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Mahanidhi Swami

  1. Dawn and dusk are best for japa because the air is pure and the density of distracting vibrations is less.
  2. Bathe or just wash hands, feet, face, and mouth before sitting for japa.
  3. Observe silence (besides japa) and avoid all distractions, both internal and external.
  4. Sit in the same place at the same time daily. Facing east or north enhances concentration.
  5. Resolve to complete a certain minimum number of repetitions. (rounds or malas)
  6. Recite prayers before the recitation.
  7. Repeat the mantra aloud for a few minutes, and then recite silently. If the mind wanders, recite loudly again or whisper for some time. Return to mental japa as soon as possible.
  8. Focus your attention exclusively on the mantra sound.
  9. Close your eyes, and mentally recite the mantra slowly with devotion and one-pointed attention (ekagrata). As the mind becomes still and concentrated, mental japa speed will automatically increase.
  10. When you repeat the mantra, visualize that Bhagavan Sri Krishna is sitting in your heart, sending purity into your mind. The mantra is elevating you to the spiritual dimension of seeing your eternal identity. The mantra is liberating you from all your negative karmas, worldly desires and cravings for unnecessary things.
  11. Do not perform japa in a hurried manner.
  12. Be vigilant and alert during japa. Open your eyes or stand if dullness overcomes you.
  13. Be regular in the number of daily rounds (malas or recitations of the Holy Name).
  14. Maintain your japa practice with tenacity and perseverance.
  15. Recite japa during any free time, especially at the daily junctures (morning, noon, and evening) and before sleep.
  16. Upon completing japa, sit a few minutes meditating on God and your relationship with Him. Think how you can be a better person by trying to live moment to moment for the pleasure of God and the happiness of everyone around you.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

Who is performing our daily sadhana of chanting Hare Krishna japa, dhyana, Thakuraji puja, and other sevas? Is it me, or is Krishna Himself actually doing everything?

It’s Krishna Himself who is permitting and empowering us to do all the sevas we perform for His pleasure. The great cirana jiva Maharishi Sri Markendeya confirms this fact in the Srimad Bhagavatam (12.8.40):

“O Almighty Bhagavan Sri Vishnu! How can I possibly describe You? For it is You alone who move the prana or vital air within all living entities beginning with Sivaji and Brahmaji , which in turn impels the mind, senses and power of speech within everyone to act. But for those who worship You, You become their intimate loving friend.”

Tika Sri Jiva Goswamipada:

“The Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad (4.4.18) says, “Sri Vishnu is the life of the prana (vital air), the power of eyesight, the power of hearing, and He is the power of mental discrimination.” (Bk. San.144)

Tika Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti:

“Sri Vishnu, it is You who moves the life air, mind, senses and voice within all living entities. The Sruti says, ‘Bhagavan Sri Vishnu is the ear of one’s ear.’

“Kena Upanisad (1.2) says, ‘O Sri Vishnu! It is You alone who enable Your devotees to worship You by enlivening their minds and senses. And then like a friend You become controlled by the love of Your devotees. And most astonishingly, You feel indebted to Your loving servitors, and that You can never repay them for their worship. Thus You become controlled by their love. Just see the greatness of Your mercy!’”

To further prove that Krishna and not us is doing our daily sadhana, Sri Rupa Goswamipada says, “Krishna and His transcendental names cannot be grasped, experienced or perceived by the material senses (atah sri krishna namadi, na bhaved grahyam indriyaih) However, when a devotee develops a service attitude (sevon mukhe hi jihvadau), or the tendency to accept Sri Krishna’s nama and rupa, then Sri Krishna spontaneously manifests (svayam eva sphuraty adah) on the tongue and in the other senses of the devotee.” (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.234; Padma Purana)

Tika Sri Jiva Goswamipada:

“By the mercy of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, not only humans can chant His transcendental divine names, but Sri Krishna even empowers and enables animals to chant Vishnu nama. ‘When Bharata Maharaja gave up his body of the deer, he smiled broadly saying, “All respects to Sri Narayana Hari.’” (Srimad Bhagavatam 5.14.45)

‘Thereafter, the elephant king Gajendra fixed his mind in his heart with perfect intelligence and did japa of a mantra memorized from his prior human birth as Raja Indradyumna. By the grace of Sri Krishna, he remembered this mantra.’” (Srimad Bhagavatam 8.3.1)

Summary: The above shastras prove that we are not chanting Hare Krishna japa. It is being done by Krishna who is empowering us to chant by appearing on our tongue. By His sweet will Krishna appears, stays for some time, and may also leave us whenever He chooses. Every step in bhakti and every devotional expression is Krishna’s mercy alone. We are not and never will be—THE DOER!

However, the good news is that Sri Krishna agrees to become a “bhava bandhu”, a loving friend, to anyone who serves Him. Krishna is our dearest friend (bandhu) because Krishna gives us bhakti, devotion to Him, and gives us the desire, power and ability to serve and love Him.

It is Sri Krishna alone who is giving us ideas to serve Him; moving our senses for His pleasure and making us speak His charming sweet glories. Devotees are happy puppets dancing on the strings of a sweet puppeteer named Shyama.

The conclusion is that independence is an illusion. Sri Krishna is doing everything, beginning with creating our initial attraction and interest in bhakti. Sri Krishna is maintaining our devotional practices as well. And it is Sri Krishna who is causing us to become weak, strong, stay or go away.

Our spiritual advancement, success and perfection in Krishna consciousness is completely in Krishna’s hands. We can’t plan or force bhakti or prema to appear within us. The fruit ripens in its own time. We have surrendered our lives to a benevolent, carefree, independent eternal master, Bhagavan Sri Krishna. And He can do whatever He deems best. Just remember: “All is His will, and His will ever be!”

(concept: madangopal blogspot)

Zero independence ki jai! Sri Krishna samarpanam ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

 

Devotees often say, “There are no hard and fast rules in chanting Hare Krishna.” Thus anything goes in the name of nama-japa: chanting on tulsi beads a fixed number of rounds of the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare—Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

 

Since there are no restrictions, many devotees think it’s okay to chant japa while surfing the I-net, driving a car, listening to a lecture, lying in bed, shopping, watching a video etc. etc.

 

To prove their no rules argument, such devotees cite Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Siksastakam verse 2:

 

Niyamitah smarane na kalah, “there are no restrictions regarding REMEMBERING the holy name of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.” Lord Gauranga only says here that there are no rules about remembering (smarane). Gauranga does not say there are no rules in nama-japa.

 

Mahaprabhu comments on this verse saying: khaaite shuite yathaa tathaa nama laya, kaala-desha-niyama naahi, sarva siddhi haya, “There is no regulation (niyama) regarding taking the name (nama laya), even while eating or lying down; it will grant all perfection (sarva siddhi).” (Cc. 3.20.18)

 

Misusing Mahaprabhu’s comment, many devotees conclude, “Just see Lord Caitanya said it’s okay to chant nama-japa while lying in bed, eating prasada, or doing anything…”

 

Sorry, this argument is completely wrong. Mahaprabhu is simply reiterating the all perfect power and efficacy of the Divine Name. Sri Chaitanyadeva is not encouraging one to chant japa while lying in bed or eating maha-prasada.

 

In His comment above and in the entire Siksastakam, Lord Gauranga is glorifying the unlimited power, mercy and benefit of Sri Hari Nama-SANKIRTANA (param vijayate sri krishna sankirtanam!).

 

In these two verses, Sri Caitanya Deva is not describing nama-japa, He is talking about the congregational chanting Sri Krishna’s sweet Holy Names.

 

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is saying you can remember or take Sri Krishna’s name anywhere, anytime in any circumstance. Of course, we should always remember Sri Krishna, and never forget Sri Krishna for even half a moment (lava nimesha).

 

And to do this we must always remember Sri Nama Prabhu, sing His holy names with every breath, and chant “Hari! Hari!” between every bite of food. Yes, basically there are no rules regarding kirtana or sankirtana.

 

BUT THERE ARE RULES IN CHANTING NAMA-JAPA

If we ignore these rules and chant japa incorrectly, then offenses will arise, and we will never attain our cherished goal of pure love for Radha-Govinda.

 

The mantra shastras, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, and the Gaudiya Vaisnava lawbook, Hari-bhakti vilasa no. 17 state many rules regarding chanting Hari-nama japa, the Gopala-mantra and other diksha mantras.

One should try his best to follow the rules below to quickly achieve success in chanting Hare Krishna nama-japa:

 

SIX GENERAL RULES FOR NAMA-JAPA:

  1. Avoid the ten offenses to Sri Nama Prabhu.
  2. Daily chant the same fixed number of malas. (ganitrikaam grhita ca mantram HBV 17.71, 191) “After vowing to chant a certain number of rounds daily (16, 32, 64) one must chant every day without fail, and not chant less than that.” (HBV 17.191)
  3. Chant on 108 tulasi beads mala.
  4. Beads should be ROUND in shape. The mala should be arranged in order from the biggest bead to the smallest. (HBV 17.89)
  5. One should not chant with unclean hands, or in an impure state e.g. without bathing, dirty cloth or in bed. (17.132, 137)
  6. One must not chant japa while talking, lying down, walking or yawning.

 

RULES FOR MAXIMUM JAPA BENEFIT: (HBV 17.121)

 

  1. Concentrate on Nama by withdrawing your mind from ALL other attractions (distractions).
  2. Cleanliness of mind, body, cloth, asana and chanting place.
  3. Chant Nama while continually meditating on the meaning of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
  4. Observe strict silence while chanting japa.

 

Hari-bhakti Vilasa (17.132-3) confirms this point: “If one speaks while chanting nama-japa, his japa will be fruitless. If while chanting nama-japa one engages in speaking, walking, lying down on bed, thinking of something else, sneezing, hiccupping, yawning, or having an agitated mind, one cannot attain perfection in his nama-japa.”

 

In other words, it is best not to speak ONE WORD until you finish your daily quota. If you do this, your mind will become very strong, pure, peaceful and determined. Then you can call yourself a Krishna bhakti-YOGI, a serious practitioner of devotional sadhana.

 

Obviously, any form of “interaction” with one’s mobile phone is breaking this law of silence. Be careful, perfection is not a joke. Will you take your mobile to Goloka Vrndavana?

 

  1. Maintain a peaceful mind, heart and attitude during nama-japa.
  2. Chant japa with intense eagerness, interest and enthusiasm. There are three ways of chanting Sri Krishna’s Holy Names: loudly, softly or silently. Loud chanting means speaking the maha-mantra loud enough that someone can hear it.

 

This is kirtana or sankirtana; IT IS NOT NAMA-JAPA. It is said that Namacarya Thakura Haridasa daily chanted 192 rounds; 64 chanted loudly as kirtana, 64 inaudible whispering japa (upamshu), and 64 silent in the mind (manasic).

 

In ISKCON’s beginning days, Srila Prabhupada set the example of early morning chanting by sitting in the temple with his disciples and chanting ONE round loudly. This anecdote however, does not mean that nama-japa should be chanted loudly. Although there are three forms of chanting Hare Krishna, there are only two forms of chanting nama-japa on beads: inaudible whisper (upamshu) and silent mental chanting (manasic).

 

Sri Hari-sauri Dasa personally told me that Srila Prabhupada chanted very softly to silently in upamshu. In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami describes sankirtana and japa as two distinct practices.

 

Of the sixty-four limbs of bhakti-sadhana, number 32 is sankirtana (uccair bhasha), “loud euphoric congregational chanting of Hare Krishna” and number 33 is japa, “silent meditative chanting on beads.” The specific japa verse says: mantrasya su laghu uccharo japa ity abhidhiyate, “very, very silent muttering or utterance of the maha-mantra is called japa.”

 

In correct upamshu japa, one mentally focuses on the meaning of the maha-mantra while fine tuning his hearing to the silent movement of the maha-mantra inside the mouth. The tongue and lips are barely moving as the mantra almost silently resonates within the mouth.

 

The more one meditates on the meaning and concentrates on the “silent sound within his mouth and heart,” the more and more silent the chanting becomes.

 

Eventually, the mantra meaning and sound merge in the totally absorbed, silent chanting of Hare Krishna within the mind. Soon Sri Krishna’s sweet all-attractive form arises from the concentrated mind, heart and internal hearing. This is manasic japa. The basic point is that japa chanting is a solitary and silent contemplative practice.

 

We say “I am chanting japa”, but here the word chanting really means “silently speaking” or mentally uttering inside the mouth; unheard outside of one’s lips.

 

Nama-japa is a deep, powerful form of meditation requiring seriousness of purpose, sense and mind control, and the utmost absolute concentration. Nama-japa brings one face to face with Radha-Krishna within the silent recesses of one’s pacified and pure heart.

 

Please take your nama-japa very seriously. Attentive, concentrated nama-japa is the best, quickest, easiest and most blissful way to fall in love with Krishna, and enter the eternal realm of joy-filled Vrndavana to lovingly serve Radhe-Syama forever. Om tat sat! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Nama Sankirtana ki jai! Mantra Japa & Dhyana ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

What is the meaning of nama-abhasa chanting of Krishna’s Holy Name? Is nama-abhasa a stage of japa in sadhana bhakti? Are devotees chanting nama-abhasa?

This subject is not very clearly understood by many devotees. First of all, the term nama-abhasa describes the type of Krishna nama chanting DONE BY NONDEVOTEES and it applies only to them.

The term nama-abhasa means unintentional, by chance, accidental chanting done once or more in a person’s entire life, as seen in Ajamila. Does any devotee pick up his japa mala in the morning and chant 16 rounds accidentally, by chance?

For every devotee chanting Krishna’s name is an intentional, regulated daily sadhana practice performed as a means to attain spiritual perfection. In no way is it unintentional, accidental or by chance! In other words, no one sits down and deliberately chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra by accident.

In fact, there is no shastra that says nama-abhasa is a stage of sadhana in chanting Hare Krishna. According to the absolute authority of shastra, nama-abhasa always refers to unintentional, accidental chanting as done by nondevotees.

To further understand the subject of nama-abhasa I researched the shastra. Other than the Bhagavatam and Chaitanya-caritamrta, the subject of nama abhasa is not mentioned in any Gaudiya Vaisnavas shastra. And for all Gaudiya Vaisnavas, these two sacred books are the topmost praman (proof) and final authority.

In the Ajamila story, nama-abhasa is described in SB 6.2.14:

säìketyaà pärihäsyaà vä stobhaà helanam eva vä

vaikuëöha-näma-grahaëam açeñägha-haraà viduù

“Chanting the name of the Lord while indicating someone else; or while joking in a friendly manner; or chanting the Lord’s name in order to fill up space while chanting verses; or chanting with neglect destroys unlimited sins and desires.” [these are the four types of nama-abhasa] Obviously, nama-abhasa and its stages does NOT apply to a devotee chanter.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti’s tika:

  1. Saìketyam means chanting while referring to someone/thing else but Krishna.
  2. Pärihäsyam means calling jokingly, but with affection, not with criticism. “O famous one! Your fame is like that of Krishna, so you can save me!”
  3. Stobham means to chant the name in order to provide proper meter during a discourse or song. Chanting name of Hari or Krishna to conclude a song.” See Note below:
  4. Helanam means chanting Krishna’s name with disregard and inattention. Also includes casual chanting of Krishna’s name while eating, playing or sleeping. Helanam chanting is also done without any criticism or disrespect.

NOTE: In their tikas to Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.14 (The Ajamila Story), Sridhara Swami, Sri Sanatana Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti all say the word STOBHA (a type of accidental, non-devotee chanting) means gitalapa puranartham krtam, as in completing a song.

For example, someone may conclude a mundane love song by saying, “I love you soooo much, Hari Hari, Hari”. These acharyas further say that derisive, contemptuous and hostile chanting, as in the case of Jarasandha’s 99 rebukes of Sri Krishna, CANNOT be called nama-abhasa.

Comment: The whole Ajamila story shows the phenomenal power of Sri Krishna’s transcendental name. Ajamila was a terrible sinner, a NONDEVOTEE, and somehow he ACCIDENTALLY CHANTED “Narayana” and became delivered. This is a clear example of nama-abhasa and the supreme power and mercy of Harinama.

The subject of nama-abhasa also appears in the Chaitanya-caritamrta (3.3.55-187), wherein Namacharya Sri Haridasa Thakura describes nama-abhasa as unintentional, accidental chanting. He cites the nondevotee Ajamila and a poor fellow being attacked by a wild boar as examples of nama-abhasa chanters.

Neither one of them was chanting Hare Krishna as a daily sadhana. Their chanting was purely unintentional, accidental. This is nama-abhasa! His discussion proves the great power of hari nama that even a nondevotee who contacts a mere glimpse of nama gets liberation, what to speak about devotee chanters.

In his entire delivery on nama-tattva, other than describing the nama-abhasa chanting of nondevotees, Sri Haridasa Thakura speaks only one verse (Cc. 3.3.185) about the chanting of devotees done as a daily sadhana:

aiche nämodayärambhe päpa-ädira kñaya

udaya kaile kåñëa-pade haya premodaya

“The first result of offenseless (shuddha-nama) chanting is that one’s sins are eradicated. As one continues chanting shuddha nama, one eventually attains Krishna prema.”

Comment: Here Sri Haridasa Thakura introduces shuddha nama, the stage after the offensive stage. This verse describes shuddha nama, which means chanting Krishna’s name without offenses. For devotees there are only TWO STAGES IN CHANTING: with offenses or without offenses, aka aparadha-nama and shuddha-nama.

In his comment on Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.14, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti says for a devotee there are only two stages in chanting Krishna nama: offensive and offenseless i.e. aparadha-nama and shuddha nama.

When a devotee BEGINS to chant shuddha nama, it brings the result of destroying all sins. As one continues to chant SHUDDHA NAMA, one will progress through the stages of nistha, ruci, bhava and on to Krishna prema which will appear in his heart as the culmination of shuddha nama chanting.

May all devotees avoid the ten offenses to Sri Harinama, chant shuddha-nama, and quickly progress to the nectar sweet ocean of Krishna prema!

Namacharya Sri Haridasa Thakura ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!