates one to the spiritual sky, which is conspicuous by the absence of the qualities of the material sky. While the material sky is described as a temporary, miserable existence of ignorance, everyone in the spiritual world is living eternally in full bliss and knowledge. The sound that elevates one to the spiritual world is Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Hare Krsna is not a whimsical invention, manufactured by some individual. It descends from the spiritual sky. It is recommended in Vedic literature such as Brhad-naradiya Purana, Agni Purana, Varaha Purana, Bhagavad-gita, and Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is a transcendental sound vibration, and the fortunate chanter or hearer of these nectar-like words relishes at every moment the goal of his life, association with the Supreme Lord of all the worlds, Sri Krsna. As material sourld vibrations develop our intimate relationship with this world of nescience, the transcendental sound vibration revives our full knowledge of the infinite spiritual space. If someone hears a friend’s voice on the telephone after a long period of separation, he immediately remembers everything about the friend—where they ate together, what they did together, etc. If he is so fortunate as to hear the transcendental sound “Krsna” he can at once remember everything about his own blissful spiritual identity. It is unfortunate that in this age people are not interested in hearing God. They want to see God.

Not only is hearing as good as seeing, hearing is actually better. Prabhupada A.C. Bhaktivedanta says that we are seeing so many things around us every day, yet we do not understand them. When Krsna appeared on this earth 5,000 years ago, everyone saw Him but only a handful understood Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Five thousand years later we are hearing about Krsna from the Bhagavad-gita and other authoritative literatures; and if we hear submissively we can understand everything about His transcendental nature. If one is fast asleep at night and a burglar enters within his house, he can apprehend the villain only by hearing. The other senses are for the time being not working. A child learns in the beginning of its training by hearing. “This is a watch, this is your father.” Prabhupada gives the example of milk. If I smell milk, I can understand that it has a nice aroma; if I taste it I can understand that it tastes sweet; by touching it I know it is wet and cold, and by seeing it I can understand it is white. But simply by hearing, “This is milk,” I immediately know everything. I know it is sweet, it is white, wet, cold and aromatic. Also by sound I can know Krsna, the Reservoir of pleasure, the Fountainhead of all knowledge and eternal life.

Within the material and spiritual worlds there is nothing in existence but the Supreme Lord and His energies. Therefore anyone in knowledge of Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is in knowledge of everything. Hare means the power of the Lord, and Krsna is the Supreme Powerful. There is actually nothing within our vision except Hare and Krsna. The Lord being absolute there is no difference between His Name and His actual Form. As it is stated in the Vedic literatures, Krsna’s Name is called Vigraha. The Name Itself has form. Even in this material world sound has form, or it would not be possible for it to travel through the air in the form of waves. We can speak to a friend thousands of miles away over the telephone because sound has travelled through the telephone wires. As it is possible for ordinary material sound to have form, then why not spiritual sound? In fact, the Name Krsna is the subtlest form of God, and Krsna Himself is dancing on the tongue of the sincere chanter. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, 4.9, “I descend in every millenium to vanquish the demon and to protect the devotee.” But in this age the Lord is especially compassionate with the fallen condition of the people and He comes not to vanquish them, but to reclaim them. He comes in the Form of the Holy Names. Therefore, Hare Krsna is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Hare Krsna Sankirtan Movement is also considered by the great authorities to be an incarnation, invested with the same potencies as the Lord Himself.

Because Krsna’s Name and Krsna Himself are identical His Name is also called rasa. It has taste. In the material world there is difference between the form and the name. The word mango is different from the form of the mango and one cannot taste the sweet mango fruit simply by chanting “mango, mango, mango.” But the devotee who knows that there is no difference between Krsna and His Name chants always Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and by experiencing the sweet mellow of these Names, realizes that he is always in the Lord’s Company.

Krsna’s Name is also called nitya; It is eternal. In the material world our names are not eternal. They belong to these temporary bodies and therefore are also temporary. When we leave our body and are forced to accept a new one, we are forced to change the name. But millions of years ago, when Krsna delivered the Bhagavad-gita to the Sungod, His Name was Krsna; 5,000 years ago, when He delivered the Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, His Name was Krsna; and today also It is Krsna. If one can contact the Eternal, he also becomes eternal, immortal and therefore fearless.

The mind of the ordinary person is always filled with fear and anxieties, because he has not realized his eternal spiritual nature. But when the mind is fixed on the Absolute Reservoir of pleasure, Lord Krsna, by chanting Hare Krsna, he is immediately elevated to the Absolute platform. When the senses are engaged on a particular object, the mind is automatically engaged and therefore by sincerely chanting and hearing the Maha (great) Mantra, Hare Krsna, the mind is fully absorbed in spiritual thought and is thus freed from the pangs of temporary material life. The example is given of an elephant who has suffered in the forest fire and enters the river to get himself pacified. If persons who are suffering in the forest fire of material existence will only enter into the nectar-like river of Hare Krsna, they will forget all the troubles of material existence.

In this collection, Narottama-dasa Thakur, a great acarya in the line of Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, has written in his song “Nitai Pada-kamalam” that the whole world is suffering under the blazing fire of material existence; in order to get relief from the fire one should take shelter of the Lotus Feet of Nityananda by chanting Hare Krsna (Nityananda is another Name for Rama), because it is as cooling as millions of moonrays combined together. During the summer months a man works long, hot, tiring hours at his job and in the evening he feels new life by taking shelter of the cooling rays of the moon. The Lotus Feet of Lord Nityananda offer the relief of millions of moons. Under this shelter one immediately finds a peaceful atmosphere. If one has not contacted Nityananda that person should understand that he has simply spoiled his valuable life. The Thakur uses harsh words and says that such a human being who has never uttered the Holy Name of Nityananda (Hare Krsna) has to be considered an uncontrolled animal, because he does not know that all of his education, his family, name or national prestige cannot help him.

There is some pleasure here in this material world but that pleasure is flickering and all our activities are tested at the time of death. When we enter into a new body by force, our family, education, etc., cannot protect us and will have proved useless. The very word Nityananda means eternal pleasure. Nitya means eternal and ananda means pleasure. The man who is mad after false prestige is thinking, “Who is Nityananda! What can He do for me?” He accepts something which is not. He accepts this body as himself. As the conclusion of his song, Narottama dasa prays to Lord Nityananda, “I am very unhappy in this material world. Please make me happy by placing me at the corner of Your Lotus Feet.” The Thakur is desiring: “When will the time come that there will be shivering of my body simply by chanting the Holy Name of Lord Caitanya [Krsna]? And when will tears from my eyes glide down simply by chanting, ‘Hari, Hari,’ and when will I be favored by Lord Nityananda so that all desires for material enjoyment will appear to me very insignificant? When shall I become free from the desires of bodily demands and thus be able to visualize the transcendental land of Vrndavana [the Supreme Spiritual Abode]?”

When Krsna appeared on this earth, He taught the Bhagavad-gita and offered realization by knowledge. The Bhagavad-gita was spoken especially for the less intelligent class of men 5,000 years ago, but in this age everything has degraded so miserably that even the greatest scholars spend their entire lifetime studying Bhagavad-gita and still they cannot understand it.

Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda are also Krsna and Rama but They came here especially to deliver love of God and therefore have offered that simply by chanting Hare Krsna and dancing for Krsna one can achieve the goal of self-realization in a very short time. The process is simply joyful and one should chant Hare Krsna with firm faith that by chanting Hare Krsna his existence will become purified. One devotee prayed that Hare Krsna is so powerful that it melts even stone—it melts the heart of stone-hearted men. When Lord Caitanya chanted in the forests of India the birds would cry and even the tigers would accompany Him in chanting and dancing. In fact, Hare Krsna has so much power because it is descending from the lips of Lord Caitanya. Of course we are not Lord Caitanya and cannot expect to enthuse the animals, but at least we can enthuse the human beings. Practically, the Hare Krsna Mantra is more merciful than Krsna Himself. Prabhupada says that if Radha and Krsna were to come to the temple, he would have to make so many elaborate preparations, dress beautifully, spend vast amounts of money for decoration and food, but Hare Krsna is so merciful that there are no requirements and no conditions. You can chant it anywhere at any time and there are no hard and fast rules. And the result is the same—association with the Absolute Truth, Radha and Krsna. Prabhupada also tells a story that when Krsna was on earth His devotees put Him on one side of a scale because they wanted to see how much gold would be needed on the other side to outweigh Krsna. The more gold they put, the heavier Krsna became. Then one devotee had an idea. He wrote “Krsna” on a tulasi leaf and placed it on the opposite side of the scale and immediately it outweighed Krsna.

Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, mercifully informs its reader that everyone who has accepted this material body is “rotting in the kingdom of material energy,” and its stringent laws of birth, old age, disease and death are very difficult to surpass, but anyone chanting Hare Krsna is at once relieved from its clutches. Those who are merged in the nectar of hearing Hare Krsna are liberated. They have no fear of material conditioned life. This world is described as an ocean of miseries. There are dangers at every step, but for one in Krsna consciousness that ocean appears as large as a puddle of water made by the imprint of a calf’s hoof in the mud.

Moreover, for the devotee of Krsna, that peaceful condition is simply a by-product. As stated in Nectar of Devotion, the ocean is always calm even though many rivers flow into it. But as soon as there is a rise of the full moon no one can stop the tide from rushing wildly toward the shore. Similarly, the pure devotee of Krsna is calm even with the coming of desire and anxieties in the mind, but when the new moon of Krsna arises by the chanting of the Holy Names, no one can stop him from dancing and shedding tears in ecstasy. Lord Caitanya prayed in His Siksastaka, “Oh my Lord, when shall my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly by chanting Your Holy Name? And when will all the hairs of my body have eruptions by the recitation of Your Name?”

The highest perfection is to be continuously thinking of Krsna, the Absolute Truth; in Yoga terminology such state of absorption is called samadhi. It is the facility of the sound of the Holy Name that by chanting it with the tongue and hearing it with the ear the mind is fixed on the Absolute Truth. Not that we want to apply the mind to anything and everything. By applying oneself to the vibration of the transcendental sound, Hare Krsna, one enters into realization of his eternal nature as spirit soul, servitor of Krsna. We want to be always thinking of Krsna’s Pastimes. Once one of A.C. Bhaktivedanta’s disciples wrote to Prabhupada as follows: “I understand that on one hand the highest meditation is thinking of these Pastimes, such as Krsna stealing butter, Krsna upholding the Govardhan Hill, playing with the cowherdsboys, with the gopis, and later speaking Bhagavad-gita at Kuruksetra. On the other hand we have so often been told to simply listen with attention to the pure sound vibration of the words ‘Hare’ and ‘Krsna.'” The student therefore asked, “Should I try, while chanting, with separate endeavor to think of the Pastimes of Krsna as I have heard them from lectures and in the literature?” Prabhupada’s answer is printed here for the benefit of all persons: “Hearing the vibration of Hare Krsna automatically reminds one of Krsna’s Pastimes. Both of them arise simultaneously in the mind when one is sincerely chanting. You cannot make a distinction between listening to the sound and thinking of the Pastimes. The process is to hear, and then Krsna’s Pastimes, Form, Qualities, etc., will automatically come into mind.”

Ideally, at the time of death, when whatever we do is tested, we should be uttering this immortal sound vibration, “Hare Krsna.” A great devotee, Maharaj Kulasekhara, however, prays as follows: “My dear Lord, just now I am quite healthy, and it is better that I die immediately so that the swan of my mind can seek entrance at the stem of Your Lotus Feet.” The image is that of the swan, whose sporting pleasure is to duck his head and neck under the water and entangle himself in the stem of the lotus. Maharaj Kulasekhara is saying to the Lord: “Now I am not disturbed in mind and I am healthy, so if I die immediately chanting and thinking of Your Lotus Feet then I am sure that my performances of Your devotional service has been perfect. But if I have to wait for my natural death then I do not know what will happen; because at that time, the bodily functions will be dislocated and my throat will be choked up with cough and I do not know whether I shall be able to chant Your Name. Better let me die immediately.” We personally recall Prabhupada remarking, “These bodies are temporary. They will not exist. But this sound vibration will go on.”

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