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Introduction to Maha Mantra Yoga
The purpose of this book is to firmly establish that the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) as taught by the Lord of Kali-yuga and the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu (who is Lord Krishna Himself) is the specific means of spiritual emancipation for all living entities in the universe. In order to become successful in achieving God, one has to be very simple in his mind and heart. Such a person will very clearly be able to ascertain by reading this book (which is full of statements from the Vedic literatures) that he or she has to take full shelter of the loud or soft chanting of the Hare Krisna maha-mantra to be able attain spiritual advancement or progress in this age of Kali.
As stated in the Introduction to the book Shri Namamrita, compiled from the quotes of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust:
"To the uninitiated, these expressions of enthusiasm for the practice of contemplative recitation of the name of God may appear odd. For how can repeated recitation of mere sounds-linguistic formulations-transform consciousness and invoke ecstasy? Modern secular students of religion, especially those of a reductionistic temperament, seek often to divest such spiritual experiences of their unique metaphysical properties, attributing them to quantifiable psychological (or other) causes. Some even view them as pathological. But mere psychological reductionism can do little to shed light upon the profound religious experiences of those who "taste," in devotional ecstasy, "the nectar of the name." Nor can it explain the profound influence this practice has had on the religious adepts of many different spiritual traditions, most prominently the Vaishnava religious tradition of India, within which the theology and practice of the holy name have reached their highest development.
"According to historically reliable literary accounts, medieval India witnessed a massive religious renaissance centered largely on the popular mysticism of the congregational chanting and singing of the names of God. This litany often took the form of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The great sixteenth-century saint Shri Chaitanya, Himself worshiped as an incarnation of Lord Krishna, first turned this public congregational chanting (sankirtana) into a mass movement in Bengal and then spread it to other parts of north India, and later to the south of India, where, according to His biographers, He traveled on foot for six years and converted millions to the religion of the holy name. The chanting of the divine name was no longer to be confined to the retreats of solitary mystics and hermits, but to spread itself widely and assume a central role in the spiritual lives of the common people. Exuberant chanting processions, accompanied by drums and cymbals, swept through the streets of the cities, towns, and villages, inundating countless people in a tidal wave of ecstatic emotion. Not only the common people but some of the most prominent religious intellectuals of the day, having first been inspired by the brilliance and clarity of His teachings, succumbed to the devotional ecstasy of Shri Chaitanya's revivalist movement. Not meant to remain confined even to India, Chaitanya-style sankirtana has in recent decades appeared on Western shores, where members of the Hare Krishna movement, modern followers of Shri Chaitanya, publicly chant in the streets of major cities.
"Why the profound effect on human consciousness? How is this process of mantra-meditation performed? What are its effects? Why its universal appeal, which appears to transcend all historical and cultural bounds? To gain a deep understanding of these matters, we will need to explore the theological and mystical literature of the Vaishnava tradition. In preparation, because we are dealing with a subject that is not quantitative and empiric but experiential, we will need to suspend our limiting ethnocentric and ideological prejudices and attempt to understand these apparent mysteries with an open and inquisitive mind. To do so, let us assume the reverential attitude of the sincere pilgrim, for this will give us a chance to penetrate the mystery."
To take unalloyed shelter of the Hare Krisna maha-mantra, a person has to give up all his or her faith and endeavours in the indirect processes of self-realization like karma (fruitive activities), jnana (speculative knowledge), dhyana (meditation), yoga (controlling life-airs), varnasrama (religious duties), tapa (austerity), dana (charity), tirtha-paryatana (visiting holy places), brahmacarya (celibacy) etc. As we shall see later in this book, the only qualification for achieving success in the chanting of the maha-mantra is one's intensity of faith in the efficacy of the chanting process itself. We hope that this book will solidify and strengthen the desire in the sincere readers to cultivate the process of complete surrender to the Hare Krshna maha-mantra.
This book establishes that complete surrender to the Hare Krishna maha-mantra involves gradually raising oneself while beginning from the minimum required standard of 16 rounds daily (1 round = 108 times maha-mantra on beads) to the minimum ideal standard of chanting 64 rounds (100,000 names of the maha-mantra) daily. This platform of performing laksha-nama-yajna (the sacrifice of chanting 100,000 names) daily is the safest and surest method to remain completely aloof from all the contamination of Kali, constantly remember God with a pure heart, complete the maha-yajna in Kali-yuga of chanting 35 million maha-mantras as instructed in the Kali-santarana Upanishad in this very life and ultimately attain the eternal kingdom of God at the time of leaving the body. The great importance of chanting 100,000 names of the maha-mantra daily has been established by Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu Himself and by all the Acharyas including Shrila Prabhupada, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada and Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
All quotes of Shrila Prabhupada in this book from his books, lectures letters and conversations are copyrighted by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International.
Those who are greatly unfortunate or have a mentality to find faults and argue or have a poor fund of pious activities (punya) from their previous lives, will challenge the statements found in this book or will not accept them with faith. Thus they will ensure the continuation of their sufferings and miseries in the cycle of birth and death by not taking up the constant chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra inspite of reading the unlimited glories of the maha-mantra delineated in this book.
This book will become even more complete when we translate in the near future the full and original text of the great classic Shri Hari Nama Chintamani by Seventh Goswami Shrila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura with the original verses and commentaries and also some extracts from Jaiva Dharma and Shri Prema Vivarta by Shrila Jagadananda Pandita.
Yours in the service of the Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna,