Prabhupada explains the nature of the Hare Krsna Mantra

June 27, 2022 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Kṛṣṇa conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere. The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called māyā, or illusion. Māyā means that which is not. And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, it is called illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare is the transcendental process for reviving this original pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original natural energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. This simplest method of meditation is recommended for this age. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this mahā-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum. In the material concept of life we are busy in the matter of sense gratification as if we were in the lower animal stage. A little elevated from this status of sense gratification, one is engaged in mental speculation for the purpose of getting out of the material clutches. A little elevated from this speculative status, when one is intelligent enough, one tries to find out the supreme cause of all causes—within and without. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind and intelligence, he is then on the transcendental plane. This chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness—namely sensual, mental and intellectual. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this mahā-mantra. It is automatic, from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in vibrating this transcendental sound without any previous qualification. In a more advanced stage, of course, one is not expected to commit offenses on grounds of spiritual understanding.
In the beginning, there may not be the presence of all transcendental ecstasies, which are eight in number. These are: (1) Being stopped as though dumb, (2) perspiration, (3) standing up of hairs on the body, (4) dislocation of voice, (5) trembling, (6) fading of the body, (7) crying in ecstasy, and (8) trance. But there is no doubt that chanting for a while takes one immediately to the spiritual platform, and one shows the first symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the mantra. We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting and dancing. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a little more time to come to the standard point, but even such a materially engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly. When it is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy on hearers, and as such this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved. As far as possible, chanting from the lips of nondevotees should be avoided. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects.
The word Harā is the form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Kṛṣṇa and Rāma are forms of addressing the Lord Himself. Both Kṛṣṇa and Rāma mean the supreme pleasure, and Harā is the supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, changed to Hare (Hah-ray) in the vocative. The supreme pleasure energy of the Lord helps us to reach the Lord.
The material energy, called māyā, is also one of the multi-energies of the Lord. And we the living entities are also the energy, marginal energy, of the Lord. The living entities are described as superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with the inferior energy, an incompatible situation arises; but when the superior marginal energy is in contact with the superior energy, called Harā, it is established in its happy, normal condition.
These three words, namely Harā, Kṛṣṇa and Rāma, are the transcendental seeds of the mahā-mantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His energy, to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother’s presence. Mother Harā helps the devotee achieve the Lord Father’s grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.
No other means of spiritual realization is as effective in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as the mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
Aug 3 1969 letter
Your question about not chanting while attending class is also welcome. I don’t mind if you do not chant Hare Krishna Mantra, but if you kindly sit down while chanting is going on, and if you simply hear with attention, that will also act. Wanting to become Krishna Conscious is also as good as being in a state of Krishna Consciousness. There is no actual difference, but the difference is only just like the difference between green mangos and fully ripened mangos. The ripened mango is not a separate mango, but it is another condition of the green mango. So if the green mango is properly taken care of, it will surely come to the stage of the ripened mango. Therefore, as a mango, there is no difference between the two stages
Aug 11 1973
Prabhupāda: You preach. You just purify them. Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Let him hear. Then he’ll accept. Then he will gradually come. Yes. He’s now in diseased condition. The best thing is to chant. By hearing the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, he’ll be gradually purified, cleansed, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. You must polish him. Just like this is unclean. Polish it and you’ll see the reflection. Our process is paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam. [break] …śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi… [SB 1.2.17].

May 12 1969 Ohio
Everything is clearly explained there. Please try to read this Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. It is science of God. You will understand… You will realize. And chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. This Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra will cleanse your heart. And after cleansing your heart, if you read one chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, you will understand gradually what is God, what you are, what is your relationship with God. And when you understand all these things and you develop your love of God, you become perfectly happy.
So we want to see you all happy. That is our program. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. Every one of you become happy. But you must take the path how you can be happy. This is the path, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Thank you very much. (applause) (end)
SB 3.19.38 purport…
If one continues to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is full of narratives of the pastimes of the Lord, at the end of this life, one is sure to be transferred to the eternal, transcendental abode of the Lord. Thus hearers are benefited both ultimately and for as long as they are in the material world. That is the supreme, sublime result of engaging in devotional service. The beginning of devotional service is to spare some time and listen to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the right source. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu also recommended five items of devotional service, namely to serve the devotees of the Lord, to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, to worship the Deity of the Lord and to live in a place of pilgrimage. Just performing these five activities can deliver one from the miserable condition of material life.
The secret of success in the cultivation of Krishna consciousness is hearing from the right person.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.39-40, Purport)
“The process of hearing from a pure devotee is recommended in all Vedic scriptures, especially by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. One may stay in his position of life — it does not matter what it is — but if one hears from the mouth of a pure devotee, he gradually comes to the understanding of his relationship with the Lord and thus engages in His loving service, and his life becomes completely perfect. Therefore, this process of hearing from the mouth of a pure devotee is very important for making progress in the line of spiritual understanding.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.20.25, Purport)
“In this age it is very difficult to follow thoroughly the regulative principles and studies of the Vedas which were formerly recommended. However, if one gives aural reception to the sound vibrated by great devotees and acaryas, that alone will give him relief from all material contamination. Therefore it is the recommendation of Caitanya Mahaprabhu that one should simply hear from authorities who are actually devotees of the Lord. Hearing from professional men will not help. If we hear from those who are actually self-realized, then the nectarean rivers, like those which are flowing on the moon planet, will flow into our ears.” (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 10)
Feb 2 1968 letter
Krishna is so sublime and transcendental that He cannot be realized by mental speculation or by personal endeavor, education, or material acquisition. He can only be approached and understood clearly by our service attitude, engaging all our senses in His service. The beginning of service is to engage our hearing organs, and receive the transcendental message by aural reception. And whenever we are mature in receiving the transcendental message from books like Bhagavad-gita, and Srimad-Bhagavatam, via media the transparent bona fide Spiritual Master, then we are able to chant or engage our tongue in the service of the Lord, being engaged in the service of the Lord. The material covering of our senses becomes inactive and actual spiritual form of activity becomes manifest.
June 27 1968 letter Sastvarupa
…. So, reading of the literature and hearing of the chanting is the medicine, and prasadam is the diet. So, if diet and medicine are properly administered the disease of maya will be cured.
SB 5.18.11-By associating with persons for whom the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mukunda, is the all in all, one can hear of His powerful activities and soon come to understand them. The activities of Mukunda are so potent that simply by hearing of them one immediately associates with the Lord. For a person who constantly and very eagerly hears narrations of the Lord’s powerful activities, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead in the form of sound vibrations, enters within his heart and cleanses it of all contamination. On the other hand, although bathing in the Ganges diminishes bodily contaminations and infections, this process and the process of visiting holy places can cleanse the heart only after a long time. Therefore who is the sane man who will not associate with devotees to quickly perfect his life?
PURPORT-Bathing in the Ganges can certainly cure one of many infectious diseases, but it cannot cleanse one’s materially attached mind, which creates all kinds of contaminations in material existence. However, one who directly associates with the Supreme Lord bhearing of His activities cleanses the dirt from his mind and very soon comes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sūta Gosvāmī confirms this in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.17): śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti suhṛt-satām
The Supreme Lord within everyone’s heart becomes very pleased when a person hears narrations of His activities, and He personally cleanses the dirt from the mind of the listener. Hṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti: He washes off all dirt from the mind. Material existence is caused by dirty things within the mind. If one can cleanse his mind, he immediately comes to his original position of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and thus his life becomes successful. Therefore all the great saints in the devotional line very strongly recommend the process of hearing. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu introduced the congregational chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra to give everyone a chance to hear Kṛṣṇa’s holy name, for simply by hearing Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, one becomes purified (ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). Therefore our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is chiefly engaged in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra all over the world.
After one’s mind becomes cleansed by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, one gradually comes to the platform of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and then reads books like Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Caitanya-caritāmṛta and The Nectar of Devotion. In this way, one becomes more and more purified of material contamination. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.18):naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā bhagavaty uttama-śloke bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
By regularly hearing the Bhāgavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” In this way, simply by hearing of the powerful activities of the Lord, the devotee’s heart becomes almost completely cleansed of material contamination, and thus his original position as an eternal servant who is part and parcel of the Lord becomes manifest. While the devotee engages in devotional service, the passionate and ignorant modes of material nature are gradually vanquished, and then he acts only in the mode of goodness. At that time he becomes happy and gradually advances in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
All the great ācāryas strongly recommend that people be given a chance to hear about the Supreme Lord. Then success is assured. The more we cleanse the dirt of material attachment from our hearts, the more we will be attracted by Kṛṣṇa’s name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and activities. This is the sum and substance of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
Some Conclusions….
The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness ….This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this mahā-mantra. It is automatic, from the spiritual platform,
Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare is the transcendental process for reviving this original pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original natural energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. This simplest method of meditation is recommended for this age.