Do We Chant Because of Tradition or it’s an Essential Part of Bhakti?
We chant because our soul needs the purification of Krsna's association – we are trapped here in this body, thinking we are this person or that person….an American, Indian, Australian etc. By associating with Krsna through serious Japa – concentrated and precise – then we can feel His spiritual energy and we see a clear path ahead of us on our way back to Godhead.
The most evident difference between bhakti—as taught by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu—and any other philosophy and process for self-realisation is that in bhakti, the way and the goal are the same. Krsna’s holy name is the way, but it is also the goal, Krsna Himself. The following story may illustrate this: Once there was a beggar who went to the king because he wanted to see gold. The king said, “Well, climb up these stairs which lead to my treasury, and open the last door. There you will see gold.” The beggar climbed up the stairs, opened the door and saw the chamber filled with gold. Then, when he turned round, he realized that the stairs he had climbed up were also made of gold! Since he had not known how gold looks like, he simply could not recognize it unless he saw the gold filled treasury.
Similarly, the way to attain Krsna—namely the chanting of the holy name—is already Krsna Himself, and only because we forgot our relationship with Krsna are we not aware of, this fact. However, once we start with the path of bhakti, Krsna will gradually reveal Himself through His holy name. We owe this path to the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and, of course, to his most dear servant, Srila Prabhupada, who brought the holy name to the West.