Why do we chant 16 rounds, what is special about this Number?
Answer by His Holiness Jayapataka Swami: Actually in some places, in the Vedas, it is said that if you chant 100,000 names of Krsna, that is enough to get you back to the spiritual world. So the number is 100,000 which should be 64 rounds. But then Prabhupada, when he came to the west, he found that the people are active and so many requirements, he said that if we do a regular practice of Bhakti yoga, of service, so that more or less we are always staying in the yoga environment, then even 16 rounds should be enough. So then he would guarantee us to get back to Godhead in this one lifetime, to get back to the spiritual world.
We are all spiritual in nature and we are taking so many births here in the material world. To end the cycle of repeated birth and death, that requires some spiritual focus. So he is saying that if you do 16 and follow a very good lifestyle then you can get back in this one lifetime. He would promise that. But as Minister of Congregational Development and Community Development, I am seeing people who are not living in temples, 99% of all our followers are practicing from home. So many people obviously they are not able to chant 16 rounds, some chant 8 rounds or 4 rounds. At least chant something that is a minimum, because that brings steadiness in your spiritual progress. It also helps you to control the mind and make a decision to do something and actually do it. One has to know what you can do as a regular thing, 1 round or 2 rounds or 4. It may not be guaranteed that you may go back to Godhead but maybe someone can go back to Godhead . But they have to start somewhere and later get taste when you chant more rounds. It is more of an experience. With the first 4 rounds you feel peaceful, the next 4-8 you start to get some energy and after the 8th to the 16th you actually get the spiritual taste in the mouth and heart and you start to develop a deeper spiritual reciprocation with the chanting, the living mantra. The mantras are living, they are spiritual, they are alive and dynamic.
I had a situation once where just as I was newly practicing; I was working outside in a restaurant.Although my parents and grandparents were very wealthy due to emergencies I was working in a restaurant. The person who was the cook there he suddenly fainted. So everybody there ran but didn’t know how to revive him. That time I was already chanting and practicing Bhakti yoga. I didn’t know what to do but I went over and just chanted Hare Krsna in his ear and then all of a sudden he started like shaking and his eyes opened and sat up. He looked around and he asked me ‘What is it you chanted?I left my body and from Montreal reached Belgium. Somehow this astral body was out of my gross material body and when you chanted this Hare Krsna, at first I felt very far away.Then it got louder and louder there was reverse echo. It was not static, it was dynamic, it filled my whole system. It brought back my astral body to my gross body and then I came back to consciousness.’ This was for me also interesting, to know how this mantra is dynamic and how it increases in our consciousness and how it purifies our different emotions and thoughts.
So try to do your minimum chanting and that will build up. 16 rounds will amount to 10 million names in a year. Prabhupada’s guru had also told his followers that those who are living as monks in the temple they were advised to do 64 rounds. But those who are going out and preaching and doing different activities, he said 16 will be enough. So Prabhupada has kept it at 16. 64 is pretty much out of the range. Just fix some minimum number.
His Holiness Jayapataka Swami at Atlanta, Georgia, September 2007