The Transcendental Nature of the Holy Names of Krishna

The holy name of the Lord—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—is a transcendental vibration because it comes from the transcendental platform, the supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa. Because there is no difference between Kṛṣṇa and His name, the holy name of Kṛṣṇa is as pure, perfect and liberated as Kṛṣṇa Himself.

“It is the transcendental nature of the holy names of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare to transport a man into spiritual madness. Anyone who sincerely chants this holy name very soon attains elevation to the platform of love of God and becomes mad after God. This madness arising from love of God is the first perfectional stage for a human being.”

Excerpted from; Teachings of Lord Caitanya
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Chapter Eighteen, The Conversations with Prakāśānanda

…In this age of logic, argument and disagreement, the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa is the only means for self-realization. Because this transcendental vibration alone can deliver the conditioned soul, it is considered to be the essence of the Vedānta-sūtra. According to the material conception, there is duality between the name, form, quality, emotions and activities of a person and the person himself, but as far as the transcendental vibration is concerned, there is no such limitation, for it descends from the spiritual world. In the spiritual world there is no difference between the name of the person and the quality of the person. Of course in the material world there is a difference. Because the Māyāvādī philosophers cannot understand this, they cannot utter the transcendental vibration.

Lord Caitanya then told Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī that because He received the order from His spiritual master, He was constantly chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. “As a result of this chanting,” the Lord said, “I sometimes become very impatient and cannot restrain Myself from dancing and laughing or crying and singing. Indeed, I become just like a madman. When I first wondered whether I had become mad by chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, I approached My spiritual master and informed him that I had gone mad by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Thus I asked him what was My actual position.”
In the Nārada-pañcarātra it is stated:

eṣo vedāḥ ṣaḍ-aṅgāni
chandāṁsi vividhāḥ surāḥ
sarvam aṣṭākṣarāntaḥsthaṁ
yac cānyad api vāṅmayam
sarva-vedānta-sārārthaḥ
saṁsārārṇava-tāraṇaḥ

“All Vedic rituals, mantras and understanding are compressed into eight words: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare.” Similarly, in the Kalisantaraṇa Upaniṣad it is stated:

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa
kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma
rāma rāma hare hare

iti ṣoḍaśakaṁ nāmnāṁ
kali-kalmaṣa-nāśanam
nātaḥ parataropāyaḥ
sarva-vedeṣu dṛśyate

“The sixteen words—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—are especially meant for counteracting the contaminations of Kali. To save oneself from the contamination of Kali, there is no alternative but the chanting of these sixteen words.”

Lord Caitanya informed Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī that when His spiritual master understood Him, he said, “It is the transcendental nature of the holy names of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare to transport a man into spiritual madness. Anyone who sincerely chants this holy name very soon attains elevation to the platform of love of God and becomes mad after God. This madness arising from love of God is the first perfectional stage for a human being.”

Generally a human being is interested in religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation, but love of God is above all these. A bona fide spiritual master chants the holy names—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—and the transcendental sound vibration enters into the ear of the disciple, and if a disciple follows in the footsteps of his spiritual master and chants the holy name with similar respect, he actually comes to worship the transcendental name. When the transcendental name is worshiped by the devotee, the name Himself spreads His glories within the heart of a devotee. When a devotee is perfectly qualified in chanting the transcendental vibration of the holy name, he is quite fit to become a spiritual master and to deliver all the people of the world. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful that it gradually establishes its supremacy above everything in the world. The devotee who chants it becomes transcendentally situated in ecstasy and sometimes laughs, cries and dances in his ecstasy. Sometimes the unintelligent put hindrances in the path of chanting this mahā-mantra, but one who is situated on the platform of love of Godhead chants the holy name loudly for all concerned. As a result, everyone becomes initiated in the chanting of the holy names—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. By chanting and hearing the holy names of Kṛṣṇa, a person can remember the forms and qualities of Kṛṣṇa.

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