Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das
Yes, there are and yes there are no rules in chanting Hare Krishna nama japa! In Siksastaka (2), Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, “In each of His unlimited names, Bhagavan Sri Krishna manifests all His transcendental power. There are no strict rules regarding REMEMBERING these names, niyamitah smarane na kalah.”
Commenting on this verse Mahaprabhu says:
khaite suite yatha, tatha nama laya
kala desa niyama nahi, sarva siddhi haya
“Regardless of time or place, one who chants the holy name, even while eating or sleeping, attains all perfection. (Caitanya Caritamrita 3. 20.18)”
One may think these verses mean that there are no rules in chanting and therefore anything goes! But actually Mahaprabhu is not saying that there are no rules. Sri Gaurahari is glorifying the unlimited and merciful power of Krishna nama by saying that one can REMEMBER nama at any time, even while eating or sleeping.
And due to His infinite power and love, Sri Hari Nama Prabhu will give one all spiritual perfection. Definitely one should not think that Mahaprabhu is saying here that you can chant your rounds while taking breakfast in bed!
In fact, there are specific rules in chanting japa. And Mahaprabhu personally instructed and empowered Sri Sanatana Goswami to describe them, which he did in “Hari Bhakti Vilasa”.
Let us take shelter of Mahaprabhu to better understand the idea of rules and no rules. 500 years ago, Sri Caitanyadeva Mahaprabhu introduced the ultimate transcendental philosophy as acintya bheda-abheda-tattva—simultaneous, inconceivable oneness and difference.
In other words, the transcendental Absolute Truth, Bhagavan Sri Krishna is inconceivably, simultaneously one and different from everything and everyone. Besides being a transcendental doctrine of reality, the principle of acintya bheda-abheda can be applied everywhere.
For example, the atma or soul is one with and different from the body. The husband is one with and different from his family. The citizen is one and different from the country. The student is one with and different from the school. The driver is one with and different from the car. “Hey you hit me” which means his car. The bhoga is one with and different from the refrigerator.
Similarly, in chanting Hare Krishna nama japa there are no rules regarding remembering, or the time and place. But then again there are rules. One must avoid the ten offenses in chanting, nama aparadha.
To help nama sadhakas quickly perfect their chanting of Sri Krishna’s sweeter than sweet Holy Names, we will now present a few helpful rules from Sri Sanatana Goswami. In 274 verses, the Hari Bhakti Vilasa (17) describes the Puruscarana Vrata for attaining siddhi or perfection in chanting diksa mantras. Although the many rules and benefits there describe diksa mantras, they can also apply to chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
JAPA FAULTS TO AVOID (japa dosa)
- Japa chanting is fruitless if you chant with—dirty hands, no asana, covered head, talking to others. 132
- You will not attain perfection in chanting (mantra siddhim navapnoti) if you chant absentmindedly, or while walking, lying down, sneezing, yawning, or hiccupping. 133
- One should chant a fixed number (japa sankhya:16, 32, 64) of rounds every day without fail. (199)
THREE TYPES OF JAPA
Beginning with the best, the 3 types are manasic—silent in mind; upamsu—whispering; and vacika—loud or soft. (155-156)
GLORIES OF MANASIC JAPA
Manasic is silent mental japa along with meditation on each syllable of the mantra. (158) Manasi japa is thousands of times more beneficial than the other two because it equals meditation on Bhagavan Sri Krishna (sahasro manasah prokto yasmad dhyana samo hi sah). (159)
Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das: All types of chanting are equally powerful, nija sarva sakti. However, if one has the inner purity to mentally chant it will be most beneficial because it demands the most concentration on Krishna which means more absorption in Krishna and therefore faster results. Whereas in upamsu or vacika chanting one’s mind may be distracted or inattentive, and thus bring slower results due to distance from Krishna.
In all places and conditions (sarva dese sarva da), there are no faults in manasic japa (na dosa manaso japye). If one steadily chants this way, one will attain the benefits of all types of yajnas and homas (sarva yajna phalam labhet). Such yajnas do not yield even one-sixteenth part of the benefits of nama/mantra japa yajna. (161-162,164)
Sri Sanatana Goswami tika: “Because manasic japa (silent, mental japa) is faultless it is the best type, and manasic japa chanters are also the best.”
Conclusion: Sri Krishna Nama japa contains unlimited transcendental powers. Sri Harinama is eternal, sweet and blissful. Krishna’s beautiful names elevate and energize anyone who chants them anywhere at any time. Whether young—old, strong—weak, following—not following, living—dying, all will benefit by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
However, if one wants to attain complete success in japa and the blissful eternal prema seva of Radha and Krishna in Goloka Vrndavana, one must surrender to Sri Guru, follow rules and regulations, and always with the greatest humility serve Sri Hari, Sri Guru and the merciful Vaisnavas.
Sri Sanatana Goswami highly extols the supreme efficacy of manasic Krishna nama japa. But unless one has a balanced and sufficiently pure mind (antah karan) it will be difficult to chant silently within the mind. Therefore, most Gurus recommend loud chanting to start with. Then progress to upamsu, whispering, and finally manasic or silent chanting when qualified with mental serenity and a satisfied heart.
Sri Krishna nama japa ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!