Posts

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

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).” (Caitanya Caritamrita 3.20.18)

Using 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!

In His comment above and in the entire Siksastakam, Sri 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 the Lord 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 Hari Bhakti Vilasa 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.” (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. (Hari Bhakti Vilasa17.89)
  5. One should not chant with unclean hands, or in an impure state e.g. without bathing, dirty cloth or in bed. (Hari Bhakti Vilasa 17.132, 137)
  6. One must not chant japa while talking, lying down, walking or yawning.

SIX RULES FOR MAXIMUM JAPA BENEFIT: (Hari Bhakti Vilasa 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 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). Hari-sauri 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. HARE KRISHNA ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

One often hears the question, “How to get free nama aparadhas?

Nāma āparādha cannot be counteracted through some ritual or just by chanting some slokas. One needs to reform or change one’s faulty mentality which caused the offenses in the first place. Be it envy, disrespect or just a faultfinding mind—all this must be consumed by the fire of repentance, nama-sankirtana and Vaisnava seva.

As one can never forget the Tulasi necklace around one’s neck, Mahaprabhu told us to “always wear the necklace of this sloka” [which means constantly remember and imbibe the four saintly traits within it]:

  1. Think I’m lower than grass!
  2. Live with tolerance!
  3. Feel insignificant, undeserving—just one atomic jiva!
  4. Honor all as better, higher, worthy and deserving!

Thus Mahaprabhu commanded, tṛṇād api sunīcena, taror api sahiṣṇunā, amāninā mānadena, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ (Chaitanya Caritamrita 1.17.31)

By adopting these four attitudes, one can blast off into continuous nama japa which is the best, fastest and ONLY WAY to remove all aparadhas. Smrti confirms, “For nama aparadhis, the Divine Name itself is surely the only panacea. Incessant chanting of the Name will effectively destroy that sin.” (Padma Purana.; Svarga-khanda 48, 49 & Bhakti Sandarbha 265)

nāmāparādha yuktā nām, nā mānyeva haranty agham,
aviśranta prayuktāni, tānyev ārtha karāṇi ca

Jai Haridasa Thakura ki jai! Nama Sankirtana ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

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!

By: Mahanidhi Swami

I. SAMBANDHA JNANA (Chant japa with knowledge)
To properly chant japa, you must have the basic knowledge of the material world; God; the living entity (jiva), and their relationship. In brief, sambandha jnana means knowing, believing, accepting, and realizing that Bhagavan Sri Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that you are Sri Krsna’s eternal servant linked to Lord Krsna by the bond of love (prema). The loving relationship between you and Bhagavan Sri Krsna is eternal, and it can be uncovered by chanting the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, which is the most powerful, purifying and liberating spiritual vibration in the universe.

II. NAMA MAHIMA (Read the glories of the Holy Name)
Every day before chanting japa, preach to your mind about the glories, identity and power of Sri Krsna’s Holy name by reading verses glorifying Sri Krsna’s Holy Name. e.g. nama cintamanih krsnas, caitanya-rasa-vigrahah/ purnah suddho nitya-mukto, ‘bhinnatvan nama-naminoh, “The Holy Name of Krsna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krsna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krsna’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krsna Himself. Since Krsna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krsna’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krsna, and Krsna Himself are identical.”
Bhagavan Sri Krsna’s Holy Name is cintamani, ‘a thought gem’, the object that fulfills all one’s desires. To the materialist, the Holy Name gives religiosity, wealth, sense gratification and liberation. But to the sincere, pure-hearted sadhaka, the cintamani nama gives pure, unalloyed, sweet love for Radha and Krsna. Sri Krsna’s Holy Name is beginningless, unlimited, fully conscious and inseparable from the infinite consciousness, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Whatever is in Bhagavan Sri Krsna is in the Holy Name, for the two are non-different. Krsna’s Holy Name is eternally situated in pure goodness (suddha-sattva), and free from material contamination. Though Sri Krsna’s Holy Name descends into the material world, the Holy Name like Sri Krsna Himself remains forever pure, eternal, transcendental; it is the embodiment of the highest sweetness (rasa). [See AOC Ch. 1: The Holy Name is Transcendental, The Value of Cintamani Nama Pg. 1-4] Although living entities in the material consciousness distinguish between one’s name , form, qualities and activities, we should understand and accept that Bhagavan Sri Krsna’s name, form, qualities and pastimes are eternal parts of one inseparable spiritual principle. Krsna’s name is Krsna’s form; Krsna’s name contains all the sixty four qualities of Krsna in full; and Krsna’s name includes all His transcendental pastimes in Vaikuntha, Goloka and Vraja. By chanting the Name of Krsna, you will realise and see Sri Krsna’s beautiful, sweet form, qualities and pastimes within the divine vibration of the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. [See AOC Ch. 2]
III. NAMA APARADHA (Avoid the ten offenses to Krsna’s Holy Name)
One must especially avoid inattention in japa because inattention or carelessness is the cause of all the other offenses. Therefore one must be very careful at all costs to avoid inattention and its three varieties described below.

INATTENTIVE JAPA: THREE TYPES
1.) Indifference, apathy, lack of attraction
This means you cannot put your heart into chanting because your material attachments are pulling your attention away from the Holy Name.

2.) Laziness
This means chanting with a dull mind; pausing in the middle of a round and stopping japa to take rest. Laziness can be overcome by taking a vow to always chant a minimum of four rounds whenever you sit for japa. [See AOC Ch. 13: Increasing Determination Pg. 191]

3.) Distraction
Distraction means instead of Sri Krsna’s all-attractive, sweet Holy Name, your mind fixes its attention on women or men, money, progress and position.
If you desire to obtain Krsna-prema, you must chant the Holy Name by carefully avoiding each of the ten offenses. In your heart, you must fervently beg at the feet of Sri Nama Prabhu and Lord Gauranga to give mercy to destroy the offenses. If you feel truly repentant and continuously keep chanting then the offenses will go and the fruit of the Holy Name will appear in the form of suddha nama, bhava nama and prema nama (pure love of God).
Please Note: Every day before chanting japa, you should recite the Siksastakam prayers while meditating on the meaning; and you should also review the ten offenses and especially the three aspects of inattentive japa. See also AOC Ch.3: Offense: Inattentive Chanting; Eleventh Offense: Rectification; Summary on Overcoming Distraction; The Reality of Attraction Pg. 52-57.

IV. MANTRA ARTHA CINTANAM (Meditate on meaning along with japa)
While chanting the Hare Krsna Mahamantra, you should meditate on the meaning of the Holy Name while hearing the transcendental vibration.[See AOC Ch. 11: Effect of Japa with Meaning Pg 151; One Hundred Percent Krsna Lila Pg. 155; Union and Separation in the Mahamantra Pg. 160; Acaryas’ Meaning of the Mahamantra Pg.161; Meaning of the Mahamantra from Hari-bhakti-vilasa Pg.162; Meaning of the Mahamantra by Gopala Guru Gosvami Pg.163; Meaning of the Mahamantra by Sri Jiva Gosvami Pg. 166; Meaning of the Mahamantra by Srila Ragunatha dasa Gosvami Pg.168; Meaning of the Mahamantra by Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura Pg.169; Meaning of the Mahamantra by Thakura Bhaktivinoda Pg.170; Meaning of the Mahamantra by Srila Prabhupada Pg.171; Ch. 13: Five A’s in Chanting Pg. 194-197] In his book, Nama Bhajana, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, “While chanting japa, you must explain the meaning of the Holy Name to your mind in order to quickly purify your heart, and cause the Name to appear personally before your spiritual eyes.”
V. SARANAGATI (Chant with surrender)
While chanting japa, you should simultaneously cultivate the six attitudes of surrender (saranagati). [See AOC Ch 13: Shelter and Surrender Pg 180]
1.) Happily accept whatever increases your Krsna bhakti.
2.) Disdainfully reject anything which impedes your Krsna bhakti.
3.) Believe fully that Krsna is your only protector and depend on Krsna alone.
4.) Be convinced that Bhagavan Sri Krsna is your only real and eternal maintainer and provider.
5.) Think of yourself as low, worthless, wretched, unqualified and without possession.
6.) Humbly accept your position as Sri Krsna’s eternal servant and willing to do whatever Krsna desires.
Reject the false notion that you are the doer, the provider, the protector; and that you own your body, wife, children and house. Accept wholeheartedly that Bhagavan Sri Krsna is the factual owner, controller and doer. Act only as Krsna desires and not according to your individual wants. You should always think that in life, in liberation, in misery or in happiness—you are nothing but a humble servant of Bhagavan Sri Krsna.

VI. VANDANAM (Prayers to the Holy Name)
Before chanting japa you should recite different prayers to the Holy Name because this will purify your mind, create a feeling of humility and establish the mood of service (seva-bhava) in your mind. Sample prayers [See AOC Ch. 4: Offense: Inattentive Chanting Pg.54; Ch.8: Prayers before starting Japa, Yugala Mantra for Direct Service, A Sadhaka’s prayer to Sri Nama Prabhu, Prayers to Overcome Offenses, End with Prayer Pg 125-131; Ch.9: Conclusion Pg.139; Ch.10: Know Your Mind Pg.146; Ch. 11: Japa Means Radha Dasyam Pg. 157; Ch. 13: Shelter and Surrender Pg. 181; Five A’s in Chanting Pg 194-197]

Examples from Harinama Cintamani:
1.) O Haridasa Thakura! May I once and for all give up all bad association; take full shelter of Lord Caitanya’s lotus feet; and become fully satisfied and attain spiritual perfection by purely chanting Sri Krsna’s Holy Names.
2.) O Bhaktivinoda Thakura! Please bless me that I will take complete shelter in Radha and Krsna, Radha and Krsna’s devotees and the practice of pure devotional service. Then I will receive the full effect of chanting the Holy Name, and the Holy Name of Krsna will become the one and only center of my life.
3.) O Haridasa Thakura! May I become like a honeybee lingering at your lotus feet, and thereby attain the touchstone of Krsna’s Holy Name (Harinama Cintamani) as my life and soul.
4.) O Sri Caitanyadeva! Although I continually chant Krsna’s Holy Name, my mind is full of material desires and I am not receiving the touch of the Holy Name. O Lord, be merciful to me! Please descend into my heart and dance on my tongue in the form of your sweet name. Keep me anywhere in the material world or the spiritual sky, but I beg you to please give me the nectar of your Holy Name.
5.) O Sri Nama Prabhu, my dearly beloved Lord and Master! Please help me to chant clear, attentive rounds with my mind completely fixed on your beautiful transcendental form, qualities and pastimes. Without your mercy, I cannot accomplish anything. Feeling very anxious in my heart, I sincerely beg for your mercy because you my Lord are merciful by nature. I am sure you will help me to chant purely with complete attention.
6.) O Sri Nama Prabhu! May I always accept everything that is favorable for serving and chanting the Holy Name. May I instantly reject everything that is unfavorable for serving your Holy Name. May I have full faith that Sri Krsna’s Holy Name is my only protector and my only maintainer. O Holy Name! May I moment to moment feel myself as low and worthless and thus surrender all the actions of my body, mind and words at your divine lotus feet. O Holy Name! May I constantly recognise and rectify any mistakes in chanting. May I continually improve the quality and quantity of my chanting while diligently avoiding all aparadhas.

HARE KRSNA HARE KRSNA KRSNA KRSNA HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE

OM TAT SAT!

By: 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-pointedness (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. Believe, understand and perceive how 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, and revealing your personal loving attraction to Sri Krishna.

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 Radha-Krishna and your relationship with Them. Think how you can be a better person by trying to live moment to moment for the pleasure of Sri Krishna 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!