Richard (now Radhanath Swami) had a profound experience at the convent of Mother Theresa. Richard saw that Mother Theresa was happy washing pots and serving the poor. When one person asked her how she could do so many chores, she humbly replied that serving God and humanity was not a chore. Any type of service is a blessing. Mother Theresa also spoke about the source of all her spiritual strength. She said she derived immense nourishment and strength from chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names.
Radhanath Swami is emphatic that both, an attitude of service and sincere chanting of God’s Holy Names go hand in hand in spiritual life. To serve God and the world for our whole life we will require spiritual strength and nourishment. The source for this is the Holy Names. At the same time we can’t chant the Holy Names effectively if we do not cultivate proper service attitude.
Radhanath Swami gives the example of his own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada who at the advanced age of seventy travelled to America on a cargo ship. His only purpose in doing that was to save the poor suffering souls of this world. While on the month long voyage, Srila Prabhupada suffered from heart attacks and sea sickness and while in America, he also struggled alone. However, during all this tribulations, Srila Prabhupada had unflinching faith in the Holy Names and that provided him the solace and strength during these hard days. Later Srila Prabhupada transformed the hearts of thousands of drug infected hippies and blessed them with the most special gift of love of God. Srila Prabhupada attributed the miraculous transformation of all the ‘hippies’ to ‘happies’ to the power of the Holy Names.
The faith in Holy Names that Radhanath Swami observed in Mother Theresa is the driving force of all spiritualists in all the major religions of the world. Following the tradition of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the apostle of Love of God who appeared in Eastern India in the fifteenth century, Radhanath Swami describes the Lord’s holy names to be complete in themselves and identical to the Lord in all potency. Hence when we take shelter of the holy names, we derive immense spiritual strength.
In the Judaeo-Christian tradition also there is a great instruction: “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” Not only is this encouragement for chanting God’s name, but the word means “sacred.” We say that the name of God is sacred. But originally the word hallowed meant “whole.” The name of God was considered complete. So “hallowed be Thy name” meant that God’s name was complete in itself, or full of God’s own potency, as what Vedic tradition says.
All religious traditions teach this principle and encourage adherents to chant God’s names, even if, in practice, the instruction is hardly followed. In fact, all religions emphasize the chanting process as the prime means for developing God consciousness. For example, King David, of the Bible, preached: “From the rising of the sun until its setting, the Lord’s name is to be praised.” (Psalms 113:3) Saint Paul said, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) In this way, the potency of the name is endorsed even in the Western religious traditions.
What Radhanath Swami learnt from Mother Theresa, he later perfected under the tutelage of his own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.