17 Chanting of the holy name is the foundation of spiritual life

Chanting Of The Holy Name Is The Foundation Of Spiritual Life

Chanting the holy name is the basic principle of spiritual advancement:

[Lord Kapila to Devahuti]: A devotee should always try to hear about spiritual matters and should always utilize his time in chanting the holy name of the Lord… It is especially mentioned here, nama−sankirtanac ca: one should chant the holy names of the Lord−

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

−either individually or with others. Lord Caitanya has given special stress to chanting of these holy names of the Lord as the basic principle of spiritual advancement.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 3.29.18

Devotional service begins with chanting of the holy name:

[Yamaraja to the Yamadutas]: Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society. 

The Bhagavatam further says, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje: [SB 1.2.6] the supreme religion is that which teaches its followers how to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond the reach of experimental knowledge. Such a religious system begins with tan−nama−grahana, chanting of the holy name of the Lord (sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada−sevanam [SB 7.5.23]). After chanting the holy name of the Lord and dancing in ecstasy, one gradually sees the form of the Lord, the pastimes of the Lord and the transcendental qualities of the Lord. This way one fully understands the situation of the Personality of Godhead.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 6.3.22

Devotional service begins with hearing the holy name chanted by a pure Vaisnava:

Because the living entities are minute, atomic parts and parcels of the Lord, devotional service is already present within them in a dormant condition. Devotional service begins with sravanam kirtanam, hearing and chanting. When a man is sleeping, he can be awakened by sound vibration; therefore every conditioned soul should be given the chance  to hear the Hare Krsna mantra chanted by a pure Vaisnava. One who hears the Hare Krsna mantra thus vibrated is awakened to spiritual consciousness, or Krsna consciousness. In this way one's mind gradually becomes purified, as stated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (ceto−darpana−marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). When the mind is purified, the senses are also purified. Instead of using the senses for sense gratification, the awakened devotee employs the senses in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. This is the process by which dormant love for Krsna is awakened.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 22.105

Service to Krsna begins with chanting His holy name and tasting His prasada:

With our material senses, we cannot see Krsna, nor can we even hear His name. We can begin to perceive Him when we advance in devotional service. That devotional service begins with the tongue, not the legs, eyes or ears. The tongue must be utilized to chant 

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

and take Krsna prasada. Thus the tongue has a dual function, and by utilizing it in this way, we will realize Krsna. We cannot see Krsna with our material eyes, nor hear about Him with material ears, nor touch Him with our hands; but if we engage our tongue in His service, He will reveal Himself, saying, "Here I am." 

– Elevation to Krsna Consciousness

Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau means that the service of the Lord begins with the tongue. This refers to chanting. By chanting Hare Krsna, one begins the service of the Lord… The tongue should be engaged in chanting and in eating the Lord's prasada so that the other senses will be controlled. Chanting is the medicine, and prasada is the diet. With these processes one can begin his service, and as the service increases, the Lord reveals more and more to the devotee.

– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.7.24

If no one knows the Supreme Personality of Godhead, how can He be known? He can be known when the Supreme Lord comes before you and reveals Himself to you. Then you can know. Our senses are imperfect, and they cannot realize the Supreme Truth. When you adopt a submissive attitude and chant, realization begins from the tongue. To eat and to vibrate sound is the business of the tongue. If you can control your tongue for prasada, spiritual food, and make the sound vibration of the holy name, then by surrender of the tongue you can control all the other senses. If you cannot control your tongue, you cannot control your senses. Taste prasada and become spiritually advanced. You can have this process at your home: offer vegetarian foods to Krsna, chant the Hare Krsna mantra and offer obeisances:

namo brahmanya−devaya 
go−brahmana−hitaya ca
jagad−dhitaya krsnaya 
govindaya namo namah

Everyone can offer, and then take the food with friends. And chant before the picture ofKrsna, and lead a pure life. Just see the result−the whole world will become Vaikuntha, where there is no anxiety.

– Krsna Consciousness: The Topmost Yoga System

Surrender begins with giving up bad habits and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra on beads:

Reporter: Do you think your movement is the only way to know God?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Reporter: How are you assured of that?

Srila Prabhupada: From the authorities and from God, Krsna. Krsna says:

sarva−dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva−papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." [Bhagavad−gita 18.66]

Reporter: Does "surrender" mean that someone would have to leave his family?

Srila Prabhupada: No.

Reporter: But suppose I were to become an initiate. Wouldn't I have to come and live in the


Srila Prabhupada: Not necessarily.

Reporter: I can stay at home?

Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes.

Reporter: What about work? Would I have to give up my job?

Srila Prabhupada: No, you'd simply have to give up your bad habits and chant the Hare Krsna mantra on these beads−that's all.

– The Science of Self Realization

Continuous chanting of the holy name as part of the foundation of spiritual life:

[Narada Muni to the reformed hunter]: "Narada Muni continued, 'Leave your home and go to the river. There you should construct a small cottage, and in front of the cottage you should grow a tulasi plant on a raised platform. After planting the tulasi tree before your house, you should daily circumambulate that tulasi plant, serve her by giving her water and other things, and continuously chant the Hare Krsna maha−mantra.'"

This is the beginning of spiritual life. After leaving householder life, one may go to a holy place, such as the bank of the Ganges or Yamuna, and erect a small cottage. A small cottage can be constructed without any expenditure. Four logs serving as pillars can be secured by any man from the forest. The roof can be covered with leaves, and one can cleanse the inside. Thus one can live very peacefully. In any condition, any man can live in a small cottage, plant a tulasi tree, water it in the morning, offer it prayers, and continuously chant the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. Thus one can make vigorous spiritual advancement. This is not at all difficult. One simply has to follow the instructions of the spiritual master strictly. Then everything will be successful in due course of time. As far as eating is concerned, there is no problem. If Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, supplies everyone with eatables, why should He not supply His devotee? Sometimes a devotee will not even bother to construct a cottage. He will simply go to live in a mountain cave. One may live in a cave, in a cottage beside a river, in a palace or in a big city like New York or London. In any case, a devotee can follow the instructions of his spiritual master and engage in devotional service by watering the tulasi plant and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Taking the advice of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and our spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, one can go to any part of the world and instruct people to become devotees of the Lord by following the regulative principles, worshiping the tulasi plant and continuously chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 24.260−61

By hearing the transcendental vibration of the maha−mantra, a sincere person can make spiritual advancement:

[Lord Krsna to Arjuna]: Again there are those who, although not conversant in spiritual knowledge, begin to worship the Supreme Person upon hearing about Him from others. Because of their tendency to hear from authorities, they also transcend the path of birth and death. This verse is particularly applicable to modern society because in modern society there is practically no education in spiritual matters. Some of the people may appear to be atheistic or agnostic or philosophical, but actually there is no knowledge of philosophy. As for the common man, if he is a good soul, then there is a chance for advancement by hearing. This hearing process is very important. Lord Caitanya, who preached Krsna consciousness in the modern world, gave great stress to hearing because if the common man simply hears from authoritative sources, he can progress, especially, according to Lord Caitanya, if he hears the transcendental vibration

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

It is stated, therefore, that all men should take advantage of hearing from realized souls and gradually become able to understand everything. The worship of the Supreme Lord will then undoubtedly take place. Lord Caitanya has said that in this age no one needs to change his position, but one should give up the endeavor to understand the Absolute Truth by speculative reasoning. One should learn to become the servant of those who are in knowledge of the Supreme Lord. If one is fortunate enough to take shelter of a pure devotee, hear from him about self−realization and follow in his footsteps, he will be gradually elevated to the position of a pure devotee. In this verse particularly the process of hearing is strongly recommended, and this is very appropriate. Although the common man is often not as capable as so−called philosophers, faithful hearing from an authoritative person will help one transcend this material existence and go back to Godhead, back to home.

– Bhagavad gita As It Is 13.26

By minimizing bodily necessities, the devotee can primarily devote his time to cultivating Krsna consciousness through chanting the holy name:

[Lord Caitanya explains that] a devotee should accept only those things that are favorable to keep his body and soul together and should reject those things that increase the demands of the body. Only the bare necessities for bodily maintenance should be accepted. By minimizing bodily necessities, one can primarily devote his time to the cultivation of Krsna consciousness through the chanting of the holy names of God.

– Teachings of Lord Caitanya

Sankirtana and chanting as fundamental principles for the execution of devotional service:

The next important items are as follows: … 14) Sankirtana. 15) Chanting…

– The Nectar of Devotion

Unless one follows the regulative principles governing chanting and hearing of the holy name, one cannot become a pure devotee:

Unless one follows the spiritual master's instructions and the regulative principles governing chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, one cannot become a pure devotee.

– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Madhya lila 19.157

Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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