“’In every town and village throughout the world,’ said Lord Chaitanya, ‘the chanting of My holy name will be heard.’ Krishna is not just for India. He is for everyone, because He is God.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Civilization and Transcendence, Ch 13)Download this episode (right click and save)
“Just as Krishna is worshipable, so is His land.” This valuable truth became prominently known through Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It corresponds with another key Vedic teaching, that of visiting sacred places. These areas are known as tirthas, and they are designated as such since they have some relation to the Supreme Lord.
In His original and complete feature He is a person, purusha. He has distinguishable features, saguna, which are transcendental, nirguna. With those features He sometimes descends in a personal form to this world, the one we inhabit at present. The places where He enacts pastimes, lila, become more important as a result.
The main benefit of visiting a tirtha is the presence of saintly people. After all, if I am walking over a hill with grass and rocks, on my own I have no way of knowing the relation to Shri Krishna and His lifting of Govardhana many years ago. The saintly people taking residence nearby can teach that to me along with many other valuable secrets.
What if a person can’t travel to tirthas? Is hope lost for them? Will they never uncover the mystery that is the Divine? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also said that the holy name of Krishna is identical to Krishna, who is God. In this way every person can get the association of the Divine. In every town and every village, there is the opportunity.
The holy name can be heard in every village due principally to the Supersoul. This feature of God is commonly referred to as nirguna. It can’t be seen, just like the individual. When we met someone at the supermarket that we haven’t seen in a long time, we relay the story by saying that we saw such and such person. We don’t say that we saw the soul. We don’t say that we ran into spirit.
But actually, that is what took place. Within the destructible body is a tiny spark of spirit. It is the electricity to power the house that is the body. Next to that spark of spirit is another spiritual entity. He is not relegated to living inside of just one body. He is all-pervading, the same identity within all individuals. He is Supersoul, or Paramatma.
Through the Supersoul God accomplishes omnipresence. This means that He is everywhere, even if people don’t know it. It is no wonder, then, that the holy name can be chanted in every village, as God is already there.
2. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
The Supersoul is everywhere, but how will people learn about it without visiting a sacred place graced by saintly people? In this dark age of Kali there is Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to the rescue. He is a combined incarnation of the male and female aspects of the Divine, Krishna and Radha. He teaches the world in a method best suited for the time. Rather than give lengthy explanations on the difference between matter and spirit, the all-pervasiveness of the origin of everything, and the need to reawaken one’s dormant God consciousness, He simply chants the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Mahaprabhu and His associates are like a travelling tirtha. They chant these names congregationally, in what is known as sankirtana. The sankirtana movement flourished during Chaitanya’s time, and through the Lord’s mercy so many began to hear the holy names, worshiping and honoring it in their villages. Mahaprabhu made the prediction that His name, which is non-different from Krishna’s, will be heard in every town and village.
3. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Krishna is all-powerful, so He can accomplish anything entirely on His own. He doesn’t need outside help. If Mahaprabhu made sure that every town and village heard the holy names, what work would be left for others? Through His mercy He established the disciplic succession, parampara. In this chain each person appearing in the future adds on to the work previously done.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada travelled to the English speaking world on the order of his own guru, appearing in the line of succession started by Mahaprabhu. Areas that had no prior hints of Vedic culture suddenly took to Krishna consciousness. The holy names were chanted throughout the world during Prabhupada’s time. So many people owe their start in Krishna consciousness to him.
4. Prabhupada’s disciples and well-wishers
Empowered by Krishna, Prabhupada could have accomplished everything by himself. Again, he left some work undone, for others to continue. Today, so many people across the world know of the sankirtana movement and the holy names through the efforts of the disciples of Prabhupada. Even his well-wishers have contributed greatly to the cause.
5. The internet
Debates will continue as to the value of the internet. Has it helped mankind or hurt it? Are people better off now that they can retrieve information in seconds, or was it better when they had to read printed books and visit libraries?
One undisputed benefit of the internet has been the increased ability to spread the sankirtana movement. Every town and village may not have a party congregationally chanting the holy names in public, but practically everywhere there is internet. This means that there is opportunity to tap into the vast network of saintly people discussing Krishna and glorifying Him.
For sacred places value in visiting,
Resident saints sharing knowledge befitting.
In Chaitanya’s line like travelling tirthas to go,
Chanting holy names so God everyone can know.
Prediction that heard in every village and town,
Mahaprabhu’s holy name, the Divine sound.
Possible by followers who through Him directed,
And from internet to entire world connected.