Author: Gopal Singh
What are the differences (if any) between Hara and Hari? What is the meaning of Hara?
In Saḿskrta, Harańa means to steal, to take away. He who takes away all your sins (pāpa), He who takes away all your umbers and cumbers is Hara. He is Hara, because He takes away all your sins (pāpa), all your propensities. Hara is derived from two letters: “ha” and “ra”. “Ha”is the acoustic root of the ethereal factor and “ra” the acoustic root of energy. So the entity who, by virtue of His tremendous power, withdraws and projects all the five fundamental factors up to the ethereal factor, is called Hara. A further interpretation is: “Ha” is the acoustic root of the ethereal factor and “ra” is the acoustic root of energy. The vibration flow of energy on the entire ethereal level is “Hara”, that is, in the expressed universe the most vibrating, the most dancing, entity is Hara. Hence Hara is also known as Nat́aráj or Nat́esha, the Lord of Dance. This world is a divine play of Hari and Hara. It is Hari-Harátmaka. Hara is one who is undergoing no metamorphosis and Hari means “Harati pápánityarthe harih”. That is, one who steals away pāpa of others. People may say, “Parama Puruśa is great and He steals! As per necessity, He does engage in stealing but one without calumny or fault. He expects bhaktas to give away their pāpa to Him and be liberated. But when He asks bhaktas to do so, they say, “O Náráyańa! We can give You our minds, our bodies, our souls, our everything; but how can we give You our pāpa? That we can’t do.” Bhaktas love Him deeply and He loves them too. As Bhaktas won’t part with their pāpa on request, He steals them away and that is why He is known as Hari.
What is Hari’s role?
Human beings have been committing numerous pāpa for lives together resulting in a huge pile of pāpa as high as the Himalayas. If they have to carry the full load of those pāpa, they will surely break their backs; and if they have to atone for them all, they will have to return to this world again and again for at least 20 generations. Now the question arises, why should Hari exist? Why should Parama Puruśa exist if He cannot help individuals? Well, He does render assistance and in that capacity He is called Hari.
“Harati pápáni ityarthe harih.”
One who steals others pāpa to lighten their burden and pave the way for their liberation, is called Hari. Why would Hari steal pāpa? Stealing, after all, is a despicable act. What is stealing? Stealing is taking things which belong to others without their permission. Why should He wish to steal ? It does not seem to be a very wise thing to do. On closer analysis, however, it is seen to be a most commendable act because the main purpose of Hari’s theft is to lighten the burden of the devotees load; otherwise they will never attain liberation, but will continue to suffer from the reactions of pāpa for lives together. What does He want? As His devotees have surrendered everything to Him, He would like to relieve them of the burden of their pāpa. He wishes to say to His devotees, “My dear children, give me all your pāpa. You won’t be able to carry such a heavy load of pāpa. Remember that you have been committing pāpa for many lifetimes and it will take you as many as 20 lifetimes to undergo the consequences. So it would be better for you to give me all your pāpa to free yourself of your burden”.
Why Hari kiirtana?
We know that one of the names of Parama Puruśa is Hari. It is a very popular name of Parama Puruśa. Why Hari? In Sanskrit “hr” means “to steal”. So He is Hari, because Harati pápánii ityarthe Hari meaning “One who steals pāpa is called Hari”. He steals. He steals what? He steals your pāpa. Hari is an internal entity, residing in the innermost core of everyone’s heart. Be it the heart of a bird, a fool, a scholar, a good person or a bad person, Hari’s throne is there. He only considers one thing – whether that heart has love and devotion for Him. Suppose a certain person commits so many pāpa; rather, is totally immersed in the ocean of pāpa: Hari resides even in such a sinner’s heart and will reside there in the future, too. He will examine that heart to see how much love and devotion there is for Him. Philosophy says that this universe is the playground of Hari and Hara. Hari maintains this universe and Hara destroys it. What form does this destruction take? He withdraws the objects of the world into Himself and projects them again in a newer form. Suppose you create an image of a wicked demon in your mind but decide that it is too dreadful. You can easily annihilate it and create an image of an honest person in its place. You can easily create and destroy images in your mind – you are doing this all the time. In the same way, Parama Puruśa withdraws an image or an idea into Himself and the very next moment sends another image or idea back into the universe. It is not destruction or dreadful annihilation as people are generally prone to believe, but withdrawal followed by the creation of a the same image in a newer way invested with a greater capacity. Does Hari send back a person who has been liberated from all sorts of past saḿskaras by dint of sádhaná? No, a person who attains permanent liberation is assimilated into Him. Hari here means Parama Puruśa. The entity which is instrumental for the withdrawal of everything is called “Hara” and the entity responsible for the creation of unit beings is called “Hari”. This is the fundamental difference between Hari and Hara. It is the Saguńa Brahma who has been carrying on the work of creation, preservation and destruction under the three names of Brahmá, Viśńu and Maheshvara (Shiva). That is why the world is called Hari-Harátmaka, that is, identified with Viśńu and Shiva in their combined state. In every created object the Divine game of Hari and Hara, Viśńu and Shiva, goes on. In the balanced state no action results. Action finds expressions only in the unbalanced state, when the equipoise is lost. Similar is our life, which is a constant effort to restore an unstable equilibrium [. That is why in our lives] the battle between Hari and Hara goes on unabated. So long as Hari wins, the heart is astir with excitement – all life-activities find avenues of expression. The moment Hara starts winning, the rhythm of life dimmed. With the establishment of Hara all briskness, knowledge, intelligence, name, fame, pride of lineage and family – all fevers and frets – come to a stop, frozen in the chill of death.