Hearing and Chanting is the key

Are there any regulations for chanting? What is the process of chanting?

You can chant these holy names of the Lord anywhere and at any time, but it is best to set a specific time of the day to regularly chant. Early morning hours are ideal. As you chant, pronounce the names clearly and distinctly, addressing Kṛṣṇa in a prayerful mood. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the sound of the Lord’s names.

In the material concept of life we are busy in the matter of sense gratification as if we were in the lower, animal stage. A little elevated from this status of sense gratification, one is engaged in mental speculation for the purpose of getting out of the material clutches. A little elevated from this speculative status, when one is intelligent enough, one tries to find out the supreme cause of all causes-within and without. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind, and intelligence, he is then on the transcendental plane. This chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness-namely sensual, mental, and intellectual. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, there is neither any need for mental speculation nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It is automatic, from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification.

When you chant alone, it is best to chant on japa beads. This helps you fix your attention on the holy name. Each strand of japa beads contains 108 small beads and one large bead, the head bead. Begin on a bead next to the head bead and gently roll it between the thumb and middle finger of your right hand as you chant the full Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Then move to the next bead and repeat the process. In this way, chant on each of the 108 beads until you reach the head bead again. This is one round of japa. Then, without chanting on the head bead, reverse the beads and start your second round on the last bead you chanted on.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Message of Godhead”, Last Page
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 168

spiritual life material

Isn’t chanting the same thing monotonus?

In the material world we are simply chewing the chewed, throwing it away, picking it up and then chewing it again. Spiritual variety is not like this. Spiritual variety is anandambudhi-vardhanam: it is constantly increasing. It is even greater than the ocean, because the ocean does not increase. The shores of the ocean are set; they have certain limits. However, the ocean of bliss is constantly increasing. The more we enter into that spiritual bliss, the more we become joyful. The young people in the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra all the time. If this mantra were material, how long would they chant it? It is not possible to chant a material name for very long because the chanting would become hackneyed and very tiresome. No one could be satisfied simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa unless Hare Kṛṣṇa itself were spiritual. We may chant, “Mr. John, Mr. John, Mr. John,” but after an hour we will be fed up. However, the more we become spiritually advanced, the more bliss we will derive from chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 179

spiritual life material

Importance of chanting.

The importance of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is very strongly stressed in the Second Canto, First Chapter, verse 11, of Srimad-Bhagavatam in the following way. Sukadeva Gosvami tells Maharaja Pariksit, “My dear king, if one is spontaneously attached to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra, it is to be understood that he has attained the highest perfectional stage”. It is specifically mentioned that the karmis who are aspiring after the fruitive results of their activities, the Salvationists who are aspiring to become one with the Supreme Person, and the yogis who are aspiring after mystic perfections can achieve the results of all perfectional stages simply by chanting the maha-mantra. Sukadeva uses the word nirnitam, which means “it has already been decided”. He was a liberated soul and therefore could not accept anything which was not conclusive. So Sukadeva Gosvami especially stresses that it has already been concluded that one who has come to the stage of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra with determination and steadiness must be considered to have already passed the trials of fruitive activities, mental speculation and mystic yoga.

The same thing is confirmed in the Adi Purana by Kṛṣṇa. While addressing Arjuna He says, “Anyone who is engaged in chanting My transcendental name must be considered to be always associating with Me. And I may tell you frankly that for such a devotee I become easily purchased”.

In the Padma Purana also it is stated, “The chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is present only on the lips of a person who has for many births worshiped Vasudeva”. It is further said in the Padma Purana, “There is no difference between the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself. As such, the holy name is not a material sound vibration, nor has it any material contamination”. The holy name cannot, therefore, be chanted offenselessly by one who has failed to purify his senses. In other words, materialistic senses cannot properly chant the holy names of the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha mantra. But by adopting this chanting process, one is given a chance to actually purify himself, so that he may very soon chant offenselessly.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended that everyone chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra just to cleanse the dust from the heart. If the dust of the heart is cleansed away, then one can actually understand the importance of the holy name. For persons who are not inclined to clean the dust from their hearts and who want to keep things as they are, it is not possible to derive the transcendental result of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. One should, therefore, be encouraged to develop his service attitude toward the Lord, because this will help him to chant without any offense. And so, under the guidance of a spiritual master, the disciple is trained to render service and at the same time chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. As soon as one develops his spontaneous service attitude, he can immediately understand the transcendental nature of the holy names of the maha-mantra.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2011 edition), “The Nector of Devotion”, Page 106

Hare Krishna

Why followers of Kṛṣṇa do chanting?

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very simple. Simply chant these sixteen words: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If we take to chanting this mantra, we come directly in touch with the Supreme Lord. That makes us purified. If we go near the fire we become warm. Similarly, if we come directly in touch with the Supreme Spirit, our purification begins. So if you chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, your impure consciousness will be purified and you will know what you are. Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa is the process of cleansing the mind of all dirty things. And as soon as you are cleansed of all dirty things, your material anxieties are over. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita [18.54]

Brahma-butah prasannatma na socati na kanksati
Samah sarvesu bhutesu mad-bhaktim labhate param

The word brahma-bhuta [SB 4.30.20] means that as soon as you come to the platform of spiritual understanding, you immediately become joyful and are freed from all material anxieties. You no longer hanker after any profit, nor are you very sorry when there is a great loss (na socati na kanksati). Then you can see everyone on an equal level, and your lost relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead is again established. Then your real life begins.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu prescribes the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa. As soon as our heart is cleansed by chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, the blazing fire of our problematic material existence is extinguished. How is it extinguished? When we cleanse our heart we will realize that we do not belong to this material world. Because people are identifying with this material world, they are thinking, “I am an Indian, I am an Englishman, I am this, I am that.” But if one chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, he will realize that he is not this material body. “I do not belong to this material body or this material world. I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme. I am eternally related with Him, and I have nothing to do with the material world.” This is called liberation, knowledge. If I don’t have anything to do with this material world, then I am liberated. And that knowledge is called brahma-bhuta. Therefore those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees have taken shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and the beginning is hearing and chanting. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Quest for Enlightenment”, Page 11
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 166 and 167 

Hare Krishna hare krisna

What is the meaning of Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, how does chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra helps anyone?

First principle in devotional service is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra (maha means “great”; mantra means “sound that liberates the mind from ignorance”).

Kṛṣṇa or Christ- the name is the same. The main point is to follow the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures that recommend chanting the name of God in this age. The easiest way is to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Rama [O Supreme Enjoyer] and Kṛṣṇa [O all-attractive Lord] are names of God, and Hare [is the energy of God]. So when we chant the maha-mantra, we address God together with His energy. Chanting is a prayer to Kṛṣṇa, so in the beginning of the Hare Kṛṣṇa maha-mantra we first address the internal energy of Kṛṣṇa, [Hare] that means “O Radharani! O Hare! O energy of the Lord!” When we address someone in this way, he usually says, “Yes, what do you want?” The answer is, “Please engage me in Your service”.

Just as there are males and females in the material world, similarly, God is the original male (purusa), and His energy (prakrti) is the original female. This energy is of two kinds, the spiritual and the material. At present we are in the clutches of the material energy. Therefore we pray to Kṛṣṇa that He may kindly deliver us from the service of the material energy and accept us into the service of the spiritual energy.

In the Narada-pancaratra it is stated that all the Vedic rituals, mantras, and understanding are compressed into the eight words Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare. Similarly, in the Kali-santarana Upanishad it is stated that these sixteen words, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, are especially meant for counteracting the degrading and contaminating influence of this materialistic age of Kali.

This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother’s presence. Mother Hara helps the devotee achieve the Lord Father’s grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.

God has kindly made it very easy for us to chant His names, and He has also invested all His powers in them. Therefore the names of God and God Himself are identical. This means that when we chant the holy names we are directly associating with God and being purified. Therefore, we should always try to chant with devotion and reverence. The more attentively and sincerely you chant these names of God, the more spiritual progress you will make.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 17, 109, 129 and 170.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Message of Godhead”, Last Page.

Hare Krishna hare krsna

Who am I?

Your constitutional position is that you are pure living soul. This material body cannot be identified with your real self; nor is your mind your real identity, nor your intelligence, nor false ego. Your identity is that of eternal servitor of the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. Your position is that you’re transcendental. The superior energy of Kṛṣṇa is spiritual in constitution, and the inferior external energy is material. Since you are between the material energy and the spiritual energy, your position is marginal. Belonging to the marginal potency of Kṛṣṇa, you are simultaneously one with and different from Kṛṣṇa. Because you are spirit, you are not different from Kṛṣṇa, and because you are only a minute particle of Kṛṣṇa, you are different from Him.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 64

iandkrsna krsna

How long we will have to accept a material body?

This human life is meant for advancing on the path of liberation. That is called apavarga, freedom from entanglement. We are all entangled. Our acceptance of this material body means that we are already entangled. But we should not progress in the process of entanglement. That process is called karma. As long as the mind is absorbed in karma, we will have to accept a material body. At the time of death, our mind may be thinking, “Oh, I could not complete this work. Oh, I am dying! I have to do this. I have to do that.” This means that Kṛṣṇa will give us another chance to do it, and so we will have to accept another body. He will give us the chance: “All right. You could not do it. Now do it. Take this body.”

As long as we have even the slightest tinge of an idea of becoming happy materially in some way or other, we shall have to accept a material body. Nature is so kind that according to the way we want to enjoy this material world, she will give us a suitable body, under the direction of the Lord. Because the Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, He knows everything. Therefore, knowing that we still want something material, He will give us another material body: “Yes, take it.” Kṛṣṇa wants us to have full experience through which to understand that by material gain we shall never be happy. This is Kṛṣṇa’s desire.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Teachings of Queen Kunti”, Page 68
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 160 

Source of Everything

What is transmigration of soul?

The process of transmigration is very subtle. The spirit soul is invisible to our material eyes. It is atomic in size. After the destruction of the gross body, which is made up of the senses, blood, bone, fat, and so forth, the subtle body of mind, intelligence, and ego goes on working. So at the time of death this subtle body carries the small spirit soul to another gross body. The process is just like air carrying a fragrance. Nobody can see where this rose fragrance is coming from, but we know that it is being carried by the air. You cannot see how, but it is being done. Similarly, the process of transmigration of the soul is very subtle. Living entity takes birth after a gradual process of evolution through 8,400,000 species of life, including 900,000 aquatic species, 2,000,000 non-moving species such as vegetables, 1,100,000 reptile and insect species, 1,000,000 bird species, 3,000,000 beast species, and 400,000 human species.

According to the condition of the mind at the time of death, the minute spirit soul enters into the womb of a particular mother through the semen of a father, and then the soul develops a particular type of body given by the mother. It may be a human being, it may be a cat, a dog, or anything. As explained earlier there are 8,400,000 different forms of life, you can enter any of them, according to your mental condition at death. What we think of at the time of death depends on how we act during our life. As long as we are in material consciousness, our actions are under the control of the material nature, which is being conducted in three modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. These modes are like the three basic colors – yellow, red, and blue. Just as one can mix red, yellow, and blue to produce millions of colors, the modes of nature are being mixed to produce many varieties of life. To stop the repetition of birth and death in different forms of life, we must transcend the covering of material nature and come to the platform of pure consciousness. But if we do not learn the transcendental science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then at death we must transfer to another body, either better or worse than our present one. If we cultivate the mode of goodness, then we are promoted to the higher planetary system, where there is a better standard of life. If we cultivate the mode of passion, then we will remain at the present stage. But if out of ignorance we commit sinful activities and violate nature’s laws, then we will be degraded to animal or plant life. Then again we must evolve to the human form, a process that may take millions of years. Therefore a human being must be responsible. He must take advantage of the rare opportunity of human life by understanding his relationship with God and acting accordingly. Then he can get out of the cycle of birth and death in different forms of life and go back home, back to Godhead.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Message of Godhead”, Page 32
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 32 & 183

Gurujii

Why personal interpretations of Vedic scriptures can obscure the real meaning?

According to Lord Chaitanya, those who try to give personal interpretation of the Vedic statements are not at all intelligent. They mislead their followers by inventing their own interpretation. Lord Chaitanya protested against misinterpretations of the Upanishads, and He rejected any explanation which did not give the direct meaning of the Upanishad. The direct interpretation is called Abhidha-vrtti, whereas the indirect interpretation is called Laksana-vrtti. The indirect interpretation serves no purpose. There are four kinds of understanding, called: (1) direct understanding, (2) hypothetical understanding, (3) historical understanding, and (4) understanding through sound (sabda). Of these four, understanding from the Vedic scriptures (which are the sound representations of the Absolute Truth), is the best method. The traditional Vedic students accept understanding through sound to be the best. For example, the stool and bone of any living entity is considered the impure according to Vedic literatures, yet, the Vedic literatures assert that cow dung and the conchshells are the pure. Apparently these statements are contradictory, but because cow dung and conchshells are considered pure by the Vedas, they are accepted as pure by the followers of the Vedas. If we want to understand the statements by indirect interpretation, then we have to challenge the Vedic statements. In other words, Vedic statements cannot be accepted by our imperfect interpretation; they must be accepted as they are. Otherwise there is no authority in the Vedic statement.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 298

spiritual life material

What is the difference between Veda’s and Puranas?

The word ‘Veda’ means knowledge that is directly revealed by the Lord. In the beginning there was only one Veda, the Yajur Veda, all the verses with explanatory and historical texts were together in one whole body. To easily locate a particular subject, the highly qualified Vyasadeva, divided the Vedas into four. “Srila Vyasadeva separated the mantras of the Rg, Atharva, Yajur and Sama Vedas into four divisions [SB 12.6.50]”. He did not create new composition; he condensed that abridged portion.

The Puranas were produced from the original Veda. They are faithful to Veda and are also known as supplementary Vedic literatures. Because sometimes in the original Vedas the subject matter is too difficult for the common man to understand, the Puranas explain matters simply by the use of stories and historical incidents. The Upanisads call them the fifth Vedas. Five thousand years ago, Srila Vyasadeva composed the Puranas. He did not create the Puranas and Itihasas, histories. Vyasadeva is known as a transmitter, not as an author.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 305
Rasamandala das (2014 edition), “Islam and the Vedas – Lost Harmony”, Page 111, 112 & 114