What does Hare Krishna mean?
“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. 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. Krsna 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.