|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Shachinandana Swami > The Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name > VII. frequent Questions Concerning Chanting > 5. The Perfection of Chanting|
5. The Perfection of Chanting
Question: Are there references from Srila Prabhupada and his spiritual master that the chanting of the holy names is the most important activity in devotional service?
Answer: Yes. Srila Prabhupada states: Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master's order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential.1 The question about the -mos't important of all processes of devotional service is also raised by Sarvabhauma
Bhattacarya, who asked Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
"Which item is most important in the execution of devotional service?" The Lord replied that the most important item was the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. Then the Lord cited the following verse:
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha.
In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.2
After listing the sixty-four items of devotional service, Srila Rupa GosvamI mentions five of them which are especially important.3 Srila Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura explained very convincingly how each one of these five potent processes actually points to the chanting of the holy name: After careful consideration of the five [processes of devotional service mentioned by Rupa GosvamI], it is clear that the best practice is srl nama-bhajana, service of God's holy names, which is the root of all these, and is glorified above all:
1. Sadhu-sanga: associating with devotees is recommended to create a taste or inclination for srl nama-bhajana. This comes from associating with holy saints who are attached to chanting krishna's holy names with firm faith and who chant the names systematically
2. Bhagavata-sravana: hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam which itself declares sri nama-bhajana to be the highest virtue. In its beginning, middle [the story of Ajamila in the sixth canto], and at the end the Srimad-Bhagavatam repeatedly stresses the efficacy of sri nama-bhajana.
3. Mathura-vasa: residing in a holy place like Mathura. Nama-bhajana is situated at the root of residence in Vrndavana or Sridhama Mayapur. The sddhus living in or visiting these holy places are always engaged in ndma-sahkirtana.
4. Sri-murti-seva: the service of krishna's Deity, is always conducted with mantras full of God's names. The Hari-bhakti-vilasa and Sri Jiva GosvamI say that Deity service must be accompanied with chanting the Hare krishna mantra for it to be accepted.
5. Nama-sankirtana is directly the chanting of the holy names.
The Caitanya-caritdmrta states1 that of the nine ways of devotional service to get love of God, the foremost is nama-sanklrtana. One who chants nama without offenses surely achieves love of God. The Bhakti-sandarbha says that no form of bhakti [i.e. mathura-vasa, sddhu-sanga, sri-murti-seva, and bhagavata-sravana, as listed above] is complete without Sri krishna ndma-sankirtana. The Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya says that sahkirtana is the best and foremost of all spiritual practices for attaining krishna's mercy. If the other practices of bhakti are helpful to it, they should then be accepted.