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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Nityananda Gauranga Naam > Naam Bhajana General > Loud Soft or Mental Chanting

Title: Loud, Soft or Mental Chanting

User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2007-03-13 15:23:52



I have noticed since that i was initated that i can not mentally chant. what is proper chanting ? i have read that loud chant is good, slient is better and mental chanting is best. this seem impossible to me now. swami what is your thoughts and instructions?



Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:


Thank you for your query. I am sure the reply will benefit many devotees who have always wanted to ask this question.


In Baul-Sangit, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura states:


maner mala japbi jakhan, mana,

keno korbi bahya visarjana

mane mane bhajan jakhan hoy,

prema uthle pade' bahya-dehe vyapta ho'ye roy;

abar dehe care, japay kore, dharay mala anuksana


1) My dear mind, when you chant japa on the mala within your mind, why do you cease the actions of chanting japa externally? When one performs qualified to perform bhajan within the mind, and prema factually arises internally, then the external body also becomes pervaded by those symptoms. Therefore the body rocks and sways, while one incessantly turns their beads in chanting japa.


In Chp 15 Bhajana-Pranali (which summarizes the whole process of japa) of Hari-nama-cintamani, he clearly states:


"By loudly and distinctly uttering (spastha uccharana) the names, he should chant and remember the meaning. Gradually the chanting will become clear, steady and blissful. At that point one should meditate on the three-fold

bending form Lord Shyamasundara or Lord Gauranga while chanting."


"Devotees who thirst for Prema and are on the way to it sing and realise this Hare-Krishna-Nama by counting." (Nama Bhajan by Shrila Bhaktivinoda) Loud chanting with raga or attachement is done even by the siddha devotees. Ofcourse it is a fact that smarana within the mind during chanting is only possible by a prolonged practice of loud chanting of the holy names of the Lord.


SBSSTP wrote in verse 19 of Vaisnava ke:


sridayitadasa kirtanete asa

kara uccaih svare harinama-rava

kirtana-prabhave smarana svabhave

se kale bhajana-nirjana sambhava


"This Sri-dayita dasa (His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura - the humble servant of the all-merciful Srimati Radharani) simply desires to be absorbed in the nectar of Lord Krsna's holy names. My dear mind, now let us loudly chant the holy names of Krsna so we can continuously remain in the ocean of transcendental nectar.


The loud chanting of the holy names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna awakens the transcendental quality of natural spontaneous loving remembrance of Lord Gauranga-Krsna (including the Lord's form, qualities and pastimes). Only at that time does the confidential realization and pure practice of nirjana-bhajana (smarana on the mental level) in loving devotional service to Their Lordships Nityananda-Gauranga and Radha-Krsna become possible."


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada,From an article in The Gaudiya, 1934:


"Those who have loudly chanted 100,000 Holy Names daily for fifteen or twenty years should know such things. The beginners need not hear these topics or they will misunderstand. These topics are for certain audiences, not for all. Also, it is said, apana bhajana-katha, na kahibe jatha-jatha, one should not reveal one's bhajana to others.?If we disregard this instruction of our previous acaryas then there may be a permanent fall from the realm of devotional service."


Letter by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta to one of his disciples:


One should call on the Lord through the loud chanting of the Holy Names at all times. You should be vigilant to maintain your scheduled rounds on the beads while loudly chanting the holy name. This will effectively remove all anarthas. Then atheistic people will not be able to shake you with their blasphemy."

I am pleased to hear that your enthusiasm for chanting the holy name has increased. Continually chanting the holy name loudly with perseverance will eradicate all anarthas. Then the form, qualities and pastimes of Sri Nama

will automatically be revealed. The Lord and His holy name are non-different. But this fact can only be understood when one becomes freed from anarthas. Offenseless chanting will help us realize that chanting the holy name yields all perfections."


Shrila Prabhupada Lilamrita Chp 4:


"Sometimes as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta paced back and forth chanting the Hare Krsna mantra aloud while fingering his beads, Abhay would enter the room and also chant, walking alongside his spiritual master."



Shrila Akinchana Krishnadasa Babaji Maharaja (godbrother of Shrila Pra bhupada) who was a topmost rasika Vaishnava used to loudly chant the japa of the Holy Names day and night.


In Prema Vilasa Chp 24, it is mentioned:


advaita prabhur pade loila sarana

tar thai bhakti sastre koilo adhyayana

advaitera sthane tinho hoila diksiti

tin lakho harinama jape diva rati

lakho harinama mane lakho kane sune

lakho nama ucca kori kore sankirtane'


"Haridasa Thakura took shelter of Advaita Acharya Prabhu's lotus feet and studied the bhakti shastras under Him. He became initiated by Advaita (diksha) and was chanting 300,000 Holy Names day and night. 100,000 Names loudly, 100,000 Names softly and 100,000 Names silently."


On the other hand in the Gaudiya Bhashya of Chaitanya-Bhagavata Adi 16.172, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada specifically mentions that Shrila Haridasa Thakura used to chant the 300,000 names either loudly or softly:


TEXT 172


tabe haridasa ganga-tire gopha kari'

thakena virale ahar-nisa krsna smari'


"Then Haridasa went and found a cave on the bank of the Ganges. He remembered Krsna day and night as he resided alone in the cave."


Gaudiya Bhashya:


"While remaining in a solitary cave on the bank of the Ganges at Phuliya, Srila Thakura Mahasaya loudly chanted the Holy Names and passed his days and night remembering the pastimes of the Lord. Sometimes he would chant the sixteen name, thirty-two syllable, maha-mantra loudly, and sometimes he would chant softly. Every day he would complete the chanting of three hundred thousand holy names, or in a year he would chant one hundred million names of Gaurahari.


"Some people consider that chanting the names of Krsna in asolitary place is in the category of "upamsu-japa," or "chanting very mildly." They say that this maha-mantra, or chanting the holy names of the Lord, should not be heard by others; only the person who is chanting should

hear. If the lips move, or if the holy names are recited, then they will automatically be heard by others.


"But if such persons lack faith in the Vaisnavas who chant the holy names of the Lord, then by the influence of Kali they dare to quarrel with those Vaisnava chanters.

Whenever the pure names of the Lord, glorified and chanted by sadhus who have taken full shelter of the names, do not enter the ears of others, it is called nirjana-bhajana.


"Such chanting of the names of Hari in a solitary place is intended only for one's own benefit, therefore such chanting yields no benefit for others. Even if the fixed number of holy names regularly chanted by a person who is inclined to the service of the Lord are chanted in a solitary place, faithful persons may still take advantage by secretly hearing from a distance."


TEXT 173

tina-laksa nama dine karena grahana

gopha haila tan'ra yena vaikuntha-bhavana


"He would chant the holy name of the Lord three hundred thousand times a day, and his cave was thus transformed into Vaikuntha."




Another difficulty in mental chanting is that it proceeds very slowly with proper pronunciation within, so completing 100,000 names daily which is the order of the Lord and the ideal for all Gaudiya Vaishnavas is very difficult and it may take more than 12 hours to do so which is greatly difficult to accomplish.


Any discussion about manasika-japa is incomplete without quoting the following verses from the Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa and the Naradiya Purana to present shastric quotations for both the aspects:








Japa yajna is of three kinds. Please listen. Chanting with a sound vibration, chanting with a murmuring condition and chanting within the mind. These three kinds of chanting are respectively one better than the other .









Chanting japa is of three kinds, higher class, lower class and svarita class which is melodiously chanting clearly where every word can be heard by others. That is called vacika. Any japa mantra chanted in murmuring sound,

where ones's two lips move very minutely and one can only hear a few words out of it, that chanting is called upansu.


Srila Sanatana Gosvami in his Digdarsini-tika writes that one who is chanting japa melodiously, with high and low sounds, in a swinging condition, it is called svarita where others can hear every sound vibration clearly. Therefore, it is said that one should chant openly. But better is to chant japa in such a way that one can hear it himself only.







One hundred times better than chanting japa in clear or loud condition is to chant japa in mumuring condition where one can hear himself. Thousands of times better than loud chanting is chanting within one's mind, because chanting within the mind is equal to directly meditating on the Supreme Lord.


Srila Sanatana Gosvami clarifies this situation in his Digdarsini-tika, stating that chanting within the mind is one hundred times better than chanting in murmuring condition which is one hundred times better than chanting with the sound vibration.









Oh best of the brahmanas, in all conditions and always one should chant japa in one's mind because it has no faults. Therefore, anyone who is engaged in chanting japa, gets the results of performing all kinds of sacrifices. Whatever condition he may be, whether purified or unpurified condition, walking condition or still (standing or sitting) condition, sleeping condition, one should take shelter at the feet of chanting japa alone and chant japa within one's mind.


Srila Sanatana Gosvami remarks regarding chanting japa within one's mind, that because chanting japa within mind has no faults, therefore one should chant japa within one's mind. This is the best japa of all. Here "the best of brahmanas" refers to those who chant japa. In all conditions, one should take shelter in chanting japa without considering the time, place and circumstances. This is the understanding here.


At the same time we have the following verse from the Naradiya Purana quoted by Shrila Haridasa Thakura in the Chaitanya-Bhagavata:


japato hari namani sthane sata-gunadhikah

atmanan ca punaty-uccair-japan srotrn-punati ca


"Compared to that person who is attached to chanting japa mentally, the person who performs loud chanting of the holy name of Sri Hari is one hundred times better. This is because the person who chants silent japa purifies himself, whereas the person who chants the holy name loudly

purifies himself, all those who are with him, and everyone else who hear the holy vibration." (Sri Naradiya Purana, Prahlada-vakya)


To end with some Prabhupada quotes:


"Unless one has come to the platform of spontaneous love of God, he must follow the regulative principles. Thakura Haridasa was the living example of how to follow the regulative principles. Similarly, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami

was also such a living example. In the Sad-gosvamy-astaka it is stated:

sankhya-purvaka-nama-gana-natibhih kalavasanikrtau.


The Gosvamis, especially Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, strictly followed all the regulative principles. The first regulative principle is that one must chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra loudly enough so that he can hear himself, and one must vow to chant a fixed number of rounds."


(SriCaitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila 11.24)


"While the body is fit, one should chant the holy name of the Lord loudly and distinctly. If one does so, it is quite possible that even at the time of death he will be properly able to chant the holy name of the Lord with love and faith." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.49)


"Chanting involves the activities of the upper and lower lips as well as the tongue. All three must be engaged in chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. The words "Hare Krsna" should be very distinctly pronounced and heard.


Sometimes one mechanically produces a hissing sound instead of chanting with the proper pronunciation with the help of the lips and tongue. Chanting is very simple, but one must practice it seriously." (SriCaitanya-caritamrtaAdi-lila 17.32)




So on one hand the Hari Bhakti Vilasa quotes from Yajnavalkya Smriti that mental chanting is 10,000 times (Sanatana Goswami) better than loud chanting and on the other hand Shri Prahlada Maharaja quotes in Naradiya Purana which was quoted by Haridasa Thakura in the Chaitanya Bhagavata that loud chanting is 100 times more beneficial than mental chanting because it benefits millions of living entities who even knowingly happen to hear the sound vibration.


So you will surely want to know the conclusion. Here it is:


(1) Mental chanting can only be bear fruti if one can properly recite and hear the Mantras within. But our hearts in the beginning stage are filled with so many material impressions and desires. So it is very difficult to properly hear the sound vibration mentally within in the neophyte stage. We may think we may be hearing inside but we are not actually chanting or hearing. So the change of our heart is very slow. It is only when one practices constant loud chanting for a period of at least five years one can properly pronounce, hear and meditate on the Holy Names while chanting mentally.


(2) If one is chanting adequate number of rounds of the Holy Name loudly daily over a period of a few years then one can add some mental chanting to it without giving up the loud chanting. Like Haridasa Thakura was chanting 100,000 each loudly and softly first before chanting 100,00- mentally.


(3) Mental chanting may be personally beneficial to us more than loud chanting when we can actually do it but loud chanting is much more beneficial to all the souls of this world than silent chanting because one devotee loudly chanting the holy names purifies and delivers the whole universe.


(4) There is an easier method for silent chanting which we will be explaining and elaborating on in later posts which is to write the syllables of the Mantrarajas in the air or paper or to deeply meditate on the syllables while chanting mentally which facilitates easier concentration on hearing the Mantrarajas in the mind. Each syllable of the Mantrarajas are non-different than the Lord so mental meditation on the syllables while chanting creates very powerful and instant remembrance of the Lord. We will be soon teaching this process in the form of Nityananda Yoga.


Always chant Nityananda; Gauranga; and Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Jaya Gauranga Dharma! Jaya Shrila Prabhupada! Pranams and Blessings!'


Yours in service, Swami Gaurangapada.