“In this age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress than the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord.” (Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa)
It's not a typo, the message of this verse was so important it had to be repeated 3 times!
Hearing and chanting are the first two stages of devotional service. Mantra meditation is fundamental for spiritual progression as Krishna's names are transcendental sound vibrations that can purify and cleanse the heart as well as bring one closer to Krishna. Chanting awakens the dormant love and Krishna consciousness within, making the individual qualified to execute devotional service.
Types of Mantra Meditation.
- Japa: Personal chanting in a soft voice while counting on a set of 108 beads (japa mala)
- Kirtan: Chanting in rhythmic form, accompanied by musical instruments and audience participation. The leader of the kirtan will sing/chant one mantra and the audience are encouraged to repeat, as well as clap along and dance.
- Harinaam Sankirtanam: Congregational chanting of the Holy names of Krishna, which takes kirtan to the streets for all to hear and benefit from - as inaugurated by Lord Chaitanya.
Japa - Mantra Meditation.
Kirtan and Harinaam sankirtanam are both very enjoyable and fun, however Japa is the most potent of the types of chanting as it is considered the most selfless and more austere of the 3. It is recommended to chant a set amount of rounds (108 mantras) every day.
Regular silent meditation is very difficult as the mind is always active. There is no focal point. One may only experience temporary relief and peace and quiet until the mind once again takes control.
Mantra meditation however helps to free the mind.
Man = Mind, -tra = Free. Mantra = Free from the mind
It does this by engaging all the senses, with the mantra being the focal point. If the senses are controlled then the mind is also controlled and fixed upon the remembrance of Sri Krishna.
- Ears - engaged in hearing the mantra
- Tongue - engaged in chanting the mantra
- Touch - the fingers count the mantra on beads
- Eyes - can meditate on images of Krishna
- Nose - breathing is controlled and regulated through every repetition of the mantra
The Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra is world renowned and is the single most recommended mantra to chant in this day and age. The names of God are non-different to Krishna himself and have a deep spiritual significance.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,
Krishna, Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama,
Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The meaning behind this mantra is:
O Hare (energy of Krishna) O the all attractive one (Krishna) O the reservoir of all pleasure (Rama), please engage me in your loving devotional service.