Category Archives: Practices In ISKCON

Rama or Ram!

Q. In the mahamantra can you please explain to me why do people pronounce Rama instead of Ram?

A. Usually people do not pronounce it deliberately. Sometimes when they are intensely chanting then they may be chanting Rama in stead of Ram. However Lord is pleased by the endeavor of His devotees. It is said that chanting should be like a crying of a child for its mother.
Yes, when they are performing kirtan, it is many times pronounced as Rama. However if someone is doing it for the pleasure of the Lord then it is alright. If someone is pronouncing it to make a show then Lord is not at all pleased with that.

Chanting while driving

Q. I have to go to office on bike. It takes two hours. So can we chant on bike by counting on hands or beads?

A. It would be completely unsafe both materially and spiritually, especially if you are chanting your prescribed number of rounds while riding on the bike. The principle is kirtaniya sada hari – to always chant the names of Hari. But it is advisable not to chant on the bike considering the condition of roads and the traffic.

Technique to chant progressively

Q. Is it necessary to chant a minimum of 16 rounds to please Lord Krishna or he gets pleased even if we chant less than 16 rounds as I am finding it very difficult to chant 16 rounds.

A. In the beginning one finds it difficult to chant more than a couple of rounds daily. However you can set a quota of chanting a certain number of rounds daily, even if only one or two. Once having set that quota, please try never to go below it.

The Krishna consciousness movement prescribes sixteen rounds daily because people in this age cannot concentrate for long periods while chanting on beads. Therefore the minimum number of rounds is prescribed, but in the highest stages pure devotees chant the holy names constantly, day and night, in the profound ecstasy of love of God and they never find it difficult.

Best time for chanting

Q. Please tell me the best time for doing chanting meditation.

A. The best time for japa is in the early morning hours, when the atmosphere is still quiet and the mind is not yet preoccupied with daily activities. If that is not possible, any time will do. Simply repeat the mahamantra “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” softly but distinctly. You should pronounce the mahamantra in such a way that you can hear it clearly.

Selecting your mantra

Q. What is the difference between chanting Hare Krishna & mantras of the other bonafide sampradayas?

A. If a mantra has been invented or pieced together from other mantras, it simply won’t have any effect. If it is sold for someone’s personal gain, or received by someone who is materially motivated, it won’t work either. There may be effects like relaxation or stress reduction, but there will not be the transcendental effect of liberation from material bondage. In other words, there won’t be a permanent spiritual effect but at best a temporary effect on the material body or mind.

In the Brihad-Naradiya Purana we find a very specific injunction about selecting the best mahamantra : In this age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Krishna .

The Hare Krishna mahamantra is specifically mentioned in the Kali-santarana Upanishad . Besides the Hare Krishna mahamantra , there are many other bona fide mantras used by devotees of Krishna . But the Vedic scriptures declare that simply by chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra one receives the benefits of all other mantras. Therefore, chanting Hare Krishna is the most important spiritual activity.

Chanting with concentration

Q. While chanting my mind gets diverted a lot. Please tell how to concentrate on chanting?

A. The uncontrolled mind always distracts the intelligence away from the lotus feet of Sri Krishna. The main principle of chanting is to listen attentively to the sound of the mahamantra . The mahamantra 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 mahamantra, and the thoughts will leave. Just try to hear the mahamantra, and the purifying effect will take place. Somehow, just have faith in Krishna’s Holy Name and all success will follow

Regulate your japa

Q. I am new to chanting and I want to know what it means to chant 16 rounds everyday? How many mahamantras should I chant everyday?

A. You can begin with one round a day and gradually increase. Initiated devotees in the Hare Krishna movement chant sixteen rounds every day. This takes about two hours. Once you chant a certain number of rounds daily, never go below this number. It is far better to chant two rounds every day than eight rounds one day and none the next. Regulation is important in making spiritual progress.

Chanting means a prayer

Q. It is said that when one chants he should do so helplessly to derive complete benefit from it. What exactly is meant by chanting helplessly?

A. The chanting of the holy name is not, a mechanical process depending merely upon contemplative prowess. It is a devotional art, a form of prayer, and thus one must chant with reverence and devotion. The Hare Krishna mahamantra is a prayer for protection and deliverance, a prayer to the Lord for His divine presence and for the opportunity to serve Him. Chanting is compared to the helpless cry of a child for its mother. My dear Lord Krishna , please rescue me from the ocean of material suffering and again engage me in Your service.

Chanting with Motives

Q. I’ve been a BTG subscriber for the past three years. Even though I am not a full-time Krishna devotee, I manage to chant eight rounds a day. As I am still in my college years, I always get attracted by material comforts. I want to know if material comforts are obtainable through chanting. If they are, then is such chanting an act of sin? Will we get punished by doing so?

A. We shouldn’t chant Hare  Krishna to fulfill material desires. The goal of chanting Hare Krishna is pure love for Krishna, which is fully satisfying. The maha-mantra means “O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service.” We’re supposed to chant Hare Krishna with the understanding that by awakening our Krishna consciousness, we’ll be completely happy. Besides, a devotee knows that Krishna will automatically take care of his material needs. We don’t need to ask Krishna for such things.

One of the offenses in chanting is to cherish our material attachments. Naturally in the beginning we will have attachments, but we should chant for purification, not for other things. Krishna can give us eternal life in His association. To chant with some other motive is like a foolish person’s asking a millionaire for a trinket.

Tulasi Plant

Q. Why do you worship Tulasi plant?

A. Worshiping Krishna’s devotees is an essential feature of devotion to Him. Sometimes great devotees appear in forms other than the human form. One such devotee, whose worship is central to the worship of Krishna, is Tulasi. She serves Krishna in the form of a plant, and devotees worship her in that form. Full of love for Krishna, she can give it to others.

Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.19) explains the special position of the Tulasi plant: “Although there are numerous flowering plants full of transcendental fragrance in the spiritual realm, they are aware that Tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with Tulasi leaves.”  Continue reading Tulasi Plant