While discussing japa, Sri Sanatana Goswami does not distinguish between harinama japa and diksha mantra japa. For both he gives the following important rules which all devotees should follow.
First of all, he defines japa as silent murmuring of the mantra, upamshu, and then lays down the rules for it. This is the way Srila Prabhupada chanted his daily nama and mantra japa. Sri Rupa Goswami says, “Very soft repetition of the mantra is called japa.” (Brs.1.2.149)
Sri Sanatana Goswami says, “If one speaks during japa, one’s japa will be fruitless. One will not attain perfection in his mantra chanting if he chants japa while speaking, walking, lying down on bed, thinking of something else, sneezing, hiccupping or yawning.” (HBV 17.132-3)
He furthers explains the dangers of public chanting saying, “Ghosts, Rakshasas, Vetalas and other subtle beings steal the benefits of japa done in public. Hence the wise must do japa in secret, bhuta, rakshasas, vetalas haranti prakatam tasmat guptam japet sudhih.” (HBV 17.131)
“After completing one’s daily japa sankhya, the japa mala should be worshiped and kept in a secret place [one’s temple room or home], japanya-kale malam tu pujayitva sugopayet.” (HBV 17.130)
Proper japa means solitary concentration on the mantra while sitting in a sanctified place with one’s mind and heart focused only on the mantra—its meaning and form. The Srimad Bhagavat Mahatmya (5.73) says, “Japa is lost through a restless mind.”
The key to success in bhakti is having the right attitude and feeling of devotion, sincere humility and hankering for mercy expressed through all of one’s sadhana practices. In bhakti, it is quality and not quantity that brings perfection and success in sadhana.
In this regard, Sri Vallabhacharya teaches, “Lots of sadhana does not please Sri Hari, na hi sadhana sampattya na hari toshanam. It is only the devotees’ humility that can satisfy Hari, bhaktanam dainyam evaikam harih tushyati.” Humility means submitting to and following the authority and orders of Sri Guru and Shastra.
Sri Rupa Goswami says that the holy name only manifests within someone who has a humble service attitude, sevonmukhe he jihvadau svayam eva sphurat yada. (Brs. 1.2.234)
Often it is seen that pride and ego manifest in one who chants a high number of japa without the right devotional attitude. In his tika on nama-aparadha # 10, Sri Sanatana Goswami explains how false pride—EGO manifests in different devotees. “To think ‘I’ and ‘mine’ to be the greatest in connection with the holy name is the 10th offence to the holy name. ‘I am chanting more than you’, aham bahutara-nama-kirtaka. My tongue is the greatest chanter of the holy name. Thus chanting is under the control of my tongue. I am chanting the holy name myself.” (HBV 11.524)
This kind of feeling and attitude—EGO—which often arises, is far far away from Mahaprabhu’s order to chant with the utmost humility.
Commenting on His own trnad api sunichena verse (Cc. 3.20.21) Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, ““These are the symptoms of one who [correctly] chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Although he is very exalted, he thinks himself lower than the grass on the ground, and like a tree, he tolerates everything in two ways. When a tree is cut down, it does not protest, and even when drying up, it does not ask anyone for water. The tree delivers its fruits, flowers and whatever else it possesses to anyone and everyone. It tolerates scorching heat and torrents of rain, yet it still gives shelter to others.
“Although a Vaiñëava is the most exalted person, he is prideless and shows respect to ALL LIVING ENTITIES knowing that Krishna is within them (jive sammana dibe jani krishna adhisthana). If one chants the holy name of Krishna in this way, pure love for Sri Krishna’s lotus feet will appear.” (Cc. 3.20.21-26).
In simple words, humility leads to prema and pride leads to failure. Chant Sri Krishna’s holy names with humility, full heart and attention, and soon the fruit of Krishna prema will be attained.
Sri Harinama Sankirtana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!