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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

After reading a recent Srila Bhakti siddhanta Sarasvati’s article about the descent of pure name on our FB, someone wrote that he did not understand how Krishna descends from Goloka into our hearts. Our reply may help others, so here it is, all based on the following verse:

atah sri Krishna namadi, na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau, svayam eva sphuraty adah

“Thus, with one’s blunt material senses, one cannot understand the absolutely transcendental name, form, qualities and pastimes of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

“But when one serves Sri Krishna beginning with the tongue (offenselessly chanting japa and kirtana), then Krishna directly shows Himself to one in a deep inner vision.”(Bhakti-rasamrita sindhu 1.2.234)Also, this verse means that if Krishna is pleased with a devotee, then Krishna personally manifests Himself on our tongue by allowing and inspiring us to chant His sweet Divine Names.

If a devotee saturates his/her mind, heart and life with pure seva bhava for Bhagavan Sri Krishna, then Krishna will be attracted to descend from Goloka in the form of the HOLY NAME to move one’s tongue in japa, and enter the heart and rest their (Govinda vishram) to accept one’s moment to moment loving sevas.

Then at the time of chanting kirtan or japa, Krishna gets excited, wakes up from your heart, comes to your tongue and dances along with you in the blissful experience of nama japa and sankirtana ullasa, Gaura nacha re.

Ah, just see Gaurahari, His long arms extended to Goloka and chanting in ecstasy…. (Caitanya Caritamrtam 1.17.122)

(hari) haraye namah krishna, yadavaya namah
gopala govinda rama, sri madhusudana

Nama dances, Krishna dances, and you dance along with Krishna enjoying and serving Him while blissfully singing in Sri Harinama Sankirtana. That is what Siddhanta Sarasvatipada is saying here. Simple: pure seva bhava, then Krishna appears along with the pure name and off you go…vaikuntha arohana.

Jai Radhe!!!

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

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 Madan Gopal Das

Just before my merciful mentor left this world to enter Sri Radha’s eternal seva, we discussed the merits of different bhakti sadhana practices. Throughout that most wonderful and unforgettable Harikatha, he repeatedly stressed and proclaimed, with the firm conviction of a 101 years practice: “HARI NAMA WILL DO ALL THINGS! You need to chant Krishna nama and you will get everything—EVERYTHING!!!” Jai Gurudeva!

With lightning speed, he then quoted the following slokas to support his conclusion, and strengthen my faith and conviction in Sri Hari Nama-sankirtana. We hope these slokas will inspire everyone, and ignite their enthusiasm to chant more and more and more.

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

The last verse of the 18,000 in the Srimad Bhagavatam (12.13.23) says:

nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ yasya, sarva-pāpa praṇāśanam
“Nama-sankirtana destroys all sins.”

Throughout the Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally teaches about the power and benefit of Sri Hari Nama-sankirtana.

bhakti-sādhana-śreṣṭha prabhu upadeśa nāma-saṅkīrtana
Mahaprabhu said, “Nama-sankirtana is the best bhakti practice. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.6.241)

kale kalera dharma krishna nama-sankirtana
Mahaprabhu said, “Krishna nama sankirtana is the dharma for the age of Kali.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.11.98)

kṛṣṇa-sevā vaiṣṇava-sevana
nirantara kara kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana

Mahaprabhu said, “Serve Sri Krishna and the Vaisnavas and constantly chant Krishna Nama-sankirtana.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.15.104)

vaiṣṇava-sevā, nāma-saṅkīrtana
dui kara, śīghra pābe śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇa

Mahaprabhu said, “By serving Vaisnavas and doing Nama-sankirtana, you will very quickly attain the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2. 16.70)

bhāgavata karaha vicāra, pābe sūtra-śrutira artha-sāra
nirantara kara kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana, helāya mukti pābe prema-dhana

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “By studying the Srimad Bhagavatam you will understand the essence of Sruti and Vedanta Sutra. And by constantly chanting Krishna Nama-sankirtana, you will attain liberation and the wealth of Krishna prema! (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2. 25.153-154)

nava vidhi bhakti sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
niraparādhe nāma laile pāya prema-dhana

Mahaprabhu said, “Nama-sankirtana is the best form of sadhana bhakti. Chanting without offense gives the treasure of Krishna prema.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.4.71)

During the final days of His Puri lila, Sri Caitanyadeva plunged into the ocean of separation from His Prana-pati Vrajendranandana. Deep in the night, hidden inside the latern lit cave of the Gambhira, Mahaprabhu savored the sweet bliss of madhurya-rasa (rasa-asvadane) in the sanga of Damodara Svarupa and Ramananda.

Wrapped in a magical melody of joy, lamentation, anger, humility, anxiety, grief, intense eagerness and satisfaction, Mahaprabhu mercifully spoke the essence of Krishna consciousness. While sighing in bliss, overwhelmed in mahabhava, His molten heart pulsing with compassion, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:

nāma-saṅkīrtana haite sarvānartha-nāśa
sarva-śubhodaya, kṛṣṇa-premera ullāsa

“Nama-sankirtana destroys all anarthas, brings the rising of all good fortune, and thrills one with Krishna prema.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.20.11)

saṅkīrtana haite pāpa-saṁsāra-nāśana
citta-śuddhi, sarva-bhakti-sādhana-udgama

Mahaprabhu cried, “Hari Nama-sankirtana destroys sins and samsara. It cleanses the heart and manifests all types of bhakti sadhana.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.20.13)

kṛṣṇa-premodgama, premāmṛta-āsvādana
kṛṣṇa-prāpti, sevāmṛta-samudre majjana

“By Nama-sankirtana, Krishna prema will appear in the heart. One will taste the nectar of Krishna’s love; attain Krishna, and submerge in the nectar ocean of Krishna’s eternal seva.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.20.14)

khāite śuite yathā tathā nāma laya
kāla-deśa-niyama nāhi, sarva siddhi haya

Sri Gauranga said, “For chanting Krishna nama there are no rules regarding time and place. If one chants Krishna nama even while eating or sleeping, one will attain all perfection i.e. Radha-Krishna nitya prema seva in the kunjas of Vrndavana.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.20.14)

Sri Krishna nama sankirtana ki jai! Jai Jai 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 Madan Gopal Das

After hearing that chanting 64 rounds a day gives spiritual perfection, some very sincere and well-meaning devotees begin chanting 64 rounds a day.

However, they soon face problems in the form of maintaining the quota, being attentive and not doing robotic/mechanical chanting, committing aparadhas, lack of enthusiasm, not seeing any results, a gradual loss of taste for the practice itself, and worst of all—PRIDE—pramada, an aspect of the 10th nama-aparadha).

When trying to understand any truth in shastra, one must always consider kala, desha and patra—the time and place, situation and persons involved. It appears that many devotees have misunderstood the circumstances (kala, desha, patra) of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s ONE INSTRUCTION regarding the daily chanting of one lakh japa (100,000 names aka 64 rounds).

If one studies the life of Mahaprabhu, one sees that in every instance and in every place, Sri Chaitanyadeva was very very strict about maintaining maryada, which means following the proper conduct or behavior according to one’s social or spiritual position (varna/ashram).

So because Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was as a brahmin (Sri Vishvambhara Mishra), whether it was from His different personal servants, or in homes of His devotees, anywhere in India, Mahaprabhu ONLY ATE FOOD FROM THE HAND OF A BRAHMIN, and not from anyone of any other jati or class, regardless of their personal purity or spiritual realization.

Mahaprabhu’s Instruction to Brahmins

Mahaprabhu’s one and only instruction about chanting 64 rounds was spoken only to grhastha brahmins who wanted to feed the Golden Avatara in their homes.

Chaitanya Bhagavata narrates the story, “When the brahmins invited Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for prasada, Gauranga smiled and said, ‘I take meals only in the house of a lakṣeśvara brahmin.’

Hearing this, the brāhmaṇas became worried. Praying to Prabhu, the brahmins said, ‘O Gosai, what to speak of a hundred thousand, none of us possess even a thousand rupees.’

Mahaprabhu replied, ‘Do you know who is a lakṣeśvara? He is someone who daily chants a hundred thousand holy names (aka 1 lakh or 64 rounds). I take meals in only such a brahmin’s house, not in the houses of any other brahmins.’”(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.9.117-123)

After reading this lila and Gauranga’s shiksha herein, some nice devotees innocently think, “O, if I don’t chant 64 rounds a day, then God, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or Sri Krishna, won’t eat my bhoga offerings.”

Thinking like this is ok, but it’s not really proven in this lila. One can see two points illustrated in this lila:

Point One: Since He was a Brahmin, Mahaprabhu would not display adharmic behavior by eating grains from non-brahmins, and He never did as is evident from all His biographies.

Point 2: Although it is not required, if a devotee can, then certainly it would be very good to chant a lakh (64 rounds) of nama before making a bhoga offering to his/her Thakurajis of Gaura-Nitai, Girirajaji, or Radha-Krishna.

Now let’s hear Mahaprabhu’s instructions on nama japa and attaining spiritual perfection for all the masses of us, non-brahmins and non nitya-siddha associates. Sri Chaitanya’s following teachings on siddhi in nama bhajana are the perfect instructions for every human being at all times and in every place. So everyone please understand them clearly and practice bhakti bhajana accordingly.

Mahaprabhu’s Teachings for All

Once in Navadvipa, in a general assembly of all His followers, which included brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas, sudras, mlecchas, yavanas, and assorted other outcastes, the all-merciful Mahaprabhu personally instructed everyone saying, “Now please, everyone happily hear the Krishna nama maha-mantra from Me……..

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

āpane sabāre prabhu kare upadeśe
Krishna-nāma mahā-mantra śunaha hariṣe

“I have told you the mahā-mantra. Now all of you chant this mantra as a daily practice (abhyasa).”[mmgd: which some take to mean 4, 20, 24, 64, 128 rounds per day]

prabhu bale kahilāṅa ei mahā-mantra
ihā japa giyā sabe kariyā nirbandha

Mahaprabhu continued, “Everyone will attain all perfection by it [i.e. Hare Krishna maha-mantra]. At every moment chant it, there is no other rule (vidhi nāhi āra).” (Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.23.75-78)

ihā haite sarva siddhi haibe sabāra
sarva-kṣaṇa bala ithe vidhi nāhi āra

Thus Mahaprabhu establishes that the Hare Krishna maha-mantra so transcendentally amazing and wonderful that it will give PERFECTION TO ANYONE who chants it daily. Srila Prabhupada repeatedly quoted this verse in his lectures.

Srila Prabhupada said:

  1. “That is the version of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He said, ihā haite sarva-siddhi haibe tomāra [Caitanya-bhāgavata Madhya 23.78]. He also stresses that ‘Simply by chanting, you will get all perfection.’” (folio 710217L2GOR)
  2. “That’s a fact. Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, ihā haite sarva-siddhi haibe tomāra. Caitanya Mahāprabhu blesses, “You will get all perfections simply by chanting this Hare Krishna mantra.”(folio 720714SB.LON)
  3. “If you chant or if you associate with the chanting of holy name of Krishna, then you will get the highest perfectional stage of life. (folio 680613BG.MON)
  4. “Thus Lord Caitanya has blessed us. Simply by chanting Hare Krishna, we will achieve the perfection of self-realization.” (folio POP cp. 5)

The main point Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu establishes here is that daily Hare Krishna Maha Mantra japa is compulsory. Other than Mahaprabhu’s instructing the brahmins of Navadvipa to chant 64 rounds a day, I have not seen this instruction in any of the universally accepted Gaudiya Vaisnava shastras.

However, there is some mention about chanting 64 rounds in a not so authoritative book titled Prema-vilasa (chapter 17):

“Mahaprabhu was also in the habit of chanting three lakhs, and giving one lakh to His followers.”

prabhura āchāye saṅkhya, tina lakṣa nāma
eka lakṣa bhakta gaṇe, kaila kṛpā dāna

“In His own words, Gaurāṅga told Sri Rupa and the Vaiṣṇavas that the counting of one hundred thousand names is certainly to be done.”

gaurāṅga śrī-mukhe rūpe, kahila vaiṣṇave
lakṣa nāma saṅkhya kari, avaśya karibe

From the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Haridasa Thakura and Srila Prabhupada, it is clear that chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra is the fastest, most powerful and best means to attain spiritual perfection in Krishna prema.

Not only Mahaprabhu but numerous shastras confirm the unlimited power of Sri Krishna’s Divine Name. The Name is directly Krishna Himself, and thus Sri Nama Prabhu can easily give one all perfection (sarva siddhi).

Since Mahaprabhu’s time, many Gaudiya Vaisnavas have adopted the practice of daily chanting 64 rounds of nama-japa on tulasi beads. Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, the other Goswamis, and acharyas down to the present day have also chanted 64, and instructed their disciples to do likewise.

In the beginning of ISKCON in 1966, Srila Prabhupada ordered his disciples to daily chant 64 rounds. Seeing their inability to do so, however, Srila Prabhupada reduced the number to 32 and then finally to 16.

Other than Mahaprabhu’s one time demanding His brahmin hosts to daily chant 64 rounds, the Gaudiya Vaisnava purvacharyas and contemporary Gurus all stress the need to daily chant a fixed number of nama japa with the right feeling, mentality and attitude—be it 4, 16, 24, 64, or 192 DAILY ROUNDS.

In addition, all sadhakas should happily and peacefully keep engaged mentally and physically (where possible) in Krishna consciousness, so they can remember Krishna at the time of death. Of course, if one can, under the order of and with the blessings of his Sri Guru, steadily chant 64 rounds EVERYDAY WITHOUT FAIL that is very good.

In this regard, Mahaprabhu said, “Of all forms of bhakti practices, nama sankirtana is the best, for if one takes the name without offenses, one will attain the treasure of Krishna prema. (Chaitanya Caritamrita 3.4.71)

tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
niraparādhe nāma laile pāya prema-dhana

It must be noted that only a very rare sadhaka can continue to chant 64 rounds of HONEST nama japa every day without fail throughout his/her life with the proper consciousness, humility, attention, absorption, and most of all without aparadhas.

For those who cannot chant 64, however, still with the blessings of Sri Krishna and Sri Guru, just by practicing any limb of bhakti bhajana, one will definitely attain spiritual perfection and Radha Govinda prema.

SUMMARY:

64 is not a magic number in that—“Bingo! I hit 64 a day and now perfection is in my pocket!” Although quantity japa certainly helps, it does not guarantee perfection. Success depends on QUALITY NOT QUANTITY.

Our sadhana practices—be they chanting, hearing, worshiping or whatever—must bring about purification of the mind, reformation of the character, transformation of consciousness, melting of the heart, and a direct experience of Radha and Krishna within and without.

But don’t worry if you just can’t chant 64 a day. You can still attain spiritual perfection. In other yoga disciplines, personal performance brings perfection. But in bhakti only love brings perfection.

Perfection or siddhi in bhakti depends on you and Krishna—your loving endeavors offered to Krishna and Krishna’s sweet mercy returning from His heart.

In addition, the following factors will surely help bring about perfection in sri harinama japa:

  1. The mercy and sweet will of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.
  2. The blessings and satisfaction of Sri Guru.
  3. Chanting a daily fixed number of japa per Guru’s order.
  4. Quality japa which means nama japa that is free from all types of aparadhas, misconceptions, and selfish ambitions.
  5. Proper moral behavior, which means following the four principles of purity.

In closing, we hope this post will encourage all the surrendered devotees struggling every day to chant “their rounds” with the desire to attain spiritual perfection and the eternal loving service of Radha-Govinda Yugala in the groves of Vraja Dhama.

(Special thanks to Sri Advaita Dasji)

Sri Harinama Japa ki jai! Jai Haridasa Thakura ki jai! Srila Prabhupada ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

“The Vedic scriptures called Agamas say that it is proper to meditate on Sri Krishna’s pastimes which happened in the past because they are all eternal.” (Sri Jiva Goswamipada/ Krishna Sandarbha tika to Srimad Bhagavatam 8.3.8-9)

Once the mind and citta become purified by offenseless nama japa, one can have the ultimate japa experience of lovingly and attentively chanting Hare Krishna nama japa while diving deep into the ocean of Radha Govinda Yugala’s eight-fold daily pastimes, i.e. asta-kaliya lila smarana.

50 YEARS AGO! Srila Prabhupada himself said THIS IS THE GOAL of chanting Hare Krishna japa.

Japa/Lila Combination

In December 4,1968, Srila Prabhupada wrote to his disciple Sivananda das:

“Regarding your first question, is it offensive to think of Krishna’s Pastimes while chanting?

“You should know that it is not offensive, but rather it is required. One must try for the point when one simply hears Krishna’s name, and immediately all of Krishna—His Pastimes, His Form, and His Qualities are in his thoughts. To always be immersed in thoughts of Krishna is our process.”

However, if the mind, or antah karana, is not pure it will be difficult to meditate on Krishna lila along with nama japa. In that case, one can practice meditation on the 19 marks on Radha-Krishna’s lotus feet.

When one is proficient in this along with japa chanting, one can expand to meditating upon Radha-Krishna’s delightfully pleasing transcendental forms while doing nama japa.

Our book Art of Chanting Hare Krishna gives detailed instructions how to meditate upon Radha-Krishna’s lotus feet and the meanings of each mark on them.

In the following entry, Srila Prabhupada encourages meditation on Krishna’s murti form. From here one can expand to combine japa and form meditation to attain a wonderfully rewarding experience of nama japa.

In the following quote, Srila Prabhupada says one should meditate on the beautiful, all-attractive murti form of Sri Krishna [like Radha-ramana Jiu or Syamasundara]. Then if you mix such Krishna rupa/dhyana with your nama japa, you will directly experience how your daily nama japa will become concentrated, absorbing and very tasty. The proof of the chanting is in the tasting—nama ruchi and then nama rasa.

Japa/Rupa Combination

Srila Prabhupada said, “As far as meditation on the arca-vigraha form of Krishna is concerned, we have to look at the Deity beginning with His lotus feet. It is not that we immediately look at Krishna’s smiling face.

“We should first try to see the lotus feet of Krishna. When we are practiced in this way, we can look at Krishna’s thighs, His waist and His chest. Then we can reach Krishna’s smiling face.

“In this manner we should meditate on Krishna’ s form, and thus we can associate with Krishna by meditating on Krishna’s smiling face, His flute, His hands, His dress, His consort Srimati Radharani and the other gopis surrounding Him. Thus we should practice observing the Supreme Lord, and to this end He has appeared before us as the arca-vigraha. (folio: “Teachings Lord Kapila” 15.36 pur.)

Blissful japa ki jai! Namacarya Haridasa Thakura 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!

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!