Lord Caitanya Chants “His Rounds”

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Lord Gauranga Himself and all realized souls in the Gaudiya line such as Namacarya Thakura Haridasa and the six Gosvamis set the example of chanting a fixed number of rounds daily. In Sad-gosvamy astakam, Srinivasa Acarya glorifies the sadhana of the six Gosvamis: saṅkhyā-pūrvaka-nāma-gāna, “chanting the names by counting the number.”

“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra in a loud voice, the holy name dancing on His tongue as He counts the number of recitations with His effulgent hand.” (Prāthamā Caitanyaṣṭaka)

“Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, His own holy names which bring auspiciousness to the world, Lord Gaurāṅga’s hand trembles with love as He touches the knotted string about His waist to count the number of names.” (Sri Caitanya-candramrta)

“On a knotted string Lord Caitanya counts a fixed number of His own holy names (names of Kṛṣṇa).” (Cb. Madhya 5.1)

“Lord Caitanya blessed them saying, ‘May you attain devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Do not waste time with gossip; just chant Kṛṣṇa’s holy name and qualities.’ Then Gaurāṅga personally instructed the people, āpane sabāre prabhu kore upadeśe, kṛṣṇa-nāma mahā-mantra śunaho hariṣe, ‘Be pleased to hear the mahā-mantra from Me:

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.’

“The Lord continued: prabhu bole, kahilān ei mahā-mantra, ihā japa’ giyā sabe koriyā nirbandha, ‘Continue chanting japa of this mahā-mantra a prescribed number of times.’

“ ‘One can achieve all perfection by this chanting. There is no rule in this chanting other than that it should be continued at every moment.’ ” (Cb. Madhya 23.74-84)

In Caitanya Bhagavata 2.23.74, Lord Gaura said:

kahilam ei maha-mantra kha japa giya sabe kariya
nirbandha kha hoite sarva siddhi hoibe sabara

“Everyone should chant the holy name of the Lord with fixed determination by rigidly keeping the scheduled count (nirbandha) of the holy name. This will award one all perfections.” Some translators say that nirbandha means sixty-four rounds.

The practice of chanting a fixed number of rounds is so powerful that it qualifies one to receive the Lord in his home. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu proclaimed,

‘lakṣeśvara’ bali kāre? prati-dina lakṣa-nāma ye grahaṇa kare
se janera nāma āmi bali ‘lakṣeśvara’ tathā bhikṣā āmāra,

nā yāi anya ghara

Do you know who is a lakṣeśvara? He is someone who chants one lakṣa, or one hundred thousand holy names everyday. I call such a person a lakṣeśvara. That person may offer Me a meal. I will not enter any other house. (Cb. Antya 9.121-2)

Many devotees do not have the taste or time to chant 100,000 holy names daily. Srila Prabhupada mercifully simplified the process by requesting his followers to chant a minimum of sixteen rounds per day. One must always pray to Radha-Govinda for a taste in chanting. When taste arises one will continuously chant the holy name with great relish. Srila Prabhupada comments on nama-ruci:

“What is nāma-gāne sadā ruciḥ? He is never tired of chanting, or singing or dancing. Sadā means always; ruci means taste. “Oh, very nice. Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare, Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma…” This is taste. To awaken this taste takes time. To become like Rūpa Gosvāmī–when he was chanting he was thinking, “I have got only one tongue and two ears. What I shall chant?” He was thinking, “If I could get millions of tongues and trillions of ears, then I could relish something by chanting and hearing.”

“So we should not imitate, but at least we must be very careful to complete sixteen rounds, the minimum. Nāma-gāne sadā ruciḥ. We have to increase our taste for singing and chanting.” (SPT 29/4/73)

An excerpt from the book Art of Chanting

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