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Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata
Lord Gauranga instructs Shri Tapana Mishra in Shri Chaitanya-bhagavata Adi-khanda 14.145-147:
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare;
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare.
ei shloka nama bali’ laya maha-mantra;
shola-nama batrisha-akshara ei tantra.
“This verse is called the maha-mantra. It contains sixteen holy names of the Lord composed of thirty-two syllables.
sadhite sadhite yabe premankura habe;
sadhya-sadhana-tattva janiba se tabe.
“If you continually and sincerely chant this maha-mantra, the seed of pure love of God will sprout in your heart. Then you will understand the goal of life and the process for achieving it.”