The Mother Divine
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Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath
Jnanam, Deva-Archanam, Dhyanam, Dharana, Niyamah, Yamah,
Pratyaharah Samadhischa Hari-Naam Samam Na Cha.

Jnana, worshipping Gods, Dhyan, Dharana, Niyam, Yama, Pratyahar,
Samadhi [all the different stages of Ashtanga Yoga leading to Samadhi] are not comparable to Hari Naam.

Jnana is of two kinds - Paroksha - i.e. which you learn from books or
Acharyas, and Aparoksh - i.e. which you learn by your own Anubhuti or Realization.

Asti Brahmeti Chet Veda Paroksh - Jnanam-Eva Tat
Aham Brahmeti Chet Veda Sakshatkarah Sa Uchyatey

To know that there is Brahma is Paroksha Jnana but the knowledge that “I am Brahma” is Aparoksha or direct knowledge.

In order to acquire this Jnana [knowledge] one has to have faith in the words of the Sat-Guru and the Shastras. A Sat-Guru is difficult to get and, in this difficult age, how many persons are fortunate enough to read the Vedas and the Scriptures. It is doubtful if one amongst a thousand gets this facility. A Bhakta, whose desire is to gain Paramananda [Eternal Bliss], can attain it easily by singing Hari-Naam. Here Jnana refers to knowledge gained from the Acharya or from the Shastras i.e., Paroksha Jnana. Worshipping Gods has five parts –

  1. Abhigaman: to clean the temple, remove all stains and dried leaves and flowers;

  2. Upadan: to collect scented flowers for Puja;

  3. Yoga: to think of one’s Ishta as one with oneself;

  4. Swadhyaya: to practice and recite Japa, Sukta, Strota, Tatwa, etc. after properly understanding their sense; and

  5. Ijya: to worship one’s Ishta according to proper rules and rituals.
To worship God, one requires a temple for God, and all the materials needed for the Puja. Only the learned can do the Path of Sukta, Stotra etc. How many people have the power to imagine that his Atma is Bhagawan? To do Ijya i.e. to do correctly the mental [Manaspuja] and the ritualistic Puja which requires sixteen different ingredients is difficult. In this Kaliyuga, how many people, who do not observe Brahmacharya, who eat whatever they like [i.e. eat prohibited food] or behave in whatever way they desire, have the strength and the patience to do Puja daily in this way? Please ponder over it. You will then realise that to worship God is not a very simple affair.

Devah Bhutwa Devam Yajet— Worship God after becoming God-like. Unlessone purifies the Bhutas, one cannot do proper Puja. Whatever the worshippergains by this Puja, the Bhakta also gains that and also the Anandamaya (Hewho is full of Bliss) by singing Hari Hari.

Yama consists of Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Asteya (not to steal),
Brahmacharya (continence), and Aparigraha (non-acceptance of gifts).
Ahimsa consists of completely giving up violence by thought, word and deed.
It is Satya only when the thought and the word are the same. Not to steal or covet other’s property is Asteya. To give up sex by thought, word and deed amounts to Brahmacharya; Aprigraha consists of accepting only, enough for maintaining and covering one’s body. After giving up everything, if a Sadhak goes to a lonely place like a cave in a mountain, which is favorable for Yoga-Sadhana, he then becomes fit to practice Yama, Niyama etc. Cleanliness (internal and external), contentment, penance (tapasya), to keep one’s mind fixed on God - all these are parts of Niyama. Pratyahara consists of forcibly drawing one’s senses away from material objects. To fix one’s thought on any spiritual object or any image of God amounts to Dharana (Tatra Pratyayikantanata Dhyanam) - When the Jivatma meets and becomes one with Paramatma it is Samadhi.

A person who is fit to do this Astanga Yoga-Sadhana is indeed very rare. The complete liberation, which a Yogi gains with very great difficulty and after giving up everything material, the Bhakta can gain by Hari Naam alone. Because any Bhakta, irrespective of the place or environment, can gain the Paramatma, which is solidified Sat, Chit, Ananda; so Vyas Deva has said in the Padma Purana that worshipping of Gods or practicing Astanga Yoga are not comparable to Hari Naam.

The proper performance of Astanga Yoga depends on many factors - e.g. the proper Sadhak, the proper place for practice, finding a real Guru, control of one’s food, and many other restraints and controls. But the Hari Naam does not depend on anything. Every condition is automatically satisfied if one takes to Hari Naam.

Vedanta Sidhanta Vichintananch
Sastrokta Devadik Pujanancha
Vihaya Sarvam Satatam Smaratwan
Govinda, Damodar Madhava Iti.
You give up the study of the decision of Vedanta, the repeated practice of Dhyana, all the Pujas as ordained by the Shastras and think constantly of Govinda, Damodar and Madhav.

It is from the merit acquired after doing Puja during millions of previous births that one gains the good fortune of thinking constantly of God. The Bhakta who thinks of God all the time does not himself give up Puja, Sadhana etc. These themselves leave him.

If one sings Naam constantly, then his Shakti [Kundalini] wakes up. He then has no strength to do any work. As soon as he tries to concentrate his mind, his Prana enters the Sushumna and he loses all movement. Bilwamangal said –

Sandhya-Vandan Bhadram Astu Bhavatey Bho Snan, Tubhyam Namah,
Bho Deva Pitarah Cha Tarpan-Vidhow Naham Kshamah Kshamytam,
Yatra Kwapi Nishadya Yadav -Kullotamasya Kansa-Dwisha,
Smaram Smaramagham Harami Tat Alam Manye Kim Anyanena Mey.
Blessed be you Sandhya-Vandan, Oh Snana both, my namaskar to you. Oh Gods and ancestors, I am unable to satisfy you by doing Tarpan etc.; please excuse me. I shall sit at any place and I shall destroy my sins by thinking of Sri Krishna, the jewel of the Yadavas and the enemy of Kansa. I have no need of anything else.

If those, who have the strength to do Sandhya-Vandan, give it up boasting that they are Sadhaks of a high order and so they do not have to do Sandhya Vandan, they will commit the sin of giving up Karma laid down by the Shastra. But giving up Sandhya-Vandan is no sin to them who have had Darshan of the Saguna God and who have become one with the Ishta-Mantra. After that there will be no strength left to do Karma. Their Puja consists of saying, ‘Oh Mother, take this flower’ ‘Oh God take this flower’. In this way they do only superficial Puja. But as soon as they try to concentrate their mind, they lose movement and have no strength left to move even their hands. They have no independence of will about trying to do Puja or not trying. The Shakti, through whose medium God maintains the creation, makes them do the Puja in that way. There is no trace of deceit in it. All big Mantras disappear. All that remains behind is - ‘Take this flower’, ‘Eat this rice’, ‘Drink this water’ etc. One can certainly get the state through Hari Naam only.

You sing Naam, sing Naam.