09 Devotees must chant (at least) sixteen rounds daily
The first regulative principle is that one must chant a fixed number of rounds:
[Lord Caitanya to Haridasa thakura]: "Now that you have become old," the Lord said, "you may reduce the number of rounds you chant daily. You are already liberated, and therefore you need not follow the regulative principles very strictly."
Unless one has come to the platform of spontaneous love of God, he must follow the regulative principles. thakura Haridasa was the living example of how to follow the regulative principles. Similarly, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was also such a living example. In the Ñad−gosvamy−astaka it is stated: sankhya−purvaka−nama−gana−natibhih kalavasanikrtau. The Gosvamis, especially Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, strictly followed all the regulative principles. The first regulative principle is that one must chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra loudly enough so that he can hear himself, and one must vow to chant a fixed number of rounds. Not only was Raghunatha dasa Gosvami chanting a fixed number of rounds, but he had also taken a vow to bow down many times and offer obeisances to the Lord.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 11.24
Following in the.footsteps of Lord Caitanya, the six Gosvamis and Haridasa thakura, devotees in the line of Lord Caitanya must chant a fixed number of rounds (sixteen) daily:
[Lord Nityananda to Lord Caitanya]: "Since Your two hands will always be engaged in chanting and counting the holy names, how will You be able to carry the water pot and external garments?"
From this verse it is clear that Caitanya Mahaprabhu was chanting the holy names a fixed number of times daily. The Gosvamis used to follow in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Haridasa thakura also followed this principle. Concerning the Gosvamis−Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Srila Jiva Gosvami, Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami−Srinivasa Acarya confirms: sankhya−purvaka−nama−gana−natibhih. (Nad−gosvamy−astaka, 6) In addition to other duties, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the system of chanting the holy name of the Lord a fixed number of times daily, as confirmed in this verse (tomara dui hasta baddha nama−ganane). Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to count on His fingers. While one hand was engaged in chanting, the other hand kept the number of rounds. This is corroborated in the Caitanya−candramrta and also in Srila Rupa Gosvami's Stava−mala:
badhnan prema−bhara−prakampita−karo granthin katidorakaih
sankhyatum nija−loka−mangala−hare−krsneti namnam japan
hare krsnety uccaih sphurita−rasano nama−ganana
Therefore devotees in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must chant at least sixteen rounds daily, and this is the number prescribed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Haridasa thakura daily chanted 300,000 names. Sixteen rounds is about 28,000 names. There is no need to imitate Haridasa thakura or the other Gosvamis, but chanting the holy name a fixed number of times daily is essential for every devotee.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 7.37
Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master's order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential:
One may have other duties to perform under the direction of the spiritual master, but he must first abide by the spiritual master's order to chant a certain number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement, we have recommended that the neopyte chant at least sixteen rounds. This chanting of sixteen rounds is absolutely necessary if one wants to remember Krsna and not forget Him. Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master's order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 22.113
The devotee should not divert his attention from the basic principle of chanting sixteen rounds daily, according to the prescribed principles:
The Lord, being satisfied, instructed [Tapana Misra] about the object of life and the process to attain it. He instructed him that the basic principle of success is to chant the holy name of the Lord [the Hare Krsna maha mantra].
The Krsna consciousness movement is based upon this instruction of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that one must chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra regularly and according to the prescribed principles. We simply ask our Western students to chant at least sixteen rounds a day, but sometimes we find that they fail to chant even these sixteen rounds, and instead they bring many austere books and a worshiping method that diverts their attention in so many ways. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's cult is based upon the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. Lord Caitanya first advised Tapana Misra to fix his mind in this chanting. We, the members of the Krsna consciousness movement, must strictly follow this advice of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 16.15
The devotees of the Krsna consciousness movement must be very careful to complete their sixteen rounds:
A devotee always has a taste for chanting Hare Krsna: "Oh, very nice.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
" This is taste. Of course, this takes time to awaken, but when Rupa Gosvami was chanting he was thinking, "I have only one tongue and two ears. What can I appreciate of chanting? If I could have millions of tongues and trillions of ears, then I could relish something by chanting and hearing." Of course, we should not imitate him, but the devotees of the Krsna consciousness movement must at least be very careful to complete their sixteen rounds, their minimum amount of prescribed chanting. Nama−gane sada rucih: we have to increase our taste for singing and chanting Hare Krsna.
– Teachings of Queen Kunti
Srila Prabhupada requests all his students to chant sixteen offenseless rounds of the maha mantra, following the regulative principles:
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. It is our practical experience in the Krsna consciousness movement all over the world that many millions of people are factually coming to the spiritual stage of life simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra regularly, according to the prescribed principles. Therefore our request to all our students is that they daily chant at least sixteen rounds of this harer nama [Adi 17.21] maha mantra offenselessly, following the regulative principles. Thus their success will be assured without a doubt.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 17.23
Students of this Hare Krsna movement must chant at least sixteen rounds daily:
The twentieth branch of the Caitanya tree was Haridasa thakura. His character was wonderful. He used to chant the holy name of Krsna 300,000 times a day without fail.
Certainly the chanting of 300,000 holy names of the Lord is wonderful. No ordinary person can chant so many names, nor should one artificially imitate Haridasa thakura's behavior. It is essential, however, that everyone fulfill a specific vow to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. Therefore we have prescribed in our society that all our students must chant at least sixteen rounds daily. Such chanting must be offenseless in order to be of high quality. Mechanical chanting is not as powerful as chanting of the holy name without offenses.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 10.43
Although Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati prescribed sixty−four rounds, the Krsna consciousness movement prescribes sixteen because of Westerners' inability to concentrate for long periods:
The Krsna consciousness movement prescribes sixteen rounds daily because people in the Western countries cannot concentrate for long periods while chanting on beads. Therefore the minimum number of rounds is prescribed. However, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati used to say that unless one chants at least sixty−four rounds of japa (one hundred thousand names), he is considered fallen (patita). According to his calculation, practically every one of us is fallen, but because we are trying to serve the Supreme Lord with all seriousness and without duplicity, we can expect the mercy of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is famous as patita−pavana, the deliverer of the fallen.
– The Nectar of Instruction Text 5
Haridasa thakura would not even accept prasada or sleep until he finished his daily rounds:
thakura Haridasa would not even accept prasada nor even sleep for a moment without finishing his daily routine of chanting with his beads three hundred thousand names.
– Bhagavad gita As It Is 6.17
Chanting a fixed number of rounds on beads is necessary for everyone, even a paramahamsa:
Madhavendra Puri left the temple and sat down in the village marketplace, which was vacant. Sitting there, he began to chant. In the meantime, the temple priest laid the Deity down to rest. Although Madhavendra Puri was not interested in eating and sleeping, his interest in chanting the maha mantra was as acute as if he were an aspiring transcendentalist rather than a paramahamsa. This means that even in the paramahamsa stage, one cannot give up chanting. Haridasa thakura and the Gosvamis were all engaged in chanting a fixed number of rounds; therefore chanting on beads is very important for everyone, even though one may become a paramahamsa. This chanting can be executed anywhere, either inside or outside the temple. Madhavendra Puri even sat down in a vacant marketplace to perform his chanting. As stated by Srinivasa Acarya in his prayers to the Gosvamis: nama−gana−natibhih. A paramahamsa devotee is always engaged in chanting and rendering loving service to the Lord.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 4.125
An uttama adhikari chants the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads:
When a neophyte devotee is actually initiated and engaged in devotional service by the orders of the spiritual master, he should be accepted immediately as a bona fide Vaisnava, and obeisances should be offered unto him. Out of many such Vaisnavas, one may be found to be very seriously engaged in the service of the Lord and strictly following all the regulative principles, chanting the prescribed number of rounds on japa beads and always thinking of how to expand the Krsna consciousness movement. Such a Vaisnava should be accepted as an uttama adhikari, a highly advanced devotee, and his association should always be sought.
– The Nectar of Instruction Text 5
Dealings with the material world for spreading the Krsna consciousness movement are spiritual, as long as one daily chants sixteen rounds of the maha mantra:
In our preaching work, we deal with so much property and money and so many books bought and sold, but because these dealings all pertain to the Krsna consciousness movement, they should never be considered material. That one is absorbed in thoughts of such management does not mean that he is outside of Krsna consciousness. If one rigidly observes the regulative principle of chanting sixteen rounds of the maha mantra every day, his dealings with the material world for the sake of spreading the Krsna consciousness movement are not different from the spiritual cultivation of Krsna consciousness.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 5.16.3
By chanting sixteen rounds of the maha mantra (etc.) one gets spiritual strength with which to preach Krsna consciousness all over the world:
[Chand Kazi to the devotees of Lord Caitanya]: "For so long you did not follow the regulative principles of the Hindu religion, but now you are following them with great enthusiasm. May I know by whose strength you are doing so?"
It appears that from the aggression of Vaktiyara Khiliji in Bengal until the time of Chand Kazi, Hindus, or the followers of the Vedic principles, were greatly suppressed. Like the Hindus in present−day Pakistan, practically no one could execute the Hindu religious principles freely. Chand Kazi referred to this condition of Hindu society. Formerly the Hindus had not been straightforward in executing their Hindu principles, but now they were freely chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra. Therefore it must have been by the strength of someone else that they were so daring. Actually, that was the fact. Although the members of the so−called Hindu society had followed the social customs and formulas, they had practically forgotten to execute their religious principles strictly. But with the presence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu they actually began following the regulative principles according to His order. That order is still existing, and anywhere and everywhere, in all parts of the world, one can execute it. That order is to become a spiritual master under the direction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by following the regulative principles, chanting daily at least sixteen rounds of the Hare Krsna maha mantra, and preaching the cult of Krsna consciousness all over the world. If we adhere to the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we shall get spiritual strength without a doubt, and we shall be free to preach this cult of the Hare Krsna movement and not be hampered by anyone.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Adi lila 17.126
If one regularly chants one's prescribed rounds, he is gradually elevated to the uttama adhikari platform:
Everyone begins his devotional life from the neophyte stage, but if one properly finishes chanting the prescribed number of rounds of hari−nama, he is elevated step by step to the highest platform, uttama adhikari.
– The Nectar of Instruction Text 5
One who cannot complete his assigned number of rounds is in a diseased condition of spiritual life:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu further inquired from Haridasa, "Can you ascertain what your disease is?" Haridasa thakura replied, "My disease is that I cannot complete my rounds." If one cannot complete the fixed number of rounds he is assigned, he should be considered to be in a diseased condition of spiritual life. Srila Haridasa thakura is called namacarya. Of course, we cannot imitate Haridasa thakura, but everyone must chant a prescribed number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement we have fixed sixteen rounds as the minimum so that Westerners will not feel burdened. These sixteen rounds must be chanted, and chanted loudly, so that one can hear himself and others.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 11.23
Chanting the holy name 300,000 times daily like Haridasa thakura is for the liberated soul. It should not be imitated:
Haridasa thakura constructed a cottage in a solitary forest. There he planted a tulasi plant, and in front of the tulasi he would chant the holy name of the Lord 300,000 times daily. He chanted throughout the entire day and night. Haridasa thakura used to chant the holy name on his beads 300,000 times daily. Throughout the entire day and night, he would chant the sixteen names of the Hare Krsna maha mantra.One should not, however, imitate Haridasa thakura, for no one else can chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra 300,000 times a day. Such chanting is for the mukta−purusa, or liberated soul. We can follow his example, however, by chanting sixteen rounds of the Hare Krsna maha mantra on beads every day.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.100