WORD SPREAD ON THE INTERNET of a new threat to computers "The Hare Krishna Virus." According to reports, the infectious computer code was timed to go off in September, and it was a nasty one: It would attack your hard disk and erase everything on it, and along the way leave you hardly more than a few telltale words: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna …"

Well, the date for the viral epidemic came and went, with hardly more than a few sneezes. McAfee Associates, a leading supplier of anti-virus software, said the Hare Krishna Virus had turned up on perhaps ten computers, and with no heavy damage. The epidemic, it seemed, was a dud.

We're relieved to hear the virus failed to catch. Picture thousands of computers and networks going down all over the world, gasping "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna …" with their last breath. A public-relations disaster.

By Krsna's grace, we escaped the disaster, and computer users worldwide escaped the infection. Or did they?

Here were all these computer people all over the world, talking about the Hare Krishna Virus. You could see the messages flying around the Net: "Hare Krishna. … Hare Krishna. … Hare Krishna. …" What in the world had gotten into them?

It was the Hare Krishna Virus after all. Not the one that exterminates your hard disc, but the one that spells the end for your entanglement in the material world.

"Hare Krsna" these are names of the Absolute, the Supreme, the Personality of Godhead. And because the Absolute is absolute, there's no difference between Krsna the name and Krsna the person. They are identical. So anyone who chants the transcendental vibration "Hare Krsna" for any reason at all comes at once in touch with Krsna, the Supreme.

Even if you don't know what you're chanting, when you chant "Hare Krsna" the potency of the vibration will act. It's like medicine whether or not you understand the chemistry, it works.

The Vedic scriptures say that even if you don't mean to do it, even if you do it as a joke, even if you do it negligently, chanting Hare Krsna cleanses the heart.

We are entangled in material existence, in an endless cycle of birth and death, because of dirt that has built up in our hearts over countless lifetimes. It is that dirt that keeps us covered by illusion, by perplexity, by anxiety and sorrow.

But the Vedic scriptures say that simply by chanting Hare Krsna, even unthinkingly, one can be freed from more dirt than can possibly heap up. And what to speak of chanting Hare Krsna seriously and sincerely, with devotion.

Our computer crowd, of course, wasn't chanting with devotion but somehow or other they were reciting the holy name of Krsna. And a purifying effect was taking place.

The Bhagavad-gita says that whatever spiritual headway you make stays with you, even into the next life; it is never lost. Even one inadvertent "Hare Krsna" may be what leads in the end to freedom from birth and death.

We're down on computer viruses they're pernicious. But whoever wrote that Hare Krishna Virus gave it the best of names.

Hare Krsna.

-Jayadvaita Swami