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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Because they are the ideal periods for meditation and divine absorption, the three best times to chant Hare Krishna nama japa are:

1) Early Morning: 3 AM to 6 AM

2) Half Hour Before Sunrise: New Delhi today appx. 545 AM—615AM

3) Half Hour Before Sunset: New Delhi today appx. 6PM—630PM

Timings will vary according to your location.

The following answer regarding why these are the best meditation periods comes from the Vedas, Upanisads, Yoga and Mantra sastra, and from the tradition and experience of enlightened souls past and present.

Period one is called the Brahma Muhurta period because these three hours are sattvika, serene, saturated with prana, and blessed with the vibrations of visiting saints, rishis and devas like Rishi Narada and Sri Brahmaji.

During this time, many liberated souls and elevated saints are wandering over the earth (especially in Vrndavana and other divine dhamas) to see and bless anyone performing spiritual sadhana during these three precious hours.

Period two and three are very unique because for everyone, ONLY at these two time junctures i.e. night to day and day to night the air passing through both nostrils is equal and balanced. In yogic terms, this means the heating Sun breath moving through the right nostril (pingala), and the cooling Moon breath moving through the left nostril (ida) are both equal.

When the air flows equally in both nostrils, the Sushumna nadi activates and alters the body chemistry so that meditation becomes EASY. All physical and mental desires are suspended. The mind becomes calm because no mental fluctuations exist at these times.

The synergistic balance of the Moon and Sun breaths at these two times enables one to have mystic experiences, spiritual visions and darsana of one’s beloved ista-devata such as Radha-Govinda. All human beings breathe through both nostrils just before death.

In other words, these are the easiest and most beneficial times to deeply meditate on the meaning of the maha-mantra, and the transcendental forms and pastimes of Radha and Krishna.

To take advantage of these amazingly, auspicious times, temples and devotees daily worship their ista-devatas just before sunrise (mangala aratika), and just before sunset (sandhya aratika).

It is a phenomenon that every day about half hour before sunrise the temperature drops and the wind blows. Why? The sadhus say the wind is caused by the swift departure of the visiting rishis and devas returning to their celestial abodes. As the saints wander the earth before sunrise, at dusk, Mahadeva Siva and his associates roam the planet to bless the devotees doing bhajan then, and harass the impious engaged in sense pleasures.

IN SUMMARY

Pranayama and meditation are vast subjects. We just shared a few points to help devotees get the best from their Hare Krishna nama japa. Basically, the idea is you that should arrange your daily schedules so at one, two or even all of these special three times, you are sitting peacefully chanting japa.

For example, if you are busy family person and can’t get up at 3, 4, or 5AM—then at least make sure you are chanting japa during the 30-40 minutes before sunrise or later before sunset. You can do all other things after this.

Before chanting diksa mantras one must fully bathe, apply tilaka and dress in clean clothes. However, for Hare Krishna nama japa no ritual or physical purity is needed. Just wash your face, feet, hands, do acamana, sit down, chant and meditate.

Absorbed Hare Krishna japa ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Confusion has arisen regarding which fingers to use while chanting Hare Krishna Nama or Diksa Mantras. The clear truth is found in Hari Bhakti Vilasa as follows:

Siva Agama:
andmamadhyamakramya japam kuryyattu manasam madhyama 
madhyama kramya japam kuryyadupamsukam tarjjanirh
tu samakramya japam naiva tu karayet

While chanting manasic japa (silent in the mind), one should hold the beads with the thumb and ring finger.
However, when chanting upamsu (softly), one should hold the beads with the thumb and middle finger. Never use the index finger while chanting  (Hari Bhakti Vilasa 17.114).

tarjjanya na sprset sutram kampayenna vidhiinayet 
angustha parvva madhyastham parivarttam samacaret

Don’t touch index finger to mala while chanting japa.
Don’t swing, rattle or shake beads while chanting.
Use the thumb and middle finger to move from one bead to another. (if you are chanting softly, upamsu japa, Hari Bhakti Vilasa 17.123)

Conclusion: Two ways to chant and both are correct. Thumb and ring finger for silent, mental manasi japa.
(Hari Bhakti Vilasa 17.114);
Thumb and middle finger for soft chanting, upamsu japa.
Hari Bhakti Vilasa 17.114, 123
Nama Acarya Sri Haridas Thakur ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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!