How is the holy name different from ordinary sound
Transcribed by: Argha Maji
Question: How is the holy name different from ordinary sound?
Answer: The holy name is different from ordinary sound, because it is God himself manifesting as sound, as sound of the mantra comprised of his holy names. And this difference can be understood with intelligence and perceived with experience. So, let’s look at this.
First, the holy name is God manifesting as sound. The Vedic Scriptures explain that God doesn’t just exist far away in his own kingdom. That is his transcendental aspect, beyond this world. But he is also immanent. He also manifests in this world. And when he manifests in this world, he manifests in various ways. So one such way is the sound of his holy names. So, abhinnatvān nāma-nāminoh. So, abhinnatvān non-different, nāma-nāminoh , the name and the named are non-different. So, this is from Padma Purana. It says Krishna is manifesting as sound. Now, although the holy name may seem like an ordinary sound, we can understand the difference with a simple example. Suppose a mother, while disciplining and training her child in cleanliness tells, “Whenever you see any paper lying on the ground , catch it, pick it up, tear it and throw in the dustbin.” The child cheerfully takes up the teaching. And when that morning when the father is rushing off to the office, a five hundred rupee note falls from the pocket. And the child sees the five hundred rupee note and immediately runs to the five hundred rupee note to tear it apart. And the mother sees and screams. “Stop, Don’t tear it.” The child asks,” Why, you only told me to tear.” The mother replies,” This is not ordinary paper. Don’t tear. With this paper, you can get five hundred chocolates.” The child is happy.”Oh really, five hundred chocolates.” The child cannot believe it. But then when the mother later takes the child to a shop and with that note, gets five hundred chocolates. Then the child understands.”This is not ordinary paper. I should not tear it.”
So the same way, to people with consciousness which is not spiritually evolved, spiritually childlike, the holy name may seem like ordinary sound. Just as the five hundred rupee note, seems to be like ordinary paper to a child. But when one chants the holy names, in japa or in kirtana, in individual meditation or in group singing, then the holy name brings such peace and joy that no ordinary sound can bring such peace and joy. And when one personally experiences that peace and joy, then one understands that this sound is not ordinary sound. This is something special. At initial stage, we will just assume that it is something special, but as we practice spirituality more and more, as we practice mantra meditation more and more, we can realise that it is God himself manifesting as sound. So, that’s how through experience, we can individually understand the holy name is non-different from Krishna. So the immense peace and happiness it provides, something that no ordinary sound can provide.
The holy name is not only different from ordinary sound, it can make a huge difference in our lives, which ordinary sound cannot make . The holy name by providing us higher happiness, frees us from the urges of lower pleasures. And when we are freed from these urges, then we can bring out the latent good qualities within us and with those virtues we can make positive, wonderful contributions to the world. There are many people in this world who suffer from bad habits. And those bad habits make them imprisoned, shackled and often addiction is predicated to criminality. People suffer and succumb to criminal actions to satisfy their addictive urges. Now such people who are essentially good but have become bad because of the inability to control themselves, are taught mantra meditation and are provided the techniques for spiritual self-empowerment. Then they can transform themselves and one, two, three… significant number of people have transformed themselves. And the world can become transformed. Many such inspiring accounts of prisoners getting transformed by the power of the holy name are narrated by His Holiness Candramauli Swami Maharaj in his book, The Holy Jail. It is not that the holy name can make only bad people good, actually it can make good people better.
All of us, if we can improve our concentration, if we can improve our focus, our self mastery, then whatever we are good at, we can do that much much better. In this way, the holy name can have a positive effect on the lives of everyone. As the soiund of the holy name is dramatically different from ordinary sound and open-mindedly trying out chanting to realise this difference can make a huge difference in our lives. Thank you. Hare Krishna.