A doctoral study on the effects
of chanting enlivens scholars

I WAS INVITED by the Society of Social Work Researchers to make a presentation at their annual conference, held this year in Atlanta on January 20-22. Back to Godhead readers may remember articles about my doctoral research into the effects of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra (BTG January/February 2000). The research demonstrated that chanting can elevate one in the modes of nature, reducing stress and depression. At the Atlanta conference, I made a presentation with Dr. Neil Abell, the main professor for my doctoral work. I related the maha-mantra research to a topic of importance to con-ference attendees: intervention outcome research conducted in a doctoral program. ("Intervention outcome research" is jargon for research on whether a technique for helping someone actually worked.) About forty professors attended our presentation, including some of the top names in social work research and scholarship.

After having sat through two presentations before ours and observing audience reaction, I wasn't expecting the response to the maha-mantra presentation to be particularly enthusiastic perhaps some perfunctory show of interest at best. During the presentation I recited the maha-mantra and described its purported effects according to Vedic theory. This included an explanation of the research I conducted on the three gunas, which was described in BTG (May/June 1998, March/April 1999), as well as in Psychological Reports (June 1999) and The Journal of Indian Psychology (January 1998). I also briefly described Vedic ontology and epistemology, as it relates to mantra chanting. We left about three minutes for questions and discussion. The group kept us half an hour overtime, a rarity for this sort of conference.

The professors were fully enlivened by the subject and complimented us for our boldness in researching such an esoteric, spiritual subject. It seemed they were amazed that someone was researching something genuinely interesting a research project not motivated by grant dollars or keeping a faculty position. Several professors asked for copies of papers and articles I had written, such as "The Vedic Theory of Social Work" and "A Psychometric Analysis of the Three Gunas." One professor told me after the presentation that he had been practicing siddha-yoga for ten years. The Hare Krsna maha-mantra was one of the mantras he chanted, and it has always been his favorite.

Dr. Abell has been impressed with how well my study has followed a recognized academic model for implementing intervention outcome research into a doctoral program. This compliance is the subject of an article being considered for publication in the top journal in social work education. A manuscript on the pilot testing of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra has already been accepted by a scholarly journal, and a manuscript on the group design has been accepted by a top research journal. (The pilot test involved only one group, and each member chanted Hare Krsna. "Group design" refers to the experiment that included three groups a maha-mantra group, an alternative-mantra group, and a control group.) Additionally, the data of the experiment lends itself to a newly developed statistical procedure, and Dr. Abell and I will be writing an article on this aspect of the maha-mantra analysis. The top scholar on this statistical procedure, with whom we spoke during the conference, will join as a third author.

At the end of an evening conversation during the conference, Dr. Abell asked me for a set of japa beads, which I gladly obtained for him during a recent visit to India.