01 The three stages of chanting
The three stages of chanting the holy name:
The simple process of offenselessly chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord will gradually promote one very soon to the stage of emancipation. There are three stages in chanting the holy name of the Lord. The first stage is the offensive chanting of the holy name, and the second is the reflective stage of chanting the holy name. The third stage is the offenseless chanting of the holy name of the Lord. In the second stage only, the stage of reflection, between the offensive and offenseless stages, one automatically attains the stage of emancipation. And in the offenseless stage, one actually enters into the kingdom of God, although physically he may apparently be within the material world.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 2.2.30
There are three stages in chanting the holy name of the Lord−the offensive stage, the stage of lessening offenses, and the pure stage. When a neophyte takes to the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, he generally commits many offenses. There are ten basic offenses, and if the devotee avoids these, he can glimpse the next stage, which is situated between offensive chanting and pure chanting. When one attains the pure stage, he is immediately liberated. This is called bhava−mahadavagni−nirvapanam. As soon as one is liberated from the blazing fire of material existence, he can relish the taste of transcendental life.
– The Nectar of Instruction Text 7
There are three stages in chanting the holy name of the Lord. In the first stage, one commits ten kinds of offenses while chanting. In the next stage, namabhasa, the offenses have almost stopped, and one is coming to the platform of pure chanting. In the third stage, when one chants the Hare Krsna mantra without offenses, his dormant love for Krsna immediately awakens. This is the perfection.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 5.24.20
The namabhasa stage of chanting elevates one to the position of offenseless chanting:
[Chand Kazi to his orderlies]: "'The Hindus chant the name Hari because that is the name of their God. But you are Muhammadan meat−eaters. Why do you chant the name of the Hindus' God?' The meat−eater replied, 'Sometimes I joke with the Hindus. Some of them are called Krsnadasa, and some are called Ramadasa. Some of them are called Haridasa. They always chant "Hari, Hari," and thus I thought they would steal the riches from someone's house. Since that time, my tongue always vibrates the sound "Hari, Hari." I have no desire to say it, but still my tongue says it. I do not know what to do.' Another meat−eater said, 'Sir, please hear me. Since the day I joked with some Hindus in this way, my tongue chants the Hare Krsna hymn and cannot give it up. I do not know what mystic hymns and herbal potions these Hindus know.'"
Sometimes demoniac nonbelievers, not understanding the potency of the holy name, make fun of the Vaisnavas when the Vaisnavas chant the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. This joking is also beneficial for such persons. Srimad−Bhagavatam, Sixth Canto, Second Chapter, verse 14, indicates that the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra, even in joking, in the course of ordinary discussion, in indicating something extraneous, or in negligence, is called namabhasa, which is chanting that is almost on the transcendental stage. This namabhasa stage is better than namaparadha. Namabhasa awakens the supreme remembrance of Lord Visnu. When one remembers Lord Visnu, he becomes free from material enjoyment. Thus he gradually comes forward toward the transcendental service of the Lord and becomes eligible to chant the holy name of the Lord in the transcendental position.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi−lila 17.197−202