Chanting versus other devotional service

Hare Krishna Dear Devotees

I have read this sanskrit verse multiple times.

"harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam

kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha"


"In this age of kali there is no alternative for spiritual progress other than chanting of the holy names of God"

In ISKCON why is chanting given the highest priority then other devotional service like pooja/aarti/bhog etc.Please correct me if I am wrong.

Many times when I visit ISKCON, mataji's would ask: so are you doing your chanting?

Nobody would ask are you doing your daily pooja to Lord Krishna? What's the difference.

So lets say if I do 1/2 hour of other devotional service like bathing the deities/changing clothes/offering flowers and food and then some bhajan , aarti etc where I am utilizing my eyes(by seeing deities),hands(by offering flowers, ringing bell),legs(standing/dancing for Lord while doing pooja),ears(listening to mantra while doing pooja),mouth(saying mantra) ,mind to make sure all senses together are utilized properly,

                                compared to

When I am just sitting and chanting 4 hours which takes same 1/2 an hour where I am trying hard by closing eyes to control mind from deviating .

So lets say in the second approach(chanting), even if we force the mind,the concentration level would be 20% meaning only 20% of the time all my sense are used in remembering Krishna.

However in the first approach since all my all body parts are fully utilized in service of Krishna knowingly or unknowingly and since all my senses are utilized more, we are automatically forced to concentrate on what we are doing (chanting,hearing,bathing,offering,standing,seeing  Krishna)

So the question is which one holds a high priority and why.

Direct service to Lord Krishna as in 1st approach or

Chanting the names of Lord Krishna as in 2nd approach.

So if I decide to spend 2 hours at least in worshiping/remembering Krishna and lets say if I chant 1 and 1/2 hours(12 rounds) and 1/2 hour for pooja. Is it not equivalent to chanting 16 rounds?

Jai shree gokulesh

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  • Volunteer

    my humble obeisances dear Devotees,

    In this world there are only 2 eternal realities:

    1. Soul

    2. The Holy Names

    Only by chanting FIRST & purifying heart we will be able to understand other services like Deity worship...

    In the reality Holy Names come in the form of a Deity, They come in the form of a Temple, as Devotees, as Guru, Srimad Bhagavatam.

    Yoga or religion means my intimate connection with Krishna. The Holy Name and the soul. 

    Only trough pure chanting we will realize that Holy Name is the Deity, is Srimad Bhagavatam.

    When Holy Name wants to instruct us He comes in the form of Guru, Srimad Bhagavatam, Devotees...

    When He wants to accept our services in the form of cooking, physical service..then He accepts the Deity form.

    In this way the Holy Name is THE FIRST THING. Others who think that they have faith into Deities of Krishna without chanting the Holy Names are sahajiyas.

    That type of faith is sental-mental.  

    Your servant,

    • Hare Krishna Srijon prabhuji

      "Other devotional services(e.g. deity worship) can not be done 24 hrs. Many other devotional services have restrictions for time, place, circumstance or qualification. But the chanting of the holy name of Govinda is absolutely pure and requires no qualification even the lowest amongst beings can chant it. Chanting can be done in any time, place and circumstance even in impure state."

      I like your reasoning for my question. Thank you and dandavat pranam!!

      However we do see in temples also that deity service is given so much importance. They do abhisek , tilak,aarti etc. (aarti is done pretty much 7 times)

      I enjoy doing deity worship more then chanting and I perform pooja with all love and affection.

      However chanting is more or less a chore for me to finish certain rounds with mind deviating here and there in between.

      But as you have said that deity worship is not possible every time and for every one, it makes sense to make chanting certain rounds as a daily habit.

      Jai shree gokulesh

      • Sevak

        Hare Krishna Mataji.

        Great to see you love doing deity worship. As for chanting, we should be determined and never give up. And also pray to Krishna, that helps a lot. Soon one day you will become attached to chanting. You can also listen this wonderful lecture on japa:

        Part 1

        part 2

        part 3

        part 4

        part 5

        part 6

        part 7

        part 8

        Your Servant.

  • Sevak

    Hare Krishna Mataji. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gauranga!

    I would like to just add some points to Manmath prabhu's wonderful reply. 

    Krishna's instructions to Arjuna was:

    Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 18.65

    man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
    mad-yājī māḿ namaskuru
    mām evaiṣyasi satyaḿ te
    pratijāne priyo 'si me

    Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.

    Other devotional services(e.g. deity worship) can not be done 24 hrs. Many other devotional services have restrictions for time, place, circumstance or qualification. But the chanting of the holy name of Govinda is absolutely pure and requires no qualification even the lowest amongst beings can chant it. Chanting can be done in any time, place and circumstance even in impure state. If one chants even once all impurities go away. The chanting of Maha Mantra can take away the reactions of all sinful activities in the past and make direct entrance to the Goloka Vrindavan. And most important thing is by chanting constantly we are able to remember and think of Krishna all the time. One of my favorite devotees, Thakura Haridasa in Hari-nama-cintamani says:

    jei ta sadhana, sei sadhya jabe haila;
    upaya upeya madhye bheda na rahila.
    “The chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is not only the means but it is also the goal of spiritual life because it is non-different from Lord Krishna Himself. Thus the means and the goal have become one. This makes chanting superior to all other processes of attaining God as the means and goal are different in the other processes.

    In the process of Bhakti yoga the most important three processes are:

    1. HEARING (sravanam)
    2. CHANTING (kirtanam) 
    3. REMEMBERING( visnu smaranam)

    When we chant we follow all the 3 process and make fast advancement.
    Actually when we chant properly we engage all our senses in service of Krishna. Firstly we use the mouth to chant. Then we use the hand to hold the tulasi beads this engages our sense of touch and plus we hear the Maha Mantra. We see with our eyes the deity form of Krishna. And if we can chant attentively, we will taste the nectar of chanting holy name! :-) So if you got all 5 senses in service of Krishna then automatically the mind will lose taste for material things and concentrate on holy name. Of course we should do other services too but these services should lead us to the goal of perfect chanting. So this is what makes chanting superior to every other process or services. 


    Your Servant.

  • Chanting can be done in any situation . Chanting brings remembrance of the supreme beloved and can be done in any situation and there is no preparation for this. Love does not need preparation. This happens . Mind gradually becomes colored by this supreme love and that is only through surrender. Mind will be always fluctuating in the sadhana stage .But

    chanting gives mind  the direction which also impacts in the physical domain. Mind is more subtle than senses or the body. Since this impacts in the subtle level which eventually leads to spiritual domain this enriches other devotional services in more gross level.

  • Volunteer

    my humble obeisances dear Devotees,

    Main problem why we are here in this material world is not on our mind, intelligence ... but on our false ego.

    And the time when we remove that false ego "me" & "mine" and attain true ego which is "everything belongs to Krishna and i am His servant" then only we will attain perfection.

    And in Bhagavatam it explains that at the time of creation when false ego become in contact with the mode of passion appears intelligence, when it becomes in contact with the mode of goodness appears mind and when it become in contact with the mode of ignorance appears the ability of hearing sound.

    In this way in the age of Kali we do not have powerful intelligence which can remember shastras and expertly study Vedas. And we do not have strong mind which we can control and which is enough peaceful. 

    The only thing remains the ability of hearing. By hearing only we will be able to remove the ignorance and reach the false ego and remove that also with the power of spiritual sound.

    Hearing ability is there even at the time when we are asleep. It is active for all 24 hours a day. 


    So in this age if someone says that he will achieve perfection by doing Pooja only, or by other processes rather than HEARING then it is not intelligent.

    Because, again, in this age our mind and intelligence in an almost dead state. Even if we do Pooja it will be useless if the Pooja is not done by reciting the Holy Names and hearing Them.

    We serve to Deities, cook, read...all these processes are there only because they are soaked with the Holy Names.

    "Eshadu pah klim GOURAYA namah!"

    "Eshadi pah klim DEVI JAHNAVAYA namah"

    "Etani pushpani klim GOURAYA nama"..........every time we pronounce the Holy Names.

    Your servant,

  • Volunteer


    nice question pr..

    First of all chanting is the yugadharma for this age. In the Satya yuga, there was yugadharma of austerities+chanting, in treta yuga, yugadharma was sacrifices+chanting, in dwapar yuga, it was deity worship+chanting. but in kaliyuga it is chanting+chanting+chanting (harer nama harer nama harer nama).

    As there are no qualified brahmanas to do any sacrifices or deity worship in this age, there are no peaceful forests or lonf life spans to perdform austerities in this age. The only means of liberation is chanting the holy names of Lord.

    All the other activities which we do are to facilitate us to chant nicely. we have to spend our 22 hours of day in such a way that we can chant for the rest of the 2 hours nicely. To keep the other 22 hours in KC engagement, services and sadhana is given.


    • austerities+chanting


      deity worship+chanting ???

      I don't think there was 2 activities for Yugadharma. Only one activity would take priority. Please check before posting Pr...

      Hari bol... 

      • Volunteer

        Hk prji,

        Thank you for the comment.

        I just posted whatever I heard from senior devotees, I don't post anything on my own.

        The above (austerities+chanting , etc) means that austerites was accompanied by chanting etc. Because otherwise how will anyone do austerities, sacrifices or diety worship without the holy name?

        But in Kali yuga chanting is given the topmost importance.

        please correct if this is wrong.. I will get clarification from senior devotees.


        • Severe austerities in Satya Yuga was yoga and meditation for over 60000 years. Chanting was never part of the yoga / meditation system even today. The yogic or meditating process condemns chanting or thinking about any form. It focuses mainly getting into samadhi situation for at least 5 minutes. The samadhi means that there was no thought about anything at all for 5 minutes duration. He is the successful person who can achieve this. 

          Fire sacrifices were accompanied with vedic hymes, so there was no chanting involved there too.

          Deity worship was accompanied with reciting different names of the Lord in archana form, there was no chanting involved there too.

          Whoever, gave this information, please get it clarified from them again.

          Pr, just because I asked you to give references it does not mean that you ask the same thing from me on my another blog. We are all responsible towards spreading the philosophy of Mahaprabhu and we know what we are posting.

          Chanting in Kaliyuga as Yugadharma means chanting mahamantra. If you are comparing our  chanting mahamantra with meditation, yoga, vedic hymes, and archana, you will be doing one of the 10 vaishnava offences, so take care. 

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