Chanting is the Essence

Chanting is the Essence

Svayam Prakash Krishna Das

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.

This offering is an excerpt from a lecture delivered by our beloved spiritual master His Holiness Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj in Singapore in the early 90's. 

Maharaj is speaking about the importance of the scriptures and the holy names of God. Vedic literature is written by none other than the Supreme Absolute Truth. In Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.1, Srila Vyasadev says that this Vedic knowledge was first imparted by Lord Krishna unto the heart of Brahma. When Brahma was born, he was perplexed and he travelled throughout the stem, but could not find the root. When he was completely tired, then by the mercy of Lord Krishna, he received the knowledge directly in the heart. Vyasadev saw the condition of people in Kali yuga where the remembrance (smrti) is degrading day by day and so he made the Vedic literature very simple. Maharaj mentioned that as a child he had to memorize the multiplication tables without which he would not get prasadam. Maharaj says that today's children cannot remember the multiplication tables because they have calculators and computers. Under the name of advancement, the innate ability is being killed. On top of these there are drugs and medicines which are killing our brain cells. Therefore if we don't come to the Vedic scriptures, we will lose our memory completely. The sooner we come to the root of the Vedic culture, the better for us. Srila Prabhupada wanted us to go back 200 years because he knew that Vedic culture always develops our innate capacity. But Srila Vyasadev thought that people in Kali yuga cannot go through the scriptures and so he did the following:

1. He divided the whole Vedas into four sub-divisions – Rg Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda.

2. Even then he was not satisfied, so he extracted the practical instructions from the Vedas in the form of the greatest poems – Mahabharata and Ramayana.

3. Since they were also quite big, Vyasadev thought people in Kali yuga will not be able to go through them as they are always busy seeking their daily bread. So he gave 18 Puranas and 108 Upanisads.

4. Even then he thought these were too much, so he took the cream of the Vedas and presented it as Vedanta or Brahma-sutra that represents the condensed knowledge of the Vedas.

5. Even this he thought was too much for the people in this age, so he wrote a supplementary commentary on the Vedanta sutra and that is lying in front of us now in the form of Srimad Bhagavatam.

6. Vyasadev thought that 18,000 verses is again too much for the people to study when we cannot study even one verse. So he again condensed this knowledge in the form of Bhagavad Gita and presented in the Mahabharata.

7. But again 700 verses in Bhagavad Gita are too much for the people, so Vyasadev gave 4 verses which are the seed verses (Bhagavad Gita verses 10.8-11). The whole knowledge is concentrated in these 4 verses.

8. When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu came, he thought that it was too much for the living entities to learn these 4 verses. So he said, "Don't do anything, be situated in your varna and asrama and just chant the Mahamantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare."

9. Now it is difficult for us to even chant Krishna's names. 16 rounds or even 1 round is difficult for us to chant. Maharaj then said something very touching, "In this age, those who chant 16 rounds sincerely, I will touch their feet. They are the best people. It is very difficult to do this and it is not as easy as it looks. Just to carry the bead bag, we are ashamed. Actually nobody sees you except yourself.  Nobody has the time to look at others."

10. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu then thought that it is very difficult for people to chant Mahamantra also. So he very lovingly chants:

Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna he
Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna paahi maam

Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna raksha maam

Rama Raghava Rama Raghava Rama Raghava paahi maam
Rama Raghava Rama Raghava Rama Raghava raksha maam

Krishna Keshava Krishna Keshava Krishna Keshava paahi maam
Krishna Keshava Krishna Keshava Krishna Keshava raksha maam

Maharaj said that with the material sounds, we get completely tired. If we chant, "Elizabeth, Elizabeth", we will be completely frustrated after a while, even if Elizabeth pays us money to chant. But when we come to spiritual sounds, it is completely different. There is no difference between Krishna and His names. Therefore by chanting Krishna's names, we are completely satisfied. Miseries cannot touch us just like water falling on a hot boiling plate gets immediately evaporated. Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked his followers as to why the living entities are not attracted to chanting Krishna's names. Srila Rupa Goswami answers this in Nectar of Instruction verse 7:

syaat krishna-naama-caritaadi-sitaapy avidyaa
pittopatapta-rasanasya na rocikaa nu
kintv aadaraad anudinam khalu saiva jushtaa
svaadvi kramaad bhavati tad-gada-moola-hantri

"The holy name, character, pastimes and activities of Krishna are all transcendentally sweet like sugar candy. Although the tongue of one afflicted by the jaundice of avidya [ignorance] cannot taste anything sweet, it is wonderful that simply by carefully chanting these sweet names every day, a natural relish awakens within his tongue, and his disease is gradually destroyed at the root."

We are grateful to Maharaj for presenting such a clear explanation of the essence of all Vedic scriptures, which is chanting of the holy names of Krishna. We pray at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudev that by his blessings we may be able to take to the process of chanting the holy names of Krishna sincerely and seriously.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,

Svayam Prakash Krishna Das