Radhanath Swami on ‘Glory of Path of Devotion and Holy Names’

Published on April 14, 2015 by

I am very grateful to be here today. Special gratitude to Param Pujya Sri Srimad Vimalananda Maharaja who is a dear disciple of Sri Param Pujya Swami Shivanandji Maharaj, who my own guru Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Swami had very affectionate relationship with, Sri Vimalananda Swami Maharaj. In 1969, in San Francisco – Srila Prabhupada called San Francisco New Jagannath Puri because it is the first place in the Western world where the Rathayatra was celebrated – and in front of Lord Jagannath’s chariot Srila Prabhupada and Swami Vimalananda danced together.

Vimalananda Maharaja: In 1969, in San Francisco, he had chariot festival, 3 chariots. They had to remove the overhead wires so that chariots could pass easily. Towards the end we all went and danced with Prabhupadji. There were more than 5000 people there, and they were all given prasad in very beautiful way. It was a wonderful sight to see.

Radhanath Swami describes Srila Prabhupada’s Rath Yatra as a little boy

When Srila Prabhupada was a little boy, about eight years old, he used to look at the timetables of the Indian railway schedule to see what time the trains to Jagannath Puri would be from Calcutta where he lived. And when he was a little boy he got a little wagon and made a chariot for Jagannath and would have Ratha Yatras through the streets of Calcutta and dance and chant and give prasad. Then later he took that festival to the whole world. I am very grateful for your hospitality for welcoming us in this holy place.

Radhanath Swami on ‘Kali-yuga’s great benediction: The Holy Name of the Lord.’

Swamiji has asked me to speak something about bhakti and harinam. In the Srimad Bhagavat, there is important verse-

kaler doṣa-nidhe rājan

asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ

kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya

mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet

This Kali Yuga is an ocean of faults and people have such bad habits. What is religion is taken to be irreligion and what is irreligion is taken to be religion. But there is one benediction, that in this age of Kali by simply chanting and kirtan, the name of Krishna, one can attain the perfection of liberation.

kali-kāle nāma-rūpe kṛṣṇa-avatāra

nāma haite haya sarvajagatnistāra

 That Krishna has descended in this age of Kali in the divine name and Krishna descended himself as Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, to teach by his example in the role of a devotee, of what are the values we should cultivate in our chanting of Krishna’s names. There is a beautiful verse that Sri Chaitanya cited-

nitya-siddha krsna-prema sadhya kabhu naya

sravavadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya

That the love for Krishna is within the heart of every being, and by associating with saintly people and by chanting Krishna’s name that love is awakened. Swami Vimalanandji Maharaj was talking about how real wealth is in that love. I will briefly share one beautiful leela that has always very much moved my heart.

Radhanath Swami narrates story of Suklambar Brahmachari

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu established the Sankirtan Movement in Navadvip, West Bengal, and he would have the devotees chanting harinam. One day he said, “We were chanting in the day, but we are wasting precious moments of human life by sleeping at night. We should continue the kirtan throughout the night also.” And all of the devotees had so much faith in him, they were so inspired, they all said Haribol!!! Then Sri Gauranga taught them, “This is the method by which you can chant constantly. It cannot be done by our own determination or our own tapasya. It is only possible by Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s grace,” he said, “And this is how to reach that grace:

trinad api sunicena taror api sahishnuna

amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harihi

One should chant in a state of mind and one should live one’s life thinking oneself more humble than a blade of grass. One should feel oneself more tolerant and forgiving than a tree, one should offer all respect to others and not demand respect, or expect respect for oneself. If we live by these principles, we could chant God’s names constantly.” And he said, “Take this verse, put it on the string of the holy name and wear it always –

namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis,

tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah,

etadrisi tava kripa bhagavan mamapi,

durdaivam idrisam ihajani nanuragah

That the supreme Lord has many names and in each of these divine names the Lord has invested all of his potencies, his grace.”

namachintamani Krishna Chaitanya rasavigraha

The name of the Lord, and the Lord is present and there are no hard and fast rules for chanting.

So one day the Lord was having kirtan in the house of Srivas and Sri Gauranga at that time he was fulfilling the desires of all of his devotees. He saw one simple brahmachari named Sukhlambar. This Sukhlambar was very unknown, he was a beggar in the eyes of most of the people. He had a little thatched hut where he lived on the bank of mother Ganga, and every day with begging bowl he would go out to at least eight houses to beg. People would just give him a little, or the only thing they would give them is broken pieces of old rice because generally people don’t give beggars the best they have. Usually people don’t give beggars anything. But if they do give something, they give the cheapest thing they have. So he would have a little cloth bag and go house to house and collect these broken pieces of rice and the whole time he would be chanting the names of Lord Hari. He would be in the ecstasy of love for Lord Hari, but nobody knew. The common people thought he was just an ordinary beggar. He never advertised that he was a saintly person. He considered himself most ordinary. He was really trinad api sunicena. He had that humility. Quietly, silently, he would beg and would take him many hours till he got enough rice before he came with his bag to his little thatched hut chanting Krishna’s name. He would cook the rice and he would offer it to Krishna and then he would eat it.

One day, after he begged and before he came home, he came to the kirtan at Srivas Angan. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was sitting and everyone was chanting. Sukhlambar was so simple and very poor materially, yet had such a rich heart; he danced and he was dancing like a child with such spontaneous joy. Lord Chaitanya then was sitting on the altar because he was in his mood of Krishna. He saw Sukhlambar. Just to see the innocence, the humility, and the joy in which Sukhlambar was dancing, he said, “Sukhlambar come here.” Then Lord Chaitanya took his hand, he had very long arms, and with his hand he thrusted into the bag of Sukhlambar Brahmachari and took a handful of broken pieces of raw chipped rice and ate it. Sukhlambar started to cry and said, “No, no, this is not fit to be eaten by you My Lord”. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprahu again put his hand in the bag and took more and more and more, and he ate the whole bag of rice. Lord Chaitanya said, “Today, because I am taking the rice from Sukhlambar’s cloth bag, I am for the first time truly tasting the love for Krishna.”

Radhanath Swami narrates “Suklambar Brahmachari as Sudama in past life

And then Lord Chaitanya said to Sukhlambar brahmachari, “You do not remember, but I know you birth after birth. You are my poverty-stricken beggar devotee.In your last birth you were living very simple in poverty with your wife. Your name was Sudama and your wife told you, ‘Please go to Krishna. He was your classmate at the ashram of Sandipani Muni and now he’s living in Dwarka in beautiful palaces. He has so much wealth and you are so skinny and you have all dirty, not dirty, but very old torn clothes and we are just living in a thatched hut. I can’t tolerate seeing you in such poverty. Please go to Krishna and ask him for some help.’” Sudama would always say ‘no’. But just because he couldn’t tolerate seeing his wife in poverty, he decided, “Alright, I would go. But Krishna is Bhagavan. I have to offer him something.” His wife looked around in the house. There was nothing to offer him, so she went out begging and she got some chipped rice. She took an old piece of cloth, wrapped the chipped rice and gave it to Sudama and said, “Bring this to Krishna.” So Sudama walked from Porbandar, which is also the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, and he walked all the way to Dwarka. There when he saw the magnificent gates of the Yadu kingdom, he was amazed. There were guards, but as soon as they saw this simple little beggar person Sudama, a Brahman, they let him pass through all gates. He was escorted into Krishna’s principal palace where he was sitting on the bed with Rukhmini Devi. The various assistants of the palace were watching and they were thinking, “Who is this?” They were living in such opulence and here is this simple man in rags – so skinny. Why, why is he being allowed in? Suddenly Krishna got off of his bed, and he went running, and he touched Sudama’s feet, embraced him with such affection, and he put Sudama on his seat. Krishna himself washed Sudama’s feet, honored him, worshiped him. Krishna is worshiping him and then he brought him wonderful Prasad. Meanwhile Rukhmini Devi, the supreme goddess of fortune had a chamara, a fan, humbly serving Sudama by fanning him. And after he was received with so much love by the Lord, they spoke remembering the days when they were living with Sandipani Muni in Ujjain, the ashram when they were small, they spoke all night long. Wonderful stories are shared in the Srimad Bhagvatam. In the morning Krishna asked Sudama, “Did you bring something for me?” Seeing the jewels, gold and silver and the silks and after eating such a prasad Krishna had prepared for him, he was really thinking, “How can I give Krishna that stale, broken chipped rice that I am holding in this little cloth?” He said, “No my Lord. I didn’t bring anything.” Krishna knows everything, he specially knows the heart of his devotee. So Krishna suddenly – he knew exactly where that little bag was – he grabbed it and he took the chipped rice and ate a morsel. And he was about to take it again, and Sudama was saying, “No, no, no, my Lord this is not fit for you.” He was about to eat more and Rukhmini said, “That’s enough.” Now different acharyas give you different explanations why she said, “This is enough.” Because she knew just by that morsel, Sudama would have more wealth than Indra, the king of heaven, what to speak if he ate more? How much more wealth he would get! And another reason is, because she saw how much Krishna was enjoying the love of devotee in the form of that chipped rice, she wanted some. She wanted to share with all of her people, all of her maidservants and all of the other queens and all the other assistants. “If Krishna enjoys the love of his devotee in the form of this rice so much, I want to share with everyone; this will please Krishna the most.” She said, “You’ve already satisfied the 14 worlds by taking this one morsel.”

So after such a beautiful meeting, Sudama took leave and returned. And as he was walking back to his home, in his mind he was just remembering all the beautiful pastimes and conversations he just had with Lord Krishna. He was thinking, “Krishna, he’s the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the husband of the goddess of fortune, and who am I? I am just a very fallen insignificant friend of a Brahman, and yet with his own arms, he embraced me. He put me on his bed, he worshipped me, he was overwhelmed with gratitude and love.” But he was thinking of his wife, because she gave him that chipped rice and Krishna ate it. But he was supposed to ask Krishna for some wealth, but he didn’t as in his mind he was thinking, “How could I ask God for anything?” In the seventh canto, when Prahlad Maharaj was offered benediction by Narahari Narasimha Dev, he said, “My beloved Lord, if I ask anything in return for my devotion to you, then I’m not a devotee, I am not a bhakta, I am just doing business with you. My love, my service, my life, is only for your pleasure. I want nothing in return, except to love and serve you and always remember you.” That was the mood of Sudama, but when he got to the place where his house was supposed to be, he happened to see, there was a beautiful palace, with gardens and lakes and swans and wonderful trees and beautiful celestial people walking all around. He was thinking, “Where am I?” He was really astonished and then he saw this beautiful lady come out, in elegant gowns. And she came before him and he looked at her and then one of the ladies who was close by said, “This is your wife.” He recognized her, and she just looked down and together they walked into their palace.

It is described that for the rest of his life, with his wife, they lived with the same simplicity, the same humility, the same spirit of service, as they did when they were in the little hut, because they understood that everything is God’s property. Whether they were living in a thatched hut, or whether they were living in a palace, they used everything in the service of Krishna as das dasa-nu-das, and were constantly serving everyone by inspiring and enlightening. Their consciousness was the same, whether one is living in a palace or under a tree.- Radhanath Swami

Neither one is a disqualification or a qualification; akinchan gocharam means ‘nothing is mine’.

So Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, when he was reminding Sukhlumbar brahmachari, “You are Sudama and now you have come again and it’s my greatest satisfaction to steal your rice.” Vrindavan Das Thakur explains that according to shastras, Pancharatriki Vidhi, there are certain rules and regulations and rituals in order to make an offering to Bhagavan. There are mantras and yantras and tantras and pujas and mudras, but Sukhlumbar, Sudama they didn’t do any mantras, they didn’t even offer it, but because of the simplicity and the humility of their devotion, even without an offering or an intention to offer, the Lord was so hungry that he stole it.

Radhanath Swami says, “Krishna tastes the love and devotion of a devotee.”

In Vrindavan, Gopis, little Gopas would come and steal their butter, and they would, just for the opportunity to talk about these pasttimes, they would go to Yashoda Mai’s house to complain about Krishna. And they would say all the different things Krishna was doing to steal the butter – Makhanchor. And Yashoda Mai said, “Then I will keep Krishna at home.” They said, “No, no, no, no, don’t do that. The only reason we make butter is with the hope that Krishna will come and steal it. The only reason we live is with the hope and prayer that Krishna will come and steal our butter.” They were not offering to Krishna, but because it was made with love and devotion for Krishna’s pleasure, Krishna would come to taste it. These beautiful pastimes are there to teach the world, Krishna is bhakta vatsala. 

The Lord, by his own supreme power, willingly becomes subordinate to the love of his devotee. And that love is within all of us; it is dormant within our hearts and when through the practice of devotion, our hearts become soft and sweet like butter, then Krishna will steal our hearts and that is the ultimate aspiration of bhakti yoga to offer our hearts to Krishna. – Radhanath Swami

And if he accepts it, that’s the perfection of our lives. Chanting these beautiful names of the Lord Hari’s in kirtan is a sublime way of awakening that love and softening our hearts. Thank you very much.




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  • David Jones 8 years ago

    I have heard Radhanath Swami before and his talks are impressive. There is lot of lessons and ideas to be implemented in day to day life. I am a teacher by profession and now I have started using his way of explaining this to my students. I cite a story and explain simple, deep, profound lessons to be applied in practical life. Here he says about story of Sukhlambar brahmachari, which is just amazing. Great going fellas..

    • Lui 8 years ago

      ahh.. well it sounds nice. really the talk is good one. I strongly believe in what he said at the last – chanting the names of Lord helps us in awakening the love for God and soften our hearts. I have also started this mantra meditation and it works.

      • Jerry Richard 8 years ago

        Even I tried…it works! It is pretty good experience

      • Piyush Singh 7 years ago

        It’s interesting that you started mantra meditation after listening to HH Radhanath Swami. I’m sure you must have experienced some good effects by now because same is the case with me. I have see a gradual transformation in myself since I started practicing it.

    • Piyush Singh 7 years ago

      No doubt that there are lots of lessons and ideas to be learnt from the talks of HH Radhanath Swami. It’s interesting that you are trying this style on your Students. I’m sure you must be already getting success in your endeavor.

  • Rahul Gupta 8 years ago

    So much to learn from Radhanath Swami. And while kirtan, he dislikes people watching him. He enjoys people chanting enthusiastically. He simply dislikes being the center of attraction.

  • Satya Kama Das 8 years ago

    Very nice video. Thank you very much for sharing the same.

  • Barbara James 8 years ago

    its quite an interesting talk. I am trying to study Eastern scriptures and always wondered about Kaliyuga.. can someone help me out..

  • Kalpana Kulkarni 8 years ago

    Very nice stories. All of us should take up the process of chanting the holy names of the Lord which is the only way to perfect our lives in Kali Yuga.

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde 8 years ago

    Very nice story. Thank you very much for sharing.

  • Jane Costa 8 years ago

    yoga has been always my favourite area for understanding and application. I have heard that there are many types of yoga which one can do.. here there is understanding of bhakti yoga – love is dormant within our hearts and when through the practice of devotion, our hearts become soft and sweet like butter, then Krishna will steal our hearts and that is the ultimate aspiration of bhakti yoga – to offer our hearts to Krishna.

    what are other types of yoga.. which is best?

    • Betty Lee 8 years ago

      Lord Krishana has explained Karma yoga, Dhyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti yoga is best yoga for perfection of life. Bhakti-yoga , pure devotional service to Lord Krishna , is the highest and most expedient means for attaining pure love for krishna, which is highest end of spiritual existence. Those who follow this supreme path develop divine qualities.

    • Pradeep Kumar 8 years ago

      Bhakti yoga is Summum bonum of all the other types of yoga, why, because whatever we do in this yoga system is intended directly for the pleasure of the lord, Srimad bhagwatam states “Samsiddhi hari tosnam” i.e. whatever should one do, should be for the pleasure of the lord or Hari. In Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna describes very beautifully all the other yoga paths sequentially one after other and ultimately he tells Arjuna in chapter 18, “Sarva dharman paritajye mam ekam sarnam braja” i.e. abandon all verities of religion and just surrender unto me.

      • Kevin White 8 years ago

        how one can practice this very sweet bhakti yoga while doing all activities needed for earning of bread and butter?

        • Pradeep Kumar 8 years ago

          Its very simple, whatever one does, should do keeping Krishna or God at center and should not do for our own sense gratification. And literally this principle can be applied to everything and anything in life. If one does activities keeping God in center then one would only do whatever pleases him and not the one which would displease. and if we develop this consciousness then we are already in Bhkati yoga, which means pure loving devotional service to lord.

          • Piyush Singh 7 years ago

            So well put Pradeep. This simple explanation is very much to the point. Thanks.

  • Satish Rane 8 years ago

    many lessons to be learn and to be applied in through example of Sukhlambar brahmachari…thank you maharaj for such a wonderful class… hare krishna

  • Sneha 8 years ago

    Very inspiring story of Sudama bramhna. …. Lord Krishna not need anything but when devotee offers Him any insignificant thing with pure love and devotion, Lord Krishna is so merciful that He accept that offering.

  • makarand pathak 8 years ago

    Inspiring story by Radhanath Swami. Patram, pushpam, phalam, toyam… great.

  • Kaushik 8 years ago

    Radhanath Swami has nicely explained the importance of loving devotion to God.

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde 8 years ago

    Very nice lecture. Thank you very much.

  • Piyush Singh 8 years ago

    Such sweet narration of these very inspiring points on Holy name and the need to lead a simple life with keeping Krishna in the center of our lives.

  • Ushamati Devi dasi 8 years ago

    Excellent stories by Radhanath Swami. Very enlightening.

  • Sumit Sharma 8 years ago

    Great lecture by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj.

  • Pradeep Kumar 8 years ago

    Such sweet narration on Holy name of the lord.

    • Anthony Davis 8 years ago

      i have seen that different religions have different holy names. which one to follow? is there any difference in the different names?

      • Pradeep Kumar 8 years ago

        Vedic literature’s (manual to human life) describes the real meaning of Religion as “Dharma” or “Sanatana Dharma”. The Sanskrit word sanatana means “eternal” and the word dharma means “occupation.” Therefore the term “Sanatana Dharma” can be taken to mean our/soul’s eternal occupation.

        The English word “religion” is a little different from sanatana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanatana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed. For instance liquidity can not be taken from water, nor can heat be taken from fire. Similarly the eternal function of the soul cannot be taken from the soul which is described in vedic literature’s as “to love & server God”.

        Therefore sanatana-dharma does not refer to any sectarian process of religion. It is the eternal function of the eternal soul in relationship to the God. One can be from any religion but the nature of soul would not change which is only to “love and server God”.

        Now coming back to original query, God has many names and He will listen to anyone when one remembers Him with any of those names. You call him Narayana, Krishna, Rama, Vasudeva, Vishnu, Govinda, Madhusudhana, Allah, God and many more. Different religion may have different holy names but the real purpose of all the religions is to love & serve God. So whatever name one takes, whatever path one follows, if he/she feels their presence near to God, if it helps them developing the love of God & at the same time love/respect to all the living entities (children’s of God) then that is perfect & right path.

        Now the 2nd part of question which name to follow ? here we can again refer the non-sectarian vedic literature’s, it recommends one to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra especially in this age (below verse from the Kali-Santarana Upanisad):

        hare krishna hare krishna
        krishna krishna hare hare
        hare rama hare rama
        rama rama hare hare
        iti sodasakam namnam
        natah parataropayah
        sarva-vedesu drsyate

        Meaning: “After searching through all the Vedic literature, one cannot find a method of religion more sublime for this age than these sixteen names composed of thirty-two syllables. They are the only means to counteract the evil effects of Kali-yuga.”

        Hope it helps. Thanks.

  • Jason Evans 8 years ago

    now thats an amazing secret being shared herein for this age rarely known to many

  • George Martin 8 years ago

    great…espesially the heart touching story of suklambar brmhachari’s love for krishna and chaitanya mahaprabhu’s love for suklambar bramhachari.

    • Jasson Thompson 8 years ago

      yes really that same person when he was sudama.. then also whether he was poverty stricken or the rich.., his attitude, his devotion remained unaffected.. what a steadiness..thats called love.

  • Lalit 8 years ago

    Radhanth Swami explains the Urgency of taking Holy Name .

  • Deepika 8 years ago

    Maharaj please shower your mercy so that I get the taste in holy name as by chanting holy name only we can cross this ocean as you told.maharaj great lecture I pray I take your instructions seriously and just follow them.

  • amit 8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing with us the beauty of the path of Devotion or Bhakti to Krishna.

  • Y Raja Shekar 8 years ago

    Really excellent lecture by Radhanath Swami glorifying the glories of holy names of Lord.

  • NSP 8 years ago

    Very inspiring indeed!

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde 8 years ago

    Thank you very much for such a nice and inspiring story.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni 8 years ago

    Amazing stories! What we learn from this is that the most important attributes to be developed is simplicity and humility. Krsna is pleased when a person has these qualities and becomes subordinate to the love of his devotee.

  • Keshav Kishor Das 8 years ago

    Heart touching story of Suklambhar Bramhachari……!