Discussions taking place have borne some questions for me. On page 15 of 'Sri Guru Tattva-vijnana' Sri Ananta das Babaji Maharaja speaks of "many obstacles and defeats on their spiritual paths" for those who do think the chanting of Harinama alone is sufficient to attain realisation, and that diksa is unnecessary. From the context of the entire paragraph I understand his point, but what precisely is meant by obstacles and defeats? Any examples, please?
A reply stated: "As Baba points out, it would be a nAmAparAdha, aparAdhas beginning with guror avaJja and sAdhu-ninda. The obstacles arising from nAma-aparAdha are described in numerous scriptures..."
Shall we take this opportunity to give the topic of nAmAparAdha a full treatment?
I claim no special qualification, and by evidence I must be a nAmAparAdhI
myself, but my typing skills are fair, so here goes!
In the first verse of the Third Shower of Nectar from Cakravartipada's "Madhurya Kadambini", nAmAparAdha
is discussed. Here I am quoting from Babaji's translation:
Now anartha-nivRtti, or cessation of unwanted elements unfavourable for bhakti, is being explained. anarthas are of four types... aparAdhottha-anartha means anarthas arising from nAma-aparAdha. Here sevA-aparAdhas have not been considered. For intelligent people usually the effects of sevA-aparAdha are nullified by chanting the holy name, reciting prayers, and by constant engagement in the service of the Lord. sevA-aparAdhas are thus unable to appear. If one is, however, careless about sevA-aparAdhas, knowing that by chanting and reciting prayers sevA-aparAdhas can be nullified, then all the sevA-aparAdhas turn into nAma-aparAdhas. zAstras thus say, "Committing sins on the strength of nAma is one of the nAma-aparAdhas." In this verse, nAma also refers to other devotional practices. Even dharma-zAstras related to the codes of karma-yoga also say that if one commits sins on the strength of atonement, thinking that it can destroy the evil effects of sins, then those sins become more intense rather than being destroyed.
And now, from Babaji's "Piyusa Kana Explanation" of the above verse:
aparAdhottha-anartha: These are anarthas arising out of offense. Generally, this anartha creates many obstacles in the path of devotion. For this reason the author describes this point analytically. There is a great difference between sin and offense. Even a glimpse of devotion (bhajanAbhAsa) destroys heaps of sins as fire easily burns heaps of cotton. aparAdhas are not destroyed so easily, however, so the best way to get rid of offense is to accept one's fault and repent deeply. A sinful person can easily get the fruits of devotion, but this is not possible for a person committing offenses. Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila, 8/26-30) says:
[Bengali omitted for now unless someone wants me to type it in]
"Even chanting the name of Krsna once destroys all sins and bestows the appearance of pure devotion, whic is the cause of divine love. After the appearance of divine love, bodily transformations appear such as perspiration, trembling, hairs standing on the body, faltering of the voice, and tears in the eyes. One's material bondage thus gets destroyed and he attains the loving service of Krsna. Attainment of such transcendental wealth is the result of chanting the name of Krsna even once. If one chants such a powerful holy name of Krsna again and again, but still does not get prema and tears do not appear in his eyes, then clearly he is very offensive. The seed of the holy name of Krsna does not sprout in his heart." It is evident from above verses that, in comparison to sin, offense is a heavy obstacle in the path of devotion. If one analyses sin, then he can understand that the desires for sense enjoyment appear in the heart as a result of bodily consiousness. This further is the cause of the appearance of sins like theft, adultery, murder, lying, eating forbidden foodstuffs, and others. The body is material in constitution. Activities done by the body, words, and mind under the influence of the false ego of bodily consciousness [considering the body to be the self] for enjoying the material senses are known as sins. Sins are thus related to the material body, not to the spirit soul. They have their effects only on the body and mind.
But offense is much graver in comparison to sin. Its effects cover the spirit soul. Devotional practices like zravaNa, kIrtana, and others are all transcendental and they are done for spiritual advancement. Sri Krsna, His devotee, His holy name, and spiritual abode are all eternal and transcendental. Disrespect or negligence to any of these and considering them material is known as aparAdha. Hideous acts that affect the temporary material body are thus known as sins, and those that affect the spirit soul are known as aparAdha. aparAdha to the Azraya (devotee) is graver than to the viSaya (BhagavAn). It results either in the disappearance of bhakti or the drying up of the root of bhakti. Offense to the lord covers or diminishes bhakti. Bhakti, however, again appears after one is freed from offense. The results of offending the Vaisnavas are known to be much more horrendous than offenses to the Lord himself.
When we analyse the cause of aparAdha we understand that it is odious acts full of hatred that are completely opposed to love. This adverse mood arises from false ego and creates a wide breach between the lovable mahApuruSas, or exalted devotees, and a sAdhaka devotee practicing devotion for attaining divine prema. One thus thinks himself exalted though fallen, wise though unwise, and disrespects or neglects the mahats, thinking them to be worldly men. mahat refers to guru, Vaisnava, and the entities residing in the holy dhAma. All of them have transcendental bodies. Thinking them to be worldly in nature is known as mahat-aparAdha. Considering them to be mundane, but externally giving them respect is also disrespect and it deprives one of the satisfaction, affection, and mercy of compassionate mahat-puruSas. rAdh means satisfaction, and diminishing satisfaction is known as aparAdha. aparAdha means acts that dissatisfy BhagavAn, the holy name, the guru, and the Vaisnavas.
bhakti, bhakta, and the Lord's mercy are the fundamental base for attaining the Lord and similarly disrespect, faithlessness, negligence, and blasphemy of them are grave obstacles in the way of attaining the Lord. The best way to overcome offense to bhakti, bhakta, and BhagavAn is to be cautious regarding their disrespect. One should therefore surrender unto them with full knowledge of their real form (svarUpa) and engage in affectionate devotion with full respect for them. Thus offenseless bhajana can be practised; all offenses will be destroyed.
The author is saying aparAdha here refers to nAma-aparAdha, not to sevA-aparAdha. That is because intelligent people constantly chant the holy name, recite prayers and serve the Lord, which nullify their sevA-aparAdhas, if any. If someone is careless about sevA-aparAdha thinking that on the strength of holy name and recitation of prayers sevA-aparAdhas can be nullified, then those sevA-aparAdhas turn into nAma-aparAdhas. A sAdhaka devotee should thus carefully understand sevA-aparAdha.
[here follows a long list of sevA-aparAdhas]
...The wise devotees are careful to avoid all the above sevA-aparAdhas and are not slack about them. If somehow they unknowingly or accidentally commit sevA-aparAdha, those aparAdhas are nullified by chanting, reciting prayers, and serving the Lord constantly. If someone, however, slackens his vigil about sevAparAdha and thinks: "My sevAparAdhas can be nullified every day simply by reciting stotras and chanting the holy name, so there is no harm in committing sevAparAdhas", his sevAparAdhas turn into grave nAmAparAdhas, for the scriptures say that it is an offence to the chanting of the holy name to commit sins on the strength of chanting the holy name. A person who sins on the strength of atonements cannot destroy that sin by any type of atonement, rather it becomes grave like a thunderbolt. In the verse nAmno balAd, the word nAma refers to the other devotional parts as well. That means if someone commits sevA-aparAdhas on the strength of any devotional part such as hearing, worshipping, and so on, then that sevA-aparAdha turns into nAma-aparAdha. sva pratipAdakatve sati svetara pratipAdakatvam upalakSaNatvam, the act of implying something that has not been expressed. That which, by establishing itself, also establishes others is known as upalakSaNa. For example, if someone says, "Save the yogurt from the crows", the idea is to save the yogurt. Crow is used as an upalakSaNa to represent that the yogurt should be saved from other birds and animals, like cats and dogs as well. Similarly, when the holy name is mentioned it means the holy name itself as well as all the other items of bhajana.