By Payal Shah
(Adapted from ‘Japa Affirmations’ by His Grace Mahatma Dasa)
Ancient Vedic texts address the notion that no amount of material accomplishments can deeply satisfy us. Our consciousness has been polluted by the material atmosphere, and as we try to exploit resources, we are in fact getting more and more entangled in complexities. Vedic wisdom attributes this condition to a lack of spiritual awareness. These Vedic wisdom texts share with us that we are all spiritual beings and that we can elevate our consciousness through chanting of the Holy Name. The Holy Name – chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, is a direct process for purifying our consciousness.
The Hare Krishna Maha-mantra is a transcendental sound vibration which enacts directly from a spiritual platform and enables us to recover our original spiritual identity. Sound has the ability to affect our consciousness to a large extent. The quality of sound vibration that goes into our ears determines the quality of our consciousness. Sound has the highest capturing potency; our ideas, conceptions and visions all come to us from sound. We can transform our lives depending on the sound vibration that we hear. We may chant the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra with others (called kirtan) or in solitude (called japa). The words ‘Krishna’ and ‘Rama’ address the Lord; Krishna refers to all attractive; Rama refers to reservoir of pleasure; and ‘Hare’ is the energy with which we can reach the Lord. The Yoga texts recommend the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra as the prime sound vibration for this age. This age which is called Kali Yuga, is an age full of anxiety and distress, and nothing is as effective as chanting of the Holy Name.
Krishna’s Holy Name is Krishna Himself. Therefore, chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra creates an opportunity for us to revive our awareness of our spiritual identities; revives awareness of our connection with the Supreme; and gives awareness of the reciprocal relationship between the spiritual self and the Supreme spiritual self. The Maha-mantra brings us out of bodily consciousness and attaches our consciousness to the Supreme consciousness.
For this reason, it is important for us to spend time working on our internal attitude and motivation for chanting the Holy Name. In this article, we will meditate on a specific practice to help improve and increase our presence while chanting: the practice of affirmations. An affirmation can be explained as a phrase repeated to oneself to start a task with a favourable attitude. Examples include: “I am brave and I can accomplish this task”; “I am grateful for the opportunity to practise Krishna consciousness”. Affirmations may help to create a positive mindset in order to achieve a desirable outcome. Saying affirmations out loud and meditating on their core meanings before chanting the Maha-mantra may allow us to further enhance our chanting experience. Select affirmations that may resonate with you and try to meditate on these daily or weekly.
Below are 20 affirmations to help chant the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra more effectively:
1. I happily and enthusiastically welcome the Holy Name every japa session
Create a positive mood to welcome the Holy Name, the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, into your heart, just the way you would welcome a special guest into your home. This can be achieved by reading scriptures, offering prayers, or meditating on what you wish to achieve before chanting the Maha-mantra on the japa beads. In this way, by getting in the right state of mind, chanting becomes an exciting opportunity to connect with the Lord.
2. I easily chant my prescribed number of rounds with focus and attention
Whether you are chanting one round, or sixteen rounds or more of the Maha-mantra, start chanting with a natural inclination to focus your attention on the Holy Name. In other words, before chanting, believe that you will be able to focus on the Holy Name. The mind has many thoughts and wavers here and there, but catch your mind and bring it back to the Holy Name. When you consider chanting of the Holy Name to be very important for your spiritual life, then it will be easier to chant with focus and attention.
3. When I chant, I chant
Create a quiet sacred space where you can chant the Maha-mantra without interruptions or distractions. When you chant, do not do anything else, just chant. Put your internal world on hold also and focus solely on yourself and Krishna.
4. I get to chant, I want to chant, and I love to chant
Remind yourself that you appreciate chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra and that you view chanting as a special blessing. It is a special opportunity to get a human birth and to be able to awaken love for Krishna through chanting. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were prevented from being able to chant the Holy Name. Deep down in our hearts, we appreciate the powerful effects of chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra.
5. I treat the Maha-mantra as Radha and Krishna, fully present in sound
Treat the Holy Name, the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, as Radha and Krishna Deities in the form of sound. When you chant the Maha-mantra, it is the same as taking darshan of the Deities. In this way, bow down to the Holy Name as you would to the Deities, as Krishna is fully present in the Holy Name.
6. I receive and feel Krishna’s presence, mercy and love in His Holy Name
Allow mercy, love and blessings to come to you naturally through the Holy Name, rather than seeking to force nectar out of the Holy Name. In other words, do not struggle to create mercy and love while chanting but instead, allow yourself to bathe in and appreciate the mercy and love that already exists within the Holy Name.
7. I chant in full awareness that the Holy Name is my greatest treasure
Give your heart to the Holy Name. Although Krishna has everything, He hankers for your heart. Krishna wants to have a relationship with you and chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra will revive your relationship with Him. Therefore, chanting the Holy Name is the greatest jewel in the Lord’s treasury as He gets what He desires – your heart.
8. I chant to please Radha and Krishna, not to gain anything material
Imagine that Krishna is with you in His Holy name and that He is happy to hear you chanting. Even though relishing the Holy Name can be difficult sometimes, Krishna is enjoying seeing your determination to chant and to be purified. In this way, chant the Maha-mantra to make Krishna happy and for yourself to feel happiness too.
9. I am out of my mind and in my heart, fully present to the Holy Name when I chant
Chant the Maha-mantra with your tongue and hear with your ear. Feeling the essence of chanting will bring you into the present. Attentive chanting is hearing – if you hear yourself chanting, you will chant attentively. When you chant, Krishna first dances on the tongue, then the ear, then the heart.
10. I fully honour my sacred relationship with the Holy Name during japa
Be conscious that when chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, you are present, Krishna is present and thus, a relationship between you and Krishna is also present. Therefore, do not view chanting as a mechanical process that you have to complete daily but rather as a way to deepen your relationship with Krishna.
11. I chant to be accepted by Krishna, and to repair my broken relationship with Him
Have the desire and the need to reconnect with the Supreme, Lord Krishna, after having been separated from Him for so many lifetimes. Envision yourself as a child who has run away from their parents (Krishna) and after many years of suffering wants to be accepted again. Chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra enables you to rekindle and revive your relationship with the Supreme being.
12. I chant from my heart, feelingly praying to come closer to Krishna
Connect deeply with what the Holy Name, the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra means. Chanting of the Holy Name means “Krishna please engage me in Your service”, “Krishna please accept me”, “Krishna please bring me closer to you”, “Krishna please purify me”, “Krishna please uplift me”. If you had to translate the feeling of the Maha-mantra intro words it would say, “Krishna I want to come closer to you, I want to serve you, I want to be pure”. Krishna is in our hearts and He is a genuine friend to all living beings. No matter what you are going through, He is always there. Just give your heart to the Holy Name and Krishna will reciprocate.
13. I meditate on the meaning of the Holy Name as I chant
Be conscious on an emotional level of what the Maha-mantra means. In order to connect deeply with the Holy Name, we have to cultivate an appropriate mood before and whilst chanting. Ask yourself “Why am I chanting?”, “What is the goal of chanting?”, “What does chanting mean?”. This may help to bring your consciousness and heart in alignment with the meaning of the Holy Name.
14. I turn off my world and turn on Krishna’s world when I chant my rounds
Create an internal space free from distractions when you begin chanting japa. Tell your mind that you are turning off from everything, for example, turn off tasks that have to be carried out for the day. This enables you to control your mind better while chanting. We are able to turn off our world when we are reading a book for example or when we are engaged in a particular hobby, so turning off our world while chanting the Maha-mantra should not be so difficult.
Also, it is useful to create a “time free zone” early in the morning by imagining that your day will start only after japa. So, for example, if your day usually begins at 6am, wake up earlier to chant japa and remind yourself before chanting that the day has not yet started. In this way, there is nothing to think about other than Krishna during your japa session.
15. I chant with no other motive than to render pure devotional service
Chant the Maha-mantra in a humble state of mind, with the mood that you are an eternal servant of Krishna. Chanting with this mood helps to awaken a pure service attitude. Krishna descends in His name when we chant the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra with a service attitude. You are Krishna’s eternal servant and He will always remain the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nothing is impossible for Krishna and thus, nothing is impossible for the one who takes shelter of the Holy Name.
16. My beads are my connection with Krishna and my ticket back to Godhead
Make chanting the Maha-mantra the most important activity of your day. Srila Prabhupada said that the real purpose of reading his books is to convince you to chant the Holy Name, as chanting the Maha-mantra is the most important process in devotional service. So, fall in love with the Holy Name!
17. I am totally dependent on Guru and Krishna to chant quality japa every day
Remind yourself that your efforts to chant the Maha-mantra more effectively attract the mercy of Guru and Krishna. When you endeavour to improve your japa, Guru and Krishna reciprocate by helping you improve in the ways you are endeavouring to. In other words, mercy comes in proportion to your efforts.
18. I organize my life to make japa the most important activity of my day
Be aware of how your lifestyle, attitude and activities are supporting your chanting. The more you change your lifestyle, around the sound vibration of the Maha-mantra, the more your consciousness will change. The more your consciousness changes, the more your lifestyle will change. Purified consciousness leads to purified lifestyle, and purified lifestyle leads to purified consciousness. Therefore, it is important to consciously organize your lifestyle to support better chanting of the Maha-mantra.
19. I make excellent japa my standard and focus on continually improving
Set a high standard internally for japa. What you give importance to, you do well. If you give more importance to your japa, it will naturally improve. Reading books and/or listening to lectures on how to chant the Maha-mantra may keep you focused on how to chant better.
20. I relish chanting the Holy Name
Be grateful to be blessed with an opportunity to be able to chant the Maha-mantra. When you chant, your consciousness is transformed, and all impurities can be cleansed. Chanting of the Maha-mantra elevates your consciousness to its original state of purity. In this way, remind yourself that, you, the soul, certainly relishes chanting the Holy Name every single day.
The Holy Name is saying, “I am present here, my mercy is here, my love is here; please receive it, please accept it, please feel it”. The Hare Krishna Maha-mantra is a transformative sound vibration. Chanting and hearing of the Maha-mantra not only transforms our consciousness, but it also allows us to become agents for change for society at large. Therefore, prioritize your spiritual life – you are not going to feel emptiness when you experience real spiritual happiness. Make sure to set out your goals on how to improve your chanting and gradually work towards them. If you really want to improve your japa, you can!