George Harrison Interview: Hare Krishna Mantra–There’s Nothing Higher (1982)
This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series The Beatles and Hare Krishna
George: It’s really the same sort of thing as meditation, but I think it has a quicker effect. I mean, even if you put your beads down, you can still say the mantra or sing it without actually keeping track on your beads. One of the main differences between silent meditation and chanting is that silent meditation is rather dependent on concentration, but when you chant, it’s more of a direct connection with God.
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)
Chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
“This transcendental vibration by chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, is the sublime method for reviving our Krishna consciousness. As living spiritual soul, we are all originally Krishna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now polluted by material atmosphere. In this polluted concept of life we are all trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in our complexities. This illusion is called maya, or hard struggle for existence, for winning over the stringent laws of material nature. This illusory struggle against material nature can at once be stopped by revival of our Krishna consciousness.
Chanting a mantra or hymn softly and slowly is called japa, and chanting the same mantra loudly is called kīrtana. For example, uttering the mahā-mantra (Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare) very softly, only for one’s own hearing, is called japa. Chanting the same mantra loudly for being heard by all others is called kīrtana. The mahā-mantra can be used for japa and kīrtana also. When japa is practiced it is for the personal benefit of the chanter, but when kīrtana is performed it is for the benefit of all others who may hear.
In the Padma Purāṇa there is a statement: “For any person who is chanting the holy name either softly or loudly, the paths to liberation and even heavenly happiness are at once open.” (from Nectar of Devotion Chapter 9)
This morning I went into our temple room, as I do every morning, and offered my obeisances. As I was saying my morning prayers this thought just entered my mind; ‘Vyasasan das, reporting for service”. It seemed like a strange thing to be thinking so early in the morning, and I do not recall ever thinking like that before. But almost immediately, I was reminded of this verse from the Bhagavad-gita:
O son of Kuntī, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.
I could not remember at first, what chapter and verse, but I went to the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and began searching…Oh yes, I remember Chapter Nine, Text 27…and the purport reads:
…Everyone has to work for maintenance of his body and soul together, and Kṛṣṇa recommends herein that one should work for Him. Everyone has to eat something to live; therefore he should accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa. Any civilized man has to perform some religious ritualistic ceremonies; therefore Kṛṣṇa recommends, “Do it for Me,” and this is called arcanā. Everyone has a tendency to give something in charity; Kṛṣṇa says, “Give it to Me,”
This is real renunciation, real yoga; always thinking and planning how to serve the Lord. And for one brief moment in my life, my mind was right.
We are All Hare Krishnas now, Meditation goes Mainstream
by Brendan O’Connor
Gradually they are coming out the woodwork. And suddenly it seems that half the people I know are secretly meditating. They range from casual transcendental meditators to practically full-blown Buddhists or Hare Krishnas.
And the strange thing is that these are not hippies or crusties or drop-outs or people living alternative lifestyles on an ashram-inspired commune near Sligo. Just regular blokes, a few of them quite senior in what they do. There are thrusting business types and entrepreneurs and generally pretty serious people. These are not people who go for reiki or acupuncture or any of the other usual trappings of the “I’m not religious but I am a very spiritual person” lifestyle. They are fairly practical people. And meditation is just one of their tools, a technology for modern living.
…The process of meditation recommended in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is not to fix one’s attention on something impersonal or void.
The process of meditation should begin from the lotus feet of the Lord and progress to His smiling face. The meditation should be concentrated upon the lotus feet, then the calves, then the thighs, and in this way higher and higher. The more the mind becomes fixed upon the different parts of the limbs, one after another, the more the intelligence becomes purified. (SB 2.2.13)
Todays post revolves around the first three paragraphs in chapter 7 of the Krsna Book and the associated verses from the Bhagavad-gita.
…Hearing is an opportunity to associate with the Lord; to hear His activities is to evolve to the transcendental nature–simply by hearing.
If someone takes advantage of hearing the pastimes of the Lord, the material contamination of dust, accumulated in the heart due to long association with material nature, can be immediately cleansed. Lord Caitanya also instructed that simply by hearing the transcendental name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one can cleanse the heart of all material contamination.
Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are not only beautiful; they are also very pleasing to the mind. (Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapter Seven “Salvation of Tṛṇāvarta”)
“Our prayer of the Hare Krishna Mantra means addressing Radha and Krishna for being engaged in Their service. Hare Krishna means “Oh Hare, Oh Radharani! Oh Krishna! Please engage me in Your service so that I can get relief from the service of Maya.” (Letter to Subala das July 8, 1969)
“Of all yogis, he who abides in Me with great faith is the highest of all.”
It is by great fortune that one comes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness on the path of bhakti-yoga to become well situated according to the Vedic direction. The ideal yogī concentrates his attention on Kṛṣṇa, who is called Śyāmasundara, who is as beautifully colored as a cloud, whose lotus-like face is as effulgent as the sun, whose dress is brilliant with jewels and whose body is flower garlanded. Illuminating all sides is His gorgeous luster, which is called the brahmajyoti. He incarnates in different forms such as Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Varāha and Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He descends like a human being, as the son of Mother Yaśodā, and He is known as Kṛṣṇa, Govinda and Vāsudeva. He is the perfect child, husband, friend and master, and He is full with all opulences and transcendental qualities. If one remains fully conscious of these features of the Lord, he is called the highest yogī. (from purport to Bg. 6.47)
This is more or less a continuation of yesterdays post Freedom From All Miseries as it is the last verse in the Chapter 6, entitled; “Sankhya-yoga”. This is one of the very best verses and purports in the Bhagavad-gita for study if one is an aspiring yogi…
…The culmination of all kinds of yoga practices lies in bhakti-yoga. All other yogas are but means to come to the point of bhakti in bhakti-yoga. Yoga actually means bhakti-yoga; all other yogas are progressions toward the destination of bhakti-yoga. From the beginning of karma-yoga to the end of bhakti-yoga is a long way to self-realization. Karma-yoga, without fruitive results, is the beginning of this path. When karma-yoga increases in knowledge and renunciation, the stage is called jñāna-yoga. When jñāna-yoga increases in meditation on the Supersoul by different physical processes, and the mind is on Him, it is called aṣṭāṅga-yoga. And, when one surpasses the aṣṭāṅga-yoga and comes to the point of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa, it is called bhakti-yoga, the culmination. Factually, bhakti-yoga is the ultimate goal, but to analyze bhakti-yoga minutely one has to understand these other yogas. The yogī who is progressive is therefore on the true path of eternal good fortune. (from purport to Bg. 6.47)
In the old days, book distributors and sankirtan devotees usually carried some mantra cards like the one above to distribute. Hopefully this practice is still going on, because if there was only one piece of literature being distributed, it should be the maha- mantra, or the great mantra for deliverance.
Following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is distributing the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and inducing people all over the world to chant. We are giving people an immense treasury of transcendental literature, translated into all the important languages of the world, and by the grace of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu this literature is selling profusely, and people are chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra with great delight. This is the preaching process of the Caitanya cult. Since the Lord wanted this cult preached all over the world, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is acting in a humble way so that the vision of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu may be fulfilled all over the world, especially in the Western countries. (from purport to Adi-lila, 6.19)
…In the Sixth and Eighth Chapters of Bhagavad-gītā, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, explains that the eightfold yoga system is a means to control the mind and senses. This method, however, is very difficult for people to perform, especially in this age of Kali, an age characterized by ignorance and chaos.
Although this eightfold yoga system is particularly recommended in the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord emphasizes that the process of karma-yoga, action in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is superior.
…No one really wants to sit down and meditate. Why should we? We’re meant for positive activity, for recreation, for pleasure. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness, our recreation is dancing and chanting, and when we get tired, we take prasāda. Is dancing difficult? Is chanting difficult? We don’t charge anything to dance in the temple. If you go to a ballroom, you have to pay to enter, but we do not charge. It is natural to enjoy music and dancing and palatable foods. These are our recreations, and this is our method of meditation. So this yoga system is not at all laborious. It is simply recreation, susukham. It is stated in the Ninth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (9.2) that this yoga is susukham—very happy. “It is everlasting, and it is joyfully performed.” It is natural, automatic, and spontaneous. It is our real life in the spiritual world. (The Path of Perfection)
And of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.
…The culmination of all kinds of yoga practices lies in bhakti-yoga. All other yogas are but means to come to the point of bhakti in bhakti-yoga. Yoga actually means bhakti-yoga; all other yogas are progressions toward the destination of bhakti-yoga. From the beginning of karma-yoga to the end of bhakti-yoga is a long way to self-realization. Karma-yoga, without fruitive results, is the beginning of this path. When karma-yoga increases in knowledge and renunciation, the stage is called jñāna-yoga. When jñāna-yoga increases in meditation on the Supersoul by different physical processes, and the mind is on Him, it is called aṣṭāṅga-yoga. And, when one surpasses the aṣṭāṅga-yoga and comes to the point of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa, it is called bhakti-yoga, the culmination. Factually, bhakti-yoga is the ultimate goal, but to analyze bhakti-yoga minutely one has to understand these other yogas. The yogī who is progressive is therefore on the true path of eternal good fortune. (from purport to Bhagavad-gita 6.47)
This morning as I was reading from the Srimad Bhagavatam, I was feeling the aches and pains of age, and I was reminded of one of my most favorite verses:
tat te ‘nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
“My dear Lord, any person who is constantly awaiting Your causeless mercy to be bestowed upon him, and who goes on suffering the resultant actions of his past misdeeds, offering You respectful obeisances from the core of his heart, is surely eligible to become liberated, for it has become his rightful claim.” (SB 10.14.8)
…A devotee of the Lord never thinks that he is a paramahaṁsa or a liberated person. He always remains a humble servant of the Lord. In all reverse conditions, he agrees to suffer the results of his past life. He never accuses the Lord of putting him into a distressed condition. These are the signs of an exalted devotee. Tat te ‘nukampāṁ susamīkṣyamāṇaḥ. When suffering reversed conditions, the devotee always considers that the reverse conditions are the Lord’s concessions. He is never angry with his master; he is always satisfied with the position his master offers. In any case, he continues performing his duty in devotional service. Such a person is guaranteed promotion back home, back to Godhead. (from purport)
When I did a computer search on the phrase “rightful claim”, this of course brought me to the different references from the Srimad Bhagavatam (ie., SB 5.10.14, and SB 8.14.13) but also to the “Nectar of Devotion”, chapter ten. Reading from it was so nice, that I decided to post the entire chapter. More
He who meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me…is sure to reach Me.
…In this verse Lord Kṛṣṇa stresses the importance of remembering Him. One’s memory of Kṛṣṇa is revived by chanting the mahāmantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord. (from purport to Bhagavad-gita 8.8)
In our previous post Fix your mind upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead it was recommended that we should fix one’s mind in the service of the Personality of Godhead. Now the next step is to meditate upon the form of the Lord. To move from the impersonal to the more personal aspects of the Absolute Truth.
Thereafter, you should meditate upon the limbs of Viṣṇu, one after another, without being deviated from the conception of the complete body. Thus the mind becomes free from all sense objects. There should be no other thing to be thought upon. Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, is the Ultimate Truth, the mind becomes completely reconciled in Him only.
…Therefore, thinking of Viṣṇu or meditating upon the transcendental form of Viṣṇu, specifically upon Lord Kṛṣṇa, is the last word on the subject of meditation.
…it is definitely assured that the Supreme Lord is not impersonal. He is a person, but His body is different from those of conditioned persons like us. Otherwise, meditation beginning from the praṇava (oṁkāra) up to the limbs of the personal body of Viṣṇu would not have been recommended by Śukadeva Gosvāmī for the attainment of complete spiritual perfection. The Viṣṇu forms of worship in great temples of India are not, therefore, arrangements of idol worship, as they are wrongly interpreted to be by a class of men with a poor fund of knowledge; rather, they are different spiritual centers of meditation on the transcendental limbs of the body of Viṣṇu. The worshipable Deity in the temple of Viṣṇu is identical with Lord Viṣṇu by the inconceivable potency of the Lord.
In our previous post Om, Oṁkāra, or the Praṇava, is the Seed of Transcendental Realization Oṁkāra, or the praṇava, which is the seed of transcendental realization, and it is composed of the three transcendental letters a-u-m, was discussed. By its chanting by the mind, in conjunction with the breathing process, was a means of changing the habit of the mind, to bring the mind under control. But in this next verse, Śukadeva Gosvāmī recommends the next step in God Realization, namely to fix one’s mind in the service of the Personality of Godhead.
Gradually, as the mind becomes progressively spiritualized, withdraw it from sense activities, and by intelligence the senses will be controlled. The mind too absorbed in material activities can be engaged in the service of the Personality of Godhead and become fixed in full transcendental consciousness.
…Oṁkāra, or the praṇava, is the seed of transcendental realization, and it is composed of the three transcendental letters a-u-m. By its chanting by the mind, in conjunction with the breathing process, which is a transcendental but mechanical way of getting into trance, as devised by the experience of great mystics, one is able to bring the mind, which is materially absorbed, under control.
Oṁkāra is the seed of all transcendental sound and it is only the transcendental sound which can bring about the desired change of the mind and the senses. Mind or desire cannot be stopped, but to develop a desire to function for spiritual realization, the quality of engagement by the mind has to be changed.
In the Bhagavad-gītā, the praṇava (oṁkāra) has been accepted as the direct, literal representation of the Supreme Absolute Truth. One who is not able to chant directly the holy name of the Lord, as recommended above, can easily chant the praṇava (oṁkāra). This oṁkāra is a note of address, such as “O my Lord,” just as oṁ hari om means “O my Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” As we have explained before, the Lord’s holy name is identical with the Lord Himself. So also is oṁkāra. But persons who are unable to realize the transcendental personal form or name of the Lord on account of their imperfect senses (in other words, the neophytes) are trained to the practice of self-realization by this mechanical process of regulating the breathing function and simultaneously repeating the praṇava (oṁkāra) within the mind.
Journey of Self-Discovery
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 5, Yoga & Meditation
Meditation Through Transcendental Sound
Lecturing at Boston’s Northeastern University in the summer of 1969, Śrīla Prabhupāda introduces a meditation system renowned for its extraordinary power and the fact that it can be easily practiced almost anywhere and at any time. “If you take up this simple process,” he says, “chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma Hare Hare, you are immediately elevated to the transcendental platform.” He adds, “No other meditation is possible while you are walking on the street.”
My dear boys and girls, I thank you very much for attending this meeting. We are spreading this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement because there is a great need of this consciousness throughout the world. And the process is very easy—that is the advantage.
First of all, we must try to understand what the transcendental platform is. As far as our present condition is concerned, we are on various platforms. So we have to first of all stand on the transcendental platform; then there can be a question of transcendental meditation.
In the Third Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, you’ll find an explanation of the various statuses of conditioned life. The first is the bodily conception of life (indriyāṇi parāṇy āhuḥ). Everyone in this material world is under this bodily concept of life. Someone is thinking, “I am Indian.” You are thinking, “I am American.” Somebody’s thinking, “I am Russian.” Somebody’s thinking he is something else. So everyone is thinking, “I am the body.”
Meditation means to engage the mind in thinking of the form of the Lord, of the qualities of the Lord, of the activities of the Lord and of the service of the Lord. Meditation does not mean anything impersonal or void. According to Vedic literature, meditation is always on the form of Viṣṇu.
The Nectar of Devotion 1970 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 10 “Techniques of Hearing and Memorizing”
In the Nṛsiṁha Purāṇa there is a statement about meditation on the form of the Lord. It is said there: “Meditation focusing on the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has been accepted as transcendental and beyond the experience of material pain and pleasure. By such meditation even one who is grossly miscreant can be delivered from the sinful reactions of his life.”
In the Viṣṇu-dharma there is a statement about meditation on the transcendental quality of the Lord. It is said, “Persons who are constantly engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and who remember the transcendental qualities of the Lord, become free from all reactions to sinful activities, and after being so cleansed they become fit to enter into the kingdom of God.” In other words, no one can enter into the kingdom of God without being freed from all sinful reactions. Sinful reactions can be avoided simply by remembering the form, qualities, pastimes, etc., of the Lord.
In the Padma Purāṇa there is a statement about remembering the activities of the Lord: “A person who is always engaged in meditation on the sweet pastimes and wonderful activities of the Lord surely becomes freed from all material contamination.”