CHANTING THE HOLY NAMES OF THE LORD
DEVOTEE: When I see the solemn Rabbis davening, it is hard
to imagine that they are searching for the same ecstasy from love of God that a
Hindu is trying to achieve during a bhajan or kértana.
RABBI: Our natural love for God (EL KNA) must be revived.
Therefore, it is written, "And ye who ceave to the Lord your God, ye are
alive today" R. Simeon further said: "In all things there is
"drawing near" for him who understands how to accomplish the union
and to worship the Lord, for when the sacrifice is offered in the manner due,
all grades are brought near as one unity, and the light of Countenance is
present in the world, in the Sanctuary, and the "other side is the
"When the dawn brightens and he recites his prayers,
and unifies the Holy Name in the manner due, he is encircled with a thread of
grace; he looks into the firmament, and a light of holy knowledge rests upon
him. As the man is thus adorned and shrouded with light all things tremble
before him, for he is called the son of the Holy One...the Lord is nigh to all
who call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth." [Zohar 57a]
Therefore, it has been taught that a priest who knows not
how to unify thus the Holy Name can not perform proper service, for on the
achievement of that unity hangs both celestial and terrestrial worship. The
priest must, therefore, strive to concentrate heart and mind on the attainment
of this unification, so that those above and those below may be blessed. [Zohar
III 57a] [2 Sam. VIII, 23]
DEVOTEE: Certainly, the Vedas also highly recommend the
regular praising of the Lord's holy names. In fact, in this present age, called
Kali-yuga, the chanting of God's names is the method recommended by Lord
Caitanya Mahäprabhu for people in general to realize God. It is said,
"harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalam kalau nästy eva nästy eva
nästy eva gatir anyathä "In the age of Kali, the present age of
materialism and quarrel, there is no alternative, there is no alternative,
there is no alternative for making positive spiritual advancement but the
chanting of the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord."
[Båhad Näradéya Puraëa]
While anyone can chant the holy names of the Lord, in order
to receive the full benefit of the chanting, pure love for God, one must chant
without offense. When we are chanting the holy names, we are praying to the
Lord to be engaged in His service. Offenseless chanting therefore means that
our heart is so pure that we have no other motivation for chanting the holy
names than to serve the Lord. We must unify our desire with the desire of the
Lord. The chanting of the Lord's holy names is both the means and the end of
the process, which is to revive our dormant love for God.
RABBI: It is amazing how similar the Jewish teachings are to
the Vedic version. Although Jews may not chant Krsna, the principle is the
same, to perfect our lives by prayer.
DEVOTEE: Rabbi, the Vedas explain that one may experience
great ecstasy by properly chanting the Lord's holy names. In the Jewish
religion, does perfect chanting of the holy names (prayer) also allow one to
experience spiritual ecstasy and if so, what are the symptoms of one who is
experiencing such joyful ecstasy?
RABBI: People who have dedicated their lives to the service
of God may at times feel unlimited joy or ecstasy while engaged in prayer. It
is said, "Permute the letters back and forth, and in this manner, you will
reach the first level. As a result of the activity and your concentration on
the letters, your mind will become bound to them. The hairs on your head will
stand on end and tremble. Your lifeblood is in your heart, and regarding this
it is written, "the blood is the soul" [Deuteronomy 12:23]. It is
likewise written, "The blood in the soul will atone" [Leviticus
17:11]. This blood within you will begin to vibrate because of the permutations
that loosen it. Your entire body will then begin to tremble, and all your limbs
will be seized with shuddering. You will experience the terror of God and will
be enveloped with fear of Him. You will then feel as if an additional spirit is
within you, arousing you and strengthening you, passing through your entire
body and giving you leisure. It will seem as you have been anointed with
perfumed oil, from head to foot. You will rejoice and have great pleasure. You
will experience ecstasy and trembling--ecstasy for the soul, and trembling for
the body. [Meditation and Kabbalah, Treasury of the Hidden Eden p85-86]
DEVOTEE: The stage of bhava, love of God, is manifested by
eight transcendental symptoms, namely inertness, perspiration, standing of
hairs on end, failing in the voice, trembling, paleness of the body, tears in
the eyes, and finally trance. Sometimes, materialist devotees of the Lord
imitate these symptoms. But it is easy to understand that they are pretenders
because it will be found that they are still addicted to all kinds of forbidden
activities like smoking, drinking, or illegitimate sex with women. [Bhag.
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF GOD'S NAMES
DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the Vedas, Krsna is one name of the
Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Jewish tradition, is there a similar
RABBI: Yes. The name of God, which is most similar to Krsna,
is El KNA. In Judaism, an example would be the name of Rabbi Nehuniah ben
HaKana. The name HaKana is one of the combinations of the forty-two names of
God. Its formation is almost identical with the name YHVA (Jehovah). YHVA is
made up of four Hebrew letters- Yod He VA He. Yod and Va are considered to be
names of God. The He represents the primal female principle who is referred to
as the Shekinah, My beloved. Kana is the male principle and its root is in the
name of God EL KANA.
DEVOTEE: In the Hare Krsna mantra, Hare is the vocative form
of the word Hara that represents the energy of God, which is feminine. So it
seems very significant that in both the Jewish and the Vedic traditions, God is
not alone but is always with His female pleasure energy. The word Harä is a
form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krsna and Rama are
personal forms of addressing God Himself. In this connection, Rama can refer to
either Lord Balaräma or to Lord Rämacandra. The incarnation of God, Väsudeva
expands from Lord Balaräma and Lord Rämacandra is an incarnation of Väsudeva.
In a conversation with a Benedictine monk in Germany in
1974, our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, discussed the similarity between the names Krsna and Christ. He
pointed out that the Greek word Kristos means Christ or "the anointed
RABBI: Kana (KNA) is also the name one should meditate on
during morning meditation, Mondays. The significance being that on Monday, the
heavens and Earth were created. God as the Supreme Creator is the King of His
creation and the name KNA refers to the Supreme King, God.
DEVOTEE: This is very interesting, because the name Kana is
an intimate name for Lord Krishna in the Vedic literature.
RABBI: This is considered to be the most intimate name for
God in the Old Testament. Where it is translated, "I am a jealous God,
have no other gods before you", the literal Hebrew translation is,
"My name is EL KNA, have no other gods before you."
The Greek word Krista is a derivation of KNA, and in English
the word Christ, is the best-known example of the inner meanings of the name.
The Son of God, taking His Father's name, as His last name.
On Monday, you must intertwine the associated name "KRE
ShTN" as explained by Rabbi Aryeh Kapln, in Meditation and the Kabbalah.
DEVOTEE: Jesus said to glorify the holy name of God and that
name is Christ or, by a different pronunciation, Krsna. The essential principle
is to glorify and chant the holy names of God.
BALARÄMA AND BALAM
DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the Vedas, Lord Balaräma is known as the
first expansion of God. In the Jewish teachings do you know of any names
corresponding to this?
RABBI: This name can be found in the name of the founder of
the Kabbalist movement, the Rabbi Balsham Tov. Balsham means the "master
of the Holy Name." On examination of Balsham, we find the name Bal that is
a shortened form of Balam, the second expansion of God's personal energy. and
Sham, which means all of God's Names are one. The personality or aspect of God
represented by the name Va (in YHVH) is the same as God's second expansion,
Balam. Balam is also the source of binah or understanding that knowledge by
which God reveals Himself and His spiritual creation.
DEVOTEE: Rabbi, can you further explain the Jewish meaning
RABBI: This word occurs only once in scripture in the verse,
"He stretches the north on Chaos, He hangs the Earth on Nothingness."
[Job 26:7] According to many commentaries, the word Beli, meaning without, and
mah, meaning what or anything. The word Beli-mah would then mean without
anything, or nothingness. Other sources state that Belimah comes from the root
Balam, meaning to bridle. Similarly, the Biblical verse, "He hangs the
earth on the ineffable", would mean that the forces that uphold creation
cannot be described. A leading Kabbalist, Rabbi Issac of Acco (1250-1340)
points out that belimah has a numerical value of 87 whereas God's name Elohim
has a value of 86. Belimah therefore represents the stage immediately following
the pure essence of the Divine. [Sefer Yetzirah 1:2]
DEVOTEE: According to the Vedas, Lord Balaräma, in His
expansion of Ananta Çeña, holds up all of the planets of the universe.
Generally planetary positions are attributed to the laws of gravity. But it is
actually all made possible by an expansion of Lord Balaräma's energy.
Additionally, Lord Balaräma is known as the original guru or giver of knowledge,
and Lord Brahmä (the first created person in the universe) is the original
recipient of knowledge from God in the material world. Is there a similar first
person in Jewish history?
RABBI: As I understand, Brahmä is said to have four heads.
There is an obscure reference to a four-headed angel in the Talmud. It is said,
"Angels are supposed to have no back and four faces, so always to be able
to behold God."[Talmud, cf. Ezek i. 6] Also, many rabbis say that an
ancient Abraham, with secondary creative power like Brahmä is being referred to
when speaking of Brahmä. * Ref. Verse Abraham from Zohar
DEVOTEE: In the Bhagavad-géta, Lord Krsna states, "Of
letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I
am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahma."[Bg. 10.33] In
the Jewish teachings, is there anywhere that God is represented by the letter
RABBI: According to the Kabbalist, the letter Aleph denotes
Keter (crown), the highest of the Sefirot. The Kabbalists call Keter the level
of Nothingness (Ayin-). It is on this level that the laws of nature cease to
exist, and can therefore be altered. [Sefer Yetzirah 1.1]
DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the First Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam,
there is a long description of how Lord Brahmä created the planets, stars, and
bodies of all living entities within this universe. Until he executed the
creative process, there was no order, only chaos.
The material energy existed but was unmanifest. Can you tell
me more about the original Abraham and how he may be connected with the
RABBI: Yes. The original Abraham has practically the same
function and the same name as Lord Brahmä. For example, in Hebrew, Abraham is
pronounced A-brahma-m. Furthermore, there is a description of how the universe
was in chaos until Abraham appeared. It is said, "Over the whole, there
hovered Tohu (chaos) and as long as Tohu dominated, the whole world was not in
being or existence. When did that key open the gates and make the world
fruitful? It was when Abraham appeared." [Genesis II 4]