07 Chanting of the holy name yields all results of austerity
By chanting Hare Krsna one attains the highest perfectional stage, formerly attained only by great austerities:
If one wants to perform austerities and penances in order to attain the supreme goal, one must attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one achieves the favor of the Supreme Lord, it is to be understood that he has finished all kinds of austerities and penances and has attained efficiency in their execution. On the other hand, if one does not attain the perfect stage of devotional service, all austerities and penances actually have no meaning, for without the Supreme Lord no one can attain the highest results derived from performing them. As stated in Bhagavad−gita (5.29), Lord Sri Krsna is the master of all penances and sacrifices. Bhoktaram yajna−tapasam sarva−loka−mahesvaram. Thus the desired result of performing austerities may be derived from Lord Krsna… Even if a person is born in a family of candalas−the lowest birth one can get in human society−he is glorious if he chants the holy names of the Lord, for it is to be understood that by such chanting a devotee definitely proves that he underwent all kinds of austerities in his previous life. By the grace of Lord Caitanya, one who chants the maha−mantra
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
attains the highest perfectional stage, which had previously been attained by people who entered the ocean and executed austerities for ten thousand years. In this age of Kali, if a person does not take advantage of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, which is offered as a great concession to the fallen human beings of this age, it is to be understood that he is very much bewildered by the illusory energy of the Lord.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24.14
In Kali−yuga, one can attain the same results attained in previous ages by severe austerities by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra:
Although Dhruva Maharaja was only a five−year−old boy, he underwent severe austeritiesby eating simply dry foliage, drinking only water and taking no food. In this way, after sixmonths, he was able to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. When he saw the Lord, he forgot all his austerities and said, svamin krtartho 'smi: "My dear Lord, I am very pleased."
Of course, these austerities were performed in the Satya−yuga, Dvapara−yuga and Treta−yuga, but not in this age of Kali. In this Kali−yuga, one can attain the same results simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. Because the people of this age are fallen, the Lord is kind enough to give them the easiest method. Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, one can attain the same results.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.30.4
Tapasya, austerity, has been made easy by Lord Caitanya in the form of chanting Hare Krsna:
Generally people are interested in things that give immediate pleasure. We want to taste something tasty to the tongue, regardless of whether it is edible or not. Hogs very readily eat stool, and they do so without discrimination. They have no idea of tapasya, penance. When one engages in spiritual realization, one has to undergo tapasya. However, this has been made very easy by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Ceto−darpana−marjanam bhava−maha−davagni− nirvapanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. All we have to do is spare a little time and chant Hare Krsna, but we are not even ready for this much tapasya. Krsna is more interested in leading us down the path of liberation than we are in going. He has given us a very simple method: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam [Adi 17.21]. We need only chant Hare Krsna. To perfect this chanting of Hare Krsna, there is no hard−and−fast rule. Simply by chanting, we will attain perfection.
– Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti
In this age, spiritual knowledge is attained not by penances and austerities, but by chanting Hare Krsna:
In former ages people underwent so many penances and austerities to acquire knowledge, but in this age this process is not possible because our lives are very short and we are always disturbed. The process for this age is the process of Krsna consciousness, the chanting of Hare Krsna, which was inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If, by this process, we can kindle the fire of knowledge, all of the reactions of our activities will be reduced to ashes, and we will be purified.
na hi jnanena sadrsam pavitram iha vidyate
tat svayam yoga−samsiddhah kalenatmani vindati
"In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge. Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism. And one who has achieved this enjoys the self within himself in due course of time." (Bg. 4.38)
– Raja vidya: The King of Knowledge
In Kali−yuga, chanting the holy name rather than performing severe austerities is the easiest means for attaining Krsna consciousness:
[Maitreya to Vidura]: Maharaja Prthu underwent all these severe austerities in order to control his words and his senses, to refrain from discharging his semen and to control the life air within his body. All this he did for the satisfaction of Krsna. He had no other purpose.
In Kali−yuga the following is recommended:
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
– (Brhan−naradiya Purana)
In order to be recognized by Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one should chant the holy name of the Lord continuously, twenty−four hours a day. Unfortunate persons who cannot accept this formula prefer to execute some type of pseudomeditation, without accepting the other processes of austerity. The fact is, however, that one must accept either the severe method of austerity described above to become purified or take to the process of devotional service recommended for pleasing the Supreme Lord, Krsna. The person who is Krsna conscious is most intelligent because in Kali−yuga it is not at all possible to undergo such severe austerities. We need only follow great personalities like Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In His Siksastaka, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu wrote, param vijayate sri−krsna−sankirtanam: all glories to the holy names of Lord Krsna, which from the very beginning purify the heart and immediately liberate one. Bhava−mahadavagni−nirvapanam. If the real purpose of all yoga is to please Lord Krsna, then this simple bhakti−yoga system recommended for this age is sufficient.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.23.7
Scripture prescribes the austerity of chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra to become free from material contamination and go back home, back to Godhead:
Human life is meant not for becoming a hog or dog, but for tapo divyam, transcendental austerity. Everyone should be taught to undergo austerity, tapasya. Although it may not be possible to undergo tapasya like that of Prsni and Sutapa, the sastra has given an opportunity for a method of tapasya very easy to perform−the sankirtana movement. One cannot expect to undergo tapasya to get Krsna as one's child, yet simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra (kirtanad eva krsnasya), one can become so pure that one becomes free from all the contamination of this material world (mukta−sangah) and goes back home, back to Godhead (param vrajet). The Krsna consciousness movement, therefore, is teaching people not to adopt artificial means of happiness, but to take the real path of happiness as prescribed in the sastra−the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra−and become perfect in every aspect of material existence.
– Srimad Bhagavatam 10.3.34−35