Nagar Sankirtan

A celebrated verse stresses the glory of the holy name affirmatively and negatively

Scriptures are like instruction manuals for humanity. They teach us how to live in this material world and use our material body to attain spiritual success.

In a typical instruction manual, we find several instructions, or commands, on how to use a device to make its optimum use. Precautions and warnings help the user to handle the device safely, while repair guidelines and damage controls help in carrying out basic maintenance work.

The Vedic scriptures of ancient India provide us thousands of such instructions on various subjects. Besides giving straight instructions, the Vedas use many strategies and literary devices to drive home their message. For example, if you wish to guide a friend to a place, you may tell him, “When you reach the Tsection on the road, take the right, don’t take the left.” You’ve just used positive and negative concomitance – what to do and what not to do. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, concomitance means “occurrence or existence together or in connection with one another.” In Sanskrit this is known as anvaya and vyatireka, which can also mean directly and indirectly.

We see a very good example of positive and negative concomitance in the following famous Upanisadic verse: asato ma sad gamah tamasi ma jyotir gamah mato ma amata gamay 

“Do not stay in illusion; go to the eternal reality.
  Do not stay in darkness; go to the light.
  Do not keep taking material bodies; become immortal!”
  – Bahad-aranyaka Upanisad 1.3.28

Each of the three short statements is urging us to give up the negative and simultaneously prompting to proceed in a positive direction – an effective twofold edification.

The important undermentioned verse conveys the essence of all devotional practices by stressing a single priniciple but in two different ways: to do something and not to do its opposite, thus doubling the impact. smartavyam satatam vishur vismartavyo na jatucit sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur etayor eva kinkarah 

“Always remember Lord Visnu. Never forget him at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the scriptures should be the servants of these two principles.”
  – Padma Purana

Now we present a verse that, arguably, presents the highest example ever of positive and negative concomitance: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha

“In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari.” – Brhan-naradiya Purana 38.126
This verse repeats three times in positive sense: harer nama, harer nama, harer nama, the holy name, the holy name, the holy name. Moreover, it also adds eva (“certainly”) and kevalam (“only”) which further amplify the positive first half.

Then, in the negative second half, it repeats the words nasty eva (“certainly there is none”) three times in a disapproving sense.
The harer nama, the holy name of Lord Hari, so emphatically underscored in this verse specifically refers to the Hare Krishna maha-mantra: Hare Krishna , Hare Krishna , Krishna Krishna , Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In the Caitanya-caritamrta (adi 17.23-25), Lord Caitanya further elucidates on this harer nama verse:
“This verse repeats the word eva (‘certainly’) three times for emphasis, and it also three times repeats ‘harer nama’ [‘the holy name of the Lord’], just to make common people understand.
“The use of the word kevala (‘only’) prohibits all other processes, such as the cultivation of knowledge, practice of mystic yoga, or performance of austerities and fruitive activities.
“This verse clearly states that anyone who accepts any other path cannot be delivered. This is the reason for the triple repetition ‘nothing else, nothing else, nothing else,’ which emphasizes the real process of self-realization.”
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to above verses: “To emphasize something to an ordinary person, one may repeat it three times, just as one might say, ‘You must do this! You must do this! You must do this!’ Thus the Båhan-naradiya Purana repeatedly emphasizes the chanting of the holy name so that people may take it seriously and thus free themselves from the clutches of maya.”
So, let’s chant the holy names of the Lord and be happy (and not be gloomy).

Revati Vallabha Dasa serves as a monk at the ISKCON temple at Chowpatty. He is a proofreader for BTG magazine. He also conducts Bhakti-çastri courses for the local congregation members.