Q. “What is the exact meaning of Ram and Hare in mahamantra?
If Ram is Lord Ram then how we are connecting Radha’s name with Ram?”
A. Krishna and Ram are addressed to the Supreme Lord in Hare Krishna Mahamantra.
‘Krishna’ meaning the ‘all-attractive’ and ‘Ram’ means the ‘reservoir of all-pleasure’.
‘Hara’ is the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord, termed as ‘Hare’ in vocative.
So the meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra is a prayer to the Supreme Lord, who is all-attractive and reservoir of all-pleasure to enagage us in His loving devotional service.
Some other places, Srila Prabhupada refers ‘Ram’ to Lord Balaram and sometimes Lord Nityananda.
Q. What does Hare Krishna mean?
A. ‘Hare Krishna’ refers to the Sanskrit prayer we sing (the maha-mantra, or ‘great chant for deliverance’) and to our group. Since we are often seen chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, we are referred to as the ‘Hare Krishnas’.
Srila Prabhupada came to the United States from India in 1965 to introduce the Western world to bhakti-yoga, which features the chanting of Hare Krishna as its main spiritual practice.
Srila Prabhupada represents a lineage of teachers dating back into antiquity, but which was revitalized 500 years ago by the incarnation of God named Lord Chaitanya.
The voluminous Vedic scriptures of India contain everything we need to know about how to live happily in the world while we realize our spirituality and our relationship with God. These scriptures describe many methods of spiritual attainment, but they specifically recommend the chanting of Hare Krishna as the most effective method of God realization for the time we live in.
Since God is unlimited, He has unlimited names with different purposes and meanings. The purpose of the Hare Krishna prayer is to awaken us to our eternal nature as servants and lovers of Krishna.
The Hare Krishna mantra is composed of three Sanskrit words: Krishna, Rama and Hare. Krishna and Rama are both names for God. Krishna means “the all-attractive,” and Rama means “the supreme pleasure.” We can approach the all-attractive Supreme Lord, and experience the supreme pleasure of His company, through the help of His devotional or pleasure energy, Hare.
Placed together the words of the prayer mean “O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your loving service”. By chanting Hare Krishna we become purified of material conditioning and become reinstated in our normal eternal position.
Why do you chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and why specifically 16 rounds?
There are four yugas i.e. Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kaliyuga and for every yuga a specific process has been recommended in the scriptures for self realization.
Satyayuga – Meditation
Tretayuga – Yajna (sacrifice)
Dwaparyuga – Deity worship
Kaliyuga – Harinaam sankirtan (congregational chanting)
The scripture Kali Santaran Upanishad mentions the specific Mahamantra (comprising of the Holy name of the Lord) i.e. “Hare Krishna Mahamantra” to be chanted as the only process required for self realization in Kaliyuga.
Moreover, this Mahamantra has been given by Lord Chaitanya who is none other than Lord Krishna himself. So as followers of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we chant this Mahamantra.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder Acharya of ISKCON always recommended that we should chant the whole day. But seeing the restless nature and hectic lifestyle of the present yuga he mercifully reduced it to 16 rounds.
What is the Hare Krishna Chant?
A mantra is a spiritual sound vibration that purifies the consciousness and awakens love of God. The chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is recommended in the Vedic literature as the easiest method for this age to attain spiritual realization. Krishna is the Sanskrit name of God meaning “all attractive”, and Rama is another name for God meaning “reservoir of all pleasure”. Hare refers to the divine energy of the Lord. So the Hare Krishna mantra means, “O all-attractive, all-pleasing Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service”. There are two ways to chant this mantra: group chanting (kirtana) and individual chanting as on beads (japa). No strict rules apply for either method, and anyone can chant at any time.
Devotees of Krishna chant the Hare Krishna mantra:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
because the Vedas refer to it as the maha – mantra or “Great Mantra”. This sixteen-word mantra is especially recommended as the easiest method for self-realization in the present age.
Krishna is a Sanskrit name of God meaning “all attractive”, and Rama is another name meaning “reservoir of pleasure”. The divine energy of God is addressed as Hare. Vedic knowledge teaches that since we are all constitutionally servants of God, the chanting of His names is not an artificial imposition on the mind but is as natural as a child calling for its mother. There are two ways to chant the maha mantra: group chanting (kirtan) and softly saying the mantra to oneself (japa). The latter is done by using a string of 108 wooden prayer beads to enhance concentration. In both methods there are no hard and fast rules, and anyone can chant with good results.
Q. What are the teachings?
A. It is often assumed that the final goal of Indian spirituality is nirvana – the extinguishing of individual existence and the simultaneous absorption into an amorphous Absolute. Bhagavad-Gita reveals that this is only the preliminary stage of self-realization. Beyond this is the awakening of the soul’s eternal consciousness of Krishna, the personal form of the Absolute Truth.
In brief, the Gita explains as follows:
1. We are not our bodies, but eternal spirit souls (atma), parts and parcels of God (Krishna). Although we are essentially spiritual (brahman), we have temporarily forgotten our true identity.
2. Having lost touch with our original, pure consciousness we are trying to achieve permanent happiness within a temporary world. Our attempts produce karmic reactions which cause us to remain within this world for repeated lifetimes (samsara).
3. By sincerely learning and following a genuine spiritual science (dharma) under the guidance of a self-realized teacher, we can be free from anxiety and come to a state of pure, blissful enlightenment in this lifetime.
4. Krishna is eternal, all-knowing, omni-present, all-powerful and all-attractive. He is the seed-giving father of all living beings and He is the sustaining energy of the entire cosmic creation.
5. Our dormant relationship with Krishna can he reawakened by the practice of bhakti-yoga, the science of spiritualizing all human activities by dedicating them to the Supreme. This ancient yoga system gradually frees us from the entanglement of karma, and thereby the cycle of birth and death.
Q. Why do you worship cows?
A. Because all living things are part of God, all life is sacred and worthy of respect. The Supreme Lord is most worthy of honor and respect, and the Vedas teach that whatever or whoever is dear to God is also sacred–fit to be worshiped in relation to God.
Krishna is known as Govinda, ‘the Lord of the cows’. The cow is sacred and fit to be honored or worshiped because she is dear to God. Worship or honor given to the cow is pleasing to God. If human beings can have favorite animals, why not God? Since the cows are dear to Krishna, they are also dear to his devotees.
The cow is also dear because of her gentle nature and her important service to humanity. Cows provide us with milk, “the miracle food,” which the Vedas consider an ideal food for health. It helps develop the brain for understanding religious and philosophical topics. Since the cow supplies us milk, she is considered another mother. We don’t think highly of a society that practically worships pets but sends cows to be slaughtered.
Q. Krishna belongs to all so why limit His mercy to only the congregation members?
What is the advantage of having a congregation?
A. Krishna is not limited to the congregation. He belongs to everyone who love and surrender to Him. Therefore devotees go out and preach, distribute books and prasadam, organize Harinaam Sankirtan so that more and more people can become devotees and be part of the Krishna consciousness movement.
Congregation is important.
In the sense that when people see such a strong congregation with unity, and a spirit of co-operation they feel inspired to be a part of it and thus by coming in regular association with the devotees they gradually become part of the congregation.
Q. As declared in Bhagavad-gita, the Lord appears in the mortal world to execute His much-needed mission of killing the miscreants and giving protection to the suffering faithful. In spite of that mission, Lord Krishna tolerated the insult to Draupadi by the Kurus and the injustices perpetrated against the Pandavas, as well as insults to Himself. The question may be raised, “Why did He tolerate such injustices and insults in His presence? Why did He not chastise the Kurus immediately?”
A. Srila Prabhupada says in the purport of Srimad Bhagavatam 3.1.43
When Draupadi was insulted in the assembly by the Kurus by their attempt to see her naked in the presence of all, the Lord protected Draupadi by supplying an unlimited length of clothing. But He did not chastise the insulting party immediately.
This silence of the Lord did not mean, however, that He excused the offenses of the Kurus. There were many other kings on earth who had become very proud of three kinds of possessionsâ wealth, education and followers”and they were constantly agitating the earth by movements of military strength. The Lord was just waiting to get them together on the Battlefield of Kurushetra and kill them all at one time, just to make a short-cut in His killing mission.
Godless kings or heads of state, when puffed up by advancement of material wealth, education and increase of population, always make a show of military strength and give trouble to the innocent. When Lord Krishna was personally present, there were many such kings all over the world and He thus arranged for the Battle of Kurushetra.
In His manifestation of vishva-rupa, the Lord expressed His mission of killing as follows: “I have willingly descended on the earth in My capacity of inexorable Time in order to decrease the unwanted population. I shall finish all those who have assembled here except you, the Pandavas. This killing does not wait for you to take part in it. It is already arranged: all will be killed by Me. If you want to become famous as the hero of the battlefield and thus enjoy the booty of war, then, O Savyasaci, just become the immediate cause of this killing and thus take the credit. I have already killed all the great warriors “Bhishma, Drona, Jayadratha, Karna and many other great generals. Do not worry. Fight the battle and be famous as a great hero.” (Bg. 11.32-34)
The Lord always wants to see His devotee as the hero of some episode which He Himself performs. He wanted to see His devotee and friend Arjuna as the hero of the Battle of Kurushetra and thus He waited for all the miscreants of the world to assemble. That and nothing else, is the explanation of His waiting.
Q. Some people claim that what is to happen in this life is already determined by God (i.e. fate). Their idea is that we do not have much control on our life. We are under the illusion of Maya. Others think that only because of our intelligence and our carefully executed efforts, we achieve desirable ends. My question is, do our efforts really matter?
A. Yes, we create our own destiny but the scope for doing so is quite restricted or limited. We have our desires and free will but they are supervised by the Supreme, according to natural laws. Thus, our freedom to ‘create our destiny’ is VERY restricted! We really have not so much control, ultimately. With unrestricted freedom, we can choose if we are going to act according to God’s laws or not. That is within our control. But ultimately Krishna is the supreme controller and actual doer.
Q. How can I do my duties if everything is predestined? I want to do them and I want to follow the teachings of Bhagavan Shri Krishna, but circumstances prevailing at certain times sometimes push me to take any optional decision which ultimately proves to be disastrous.
A. It is the mode of passion that forces us to take up a course of action that opposes our deepest convictions. Therefore, we must carefully cultivate a live centered in goodness. Bhagavad-gita teaches us so clearly what will help us remain centered in a life of goodness. However, because we have entangled ourselves so much in this material condition, it is very perplexing how to make the right decisions, even if we learn about the Lord’s teachings. Therefore, it is essential that we need to take guidance from advanced devotees, ultimately taking shelter of a bona fide guru, who can help us progressively align ourselves with the Lord’s instructions and not commit blunders, which will only entangle us further