Chanting the Hare Krishna mantra
is considered the most important activity
within bhakti -yoga. It’s essentially a prayer that means “O energy of the Lord (Hare), O all-attractive Lord (Krishna), O supreme enjoyer (Rama), please engage me in Your service.” Collective chanting accompanied by musical instruments is known as Kirtan. Individual chanting on prayers beads is known as japa. The best time for japa is the early morning since the atmosphere is still quiet and the mind is not yet preoccupied with the activities of the day. If that is not possible, set aside another suitable time slot in the day. Japa meditation is best performed on beads, which assist us in counting the mantras and also aid our concentration.
- Hold the beads in your right hand, between the thumb and middle finger. Begin chanting after the big bead (see video)
- Chant the mantra softly but distinctly, pronouncing it in such a way that you can hear it clearly.
- Then move onto the next bead, and repeat the mantra.
- By the time you get back to the big bead, you will have chanted the Hare Krishna mantra 108 times. This is called one ‘round’.
- Then turn the beads around and start the second round without crossing over the big bead
- In the beginning, one round may take you fifteen minutes or so but as you get used to chanting ng you will usually speed up to between six and eight minutes.
- You can begin with one round a day and gradually increase.
Initiated devotees chant sixteen rounds every day. This takes about two hours. Once you commit to chanting a certain number of rounds daily, try not to go below this number. It’s far better to chant two rounds every day than eight rounds one day and none the next. Consistency is essential al for our spiritual progress. The main principle of chanting is to listen attenti vely to the sound vibration . The mantra is chanted by the tongue and immediately caught by the ear. If any distracting thoughts come into your mind, just focus your full attention on the sound of the Hare Krishna mantra and those thoughts will eventually leave. In this way, our original spiritual consciousness is gradually reawakened.
Five hundred years ago, Krishna incarnated as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and freely introduced everyone – regardless of race, religion, or social status – into the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. Thus, it is beneficial to chant the Pancha-tattva mantra (a prayer to Sri Chaitanya and His associates) before beginning each ‘round’ of japa.
sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda
I offer my obeisances to Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa and all others in the line of devotion.