By Mahanidhi Swami

In an earlier article, we mentioned the practice of “identity purification”. This practice helps one transcend his material false ego and false self-identification by understanding and realizing his eternal spiritual identity as Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s eternal servant. Gurus and sastras prescribe various systems and prayers for bhuta-shuddhi, which literally means purifying the elements of our physical and mental body.

Srimad Bhagavatam (11.3.49) outlines many of the points we have discussed so far, and also hints at bhuta-shuddhi:

“First become clean, then purify the body (pindam vishodhya) by pranayama and other means (i.e. bhuta shuddhi), sit on an asana facing Thakurji, enter a mood of detachment, invoke Sri Krishna’s protection, and then begin your worship of Hari,” shucih sammukham asinah, prana samyamanadibhih, pindam vishodhya sannyasa, krta raksho arcayed dharim.

Chanting prayers for identity purification, bhuta shuddhi, was mentioned in part two of “How to Chant Mantras”. Below are samples of bhuta-shuddhi prayers along with a discussion of the principle:

1) naham vipro na ca nara patir napi vaisyo na sudro,
naham varni na ca grha patir no vanastho yatir va,
kintu prodyan nikhila-param ananda purnamrtabdher
gopi bhartuh pada kamalayor dasa dasa anu dasa

“I am not a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra. I am not a brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha or sannyasi. What am I? I am the eternal servant of the servant of the servant of Sri Krishna, the master of the gopis.” (Padyavail 63)

2) “By nature I am Krishna’s eternal servant. But by misfortune I have been inimical toward Krishna from time immemorial. Thus identifying with my temporary material body, I have been continuously rotating in the cycle of samsara, suffering the three­fold miseries of material existence.

“Now by the causeless mercy of my beloved spiritual master I fully realize that I am Krishna’s eternal servant. I am an individual spiritual being, completely separate from my gross and subtle body.

“By the mercy of my Spiritual master, I have obtained the good fortune of serving him, and assisting him in his eternal service to the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Gandharvika-Giridhari in the blissful, spiritual realm of Goloka Vrndavana.”

For more advanced sadhakas, Sri Jiva Goswamipada advises this bhuta shuddhi: “Those dedicated to serving Bhagavan Sri Krishna can perform bhuta shuddhi by meditating on possessing a body of an associate of the Lord suitable for service to one’s cherished form of the Lord (for instance a Vraja gopi) since it is favorable for one’s devotional development. (Bhakti Sandarbha 286)

In summary, we remind you that while chanting do not engage in other activities, such as talking, looking here and there, shaking the head, pacing back and forth, yawning, dozing, scratching, or touching the nose. Distraction means inattention; inattention means offense, and offenses block the path to prema.

The most important factor in successful chanting is the type of conception and sentiment behind the chanting of the mantras. To help one chant the mantra perfectly various rituals have been introduced to purify the mind and increase concentration. These rituals include acamana, pranayama, sankalpa, dhyana, arghya, and so on.

Although Hari-bhakti-vilasa explains the importance of performing various rituals, Srila Sanatana Goswamipada also states that if one can chant the mantra without offense, then he can discard many of the rituals. The most important point is to chant the mantra with rapt attention, fully concentrating on the meaning of each word and the meaning of the complete mantra.

We conclude this article with a beautiful teaching for all of us contained in Manah Siksa (v.1), wherein Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami implores us to cultivate love for our Gurudeva and the sublime diksa mantras he has bestowed upon us. Dasa Gosvami prays to his mind, “O my dear brother, my foolish mind! I humbly pray to you with sweet words. Please give up all pride and quickly develop sublime and incessant rati for your diksa-mantras.”

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Sri Guru & Diksa Mantras prema ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

One must have a clear conception of nama-tattva to chant the Holy Names of Bhagavan Sri Krishna without offense, and thereby attain the desired result of Krishna prema. The Padma Purana lists ten offenses to avoid in chanting which most devotees are aware of. However, because the second offense is a little confusing, many sincere yet uninformed Vaisnavas relegate Lord Shiva to an inferior position and thus commit nama aparadha. By closely examining the actual verse and the following sastric quotes, everyone will better understand the eternal identity of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and thus avoid this offense to Sri Nama Prabhu.

While describing the second offense, the Padma Purana (Brahma Kanda, 25.15-18) says: sivasya sri-visnor ya iha guna-namadi-sakalam, dhiya bhinnam pasyet na khalu hari-namahita-karah.

Word for Word Meanings: sivasya: of Shiva; sri visnor: of Sri Vishnu; yah: anyone; iha: here/ certainly; guna-namadi: the qualities, names etc; sakalam: everything; dhiya: in meditation; bhinnam: separated; pasyet: sees/ considers; na khalu: most certainly not; hari-nama: the name of Hari; hita: benefit; karah: that does.

Translation of the Second Offense in Chanting Hare Krishna:

“To contemplate in one’s meditation or consider any difference or separation between the Holy Names, qualities etc. of Shiva and Vishnu will certainly destroy the benefits of chanting the name of Hari.”

Brihad Bhagavatamrita (1.2.86) concurs: shivasya bhedeksa maha-dosa-kari mata, ago bhagavata svasmin ksamyate na sive krtam, “One who sees any difference between Krishna and Shiva is committing a great offense. Krishna may excuse someone who commits aparadha to His own lotus feet, but Krishna will never excuse one who commits aparadha at the lotus feet of Shiva”.

In the Kurma purana (12.20) Vasistha Muni said, “The best thing for human beings to understand is that Shiva is non-different from Vishnu. Therefore Shiva and Vishnu must be worshiped simultaneously”.

The conception of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva’s oneness is beautifully presented in the Hari Hara Kshetra Mandir in Navadvipa Dhama, West Bengal. This temple has ONE MURTI DEPICTING BOTH GODS with Lord Hari (Vishnu) on the right side and Lord Hara (Shiva) on the left of the same murti.

Of course, we are devotees of Radha and Krishna and should always chant Their Holy Names, knowing that in the consideration of rasa (rasa-vicara), the Divine Couple are the supreme, topmost manifestations of Bhagavan Shakti and Shaktiman. But in terms of spiritual truth (tattva-vicara), we should also clearly understand that Shiva is merely another form of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Never disrespect Lord Shiva or think that Mahadeva Shiva is merely a devata of the material world involved with the mode of ignorance.

Hari Om Namo Shivaya!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

Mantras give birth to sadhakas. Mantras sustain the lives of sadhakas, and mantras award spiritual perfection to sadhakas by giving darshana of their cherished ishta-devatas, Radha Govinda Yugala. In this article we will explore the details and varieties of various mantras.

Firstly, however, all sadhakas should know these four secrets. In Hari-bhakti-vilasa (2.146), Srila Sanatana Goswamipada commands fourfold secrecy for all sadhakas: they should not reveal their ishta-devata, initiating guru, their diksha mantra or japa-mala, gopayed devatam ishtam, gopayed gurum atmanah, gopayec ca nijam mantram, gopayen nija-malikam.

The Vedas mention three types of mantras: vedic, tantric, puranic. Each of these can be further divided into sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic mantras. Sattvic (mode of goodness) mantras are chanted for light, wisdom, divine love, compassion, and God realization.

Vedic Mantras have the power to destroy all karma, bring peace, give spiritual perfection, darshana of God, and liberation after death. Rajasic (mode of passion) mantras are chanted for progeny and material prosperity. Unlike sattvic mantras, which remove karma, rajasic mantras force men to take rebirth to reap the fruits of their karma. Tamasic mantras (mode of ignorance), popularly called tantric or “black magic,” are sinful. They are generally used to propitiate spirits, harm others, and perform vicious deeds.

The original spiritual letters are endowed with specific powers, and in particular combinations they assume more power in relation to certain Deities. These combinations of letters are called bijas or seeds, and they combine to form words. When these words are connected in a particular order, they have special powers to represent a Deity in full. These combinations are called mantras. The power then manifested in the whole mantra is greater than that of any of its constituent sounds.

The mantras, which are non-different from the Deity, are an eternal manifestation of the Deity and are spiritual by nature. By repetition of the mantra, the worshiper invokes the mercy of the Deity whose mantra he repeats. Chanting these mantras (i.e. pancaratrika Gayatri mantras) helps one realize the transcendental form of the Deities. The sadhaka thus overcomes illusion and regains his original spiritual position.

The mantra is an intrinsic form of the Lord. By the mercy of Guru and Vaisnavas, who are embodiments of Krishna’s mercy, Krishna enters the disciple’s heart in the form of mantra. The mantra, acts to cleanse the mind and heart of the disciple, and make him fit for serving the transcendent Lord.

There are six basic types of mantras used in Deity worship:

1) Dhyana Mantras—meditation mantras used to mentally invoke the Lord’s transcendental form, abode, and pastimes.

2) Bija Mantras—seed mantras for meditation and purification of articles used in puja.

3) Mula Mantras—root mantras, being the essence of the Deity, are recited along with each article of worship as a means of addressing the Lord.

4) Stutis & Stotras—prayers chanted before, during, or after worship to glorify the name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord.

5) Pranama Mantas—prayers for offering obeisances to the Lord at the end of worship.

6) Gayatri Mantras—Vedic or Pancaratrika mantras used to worship the Lord, invoking the three principles of sambandha, abhidheya, prayojana.

The word Gayatri indicates a specific poetic meter (chandas) sung in Vedic hymns. Vedic mantras, such as Brahma-gayatri, are called sabda-brahma (eternal, spiritual [aprakrta] vibrations representing God in the form of sound). In summary, a mantra is a combination of particular energies in the form of sound, and its recitation evokes those energies externally and internally. Every mantra is a combination of specific letters, words, meanings, rhythms, and tunes.

There are four aspects of all bona fide Vedic and pancaratrika mantras:

1) Rsi or sage—is the medium or the means of communication between God and man through whom the mantra was given to mankind. Every mantra has a presiding rsi or saintly person who first heard the mantra in his meditation and subsequently spread it for the benefit of others. The Gayatri mantra, for example, was revealed to Visvamitra Muni after a transcendental experience in meditation, so he is accepted as the Rsi of the Brahma-gayatri mantra.

2) Chandas—is the poetic meter of a specific mantra such as Gayatri, Anustap, and Jagati. “The Vedic meters are Gayatri, Usnik, Anustup, Brhati, Parikti, Tristup, Jagati, Aticchanda, Atyasti, Atijagati and Ativirat. The Gayatri meter has twenty-four syllables, the Usnik twenty-eight, the Anustup thirty-two, and so on, each meter having four more syllables than the previous one. Vedic sound is called brhati, or most expansive, and thus it is not possible for ordinary living entities to understand all the technical details in this matter.” (SB 11.21.41 v/p)

“The Visnu Parana says the seven horses yoked to the sun-god’s chariot are named Gayatri, Brhati, Usnik, Jagati, Tristup, Anustup and Parikti. These names of various Vedic meters designate the seven horses that carry the sun-god’s chariot.” (SB 5.21.16p.)

3) Ista-deva—is the controlling or presiding Deity of a mantra, or the Deity worshiped by the mantra. There are thirty-three million devatas (demigods), each having their own abode in the universe. Every devata has a name or mantra for which he is the presiding Deity.

Chanting a devata’s personal mantra invokes that devata, who will respond according to the intensity of the meditation. If one receives a mantra of a Deity or devata from a guru, and sincerely chants that mantra along with worship and meditation, then that Deity will appear either physically or in one’s meditation to fulfill one’s desires.

4) Viniyoga—is the use, function or purpose for chanting the mantra such as performing a homa, samskara, or to chant japa. Mostly we use the mantras for chanting Gayatri japa. So the viniyoga is chanting japa.

In Sat-kriya-sara Dipika, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami says, “The purpose of this system is to guarantee that one understands the meaning, function, correct heritage, and intonation of the mantra being chanted. As a rule, when uttering any Vedic mantra one should identify the rsi or saintly person who preserved the mantra, the chandas or meter of the mantra, the Deity being invoked in the mantra, and the function or purpose of chanting the mantra (doing a fire yajna for example).”

A traditional ritual done by vedic brahmanas before chanting the Brahma-gayatri is to offer obeisances, invoke blessings, and remember these four items.

1) Rsi—Chant the name of the rsi of a particular mantra while touching the head, thereby offering obeisances to that rsi in gratitude for his having enriched the world with this inspiring mantra.

2) Chandas—Touch the mouth while mentioning the particular chandas of the mantra. (Brahma-gayatri is gayatri meter or chandas)

3) Devata(Ista-deva) Chant the name of the Deity of the mantra while touching the heart to indicate the seat of the devata and pray to him to please accept the prayer.

4) Viniyoga—Keep the purpose of chanting a particular mantra or prayer fixed in the mind. The purpose of chanting the Brahma-gayatri is to attain pure transcendental knowledge of God, become peaceful, and learn how to surrender and eternally serve the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna in pure love.

The details regarding the method and frequency of chanting your particular diksha mantras, the meaning of the mantras, and the meditation to accompany them will be given by your individual guru.

May all who read this better appreciate the great depth and scientific clarity of the ancient Sanskrit Vedic shastra, which teaches the way of chanting spiritual mantras to attain perfection in love of God, Krishna prema!

(Excerpt from book Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Sri Veda Mata ki jai!

The Hare Krishna maha-mantra ki jai! Sri Guru Parampara ki jai!

Jai Gurudeva! Jai Gurudeva! Jai Gurudeva! Ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

Each and every Holy Name of Bhagavan Sri Krishna is all powerful, all beautiful, all merciful and all beneficial.

Tremendous blessings and benefits will come to anyone who chants, regardless of time, place, method or condition. However, the benefits and degree of mantra perfection will vary according to one’s endeavor.

Developing the following six qualities will help the chanter quickly attain mantra-siddhi and experience all the sublime treasures (japa sampatti hetavah) of the Holy Name.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada explains in Hari-bhakti vilasa (17.128):

manah samharanam shaucam, maunam mantrartha chintanam

avyagratvam anirvedo, japa sampatti hetavah

1) One-pointed mind (samharanam) means withdrawing it from all sense objects, especially during japa.

2) Cleanliness (shaucam) of body, clothes, asana and mind.

3) Meditation on meaning of mantra (mantra artha chintanam).

4) Undisturbed mind (avyagratvam) Sit peacefully and chant without mental restlessness.

5) Patience (anirvedo). Even though the promised results and treasures are not manifesting, one should continue chanting without feeling despondent or disappointed (nirveda).

Sri Harinama Japa ki jai! Hare Krishna Maha Mantra ki jai!

Sri Harinama Acharya Haridasa Thakura ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

The divine syllable OM has nothing to do with an impersonal conception. The following verses from Gopala-tapani Upanisad clearly establish that OM means the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. “The sound vibration OM denotes the catur-vyuha-tattva of Sankarsana (Sri Balarama), Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and Vasudeva (Sri Krishna). As OM transcends the three qualities of material nature, one should also know oneself to be beyond the identity of the material body: T am the eternal servitor of Krishna.’ This consciousness must be maintained at all times.

“The letter A’ denotes Balarama, the son of Rohini, who is the substratum of the entire universe; ‘U’ denotes Pradyumna, who is the Supersoul of the universe; ‘M’ denotes Aniruddha, who is the Supersoul of each individual being in the universe. The dot above the M denotes Sri Krishna, the fountainhead of all Visnu incarnations.” (GU)

Besides supporting Sri Jiva Gosvami’s explanation that OM represents Radha and Krishna, the Gopala-tapani Upanisad further states that the seed of Krishna’s eternal pastimes is inherent in the seed mantra OM. “The enlightened sages declare that the svarupa-sakti of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Sri Radha, being the prime mula-prakrti, is nondifferent from OM. Gopala Krishna, who is the creator, sustainer, and destroyer of the universe, is also nondifferent from OM.” (GU v. 58)

Acaryas also explain that in the seed word OM which is a combination of three syllables, A-U-M. A—expresses the form of Lord Visnu; U—expresses the form of His consort Sri, the mother and support of the entire world; M—expresses the individual soul, who is the dependent servant of Visnu and Sri and no one else. The sound vibration omkara is the root of Vedic knowledge, and it is known as maha-vakya, or the supreme sound.

In the next article, we will learn about the relation between OM and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Om Tat Sat!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

The chanting of the spiritual mantra OM, the primordial vibration of transcendence, Divinity in sound, is probably one of most popular chanting mantras in the world. Before coming to Krishna consciousness many devotees dabbled in the continual chanting of: OM…OM…OM…OM…OM…OM…OM…

Bhagavata-gita (10.8) tells us that everything, and that means EVERY THING, begins with Sri Krishna, that beautiful flute player, the darling sweetheart of the cowherd damsels of Vraja; (aham sarvasya prabhavo, mattah sarvam pravartate). And yes, from Muralidhara’s flute comes OM to ignite this world with transcendence. Let’s learn more about this most famous and intriguing spiritual mantra.

Regarding the origin of OM, Srila Prabhupada said, “When Krishna began to play on His flute, that sweet sound vibration entered into the ear of Brahma as the Vedic mantra OM is composed of three letters—A, U, and M, OM describes our relationship with the Supreme Lord (sambandha), the activities by which we can achieve the highest perfection of love (abhidheya), and the actual position of love on the spiritual platform (prayojana). “When the sound vibration of Krishna’s flute was expressed through the mouth of Brahma, it became Gayatri. Thus being influenced by the sound vibration of Krishna’s flute, Brahma, the first living entity of this material world, was initiated as a brahmana.

“Srila Jiva Gosvami confirms that Brahma was initiated as a brahmana by the flute of Krishna. When Brahma was enlightened by the Gayatri mantra through Krishna’s flute, he attained all Vedic knowledge. Acknowledging the benediction offered to him by Krishna, he became the original spiritual master of all living entities.” (TLC ch. 31)

Meaning of OM

The first mantra is pranava OM. The Vedas glorify OM as the origin of the Vedas and as the source of the whole creation. For this reason, OM precedes every Vedic mantra. OM expands into the vyahrtis (bhuh, bhuvah, svah) which indicate the whole expanse of the creation: the earth and lower planetary systems, the region of the sky, and the upper planetary systems. The vyahrtis then expand into the Brahma-gayatri mantra. The Gayatri then expands into all the Vedas.

The pranava OM, the vyahrtis, and the Brahma-gayatri combined together are the essence of the Vedas, and the most powerful of mantras. Chanting these mantras has remained the cornerstone of spiritual progress in Vedic culture since time immemorial. OM, the sacred syllable of assent, is a seed mantra mentioned throughout the Vedic literatures and chanted by all varieties of transcendentalists.

It has also worked its way into many languages to indicate God. In English, all-important descriptions of God have “OM” as its root. OM enters the English language as the prefix omni. Therefore words like omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient are valid descriptions of God and, all begin with the root OM. Christians end prayers with Amen meaning OM, and Muslims say Amin, denoting God.

One net entry described OM like this: “In every breath man utters and repeats it unintentionally and inevitably. Every vibration in the body and in the universe emerges from OM. A child cries “OM! OM!” The ocean roars “OM! OM!” The bees buzz “OM! OM!” The musician hums “OM! OM!” OM is the expression of the seer of the Truth. OM is Veda, the wisdom of God. OM is the sound of God. OM is eternal, the indestructible word.”

Despite the apparent universality of the word OM, only Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Gaudiya Vaisnavas have revealed the full spiritual significance of OM. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna says, pranavah sarva vedesu: “I am the syllable OM mentioned in all the Vedas” Besides indicating the Supreme Personality of Godhead, OM is nondifferent from the sound of Krishna’s flute. Unfortunately, most people today have an impersonal conception of the sacred syllable OM.

Srila Prabhupada said that OM means Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. “The sound of OM in the beginning of every Vedic hymn addresses the Supreme Lord. Because the impersonalists are very much afraid of addressing the Supreme Lord Krishna by His innumerable names, they prefer to vibrate the transcendental sound omkara. But they do not realize that omkara is the sound representation of Krishna. The jurisdiction of Krishna consciousness extends everywhere, and one who is in Krishna consciousness is blessed.” (BG 7.8 p.)

“OM is the alphabetical representation of Krishna. This representation of Krishna, however, is impersonal. It is like Krishna’s bodily luster or His brahman effulgence. Impersonalists like to chant OM, but we wish to chant Krishna’s feature of pastimes because His personal feature is the ultimate understanding. OM is the symbol of eternity (sat), but there is no bliss (ananda) and knowledge (cit). OM tat sat: tat means the Absolute Truth, and sat means eternity. So OM tat sat means, ‘Oh, the Absolute Truth is eternal.'” (SPL 17/3/68)

The Upanisads and realized Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas like Sri Jiva Gosvami reveal that OM, besides indicating the Supreme Lord Krishna, also includes His personal energies or saktis in the form of His divine pleasure potency, Srimati Radhika, and His eternal servants, the jiva-sakti or individual souls. “OM is a combination of the letters, A, U, M. The letter ‘A refers to Krishna; ‘U’ refers to Radha; ‘M’ refers to the jiva soul.” (GVV)

“The Gosvamis declare that (pranava) omkara is the complete representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They have analyzed omkara in terms of its alphabetical constituents as follows: omkara is a combination of the letters A, U, and M. The letter A refers to Krishna, the master of all living entities and planets both material and spiritual. The letter U indicates Srimati Radharani, the pleasure potency of Krishna, and M denotes the living entities (jivas). Thus OM is the complete combination of Krishna, His potency and His eternal servitors.

“In other words, omkara represents Krishna, His name, fame, pastimes, entourage, expansions, devotees, potencies and everything else pertaining to Him. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu states in the present verse of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, sarva-visva-dhama: omkara is the resting place of everything, just as Krishna is the resting place of everything (brahmano hi pratisthahamy “(Cc. Adi 7.128 p.)

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Om Tat Sat!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

This is the last article in our series of articles on Sri Guru and Mantra Tattva, offered in glorification of Srila Vyasadeva and all divine preceptors on the most auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima.

Here we will discuss the meaning of attaining siddhi, or perfection in chanting one’s diksha mantras. Of course, we should always try our best in all our sadhana practices. And at the same time, we must always remember that ultimately the desirable result and perfection will come only by the mercy of Sri Guru and Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

There is no restriction regarding the number of times one can chant his diksa mantras. Vedic scriptures suggest chanting the Gopala or Krishna mantra and Kama Gayatri 108 times to get the best result. Some Gurus prescribe chanting each mantra thirty-two times, twenty eight, ten times each, or even many rounds of special mantras like Kama Gayatri.

The main point is to regularly, without fail, chant your diksa mantras the number of times requested by your spiritual master. There is no bar, however, to chanting more if time permits. In this regard, Srila Prabhupada once said we should chant a minimum of sixteen rounds on the japa beads and unlimited rounds off the beads. Kirtaniya sada harih!

According to mantra sastras, mantra-siddhi (perfection in a particular Vedic or pancaratrika mantra) can be attained by chanting it one thousand times the number of syllables in the mantra. For example, you can attain perfection in the eighteen-syllable Gopala-mantra by chanting it 18,000 times; the twenty-four syllable Kama-gayatri by chanting it 24,000 times, and so on. The Hare Krishna maha-mantra, however, is independent of this concept, for even one pure recitation of Hare Krishna can give the highest perfection of pure love of God.

What does it mean to attain mantra-siddhi? It means one gets perfection in that particular mantra, and quickly receive the benefits or fruits of that mantra. Generally, siddhi means obtaining whatever the mantra offers. For example, Hanuman mantra-siddhi gives darshana of Hanuman and benedictions such as strength.

The Brahmanda Purana provides another example of mantra-siddhi: “Reciting the Nrsimha Kavaca 32,000 times with a purified heart grants the most auspicious of all auspicious things. Material enjoyment and liberation are understood to be already available to such a person.”

Lord Brahma himself achieved mantra-siddhi after chanting the Gopala-mantra thousands of times. He attained the perfection of hearing Krishna’s transcendental flute. Then in his trance of meditation, Brahma saw Lord Govinda and the spiritual world of Goloka Vrndavana.

Mantras are extremely powerful and can award desired boons, benedictions, powers and perfections. But such attainments are not appreciated by devotees aspiring for the unalloyed service of Radha and Krishna in the pleasure groves of Vrindavana.

Our beloved prema avatara, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, taught us to desire only one perfection, namely Radha-Madhava’s nitya-seva birth after birth.

Setting the direction and perfection for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Gauranga Mahaprabhu prayed, “O My beloved Lord Sri Krishna! I only want to serve You birth after birth without any motivation or cessation.”

This is the final perfection to be attained by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and one’s diksa mantras. Krishna’s devotees are always eager to chant, meditate upon and serve Their sweet and merciful Radha and Krishna.

Thus we continually chant and serve the Divine Playful Pair, Radha Govinda Yugala, knowing that Sri Guru and Sri Krishna will arrange everything we need to attain Vraja prema bhakti. Indeed, there is no greater perfection or mantra siddhi then this attainable in all the three worlds!

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Radha-Shyamasundara nitya prema seva ki jai!

Om tat sat!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

Now we will discuss physical posture and its effect on chanting success. Yoga mantra sastras recommend that one should sit perfectly still (no shaking the head or pacing back and forth) with a straight back, because an upright posture keeps the nerves peaceful and aids concentration. Krishna gives the same instruction in the Bhagavad-gita verse 6.13: “One should hold one’s body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose.”

“Without moving the lips or tongue, shaking the head or neck, or showing the teeth, one should meditate on the syllables of the mantra, the meaning of each word, and the meaning of the whole mantra. Without knowing its meaning, one will not attain the goal intended by chanting that mantra.” (Yajnavalkya-smrti)

In summary, one should not move his lips, tongue or shows the teeth. One should close his eyes. Then chant silently in the mind while being deeply absorbed in the meaning of each word and the meaning of the complete mantra. Regarding the point of not moving the tongue, some yoga books claim that concentration is enhanced by holding the tongue firmly against the roof of the mouth while chanting the mantras within the mind.

One yogi said, “This helps circulate the prana by acting as a bridge between the head and the circuit on the front of the body. When doing so your aura automatically becomes brighter. If you add breath control, the aura becomes even brighter. So it would be good for health, mind and spirit.”

Of course, a program of yoga and pranayama for health is not the objective, but the principle is to do whatever works to fix the mind on Krishna and never forget Him. If one cannot concentrate while chanting silently in the mind, however, then one may move the lips slightly while inaudibly mouthing the words of the Gayatri.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada gives some very particular instructions regarding mantras: “When chanting Gayatri japa the sadhaka should not move his head and neck about, nor show his teeth. He shall sanctify his mind by withdrawing it from the objects of the senses, and by silently meditating upon the meaning of the mantra. If the mantra remains within the mind, and the mind remains within the mantra (in other words—the mind and mantra are joined), then the characteristics of Gayatri japa are revealed to the chanter. While performing japa, the fingers must be kept together and slightly contracted at the base. If the fingers are separated, the effect of the japa will leak out through the spaces.” (HBV 17th vilasa)

Even though many physical suggestions are given herein, the mind is the main factor in successful Gayatri chanting. Perfection comes from intense meditation, not sitting postures. Meditation means deeply concentrating on Krishna who appears in the form of the mantra (mantra-rupa). The sadhaka must focus all his mental and intellectual energy on the mantra until it reveals its secrets. Lord Brahma, for example, focused on the Gopala-mantra until it fully bloomed within his consciousness. Meditation is the art of communion with Krishna after searching Him out in the dark core of the heart.

To avoid sleepiness and to attain maximum concentration one can sit in the siddhasana or the padmasana, which Lord Brahma used while chanting the Gopala-mantra. “Thus while sitting and chanting one may keep his body straight, and this will help one in the chanting process; otherwise one may feel sleepy.” (SB 7.15.31 p.)

Padmasana— First sit on the floor on a seat made of kusa grass, wool or silk. Hold the right- foot and place it on top of the left thigh with the outer edge of the foot pressed into the groin. Bring the right knee in to face almost forward. Lift the left foot over the right thigh, and bring it into the right groin. Move the feet further up into the groin and bring the knees closer together. Sit straight, extending the trunk up. Open the chest, and move the shoulder blades in. Lift the diaphragm up and relax the face.

If one cannot do asanas or sit up straight, then sit against a wall or in a firm chair. One should sit perfectly still, breathe slowly and deeply, keep the mouth closed, and the tongue still. Fixing the mind on Sri Guru, Sriman Mahaprabhu, and the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna or a personal ista-deva, begin chanting with total absorption, feeling, and surrender. Meditate deeply on the meaning of each word and on the conception of the whole mantra.

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Asana pranayama and mantra dhyana ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

Determination, sincerity and devotion in mantra chanting will definitely bring perfection. Iskcon’s Deity worship manual also encourages correct posture along with manasika or silent japa chanting:

“Japa refers to the silent chanting of the Deity mula mantras, and the Gayatri mantras given by the spiritual master. Try to realize that the mantra is nondifferent from the Deity being worshiped. Sit properly on an asana, perform acamana, and cover the right hand with the upper cloth while chanting. The counting of mantras chanted with the fingers should not be exposed to view.” (Pancha Pradipa)

One will never attain the goal of life by worldly intelligence. By increasing the quality of the chanting, bhakti will enter the heart and carry one to the lotus feet of Giridhari. The only purpose of chanting these mantras is to develop pure love for Krishna. Chanting Gayatri is a powerful form of meditation that yields great results when done with sincerity and seriousness.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada explains how even premamayi Srimati Radharani performs intense meditation upon Her beloved after offering prayers to Her Ishta-Devata:

“’If it is not false when people say, “Gandharvika and Giridhari are eternally one soul,” then please O Giridhari! In order to make this half of our soul happy, kindly appear now right here before My eyes!’

“Praying thus, Srimati Radhika then closed Her eyes, and began to meditate upon the beloved of Her soul, Sri Giridhari. Shutting off all the activities of Her senses just like a yogini, Radhika sat motionless while totally fixed in an unbreakable condition of silence.” (Prema Samputa)

All Vaisnavas who take initiation (mantra-diksa) are duty bound to chant their diksa mantras purely without offense daily for their entire lives. Such daily performance of religious rites is called ahnika. The mantras given by the guru may vary, but they usually include the Guru-mantra/gayatri, Gaura & Pancha Tattva m/g, Gopala-mantra, Kama-gayatri, Radha m/g, Panca-tattva mantra, and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Conceiving these mantras to be the form of Bhagavan, one should chant them with great faith, love and affection. These mantras are not ordinary; they are completely transcendental and full of unlimited spiritual power.

Before chanting one should bathe, apply tilaka, dress in clean cloth, tie the sikha, and sit on a pure asana. Diksa mantras should be chanted in a quiet, sanctified and peaceful place, ideally in view of the temple Deities or one’s personal Thakuraji.

One can only imagine how quiet and peaceful Vrndavana must have been five hundred years ago during the time of Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami. Still the Gosvamis chose the most secluded places to concentrate on their chanting and lila smarana. In Gokula, Srila Sanatana Gosvami did bhajana in a cave fifteen feet underground. Raghava Gosvami stayed in a cave at Govardhana. And in Unchagoan, Narayana Bhatta Gosvami had a bhajana kutira twenty feet underground. These acaryas show the importance of a “distraction free enviroment” for proper concentration in bhajana.

In the absence of caves for chanting, some devotees today wear earplugs or sound headphones to block out distracting noises while chanting. Using such devices to create a quiet, distraction free environment will definitely improve the quality of one’s chanting. If one tries this technique he will realize the inner meaning of the phrase “silence is golden.” Personally, we often use such headphones while chanting and find them very helpful.

One should try to always chant near Thakuraji or Tulasi Maharani. Alternative places prescribed in sastras include simply facing east, or sitting beside or standing waist deep in a sacred river such as the Yamuna or Ganga. Also sitting beside the ocean or on a mountaintop are auspicious places to chant mantras.

Mantra benefits vary depending on the chanting location: “Chanting diksa mantras on one’s personal purified asana yield one time the benefit; chanting outside yields 1,000 times the benefit; chanting in a river yields 100,000 times the benefit; chanting in front of Thakuraji or the Deities gives unlimited benefit.” (Linga Purana)

“Gayatri japa done in a tulasi garden, in a goshalla, on a temple grounds, or in the presence of the guru very easily controls the mind, brings perfection and spiritual joy.” (Tantrasara)

One should not chant Gayatri in a moving vehicle, on a bed, or with one’s back to a temple, fire, peepul tree (ashvatta vrksha), or a body of water. After selecting the proper time and place, one should sanctify the mind and consciousness. This is done by performing acamana, bhuta-suddhi, and by begging for the mercy of Sri Guru and other personal guardians of devotion.

Bhuta-suddhi will be described in the next article.

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Asana and Mantra Phala ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says that among sacrifices He is japa yajna, the sacrifice of chanting japa. The Agni Purana defines japa thus: “The syllable “ja” destroys the cycle of birth and death, and the syllable “pa” destroys all sins (papa). Japa, therefore, is that which destroys all sins, stops the cycle of birth and death, and liberates the soul from bondage.”

There are three forms of chanting mantras. The third form is called uccaih or loud chanting, which specifically refers to Hari Nama Sankirtana, which benefits both the chanters and any who hears. The other two forms refer to chanting diksa mantras or Hare Krishna mantra on japa beads.

They are upamsu (audible) and manasika (mental). Upamsu means murmuring or repeating the mantra while moving the lips and making a slight sound or whisper. Manasika (mental or meditative) japa is done by concentrating upon the meaning of each word, along with meditating on the mantra’s full conception without moving the tongue and lips or making any sound.

In this regard, Manu-samhita says, “Manasika japa is a thousand times greater than upamsu japa.”

Indeed, manasika japa is the most powerful form of chanting mantras. But it is only possible for sadhakas who are pure, peaceful, and filled with goodness (sattva-guna). So one can easily understand that manasika japa, or silent meditative chanting is very difficult to perform in this age of anxiety, agitation and mental impurity. Therefore acaryas recommend upamsu japa, uttering the mantras quietly and very clearly in order to remove ignorance and lethargy from the mind.

According to the personal servant of Srila Prabhupada, Hari Sauri Prabhu, His Divine Grace did upamsu japa while chanting Gayatri. Thus, one should choose a chanting method based on his qualification and the order of the spiritual master.

Diksa mantras work and give results only when one maintains internal and external cleanliness. To chant successfully one must acquire the good qualities of tranquility, self-control, austerity, and cleanliness, e.g. twice daily bathing and wearing clean cloth.

Other perquisites for chanting success are mental purity, achieved by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, reciting prayers for identity purification (bhuta-shuddhi), and deep concentration on the meaning of the mantras. The next installment will explain more details to bring mantra perfection.

(Excerpt from Gayatri Mahima Madhuri by Mahanidhi Swami)

Diksa mantras ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!