How to properly chant the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra – Japa
” Nish, nish, ram, ram, nish, nish, ram, ram .” Srila Prabhupada once imitated how we sometimes chant without focus, without concentration, without proper pronunciation – how we chant when we don’t feel like chanting.
You know the mood behind this type of chanting; “I have to chant but I’d rather be doing something else.” And in our minds we are thinking, “I can’t wait to get these rounds out of the way, when shall I be finished.” We all do this. And it can get pretty bad. I know devotees who chant rounds while watching football games on TV.
Srila Prabhupada explained that this type of chanting is more or less useless because it will not produce the desired result, love of Krishna. To even call this chanting is a stretch. It is closer to a ritual. But Prabhupada acknowledged the value in the ritual by saying that although this kind of chanting is not very productive, at least those who are chanting this way are keeping their vow to chant.
I call this kind of japa, ” courtesy japa .” “Courtesy japa” means that since you have taken a vow – either to your spiritual master or yourself – to chant a certain number of rounds daily, you keep that vow while chanting the kind of japa I described above.
Here are a few other examples (methods) of what I call “courtesy japa:”
• Chanting while talking to someone (you talk, and when they reply you chant).
• Chanting while reading (which could really work if you have two heads, one to read and one to chant).
• Chanting while listening to a CD or the radio (this is especially challenging while listening to the news or listening to rock and roll music).
• Chanting while shopping.
• Chanting while window shopping (this often happens on early morning japa walks).
• Chanting while you are dosing off (sometimes known as dive bomb japa).
• Chanting while site seeing or looking around at a million things (sometimes known as radar japa).
• Chanting while watching movies (Krishna Conscious movies are included in “courtesy japa”).
• Chanting a little, talking a little, chanting a little, talking a little (sometimes known as jibber japa).
• Chanting while …………………… (fill in your favorites).
Note, these are all excellent ways to ruin your japa and thus put your Krishna conscious transmission in park. You can make incredible advancement during japa. Good japa is like flying down the highway in fourth gear. Good japa produces inspiration, realization, detachment, increased desire to serve, attraction to study scripture, and an ability to see maya’s workings more clearly. And there are so many more gifts good japa delivers. Yet we deprive ourselves of these gifts when we chant “courtesy japa.”