The Science of Chanting: Going Beyond Mere Syllables

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Krishna’s holy names are so powerful that even inverted mantras containing His names deliver immense spiritual benefit.

Prayers, mantras, and hymns composed of sacred syllables abound in religious traditions, and they are highly developed in the Vaishnava tradition of ancient India. Some prayers and mantras stand supreme, largely because they express a selfless intention and purity of purpose. A prayer that asks for some selfish end or reflects conditioned responses to the material world is not as pure as one that asks for nothing in return. Self-centered prayers may be a preliminary step on the spiritual path, and to call on God in any situation is praiseworthy, but some prayers are clearly more selfless than others, reflecting a sincere focus on a singular goal: to get close to God in a spirit of love and devotion.

Supreme among all mantras and prayers is the maha-mantra – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare – which is a calling out to God and His spiritual energy in the mood “O Lord! O energy of the Lord! Please engage me in Your service.” By chanting the maha-mantra we are asking for only one thing – to be engaged in the Lord’s devotional service. The maha-mantra’s purity is profound: It not only offers spiritual protection from the present evil age, but it is also the best possible resource for those who seek genuine spiritual enrichment and the ultimate goal of love of God.

Being absolute, the Lord and His name are identical. Gaudiya Vaishnavas trace this teaching to the Padma Purana:

nama chintamanih krishnash
chaitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah shuddho nitya-mukto
’bhinnatvan nama-naminoh

“The holy name of Krishna is spiritual substance, identical to Krishna Himself. It is spiritually absolute, an embodied form of transcendental consciousness (chaitanya) and relationship (rasa). It is fully pure, eternal, complete, and never material under any circumstances. It is the essence of Krishna’s own potency. There is no difference between Krishna and His name.”

Here in the relative world a person and that person’s name are two different things. Someone is not present before us merely by our calling out his or her name. A thirsty man’s cry of “Water! Water! Water!” will never satisfy his thirst, because the name water and the substance water are completely different. In the spiritual, absolute world, however, there is no such difference. There, an object and its name, or a person and his name, are one. Therefore simply by vibrating the holy name of God, one associates with God directly. This allows one to attain the spiritual platform. As Srila Prabhupada says:

This chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness – namely sensual, mental, and intellectual. . . . Anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification.

Proper Chanting

Vedic scriptures (shastras) are sacred sound (shabda brahma). Every word of the Vedas is deemed eternal by the Vedas and their followers. Different schools accept different mantras or sacred sounds as most important. For the present age of Kali-yuga, however, shastras unequivocally declare congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna as supreme: “Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the deity of the Lord in the temple can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the name of Lord Hari [Krishna].” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 12.3.52)

Two prerequisites are fundamental to effective chanting: Sincerity, and receiving the name from a legitimate source. Anyone can chant the name, and even a child will benefit from chanting. In the beginning stages of spiritual life, the Lord gives Himself freely through the holy name to anyone inclined to chant it. Purification will ensue regardless of qualification or disqualification. But as we advance in practice, we must take the process more seriously, avoiding clearly defined offenses and learning how to chant with attention.1

In regard to receiving the holy name from a legitimate source, the scriptures are clear: “If one does not affiliate with an established lineage, the mantra one chants will not bear the expected fruit [love of God]. Therefore in Kali-yuga there will be four sampradayas [lineages] with which one must align. They may be enumerated as follows: Sri Sampradaya, Brahma Sampradaya, Rudra Sampradaya, and Kumara Sampradaya. All will preach from the city of Jagannatha Puri in Orissa.”2

In the preliminary stage, chanting is encouraged without any injunctions, and one can easily make genuine spiritual advancement. Yet one is expected to gradually engage in serious recitation of the holy name. If one nonchalantly persists in unconscious or distracted chanting, paying no heed to the offenses listed in scripture, one is engaging in namaparadha, or offending the name.

“O brother!” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s direct associate Jagadananda Pandita warns, “You cannot chant the holy name in the association of nondevotees. Something resembling the sounds of the name may come out of your mouth, but it will not really be the name. It will sometimes be the name’s reflection (namabhasa) and sometimes offensive chanting (namaparadha), but brother, you should know that in either case this kind of chanting interferes with the attainment of pure devotion to Krishna. If you want to chant the holy names properly, then associate with devotees and keep desires for sense enjoyment, liberation, and yogic powers at a distance. Give up the ten offenses, give up honor and dishonor, tolerate the world with detachment, and thus chant the name of Krishna.” (Prema-vivarta 7.1–8)

Three Levels of Chanting

If we make a serious endeavor as practitioners, we can rise beyond the unconscious or even offensive level of chanting and into the realm of namabhasa, which is a “shadow” of the holy name. Rupa Goswami (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 2.1.103) tells us about such abhasa – shadow, semblance, or, more literally, “a dawning twilight” – in relation to the name: “Even a shadow (abhasa) of the sun of the name that arises in the cave of one’s mind disabuses one of the darkness of sin.” Thus when one chants as sadhana, or spiritual practice, one actually chants the holy name, at least in shadow form, and by this becomes free of sinful reactions. By persistently engaging in this way and cultivating a sincere heart, one can gradually know shuddha-nama, the “pure name,” wherein one tastes the holy name proper, with God dancing on one’s tongue.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes about these three levels of chanting in Jaiva Dharma (Chapter 25):

[W]hen the name is chanted impurely with a desire for sense enjoyment (bhoga) or liberation (moksha), and based on a Mayavada [impersonalistic] conception, that is known as nama-aparadha. If the other kinds of aparadhas . . . are present because of simple ignorance, the ashuddha-nama (impure name) taken in that situation is not nama-aparadha, but namabhasa. You should remember that as long as one does not commit nama-aparadha when one is chanting namabhasa, there is hope that the namabhasa will go away and shuddha-nama will arise.

The word abhasa means luster, shadow or reflection. As the radiance that emanates from a naturally lustrous object has kanti (effulgence) or chaya (shadow), so the sunlike Name has two kinds of abhasa: one is the shadow (nama-chaya), and the other is the reflection (nama-pratibimba). . . .

Suddha-nama means taking nama with a favorable attitude, while remaining free from all material desire (anyabhilasha), and from coverings of jñana, karma and so on. To desire the supreme bliss that comes when the transcendental nature of nama manifests clearly is not anyabhilasha. All kinds of desires apart from that – such as the desire to be free from sins and to gain liberation – are certainly anyabhilasha. There will be no shuddha-nama so long as anyabhilasha remains; one will not receive shuddha-nama as long as he still desires the fruits of performing jñana, karma, yoga and so on.

If one keeps these characteristics of bhakti in mind and deliberates carefully, it becomes clear that shuddha-nama is certainly that nama which is free from nama-aparadha and namabhasa.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura also mentions various kinds of namabhasa in the following way, which will lead us to a discussion of inverted mantras:

There are four kinds of namabhasa: One may utter shri-krishna-nama to indicate something else (sanketa), jokingly (parihasa), antagonistically (stobha), or even disrespectfully (hela). Learned people know that these four types of shadow namabhasa destroy unlimited sins. Those who are ignorant of nama-tattva and sambandha-tattva perform these four kinds of namabhasa.

Vijaya: What is sanketya-namabhasa?

Babaji: Sanketya-namabhasa is uttering Bhagavan’s name when alluding to something else. For instance, Ajamila called his son Narayana at the time of his death, but Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s name is also Narayana, so Ajamila’s uttering “Narayana” was an instance of sanketya-namabhasa. When Muslims see a pig, they show hatred and exclaim, “Harama! Harama!” The exclamation “harama” contains the two words “ha” and “rama,” so the person uttering the word “harama” also obtains deliverance from the cycle of birth and death as a result of taking that sanketya-nama.

All the shastras accept that namabhasa gives mukti. Through shrinama, relationship is strongly established with Mukunda (the giver of liberation). Therefore, by uttering shrinama one is in touch with Bhagavan Mukunda, and by that contact mukti (liberation) is easily obtained. The same liberation that is obtained with great difficulty through brahma-jñana is easily available to everybody without hard labor through namabhasa.

Inverted Mantras

When the syllables of a mantra are inverted, or disrupted in some other way, the resultant sounds are sometimes “alluding to something else” and may thus be deemed a form of sanketya-namabhasa. In most cases, even in Sanskrit literature, such inappropriate chanting is fraught with potential difficulty. Most Vedic mantras need to be pronounced correctly to be effective. But transcendental sounds, such as the maha-mantra, do not come under Vedic rules. Nor are they subject to the grammatical laws of ordinary language. As Haridasa Thakura, Sri Chaitanya’s close associate, tells us: “The letters of the holy name have so much spiritual potency that they act even when uttered improperly [vyavahita haile].” (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya 3.59)

Haridasa Thakura then quotes a verse from the Padma Purana:

If a devotee once utters the holy name of the Lord, or if it penetrates his mind or enters his ear, which is the channel of aural reception, that holy name will certainly deliver him from material bondage, whether vibrated properly or improperly, with correct or incorrect grammar, or properly joined or vibrated in separate parts. O brahmana, the potency of the holy name is therefore certainly great. However, if one uses the vibration of the holy name for the benefit of the material body, for material wealth and followers, or under the influence of greed or atheism – in other words, if one utters the name with offenses – such chanting will not produce the desired result very soon. Therefore one should diligently avoid offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord. (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya 3.60)

Haridasa Thakura continues, “If one offenselessly utters the holy name even imperfectly, one can be freed from all the results of sinful life. (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya 3.61)

Commenting on Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya 3.59, Srila Prabhupada writes:

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura states that the word vyavahita (“improperly uttered”) is not used here to refer to the mundane vibration of the letters of the alphabet. Such negligent utterance for the sense gratification of materialistic persons is not a vibration of transcendental sound. Utterance of the holy name while one engages in sense gratification is an impediment on the path toward achieving ecstatic love for Krishna. On the other hand, if one who is eager for devotional service utters the holy name even partially or improperly, the holy name, which is identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, exhibits its spiritual potency because of that person’s offenseless utterance. Thus one is relieved from all unwanted practices, and one gradually awakens his dormant love for Krishna.

According to Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound, by Dr. Guy L. Beck (Santosha Dasa), a musicologist who teaches philosophy and Asian studies at Tulane University and is an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada, two conceptions of sound gradually arose in Sanskrit linguistics: Varnavada and Sphotavada. Varnavada, which derives from Mimamsa philosophy, argues that the divine potency of Vedic mantras lies solely within the individual syllables (varna) themselves, and that that potency is activated regardless of whether the chanter or listener understands its linguistic meaning. In Sphotavada, established by grammarian Bhartrihari, the meaning of a mantra is independent of the individual syllables and is activated only by virtue of a completed thought in sentence form. Thus, according to Sphotavada, the potency of a mantra depends on overall word or sentence meaning and is not inherent in the individual syllables.

According to Sphotavada theory, then, sound utterance has to be semantically coherent to have potency of spiritual effect. Therefore, while Sankara and other proponents of Advaita Vedanta adopted Sphotavada, Vaishnava acharyas generally emphasized Varnavada. “Ramanuja, Madhva, Sridhara Svami, and Jiva Goswami,” says Beck, “all accept Varnavada.” This is because the Varnavada theory fits more neatly with the idea that the divine (Vishnu or Krishna) has bestowed special transcendental potencies in the mantra that can be accessed by anyone regardless of Sanskrit competency.3

Here are two examples of inverted mantras from Vaishnava literature, one involving the name of Rama and the other the name of Sri Radha. In both examples, rapid repetition turns an inverted mantra into a proper one. Regarding the first one, Srila Prabhupada told the story on several occasions:

Narada Muni elevated so many fallen souls. This Valmiki Muni was also. So he was given this mantra, “Rama.” He could not chant it. Then he was advised to do just the opposite, mara. Mara means “dead body.” So mara mara mara. Three mara means one “Rama” is there. So in this way he was initiated and he became a great sage. For sixty thousand years he meditated simply on “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama.” And when he was liberated, he wrote this Ramayana.4

The second example is found in Vishvanatha Chakravarti’s Sri Krishna Bhavanamrita:

One day when Sri Radhika came to Nandagrama to cook for Krishna, He peeked into the kitchen and, upon seeing Her, had an irresistible urge to lovingly recite Her holy name. Aware that such blatant recitation in His paternal home would look strange and improper, He devised a covert method to accomplish His goal: He took one of His pet parrots on His arm, and, while caressing it and feeding it pomegranate seeds, taught it one particular verse – dharadhara-vapu-narayano ’sman sa prasidatu (“May Lord Narayana, with dark complexion [dharadhara], be pleased with us”). The young parrot could not memorize such a long verse, so Krishna told it to just practice repeating the first word. The parrot then started repeating “dhara dhara dhara” over and over. Krishna joined him in this repetition as well, and before long they were chanting “radha radha radha.” Thus, without evoking the suspicion of His elders, the Lord was able to relish the chanting of Sri Radha’s holy name.5

Both the above forms of inverted mantra were articulated in a group discussion between Srila Prabhupada, some of his disciples, and Beatle George Harrison:

George Harrison: He had a baby girl and was trying to think of a name, so I told him to call it Dhara, you know? ’Cause from Radha – radharadharadha – it becomes dhara. So he called his girl that name.

Jayatirtha Dasa: There’s a story of Valmiki. You know that story?

Gurudasa: Maramaramaramaramaramara.

Jayatirtha: Valmiki was a murderer, or a dacoit, thief. So he was met by Narada Muni, I think.

Prabhupada: Yes, Valmiki.

Jayatirtha: And he was advised by Narada Muni to please chant the holy name of the Lord and give up this thievery. So he wouldn’t. So instead Narada Muni said, “You chant mara.” Mara means death. So he agreed.

Prabhupada: Maramararama.

Jayatirtha: Later on, Valmiki wrote the Ramayana after having chanted rama. He became purified.6

The Maha-mantra: The Name Remains the Same

According to a popular narrative in Bengal, inversion is no stranger to the maha-mantra. Some say that the mantra may have originally been recited with the “Hare Rama” part first. The background of this story runs as follows: The maha-mantra can be found in the Kali-santarana Upanishad, a part of the original Vedas, or shruti, whose verses are properly chanted only by qualified brahmanas. In our current age, normal processes of purification are ineffective, and thus brahmanas are unqualified, few being able to properly chant shruti mantras. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the story goes, reversed the order of the chant. He thus showed respect for the rules of eligibility given in shruti texts but allowed everyone to chant this most potent of all sound vibrations.

Srila Prabhupada’s godbrother Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridharadeva Goswami Maharaja (1895–1988) expressed the above narrative as follows:

It is said that because it comes from the Upanishads, the Hare Krishna mantra is a Vedic mantra, and, therefore, because the ordinary people may not have any entrance into Vedic mantras, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu readjusted this mantra by reversing the order of the words. In that way, it is said, the concern that it is a Vedic mantra is thereby canceled, and so Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave it to all without breaching the injunctions of the Vedas. Some devotees in Uttar Pradesh who have great affection for Sri Chaitanyadeva like to give this opinion.7

It is unlikely that Sridhara Maharaja subscribed to this view himself, but as he says, “Some devotees . . . like to give this opinion.”

No authoritative source substantiates the Sri Chaitanya component of this story, and the tale has traditionally been relegated to the realm of apocrypha. Nonetheless, when the notion of inversion – specifically in relation to the maha-mantra – was brought to the attention of modern Gaudiya acharyas, they took the time to address it. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, for example, said:

Kali-santarana Upanishad has been published in Mumbai and Madras, but because [the manuscripts of] the Upanishad were collected from the adulterated members of the Ramayet-sampradaya, the order of the maha-mantra in these particular editions was reversed. But even despite being so, its meaning and position cannot be reversed. Any wise person will not accept any order or reading different from the maha-mantra and its order given by the person denoted by the holy name (nami), Sri Gaurasundara, who himself descended in Kali-yuga to distribute the easy process for crossing over the age of Kali (kali-santarana) and attaining love of God.”8

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati here suggests that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s own recitation of the maha-mantra gave pride of place to “Hare Krishna.” But how would we know Mahaprabhu’s preferred version of the mantra? His first Bengali biography, Sri Chaitanya-bhagavata, mentions the maha-mantra five or six times. In that book the full mantra – with the Hare Krishna part first – emanates from Mahaprabhu’s lips twice. The first instance occurs early in His pastimes when He answers Tapana Mishra’s question about the ultimate goal of life. The Lord answers:

By congregationally chanting the holy names you achieve everything, including the goal of life and the means for attaining it. “For spiritual progress in this Age of Kali, there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative to the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord.” Just chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This verse consists of the holy names and is called the maha-mantra. It contains sixteen names composed of thirty-two syllables. If you continue chanting this maha-mantra, the seed of love of God will sprout in your heart. Then you will understand the goal of life and the process for achieving it.”9

In the second instance, Mahaprabhu tells the people of Navadvipa: “‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.’ I have told you the maha-mantra. All of you chant this mantra according to a prescribed number. Everyone will attain all perfection by it. At every moment chant it; there is no other rule.”10 These instructions to the residents of Navadvipa are also related in Narahari Chakravarti’s Bhakti-ratnakara (12.2047–2054), where the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is also recorded in its entirety (12.2049).

Fortunately, the original order of the mantra is also preserved in the Puranas, tantras, and agamas, which refer to the maha-mantra as starting with the Hare Krishna part first. For instance, in the Brahma-yamala, Lord Shiva describes the maha-mantra as follows:

Without Hari there is no other way to eradicate the sins in the age of Kali. Therefore hari-nama should be revealed in order to save the world. The people in Kali-yuga everywhere can be liberated from the greatest sins by chanting the following mantra. First one should chant the two words “Hare Krishna” twice and then two words more – “Krishna Krishna.” Then one should chant the two words “Hare Hare” and then twice “Hare Rama.” In the end, Mahadevi, one should chant “Rama Rama” and then “Hare Hare.” In this way one should pronounce the maha-mantra of Lord Krishna, which destroys all sins.

Similarly, Dhyanachandra Goswami in his Gaura-govindarcana-smarana-paddhati (132–133) describes three powerful Krishna mantras famous for bestowing love of God on their chanters. The first of them, he writes, is the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, explained in Sanat-kumara-samhita as follows: “The words ‘Hare Krishna’ are repeated twice, and then ‘Krishna’ and ‘Hare’ are both separately twice repeated. Then ‘Hare Rama’ is repeated twice, then ‘Rama’ and ‘Hare’ are both separately twice repeated.”

In the end, however, the question of order is simply inconsequential, since as soon as one starts repeating the mantra over and over again, such considerations disappear through the incessant flow of names, as Srila Prabhupada confirms:

Either you chant Hare Rama or you chant Hare Krishna, it is the same. There is no difference. Sometimes they first of all place “Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” And sometimes they place “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna . . .” There is no difference. Sometimes they say, “No, it should be Hare Rama first.” Sometimes they say, “No, Hare Krishna.” But that is not very important, childish. Either you say Hare Rama or Hare Krishna, the same.”11

Uninterrupted Concentration

The holy name of the Lord is so powerful that even if its recitation is interrupted by inverted words, innovative sequence, or intervening syllables, it can still have the desired effect. Srila Prabhupada’s conclusive purport to Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya 3.60, leaves little to the imagination:

If one somehow or other hears, utters or remembers the holy name, or if it catches his mind while coming near his ears, that holy name, even if vibrated in separate words, will act. An example of such separation is given as follows:

Suppose one is using the two words halam riktam. Now the syllable ha in the word halam and the syllable ri in riktam are separately pronounced, but nevertheless the holy name will act because one somehow or other utters the word hari. Similarly, in the word raja-mahishi, the syllables ra and ma appear in two separate words, but because they somehow or other appear together, the holy name rama will act, provided there are no offenses.

Still, it is obviously better to chant with uninterrupted syllables. Bhaktivinoda Thakura offers a nuanced perspective in which he notes that while one can still benefit from separated syllables, that is not as effective as when the syllables are in an uninterrupted flow. In his Harinama-chintamani (2.50–53) he writes that “disruption” causes offense and thus minimizes benefit. This type of offense is known as varna-vyavadhana, or a disruption in the syllables, and should be avoided.12

The tradition never teaches that one should chant in a circuitous way. Instead, the message is that the holy name, being merciful and supremely potent, can offer its fruits not only to those who chant scrupulously and with loving attention but also to those who chant inadvertently or improperly. This, then, is the implication of inverted mantras – it highlights the supremely munificent nature of the holy name. Let it be clear: The tradition recommends that in chanting one follow in the footsteps of the great souls throughout history who as perfect exemplars have chanted with full concentration and without interruption, in terms of both syllabic sequence and determined constancy.

Notes

  1. Padma Purana (Brahma-khanda 25.15–18, 22–23) offers a cautionary list of pitfalls to avoid in chanting the holy name. (See the sidebar “The Ten Offenses Against the Holy Name.”) These are called nama-aparadha, “offenses against the name.” In the Gaudiya tradition the list can initially be found in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, Eleventh Vilasa, texts 521–524. The notion was then carried into Jiva Goswami’s work, both in his commentary on Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.120) and in his own Bhakti-sandarbha (Anuccheda 265). Vishvanatha Chakravarti then highlights the importance of this list again by citing it in his Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu-bindu (Purva-vibhaga, First Wave 7).
  2. Though this verse cannot be found in current editions of the Padma Purana, it was cited (as a verse in that Purana) in Kavi Karnapura’s Sri Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika (21), an early Gaudiya text. We can therefore assume that it was in earlier editions of the Purana. The verse can also be found in the eighteenth-century Bhakti-ratnakara, Fifth Wave. A similar verse, almost identical, appears in the Garga-samhita, a traditional samhita in the Vaishnava tradition. (Garga-samhita, Ashvamedha-khanda, 61.24–26) For more on this reference, see Vishvanatha Chakravarti’s Gaura-gana-svarupa-tattva-candrika, trans., Demian Martins (Vrindavan, U.P.: Jiva Institute, 2015), Introduction, xiii.
  3. See Guy L. Beck, Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1995), 52–57.
  4. Srila Prabhupada lecture on Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 20.330–335, New York, December 23, 1966. The “mara, mara, mara” story does not appear in the critical edition of Valmiki’s Ramayana, though it exists in several manuscripts of that text, as confirmed by Ramayana scholars Robert Goldman and Philip Lutgendorf in personal correspondence with me. That being said, it is a well-established part of the Ramayana tradition. The narrative can be found in the fourteenth-century Adhyatma Ramayana (2.6.80), an appendix to the Brahmanda Purana. It also appears in the anonymous fifteenth-century Ananda Ramayana, written in Sanskrit, and in Krittivas Ojha’s Bengali Ramayana. Tulsidasa alludes to the story in his Ramcaritmanas (1.19.3) but offers no details.
  5. Sri Krishna Bhavanamrita (6.1–2), in Bhanu Swami’s translation: “Krishna taught a baby parrot to say, ‘May the Lord with dark complexion (dharadhara) be pleased with us.’” (And on that pretext chanted Radha’s name (dha-radha-ra). “Petting and feeding the bird pomegranate seeds intermittently, Krishna made the small bird continuously repeat the word dharadhara.”
  6. Conversation with George Harrison on July 26, 1976.
  7. Accessed at http://gosai.com/writings/the-maha-mantra.
  8. From a conversation with a guest at the Gaudiya Math, September 4, 1932. Printed in the Gaudiya magazine, Vol. 11, No. 11, October 22, 1932, p. 101.
  9. See Chaitanya-bhagavata, Adi-khanda 14.143–147.
  10. Ibid. Madhya 23.76–78.
  11. Srila Prabhupada lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.44, Bombay, December 12, 1974.
  12. See Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Harinama-cintamani: The Beautiful Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Holy Name, Sarvabhavana dasa, trans. (Bombay: Bhaktivedanta Books, 1990). The original Bengali contains verses and several endnotes concluding each chapter. The passage in question is Chapter 2, Endnote 9. The endnote offers this information: In the word hathikari, the first and last syllables produce the word hari. Because the syllables thi-ka intervene, the full benefit of the name is not attained.
About the Author: 

Satyaraja Dasa

Satyaraja Dasa (Steven Rosen) is an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is also founding editor of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies and associate editor of Back to Godhead magazine.