etavatalam agha-nirharanaya pumsam
sankirtanam bhagavato guna-karma-namnam
vikrusya putram aghavan yad ajamilo ’pi
narayaneti mriyamana iyaya muktim
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Therefore it should be understood that one is easily relieved from all sinful reactions by chanting the holy name of the Lord and chanting of His qualities and activities. This is the only process recommended for relief from sinful reactions. Even if one chants the holy name of the Lord with improper pronunciation, he will achieve relief from material bondage if he chants without offenses. Ajamila, for example, was extremely sinful, but while dying he merely chanted the holy name, and although calling his son, he achieved complete liberation because he remembered the name of Narayana.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
In the assembly of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s father, Haridasa Thakura confirmed that simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord one is liberated, even if he does not chant completely inoffensively. Smarta-brahmanas and Mayavadis do not believe that one can achieve liberation in this way, but the truth of Haridasa Thakura’s statement is supported by many quotations from Srimad-Bhagavatam.
In his commentary on this verse, for example, Sridhara Svami gives the following quotation:
sayam pratar grnan bhaktya
“If one always chants the holy name of the Lord with great devotion in the evening and in the morning, one can become free from all material miseries.” Another quotation confirms that one can achieve liberation if one hears the holy name of the Lord constantly, every day with great respect (anudinam idam adarena srnvan). Another quotation says:
sravanam kirtanam dhyanam
“One should always chant and hear about the extraordinarily wonderful activities of the Lord, one should meditate upon these activities, and one should endeavor to please the Lord.” (Bhag. 11.3.27)
Sridhara Svami also quotes from the Puranas, papa-ksayas ca bhavati smaratam tam ahar-nisam: “One can become free from all sinful reactions simply by remembering the lotus feet of the Lord day and night [ahar-nisam].” Furthermore, he quotes from Bhagavatam (6.3.31):
tasmat sankirtanam visnor
mahatam api kauravya
All these quotations prove that one who constantly engages in chanting and hearing of the holy activities, name, fame and form of the Lord is liberated. As stated wonderfully in this verse, etavatalam agha-nirharanaya pumsam: simply by uttering the name of the Lord, one is freed from all sinful reactions.
The word alam, which is used in this verse, indicates that simply uttering the holy name of the Lord is sufficient. This word is used with different imports. As stated in the Amara-kosa, the most authorized dictionary in the Sanskrit language, alam bhusana-paryapti-sakti-varana-vacakam: the word alam is used to mean “ornament,” “sufficiency,” “power” and “restraint.” Here the word alam is used to indicate that there is no need of any other process, for the chanting of the holy name of the Lord is sufficient. Even if one chants imperfectly, one becomes free from all sinful reactions by chanting.
This power of chanting the holy name was proved by the liberation of Ajamila. When Ajamila chanted the holy name of Narayana, he did not precisely remember the Supreme Lord; instead, he remembered his own son. At the time of death, Ajamila certainly was not very clean; indeed, he was famous as a great sinner. Furthermore, one’s physiological condition is completely disturbed at the time of death, and in such an awkward condition it would certainly have been very difficult for Ajamila to have chanted clearly. Nevertheless, Ajamila achieved liberation simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord. Therefore, what is to be said of those who are not sinful like Ajamila? It is to be concluded that with a strong vow one should chant the holy name of the Lord — Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare — for thus one will certainly be delivered from the clutches of maya by the grace of Krsna.
The chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra is recommended even for persons who commit offenses, because if they continue chanting they will gradually chant offenselessly. By chanting the Hare Krsna mantra without offenses, one increases his love for Krsna. As stated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, prema pumartho mahan: one’s main concern should be to increase one’s attachment to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and to increase one’s love for Him.
In this regard Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura quotes the following verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.19.24):
evam dharmair manusyanam
mayi sañjayate bhaktih
ko ’nyo ’rtho ’syavasisyate
“My dear Uddhava, the supreme religious system for human society is that by which one can awaken his dormant love for Me.” Commenting on this verse, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura describes the word bhakti by saying premaivoktah. Kah anyah arthah asya: in the presence of bhakti, what is the necessity of liberation?
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura also quotes this verse from the Padma Purana:
namany eva haranty agham
tany evartha-karani ca
Even if in the beginning one chants the Hare Krsna mantra with offenses, one will become free from such offenses by chanting again and again. Papa-ksayas ca bhavati smaratam tam ahar-nisam: one becomes free from all sinful reactions if one chants day and night, following the recommendation of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It was Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who quoted the following verse:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” If the members of the Krsna consciousness movement strictly follow this recommendation of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, their position will always be secure.