08 Chanting versus other spiritual practices (other than Yajna, Yoga, and Austerity)

Chanting Versus Other Spiritual Practices (Other than Yajna, Yoga, and Austerity)

Although there are other bona fide processes of spiritual realization, no other process is as effective in this age as the constant chanting of the maha−mantra:

We have to accept everything favorable to the circumstances. Rejection of other methods in a particular circumstance does not mean that the rejected ones are not bona fide. But for the time being, taking into consideration the age, time, and object, methods are sometimes rejected even though bona fide. We have to test everything by its practical result. By such a test, in this age the constant chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra undoubtedly proves very effective. 

– The Science of Self Realization


In Kali yuga, the direct method of attaining perfection in spiritual life is chanting the holy name:

Whether one practices yoga or speculates and does research to find God, one's efforts must be mixed with the process of devotion. Without devotion, nothing can be perfect. The target of perfection and realization is the Supreme Personality of Godhead… One has to surrender unto the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, Hari, or Krsna, in order to achieve real success. Devotional service, or engagement in Krsna consciousness, is the direct method, and all other methods, although recommended, are indirect. In this age of Kali the direct method is especially more feasible than the indirect because people are short−living, their intelligence is poor, and they are poverty−stricken and embarrassed by so many miserable disturbances. Lord Caitanya, therefore, has given the greatest boon: in this age one simply has to chant the holy name of God to attain perfection in spiritual life.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 3.21.7


The supreme destination can be approached most easily by chanting the holy name of Krsna, not by any other process of religion:

Any intelligent man should always prefer the process of devotional service to all other paths. In the Narayaniya this is confirmed as follows:

ya vai sadhana−sampattih purusartha −catustaye
taya vina tad apnoti naro narayanasrayah

The purport of this verse is that one should not engage in the different processes of fruitive activity or cultivate knowledge by the mental speculative process. One who is devoted to the Supreme Personality can attain all the benefits derived from other yogic processes, speculation, rituals, sacrifices, charities, etc. That is the specific benediction of devotional service.

Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna−

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

a devotee of the Lord can approach the supreme destination easily and happily, but this destination cannot be approached by any other processes of religion.

– Bhagavad gita As It Is 12.6−7


The chanting of the holy name is the highest form of spiritual practice:

Srila Sanatana Gosvami has praised the chanting of the holy name as follows in his Brhad Bhagavatamrta (Chapter One, verse 9):

jayati jayati namananda−rupam murarer 
viramita −nija−dharma−dhyana−pujadi−yatnam
katham api sakrd attam mukti−dam praninam yat 
paramam amrtam ekam jivanam bhusanam me

"All glories, all glories to the all−blissful holy name of Sri Krsna, which causes the devotee to give up all conventional religious duties, meditation and worship. When somehow or other uttered even once by a living entity, the holy name awards him liberation. The holy name of Krsna is the highest nectar. It is my very life and my only treasure." 

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 4.71


Congregational chantinrg of the holy name fulfills the highest religious purpose in this age:

[Karabhajana Muni to King Nimi]: "In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions."

Srila Jiva Gosvami cites a verse from the Vedic literature which says that there is no necessity of performing sacrificial demonstrations or ceremonial functions. He comments that instead of engaging in such external, pompous exhibitions, all people, regardless of caste, color or creed, can assemble together and chant Hare Krsna to worship Lord Caitanya. Krsna−varnam tvisakrsnam [SB 11.5.32] indicates that prominence should be given to the name of Krsna. Lord Caitanya taught Krsna consciousness and chanted the name of Krsna. Therefore, to worship Lord Caitanya, everyone should together chant the maha−mantra 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

 To propagate worship in churches, temples or mosques is not possible, because people have lost interest in that. But anywhere and everywhere, people can chant Hare Krsna. Thus worshiping Lord Caitanya, they can perform the highest activity and fulfill the highest religious purpose of satisfying the Supreme Lord.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi 3.52


In Kali yuga, the chanting of the holy name is especially recommended for success in spiritual life:

It is understood from the authoritative source of Vedic literature that especially in this age; Kali yuga, people are generally short−living, extremely bad in their habits, and inclined to accept methods of devotional service that are not bona fide. Moreover, they are always disturbed by material conditions, and they are mostly unfortunate. Under the circumstances, the performance of other processes, such as yajna, dana, tapah and kriya−sacrifices, charity and so on−are not at all possible. Therefore it is recommended:

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
[Adi 17.21]

"In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way." Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one advances perfectly in spiritual life. This is the best process for success in life. In other ages, the chanting of the holy name is equally powerful, but especially in this age, Kali yuga, it is most powerful.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.23−24


By chanting, one is elevated to the transcendental platform beyond those stages attained by philosophers, religionists, yogis, karmis, etc.:

Lord Caitanya gives His judgment on the authority of sastras that the chanting of the holy names of the Lord is the only means to elevate one to the transcendental platform, and actually we can see it is effective. Each and every one of our students who has seriously taken to this process may be examined individually, and any impartial judge will find it easy to see that they have advanced in their transcendental realization further than any philosophers, religionists, yogis, karmis, etc.

– The Science of Self Realization


By chanting the maha−mantra, one achieves the results of karma, jnana and yoga automatically: 

The importance of chanting 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

is very strongly stressed in the Second Canto, First Chapter, verse 11, of the – Srimad Bhagavatam in the following way: Sukadeva Gosvami tells Maharaja Pariksit: "My dear King, if one is spontaneously attached to the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra, it is to be understood that he has attained the highest perfectional stage." It is specifically mentioned that the karmis who are aspiring after the fruitive results of their activities, the salvationists who are aspiring to become one with the Supreme Person, and the yogis who are aspiring after mystic perfections can achieve the results of all perfectional stages simply by chanting the maha−mantra. Sukadeva uses the word nirnitam, which means "it is already decided." He was a liberated soul and therefore could not accept anything which was not conclusive. So Sukadeva Gosvami especially stresses that it is already concluded that one who has come to the stage of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra with determination and steadiness must be considered as having already passed the trials of fruitive activities, mental speculation and mystic yoga.

– The Nectar of Devotion


Chanting the holy name is more effective than karma, jnana, and yoga for becoming free from material bondage:

[Sukadeva Gosvami to King Pariksit]: Ajamila was a brahmana who because of bad association had given up all brahminical culture and religious principles. Becoming most fallen, he stole, drank and performed other abominable acts. He even kept a prostitute. Thus he was destined to be carried away to hell by the order carriers of Yamaraja, but he was immediately rescued simply by a glimpse of the chanting of the holy name Narayana. Therefore one who desires freedom from material bondage should adopt the process of chanting and glorifying the name, fame, form and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, at whose feet all the holy places stand. One cannot derive the proper benefit from other methods, such as pious atonement, speculative knowledge and meditation in mystic yoga, because even after following such methods one takes to fruitive activities again, unable to control his mind, which is contaminated by the base qualities of nature, namely passion and ignorance.

It has actually been seen that even after achieving so−called perfection, many karmis, jnanis and yogis become attached to material activities again. Many so−called svamis and yogis give up material activities as false (jagan mithya), but after some time they nevertheless resume material activities by opening hospitals and schools or performing other activities for the benefit of the public. Sometimes they participate in politics, although still falsely declaring themselves sannyasis, members of the renounced order. The perfect conclusion, however, is that if one actually desires to get out of the material world, he must take to devotional service, which begins with sravanam kirtanam visnoh: [SB 7.5.23] chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. The Krsna consciousness movement has actually proved this. In the Western countries, many young boys who were addicted to drugs and who had many other bad habits, which they could not give up, abandoned all those propensities and very seriously engaged in chanting the glories of the Lord as soon as they joined the Krsna consciousness movement. In other words, this process is the perfect method of atonement for actions performed in rajah and tamah (passion and ignorance). As stated in – Srimad Bhagavatam (1.2.19):

tada rajas−tamo−bhavah kama−lobhadayas ca ye
ceta etair anaviddham sthitam sattve prasidati

As a result of rajah and tamah, one becomes increasingly lusty and greedy, but when one takes to the process of chanting and hearing, one comes to the platform of goodness and becomes happy. As he advances in devotional service, all his doubts are completely eradicated (bhidyate hrdaya−granthis chidyante sarva−samsayah). Thus the knot of his desire for fruitive activities is cut to pieces.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.45−46


Explanation of the "harer nama" verse in the Brhan−naradiya Purana:

After this incident the Lord ate raw rice given by Suklambara Brahmacari and explained very elaborately the import of the "harer nama" [Adi 17.21] sloka mentioned in the Brhan−naradiya Purana: "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 Lord Hari." In this age of Kali, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha−mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna. Simply by chanting the holy name, one associates with the Lord directly. Anyone who does this is certainly delivered. This verse repeats the word eva [certainly] three times for emphasis, and it also three times repeats harer nama [the holy name of the Lord] just to make common people understand. The use of the word kevalam [only] prohibits all other processes, such as cultivation of knowledge, practice of mystic yoga, and performance of austerities and fruitive activities. This verse clearly states that anyone who accepts any other path cannot be delivered. This is the reason for the triple repetition "nothing else, nothing else, nothing else," which emphasizes the real process of self Realization.

To emphasize something to an ordinary person, one may repeat it three times, just as one might say, "You must do this! You must do this! You must do this!" Thus the Brhan−naradiya Purana repeatedly emphasizes the chanting of the holy name so that people may take it seriously and thus free themselves from the clutches of maya…

Our Krsna consciousness movement stresses the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra only, whereas those who do not know the secret of success for this age of Kali unnecessarily indulge in the cultivation of knowledge, the practice of mystic yoga or the performance of fruitive activities or useless austerities. They are simply wasting their time and misleading their followers. When we point this out very plainly to an audience, members of opposing groups become angry at us. But according to the injunctions of the sastras, we cannot make compromises with these so−called jnanis, yogis, karmis and tapasvis. When they say they are as good as we are, we must say that only we are good and that they are not good. This is not our obstinacy; it is the injunction of the sastras. We must not deviate from the injunctions of the sastras.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 17.20−25


The systems of yoga and jnana are not practicable in this age−only the system of hari−kirtana, chanting the holy name: 

Other systems of self Realization, the jnana process or yoga process, are also recognized, but it is not possible to practice them in this age. That is the verdict of the Vedas:

krte yad dhyayato visnum tretayam yajato makhaih
dvapare paricaryayam kalau tad dhari−kirtanat

[- Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.52] In the Satya yuga, the Golden Age, it was possible to execute the meditation process. For instance, Valmiki Muni meditated for sixty thousand years to get perfection. But where is our old age? Besides that, for the meditation process, as described in the Bhagavad−gita, one has to select a secluded place, he has to execute it alone, he has to sit down in a rigid posture, he has to lead a life of complete celibacy, and so on. There are many rules and regulations. Thus astanga−yoga meditation is not possible. If one is satisfied by imitating, that is a different thing, but if one wants perfection, then he has to execute all the eight stages of astanga−yoga. If this is not possible, then it is a waste of time.

What is the ultimate goal of the yoga process or meditation? Contact with the Supreme, the Supersoul, the Supreme Lord, is the aim and object of all yoga processes. Similarly, philosophical research, the jnana process, also aims at understanding the Supreme Brahman. These are recognized processes, undoubtedly, but according to authoritative description, they are not practical in this Iron Age of Kali. Therefore one has to take to this process of hari−kirtana. Anyone can practice without prequalification.

– The Science of Self Realization


The processes of jnana, yoga, meditation and pious activities are not as effective in cleansing the heart as chanting the holy name:

Ceto−darpana−marjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] one has to cleanse his heart. There are different processes to cleanse the heart−the jnana process, the yoga process, the meditation process, pious activities. Karma also cleanses the heart. If one acts very piously, his heart will gradually be cleansed. But although these processes are recommended for cleansing the heart, in this age they are all difficult. To follow the path of philosophical knowledge one must become a very learned scholar, one must read so many books, one must go to learned professors and scholars and speculate. One must search out a person who has seen the light. So these are all philosophical processes. Meditation is also a recommended process. One should question, "What am I?" Just consider: Am I this body? No. Am I this finger? No, this is my finger. If you contemplate your leg, you will see, "Oh, this is my leg." Similarly, you will find everything to be "mine." And where is that "I"? Everything is mine, but where is that "I"? When one is searching for that "I," that is meditation. Real meditation means concentrating all the senses in that way. But that meditation process is very difficult. One must control the senses. The senses are dragging one outward, and one has to bring them inward for introspection. Therefore there are eight processes in the yoga system. The first is controlling the senses by regulative principles. Then sitting postures−that will help to concentrate the mind. If one sits leaning over, that will not help; if one sits up straight, that will help. Then controlling the breathing, then meditation, then samadhi. But today these are very, very difficult processes. No one can immediately perform them. The so−called yoga processes are fragmental−only the sitting postures and a few breathing exercises are practiced. But that cannot bring one to the perfectional stage. The actual yoga process, although a recommended Vedic process, is very difficult in this age. Similarly one can try to get knowledge by the speculative philosophical process: "This is Brahman, this is not Brahman, so what is Brahman? What is spirit soul?" Such empiric philosophical discussion is also recommended, but it is useless in this age.

Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu−not only Caitanya Mahaprabhu but also the Vedic literature−says:

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
[Adi 17.21]

Kalau means "in this age." Nasty eva, nasty eva, nasty eva−three times nasty eva. Eva means "certainly," and nasti means "not." "Certainly not, certainly not, certainly not." What is that "certainly not"? One cannot realize oneself by karma. That is the first "certainly not." One cannot realize oneself by jnana. That is the second "certainly not." One cannot realize oneself by yoga. Certainly not. Kalau. Kalau means "in this age." Kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. In this age one certainly cannot achieve success by any of these three methods. Then what is the recommended process? Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam. Simply chant the Hare Krsna mantra. Kevalam means "only." Simply chant Hare Krsna. It is the easiest and most sublime process. This is recommended, practical, and authorized. So take it. Accept it in any condition of life. Chant. There is no expenditure, there is no loss. We are not chanting a secret. No. It is open. And by chanting you will cleanse your heart.

– The Science of Self Realization


Chanting the holy name brings the perfection of penance, sacrifice and fruitive activity:

It is said in the Skanda Purana:

yasya smrtya ca namoktya tapo−yajna−kriyadisu
nunam sampurnatam eti sadyo vande tam acyutam

"I offer my obeisances unto Him, the infallible, because simply by either remembering Him or vibrating His holy name one can attain the perfection of all penances, sacrifices or fruitive activities, and this process can be universally followed."

– Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.36


In Kali yuga, chanting the holy name is more important than study of Vedanta philosophy:

[Prakasananda Sarasvati to Lord Caitanya]: "You are a sannyasi. Why then do You indulge in chanting and dancing, engaging in Your sankirtana movement in the company of fanatics? Meditation and the study of Vedanta are the sole duties of a sannyasi. Why do You abandon these to dance with fanatics? You look as brilliant as if You were Narayana Himself. Will You kindly explain the reason that You have adopted the behavior of lower−class people?" Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied to Prakasananda Sarasvati: "My dear sir, kindly hear the reason. My spiritual master considered Me a fool, and therefore he chastised Me. 'You are a fool,' he said. 'You are not qualified to study Vedanta philosophy, and therefore You must always chant the holy name of Krsna. This is the essence of all mantras or Vedic hymns.'"

When Prakasananda Sarasvati inquired from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu why He neither studied Vedanta nor performed meditation, Lord Caitanya presented Himself as a number one fool in order to indicate that the present age, Kali yuga, is an age of fools and rascals in which it is not possible to obtain perfection simply by reading Vedanta philosophy and meditating. The sastras strongly recommend:

harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
[Adi 17.21]

"In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way."

People in general in Kali yuga are so fallen that it is not possible for them to obtain perfection simply by studying Vedanta−sutra. One should therefore seriously take to the constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord… Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna, the spiritual master of the entire universe, He nevertheless took the position of a disciple in order to teach by example how a devotee should strictly follow the orders of a spiritual master in executing the duty of always chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. One who is very much attracted to the study of Vedanta philosophy must take lessons from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In this age, no one is actually competent to study Vedanta, and therefore it is better that one chant the holy name of the Lord, which is the essence of all Vedic knowledge, as Krsna Himself confirms in Bhagavad−gita,

vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta−krd veda−vid eva caham

"By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas." (Bg. 15.15)

One who imperfectly knows Krsna consciousness cannot know Vedanta philosophy. A showy display of Vedanta study without Krsna consciousness is a feature of the external energy, maya, and as long as one is attracted by the inebrieties of this ever−changing material energy, he deviates from devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. An actual follower of Vedanta philosophy is a devotee of Lord Visnu, who is the greatest of the great and the maintainer of the entire universe. Unless one surpasses the field of activities in service to the limited, one cannot reach the unlimited. Knowledge of the unlimited is actual brahma−jnana, or knowledge of the Supreme. Those who are addicted to fruitive activities and speculative knowledge cannot understand the value of the holy name of the Lord, Krsna, who is always completely pure, eternally liberated and full of spiritual bliss. One who has taken shelter of the holy name of the Lord, which is identical with the Lord, does not have to study Vedanta philosophy, for he has already completed all such study. 

One who is unfit to chant the holy name of Krsna but thinks that the holy name is different from Krsna and thus takes shelter of Vedanta study in order to understand Him must be considered a number one fool, as confirmed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu by His personal behavior, and philosophical speculators who want to make Vedanta philosophy an academic career are also considered to be within the material energy. A person who always chants the holy name of the Lord, however, is already beyond the ocean of nescience, and thus even a person born in a low family who engages in chanting the holy name of the Lord is considered to be beyond the study of Vedanta philosophy. In this connection the – Srimad Bhagavatam states:

aho bata sva−paco 'to gariyan yaj−jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam
tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya brahmanucur nama grnanti ye te

"If a person born in a family of dog−eaters takes to the chanting of the holy name of Krsna, it is to be understood that in his previous life he must have executed all kinds of austerities and penances and performed all the Vedic yajnas." (S.B. 3.33.7)

Another quotation states:

rg−vedo 'tha yajur−vedah sama−vedo 'py atharvanah
adhitas tena yenoktam harir ity aksara−dvayam

"A person who chants the two syllables ha−ri has already studied the four Vedas−Sama, Rg, Yajur and Atharva."

Taking advantage of these verses, there are some sahajiyas who, taking everything very cheaply, consider themselves elevated Vaisnavas but do not care even to touch the Vedanta−sutras or Vedanta philosophy. A real Vaisnava should, however, study Vedanta philosophy, but if after studying the Vedanta one does not adopt the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, he is no better than a Mayavadi. Therefore, one should not be a Mayavadi, yet one should not be unaware of the subject matter of Vedanta philosophy. Indeed, Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His knowledge of Vedanta in His discourses with Prakasananda Sarasvati. Thus it is to be understood that a Vaisnava should be completely conversant with Vedanta philosophy, yet he should not think that studying Vedanta is all in all and therefore be unattached to the chanting of the holy name. A devotee must know the importance of simultaneously understanding Vedanta philosophy and chanting the holy names. If by studying Vedanta one becomes an impersonalist, he has not been able to understand Vedanta. This is confirmed in Bhagavad−gita (15.15). Vedanta means "the end of knowledge." The ultimate end of knowledge is knowledge of Krsna, who is identical with His holy name.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 7.68−72


In Kali yuga, chanting the holy name is more important than accepting sannyasa for attaining self Realization:

In this age of Kali yuga sannyasa is prohibited because persons in this age are all sudras and cannot follow the rules and regulations of sannyasa life. It is very commonly found that so−called sannyasis are addicted to nonsense−even to having private relationships with women. This is the abominable situation in this age. Although they dress themselves as sannyasis, they still cannot free themselves from the four principles of sinful life, namely illicit sex life, meat−eating, intoxication and gambling. Since they are not freed from these four principles, they are cheating the public by posing as swamis.

In Kali yuga the injunction is that no one should accept sannyasa. Of course, those who actually follow the rules and regulations must take sannyasa. Generally, however, people are unable to accept sannyasa life, and therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu stressed, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. In this age there is no other alternative, no other alternative, no other alternative than to chant the holy name of the Lord: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. The main purpose of sannyasa life is to be in constant companionship with the Supreme Lord, either by thinking of Him within the heart or hearing of Him through aural reception. In this age, hearing is more important than thinking because one's thinking may be disturbed by mental agitation, but if one concentrates on hearing, he will be forced to associate with the sound vibration of Krsna. Krsna and the sound vibration "Krsna" are nondifferent, so if one loudly vibrates Hare Krsna, he will be able to think of Krsna immediately. This process of chanting is the best process of self Realization in this age; therefore Lord Caitanya preached it so nicely for the benefit of all humanity.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 3.24.35


Because yogic celibacy is not possible in this age, Lord Caitanya recommended the chanting of the holy name as the only means of spiritual realization:

[Lord Krsna to Arjuna]: Persons learned in the Vedas, who utter omkara and who are great sages in the renounced order, enter into Brahman. Desiring such perfection, one practices celibacy… 

In the Vedic system of knowledge, students, from the very beginning, are taught to vibrate om and learn of the ultimate impersonal Brahman by living with the spiritual master in complete celibacy. In this way they realize two of Brahman's features. This practice is very essential for the student's advancement in spiritual life, but at the moment such brahmacari (unmarried celibate) life is not at all possible. The social construction of the world has changed so much that there is no possibility of one's practicing celibacy from the beginning of student life. Throughout the world there are many institutions for different departments of knowledge, but there is no recognized institution where students can be educated in the brahmacari principles. Unless one practices celibacy, advancement in spiritual life is very difficult. Therefore Lord Caitanya has announced, according to the scriptural injunctions for this age of Kali, that no process of realizing the Supreme is possible except the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna: 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

– Bhagavad gita As It Is 8.11


Rather than hear the impersonalist conceptions of Sankara, the common man should chant the maha−mantra for self Realization:

Lord Caitanya immediately informed Prakasananda that in the modern age people in general are more or less bereft of all spiritual intellect. When such people come under the influence of Sankaracarya's Mayavadi (impersonalist) philosophy before beginning the most confidential Vedanta−sutras, their natural tendency toward obedience to the Supreme is checked. The supreme source of everything is naturally respected by everyone, but this natural tendency is hampered when one takes to the impersonalist conceptions of Sankara. Thus the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya suggested that it is better that one not study the Sariraka−bhasya of Sankaracarya, for it is very harmful to people in general. Indeed, the common man does not even have the intelligence to penetrate into the jugglery of words. He is better advised to chant the maha−mantra: 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

 In this quarrelsome age of Kali there is no alternative for self Realization.

– Teachings of Lord Caitanya


In Kali yuga, rather than looking toward the light of mental speculation and atheists,people should take advantage of Lord Caitanya's movement of chanting Hare Krsna:

During the rainy season, in the evening, there are many glowworms visible about the tops of trees, hither and thither, and they glitter just like lights. But the luminaries of the sky, the stars and the moons, are not visible. Similarly, in the age of Kali, persons who are atheists or miscreants become very prominently visible, whereas persons who are actually following the Vedic principles for spiritual emancipation are practically obscured. This age, Kali yuga, is compared to the cloudy season of the living entities. In this age, real knowledge is covered by the influence of material advancement of civilization. The cheap mental speculators, atheists and manufacturers of so−called religious principles become prominent like the glowworms, whereas persons strictly following the Vedic principles or scriptural injunctions become covered by the clouds of this age. People should learn to take advantage of the actual luminaries of the sky, the sun, moon, and stars, instead of the glowworm's light. Actually, the glowworm cannot give any light in the darkness of night. As clouds sometimes clear, even in the rainy season, and sometimes the moon, stars and sun become visible, so even in this Kali yuga there are sometimes advantages. The Vedic movement of Lord Caitanya's−the distribution of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra−is heard in this way. People seriously anxious to find real life should take advantage of this movement instead of looking toward the light of mental speculators and atheists.

– Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead


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