harernāmaiva nāmaiva nāmaiva mama jīvanam |
kalau nāstyeva nāstyeva nāstyeva gatiranyathā ||
In Kali Yuga, chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord Hari is the only way to attain purity of mind.
A name (nāma) is received by a person along with its meaning. The hearing of the word (śabda grahaṇam) is concomitantly accompanied by the comprehension of its meaning (artha grahaṇam). Once a nāma is heard its meaning (nāmi) is also understood. Nāma is the name and nāmi is its meaning. Bhagavān, the nāmi, is infinite and His names, nāmas, are also infinite. There is no one name for Īśvara. Every nāma reveals His glory only.
A celebrated aspect of the Vedic tradition is that it presents an exhaustive analysis of the glory of the names of the Lord. In the tradition, for the purposes of prayer there are aṣṭottaraśatanāmāvalī (108 names) and aṣṭottara-sahasra-nāmāvalī (1008 names). Every one of the names reveals the glory of Īśvara, the truth of all that is there. The truth itself is glorious. In the aṣṭottaraśata-nāmāvalī or aṣṭottara-sahasra-nāmāvalī, the words reveal the essential glory of Īśvara which is the glory of the individual, the glory of anything in the world and the glory of Īśvara as subject/object and avatāra. Thus, each nāma is complete in itself.
A kīrtana is simply a garland of words including the nāmas of Īśvara and thus it simply extols the glories of the Lord. The prefix, sam, as in saṅkīrtana, does not necessarily enhance the meaning in this context. A kīrtana that is sung is saṅgītam, music. Singing the kīrtanas is nothing but celebrating the glories of Bhagavān. In particular, singing nāma saṅkīrtana affords the devotee effortlessly the absorption of the mind for the time being in reveling on the glories of the Lord. In fact, it is prescribed as the easiest sādhanā for the devotee to gain the purity and subtlety of the mind to appreciate the essential oneness of the individual with Īśvara.
Sri Satguru Seva Samājam (SSSS), USA has been conducting nāma saṅkīrtana every month in New Jersey and various states across the country following the prācīna sampradāya paddhati (classical tradition) that has been in vogue for more than three centuries in South India. The monthly nāma saṅkīrtana germinated from the saṅkalpa of a great devotee, late Śrī Mahāliṅga mama who provided the nurturing and inspiring encouragement in the beginning of this endeavor. His memories continue to provide the inspiration and the nāma saṅkīrtana vaibhavam has blossomed significantly over the years.
In 2015, we celebrated our first Śrī Rādhā Kalyāṇa Mahotsavam in New Jersey during the Memorial Day Weekend. This event was a natural evolution of our monthly nāma saṅkīrtana. We have now reached a major milestone of 10th anniversary of the New Jersey Sri Radhakalyana Mahotsavam. Additionally, we are spreading the traditional pandadhi of namasankeerthan and Sri Radhakalyana Mahotsavam in over 30 states of USA. With the blessings of all our Gurus, the New Jersey Sri Radhakalyana Mahotsavam is celebrated ever year during Memorial Day weekend.
May all the devotees partake in the monthly nāma saṅkīrtana and the yearly Śrī Rādhā Kalyāṇa Mahotsavam and receive the blessings of Lord Sri Krishna and Gurus.