Kalisantarana Upanisad gives the following process for attainment of
spiritual perfection. "There is no other way, no other way and no
other way to attain self-realization in this age of Kali yuga but only
by the chanting of the holy name, chanting of the holy name, chanting of
the holy name".
nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
- Nitai Das Prabhu
DELIBERATION ON CHANTING OF THE HOLY NAME
glorious Ananta Sesa glorifies the holy name already from the time
immemorial and still he did not finish the glorification. So, what we
can mention here are only few small drops of nectar about the
unlimited glorifications of the holy name as we heard them from the
Vedic wisdom and spiritual masters. This time we
will do it in the form of questions and answers. Hare Krishna.
Why is the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead praised so
much and considered by all the saints and scriptures in the east and
west to be the easiest and surest way to attain God realization?
First of all, when you say 'all the saints' we have to make a
distinction between those who are personalists and the imperosnalists.
The imersonalists are also chanting the holy name om just as devotees
chanted it in the Satya-yuga of course, their understanding was that
the om refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vasudeva. Nowadays
when the impersonalists are explaining the omkara they will say it
refers to the impersonal energy of the Supreme. Further, they say tOat
because the syllable om was the first sound vibration from which the
creation of the universe has begun, liberation can be attained only by
the utterance of this omkara and being completely absorbed in it. The
Srimad Bhagavatam (12.6.37-39) gives the following description of
Gosvami said: O brahmana, first the subtle vibration of transcendental
sound appeared from the sky of the heart of the most elevated Lord
Brahma, whose mind was perfectly fixed in spiritual realization. One
can perceive this subtle vibration when one stops all external
worship of this subtle form of the Vedas, O brahmana, mystic sages
cleanse their hearts of all contamination caused by impurity of
substance, activity and doer, and thus they attain freedom from
repeated birth and death."
that transcendental subtle vibration arose the omkara composed of
three sounds. The omkara has unseen potencies and manifests
automatically within a purified heart. It is the representation of the
Absolute Truth in all three of His phases-the Supreme Personality,
the Supreme Soul and the supreme impersonal truth - Brahman."
Even in the
Bible we find a similar statement:
the beginning there was a word, the word was with God and the word was
the impersonalists preach that meditation on 'Om'
and absorption in it is their liberation. Maharisi Mahes
yogi, Muktananda, Vivekananda and different yoga schools all teach the
same. They do not accept the personal form of the Supreme Personality
of Godhead, His divine activities and various incarnations, but still
they chant Om which refers to God.
the devotees have very simple reason to take to the chanting of the
Holy name - Hare Krishna.
Prabhupada explains that "Omkara is a mantra, or maha-mantra, and
Hare Krishna is also a maha-mantra. The purpose of pronouncing omkara
is to address the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva (om namo
bhagavate vasudevaya). And the purpose of chanting the Hare Krishna
mantra is the same. Hare: "O energy of the Lord!" Krishna: "O
Lord Krishna!" Hare: "O energy of the Lord!" Rama: "O Supreme
Lord, O supreme enjoyer!"
chanting for the devotees is just like the child's calling of the
mother or father. In the Srimad Bhagavatam (6.11.26) Vritrasura,
before his death, prayed in the following way:
lotus-eyed Lord, as baby birds that have not yet developed their wings
always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves
tied with ropes await anxiously the time of milking, when they will be
allowed to drink the milk of their mothers, or as a morose wife whose
husband is away from home always longs for him to return and satisfy
her in all respects, I always yearn for the opportunity to render
direct service unto You."
Christ similarly said: "Verily I say unto you, except those who are
transformed and are like little children none shell enter into the
kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little
child, will similarly become great in the kingdom of heaven."
One is therefore, assured by the
Supreme Lord Himself that He will come to one who calls out for Him
with all his hearth and soul. For example, in Sri Vrindavana, the
dearest place of Krishna, the devotees say that Krishna is hiding in
the bushes of Vrindavana and if they chant His name loudly He will
come along with His associates. Actually, Krishna Himself said that He
don't like to be there where the yogis meditate on Him but rather,
where His devotees are chanting His holy name. In this Age of
degradation the most effective way to get result of chanting is to
chant together with other devotees, as many as possible. Interestingly
this is encouraged even in the Bible (St. Matthew. 18.20): ".where
two or three persons come together in My name (or to chant My name),
there am I in the midst of them."
Can you prove scientifically the efficacy of the Divine Holy Name?
The material science and Jiva Goswami as well say that material sound
has also a form. For example, when we speak, the sound is produced by
the vibration or disturbance of the air and the ether and thus waves
of different frequencies are created. This wave frequencies have their
beginning and end and thus also a form. A well known examples are the
forms of radio frequencies, which, when received by the radio, are
turned into sound. Similarly in the Vedic scriptures it is said that
all the Vedas, mantras, Puranas, have their forms. In the Srimad
Bhagavatam-mahatmya of Padma Purana (3.15) it is said: "All
Upanisads, Vedas, Mantras, Tantras, seventeen Puranas, and the six
scriptures (six schools of philosophy) - all with their forms went
to hear the discussion on the Srimad Bhagavatam."
Now, just like the radio
frequencies can be received only by a radio, the pure spiritual sound
vibration, the holy name of Krishna can be received only by a divine
element the soul. As material sound elevates the consciousness from
deep sleep and dreaming to wakefulness, so spiritual sound lifts
consciousness from matter and mind to the self's eternal connection to
Krishna. In other words, when the holy name purifies the spirit soul
it awakens its dormant love for Krishna what ultimately results in the
experience of unlimited spiritual bliss of loving relationship with
Why is the chanting of the holy name better practice than any other
By other practices like giving charity, performing various sacrifices,
study of the Vedas the sins are destroyed, but the inclination to
again commit sin is not destroyed. This is nicely explained in the
Srimad Bhagavatam (6.2.46): "Therefore one who desires freedom from
material bondage should adopt the process of chanting and glorifying
the name, fame, form and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of
Godhead, at whose feet all the holy places stand. One cannot derive
the proper benefit from other methods, such as pious atonement,
speculative knowledge and meditation in mystic yoga, because even
after following such methods one takes to fruitive activities again,
unable to control his mind, which is contaminated by the base
qualities of nature, namely passion and ignorance."
all material pious activities bring only temporary results. The holy
name is so powerful that no other processes are equal to it, and only
by chanting the holy name everlasting result is attained as it is
declared in the essential teachings of all devotional scriptures.
Is there some other special effect of the holy name?
In the history we can read about some great saints like Mirabhai,
Nanak, Tukaram etc. who went back to the spiritual abode with their
spiritualized body. Their bodies turned spiritual because of the
chanting of the holy name of the Supreme Lord till the last moment of
their life. Therefore, it is obvious that by the power of the holy
name the inanimate objects can become spiritualized.
Is it necessary to have knowledge about the holy name?
"As a fire burns dry grass to ashes, so the holy name of the Lord,
whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly, burns to ashes, without
fail, all the reactions of one's sinful activities."
"If a person unaware of the
effective potency of a certain medicine takes that medicine or is
forced to take it, it will act even without his knowledge because its
potency does not depend on the patient's understanding. Similarly,
even though one does not know the value of chanting the holy name of
the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be
very effective." (SB 6.2.18, 19)
As it is obvious from these
passages, it is not necessary to have knowledge about the holy name
but still there is no doubt that transcendental knowledge can create
faith in the holy name and purify the motivation of our chanting. For
example, chanting while maintaining material desires is called
chanting with offenses - namaparadha. In this level of chanting the
holy name will fulfill the material desires of the chanter but it will
not give the ultimate goal of the chanting which is love for Krishna.
When one begins to chant namabhasa or without offenses the holy name
can award liberation. However, only when one chants the pure holy
name, the holy name will bestow pure devotion of Krishna and the
vision of the Lord. To attain this highest level of chanting one need
to acquire the knowledge about the soul, God and the material world.
Is it necessary to meditate on the Divine form of the Supreme Lord
No. One should just endeavor to focus the mind on hearing of the holy
name and the time will come when the holy name will reveal to the
chanter the form, qualities, pastimes and the supreme abode of
Krishna. At that time one will automatically be able to remember and
thus meditate on the form, pastimes, associates and the abode of the
Lord while chanting of the holy name. Such chanting
with remembrance is more advanced than chanting without remembrance
where there is disharmony between mind and the speech. But once more
to emphasize, this remembrance of the form will be revealed to the
chanter only after long practice of attentive hearing of the holy
name. Nothing else is more necessary.
Why is the mind more disturbed while chanting the holy name?
First of all the Holy name cleanses all the impurities of the mind.
During this process it looks like the mind becomes disturbed. But one
should remember that the disturbance is not because of the holy name.
As one continues chanting the disturbance will go away. Just like the
dirty cloth is washed out nicely with soap; similarly while chanting
all the dirt of the mind will come out and ultimately washed away.
There are some additional methods to make the chanting easier for the
sake of attaining its ultimate goal. If the mind is not steadily fixed
on chanting one should eat less, control his sleep, be equal to
pleasure and pain etc. This is confirmed by the Lord in the
Bhagavad-gita (6.17): "He who is regulated in his habits of eating,
sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by
practicing the yoga system."
it is also helpful to have full knowledge of self-realization and
unhesitatingly go and participate in congregational chanting of the
Which of the two type of chanting is better - congregational or
Sri Laksmidhara, who is also mentioned in Srila
Rupa Gosvamis Padyavali, explained that in order to attain liberation
by chanting one have to control his mind, to be pure, to practice
silence, should have knowledge of the meaning of the mantra, and not
to be depressed.
Now, Sanatana Goswami in his Sri
Brihad Bhagavatamrta gives some important points about the
superiority of kirtana or congregational chanting to individual
meditation or japa. He writes that when kirtana or loud chanting with
devotees manifests on the tongue-the sense organ of speech
simultaneously illuminates the mind. Only after illuminating the mind
the holy name can enliven other sense organs as well. Further, he says
that the sound of kirtana doesn't benefits only the ears of the
performers but of all those people who have a good fortune to hear it.
This is not possible by practicing soft chanting and remembrance. He
also points out that remembrance cannot be successfully and properly
practiced as long as the mind is flickering. Kirtana is the best way
to cure this tendency of the mind. Therefore, by observing real
silence, namely the loud chanting of the holy name, the mind
gradually, more and more becomes steady and thus one will be more and
more able to remember Krishna. Thus, remembrance of Krishna is the
result of kirtana.
The external organs like e.g. the
eyes and ears etc. and the internal organs like the mind and
intelligence are all moved by the chanting in kirtana because their
nature is to get excited by the action of the tongue. Thus all the
senses become engaged in kirtana. With the hands the devotee plays
musical instruments, with the tongue he chants, with his eyes he looks
at the beautiful form of Krishna's Deity etc. In this way the mind
is more easily controlled by performing kirtana than by doing japa.
Moreover, while japa there is a possibility to fall a sleep but in the
kirtana one becomes very attentive. Therefore, all the devotees should
perform kirtana every day for few hours and of course chant
individually on their beads. Performing kirtana will improve ones japa
chanting and proper japa chanting will make one eager to participate
Is kirtana better than meditation?
It is said that the most abominable sin of this age of degradation -
Kali-yuga - is destroyed by the great power of kirtana alone and not
by anything else like meditation, giving charity, study of the Vedas
etc. Conclusively kirtana is better than meditation. This is confirmed
in the Srimad Bhagavat-mahatmya of the Padma Purana where it is said
that 'the result of Keshava (Krishna) kirtana in this age of
degradation cannot be attained by performance of austerities,
meditation or Samadhi (absorption).'
this mean now that meditation is worthless and should be neglected?
Not at all. In the Srimad Brihad-Bhagavatamrita (2.3.153) the
residents of Vaikuntha say: "Sankirtana expands the joy of
meditation and meditation the sweet joy of sankirtana. In our
experience, the two methods fortify one another and are therefore
should mention that one can attain success in meditation only by
practicing it in secluded lonely place and not otherwise. Of course,
the obstacles to attain perfection in this practice are many.
Amazingly however, sankirtana can be performed both in secluded or a
public place in the company of many others. Thus, whatever are the
obstacles to meditation are not obstacles to sankirtana; and moreover
they contribute to its success. Conclusively, as in performing kirtana
there are no obstacles, kirtana is better than solely performance of
It is said that any person becomes liberated just by once uttering the
holy name of the Supreme Lord. Isn't it that the existence of the
hell becomes meaningless as every person must have uttered the holy
name once in the life?
There are several reasons why the existence of the hell is not
meaningless. For example, although previous sins are destroyed by
uttering the holy name, after that one can again continue with his
sinful activities. Moreover, one has to suffer for the offences to
saintly persons and ultimately, because not all the people will
constantly chant the holy name the existence of the hell is not
If everybody would perform kirtana since it is the easiest practice,
would not other practices of religious life become meaningless?
Unfortunately many different people have many different inclinations
and not all of them believe that the chanting of the holy name is the
easiest way for spiritual elevation. Thus, they are not interested in
kirtana. They have more faith in other practices described in the
Vedas and thus, those paths of karma, jnana, yoga etc. are not
If the sins are destroyed by chanting the holy name even without
faith, what is the necessity of performing kirtana with faith?
Although the performance of kirtana without faith can destroy sins
still, if the chanter doesn't have faith he will feel depressed. To
remove this depression he should chant kirtana with faith. Actually,
to destroy sins chanting without faith is sufficient but to get
liberation or love of Godhead one should develop faith.
the holy name once without regard to the chanters faith, knowledge,
detachment, place, time etc. destroys all the previous sins except the
offence against the great soul or devotees.
interesting that the holy name destroys as much stock of our previous
sins as much we have faith in the holy name. In other words, chanting
without faith doesn't eradicate all our sins accumulated in many of
our previous births and the present life.
to chant more and more the holy name will destroy subtle tendencies to
commit sin and it will increase our initial faith, devotion, knowledge
and attachment to chanting.
without any faith will not help at all in attaining the goal of
chanting, as Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (17.28)
says: "Anything done as sacrifice, charity or penance without faith
in the Supreme, O son of Pritha, is impermanent. It is called asat and
is useless both in this life and the next."
to attain the ultimate goal of chanting - Krishna prema
- it is very much necessary to increase our initial
faith. And the best way to do that is to chant the holy name with
other devotees in kirtana.)
How is faith developed?
Looking at the lives of different saints we can see that they
developed faith in God in different ways: as the result off
association and following of the instructions of loving devotees;
because of going through some unpleasant things and experiencing
miseries in the life; having been fed up with the enjoyment of
disgusting fruits of karma; because of awakened aversion toward the
disappointing results of speculative knowledge and yoga; or as the
result of the special mercy of the Supreme Lord. In whatever way one
has developed faith in God he became the most fortunate.
as one can develop faith in God in similar way one can develop faith
in the holy name, but most importantly by hearing from pure devotees
the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam and applying that knowledge in
Who is eligible to chant the holy name?
Man, woman, Hermaphrodite or any other living entity who worships
Krishna with sincere heart completely surrendering to Him is dearest
to Krishna. But moreover, whether one is pure or impure, in whatever
condition one may be, he is purified both internally and externally by
chanting the maha mantra for the pleasure of the lotus eyed Supreme
Lord Sri Krishna.
and water can purify only the external body, but the holy name of the
Supreme Lord purifies all the impurities within the hearth as well.
Therefore, none is prohibited to chant the holy name in whatever
condition one is. Sometimes people ask if one is deaf and dumb or
blind, how can such a person hear, chant or see the holy name? If one
is deaf he can utter the holy name with his tongue, and if one is deaf
and dumb he can see the holy name written down somewhere. In any way
one gets in touch with the holy name he can become liberated. Thus
there is no qualification required to take to the holy name, but just
oppositely, one can take to it in any condition he may be.
sankirtana yajna ki jay.
by Sri ARd - Nitai Das Prabhu