In a previous article, we examined the characteristics of Bhagavān’s names. There, we saw that Bhagavān’s name is self-existent, i.e. independent, and conscious. Here we explore this concept some more.
Sri Jiva Goswami quotes a famous verse from the Padma Purāṇa:
nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇaścaitanya-rasa-vigrahaḥ
pūrṇaḥ śuddho nitya-mukto abhinnatvān nāma-nāminoḥ
The Name of Kṛṣṇa is a wish-fulfilling gem; indeed it is Kṛṣṇa Himself as the embodiment of conscious ecstasy. It is complete, pure and eternally liberated because of the non-distinction of the Name and its Repository.
Sri Jiva Goswami explains the meaning of the different terms of this famous verse:
अस्यार्थः- नामैव चिन्तामणिः सर्वार्थदातृत्वात्।न केवलं तादृशमेव।अपि तु चैतन्येत्यादिलक्षणो यः कृष्णः स एव साक्षात्।तत्र हेतु – अभिन्नत्वादितीति।
This verse indicates that the Name is itself a wish-fulfilling gem because it bestows all that is meaningful or desirable. Moreover, it is directly Sri Kṛṣṇa Himself, who is replete with characteristics such as consciousness. The reason why this is so is that the Name is non-different from its Repository.
Being conscious, self-existent and non-different from Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa’s name is endowed with independent will. How then can it be produced by the tongue of another person? After all, a conscious person cannot be made to do something without their consent.
In response to this objection, Śrī Jīva explains that Bhagavān’s name manifests independently, of its own will, onto one’s tongue. This is captured in a famous verse from the Bhakti Rasāmṛta Sindhu (BRS 1.2.234)
ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ
sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ
Because the name, form and other attributes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are transcendental, they are imperceptible to the material senses. But when a devotee offers the self in full devotion, then only do the Name and other attributes manifest themselves, of their own accord, on the tongue and other senses.
This is seen from different stories in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, where Bhagavān’s name appears on the tongue of non-humans even, like the deer in Bharata Mahārāja’s story (SB 5.14.45), or Gajendra, the elephant (SB 8.3.32).
As Bhagavān’s names are non-different from Him, it follows that chanting His name is equivalent to meeting Him face-to-face. And yet, people do not have this kind of experience. The reason for this is the presence of offenses which displeases Bhagavān, and prevents the cognition on the part of the chanter of His name as being non-different from Him.