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The Spiritual Potency of Chanting Hare Krishna
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya once asked Lord Chaitanya: “Which item is most important in the execution of devotional service?” The Lord replied: “The most important item is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu further explains, ceto-darpana-marjanam the mirror of one’s heart is cleansed by the holy names; and bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam, it extinguishes the blazing fire of material existence. By chanting the holy names one can destroy the sinful condition of material existence and purify the unclean heart.
There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation or any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It springs automatically from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification, and dance in ecstasy. (Srila Prabhupada)
yathagadam viryatamam upayuktam yadrcchaya
ajanato ‘py atma-gunam kuryan mantro ‘py udahrtah
If a person unaware of the effective potency of a certain medicine takes that medicine or is forced to take it, it will act even without his knowledge because its potency does not depend on the patient’s understanding. Similarly, even though one does not know the value of chanting the holy name of the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be very effective. [SB 6.2.19]
The chanting of the holy names burns to ashes, all the reactions to one’s sinful activities.
ajnanad athava jnanad uttamasloka-nama yat
sankirtitam agham pumso dahed edho yathanalah
As a fire burns dry grass to ashes, so the holy name of the Lord, whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly, burns to ashes, without fail, all the reactions of one’s sinful activities. [SB 6.2.18]
Fire will act, regardless of whether handled by an innocent child or by someone well aware of its power. For example, if a field of straw or dry grass is set afire, either by an elderly man who knows the power of fire or by a child who does not, the grass will be burned to ashes. Similarly, one may or may not know the power of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, but if one chants the holy name he will become free from all sinful reactions.