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The Divine Name

by Swami Sivananda

Bhakti in essence is twofold: on the one hand there is an intense attachment towards God nurtured by deep emotion, and on the other, an earnest urge of love for Him. When these two elements are combined, we find Bhakti to be either an attachment emerging out of love or love being manifested itself as an attachment. Either we take love or attachment, the essential feature in Bhakti is that this feeling is in relation to the Highest the supreme Lovable One who is Real and imperishable, and surely not in relation to the objects of the world that are transitory and therefore, unreal. Such a love or devotion, as it may be termed, assumes various forms of expression and goes by different names. Kirtan or narration in poetry or prose of singing the glory of Lord, or more popularly, singing the Name of the Lord, is one of them.

Any name denotes a particular concept; it is rather a verbal embodiment of a concept. Whatever the object of conception may be, either general or particular, either gross or subtle, visionary or real, the name is essentially associated with it. It gives a clear, adequate expression to a particular form or object that is associated with it, so as to enable us to comprehend and distinctly retain it in our mind.

The Name is a verbal embodiment of the conception of the Supreme Being who is known by different names and forms in different times and climes. The Supreme is Infinite, and as it is not always possible for the common man to conceive of what is beyond the perception of the finite mind, they symbolise this Infinite Truth as forms, symbols or objects that vary according to their respective tendencies or mode of perception. Though in the initial stage there is difference and distinction among various names and their associated objects, but ultimately, when a habit of repetition of the Name is formed and the divine consciousness is kept ever awake, then there remains no distinction between the Name and the associated idea or object, the intuitive knowledge of the Supreme reveals in the Name itself. For, the basis of all names and forms is the one Primal Being who manifests Himself under different names and forms as per the faiths and tendencies of the different sects and races of different times and places.

Harmonious, rhythmical note produces a distinctive image. It is not an imagination. For every sound there is a particular image. It has been scientifically proved that a certain particular sound produces a certain particular figure over some distinct surface. So it is reasonably believed that the respective names of God associated with their respective forms can also produce their images on the mental surface. Through continuous repetition it forms a deep-rooted impression in the mind of the repetitioner who ultimately attains God-Vision.

There is an unfathomable depth, intense sweetness and charm in the Lord's Name. It is beyond the futile explanation of the limited intellect. It is a thing knowable only through experience. The music first thrills the nerves, harmonises them and then mysteriously acts upon the mind. The sincere devotee loses himself in divine ecstasy. The worldly mind cannot grasp or perceive this state of intense emotion. The Lord's Name is all-bliss, and when it is chanted, the mind merges in its bliss, it loses its individual entity in the bliss: it becomes one with the Bliss itself.

God and His Name are identical; they are inseparable. He dwells where His Name is sung. The whole atmosphere becomes sanctified. Peace, purity and bliss prevail there. His Name carries the message of love. His Name frees the soul from affliction, unrest and bondage. His Name knows no barrier or distinction. His Name purifies the vicious lower self and elevates it to sublimity of universai consciousness and transcendent God-head.

In ordinary self-consciousness there is the duality between the repetitioner and the Name. It is discursive: it is within the fields of common experience, it is confined within the rigid categories of the mind of limited conceptions. Ultimately the ordinary self-consciousness elevates into a transcendental experience, into a state of super-consciousness. The repetitioner and the Name become one. The eternally revealed Truth reveals to himself. He realises his oneness with the Supreme. The senses of duality the gulf of separateness between the finite and the infinite is removed. The dawn of intuition leads him from finitude to infinitude, from bondage to freedom, from darkness to Light, from mortality to Immortality. He only experiences his delight in the Divine. He does not even have the inclination to analyse his delight or its source, he will find that is but his love for God. He is not conscious of anything other than God. To him everything is only the manifestation of God. His all-absorbing love for God pierces through the names and forms of the universe, the universe as a whole, and in its multiphased appearance present themselves to him only as God. He feels the same intensity of love to the animate and inanimate objects of the world.

The glory of the Divine Name cannot be obviously established through reasoning or discursive arguments. It can be experienced only through faith and belief. A finite, limited intellect surely cannot understand the nature of the infinite or the limitless. There is no limit of God's Name. The scriptures present us His innumerable Names. It means His Names are unreckonable and therefore, infinite. So, how can a finite intellect comprehend that which transcends finitude?

All Glory to His all-blissful, all-pure, omnipotent Name that liberates one from the shackles of earthly bondage and leads him to the illimitable domain of peace, bliss, and immortality! All glory to those blessed ones who take delight in His Name, sustain themselves by His Name and live to merge in His Name!

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