21 Householders can conduct chanting at home
Even householders can achieve perfection by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra: [Narada Muni to King Yudhisthira]:
The process of chanting the holy name of the Lord is so powerful that by this chanting even householders [grhasthas] can very easily gain the ultimate result achieved by persons in the renounced order. Maharaja Yudhisthira, I have now explained to you that process of religion.
This is a confirmation of the Krsna consciousness movement. Anyone who takes part in this movement, regardless of what he is, can gain the topmost result achieved by a perfect sannyasi, namely Brahmajnana (spiritual knowledge). Even more important, he can advance in devotional service. Maharaja Yudhisthira thought that because he was a grhastha there was no hope of his being liberated, and therefore he asked Narada Muni how he could get out of material entanglement. But Narada Muni, citing a practical example from his own life, established that by associating with devotees and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, any man in any condition of life can achieve the highest perfection without a doubt.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.74
Rather than leave his family, a householder can purify his household situation by regularly chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra:
[Kurma to Lord Caitanya]: The brahmana begged Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “My dear Lord, kindly show me favor and let me go with You. I can no longer tolerate the waves of misery caused by materialistic life.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “Don’t speak like that again. Better to remain at home and chant the holy name of Krsna always. Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in the Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu further advised the brahmana Kurma, “If you follow this instruction, your materialistic life at home will not obstruct your spiritual advancement. Indeed, If you follow these regulative principles, we will again meet here, or, rather you will never lose My company.” At whosoever’s house Sri Caitanya accepted His alms by taking prasada, He would convert the dwellers to His sankirtana movement and advise them just as He advised the brahmana named Kurma.
One must become freed from the materialistic way of life. One has to merge himself in the ocean of transcendental bliss. In other words, one cannot relish transcendental bliss without being freed from the materialistic way of life. It appears that the brahmana named Kurma was materially happy, for he expressed his family tradition as janma−kula−dhana. Now, being glorified, he wanted to leave all these material opulences. He wanted to travel with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. According to the Vedic way of civilization, one should leave his family after attaining fifty years of age and go to the forest of Vrndavana to devote the rest of his life to the service of the Lord.
It is not advisable in this age of Kali to leave one’s family suddenly, for people are not trained as proper brahmacaris and grhasthas. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised the brahmana not to be too eager to give up family life. It would be better to remain with his family and try to become purified by chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra regularly under the direction of a spiritual master. This is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If this principle is followed by everyone, there is no need to accept sannyasa. In the next verse Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advises everyone to become an ideal householder by offenselessly chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and teaching the same principle to everyone he meets. Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society, but that is not our mission. One can remain comfortably in his residence. We simply request everyone to chant the maha mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If one is a little literate and can read Bhagavad gita As It Is and Srimad Bhagavatam, that is so much the better. These works are now available in an English translation and are done very authoritatively to appeal to all classes of men. Instead of being engrossed in material activities, people throughout the world should take advantage of this movement and chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra at home with their families. One should also refrain from sinful activities−illicit sex, meat−eating, gambling and intoxication.. The real purpose of human life is to attain the spiritual platform and return to Godhead. That is the summum bonum of spiritual realization. The Krsna consciousness movement is trying to elevate human society to the perfection of life by pursuing the method described by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His advice to the brahmana Kurma. That is, one should stay at home, chant the Hare Krsna mantra and preach the instructions of Krsna as they are given in Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. If one simply follows the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, under the guidance of His representative, and chants the Hare Krsna mantra, teaching everyone as far as possible the same principle, the contamination of the materialistic way of life will not even touch him. It does not matter whether one lives in a holy place like Vrndavana, Navadipa or Jagannatha Puri or in the midst of European cities where the materialistic way of life is very prominent. If a devotee follows the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vrndavana and Navadvipa. This means that materialism cannot touch him. This is the secret of success for one advancing in Krsna consciousness.
The cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explained here very nicely. One who surrenders to Him and is ready to follow Him with heart and soul does not need to change his location. Nor is it necessary for one to change status. One may remain a householder, a medical practitioner, an engineer or whatever. It doesn’t matter. One only has to follow the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra and instruct relatives and friends in the teachings of Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 7.126−30
One can make home life pleasant by chanting Hare Krsna:
As for detachment from children, wife and home, it is not meant that one should have no feeling for these. They are natural objects of affection, but when they are not favorable to spiritual progress, then one should not be attached to them. The best process for making the home pleasant is Krsna consciousness. If one is in full Krsna consciousness, he can make his home very happy because this process of Krsna consciousness is very easy. One need only chant
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krsna, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four things will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
If one can mold his family life in this way to develop Krsna consciousness, following these four principles, then there is no need to change from family life to renounced life.
– Bhagavad gita As It Is 13.8−12
Krsna conscious householders should hold sankirtana festivals in their homes by distributing prasada, talking about Krsna, and holding congregational chanting of the holy name:
During the day the devotees discussed subject matters concerning Krsna, and at night there was a great festival of congregational chanting it the house of Advaita Acarya. Mother Saci cooked with great pleasure, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, along with the devotees, accepted the prasada with great pleasure. In this way all the opulences of Advaita Acarya His faith, devotion, home, riches and everything else were successfully utilized in the worship of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Advaita Acarya set an ideal example for all householder devotees in His receiving of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees and in His execution of a daily festival at His home. If one has the proper means and wealth, he should occasionally invite the devotees of Lord Caitanya, who are engaged in preaching all over the world, and hold a festival at home simply by distributing prasada and talking about Krsna during the day and holding congregational chanting for at least three hours in the evening. This procedure must be adopted in all centers of the Krsna consciousness movement. Thus they will daily perform sankirtana yajna. In Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.32) the daily performance of sankirtana−yajna is recommended for this age (yajnaih sankirtana−prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah). One should worship Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His four associates, the Pancatattva, by distributing prasada and holding congregational chanting. Indeed, that yajna or sacrifice is most recommended in this age of Kali. In this age, other yajnas are not possible to perform, but this yajna can be performed everywhere and anywhere without difficulty.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 3.201−3
One who feels he cannot live in the temple can practice Krsna consciousness at home by chanting the maha mantra, etc.:
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested them all to return home and begin chanting the holy name congregationally. He also requested them to worship Krsna, chant His holy name and discuss His holy pastimes.
The cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Hare Krsna movement, is very nicely explained by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu authoritatively. It is not that everyone has to take sannyasa like Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Everyone can execute the cult of Krsna consciousness at home, as ordered by the Lord. Everyone can congregationally chant the holy name of Krsna, the Hare Krsna maha mantra. One can also discuss the subject matter of Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam and install Deities of Radha Krsna or Gaura Nitai or both and worship Them very carefully in one’s own home. It is not that we have to open different centers all over the world. Whoever cares for the Krsna consciousness movement can install Deities at home, and, under superior guidance, worship the Deity regularly, chanting the maha mantra and discussing Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. We are teaching in our classes how to go about this. One who feels that he is not yet ready to live in a temple or undergo strict regulative principles in the temple especially householders who live with wife and children can start a center at home by installing the Deity, worshiping the Lord morning and evening, chanting Hare Krsna and discussing Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. Anyone can do this at home without difficulty, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested all the devotees present there to do so.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 3.190