Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.103) states:
acirād eva sarvārthaḥ
siddhaty eṣām abhīpsitaḥ
yeṣāṁ nirbandhinī matiḥ
The holy name is the bestower of all perfection, and those who continuously chant harināma with such firm faith and conviction quickly obtain the fruit of prema.
nirbandhinī-mati-saha kṛṣṇa-nāma kare
atiśīghra prema-phala sei nāme dhare
One who has a firm desire in his heart to know true dharma will very quickly have his inner desire fulfilled. The perfection and inner desire of devotees is to attain the service of Govinda’s lotus feet. This service is realised by affectionately completing one’s fixed amount of nāma. By firmly chanting a fixed amount of harināma, prema will be incited in the heart of the sādhaka by the mercy of Nāma Prabhu. Day and night, nāma-ācārya Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was chanting three lakhas of harināma with determination. His vow was:
khaṇḍa-khaṇḍa hai deha yāya yadi prāṇa
tabu āmi vadane nā chāḍi harināma
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (Ādi-khaṇḍa 16.94)
Even if my body is cut to pieces and my life air exits, I will never abandon the chanting of harināma.
Hari-bhakti-vilāsa gives the following injunctions for chanting:
yad vā sarpākṛtiḥ śubhā
tarjanyā na spṛśet sūtraṁ
kampayen na vidhūnayet
na spṛśet vāma-hastena
kara-bhraṣṭāṁ na kārayet
bhuktau muktau tathā kṛṣṭau
madhya-māyāṁ japet sudhīḥ
A japa-mālā made of tulasī or precious stones fulfils all kinds of inner desires. A japa-mālā shaped like a cow’s tail or a snake is auspicious. One should not touch the japa-mālā with the forefinger. One should not swing or shake the mālā again and again while chanting. Chant and change the direction of the mālā using the thumb and the middle finger. Do not touch the mālā with the left hand, and do not let it fall from the hand. Those who desire material enjoyment (bhukti) and those who desire liberation (mukti) chant with the middle finger.
Although it is mentioned that one can use a japa-mālā of precious stones, such a mālā is not used in our sampradāya. Also, it is mentioned that chanting with the middle finger is for those desiring sense enjoyment and liberation. Nonetheless, we chant in this way because we should follow the method adopted by our guru-paramparā.
manaḥ saṁharaṇaṁ śaucaṁ
While chanting, one should be one-pointed and give up talking about mundane topics. With a pure heart, one should think about the meaning of the holy name, and be steadfast and patient in his chanting and remembrance of the holy name.
japa kāle manake ekāgrabhāve laha
citte śuddha thāka, vṛthā kathā nāhi kaha
nāmārtha cintaha sadā dhairyāśraya kara
nāmete ādara kari’ kṛṣṇa-nāma smara
The method for one to perfect the chanting of his mantras, both harināma and gāyatrī, is described in this Text.
Manaḥ saṁharaṇam – While chanting the holy name, one should fix the mind on the desired name of the Lord and remember pastimes connected with that name. The mind of the conditioned living entity wanders to different subject matters, and therefore one should stay in the association of sādhus and control the mind through renunciation and practice.
Śauca – It is necessary for the sādhaka to maintain a standard of external cleanliness through bathing and so forth, and to keep his mind pure through internal cleanliness. He can do this by bringing the six enemies headed by lust under control. In this way his mind will not be attracted to anything other than Kṛṣṇa.
Mauna – To speak only bhagavat-kathā and reject talk unrelated to Kṛṣṇa is known as mauna (silence). One should not talk about anything mundane while chanting.
Avyagratā – The restless nature of the unsteady mind is called vyagratā. One should chant with avyagratā, a peaceful and undisturbed mind.
Anirveda – One should not become discouraged by moving slowly in his endeavour to attain the desired goal; rather, one should chant with patience.
Nāmārtha-cintana – While chanting the holy name, the sādhaka should remember Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes of meeting (milana) and separation (vipralambha). When he chants his mantras, he should practise in the following five ways:
- 1. The sādhaka should know the meaning of the mantra, and remember the predominating deity of the mantra (the mantra-devatā) and his own specific relationship with that deity.
- 2. Nyāsa – “The deity of the mantra is my protector” – this conviction is called nyāsa. It is true that success can be attained by uttering the mantra one time only; nonetheless, the mantra is uttered 10 or 108 times for the pleasure of the mantra-devatā. This is also called nyāsa.
- 3. Prapatti – “I take shelter of the lotus feet of the mantra-devatā” – this is called prapatti.
- 4. Śaraṇāgati – “I am a jīva who is suffering extremely, and therefore I surrender to the deity” – this resolve is śaraṇāgati.
- 5. Ātma-nivedana – “Whatever I have belongs to Him; it is not mine. I am not mine either; I am His for Him to enjoy.” This is ātma-nivedana.
If one follows the process comprised of these five limbs, he will quickly attain perfection in chanting his mantras.
Śrī Gopāla-guru explains the meaning of the holy name as follows:
haraty avidyāṁ tat kāryam
ato harir iti smṛtaḥ
ato harety anenaiva
nandanaḥ kṛṣṇa īryate
rādhikāṁ ramyan nityaṁ
rāma ity abhidhīyate
The Supreme Person Śrī Bhagavān has descended in the form of the holy name, which is the embodiment of condensed knowledge and bliss. While remembering the name of Bhagavān, one should remember that nāma and nāmī are non-different. In the first stage of a sādhaka’s progress, the holy name removes ignorance. Therefore He is Hari, “He who removes”. The rasika-ācāryas, however, taste harināma by thinking that, in the kuñjas Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī Śrī Rādhā is stealing away the mind of Śrī Hari by Her service. He who chants Hare Kṛṣṇa with this meditation attains prema-bhakti. Śrī Rādhā is kṛṣṇa-hlādinī-rūpiṇī, the embodiment of Kṛṣṇa’s own pleasure potency. She steals away Kṛṣṇa’s mind, and therefore Her name is Harā. The vocative form of Harā is Hare. Thus, Hare Kṛṣṇa means Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala.
The names Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are sac-cid-ānanda, full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are personally present in Hare Kṛṣṇa. The eternal master of Śrī Rādhā, who is bliss personified, is Śyāma, who has eyes like lotus petals and who desires that Śrī Rādhikā always be happy. Nanda-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the giver of bliss to the residents of Gokula, is always yearning to taste happiness with Śrī Rādhā. Kṛṣṇa is Līleśvara, a clever dhīra-lalita-nāyaka; therefore His name is Rādhā-ramaṇa. The Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra is comprised of names of the Divine Couple. While chanting this mantra one should remember Their pastimes.
cid-ghana ānanda-rūpa śrī bhagavān
nāma-rūpe avatāra ei ta pramāṇa
avidyā-haraṇa kārya haite nāma hari
ataeva hare kṛṣṇa nāme yāya tari
kṛṣṇāhlāda-svarūpiṇī śrī rādhā āmāra
kṛṣṇa mana hare tāi harā nāma tāṅra
rādhā-kṛṣṇa śabde śrī sac-cid-ānanda rūpa
hare kṛṣṇa śabde rādhā-krṣṇera svarūpa
ānanda-svarūpa-rādhā tāṅra nitya svāmī
kamala-locana śyāma rādhānanda-kāmī
gokula-ānanda nanda-nandana śrī kṛṣṇa
rādhā-saṅge sukhāsvāde sarvadā satṛṣṇa
vaidagdhya-sāra-sarvasva mūrta līleśvara
śrī rādhā-ramaṇa rāma nāma ataḥpara
hare kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra śrī yugala nāma
yugala līlāra cintā kara avirāma
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the personification of condensed eternity, knowledge and bliss (sac-cid-ānanda). He is an ocean of compassion. The clear proof of this is that He has appeared on this Earth in the form of His name for the benefit of the living entities. This form of Hari is performing the task of removing ignorance. Therefore those who affectionately chant harināma are saved from this illusory world created by ignorance.
Śrī Rādhā is the essence of the hlādinī-śakti, and She is always giving supreme pleasure to Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa. She even steals away the mind of parama-puruṣa Śrī Kṛṣṇa with Her sweet form and qualities and by Her service, which is filled with prema. Therefore, one of Her names is Harā. “Hare” in the mahā-mantra is the vocative form of Harā, which refers to Śrī Rādhā. Thus, the devotee who is exclusively intent on the Divine Couple (the aikāntika-bhakta) accepts Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa as the only meaning of Hare Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Rādhā is the personification of bliss (ānanda-svarūpiṇī). Kamala-locana Śyāmasundara is Her eternal beloved, prāṇa-vallabha. He is always intent on pleasing Śrī Rādhā, but He nonetheless remains indebted to Her. The source of the great festival of bliss of Gokula, Nanda-nandana, is the supremely attractive attractor. Therefore He is named Kṛṣṇa. Even though He always tastes happiness in Śrī Rādhā’s association, He always remains eager for it. He is famous as Rādhā-ramaṇa because He, Līleśvara, the personification and essence of all vaidagdhya (cleverness in amorous pastimes), is always with Śrī Rādhā, playing (ramaṇa) inside and outside Her heart. This Rādhā-ramaṇa Śrī Kṛṣṇa is called Rāma in the mahā-mantra. It should be understood that Hare Kṛṣṇa in the mahā-mantra means Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala. Therefore, while performing japa or kīrtana of the mahā-mantra, one should continuously remember the pastimes of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala.
The Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa states:
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
In Kali-yuga there is no other way for the jīva than chanting the holy name. There is no other way, there is no other way.
anya dharma karma chāḍi harināma sāra
kali-yuge tāhā vinā gati nāhi āra
In Kali-yuga, Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa has appeared in the form of His name. Through harināma the whole world can be delivered. The words harer nāma in this Text are used three times to make people with mundane intelligence become fixed in chanting harināma. The word kevala (meaning “only”) is used to make it abundantly clear that jñāna, yoga, tapasya and other activities are to be renounced. Salvation is never possible for one who disregards this instruction of the scriptures. To emphasise this, the words nāsty eva (meaning “no other way”) are repeated three times at the end of the śloka.
The Bhāgavata-nāma-kaumudī states:
naktaṁ divā ca gatabhir jita-nidra eko
nirviṇṇa īkṣita-patho mita-bhuk praśāntaḥ
yady acyute bhagavati sva-mano na sajjen
nāmāni tad-rati-karāṇi paṭhed vilajjaḥ
If your mind is not absorbed in the name of Śrī Bhagavān Acyuta, then day and night without shyness chant those principal names that are endowed with rati (such as Rādhā-ramaṇa, Vraja-vallabha and Gopījana-vallabha). Minimise sleep, eat moderately, and proceed on the path of spiritual truth with a peaceful mind and a disregard for worldly things.
rātra dina unnidra nirvighna nirbhaya
mitabhuk praśānta nirjane cintāmaya
lajjā tyaji kṛṣṇa-rati uddīpaka nāma
uccāraṇa kare bhakta kṛṣṇāsakti kāma