Why have Gaudiya Vaishnavas reversed the Sruti-mantra?
The Kalisantarana Upanishad:
A Question may be poised:

Paraka Brahma Nama
Hare, Krishna and Rama

More pages on the glories of the Holy Name of the Lord:

Why have Gaudiya Vaishnavas reversed the Sruti-mantra?
Actually, there are references to this mahaa-mantra in various places. It appears in the Kali-santaraNopanishad as well as in various PuraaNas. Some represent it as Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, others as Hare Rama, Hare Krishna.

Hare Raama Hare Raama Raama Raama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

...caused some consternation amongst caste-conscious braahmaNas as Gaudiyas were encouraging shuudras (labourers), women and even Muslims and other meat eaters (even cow killers) Vedic mantras to unqualified persons (such as those of lower castes) which by Vedic standards is prohibited.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu being respectful to all living beings certainly didn't want to offend the brahmana community. Not only were they upholders of Vedic law or teachings, it was the brahmanas who were those who lived by those teaching. Therefore those who are known as brahmanas (brahmins) are  those who know Brahman. Such devote persons where considered to be the embodiment of the Vedic literatures, much like walking encyclopaedias, able to reveal or teach the Vedic conclusions at a moments notice on any given subject. To be able to do this effectively they lived impecible lives, were constantly absorbed in those studies and did so from birth. True brahmanas are clearly described in Bhagavad Gita 18:42.

It was no cheap matter to be a brahmana, not just the matter of wearing a two paisa thread, or undergoing some ritual to make one a brahmana. No it took years of study, years of dedication and austerity to be a genuine brahmin. Those studies were not like those of mundane academia today while living a totally different life-style, no they lived as the embodiment of the teachings.

The major sruti work is the Veda (``Wisdom''). The Rig-Veda, the first of four parts of the Veda, contains hymns addressed to the various Deities. The other Vedas; Yajur Veda took care of rituals formulas; Sama Veda of incantations glorifying those Deities; Arthava Veda contains all the wisdom based information on everything from Gandharva veda (music), Dhanus veda (war fare), Ayurveda (medicine), Jyotisha (Astronomy and astrology) , science, charms, spells, and incantations, and so on. There were a number of further commentaries called Aranyakas that appeared. They explore the symbolic meanings of the Brahmanic rituals and suggest that knowledge of the meaning of ritual, or essence and intent is more important than its correct performance. Over a long period, from before the latest Brahmanas until well after the latest Aranyakas, a series of writings known as Upanishads were composed. Although the Upanishads are not entirely consistent in their philosophical position, they stress the concepts that are still highly relevent and so dominate. All the teachings found in what has become known as Hinduism today: the all-pervasiveness of Brahman, the discussions and presentations of unity of brahman and atman (according to the different sampradayas conclusions), the doctrines of karma and the transmigration of souls, and the theme of escape or relase from the repartition of repeated rebirth. This entire body of literature, Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads, is highly sacred. In many regions of India it is in the exclusive custody of the Brahmins and may not even be seen by people of lower caste.

Unlike the divinely revealed sruti literature, the smriti works may be read by anyone. Most are either sutras, brief aphorisms compiled for easy memorization, or shastras, treatises elaborating a variety of topics. The Hindu goals of artha, kama, and dharma are represented by the Arthashastra of Kautilya (the statesman Chanakhya Pandit), a treatise on kingship and the exercise of power, the Kamasutra of Vatsyayana, a text on sexual techniques, their restrictions and pleasures, and numerous Dharmashastras, codes of law and morality by Manu, Baudhayana, Yajnavalkya, and others.

The two most popular portions of smriti literature are the epic poems Mahabharata, composed by the sage Vyasadev telling the factual events of the great war between the armies of the Kauravas and the Padava brothers centred around Lord Sri Krishna's pastimes - It also contains within it the Bhagavad-Gita (``Song of the Lord'' ), one of the most important Holy scriptures on the practical instruction of the science of self-realization; and Ramayana which is told by the great sage Valmiki Muni about the incarnation of Lord Ramachandra, His     family in Ayodhya, His banishment to the forest, and the seeming great struggle as He enacted the part of a king, and fought against the demon Ravan, king of Lanka.

Such persons, being highly skilled, and rightly respected as such wanted to keep the purity of the Veda (Sruti) and its related mantras intact and out of harms way. Some mantras were treated with secret codes, so that only by first approaching one who had the key to the code could someone recite the mantra and gain its fruit. Without being too side-tracked here, we see an example where the full effect of mantra and tantra (ritual symbology) didn't have the required effect due to not receiving them from parampara in the case of Adolf Hitler. He studied the Vedas for 12 years before becoming Chancellor in Germany, but he wasn'y initiated into reciving the correct mantra and symbolic formulars (the swastika). As a result he misplaced them and it greatly assisted in his meglomania and the downfall of his "Aryan" idiology.

On a more sattvik note; Once the ächärya Rämänuja was given a secret mantra by his guru, who told him that revealing it would be detrimental to his spiritual advancement. But Rämänuja loudly chanted the potent mantra and taught it to the people in general. When his guru asked him why he had done this, Rämänuja said that if the mantra was beneficial, then he wished to give it to everyone, even at the risk of going to hell. This mood is reflected in Lord Chaitanya and His sankirtana movement:  “Not considering who asked for it and who did not, and who is fit and who is unfit to receive it, Chaitanya Mahäprabhu distributed the fruit of devotional service” (Cc. Ädi 9.29.36).

Mahaprabhu the most merciful form of Godhead personified, appearing in the mood of a devotee with the express purpose of giving His beloved Krishna to everyone without discrimination, took to changing the beginning point of the maha-mantra so that without the required Vedic "Omkara" at the beginning it was formally no longer a Vedic or Sruti mantra and could be chanted by anyone.

yad aksharam veda-vido vadanti
"Those knowers of the Vedas recite Om (akshara)."

karma brahmodbhavam viddhi
tasmat sarva-gatam brahma
nityam yajne pratisthitam

"Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from akshara, the sacred syllable Om. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence (pranava or the syllable 'Om') is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice."

pranava sarva vedeshu
"Within all the Vedas, I am the symbol Om."

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu established the pranava as the maha-vakya of the Vedas, for within it exist all Vedic hymns (and shabda). The world itself is a manifestation of this syllable. It is the sound representation of the Absolute Truth. This is explained here.

eka eva purä vedaù
praëavaù sarva-väìmayaù
devo näräyaëo nänya
eko ’gnir varëa eva ca

ekaù—only one; eva—indeed; purä—formerly; vedaù—book of transcendental knowledge; praëavaù—oàkära; sarva-väk-mayaù—consisting of all Vedic mantras; devaù—the Lord, God; näräyaëaù—only Näräyaëa (was worshipable in the Satya-yuga); na anyaù—no other; ekaù agniù—one division only for agni; varëaù—order of life; eva ca—and certainly.

In the Satya-yuga, the first millennium, all the Vedic mantras were included in one mantra—praëava, the root of all Vedic mantras. In other words, the Atharva Veda alone was the source of all Vedic knowledge. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Näräyaëa was the only worshipable Deity; there was no recommendation for worship of the demigods. Fire was one only, and the only order of life in human society was known as haàsa.

In Satya-yuga there was only one Veda, not four. Later, before the beginning of Kali-yuga, this one Veda, the Atharva Veda (or, some say, the Yajur Veda), was divided into four—Säma, Yajur, Åg and Atharva—for the facility of human society. In Satya-yuga the only mantra was oàkära (oà tat sat). The same name oàkära is manifest in the mantra Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare. Unless one is a brähmaëa, one cannot utter oàkära and get the desired result. But in Kali-yuga almost everyone is a çüdra, unfit for pronouncing the praëava, oàkära. Therefore the çästras have recommended the chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra. Oàkära is a mantra, or mahä-mantra, and Hare Kåñëa is also a mahä-mantra. The purpose of pronouncing oàkära is to address the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Väsudeva (oà namo bhagavate väsudeväya). And the purpose of chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra is the same. Hare: “O energy of the Lord!” Kåñëa: “O Lord Kåñëa!” Hare: “O energy of the Lord!” Räma: “O Supreme Lord, O supreme enjoyer!” The only worshipable Lord is Hari, who is the goal of the Vedas (vedaiç ca sarvair aham eva vedyaù [Bg. 15.15]). By worshiping the demigods, one worships the different parts of the Lord, just as one might water the branches and twigs of a tree. But worshiping Näräyaëa, the all-inclusive Supreme Personality of Godhead, is like pouring water on the root of the tree, thus supplying water to the trunk, branches, twigs, leaves and so on. In Satya-yuga people knew how to fulfill the necessities of life simply by worshiping Näräyaëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The same purpose can be served in this age of Kali by the chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mantra, as recommended in the Bhägavatam. Kértanäd eva kåñëasya mukta-saìgaù paraà vrajet. Simply by chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra, one becomes free from the bondage of material existence and thus becomes eligible to return home, back to Godhead.(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Srimad Bhagavatam 9:14:48. purport.)

So the mantra was reversed to overcome such possible objections from the caste brahmin community who saw the Vedas as their exclusive rite/right and other mantras as being accessable to anyone.  So as so often happens when the Lord is involved many things are done at once; here He pacified to some degree the brahmins and at the same time made the mahamantra available to one and all. Some still to this day say that because of it being taken away of the Veda, and having no prefix of Om that it is not effective, however, as we can practically realize by the thousands of lives it has changed around the world that such slight changes, especially by the most authorized person as Mahaprabhu in no way affect its benefit.
In the Vedic system of knowledge, students, from the very beginning, are taught to vibrate oà and learn of the ultimate impersonal Brahman by living with the spiritual master in complete celibacy. In this way they realize two of Brahman’s features. This practice is very essential for the student’s advancement in spiritual life, but at the moment such brahmacäré (unmarried celibate) life is not at all possible. The social construction of the world has changed so much that there is no possibility of one’s practicing celibacy from the beginning of student life. Throughout the world there are many institutions for different departments of knowledge, but there is no recognized institution where students can be educated in the brahmacäré principles. Unless one practices celibacy, advancement in spiritual life is very difficult. Therefore Lord Caitanya has announced, according to the scriptural injunctions for this Age of Kali, that in this age no process of realizing the Supreme is possible except the chanting of the holy names of Lord Kåñëa: Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare.(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Bhagavad Gita 8:11. purport.)
It is, after all, Lord Brahma himself, the chief among the brahmins who states in this verse that there are no regulations for chanting these names of the Lord and that it can be done even in an unclean state.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Raama Hare Raama Raama Raama Hare Hare

As the names Krishna and Raama are considered non-different from the Lord Himself, there is no loss of the benefit of chanting these names in this slightly altered form.
    Further examples are that of Valmiki Muni who meditated for fifty thousands of years, and then he wrote Rämäyana. The Rämäyana is not an ordinary book. You see? Therefore Rämäyana is so much popular in India. Before the appearance of Räma, he wrote Rämäyana, all the activities of Räma. So this Välmiki Muni... And what this Välmiki Muni was? This Välmiki Muni was a dacoit, a plunderer. He used to plunder, I mean to say, innocent men on the road, kill him and take everything. That was his business. But by chance, he was associated with Närada Muni, and he rectified him. This is the process. When a devotee meets even a dacoit like Välmiki Muni, he becomes... Närada Muni elevated so many fallen souls. This Välmiki Muni was also. So he was given this mantra, “Räma.” He could not chant it. Then he was advised to just the opposite, mära. Mära means dead body. So mära mära mära. Three mära means one “Räma” is there. So in this way he was initiated and he became a great sage. For sixty thousands of years he meditated simply on “Räma, Räma, Räma, Räma, Räma, Räma.” And when he was liberated, he wrote this Rämäyana. (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. 23rd December 1966. New York. Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 20:330-335.lecture.)

So what to speak of this divinely spiritual maha-mantra, which delivers on from material existence, the original guru, Lord Brahma, has said, "Kali-santaranadi srutite", ("the srutis section of the Vedas have declared this mantra to be the best means of deliverance in the age of Kali'). Having all heard this from Brahma, the sons and disciples of Brahma, beginning wih Narada, all accepted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and having once meditated on it attained perfection". In the "Kalisantarana Upanishad" it is stated, "The sixteen names of the Hare Krishna mantra destroy all the inauspiciousness of the age of Kali. This is the conclusion of all the Vedas. Also in the "Agni-Purana" it is written, "Whoever chants this mantra, even neglectfully, will attain the supreme goal of life. Of this there is no doubt".

O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by chanting Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them. (Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Sikshastakam 2.)
    Even those who mock chanted gained benefit, so what to speak of the mantra re-organised by the lotus mouth of Mahaprabhu, Who is just like Sukadev, as ripened fruit becomes more relishable when first touched by the beak of a parrot, or Suka, so this Holy name of the Lord has become further surchared by the Lord's divine organizing of it in a way that appears more readily acceptable to the masses - thus His congregational chanting is empowered by Him.

The Kalisantarana Upanishad

AUM saha nAvavatu | saha nau bhunaktu | saha vIryam karavAvahai |
tejasvi nAvadhitamastu mA vidviShAvahai | AUM Santih Santih Santih |

"May God protect us (the Guru and the disciple). May we both enjoy the results (of this Upanishad). May we attain strength together. Let the study of this (Upanishad) be illuminating to both of us. Let us not show contempt for each other. Peace. Peace. Peace."

harih AUM | dvAparAnte nArado brahmANam jagAma katham bhagavan gAm
paryaTan kalim santareyam iti | 1

"At the end of Dvapara Yuga, Narada, after traveling the world, approached Lord Brahma and asked him: 'How may I overcome the (evil effects of) the Kali Yuga?'"

sa hovaca brahmA sAdhu pRShTo asmi
sarvaSrutirahasyam gopyam tacchRuNu yena kalisamsAram tariShyasi | 2

"Brahma said: 'You have asked me an excellent question. I shall reveal to you the secret of all Vedas, by which you will cross over the (ocean of) samsara filled with the bad effects of the Kali Yuga. This secret must be preserved and protected.'"

bhagavata AdipuruShasya nArAyaNasya nAmoccAraNamAtreNa nirdhRtakalir
bhavati| nAradah punah papraccha tannAma kimiti | 3

"'By merely uttering the names of the Primeval Purusha, who is Bhagavan Narayana, one is freed from the clutches of Kali.' Narada asked again: 'What are those names of Narayana?'"

sa hovaca hiraNyagarbhah |

hare rAma hare rAma rAma rAma hare hare |
hare kRShNa hare kRShNa kRShNa kRShNa hare hare |
iti ShoDaSakam nAmnAm kalikalmaShanASanam |
nAtah parataropAyah sarvavedeShu dRSyate | 4

"Lord Brahma said: 'O Hari, O Rama, O Hari, O Rama, O Rama O Rama, O Hari, O Hari! O Hari, O Krishna, O Hari, O Krishna, O Krishna O Krishna, O Hari, O Hari! This collection of sixteen names (of Narayana) destroys the evils of the Kali Yuga. I don't see any other effective means (of liberation) in the Vedas.'"

Note: Gaudiyas chant this mantra by reversing the order of the two halves, i.e. the Hare Krishna first and then the Hare Rama. Actually, there has been a good reason for this reversal.  Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to spread this maha-mantra to all the fallen souls of Kali Yuga, regardless of qualification. Now, technically, there are Vedic injunctions that the Vedic mantras (such as this mantra of the Kalisantarana Upanishad which is from the Krishna Yajur Veda) are not to be publically chanted, and they are never to be chanted by shudras, women, etc. Therefore in order to solve the problem, while keeping within the context of the injunction of the Vedas and thus not offending the Brahmins, Mahaprabhu reversed the two halves. It is equally potent either way and this way it can be freely distributed, chanted in sankirtan, etc.

iti ShoDaSakalAvRtasya jIvasyAvaraNavinASanam |
tatah prakASate param brahma meghApAye raviraSmimanDalIveti | 5

"'(This mantra) destroys the sixteen kalas of the jiva, beginning with the prana, which constitute the veil of ignorance. Then the Supreme Brahman shines forth, just as the solar disc shines forth brilliantly when the clouds vanish.'"

punarnAradah papraccha bhagavan ko asya vidhiriti |
tam hovaca nAsya vidhiriti | 6

"Narada asked: 'O Bhagavan, what are the regulations or injunctions to be followed in chanting these names?' Brahma said: 'There are no regulations to be followed.'"

sarvadA SuciraSucirvA pathan brAhmaNah salokatAm samIpatAm
sarUpatAm sAyujyatAmeti | 7

"'By chanting these names always, whether in a clean or unclean state, a brahmana obtains the four kinds of liberation, sAlokya, sAmIpya, sArUpya and sAyujya.'"

1) sAlokya - living in the abode of God
2) sAmIpya - living in the proximity of God
3) sArupya - living with a form identical with God
4) sAyujya - merging with the body of God

yadAsya ShoDaSikasya sArdhatrikoTIrjapati tadA brahmahatyAm
tarati| tarati vIrahatyAm | 8

"'When a brahmana chants this mantra of sixteen names, for a total of one and one half crore times, he becomes free from the sin of killing a brahmaNa. He overcomes the sin of neglecting his domestic fire.'"

svarNasteyAt pUto bhavati |
pitRdevamanuShyANAmapakArAt pUto bhavati | 9

"'He becomes free from the sin of stealing gold. He becomes free from the offenses committed against forefathers, Gods and human beings.'"

sarvadharmaparityAgapApAt sadyah SucitAmApnuyAt |
sadyo mucyate sadyo mucyate ityupaniShat | 10

"'He quickly becomes free from the sin of giving up all religious duties. He becomes liberated immediately; he becomes liberated immediately. Thus the Upanishad.'"

AUM saha nAvavatu | saha nau bhunaktu | saha vIryam karavAvahai |
tejasvi nAvadhitamastu mA vidviShAvahai | AUM Santih Santih Santih |  11

"May God protect us (the Guru and the disciple). May we both enjoy the results (of this Upanishad). May we attain strength together. Let the study of this (Upanishad) be illuminating to both of us. Let us not show contempt for each other. Peace. Peace. Peace."

Question may be poised:
The Hare Krsna mantra is supposed to be uttered as Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, still some chant it in the reverse way. Why is this so? Rama-avatara was before rather than after Krsna-avatara; therefore, Rama's name should appear first.

Answer: I have seen two versions of the Kalisantarana Upanisad. In one the maha-mantra begins with Hare Krsna and in the other it begins with Hare Rama. However, this is the only place that I have seen this maha-mantra mentioned in which it begins with Hare Rama.

In the Gaudiya sampradaya this nama-mantra is consistently referred to as the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Predating the sampradaya, both the Agni and Brahmanda Puranas glorify this maha-mantra and describe it as beginning with Hare Krsna. Sanata-kumara Samhita describes how to chant it thus: "The words Hare Krsna are repeated twice, then Krsna and Hare are both separately repeated twice. In the same way, Hare Rama, Rama and Hare are repeated two times."

Ramacandra may have appeared in this world before Krsna, but Krsna is nonetheless the origin of Ramacandra, being the source of all avataras--svayam bhagavan.

Krsna's primal position is described thus in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.85.31) where Devaki tells Lord Krsna:

"O Lord of the universe, O original Supreme Person, by a portion of a portion of a portion of yourself you create, maintain, and destroy the material universes. Now I take shelter of you."

Sridhara Swami comments on this verse as follows: "The first portion mentioned here is the purusa-avatara." The purusa-avatara is the source of all the avataras, save and except for Krsna, who although appearing as if an avatara, is the source of the purusa-avatara. Srimad-Bhagavatam states this after mentioning the principal avataras: ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam, "All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead."

When Ramacandra passed through the Dandakaranya forest, the sages residing there in meditation desired to become his devotees in the emotion of transcendental conjugal love. However, Ramacandra informed them that in this incarnation he was not able to fulfill their desire because he had taken a vow to have only one wife--eka patni vrata. He then told them that they could only attain this devotional status in relation to his appearance as Krsna. Thus Krsna is transcendentally more complete than Ramacandra in that he has greater capacity to reciprocate in varieties of love. In this sense he is supreme and whatever we find in Ramacandra is also there in Krsna along with something more as well. Thus Ramacandra and all the avataras have their origin in Krsna.

Furthermore, the name Rama in the maha-mantra does not necessarily refer to Ramacandra. It can also refer to Balarama, who also has his origin in Krsna in spite of the fact that within the lila he appears has Krsna's older brother. This Rama considers himself a servant, friend, and well-wisher of Krsna.

Finally the name Rama in the maha-mantra can also refer to Krsna himself, Radha-ramana. However, there is no harm in chanting this mantra beginning with Hare Rama. Mahaprabhu taught that we should chant it constantly, and when our chanting becomes constant--entering eternity--we will go beyond all sense of beginning and end.

HH Swami B. V. Tripurari - Sanga Vol. IV, No. 31 - January 2003.

Paraka Brahma Nama
by Swami BV Tripurari

"Where does the maha-mantra's competence lie? The Goswamis and their followers reply that it grants one the competence to conquer Krishna, also known as 'samartha.' Rupa Goswami has identified the love of Radha as 'samartha-rati' and the implication of the word 'paraka-brahma-nama' is that the maha-mantra has been imbued with this love."

Q. Could you explain the meaning of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra? It does not appear to be mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, nor is it explicitly mentioned in the Caitanya-caritamrita. Can you explain how this mantra connects with the Gaudiya tradition?

A. Gaudiya practitioners chant Krishna's name within the mantric formula of what has been called the taraka-brahma-maha-mantra. 'Taraka' comes from the verbal root 'tr', to cross over. The great (maha) mantra is found in the Kali-santarana Upanishad. It is mentioned therein in the context of Brahma answering a query of sage Narada. Narada asked Brahma the means of deliverance in the Kali-yuga, the present age of hypocrisy. Brahma replied that the principal means of deliverance is chanting the names of God. Narada then inquired , "Which names of God?" for indeed he has many. Brahma then uttered the maha-mantra and spoke of its efficacy. He told Narada that the arrangement of the three names - Hare, Rama, and Krishna - grouped inthis mantra into eight couplets, destroy all of the negative influences of Kali-yuga when chanted. He said that this was the verdict of all the sacredliterature.

The maha-mantra is also referred to as the 'paraka-brahma-maha-mantra.' Sri Caitanya chanted this maha-mantra and through the Goswamis he revealed an
unparalleled understanding of its ramifications. People chant this mantra for everything: from material gain to liberation, from material existence to love of God, but no one has revealed its inner significance more than Sri Caitanya. Through the Goswamis, Sri Caitanya gave the world the highest conception of the name of Krishna and the maha-mantra. For Sri Caitanya, Krishna is the transcendental cowherder, and more, the lover of Radha. Ramais another name of Krishna himself: Ramana, who gives pleasure (to Radha).

Hare is grammatically derived from hr, "to steal." Hari is Krishna who takes away all of our possessions to demonstrate that it is to him alonethat all things, ourselves included, belong. Yet Hare also indicates that lady who steals the heart of Hari. She is Radha, and in this mantra, she surrounds Krishna on all sides. The word 'paraka' can justifiably be viewed as a derivative of parayati, to be qualified or competent. If we understand 'paraka' in this way, we can then ask where the maha-mantra's competence lies. The Goswamis and their followers will reply that it grants one the competence to conquer Krishna, also known as 'samartha'. Rupa Goswami has identified the love of Radha as 'samartha-rati' and the implication of the word paraka-brahma-nama is that the maha-mantra has been imbued with this love. Tasting this love in the context of chanting the maha-mantra, Raghunatha Dasa Goswami says:

'O my greedy tongue!
Don't you know that the name of Radha is like fresh new ambrosia and the name of Krishnais like wonderful, sweet, thick condensed milk?

Add the camphor scent of your attachment and mix them together-and then drink, drink eternally to your heart's content.'

Thus chanting the maha-mantra, as received from the guru representing Sri Chaitanya's precepts, acquaints the disciple with the inner significance of
the rasa-pancadhyaya, the supermost of Krishna's lilas, in which the glory of Radha's love for Krishna is central. Chanting the maha-mantra first cleanses the consciousness of all misgivings and material desires, thus affording liberation. After this is achieved, it begins to reveal its inner significance. Sri Caitanya has said that the congregational chanting of the sacred name of Krishna is the wife of knowledge, the beauty of the truth, and it thus acquaints the practitioner with the gopis' love for Krishna. The above is from my book, 'Aesthetic Vedanta: The Sacred Path of Passionate Love.'

Hare, Krishna and Rama
Actually, there are a considerable number of explanations even among Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas on the name-by-name explanation of this maha-mantra. Some say "rAma" means Ramacandra, others Balarama. Others point to a scriptural verse that indicates that rAma means "rAdhA-ramana", or Krishna. Similarly, "hare" is seen as both vocative of "hari" and of "harA", the latter a name of Radharani.

Here is Srila Prabhupada's purport, which can be found (along with a mantra-chanter for DOS), on http://webcom.com/~ara/SVA/hare_krsna.html

PURPORT by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the sublime method of reviving our Krsna consciousness. As living spiritual souls we are all originally Krsna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now polluted by the material atmosphere. The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called maya, or illusion. Maya means "that which is not." And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, this is called illusion. In this polluted concept of life, we are all trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our Krsna consciousness.

Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind; this consciousness is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. And this process is recommended for this age by authorities. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this maha-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding -- surpassing the stages of senses, mind, and intelligence -- one is situated on the transcendental plane.

This chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is directly 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, nor is there any need for mental speculation or any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It springs automatically from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification, and dance in ecstasy. We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting, or even a dog can take part in it. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a little more time to come to the standard point but even such a materially engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly. When the mantra is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy on the hearers, and as such, this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved. As far as possible, chanting from the lips of nondevotees should be avoided. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects. The word Hara is the form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krsna and Rama are forms of addressing the Lord Himself. Both Krsna and Rama mean "the supreme pleasure," and Hara is the supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, changed to Hare in the vocative. The supreme pleasure energy of the Lord helps us to reach the Lord. The material energy, called maya, is also one of the multi- energies of the Lord. And we, the living entities, are also the energy -- marginal energy -- of the Lord. The living entities are described as superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with the inferior energy, in incompatible situation arises; but when the superior marginal energy is in contact with the superior energy, called Hara, the living entity is established in his happy, normal condition. These three words, namely Hare, Krsna, and Rama, are the transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His internal energy, Hara, to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother. Mother Hara helps the devotee achieve the grace of the supreme father, Hari, or Krsna, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely. No other means of spiritual realization, therefore, is as effective in this age as chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

iti ShoDaSakam nAmnAm kalikalmaShanASanam |
nAtah parataropAyah sarvavedeShu dRSyate |

 This collection of sixteen names (of Narayana) destroys the evils of the Kali Yuga.  I don't see any other effective means (of liberation) in the Vedas.

See more pages on the Hare Krishna maha mantra HERE

See more on Daivi Varnashram Dharma HERE