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Loud Japa Benefits
By Swami Gaurangapada.
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 the Name 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.
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada wrote in verse 19 of Vaishnava ke:
shridayitadasa kirtanete asa
kara uccaih svare harinama-rava
kirtana-prabhave smarana svabhave
se kale bhajana-nirjana sambhava
"This Shri-dayita dasa (Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura - the humble servant of the all-merciful Shrimati Radharani) simply desires to be absorbed in the nectar of Lord Krishna's holy names. My dear mind, now let us loudly chant the holy names of Krishna 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-Krishna (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-Krishna become possible."
Shrila 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 Shri 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 Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta paced back and forth chanting the Hare Krishna 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 Shri 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:
tabe haridasa ganga-tire gopha kari'
thakena virale ahar-nisa krishna smari'
"Then Haridasa went and found a cave on the bank of the Ganges. He remembered Krishna day and night as he resided alone in the cave."
"While remaining in a solitary cave on the bank of the Ganges at Phuliya, Shrila 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 Krishna in asolitary place is in the category of "upanshu-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 Vaishnavas who chant the holy names of the Lord, then by the influence of Kali they dare to quarrel with those Vaishnava 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."
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."
[Note: The cave became Vaikuntha specifically because Shrila Haridasa Thakura was chanting the names loudly.]
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.
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 Shri 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." (Shri Naradiya Purana, Prahlada-vakya)
Some quotes by Shrila Prabhupada:
"The Gosvamis, especially Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, strictly followed all the regulative principles. The first regulative principle is that one must chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra loudly enough so that he can hear himself, and one must vow to chant a fixed number of rounds." (Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita 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." (Shrimad-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 Krishna maha-mantra. The words "Hare Krishna" 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." (Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita Adi-lila 17.32)
So on one hand the Hari Bhakti Vilasa quotes from Yajnavalkya Smriti as discussed in the Likhita Japa section that mental chanting is 1000 times (Sanatana Goswami) better than loud chanting and is equal to meditation and on the other hand Shri Prahlada Maharaja quotes in Naradiya Purana which was quoted by Shrila 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 unknowingly happen to hear the sound vibration of the Holy Names.
So you will surely want to know the conclusion. Here it is:
(1) Mental chanting can only be bear fruit 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 to ten years one can properly pronounce, hear and meditate on the Holy Names while chanting mentally. So unless one's heart is purified by many years of loud chanting and loud sankirtana, the Mental Japa is factually not possible.
(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, softly and mentally.
(3) Mental chanting may be personally beneficial to us more than loud chanting when we can actually hear and meditate on the Holy Names and Mantras within with a pure heart but loud chanting is much more beneficial to all the souls of this world than silent chanting because even one devotee loudly chanting the holy names purifies and delivers the whole universe even if chanted purely or impurely.
All quotes of Shrila Prabhupada are copyrighted by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International.