The New Mantra is “Down with Courtesy Japa”


“Courtesy japa” is like shooting a gun with blank bullets. When the trigger is pulled it just sounds like a bullet is being fired. Obviously you can’t win a battle firing blanks. Similarly, “courtesy japa” sounds like the Hare Krishna maha mantra but it is just an artificial sound, a shadow of the real thing. Certainly you can’t win the battle with maya firing blank mantras.

The problem is – and this is something we have to accept philosophically as well as practically – if you keep practicing to chant the wrong way, you’ll continue to get wrong results. What’s more is that bad chanting tends to produce more bad chanting. Let me say that in another way because this is really important. The more you practice the wrong way of doing something, the more it gets engrained/programmed within you and the harder it usually becomes to fix it later.



Do you have a severe case of “courtesy japaitis” programmed into you? If so, ask yourself how you are going to kick the bad habit. This is an important question to answer, because good japa is one of the pillars of success in spiritual life.

It’s all about fighting apathy in our japa. As Lord Caitanya said, playing the part of a conditioned soul, ” I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for chanting Your Holy Names .” So we have two choices during japa. One is to go with the flow and just let the mind wander. The other is to go against the flow and make a valiant effort to focus on the holy name and chant in a prayerful, devotional mood. That’s not so easy. It takes effort. It goes against everything “courtesy japa” stands for. And this is not much fun for lazy japa chanters like most of us. After all, concentrating is hard work.

Japa can be a creative time. Often when I chant I get all kinds of ideas. Also the many things I have to do in the day – and even creative ways of doing them – keep popping up in my mind (or should I say keep pooping in my mind). Don’t dwell on these. If they come up, either neglect them (those good ideas will most likely come up later) or stop chanting and write them down so you don’t have to think about them while you chant.

How will you break the habit of “courtesy japa?” Krishna is in your heart and He will help you as much as you want to be helped. Krishna says from Me alone come knowledge, remembrance and forgetfulness. So He will show you how to become a master of japa or a master of “courtesy japa.” It all depends on what you want. If you want to improve, He will show you when to chant (hint – early in the morning), where to chant (hint – where you are not distracted), how to chant (hint – in front of devotional pictures, tulasi, Deities, etc, not in front of a television or a non Krishna conscious magazine).

So here’s the exercise. Write on top of a piece of paper, How To Improve My Japa? Below that write the subtitle, Putting an end to “courtesy japa.” Then make your list.

Let’s put an end once and for all to “courtesy japa,” the great enemy of Krishna consciousness.

Courtesy : His Grace Mahatma Das(ACBSP)

Author: ISKCON Desire Tree

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