A series of questions and answers with Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj about chanting Śrī Hari-nām.
You can chant pure Hari-nām before dīkṣā [gāyatrī initiation], but that must be without offence. Otherwise, it will not be real Hari-nām. How will you know that your chanting is without offence?
ādau śraddhā tataḥ sādhu-saṅgo
(Cc, Madhya 23.14)
First śraddhā is necessary, and then sādhu-saṅga. If you take Hari-nām from the sādhu, then the real seed will come to you. You must chant that seed of Hari-nām without offence; then Hari-nām will give you the actual result. Dīkṣā [gāyatrī initiation], puraścharyā [purificatory rites], and other things are not necessary. It is only necessary to take Hari-nām without offence, and with sādhu-saṅga.
eka-bāra kṛṣṇa-nāme yata pāpa hare
pātakīra sādhya nāhi tata pāpa kare
If you chant Kṛṣṇa-nām once, all your sins will go away.
Devotee: Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī gave the example of a touchstone, which can change the worst metal into gold. In this example, the worst metal means being pāpamaya, right?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: Yes, pāpamaya: sinful, non-divine.
Devotee: But how can Hari-nām change a sinful person, if, as you say, Hari-nām, Śuddha-nām, will only come when one has no sins and no offences?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: When you chant Hari-nām without offence, all your sins go away.
Devotee: But if someone is pāpamaya, how can they chant without offence?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: It is not possible for a sinful person to chant Śuddha-nām. You are correct. That is the first thing. The second thing, though, is that the material senses cannot catch Hari-nām.
Devotee: Sanātan Goswāmī says that Hari-nām can transform a sinner into a pure Vaiṣṇava, then how can that person change if Hari-nām will not come until they are free from all offences (aparādh)?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: First, it is necessary to take Hari-nām from a sādhu. Then you will understand the process to chant Hari-nām. You must also follow the rules the sādhu gives. The sādhu will tell you the ten kinds of offences to Hari-nām (Nāmāparādh): “You must avoid that, that, and this thing.” Then, you have to take Hari-nām in that way.
Adau śraddhā: the first thing is śraddhā. “Hari-nām can give everything.” This kind of mental strength is śraddhā. When śraddhā comes, then you must do sādhu-saṅga: take advice from the sādhu about Hari-nām and follow that advice. Then your Hari-nām may come. But you cannot chant pure Hari-nām with your material tongue. When real Hari-nām comes to you, your senses will be transformed—they will become transcendental—and your transcendental tongue can chant Hari-nām.