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Title: 11 Mahanidhi Swami
User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2006-07-11 11:42:04
“Following the perfect example of his predecessors, Shrila Prabhupada tried to introduce a daily standard of 64 rounds for his initiated disciples in the early days. The disciples responded to Prabhupada’s order with silence and astonishment. They argued about the shortage of time, and some flatly rejected saying “impossible.” Perhaps this is the time when Shrila Prabhupada uttered his famous quote, “Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary.” Out of compassion for his struggling followers, Shrila Prabhupada relented, and reduced the minimum daily quota to sixteen rounds. And that became the standard for initiation.
But why should we just chant sixteen rounds of japa and stop? Who wants to be considered “fallen” in the eyes of his grandfather? Stand up and fight. Maintain the high standard of our exalted spiritual tradition coming down from Lord Chaitanya. The merciful Lord of love, prema purusottama Shri Chaitanya, is so easily offering all perfections for a mere few rounds in trade. By the movement of a few fingers one can achieve the most valuable treasure in creation. The golden avatara of unlimited compassion, Lord Gauranga, is extending His soft sweet hand to eat from ours—purified by Tulasi’s touch and a count of sixty-four.
Are we so lazy, fallen and foolish that we wil let the divine magic pass by us while mumbling to ourselves, “Impossible! Impossible! Impossible!” Take strength from Shri Guru and Gaurahari and kick out the word “impossible” from your dictionary. The number of rounds “should be increased” from 16 a day, to 20, to 32 and then 64 per day. But never decrease the number of rounds. Sixty-four rounds is Mahaprabhu’s magic number for peace, happiness and all spiritual perfection in love of God.
We should cry out to Krishna for mercy, and with great determination try to chant more and more. The instructions of Shrila Prabhupada are eternal. At any time or place, or in any circumstance one can sincerely surender and become spiritually empowered to fulfill Prabhupada’s order. “You must chant 64 rounds a day on your beads.”
Here is a brief history of the transition from sixty-four rounds a day to sixteen:
“In 1967 at San Francisco, Shrila Prabhupada asked , ‘What is your definition of Krishna?’ I said, ‘Krishna is God. he is the Supreme Being. Our duty is to worship and serve Him.’ Swamiji seemed fairly satisfied, and then he said, ‘You must chant sixty-four rounds per day on you beads.’
“I was shocked at this and could not answer. I did not know if there was any need to answer. I just kept looking at Swamiji, and he looked at me. After some time he said, ‘Or at least you can chant thirty-two rounds a day.’ Still silence. I considered it to be very difficult to chant even sixteen rounds. I was wondering how I could possibly chant thirty-two rounds. After some time, Swamiji said, ‘At the very you must chant sixteen rounds every day.’” (Shrila Prabhupada Lilamrta)
A Practical Approach to 64 Rounds
Puri Maharaja once gave Mahanidhi Swami, the following practical advice on chanting 64 rounds daily:
“It is not hard to chant a lakh (100,000 names or 64 rounds) a day. It only takes four sittings a day of two hours each! Listen, you get up at four a.m., chant till 6 a.m. and you will have done sixteen rounds. Then do whatever, like bathing, puja, reading, and taking a little prasadam. Then sit and chant 16 rounds before noon. That is 32 rounds by 12:00! Then sit down two more times and finish 32 rounds by evening. So it’s easy. You only need four sittings of two hours each to finish 64 rounds a day. At most it takes only eight hours to chant 64 rounds. You still have sixteen hours left to do other things.”
Mahanidhi Swami continues:
It may not be as easy as Maharaja says to chant sixty-four rounds every day. But whenever we get the time or situation in our lives where we can, then certainly we should try our best to chant sixty four rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
Saying the Hare Krishna mantra once on each of the 108 beads of a japa mala constitutes one round. Chanting a fixed number of rounds of Hare Krishna maha-mantra japa is the most urgent necessity and important engagement of a devotee’s each and every day. It should be completed before anything else. There are many Vaishnavas in Vrndavana who will not even drink a drop of water until they finish 64 rounds. Unfortunately, for many devotees this vital activity is often relegated to a secondary position while other concerns like body, family cares and tasks at hand take priority. Under illusion, one wakes up in the morning thinking, “I have many pressing things to do—E-mails, phone calls, reading the newspaper and watching televised news. What’s the hurry, I have all day to chant my rounds.”
Chanting Krishna’s holy names, the very life breath of the soul becomes a mere trifling thing to do at some other time. Pity-how what should be done first is done last! In describing the word determination, Shrila Prabhupada said that chanting the holy names of Krishna is more important than eating and sleeping.
“You have to minimize your sleeping. If you cannot finish sixteen rounds, then you must not sleep on that day, you must not eat. Why don't you forget to eat, forget? Why do you forget chanting Hare Krishna? This is negligence, aparadha, offense. Rather, you should forget your sleeping and eating, and must finish sixteen rounds. This is called determination. This is called determined. So you are welcome to take initiation, but if you are neglectful, if you want to make it a farce, that is your business. I cannot give you any protection.” (Shrila Prabhupada 28/1/74)
Although sastras and sadhus show the need for chanting a fixed number of rounds daily, sadhakas in this dismal age of Kali often lack the determination to finish their daily quota. Lack of determination is caused by residual sins, mental impurity and attachment to sense enjoyment. Incapable of maintaining a steady vow, some devotees chant whimsically—one day sixteen rounds, one day eight, one day sixty-four, one day ten and one day none!
"Chanting japa should be done early in the morning with full concentration preferably during the Brahma Muhurta time. Concentrate fully on the sound vibration of the mantra, pronouncing each name distinctly and gradually your speed in chanting will increase naturally. Do not worry so much about chanting fast, most important is the hearing." (Shrila Prabhupada 6/1/72)