Good result of tilling the paddy field depends on providential rain and therefore the result is uncertain. Similarly performances of any kind of sacrifice in this age of Kali is also uncertain. Unscrupulous greedy Brahmins of the age of Kali induce innocent public to maintain such uncertain sacrificial show without disclosing the scriptural injunction that in the age of Kali, no other sacrificial performance can bear any fruit except the sacrifice of congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord. In this connection the Srimad Bhagavatam states:
prayena veda tad idam na mahajano 'yam
devya vimohita-matir bata mayayalam
trayyam jadi-krta-matir madhu-puspitayam
vaitanike mahati karmani yujyamanah
“Because they are bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Yajnavalkya and Jaimini and other compilers of the religious scriptures cannot know the secret, confidential religious system of the twelve mahajanas. They cannot understand the transcendental value of performing devotional service or chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Because their minds are attracted to the ritualistic ceremonies mentioned in the Vedas—especially the Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Rg Veda—their intelligence has become dull. Thus they are busy collecting the ingredients for ritualistic ceremonies that yield only temporary benefits, such as elevation to Svargaloka for material happiness. They are not attracted to the sankirtana movement; instead, they are interested in dharma, artha, kama and moksa.”
As stated in Bhagavad-gita (15.15), vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: the real purpose of studying the Vedas is to approach the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. Unfortunately, unintelligent people bewildered by the grandeur of Vedic yajnas want to see gorgeous sacrifices performed. They want Vedic mantras chanted and huge amounts of money spent for such ceremonies. Captivated by the Vedic injunctions they think: "If I perform this yajna, then next life I will be elevated to the heavenly planet." That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita:
yam imam puspitam vacam
nanyad astiti vadinah
“Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.”
Those who are simply attracted by the Vedic formulas cannot understand that offenseless chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra is sufficient. In the Bhakti-sandarbha (283), Srila Jiva Gosvami says:
yady api sri-bhagavata-mate panca-ratradi-vad-arcana-margasyavasyakatvam nasti, tad vinapi saranapatty-adinam ekatarenapi purusartha-siddher abhihitatvat.
“It is Srimad-Bhagavatam’s opinion that the process of Deity worship is not actually necessary, just as the specific prescriptions of the Pancaratra and other scriptures do not have to be followed. The Bhagavatam enjoins that even without practicing Deity worship one can achieve the complete success of human life by any of the other devotional processes, such as simply offering oneself at the Lord’s feet for His protection.”
Similarly the Srimad Bhagavatam states:
yat-prahvanad yat-smaranad api kvacit
svado 'pi sadyah savanaya kalpate
kutah punas te bhagavan nu darsanat
aho bata sva-paco 'to gariyan
yaj-jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam
tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya
brahmanucur nama grnanti ye te
“To say nothing of the spiritual advancement of persons who see the Supreme Person face to face, even a person born in a family of dog-eaters immediately becomes eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices if he once utters the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or chants about Him, hears about His pastimes, offers Him obeisances or even remembers Him. Oh, how glorious are they whose tongues are chanting Your holy name! Even if born in the families of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable. Persons who chant the holy name of Your Lordship must have executed all kinds of austerities and fire sacrifices and achieved all the good manners of the Aryans. To be chanting the holy name of Your Lordship, they must have bathed at holy places of pilgrimage, studied the Vedas and fulfilled everything required.”
In this verse the spiritual potency of chanting, hearing or remembering the holy name of the Supreme Lord is greatly stressed. Rupa Gosvami has discussed the sequence of sinful activities of the conditioned soul, and he has established, in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, that those who engage in devotional service become freed from the reactions of all sinful activities. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita. The Lord says that He takes charge of one who surrenders unto Him, and He makes him immune to all reactions to sinful activities. If by chanting the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead one becomes so swiftly cleared of all reactions to sinful activities, then what is to be said of those persons who see Him face to face?
Another consideration here is that persons who are purified by the process of chanting and hearing become immediately eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices. Generally, only a person who is born in a family of brahmanas, who has been reformed by the ten kinds of purificatory processes and who is learned in Vedic literature is allowed to perform the Vedic sacrifices. But here in this verse the word sadyah, "immediately," is used, and Sridhara Svami also remarks that one can immediately become eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices.
Sometimes envious people ask how Europeans and Americans in the Krsna consciousness movement can become brahmanas and perform such sacrifices. They do not know that the Europeans and Americans have already been purified by chanting the holy name of the Lord-Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is the proof.
Those who find fault in the Western Vaisnavas should consider this statement from Srimad-Bhagavatam and the commentary on this verse by Srila Jiva Gosvami. In this regard, Srila Jiva Gosvami has stated that to become a brahmana, one has to wait for purification and undergo the sacred thread ceremony, but a chanter of the holy name does not have to wait for the sacred thread ceremony.
One should not disbelieve or think, "How by chanting the holy name of the Lord can one become a holy man to be compared to the most elevated brahmana?" To eradicate such doubts in the minds of unbelievers, this verse affirms that the stage of chanting of the holy name of the Lord is not sudden, but that the chanters have already performed all kinds of Vedic rituals and sacrifices. It is not very astounding, for no one in this life can chant the holy name of the Lord unless he has passed all lower stages, such as performing the Vedic ritualistic sacrifices, studying the Vedas and practicing good behavior like that of the Aryans. All this must first have been done. Just as a student in a law class is to be understood to have already graduated from general education, anyone who is engaged in the chanting of the holy name of the Lord—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—must have already passed all lower stages. It is said that those who simply chant the holy name with the tip of the tongue are glorious. One does not even have to chant the holy name and understand the whole procedure, namely the offensive stage, offenseless stage and pure stage; if the holy name is sounded on the tip of the tongue, that is also sufficient. It is said herein that nama, a singular number, one name, Krsna or Rama, is sufficient. It is not that one has to chant all the holy names of the Lord. The holy names of the Lord are innumerable, and one does not have to chant all the names to prove that he has already undergone all the processes of Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. If one chants once only, it is to be understood that he has already passed all the examinations, not to speak of those who are chanting always, twenty-four hours a day. It is specifically said here, tubhyam: "unto You only." One must chant God's name, not, as the Mayavadi philosophers say, any name, such as a demigod's name or the names of God's energies. Only the holy name of the Supreme Lord will be effective. Anyone who compares the holy name of the Supreme Lord to the names of the demigods is called pasandi, or an offender.
The holy name has to be chanted to please the Supreme Lord, and not for any sense gratification or professional purpose. If this pure mentality is there, then even though a person is born of a low family, such as a dog-eater's, he is so glorious that not only has he purified himself, but he is quite competent to deliver others. He is competent to speak on the importance of the transcendental name, just as Thakura Haridasa did. Thakura Haridasa was apparently born in a family of Muhammadans, but because he was chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord offenselessly, Lord Caitanya empowered him to become the authority, or acarya, of spreading the name. It did not matter that he was born in a family which was not following the Vedic rules and regulations. Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Advaita Prabhu accepted him as an authority because he was offenselessly chanting the name of the Lord. Authorities like Advaita Prabhu and Lord Caitanya immediately accepted that he had already performed all kinds of austerities, studied the Vedas and performed all sacrifices. That is automatically understood. The smarta-brahmanas however were of the opinion that even if such persons who are chanting the holy name of the Lord are accepted as purified, they still have to perform the Vedic rites or await their next birth in a family of brahmanas so that they can perform the Vedic rituals. But actually that is not the case. Such a man does not need to wait for the next birth to become purified. He is at once purified. It is understood that he has already performed all sorts of rites. It is the so-called brahmanas who actually have to undergo different kinds of austerities before reaching that point of purification. There are many other Vedic performances which are not described here. All such Vedic rituals have been already performed by the chanters of the holy name.
The word juhuvuh means that the chanters of the holy name have already performed all kinds of sacrifices. Sasnuh means that they have already traveled to all the holy places of pilgrimage and taken part in purificatory activities at those places. They are called aryah because they have already finished all these requirements, and therefore they must be among the Aryans or those who have qualified themselves to become Aryans. "Aryan" refers to those who are civilized, whose manners are regulated according to the Vedic rituals. Any devotee who is chanting the holy name of the Lord is the best kind of Aryan. Unless one studies the Vedas, one cannot become an Aryan, but it is automatically understood that the chanters have already studied all the Vedic literature. The specific word used here is anucuh, which means that because they have already completed all those recommended acts, they have become qualified to be spiritual masters.
The very word grnanti, which is used in this verse, means to be already established in the perfectional stage of ritualistic performances. If one is seated on the bench of a high-court and is giving judgment on cases, it means that he has already passed all legal exams and is better than those who are engaged in the study of law or those expecting to study law in the future. In a similar way, persons who are chanting the holy name are transcendental to those who are factually performing the Vedic rituals and those who expect to be qualified (or, in other words, those who are born in families of brahmanas but have not yet undergone the reformatory processes and who therefore expect to study the Vedic rituals and perform the sacrifices in the future).
There are many Vedic statements in different places saying that anyone who chants the holy name of the Lord becomes immediately freed from conditional life and that anyone who hears the holy name of the Lord, even though born of a family of dog-eaters, also becomes liberated from the clutches of material entanglement.
The offenseless chanting of the holy name does not depend on the initiation process. Although initiation may depend on purascarya or purascarana (activities before initiation), the actual chanting of the holy name does not depend on purascarya-vidhi, or the regulative principles. If one chants the holy name once without committing an offense, he attains all success.
Generally brahmanas are puffed up with false prestige because they belong to the aristocracy and perform many Vedic sacrifices. In South India especially, this fastidious position is most prominent and this was the case five hundred years ago also. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu actually started a revolution against this brahminical system by inaugurating the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. By this chanting, one can be delivered regardless of caste, creed, color or social position. Whoever chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is immediately purified due to the transcendental position of devotional service.
One might ask, if by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can reach the platform of love of Godhead, then what is the necessity of being initiated? The answer is that even though the chanting of the holy name is sufficient to enable one to progress in spiritual life to the standard of love of Godhead, one is nonetheless susceptible to contamination because of possessing a material body. Consequently, special stress is given to the arcana-vidhi.
Srila Jiva Gosvami says that although sankirtana is sufficient for the perfection of life, the arcana, or worship of the Deity in the temple, must continue in order that the devotees may stay clean and pure.
Even at the present moment people are attracted more if there is a temple. If one simply chants, very few people will come. Therefore both are recommended: chanting and at the same time temple worship. People’s minds are so materialistic that they cannot give proper respect to or understand the importance of chanting the holy name. Generally, they are attracted by the karma-kandiya vicara (fruitive activities). If the preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement do not arrange for a gorgeous system, people will not be attracted. Therefore sometimes, in order to attract people to chant, gorgeous temple is required.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna once, a person becomes perfect. Such a person is understood to be a Vaisnava. With such faith and belief, one may begin a life of Krsna consciousness, but an ordinary person cannot chant the holy name of Krsna with such faith. This is confirmed by Srila Rupa Gosvami in his Upadesamrta: krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta. One should accept the holy name of Krsna to be identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Transcendence Himself. The holy name of Krsna is also identical with Krsna and is also cintamani. The name Krsna is the personification of sound perfectly transcendental and eternally liberated from material contamination. One should understand that the name Krsna and Krsna are identical. Having such faith, one must continue to chant the holy name. When one is situated on the neophyte platform, one cannot understand the devotional ingredients of a pure, unalloyed devotee. However, when the novice engages in devotional service-especially in Deity worship-and follows the order of a bona fide spiritual master, he becomes a pure devotee. Anyone can take advantage of hearing about Krsna consciousness from a pure devotee and thus gradually become purified. In other words, the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is so powerful that it does not depend on official initiation, but if one is initiated and engages in pancaratra-vidhi (Deity worship), his Krsna consciousness will awaken very soon, and his identification with the material world will be vanquished.
Sometimes neophyte devotees think that they can continue the sravana-kirtana process without worshiping the Deity, but the execution of sravana-kirtana is meant for highly developed devotees like Haridasa Thakura, who engaged in the sravana-kirtana process without worshiping the Deity. However, one should not falsely imitate Haridasa Thakura and abandon Deity worship just to try to engage in sravana-kirtana. This is not possible for neophyte devotees.
The path of Srimad-Bhagavatam is for the paramahamsas, and the path of Pancaratra is for the neophytes. The temple worship is necessary for the beginners so that by following the regulative principles such devotees become more and more purified and thus gradually come to the platform of understanding Srimad-Bhagavatam.
One's gross body should be engaged in the service of the Lord through the path of archan or worshipping the Lord in the temple, whereas the subtle mind should be engaged in the matter of hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Lord, thinking about them and chanting His name. All such activities are transcendental. None of the gross or subtle senses should be engaged otherwise. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated by Vidura:
yena proktah kriya-yogah
“I know that the great sage Narada is the greatest of all devotees. He has compiled the pancaratrika procedure of devotional service and has directly met the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
The great sage Narada's mission is to broadcast the devotional service of the Lord. For this purpose he has compiled the Narada Pancaratra, a directory of devotional service, so that devotees can always take information about how to execute devotional service and thus engage twenty-four hours a day in performing sacrifices for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord has created four orders of social life, namely brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. In the Narada Pancaratra it is very clearly described how each of the social orders can please the Supreme Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita (18.45) it is stated, sve sve karmany abhiratah samsiddhim labhate narah: by executing one's prescribed duties one can please the Supreme Lord. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.13) also it is stated, svanusthitasya dharmasya samsiddhir hari-tosanam: the perfection of duty is to see that by discharging one's specific duties one satisfies the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura introduced both the processes -the arcana or pancaratriki-vidhi, Deity worship performed according to Narada Pancaratra and bhagavata-marga, the path of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The best is the bhagavata-marga, which consists of sravanam kirtanam smaranam and pancaratriki-vidhi involves pada-sevanam arcanam vandanam dasyam. For example, in the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, simply sravanam or hearing, and smaranam, or remembering, memorizing the Supreme Truth is emphasized. Param satyam dhimahi; janmady asya [SB 1.1.1]. That is the bhagavata-marga. Then in the Second Canto the pancaratrika-vidhi is recommended where worshiping the gigantic form of the Lord is described. In this connection, it should be known that the virat-rupa or visva-rupa, the gigantic universal form of the Lord, which is very much appreciated by the impersonalist, is not an eternal form of the Lord. It is manifested by the supreme will of the Lord after the ingredients of material creation. Lord Krsna exhibited this virat or visva-rupa to Arjuna just to convince the impersonalists that He is the original Personality of Godhead. Krsna exhibited the virat-rupa; it is not that Krsna was exhibited by the virat-rupa. The virat-rupa is not, therefore, an eternal form of the Lord exhibited in the spiritual sky; it is a material manifestation of the Lord. However, in spite of their material touch, such forms of the Lord as the virat and visva are all nondifferent from His eternal form as Lord Krsna and the arca-vigraha, or the worshipable Deity in the temple, is a similar manifestation of the Lord for the neophytes.
The bhagavata-marga and pancaratrika viddhi combined together help one another. The Bhagavata process will help the pancaratrika-process, and the pancaratrika process will help the Bhagavata process. The pancaratriki-vidhi process means that although one is not born of a brahmana family, if he has a little tendency to become a brahmana he should be given a chance. Brahmana means brahma janati iti brahmanah, one who is inquisitive to understand Brahman—brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate [SB 1.2.11] Just like a spark becomes a fire if we fan it, similarly one can become a brahmana by the process of pancaratrika-vidhi, if he has a little brahminical propensity.
To illustrate the necessity of the two systems, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura authorized an emblem of the Gaudiya Math institution which depicts pancaratriki-vidhi on one side and bhagavata-viddhi on the other.