I have presented Śrī Babaji’s translations of the ten offenses to Hari-nāma from the Bhakti Sandarbha in a previous article which were based on Śrī Jīva’s commentary. Here I present my translations of Śrī Sanātana’s commentary on each of the ten offenses.
The first two offenses are:
satāṁ nindā nāmnaḥ paramam aparādhaṁ vitanute
yataḥ khyātiṁ yātaṁ katham u sahate tad vigarhām |
śivasya śrī viṣṇor ya iha guṇa nāmādi sakalaṁ
dhiyā bhinnaṁ paśyet sa khalu hari nāmāhita karaḥ ||521||
To criticize genuine devotees of Bhagavān (the sat ) is a grievous offense against the name. How can the name tolerate criticism of those who spread its glories? One who considers the name, qualities, and other attributes of Śiva as independent ( bhinnam ) of the name, qualities, and other attributes of Bhagavān Viṣṇu, displeases the name.
I present Śrī Babaji’s translation of the verses in this article from the Bhakti Sandarbha (with minor modifications depending on the meaning Śrī Sanātana gives). Now, Śrī Sanātana explains the first two aparādhas as follows:
yataḥ sadbhyaḥ khyātiṁ prasiddhiṁ prākaṭyaṁ vā prāptaṁ nāma | u khede| teṣāṁ vigarhāṁ kathaṁ sahate ? api tu soḍhuṁ na śaknuyād eva | ato’yam eko’parādhaḥ | asya ca mukhyatvād ādau nirdeśaḥ | ādi-śabdena
rūpa-līlādi dhiyāpi hari-nāmnāpi ahitam aparādhaṁ karotīti tathā saḥ ||521||
[The words yataḥ khyātiṁ are explained] Through which devotees (yataḥ), the name has acquired fame (khyātiṁ), or has manifested fame (khyātiṁ) [how can it tolerate criticism of those devotees?]. The word ‘u’ implies offense. How can [the name] tolerate their criticism? Indeed, it is unable to tolerate it. Therefore, this is one type of offense. Because this offense is primary, it is listed first. The word ‘ādi’ [after the word ‘nāma’] includes rūpa, līlā etc. Even thinking mentally [that these are independent of Hari’s rūpa, līlā [is an offense]. [The compound word harināmāhita-kara means]: He who commits an offense even by the name.
The next offenses are:
guror avajñā śruti śāstra nindanaṁ
tathārtha vādo hari nāmni kalpanam |
To disrespect one’s spiritual teacher ( guror avajñā );
To criticize the Vedic scriptures ( śruti-śāstra-nindanam );
To consider the scriptural praises of the name as mere commendations ( artha-vāda );
And to ascribe one’s own imaginary meaning to the name ( hari-nāmni kalpanam ) are all offenses.
Śrī Sanātana sees two possibilities for the line tathārtha vādo hari nāmni kalpanam: either that they represent one offense, or that they are two separate offenses (below). If we take them as one offense, then there are three offenses above; else, there are four offenses.
śrutīnāṁ dharma-śāstrāṇāṁ ca nindanam | tathety ukta-samuccaye | artha-vādo yas tasya kalpanam | yad vā, hari-nāmnārtha-vādaḥ kalpanam eva, na tu tattvato ghaṭata ity arthaḥ | kalpyata iti vā pāṭhaḥ | yad vā, hari-nāmni kalpanaṁ ca, tan-māhātmyārtha-parityāgena durbuddhyā vṛthārthāntara-kalpanā caiko’parādha ity arthaḥ |
[The compound word śruti śāstra nindanaṁ means] criticism of the śrutis and the dharma-śāstras. The word ‘tathā’, ‘accordingly’, applies to the collective. [artha vādo kalpanam means] [the praises of the name] are imagined to be mere commendations. Alternatively, the meaning is [thinking that] the artha-vādas (fruits or results that are described in the scriptures as being acquired) through the name are imaginations only – meaning they are not true in reality. An alternative reading of kalpanam, “imagination”, is kalpyate, “imagined”. Or [there are two offenses here, so that] ‘ca’ is to be added after hari-nāmni kalpanaṁ. [Then, the meaning of hari-nāmni kalpanaṁ is] discarding the sense that conveys its glories, [offering] fruitless alternative interpretations with a polluted intelligence. This is a separate type of offense [from tathārtha vāda].
The seventh (or sixth) offense is:
nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa buddhir na vidyate tasya yamair hi śuddhiḥ
For one who intentionally commits sins on the strength of the name ( nāmno balāt), the means of purification through rules simply does not exist.
nāmno balāt nāma-grahaṇena pāpa-kṣayo bhaved iti nāmnāṁ prabhāva-jñānena pāpe buddhir api, kiṁ punaḥ pravṛttiḥ | yad vā, a-kāra-praśleṣeṇa nāmnā balam ajñātvā yasya pāpe buddhir ity arthaḥ | tasya yamaiḥ bahu-vratādibhir ahiṁsādibhir dvādaśabhir vā | yad vā, dharma-rājaiḥ cira-kālaṁ tat-kṛta-yātanā-bhogenāpīty arthaḥ ||522||
Even the inclination to commit sin (pāpe buddhir api), due to the knowledge of the power of the name, that “by taking the name, sin will be destroyed” [is an offense], what to speak of acting [on the inclination]. Alternatively, [the word ‘balāt’ is to be read as ‘abalāt’ where] the “a-kāra” has become combined with the word nāma. The meaning is — not knowing the power [of the name], one who has an inclination to commit sin. The word ‘yamaiḥ’ refers to many vows, or the twelve qualities such as non-violence etc. Or, ‘yamaiḥ’ means despite suffering the suffering imposed by Yamarāja for a long time.
Committing sin knowing well the power of the name, or committing sin while being unaware of the greatness of the name, are both offenses.
The eighth and ninth offenses (or seventh, eighth and ninth offenses) are as follows:
dharma vrata tyāga hutādi sarva śubha kriyā sāmyam api pramādaḥ |
aśraddadhāne vimukhe’py aśṛṇvati yaś copadeśaḥ śiva nāmāparādhaḥ ||523||
It is an offense to equate the name with all the other pious works ( śubha-kriyā ) recommended in scripture, such as prescribed duties, vows, renunciation, and sacrifices. It is an offense to the Bhagavān’s name to instruct a person who is devoid of faith, oblivious to Bhagavān, and disinterested in hearing.
dharmādīnāṁ sarvāsāṁ śubha-kriyāṇāṁ sāmyaṁ nāmnā tulyatvam api pramādo’parādha ity arthaḥ | yad vā, dharmādi-śubha-kriyā-sāmyam eko’parādhaḥ | pramādaḥ—nāmny anavadhānatāpy eva | evam atrāparādha-dvayam | tataś ca tathārtha-vādo hari-nāmni kalpanam ity atraikāparādho jñeyaḥ | kiṁ ca, aśraddadhānādau jane ya upadeśaḥ, sa śiva-nāmni aparādhaḥ | śrī-bhagavatā saha śrī-śivasyābhedena śivety uktiḥ ||523||
It is an offense (pramāda) to consider the name as having equality (sāmyaṁ) with all the auspicious activities starting with dharma (in the first line). Alternatively, this is one type of offense, and pramāda (is another type of offense) means inattentiveness toward the name. Then there are two types of offenses here. In that case, “tathārtha-vādo hari-nāmni kalpanam” should be considered to be one offense [the offenses must add up to 10]. Furthermore, that instruction is an offense to Śrī Bhagavān’s name, which is given to a person without faith and so on. Here, the word ‘śiva’ means Śrī Bhagavān, as the word is spoken considering abheda between Śrī Bhagavān and Śrī Śiva.
As we see above, one could translate ‘pramāda’ as ‘offense’, or translate it as ‘inattentiveness’, making it a separate offense. Śrī Jīva takes the first approach. It is worth noting here that ‘inattentiveness’ while chanting does not refer to inattentiveness that is common in practitioners. Deliberate inattentiveness- such as watching TV while chanting or chanting while driving or walking on the beach – is an offense. But if the mind wanders during chanting even as one is trying to focus the mind on the name, that is not an offense. Otherwise one’s chanting will always be offensive, and no one will ever be successful in chanting! It is the mentality that is important – is one aware of the greatness of the name and one’s extreme good fortune in being able to chant? That is what counts.
Śrī Jīva notes that the line aśraddadhāne vimukhe’py aśṛṇvati .. indicates the offense of the instructor ( upadeṣṭā ), and the next verse indicates the offense of the instructed (upadeśya). That is, both the ‘preacher’ and the ‘preached to’ are implicated in offense.
Offense 10 is as follows:
śrute’pi nāma māhātmye yaḥ prīti rahito’dhamaḥ |
ahaṁ mamādi paramo nāmni so’py aparādha kṛt ||524||
A person of low character who, in spite of hearing the glories of the name, remains devoid of affection for the name, being immersed instead in the conceptions of “I” and “my” in regard to the body ( śrutvāpi nāma-māhātmyam … ), is also an offender against the name. ( Padma Purāṇa, Brahma-khaṇḍa 25.15–18)
Śrī Sanātana’s commentary is very illuminating here and so I took some care to split it up into parts. First, he explains the tenth offense:
nāmni prītiḥ śraddhā bhaktir vā, tayā rahitaḥ san | yaḥ ahaṁ-mamādi-paramaḥ, ahantā mamatā ca, ādi-śabdena viṣaya-bhogādikaṁ caiva paramaṁ pradhānam, na tu nāma-grahaṇaṁ yasya tathā-bhūtaḥ syāt, so’py aparādha-kṛt | yad vā, dharma-vratety-ādy-ardha-ślokenaika evāparādhaḥ | ahaṁ-mamādīty ardha-śloke cāsmin ekaḥ | evam aparādhā daśa, ye jñātvāpi na varjayanti, sahasā nāmno’parādhān daśeti tatraivokteḥ |
[He also commits offense who] is devoid of faith (prīti) in, or devotion (prīti) for, the name. He also is an offender, for whom I-ness (aham) and my-ness (mama), and enjoyment and so on of material objects (ādi) are primary (paramam), and not chanting of the name. Or, half of the verse on dharma-vrata etc., is one type of offense. And this half of the verse, ahaṁ mamādi parama, is another type. In this way, there are ten offenses. This is stated there itself: “those who do not immediately avoid the offenses, which are ten in number”.
Now he explains two ways of interpreting the last verse. The first one is the obvious meaning:
tataś cāyam arthaḥ—yaḥ prīti-rahito nāmny eva, so’dhamaḥ nāmāparādhīty arthaḥ | yad vā, yo’dhamaḥ prīti-rahitaḥ, so’parādha-kṛd ity uttareṇānvayaḥ |
The meaning is this. He is an adhama (lowly being), meaning an offender to the name, who is devoid of faith or devotion for the name alone. Or, that adhama (lowly being) who is devoid of faith or devotion for the name, is an offender to the name – this is the logical connection [between the words ‘adhama’, lowly being, and ‘aparādha-kṛt’, offender].
The second meaning is insightful:
kiṁ ca, nāmny eva viṣaye yo’haṁ-mamādi-paramaḥ | ahaṁ bahutara-nāma-kīrtaka itas tato nāma-kīrtanaṁ ca mat-pravartitam eva, mayā samo nāma-kīrtana-paro’nyaḥ kaḥ ? madīya-jihvādhīnam eva nāmety-ādikam eva paramaṁ pradhānam |
Furthermore, [he is also an offender] for whom I-ness and my-ness in relation to the name alone is primary. [That is, he thinks,] “I am the chanter of many names [compared with others]. And, the kīrtana of the names that is occurring here and there are set into motion by me only. Is there anyone else who is equal to me in dedication to nāma-kīrtana (there isn’t anyone else)? The name is surrendered to my tongue alone.” [These type of self-concepts] are primary (paramaṁ) in him.
Apparently, there were popular kirtanīyas with inflated egos at his time as well, despite the absence of youtube!
He completes the sense of the second line:
nāma-kīrtanaṁ ca kadācit sidhyati na vā yasya tathā-bhūto yaḥ, so’pīti|
And, he is also [an offender] whose chanting of the name comes to pass sometimes, and sometimes not.
The sense of the last line is that one who is a sporadic chanter also is an offender to the name, in addition to the chanter who obsessively chants to show that he is better than others.
Now, he concludes with some gems:
ata evādiṣṭaṁ bhagavatā—
It is for this reason that Śrī Bhagavān (Caitanya) instructed
tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā |
amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ || iti ||524||
One should always chant Hari-nāma while considering oneself lower than a blade of grass, being more tolerant than a tree, and honoring others without expecting honor in return.
jāte nāmāparādhe’pi pramādena kathañcana |
sadā saṅkīrtayan nāma tad-eka-śaraṇo bhavet ||525||
If by some inattention, somehow, an offense to the name is born, always chanting the name, one should take shelter of the name alone.
He comments on this last verse:
kathañcana pramādena bhrameṇa jāte sati, tat nāmaikaṁ śaraṇam āśrayo
yasya tathā tathābhūto bhavet, sarvathā nāma-paro bhaved ity arthaḥ ||525||
If [an offense occurs] somehow by illusion, one should take of that name alone, meaning one should become completely devoted to the name.