Srila Prabhupada with japa

CHANT Hare Krishna mantra regularly and FOLLOW the four regulative principles

In this article I share three truths that I have understood:

  1. Chanting Hare Krishna and discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books are both kirtan.
  2. If we are sinful, we cannot chant Hare Krishna purely. But just by trying to understand Bhagavad-gita we will become pious and our chanting will become purified.
  3. Similarly, our ability to understand Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam is enhanced by chanting Hare Krishna maha mantra.

1. The chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra, discussions of Srila Prabhupada’s books are both kirtan:

“When we speak of hearing and chanting, it means that not only should one chant and hear of the holy name of the Lord as Rāma, Krishna (or systematically the sixteen names Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare), but one should also read and hear the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of devotees. The primary practice of bhakti-yoga will cause the seed already sown in the heart to sprout, and by a regular watering process, as mentioned above, the bhakti-yoga creeper will begin to grow. By systematic nurturing, the creeper will grow to such an extent that it will penetrate the coverings of the universe, as we have heard in the previous verses, reach the effulgent sky, the brahmajyoti, and go farther and farther and reach the spiritual sky, where there are innumerable spiritual planets called Vaikuṇṭhalokas. Above all of them is Krishnaloka, or Goloka Vṛndāvana, wherein the growing creeper enters and takes repose at the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead. When one reaches the lotus feet of Lord Krishna at Goloka Vṛndāvana, the watering process of hearing and reading, as also chanting of the holy name in the pure devotional stage, fructifies, and the fruits grown there in the form of love of God are tangibly tasted by the devotee, even though he is here in this material world. The ripe fruits of love of God are relished only by the devotees constantly engaged in the watering process as described above.”  SB 2.2.30 purport

“You can derive the same benefit as Arjuna by reading Bhagavad-gita. People say that Arjuna was enlightened because Krishna was present before Him. But Krishna is present before you also, by His words, by His sound representation. Just like Hare Krishna mantra, Krishna’s name, it is not different from Krishna.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.27 — Los Angeles, December 5, 1973

 “Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavan Krishna, they are identical. There is no difference. …There is no difference. Advaya-jnana. Advaya-jnana means without any difference. Vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam [SB 1.2.11], Advayam. If you are a devotee, bona fide devotee, when you read Bhagavad-gita, you must know Krishna is there. If you are a pure devotee, when you chant Hare Krishna, Krishna is there on your tongue, dancing. Don’t think otherwise. Krishna is there. Nama-cintamani-Krishnah. Nama. Anyone who is chanting Hare Krishna without any offense.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.18 — Mayapur, February 25, 1976

In Jaiva Dharma, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur makes a similar point:

“To utilize the tongue in the glorification of the name, beauty, qualities and pastimes of Sri Krishna is the simplest definition of kirtana, chanting. Some of the different forms of kirtana are discussing topics of Krishna-consciousness; chanting Krishna-nama; reading aloud the scriptures to others; singing devotional songs; speaking to attract the mind of the people to Sri Krishna; speaking with humility to the Lord; vijnapti, revealing one’s mind to the Lord; chanting bhajans in glorification of the Lord; and offering prayers to the Lord. Kirtana has been described as the most important of the nine limbs of bhakti. This is especially true in Kali-yuga. There are repeated references in the scriptures stating that kirtana brings the greatest benefit to humanity.” Jaiva Dharma; chp 19; Brhat Mrdanga Press edition

2. If we are sinful, we cannot chant Hare Krishna purely.  But just by trying to understand Bhagavad-gita we will become pious and our chanting will become purified:

“In another place also Krishna says, in the Fourth Chapter, that janma karma me divyam [Bg. 4.9]. Without daivi sampat nobody can understand Krishna. Without daivi sampat. Both ways. If you try to understand Krishna, then automatically the daivi sampat will be developed; or by developing daivi sampat you can understand Krishna. But that is very difficult. Better you touch the electric and you become electrified. ….. These things are described very nicely, explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Our only propaganda is that you try to avoid these four principles of sinful life: illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication. And chant Hare Krishna and read Bhagavad-gita — your life is successful.”   lecture on Bhagavad-gita 16.5 — Calcutta, February 23, 1972

“And Krishna says simply by trying to know Him, one becomes liberated. Simply by trying, not perfectly. Even imperfectly. Because he is endeavouring to understand Krishna, that very activity will make him liberated. That very activity.”  LECTURE ON 73/07/19 London, Bhagavad-gita 1.23

“Lord Caitanya’s spiritual master instructed Him, therefore, that one must read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and with scrutiny to gradually become attached to the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra.” CC Adi 7. 73 purport

Srila Bhaktivinode also repeatedly warns that without first class sadhu sanga, our chanting of Krishna nama will at best come to the platform of namabhasa.

“Vijaya: If someone is performing namabhasa, what must he do so that his namabhasa may become suddha-nama?

Babaji: The suitable engagement is that he takes the association of suddha-bhaktas.  If he stays in their company and chants nama according to their order and guidance, he will then acquire a taste for suddha-bhakti.  The name that appears on the tongue at that time will be suddha-nama. At the same time, he should diligently give up the company of nama-aparadhis, because suddha-nama will not manifest if one remains in their association.  Sat-sanga is the only cause of the jiva’s good fortune.  That is why the Lord of our life, Sri Gaurangadeva, instructed Sanatana Gosvami that sat-sanga is certainly the root of bhakti…..

Babaji:  Namabhasa will give all kinds of enjoyment, happiness, liberation and the eight kinds of perfections (siddhis), but it will not give Krishna-rema, which is the highest goal of human life.  However, by giving up bad association, and by associating constantly with suddha-bhaktas and following their instructions regularly, one may quickly become a madhyama Vaisnava.  Then even within a few days he can obtain suddha-bhakti and Krishna prema.

Vijaya:  Prabhu, many who are vaisnava-abhasa bear the outward signs of a Vaisnava, and constantly perform namabhasa.  Even so, despite engaging in this way for a long time, they still do not receive prema.  What is the reason for this?

Babaji:  There is one secret here.  The vaisnava-abhasa-sadhaka is qualified to receive pure devotion, but he does not have pure, one-pointed bhakti. It may be that he is associating with a person whom he thinks to be a sadhu, but who is actually a Mayavadi and not a suddha-bhakta.  Due to this undesirable association, the sadhaka will follow the Mayavadi’s apasiddhantika instructions, and as a result, whatever bhakty-abhasa he had will vanish, and he will gradually fall down into the category of vaisnava-aparadhi.  In that condition, it is quite difficult – indeed practically impossible – for him to succeed in his practice.  Yet, if his previous sukrti is strong, it will remove him from that bad association and place him in the association of saintly persons, and from that sat-sanga he can obtain pure Vaisnavism again………..Pandita Jagdananda has given a very beautiful instruction in his Prema-vivarta (Chapter 7).  Listen closely:

asadhu-sanga bhai, Krishna-nama nahi haya / namaksara bahiraya bate, tabu nama kabhu naya

Remember Bhai (my dear brother), Krishna-nama cannot awaken in the association of non-devotees.  Only the syllables of sri-nama will come out of the mouth, nama Himself will remain far away.

Kabhu namabhasa haya, sada nama-aparadha / e saba janibe bhai, Krishna-bhaktir badha

Certainly there is only nama-aparadha in their association.  Sometimes, by great fortune, there is namabhasa, but you should know that both namabhasa and nama-aparadha are obstacles for Krishna-bhakti.

yadi karibe Krishna-nama, sadhu-sanga kara  bhukti-mukti-siddhi-vancha dure paridhara

If you want to chant pure Krishna-nama, then take sadhu-sanga, and at the same time fully relinquish all desires for enjoyment, liberation and mystic perfections.”   (Jaiva Dharma chp25, Gaudiya Vedanta Publication)

3. Similarly, our ability to understand Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam is enhanced by chanting Hare Krishna maha mantra:

“But when you chant harer nama then you gradually understand what is Hari, what is His form, what is His quality, what is His activities. Then you can understand. Because without harer nama your heart is dirty — ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12] — unless your heart is cleansed you cannot understand what is Hari, what is His name, what is His form, what is His quality, what are His activities. You cannot understand.” lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.11 — Vrndavana, September 13, 1975

“So we should take advantage of these scriptures, especially the Bhagavad-gita, which is accepted as the prime scripture in the modern world, and you’ll find everything nicely. You can put your arguments, you can try to understand with your knowledge, with your intelligence. Everything will be clear. So we should take advantage of this Bhagavad-gita and our power of intaking will be increased if we begin with this transcendental sound vibration, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Thank you very much.”  66/11/22 New York, Bhagavad-gita 9.2 lecture

In conclusion:

“One who is lazy in properly understanding the Vaisnava philosophical conclusions can never become free from anarthas, the unwanted habits and philosophical misconceptions that impede devotional service. One who mistakes Krishna as belonging to the material plane can never render actual service to the Lord…As long as anarthas remain, then the chanting of the holy name will never produce an understanding of the transcendental qualities of the Lord. As long as anarthas remain, then the chanting of the holy name will never factually engage one in Krishna’s service…

The followers of Srila Rupa Goswami never analyze the Supreme Lord’s qualities with material intelligence. The followers of Srila Rupa Goswami never consider the characteristics of the Lord’s associates and paraphernalia to be mundane…The followers of Srila Rupa Goswami never equate the Lord’s transcendental pastimes with materialistic activities.”  Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Prakrta-rasa-sata-dusani-A Hundred Warnings Against Mundane Mellows