We know from letters we receive at Back to Godhead that many of our readers have an interest in chanting the holy names. Lord Caitanya's example of ecstatic chanting and the explanations of God's names as given in the scriptures and Srila Prabhupada's purports have not gone in vain. All over the world, people are practicing mantra meditation, especially by chanting the maha-mantra Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna , Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. But finding time to chant each day is sometimes very difficult. We would like, therefore, to offer words of encouragement to those who are interested in chanting and, by pointing out the ease and the importance of chanting Hare Krsna, to try moving those who are not yet interested.
In virtually any discipline, from meditation to golf, stress is laid on the necessity for regular practice. Chanting is no exception. We may already be self-disciplined to give a half hour daily to physical exercise, and of course we have to spend many hours earning a living. So if we regard spiritual progress as important, we simply have to give it some time.
The chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra has been handed down by previous spiritual masters to the people of this age, because assiduous. prolonged spiritual practices are no longer possible. But chanting is easy. We simply have to give a little time and attention: chant the mantra and hear.
If we start by giving a little time daily to chanting, it will soon become interesting and tasteful. Although there are no rigid rules in chanting, the best time for culture of the holy name is during the early-morning hours, especially before sunrise. If we chant with attention, we will find ourselves chanting more and more at different times of the day, even while driving the car, cleaning, and so on.
Those who don't agree that spiritual life is important will hardly see the need to give any time for even an easy spiritual practice. When Srila Prabhupada was just beginning the Hare Krsna movement he used to distribute his newspaper. Back to Godhead, on the streets of New Delhi, and he often met with people who told him they had "no time." Prompted by this resistance. Srila Prabhupada wrote the article "NO TIME, A Chronic Disease of the Common Man." He wrote: 'They say they are too busy in earning money for maintaining the body and soul together. But when we ask them what do they mean by the 'soul.' they have nothing to reply."
In the article, Srila Prabhupada cited the examples of several scientists and politicians who had died suddenly. Death is awaiting every one of us, he explained, so even a busy, ambitious man should calculate for this. But according to the scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam, most people are very foolish, and even though they pretend to be experts in managing time and money, they make a great miscalculation.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.6.14) states:
One who is too attached cannot understand that he is wasting his valuable life with the maintenance of his family. He also fails to understand that the purpose of human life. a life suitable for realization of the Absolute Truth, is being imperceptibly spoiled. However, he is very cleverly attentive to seeing that not a single farthing is lost by mismanagement.
As Srila Prabhupada writes in his "No Time" essay:
The busy man should try to know as to whither he is going. This life is but a spot in his longest sojourn, and the sane person should not be busy with a spot only. Nobody says that the body should not be maintained but everyone should know from Bhagavad-gita that the body is the outward dress and the "soul" is the real person who puts on the dress. So if the dress is taken care of only, without any care of the real person it is sheer foolishness and a waste of time.
Although the chanting is simple, it is a serious practice, and therefore has to be done with mental concentration. The basic requirements are that one enunciate the sound of God's names and hear with attention. If one does not practice the mantra with attention, he receives only a shadow of the holy name. The full, pure name can be chanted only by one who chants with devotion. Yet according to the scriptures, even a shadow of the name can liberate one from material suffering.
In chanting the holy name one should strive to avoid the following offenses:
1. To vilify the great devotees who have preached about the glories of the Lord.
2. To see the holy names of the Lord in terms of worldly distinction. (God is addressed by different names in different parts of the world, and all these names should be honored.)
3. To neglect the orders of the authorized acaryas, or spiritual masters.
4. To vilify scriptures of Vedic knowledge.
5. To define the holy name of the Lord in terms of one's mundane calculation.
6. To interpret the holy name.
7. To commit sins intentionally on the strength of the holy name.
8. To consider the chanting of the holy name to be equal to some auspicious material activity.
9. To instruct those who are not interested in chanting the holy name of the Lord about the transcendental nature of the holy name.
10. To become uninterested in the holy name of the Lord even after hearing of the transcendental nature of the holy name.
It is recommended that one associate with persons who are practicing the chanting and that one read authorized literature describing the glories of the holy name.
Even random reading from the Vedic scriptures will make it clear that chanting is the religious practice for the present age of Kali (the age of quarrel and hypocrisy). As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.51). "My dear king, although Kali-yuga is full of faults, there is still one good quality about this age. It is that simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom."
Hearing the glories of the holy name may remind us of the importance of chanting. But it remains up to each one of us to budget our time and give our attention to this important "commodity." Only by our choice can we avoid the ultimate embarrassment of reaching the end of life only to discover that we had "no time" for God in which case we will have lost everything. Why not begin today by making a modest plan to try chanting the Hare Krsna mantra? SDG