Lord Ram constructed a bridge to Lanka across the Ocean. Lord Ramchandra does not require a bridge to cross over the ocean, he is God, but in order to glorify his followers, good devotees like Hanuman and others including the little squirrel, Lord Ramchandra constructed a bridge to Lanka across the Ocean. Lord Ram gave them a chance, they simply chanted ‘Jai Shri Rama’ and threw stones into the water and the stones started floating, such is the potential of the holy name.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said in his Sikshashtakam prayers:

‘namnam akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis’

“The Lord has invested all his transcendental strength in his holy names, Krishna, Govinda, Rama”. If you believe, then you must have got some experience that whatever you thought and desired while you were chanting, was fulfilled. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu quoted a verse from the Padma Purana. (CC Madhya 17.133):

‘nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇaś caitanya-rasa-vigrahaḥ pūrṇaḥ śuddho nitya-mukto bhinnatvān nāma-nāminoḥ’

The Holy name is Cognizant, it knows everything, it is a person. We need to take shelter at his lotus feet. Are we taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Holy Name? Am I surrendering? We need to ask ourselves. Srila Haridasa Thakura took shelter of the holy name. He chanted three lakh names of the Lord daily. Those who have taken the shelter of the holy names are able to chant feelingly like Srila Haridasa Thakura. One who is chanting the Lord’s names is automatically taking a dip in all the pious tirthas on the earth. He is performing all the pious activities, renunciation, austerity, just by chanting the holy names of the Lord.

As we chant purely, the holy names manifest themselves. Srila Rupa Goswami reveals (CC Antya 1.99):

‘Tuṇḍe tāṇḍavinī’ ratiṁ vitanute tuṇḍāvalī-labdhaye karṇa-kroḍa-kaḍambini ghaṭayate karṇārbudebhyaḥ spṛhām…

Rupa Goswami expresses that as he chants the names of Lord Krsna, Rama, the holy name starts dancing in his mouth. As soon as the nectar from the holy name enters the holes of his ears, he feels unsatisfied with his one tongue and a pair of ears, he then longs to have lakhs and lakhs of tongues and lakhs and lakhs of ears to taste just a little bit of it, the sweet mellow emanating from chanting ‘Kṛṣ-ṇa’, these two syllables, even once. Further as the holy name starts dancing in the courtyard of his heart, it conquers the activities of his mind making his senses inert. Rupa Goswami experienced it, that’s why he is able to say this. But sadly, we are not able to chant pure name. Rather, sometimes we drowse off while chanting.

This Holy Name is unlike anything of this material world. It is an ocean of bliss, like nectar, an ocean of nectar. It has the potency to clear all our sins. We need to taste it. So, chant the holy name very very carefully and correctly. Probably we are still committing offenses but if we chant continuously the holy name, then gradually, we will become free from all our offenses.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura prayed:

“kṛṣṇa-nāma-sudhā koriyā pān, jurāo bhaktivinoda-prāṇ, nāma binā kichu nāhiko āro, caudda-bhuvana-mājhe”

The names of lord Krishna are the life and soul of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. But unfortunately, we are not able to relish this ‘Naam Sudha’, the nectar which is emanating from the holy names, as is being experienced by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Nevertheless, it is possible that we are able to get few drops of this nectar when we feelingly call out the names of the lord during loud sankirtan. But what type of taste do we actually hanker for? We need to introspect. Maybe, we are more interested in eating palatable dishes! It will take some time to start relishing the holy names. But as we progress in our devotional life, we’ll definitely start developing some affinity towards listening Harikatha, towards our services for the lord. Then that’s real sign of progress.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura said further, ‘nāma binā kichu nāhiko āro, caudda-bhuvana-mājhe”

There is nothing else more significant in this material world except the Holy names of the lord. Lords names have all the benedictions within them. The holy Dham resides within the names of the Lord, Mukti(liberation) is present within the names of the lord, all the austerities are present in the holy names of the lord, all the pilgrimages are present in the chanting of the names of the Lord, moreover the Lord himself reside in his names, all the renunciation, sacrifices are all present within the holy names of the Lord. By chanting Lord’s names, you’ll get them all. But we are unable to chant Lords names with the desired quality. If yes, we did, then we would have been craving to have lakhs and lakhs of tongues to relish the nectar emanating from chanting Lord’s names, as Srila Rupa Goswami said. It’s not so easy to chant purely Lord’s names like Haridasa Thakura.

A proper mood of chanting is very important. Those who like to chant always, they must understand that it is only possible to chant constantly, only if they possess a humble attitude devoid of all sense of false prestige. Chanting of the holy name is like calling god, as loud as a child, who cries for his mother and father or his well-wisher. So, we should cry, chanting Hare Krishna means, not just mechanical chanting, there should be a proper mood, mood is just like that of a child who helplessly cries out for his parents, we need to cry to the Lord to get his service and to please him. If we are calling out Krishna with these feelings, then we are chanting Krishna’s name with proper mood. We should have firm faith that Lord Krishna will protect me and maintain me. He is our real well-wishing friend. Although Krishna wants everyone to surrender to his Lotus but because of our sinful activities we cannot do so. Nevertheless, if we keep chanting constantly the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, than some day we will be able to surrender. This is the instruction of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His most confidential servant Srila Haridasa Thakura. (CC Antya 3.137, Srila Haridasa Thakura’s instructions to the prostitute.)

Hare Krishna Mahamantra is a humble prayer offered to the lord. It’s meaning according to our present level of consciousness, is in a mood of prayer, “Oh! pleasure giving internal energy of the lord, Srimati Radha Rani! Oh Lord! deliverer from birth and death, all attractive, ocean of bliss and supreme enjoyer, Krishna! Rama! please, please, please engage me in your loving devotional service so that I do not serve Maya or ignorance which make me forget your service”.

Rupa Goswami said that as harinama entered his mind, all his senses stopped functioning and as the holy name reached his heart, there was inundation, the love overflowed. We are far away from realizing it. But we have hope. If we have a goal to pass with first class in our exams then we need to start getting good results from now onwards. Srila Prabhupada told us that we need to know our goal, that is, how to get the ‘Love of Godhead’. To achieve it, we need to pay a price. According to our acharyas, this price is the sole requirement to gain bhakti, ‘laulyam ekalam mulyam’,we need to have greed to get this ‘Krishna prem’, greed to get the love of godhead. If we start experiencing a greed for listening to Krishna’s pastimes, serving Krishna, then we are definitely progressing in our devotional life.

Srila Prabhupada said, “Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and you become purified, more, more. And day will come when you find that you are completely pure from all material contamination and you become eligible to enter into the kingdom of God, and that makes a solution of all problems”. (691226 – Lecture Initiation – Boston)

Ramananda Ray is telling that whatever price one has to pay to get this greed, must be paid because this greed is the only price to get Krishna. Our Goswami’s are also telling us like this. Ramananda Ray said (CC Madhya 8.70):

‘tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ. janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate’

One price, Krishna is not asking from us some high material education neither some merit earned from renunciation and sacrifices, no, only one qualification, extreme eagerness, you should be extremely eager to serve the lord. Almost like a greed. Everybody is greedy, somebody is greedy after money, greedy after beautiful women, greedy after a rich husband, greedy after name, fame and high position, but someone may also be extremely greedy to serve Krishna, yes, our acharya’s are telling that this is the only price to get Krishna bhakti, loving devotional service at the lotus feet of the Lord. Anyone and everyone can achieve Krishna bhakti, pure devotional service at the lotus feet of the lord, in this manner.

We are not experiencing such feelings because we are diseased, we are suffering from the disease of this material world. We are unable to taste the holy name’s real sweetness. Without relishing Krishna Consciousness, we cannot cultivate a greed for it. One who is afflicted with jaundice, he is unable to taste the sweetness in sugar. But gradually, as the patient recovers, he begins to relish this sweetness more and more.

Srila Prabhupada explains, “The holy name, character, pastimes and activities of Kṛṣṇa are all transcendentally sweet like sugar candy. Although the tongue of one afflicted by the jaundice of avidyā (ignorance) cannot taste anything sweet, it is wonderful that simply by carefully chanting these sweet names every day, a natural relish awakens within his tongue, and his disease is gradually destroyed at the root.” (Nectar of Instruction 7, Translation)

I’ll suggest everyone to try to chant maximum number of rounds before the Mangal Arti. Rise up early. Stay alone on your own where no one talks to you, just see you are feeling fresh, splash some water on your face. If you want, you may take a quick bath, but if you don’t take bath so early, doesn’t matter. Finish your rounds very nicely. It is a time when you are there and your most beloved Krishna is there, try to establish your relation with him, you may also cry if you have a picture of Krishna or a picture of Mahapraphu deity in front you. You are getting prepared for your final destination. We cannot tell when our final moment will come and we will have to leave these bodily relations, so called near and dear ones. Our only near and dear one is Krishna. Rest of the relations are all temporary. I hope it’s clear. We have to face the reality. Reality is like this, ‘Krishna is my master and I am his servant’. Krishna is my dearest friend and I can rely on him. You cannot rely on anyone else. Everything temporary will be left behind, even your own body, what to speak of your money, your near and dear ones. But one needs to carry out his responsibilities with a sense of duty. Make your relations Krishna Conscious. Krishna Consciousness is the primary consideration, others are secondary, tertiary.

There is a book with a compilation of topics related to chanting Hare Krishna. It’s called ‘Sri Namamrta’. It is compiled with the instructions of Srila Prabhupada which he gave to his disciples regarding chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Some devotee said to Prabhupada, “Prabhupada, when I chant, can I think of Krsna’s lila”. Srila Prabhupada replied, “The thoughts of Krishna will come automatically while Chanting.” Prabhupada’s answer was like that. So, many questions and answers are there in this book. They will help. The chanting of the holy name gives us a lot of strength, spiritual strength. So, it destroys all our accumulated sin. But a devotee needs to carefully guard against all the offences to the holy name.

Often Srila Prabhupada instructed his disciples regarding chanting Harinama. He prescribed chanting of sixteen rounds of Mahamantra as the minimum standard for a beginner. He always encouraged anyone who was able to chant a greater number of rounds. He said, “your upper lips and lower lips will move and tongue will move and fix your concentration on the sound vibration, “HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE” and then he told about the proper mood of chanting, as enunciated by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā”. One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind.

More you chant, more you feel like chanting more. Do you have some experience? When we chant more, we feel like chanting more and more and more. You’ll feel more confident. Once, Prabhupada was asked by one of his first disciples, Brahmananda Swami. He asked, “Prabhupada, what is the effect of chanting more?” Prabhupada replied, “when you chant more, do you feel like chanting more?” Brahmananda swami replied, “yes, Prabhupada”. Srila Prabhupada: “Then it is good, that means you are developing attachment to the lord….”, assured Prabhupada.

A Vaishnava feels real compassion for other living beings. He tries to bring them to Krishna Consciousness. It’s called ‘jive doya‘. He has developed a taste(‘ruchi’) in chanting Harinama. It’s called ‘nameruchi‘. A devotee is attached to serving other Vaishnavas. It’s called ‘vaishnava seva’. These are the jeweled ornaments adorned by the Vaishnavas. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that by assessing these three superior Vaishnava qualities, we can check our advancement in Krishna Consciousness.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang in his bhajan:

nam siva jape panca-mukhe re

(madhur e harinam)

e nam brahma jape catur-mukhe re

(madhur e harinam)

e nam narada jape bina-jantre re

(madhur e harinam)’

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is glorifying the sweetness of the holy name. He says, ‘Madhur e harinam’, ‘Madhur e harinam’, ‘madhur’ means sweet. Krishna is also called ‘madhu’. ‘madhu’ means honey. In the material world there is one kind of ‘madhu’ which is made by bees, but in the spiritual world, is another ‘madhu’, that is absolutely sweet. In the material world there is Kandarpa(cupid) but in the spiritual world, Madan(cupid) is actually Krishna, and everybody is running after him. So, Krishna’s names(harinaam) and Krishna are non-different. Even Brahma with his four mouths is chanting the holy names in ecstasy, Narada muni is singing Lords names, playing his vina in ecstasy. Even with five mouths Mahadev(shiva) is chanting lord Hari’s names. It is so sweet.

When we go to Krishna, Krishna will not see whether we were a Sanyasi, a man or a woman, he will see our heart, he will see our love for him, he will see our attachment for him. Krishna’s holy names are more merciful than Krishna himself. They can fulfill all our desires. They can take us back to godhead, back to Krishna!

Srila Prabhupada said, “Everything can be attained simply by chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Everything. The means is the end and the means is the whole”. (Lecture at Initiation Fire Sacrifice — Los Angeles, July 16, 1969)

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!


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