All glories to our beloved guru parampara! All glories to Swamiji Gaurangapada and all Vaishnavas! Please do accept my humble obeisances.
badhnan prema-bhara-prakampita-karo granthin kati-dorakaih sankhyatum nija-loka-mangala-hare-krishneti-namnam japan asru-snata-mukhah svam eva hi jagannatham didrikshur gata- yatair gaura-tanur vilocana-mudam tanvan harih patu vah (16)
Verse 16: Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu chants constantly a fixed number of His own Holy names daily in the form of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra for the supreme welfare of all the living entities who are His own parts and parcels. He chants with intense love and His hand trembles with ecstatic emotion as He touches the knotted string tied to His waist for counting the holy names. While chanting He goes to see His own form of Lord Jagannatha with intense eagerness and His face becomes bathed in His pearl-like tears. May this transcendental form of Lord Gaurahari and the chanting of His Holy Name always maintain you all.? While reading this beautiful verse from Caitanya Chandramrta, I was wondering about the history of chanting japa on a tulasi mala like we do nowadays. Has it always been like this or has it evolved over time?
Yours in the service of the Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna,
Damodara Svarupa dasa
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Thankyou for the question. Sometimes Lord Gauranga would count the Holy Names on His divine fingers in multiples of 10 as explained in a previous post and in Hari Bhakti Vilasa and/or sometimes count the number of rounds by using the string tied to His waist. Actually the translation knotted string is only a part translation, it is granthin kati-dorakaih...the actually meaning of granthi here is that He used the string to count in multiple of 4 rounds as 1 granthi = 4 rounds. This demonstrates to us that the Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu was certainly chanting at least 100,000 of His own Names daily to personally teach the whole world by His own example as confirmed by Shrila Lokanatha Goswami in Narottama Vilasa.
When Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu was in Gambhira, His divine home, He would chant on tulasi beads in the present of Shrimati Tulasidevi's plant. But when He would leave Gambhira to see Lord Jagannatha or meet His devotees then He used to chant on His fingers and count with the help of the string tied to His waist. So chanting japa on a Tulasi mala is an eternal practice which was adopted by the Lord Himself.