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Archive for October, 2013

Hare Krishna Maha Mantra

The Sanskrit word mantra’ is composed of the root ‘man’ which refers to the mind and the suffix tra which is a diminutive of trayate, literally meaning ‘delivers’ or ‘releases’. Therefore, a mantra is a combination of words which delivers our mind from material afflictions and situates it on a spiritual platform.

The Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare mantra is called maha-mantra. The prefix maha used to describe this mantra refers to something ‘great’ or ‘mighty’, indicating that this mantra reigns supreme among all other mantras. Indeed, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra originates directly from the spiritual abode of the Lord, as is described by the great seventeenth-century Vaishnava saint Narottama dasa Thakur, golokera prema-dhana, hari-nama-sankirtana: the transcendental sound of the holy name of the Lord has its origin in the spiritual world.

The Meaning And Signicance Of The Maha-Mantra

The word Hara is the form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krishna and Rama are forms of addressing the Lord Himself. Both Krishna and Rama mean “the supreme pleasure,” and Hara is the supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, changed to Hare in the vocative. The supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, Srimati Radharani, helps us to reach the Lord.
These three words, namely Hare, Krishna, and Rama, are the transcendental seeds of the maha-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 Hara helps the devotee achieve the Lord Father’s grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.

chanting near hut

Meditation For The Modern Age

Whatever name of God or process of religion we may accept; all the scriptures enjoin us to chant God’s name for spiritual purification. This is the recommended process of self-realization for the present age. The entire Vedic civilization aims at satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This was possible in Satya-yuga (Golden Age) by meditation upon the Supreme Lord within the core of one’s heart and in Treta-yuga (Silver Age) by the performance of costly yajnas. The same goal could be achieved in Dvapara-yuga (Copper Age) by worship of the Lord in the temple, and in this age of Kali (Iron Age) one can achieve the same goal simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

The Potency Of The Maha-Mantra

In the Narada-pancharatra it is stated that all the Vedic rituals, mantras, and understanding are compressed into the eight words Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Similarly, in the Kali-santara Upanishad it is stated that these sixteen words, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare are especially meant for counteracting the degrading and contaminating influence of this materialistic age of Kali. The process of chanting is, therefore, not only the sublime method for practical perfection of life, but an authorized Vedic principle.

Some Benefits Of Chanting

• Evokes love of God

• Links one directly with the Lord

• Revives one’s dormant, eternal Krishna consciousness

• Eradicates material desires and sinful activity

• Cleanses the heart and frees one from material contamination

• Liberates one from the miseries of material existence

• Protects one from danger and fear

• Improves one’s power of concentration and memory

• Relieves stress and depression

• Helps one get rid of anxiety

• Helps one to understand & realize Krsna

• Fixes the mind

• Brings enlightenment

• Qualifies one to return home, Back to Godhead

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Lord Chaitanya was born on February 27, 1486, at a time when India was suffering from rampant hedonism, spiritual stagnation, strict caste stratification, the prominence of logic over mystic experience, and domination by Islamic rulers. Socially, morally, spiritually, politically, and intellectually there was need for change.He was born in Navadvipa, a large city straddling both sides of the Ganga. Praised in the scriptures as a holy place, Navadvipa was famous during Lord Chaitanya’s time as a center of learning and culture.

At Lord Chaitanya’s birth, which fell on the full- moon night of the Bengali month of Phalguna, there was a lunar eclipse. As was the custom on such occasions, the people of Navadvipa gathered at the Ganga to purify themselves by bathing and chanting the names of God. Thus Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born amid the loud chanting of the Lord’s names.

Because astrologers predicted that He would manifest superhuman qualities and deliver the world, His parents, Jagannatha Mishra and Sacidevi, gave Him the name Vishvambhara, or “support of the universe.” And because He was born under a nima tree, He was given the nickname Nimai.

During His childhood He displayed mysterious powers by outwitting thieves, playing with a poisonous snake, and speaking philosophically with His mother. As He grew, His beauty and intelligence began to show more fully. He was a brilliant student who quickly mastered poetics, Sanskrit grammar, and the current fad, navya nyaya, a form of logic. He would often play at defeating His fellow students using logic. While still young, He opened His own school and began teaching grammar and logic.

On the pretext of performing sacred rites on the anniversary of His father’s death, Vishvambhara journeyed to Gaya, in Bihar, with a group of students. There, after receiving Vaishnava initiation from Ishvara Puri, He became transformed. He lost all interest in logic and argument and absorbed Himself in chanting Krishna’s names in devotional ecstasy.

Back in Navadvipa, Vishvambhara gathered a following of other Vaishnavas, including Advaita Acarya, Srivasa Pandita, and Haridasa Thakura, and started the sankirtana movement. First, the movement was confined to the faithful. Doors were locked before the devotees began chanting and relishing the pastimes of Lord Krishna. After a year, however, Vishvambhara ordered His followers to distribute the name of Krishna and the ecstasy of love of God to all the people of Navadvipa.

Vishvambhara’s movement did not recognize the privileges of caste, and had no regard for ascetics involved in yoga, for impersonalists attempting to obtain liberation from the material world, or for the worship of demigods for material benefits. Thus Vishvambhara met with opposition from some sections of the local brahminical community and from Muslim rulers. But when He mobilized thousands of citizens in a sankirtana procession to the Muslim magistrate’s house, He succeeded in convincing the magistrate to sanction the movement.

Seeing the need to spread Krishna consciousness more widely, Vishvambhara decided to take sannyasa, the renounced order of life. At the age of twenty-four He shaved His head and took the name Krishna Chaitanya from Keshava Bharati in nearby Katwa. He also became known as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. To console His mother He promised to stay in Puri, a moderate distance from Navadvipa.

Apart from traveling to South India for four years, and to Prayag, Vrindavana, and Varanasi via Bengal for one year, He spent the rest of His life in Puri, absorbed in ecstatic vision of Krishna, in the mood of Radha. He disappeared from mortal vision at the age of forty-eight in Puri.

Deliverer Of The Religion For The Age

According to the Vedic scriptures, time moves in continuous cycles of four ages, or yugas. In each yuga a specific method of spiritual practice (dharma) is effective. In Kali-yuga, the current age, the dharma is nama-sankirtana, the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. To distribute the yuga-dharma, the Lord descends in each yuga. In Kali-yuga, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to spread nama-sankirtana. Apart from the function of spreading the yuga- dharma, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to expose the world to the highest aspects of spiritual love (prema), which manifest in relation (rasa) to Krishna in His original form in Vrindavana.

The highest expression of rasa is the conjugal rasa in parakiya (outside of marriage). The ideal person in this relationship is Radha. While other Vaishnava lineages worship Krishna, the unique contribution of Lord Chaitanya is His detailed exposition of the higher modes of rasa, which He personified by acting as a devotee of the Lord, experiencing pure love in the mood of Radha. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave a complete revelation of God’s love for the souls, and the souls’ love for God. This is unparalleled in any movement or any religion.

How are we to attain this high stage of love? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted that greatest treasure to be given out to as many people as possible. Therefore He has also taught a process—the simplest and most direct process: nama- sankirtana. Chanting the names of Krishna does not require any qualification except faith. Birth, caste, race, country, profession, and education are not considerations in chanting God’s names. The only requirement is a sincere acceptance of one’s own position as the servant, offering service out of selfless love to the most attractive, deserving object: Krishna. Adherence to chanting in a pure manner leads directly to the highest goal, pure love of Krishna.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu encouraged His followers to distribute the name of Krishna freely to all. He Himself desired that not only all of India, but the whole world, take up the chanting of Krishna’s names and attain love of God. He ordered His followers to distribute the name and teach about Krishna. His movement can be summarized as “Taste the name and distribute the name.”

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There are different stages of devotional service and God realization. Strictly speaking, anyone who accepts the existence of God is situated in devotional service. To acknowledge that God is great is something, but not much. Lord Caitanya, preaching as an acarya, a great teacher, taught that we can enter into a relationship with God and actually become God’s friend, parent or lover. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna showed Arjuna His universal form because Arjuna was His very dear friend. Upon seeing Krsna as the Lord of the universes, however, Arjuna asked Krsna to forgive the familiarity of his friendship. Lord Caitanya goes beyond this point. Through Lord Caitanya we can become friends with Krsna, and there will be no limit to this friendship. We can become friends of Krsna not in awe or adoration but in complete freedom. We can even relate to God as His father or mother. This is the philosophy not only of the Caitanya-caritamrta but of Srimad-Bhagavatam as well. There are no other scriptures in the world in which God is treated as the son of a devotee. Usually God is seen as the almighty father who supplies the demands of His sons. The great devotees, however, sometimes treat God as a son in their execution of devotional service. The son demands, and the father and mother supply, and in supplying Krsna the devotee becomes like a father or mother. Instead of taking from God, we give to God. It was in this relationship that Krsna’s mother, Yasoda, told the Lord, “Here, eat this or You’ll die. Eat nicely.” In this way Krsna, although the proprietor of everything, depends on the mercy of His devotee. This is a uniquely high level of friendship, in which the devotee actually believes himself to be the father or mother of Krsna.

Philosophical Contribution

Philosophically, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explained the relation of God to the world and souls in terms of bheda and abheda, simultaneous difference and non-difference, or oneness. “Difference” refers to the acceptance of (1) a real material world, (2) innumerable real souls, and (3) a God with perfect qualities, form, and action. “Oneness” refers to the acceptance of the existence of one supreme entity, with no differentiation of form, qualities, souls, or spiritual and material world. Bheda-abheda philosophies are usually rejected because oneness and difference are mutually contradictory: the proposition seems nonsensical. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has explained that mutual contradictions can coexist through the inconceivable power of God. Thus His world view is called acintya-bheda-abheda, or oneness and difference joined by the inconceivable (acintya) power of God. By accepting difference we can believe in our own individual existence, with the right to act and choose. By accepting oneness we can acknowledge the perfection that lies behind all the imperfection we perceive. Only with difference can there be a relationship (rasa) between two objects—the soul and God. Only with difference can we relish the form, qualities, and activities of God. Difference, however, can put a great distance between God and the souls. But through oneness the distance becomes meaningless: the relationship of God to the soul becomes very close.
The philosophy of acintya-bheda-abheda allows acceptance of seemingly contradictory statements in the Upanishads: statements of abheda, or impersonalism, and statements of bheda, or difference. Both types can be accepted, without resorting to indirect interpretation of either type of statement. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement therefore presents a complete picture of intimate loving relationships with God, a philosophy consistent with direct statements of scripture to support those relationships, and a simple, practical process to realize them.

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge in the Western world. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.

At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita and in 1944, without assistance, started an English fortnightly magazine.

Recognizing Srila Prabhupada’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title “Bhaktivedanta.” In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, and four years later he adopted the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. Srila Prabhupada traveled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in very humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple of Radha-Damodara. There he engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multivolume translation and commentary on the 18,000-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.

After publishing three volumes of Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, in 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Since that time, His Divine Grace has written over sixty volumes of authoritative translations, commentaries and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.

In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society has grew within a decade to a worldwide confederation of almost one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.

In 1968, Srila Prabhupada created New Vrndavana, an experimental Vedic community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrndavana, then a thriving farm community of more than one thousand acres, his students founded several similar communities in the United States and abroad.

In 1972, His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in the West by founding the Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. The school began with three children in 1972, and by the beginning of 1975 the enrollment had grown to one hundred fifty.

Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of a large international center at Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal, India, which is also the site for a planned Institute of Vedic Studies. A similar project is the magnificent Krsna-Balarama Temple and International Guest House in Vrndavana, India. These are centers where Westerners can live to gain firsthand experience of Vedic culture.

Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into eleven languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 exclusively to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy.

In the last ten years of his life, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that have took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

Srila Prabhupada left us a veritable library of Vedic philosophy and culture. Highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, and clarity, his books are used at colleges and universities around the world.

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust publishes his works in over 50 languages.

Find out more about the kind and compassionate person that Srila Prabhupada was, and how he was able to change so many lives and accomplish so much in such a short time.

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Purport by His Divine Grace  A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
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 of reviving our Kṛṣṇa 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 polluted 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, this is called illusion. In this polluted concept of life, we are all 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 Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind; this consciousness is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. And this process is recommended for this age by authorities. 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. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding-surpassing the stages of senses, mind, and intelligence-one is situated on the transcendental plane. This chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare is directly 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 or any intellectual adjustment for chanting this mahā-mantra. It springs automatically from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification, and dance in ecstasy.
We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting, or even a dog can take part in it. 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 the mantra is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy on the 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 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, the living entity is established in his happy, normal condition.
These three words, namely Hare, Kṛṣṇa, and Rāma, are the transcendental seeds of the mahā-mantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His internal energy, Harā, to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother. Mother Harā helps the devotee achieve the grace of the supreme father, Hari, or Kṛṣṇa, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.
No other means of spiritual realization, therefore, is as effective in this age as chanting the mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.

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