We came across the term “Nama-Aparadha” explicitly during the Labor-Day retreat with Didiji at Milwaukee, USA. Didiji recited some couplets written down by Jagadguru Kripalu ji Maharaj about Nama-Aparadha. Due to the time constraint we could not ask much about this to Didiji.
After returning from the retreat, we looked up to the Bhakti Yoga book by Gurudev Swami Sivananda ji Maharaj, and there Swamiji has clearly penned down what “Nama Aparadhas” constitute and how these become obstacles in the practise of Bhakti or Devotion.
“Nama-Aparadha” is the mistake or wrong committed when taking the name of lord during our japa sadhana. After reading the namaparadhas, we started realising how the mind, without our knowledge of the thought itself, is committing so many nama-aparadhas. If we are not progressing in Japa Sadhana as we should, then mostly we are stuck or caught at this point where were are involuntarily / voluntarily engaged in committing sins or mistakes against the Divine Name.
Realising that our mind is committing nama-aparadhas, we can actively disengage it from such grave mistakes and progress upward in Sadhana. It has helped me immensely and I hope it helps you too.
I am pasting here, what Gurudev Swami Sivananda ji Maharaj has written in his book, “Bhakti Yoga”:
“It is true that utterance of Divine Name can absolve us from all sins and enable us to attain salvation or love of God (both of which are so difficult to get) but that is possible only when the Name is uttered with faith and reverence and the practice is free from all taints of sin against the Name viz., the following ten offences:
1. Vilification of saints and devotees.
When a Saint or a devotee is vilified by somebody other than you, it is not good to sit there and listen. Move away from such a company. Let not our minds do jugglery and compare the saints, saying this saint is greater than that saint etc. Saints are the embodiments of God. (by Aparna Hari)
2. Differentiation among (Divine) Names.
We often do this. With all our ignorance (but deluding ourselves to be the smartest people on earth), we compare the divine names. We say this mantra is greater than this mantra etc. We tend to be sarcastic towards someone who chants other divine names. Often, lot of people say that Siva is less than Vishnu or vice versa and try to vilify the names. This is a serious mistake on the part of a spiritual aspirant. If he does this, it is better he pack up his bags and leave spirituality and engage himself in materialism. (by Aparna Hari)
3. Irreverence towards preceptor (Guru).
It is out foremost duty to serve our Guru. His words and instructions are to be carried with reverence. But we think we are smarter than our Guru and try to question him, test him and do all sort of bad things, like how we evaluate a candidate in the interview. Please let us not do that. Those who revere Guru more than the Lord himself, are dearer to the Lord. (by Aparna Hari)
4. Speaking lightly of the scriptures.
We “discuss” scriptures. We “Question” with all our small minds about “Why Rama committed the mistake of killing vali” and such. We think that we understand everything, but we don’t. Such questions, arguments and debates are not to be carried out. After all, our human mind is the most impure thing. We have to first make an effort to purify it. We should not make fun of any scripture. (by Aparna Hari)
5. Treating the glory of Name as nothing but exaggerated praise.
6. Commission of sins under the cover of the Name.
7. Ranking the Name with other virtues and practising fasting, charity, sacrifice etc.
Divine Name itself is sufficient to liberate us from suffering and cycle of births and deaths. We all should try to realize Its magnificent power. (by Aparna Hari)
8. Recommending practice of Name to irreverent and ungodly persons who are not prepared to hear such advice.
9. Want of love for the Name even after hearing its glory.
Even after hearing the glory of Divine Name, we don’t have love for it. We should develop love. Love works miracles. (by Aparna Hari)
10. Emphasis of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and attachment to ¬objects of enjoyment.
“Ram ka bhajan karte ho, lekin ravan par bharosa karte ho” – these were the words spoken by Hanuman ji to Vibhishana ji when he goes to Lanka in search of Sita. Vibhishana then leaves everything and comes to Rama. We are much much more materialistic. We have slots for everything. Few minutes of Bhajan and we feel. “Vow! What a spiritual candidate I am !” Let us leave such Ego, and Pride and become humble like a blade of grass. Ego and Pride are obstacles in Sadhana and Surrender. (by Aparna Hari)
If through inadvertence one lapses into any of the above ten sins, the only way to absolve from it is to repeat the Name again and repent for the mistake.
Namaparadhayuktanam namanyeva harantyagham;
Avishranyaprayuktani tanyevarthakarani cha. (Padma Purana)
The Name itself is the best atonement for sins committed against the Name. Through constant Kirtan of the Name all our desires can be fulfilled.
You enjoy all divine Aisvarya of the Lord. ”
Gurudev Swami Sivananda ji Maharaj
Yours, In Service of the Lord,