“My dear Lord, when will My eyes be beautified by filling with tears that constantly glide down as I chant Your holy name? When will My voice falter and all the hairs on My body stand erect in transcendental happiness as I chant Your holy name?” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya 20.36)Download this episode (right click and save)
“We are a nation that believes in God. We are a God-fearing nation.” A leader may have to make this statement publicly in order to get support for a specific policy. They do this also to distinguish themselves from those who act in a way that goes against the standard laws governing human conduct since time immemorial. To believe in God is certainly a vital first step, as the Vedanta-sutra says that the human birth is the time for inquiring into Brahman, or spirit. Lord Chaitanya wishes to go one step further, to have pure love for God. And that love has specific symptoms which manifest.
Imagine this situation. You’re attending a commencement ceremony. These are oddly named, as actually you’re celebrating the completion of school for so many children. After attending for twelve plus years, these kids are ready to enter the real world. It is the beginning of a new life; hence the use of the term “commencement.”
You’re in the crowd along with the other proud parents. Your child was a little on the naughty side. You had to urge them to study. They were not self-starters in that regard. They argued with you a lot, saying that they had no desire to graduate. When they call your child’s name, you’re overcome with emotion. You can’t help yourself. You stand up and shout your child’s name, clapping and yelling. Tears flow down your cheeks. This is a spontaneous reaction. No one had to tell you to act this way.
Imagine another situation. The same child is now getting married. You are sitting in the front row at the ceremony. Your child has known their soon-to-be spouse for a long time. You see the love they have for each other. You care so much for both of them that during the ceremony you start crying again. The hair on your back stands on its end. You’re not supposed to cry. You’ve always thought others who did the same were weak. But this is beyond your control. Your love for your child is so pure that you can’t help yourself.
Such situations show a spontaneous reaction, and the same can be found in love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At first we think this is odd, for we’re not even sure what God looks like. Is He an old man? Does He get angry at everyone and send locusts to punish them? Is He even a person? The Vedas describe both conceptions: the abstract and the defined. The abstract is known as Brahman. This is the undivided spiritual energy. We are all one with each other through the relationship to this energy. We are all Brahman. We are all spirit at the core. Every spark of spirit is identical in quality. The little fly buzzing around your head in the summertime is as much a soul as the leader of a big nation.
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)
The defined is the source of the abstract. In the defined version God is a personality. He has a transcendental body which is eternal, knowledgeable and blissful. His original body expands into non-different forms. These are identical to Him, but may appear slightly different. The Brahman energy expands from Him; it is not identical to Him, though it is similar in quality.
As God is a separate personality, it is possible to have a relationship to Him. He has the most wonderful features, so the relationship to Him is the most rewarding. The goal of the human birth is to develop this relationship, for it brings the highest pleasure. After all, everyone is seeking this pleasure, whether they realize it or not.
The relationship can be formed simply through sound. By regularly chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, the relationship forms. The names included in this mantra directly address God. The name Krishna is the same as the person Krishna. The same goes for Rama. Hare refers to His pleasure potency expansion, the personality who most excels in the loving relationship to Him.
Just as we cry when our child graduates high school, the person established in the relationship to Krishna cries tears of joy simply from chanting the name of Krishna. Their voice falters and the hairs on their body stand up. Lord Chaitanya prays for this spontaneous reaction to come to Him, for it will signal purity in bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. He actually has this purity all the time, but in humility He thinks that He doesn’t. In fact, He is Hare and Krishna in a combined incarnation appearing on earth to teach the fallen souls the proper path in life.
His desire shows that there can be such a thing as divine love. You can have untainted affection for someone you previously thought didn’t exist. In fact, only in bhakti-yoga can you find pure love. No matter how much affection you have for your children or spouse, the relationship will have to end eventually. In bhakti-yoga the link continues forever if so desired. The soul who is conscious of Krishna, who cries tears of ecstasy upon hearing His name, gets the reward of Krishna’s association in the afterlife.
God with my eyes cannot see,
So how sure of His existence can I be?
Foggy notion through the abstract,
Clearer picture with form exact.
Just as for loved ones crying loving tear,
Same when sound of holy name to hear.
Lord Chaitanya for this moment prays,
Already there, in humble guise He plays.