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Hari Nama Chintamani
Shrila Thakura Haridasa in Hari-nama-chintamani:
kona bhagya kona jivera shraddha jadi haya;
tabe tiho harinama grahana karaya.
“If due to some unknown good fortune, a living entity develops faith in the chanting process, then he will take up the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
bhaktyunmukha jiva shuddha gurura kripaya;
shri yugula-brahma-nama saubhagyete paya.
The living entity who becomes attracted to chanting due to heaps and heaps of past pious activities receives the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, which is called ‘shri yugula-brahma-nama’ as it is non-different from names of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna, by the mercy of a pure spiritual master.
yatna kari smare nama sankhyara sahita;
tabe name anuraga hayata udita
“After receiving the name, if he chants with great care and attention a fixed number of rounds daily, then he will be able to awaken his dormant attraction for the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
je paryanta anuraga na haya udaya;
se parjyanta yatna kori nama sada laya.
“Till he does not develop the attraction for the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, he should take very special care in chanting.
tulasi malaya nama sankhya kari smare;
athava kirtana kare parama adare
“He should vow to chant and remember a fixed quantity of rounds daily on a rosary made of 108 tulasi beads. He can also chant or sing some part of his daily quota in kirtana (with musical instruments etc). He should do so with great respect.
Purport by Shrila Thakura Bhaktivinoda:
“Once an aspirant develops faith in chanting the biggest obstacle is the attraction of the senses to the sense-objects. To overcome this obstacle and realize the full power of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, the spiritual master gives the disciple instructions on the method of sadhana. The primary upasana (method of worship) is to chant a fixed number of rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra everyday on tulasi beads. This method worship will gradually reward the aspirant with all that which is to be attained. Therefore in the beginning the chanter should sit in a solitary place for a very short time (start with 4 rounds) and chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra with the concentration. Gradually as he keeps on increasing the quantity of his chanting, the cultivation of the chanting will become continuous and all the obtacles will surely be destroyed.
krame kala-vriddhi kori sei nama smare;
ati shighra vishayera chanda haite tare.
“If a sadhaka gradually increases the time period (quantity) of his chanting and meditation on the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, then very soon he will become delivered from the entanglement of material desires"
eka grantha sankhya kori arambhire nama;
krame tina laksha smari pure manaskama.
“One should begin chanting with a minimum of four rounds of the maha-mantra. He should gradually increase the chanting to the point of chanting and remembering 300,000 names (174 rounds) of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra which will ensure the complete fulfillment of all his desires.
mane habe-aja laksha nama je karibo;
krame krame tina laksha nama je smaribo.
mahagraha habe citte namera sankhyaya;
acire jabe jadya sadhura kripaya.
“When one’s mind becomes very determined and eager to complete the daily quota of chanting and resolves that from today I will chant 64 rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and gradually will try to achieve the stage of chanting 300,000 names daily, then at that time the inertia (laziness) for chanting will disappear by the mercy of the devotees.
sankalpita nama-sankhya purna karibare;
na haya ayatna dekhi bare bare.
“The sadhaka should be very very careful at all times that he completes the chanting of the fixed number of rounds daily without fail.
Purport by Shrila Thakura Bhaktivinoda:
“When one chants on tulasi beads keeping a fixed count daily then he will experience that he will develop a desire to gradually increase the quantity of his chanting.”
Purport by Swami Gaurangapada:
Recommended daily quantity of chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra:
For beginners = 4 rounds
Minimum for serious sadhakas = 16 rounds
Intermediate for serious sadhakas = 32 rounds Actual goal for serious sadhakas = 64 rounds
4 rounds are called a ‘grantha’. Thus it is a good number for all to begin with. Shrila Prabhupada prescribed the minimum chanting of 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily for all initiated devotees.
Shrila Prabhupada states in Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita Adi-lila 17.23:
“Therefore our request to all our students is that they daily chant at least sixteen rounds of this harer nama maha-mantra offenselessly, following the regulative principles. Thus their success will be assured without a doubt.”
Shri Chaitanya-caritamrita Adi-lila 10.43:
“Certainly the chanting of 300,000 holy names of the Lord is wonderful. No ordinary person can chant so many names, nor should one artificially imitate Haridasa Thakura’s behavior. It is essential, however, that everyone fulfill a specific vow to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. Therefore we have prescribed in our Society that all our students must chant at least sixteen rounds daily. Such chanting must be offenseless in order to be of high quality. Mechanical chanting is not as powerful as chanting of the holy name without offenses.”
From the above statements of Shrila Prabhupada, we understand the the minimum quota of chanting sixteen rounds daily is to be chanted offenselessly to get the maximum benefit. By following Shrila Prabhupada’s instructions of chanting atleast 16 rounds daily, trying to avoid the ten offenses and by trying to increase the quality and quantity of chanting, one can gradually perfect one’s life and go back to Godhead. According to Shrila Prabhupada and all the Vedic scriptures, by constant chanting or by increasing one’s chanting to 32 or 64 rounds, one can speeden up the process of clearing the offenses. In fact it is the only way to successfully counteract the ten offenses. As we have seen in section (VII), according to Shrila Prabhupada, Padma Purana, Hari-nama-cintamani etc. constant or increased chanting is the most effective way to completely and quickly destroy the ten offenses. That is why Shrila Prabhupada mentions in a conversation that if the material fever of sense-gratification is not coming down by chanting 16 rounds, one should increase the chanting to 64 rounds daily. We feel that this statement is applicable to almost everyone of us.
Shrila Prabhupada prescribed a minimum of 16 rounds especially because of the Western devotees inability to chant for long periods on beads but he still encouraged everyone to increase the chanting to the stage of chanting constantly, we can conclude that a serious aspirant should not take 16 rounds as the maximum but always try to increase the quantity of his chanting without compromising on the quality ofcourse. He should distinctly pronounce, hear and meditate on every syllable of the maha-mantra with rapt attention.
It is very clear from the aboves verses directly being told by the Namacarya Haridasa Thakura to Lord Chaitanya that for a serious chanter there is no other way but to increase both the quality and quantity of his chanting more and more. If someone is totally averse to the process of increasing the quantity of his chanting beyond the bare minimum of chanting 16 rounds (Prabhupada said that he has minimized the minimum which was 64 to 16 rounds), then he will not achieve anything auspicious due to such a mentality according to Shrila Saravati Thakura (Shri Chaitanya-bhagavata, Antya-khanda 9.122 purp). Like we have seen in Section VIII, Shrila Prabhupada encourages even new devotees to increase their chanting. Even if a devotee is not able to increase his chanting to more than 16 rounds immediately, he should constantly endeavour in that direction. If he has a strong desire he will surely be successful. Chanting 32 rounds daily (50,000 names) can be an intermediate stage for those who can’t make it to 64 rounds. It is my personal realization that chanting 32 rounds daily gives one unimaginable additional spiritual strength and disinfects one even more from the onslaught of the illusory energy (maya) on a day to day basis.
Every spiritual aspirant should ultimately aim to reach the standard of chanting 64 rounds (100,000 names) daily which was the minimum prescribed by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada used to say that our ‘lakshya’ (goal) should be to reach the standard of ‘laksha’ (100,000) nama.
After sincerely chanting for many years with a fixed quota, one will become fixed in the chanting. The chanting will then grant the chanter with the divine rememberance of the Lord and the consequential unlimited bliss at every second. At an advanced stage in life when one retires from active devotional service and resides in the dhama, the chanter can increase the chanting furthur to 200,000 names and then ultimately to 300,000 names daily as prescribed in the Hari-nama-cintamani. At that time the chanter will experience the fulfillment of his most cherished desires of rendering direct service to Lord Shri Nitai-Gauranga and Shri Shri Radha-Krishna in the spiritual realm.
As one practices chanting for some time, his speed of chanting will gradually increase according to Shrila Prabhupada. One can achieve the speed of chanting one round (108 times maha-mantra) in 6 minutes. Thus he will take around one and half hour for 16 rounds and 6 hours to chant 64 rounds.
We personally feel that to give 6 hours a day (1/4th of the day) to the highest and the most sublime process of chanting which will perpetually put an end to our cycle of birth and death in this material world (which is going on for millions and millions of lives) and which will ensure our entry into the spiritual world of Vaikuntha (where there is no birth, old age, disease and death) to enjoy the personal association with Lord Krshna in our original spiritual bodies, is not such a big sacrifice and should be done without hesitation by atleast those devotees who want to make this their last life in this material world. The unlimited benefits and results we are going to get in return for the vow of chanting 100,000 names (64 rounds) daily cannot even be estimated. And one will start experiencing these benefits of increasing one’s chanting for the very first day itself.
According to Hari-nama-cintamani, one should not increase the chanting abruptly to 64 rounds but should gradually increase from 4 to 16 to 32 to 48 and then to 64 rounds daily. This is the recommendation to Shrila Haridasa Thakura, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and also Shrila Sanatana Gosvami in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa. Though 100,000 names of Krishna are completed by chanting 58 rounds of the maha-mantra, the 64 rounds standard is given by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura as it is in the multiple of ‘grantha’ (4-rounds). Also chanting additional 6 rounds makes up for any lapse or loss in the pronunciation of the 58 rounds.
The most munificent Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu accepts foodstuffs only in the home of those devotees who chant 100,000 names everyday as told by the Lord Himself. According to the repeated statements of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada in his purports, if one does not chant 100,000 names everyday then such a person is sure to gradually become attached to sense-objects due to his increasing material desires and thus loose his qualification to serve Lord Gaurasundara and His devotees. He also runs the risk of not being able to obtain Krishna prasadam because Krishna does not accept any kind of offerings from him. Also even if such a person may invent many varieties of devotional service in order to justify his not chanting 64 rounds everyday, he cannot achieve anything auspicious by sacrificing his primemost service to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which is to chant 64 rounds daily. Thus such a person is called patita or fallen is the estimation of Shrila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada.
Shrila Prabhupada also accepts this divine calculation of his spiritual master in the Nectar of Instruction and prays to Lord Chaitanya on our behalf. By the causeless mercy of Shrila Prabhupada, we are able to get entry into the family of Lord Chaitanya’s devotees by beginning our chanting with a minimum of 16 rounds.
But we should never commit the grave mistake of thinking that the chanting of 16 rounds is the maximum and thus criticize other devotees who want to raise themselves to the standard of chanting 64 rounds while actively performing their respective preaching services and participating in the morning and evening temple programs given by Shrila Prabhupada. According to Shrila Prabhupada and all the acaryas, a real preacher of the holy name in one who fully realizes and understands that the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is non-different from Krishna Himself. And to come to this level, one should himself chant offenselessly, which in turn is only possible by chanting constantly. And chanting constantly means to atleast chant 64 rounds (100,000 names) daily. The preaching will be effective to the extent the preacher is chanting the pure name. Thus the preachers of Krishna consciousness who want to actually deliver others by giving vaikuntha-nama or spiritually pure sound vibration, should gradually elevate themselves to the platform of laksha-nama. Without understanding this important point, some people criticize the very mentality of trying to increase the chanting beyond 16 rounds as an attempt to imitate Shrila Haridasa Thakura.
Such a neophyte mentality is very detrimental to the very process of chanting and can spell the spiritual doom of the person who engages in such activities. Ofcourse as pointed out earlier, chanting 64 rounds daily should not be an excuse used by lazy devotees to avoid doing other services. If a devotee is sincere , he will find out the time and the ways and means of chanting 64 rounds daily without disturbing his other services. As the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way!
Also chanting 64 rounds while engaged in active preaching can never be considered nirjana-bhajana. Ofcourse the devotees who chant 64 rounds should not get puffed up and look down on other devotees who don’t chant 64. They should feel themselves as so contaminated and fallen that chanting 64 rounds daily is the only hope for them to steadily remain in Krishna consciousness.
If one chants 64 rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily with attachment then it automatically brings a great upsurge of humility and spiritual ecstacy in one’s heart. All good qualities manifest in the body of such a devotee. One becomes jubilant in deep rememberance of the Lord’s pastimes and constantly aspires to become the servant of the servant of the Lord’s devotees. One becomes severly pained by the seeing the miseries of other living entities (jive doya) and thus he becomes totally enthusiastic to vigorously preach the importance of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra through his words as well as his example. One’s preaching becomes unlimitedly more effective and one can convert sinful people into devotees simply by one’s association or by preaching only a little.
Through the process of sincerely chanting 64 rounds everyday, one can very quickly achieve the stage of nishtha (firm faith) or madhyama-adhikari (intermediate) platform by crossing the stage of anartha-nivritti (freedom from unwanted things in the heart). The progress from the stage of nishtha to prema (pure love of God) is quite fast if one sticks to this process of constant chanting. One should beg from the bonafide self-realized guru, his permission and blessings to chant 64 rounds. If one gets it then one will be successful very quickly in this chanting process.
Even if one is not able to immediately increase the chanting beyond the minimum of 16 rounds daily, one should sincerely work on improving the quality and attentiveness while chanting the minimum quota of 16 rounds. Thus one day he will surely develop an intense desire to increase his daily quota of chanting. I will end this note with a beautiful quote from Shrila Prabhupada in the Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 7:
“For example, it may be said that one should chant the Hare Krishna mantra at least one hundred thousand times daily on his beads. But if this is not possible, then one must minimize his chanting according to his own capacity. Generally, we recommend our disciples to chant at least sixteen rounds on their japa beads daily, and this should be completed. But if one is not even able to chant sixteen rounds, then he must make it up the next day. He must be sure to keep his vow. If he does not strictly follow this out, then he is sure to be negligent. That is offensive in the service of the Lord. If we encourage offenses, we shall not be able to make progress in devotional service. It is better if one fixes up a regulative principle according to his own ability and then follows that vow without fail. That will make him advanced in spiritual life.” (Purport ends)
sankhya-madhye kichu nama koribe kirtana;
tahe sarvendriya sphurti ananda nartana.
“One can sing (kirtana) some rounds from his daily quota of chanting accompanied by clapping or musical instruments like karatals and mridangas. At that time he will experience the enlightenment and enlivenment of all his senses and he will dance in supreme joy.
name navavidha anga karaya ashraya;
tathapi kirtana-smriti sarva-shreshtha haya
All the nine processes of devotion are present in the Hare Krishna mantra. And the rememberance of Krishna achieved especially during the kirtana (alone or together) of the maha-mantra is the topmost kind of worship of God.
ekagra manase nirjanete svalpa kshana;
nama-smriti-abhyasa koribe bhakta jana.
“By sitting in a solitary place for a short time to begin with, devotees should practise chanting and remembering the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
athava nirjane basi smari sadhu-riti;
indriya-pidhana kari name kare mati.
“Another process is to chant in a solitary place with an advanced devotee or while remembering his attachment to chanting. In this way one should control the mind and senses and fix his consciousness on the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
Purport by Shrila Thakura Bhaktivinoda:
“‘Indriya-pidhana’ or controlling the senses can be facilitated by sitting in a solitary place free from all sensual distractions. One should close the door of the room in which one sits to chant. One can also cover the eyes, ears, nose etc. with a cloth and chant in order to avoid distractions and to fully concentrate of the transcendental sound of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.”
sadhu-sange svalpa kala chadiya vishaya;
nirjane laile nama ei dosha kshaya.
“By associating with advanced devotees for some time and after giving up sense-enjoyment in their association, one can sit in a solitary place to chant. In this way he will lose his apathy to chanting.
Purport by Shrila Thakura Bhaktivinoda:
“One can begin with by chanting in a solitary place for 24 minutes (one danda) or 4 rounds. Then by gradually observing the mood of the devotees who are absorbed in chanting without wasting a single moment, one will develop the desire to follow in their footsteps. In this way one will get rid of his apathy to chanting and the maha-mantra will dance on his tongue.”
krame krame krishna-name citta haya sthira.
nirantara nama-rase haya ta adhira.
“Gradually the mind will become fixed in the maha-mantra and become restless to constantly taste the nectarean mellows of the maha-mantra.
tulasira sannikate, krishna-lila-sthane;
sadhu-sannidhane basi satvata-vidhane.
“One should sit near the tulasi plant, devotees or in the holy dhama (place where the Lord performs His manifest pastimes) to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
Purport by Swami Gaurangapada:
A sincere spiritual aspirant should
offer the cooked foodstuffs to the Lord before eating everyday. Then he or she
should partake the divine remanants (prasadam) of the Lord. He or she should
not eat grains, cereals, beans, pulses and other grain-food twice every month on
the most holy days of Ekadashis. As per the Vedic scriptures, on Ekadashi, the
combined sins of the whole universe are present in grains. The importance,
practice and the pastimes of Ekadashi-vrata will be described also in another
book. One should also fast on the most auspicious days of the year like Shri
Gaura Purnima, Shri Janmashtami, Shri Nityananda Trayodashi, Shri Rama Navami,
Shri Advaita Saptami etc.
Every spiritual aspirant should also follow the four regulative principles (do-nots) which are the pillars of sinful activity: no meat-eating including meat, fish, eggs and other non-vegetarian food, no intoxication including drinking, smoking, drugs, tea, cofee, etc., no gambling and no illicit sex. These are compared to four sharp, deadly teeth in the treacherous and merciless jaws of maya. They have been mentioned in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.38:
abhyarthitas tada tasmai, sthanani kalaye dadau;
dyutam panam striyah suna, yatradharmash catur-vidhah.
Purport by Shrila Thakura Bhaktivinoda:
“‘Satvata-vidhane’ means the process by which the previous devotees have relished the chanting of the Hare Krisna maha-mantra. The period of chanting and remembering the maha-mantra will gradually increase from 24 minutes to 48 minutes and then to 96 minutes. One will then gradually come to the stage of chanting 64 rounds and then ultimately 300,000 names daily.”
Suta Gosvami said: Maharaja Parikshit, thus being petitioned by the personality of Kali, gave him permission to reside in places where gambling, drinking, prostitution and animal slaughter were performed.
Gambling destroys truthfulness; intoxication destroys austerity; illicit sex destroys cleanliness; and mercy is destroyed by eating meat, fish and eggs. The four virtues which sins destroy are the very supports or pillars or ‘legs’ of religion (dharma) personified. Thus Hare Krishna maha-mantra is the medicine and Krishna prasadam and the regulative principles are the diet for the spiritual practitioner.. Both are necessary for achieving success in the chanting process. (Purport ends)
ataeva spashta nama bhava-lagna mane;
sada haya, e-prarthana tomara carane.
“Therefore O Lord Gaurangadeva, I (Thakura Haridasa) pray at Your lotus feet that I can constantly chant Your Holy Names distinctly and with a mind filled with intense devotion.
apana yatnete keho kichu nahi pare;
tomara prasada vina e-bhava-samsare
“Ultimately no one in this material world can achieve this stage of offenseless chanting by the dint of his own efforts. Only Your mercy will enable one to effortlessly reach this stage of pure chanting. Hence it is absolutely necessary for one to chant while constantly petitioning Lord Gauranga-Krishna for His causeless mercy.”
In the last chapter Bhajana Pranali of Hari-nama-cintamani, Thakura Haridasa states that there three things necessary for achieving success in chanting:
(1) Sadhu-sanga-Strong Association with Nama-parayana devotees.
(2) Sunirjjana-Avoiding materialistic association and chanting the maha-mantra in a peaceful place with no distractions.
(3) Dridha-bhava-Determination to complete the fixed number of rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily in any circumstances.