(C) Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Int.
Why Do We Chant The Names of God?

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Glory to the congregational chanting of the Holy names of God, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This movement which is centred around such chanting is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.

This Holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus He has hundreds and millions of names, like Krsna, Govinda, Jehova, Yahweh, Buddha, Allah and Rama. In these transcendental names the Lord has invested all His transcendental energies.

There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. Out of kindness God enables us to easily approach Him by these Holy names, but for the most part many of us are so unfortunate that we have no attraction for Them.

How to develop that attraction here it is recommended, that one chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street - such straw is very humble and lowly; one should be more tolerant than a tree - a tree stands for many years and does not object to the harsh winter or hot summers; devoid of all sense of false prestige - misidentifying who we realy are as sons and daughters of God, with how we want to be seen in the world by others; being so humble we should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy name of the Lord constantly and without interuption. (JTCd adapted from Sikshastakam of Mahaprabhu.)

... by chanting of Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hareis the sublime method for reviving our Kåñëa consciousness. As living spiritual souls we are all originally Kåñëa conscious entities, but due to our association with matter since time immemorial, our consciousness is now poluted by material atmosphere. In this poluted concept of live, we are all trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in our complexities. This illusion is called mäyä, or hard struggle for existence over the stringent laws of material nature. This illusory struggle against the material nature can at once be stopped by revival of our Kåñëa consciousness.

Kåñëa 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 the process is recommended by authorities for this age. By practical experience also, we can perceive that by chanting this mahä-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel transcendental ecstasy from the spiritual stratum. When one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind and intelligence, one is situated on the transcendental plane. This chanting of Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, surpassing all lower states of consciousnessnamely sensual, mental and intellectual. There is no need of understanding the language of the mantra, nor is there any need of mental speculation nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this mahä-mantra. It springs automatically from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in this transcendental sound vibration, without any previous qualification, and dance in ecstasy.

We have seen it practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting, or even a dog can take part in it. The chanting should be heard, however, from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effect can be achieved. As far as possible, chanting from the lips of a nondevotee should be avoided, as much as milk touched by the lips of a serpent causes poisonous effect.

The word Harä is a form of addressing the energy of the Lord. Both Kåñëa and Räma are forms of addressing directly the Lord, and they mena "the highest pleasure, eternal." Harä is the supreme pleasure potency of the Lord. This potency, when addressed are Hare, helps us in reaching the Supreme Lord.

The material energy, called as mayä, is also one of the multipotencies of the Lord, as much as we are also marginal potency of the Lord. The living entities are described as superior energy than matter. When the superior energy is in contact with inferior energy, it becomes an incompatible situation. But when the supreme marginal potency is in contact with the spiritual potency, Harä, it becomes the happy, normal condition of the living entity.

The three words, namely Harä, Kåñëa and Räma, are transcendental seeds of the mahä-mantra, and the chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His internal energy, Harä, for giving protection to the conditioned soul. The chanting is exactly like a genuine cry by the chold for the mother. Mother Harä helps in achieving the grace of the supreme father, Hari, or Kåñëa, and the Lord reveals Himself to such a sincere devotee.

No other means, therefore, of spiritual realization is as effective in this age, as chanting the mahä-mantra, Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare.
(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhpada. CD 2-5. 1968. Purport to Hare Krishna record Album.)

Therefore, we need this chanting process to cleanse our heart. Take to this simple process of chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra. In that way, in your family life, in your club, in your home, on the road—everywhere—chant Hare Kåñëa, and this darkness covering your heart, covering your real position, will be removed. Then you’ll understand your real constitutional position.

Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu recommended: ceto-darpaëa-märjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. Märjanam means “cleanse,” and darpaëam means “mirror.” The heart is a mirror. It is like a camera. Just as a camera takes all kinds of pictures of days and nights, so also our heart takes pictures and keeps them in an unconscious state. Psychologists know this. The heart takes so many pictures, and therefore it becomes covered. We do not know when it has begun, but it is a fact that because there is material contact, our real identity is covered. Therefore ceto-darpaëa-märjanam: one has to cleanse his heart. There are different processes to cleanse the heart—the jïäna process, the yoga process, the meditation process, pious activities. Karma also cleanses the heart. If one acts very piously, his heart will gradually be cleansed. But although these processes are recommended for cleansing the heart, in this age they are all difficult. To follow the path of philosophical knowledge one must become a very learned scholar, one must read so many books, one must go to learned professors and scholars and speculate. One must search out a person who has seen the light. So these are all philosophical processes. Meditation is also a recommended process. One should question, “What am I?” Just consider: Am I this body? No. Am I this finger? No, this is my finger. If you contemplate your leg, you will see, “Oh, this is my leg.” Similarly, you will find everything to be “mine.” And where is that “I”? Everything is mine, but where is that “I”? When one is searching for that “I,” that is meditation. Real meditation means concentrating all the senses in that way. But that meditation process is very difficult. One must control the senses. The senses are dragging one outward, and one has to bring them inward for introspection. Therefore there are eight processes in the yoga system. The first is controlling the senses by regulative principles. Then sitting postures—that will help to concentrate the mind. If one sits leaning over, that will not help; if one sits up straight, that will help. Then controlling the breathing, then meditation, then samädhi. But today these are very, very difficult processes. No one can immediately perform them. The so-called yoga processes are fragmental—only the sitting postures and a few breathing exercises are practiced. But that cannot bring one to the perfectional stage. The actual yoga process, although a recommended Vedic process, is very difficult in this age. Similarly one can try to get knowledge by the speculative philosophical process: ‘ ‘This is Brahman, this is not Brahman, so what is Brahman? What is spirit soul?” Such empiric philosophical discussion is also recommended, but it is useless in this age.

Therefore Caitanya Mahäprabhu—not only Caitanya Mahäprabhu but also the Vedic literature—says:

harer näma harer näma
harer nämaiva kevalam
kalau nästy eva nästy eva
nästy eva gatir anyathä
 (Chaitanya Charitamritam. Ädi-lila 17:21)

Kalau means “in this age.” Nästy eva, nästy eva, nästy eva—three times nästy eva. Eva means “certainly,” and nästi means “not.” “Certainly not, certainly not, certainly not.” What is that “certainly not”? One cannot realize oneself by karma. That is the first “certainly not.” One cannot realize oneself by jïäna. That is the second “certainly not.” One cannot realize oneself by yoga. Certainly not. Kalau. Kalau means “in this age.” Kalau nästy eva nästy eva nästy eva gatir anyathä. In this age one certainly cannot achieve success by any of these three methods. Then what is the recommended process? Harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalam [Cc. Ädi 17.21]. Simply chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra. Kevalam means “only.” Simply chant Hare Kåñëa. It is the easiest and most sublime process. This is recommended, practical, and authorized. So take it. Accept it in any condition of life. Chant. There is no expenditure, there is no loss. We are not chanting a secret. No. It is open. And by chanting you will cleanse your heart. (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Science of Self Realization ch 8 "Attaining Perfection".)


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