A relative newcomer to Krishna consciousness expresses what he has learned about chanting the holy names.
By Richard Dirden
How the chanting of Krishna’s holy names brings us closer to Him.

I work as the chief executive officer of a mechanical engineering company. I was struggling with feelings of emptiness and a lack of purpose in my life, and despite material success, I felt unfulfilled and disconnected from the world around me. I stumbled upon the teachings that Prabhupada presented to us and the practice of chanting Hare Krishna about three years ago after watching a documentary on Prabhupada’s life and was immediately drawn to the idea of connecting with the divine through the repetition of the mantra. I began to chant the Hare Krishna mantra regularly, and over time, I found that the practice helped bring a sense of peace and clarity to my mind. As I continued to chant, I also started to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of God and the self. I began to study the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts and found that the knowledge I gained from these texts helped deepen my understanding of my spiritual path.

Through the practice of chanting Hare Krishna and studying the scriptures, I was able to find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in my life that I had been missing before. I felt a deeper connection to the world around me, and my relationships with others also improved.

Even as somewhat of an outsider to Krishna consciousness, I think my experience highlights how the practice of chanting Hare Krishna can have a profound impact on an individual’s spiritual journey. Srila Prabhupada taught that the process of God realization begins with the practice of chanting Hare Krishna. Here I’d like to express what I’ve understood to be the significance of this practice, and how it brings us closer to understanding the divine.

A Direct Call to God

First, it’s important to understand that the Hare Krishna mantra is not just any ordinary prayer or slogan. It is a direct call to God, imploring Him to reveal Himself to us and, especially, to allow us to serve Him, service to Him being our natural position as eternal spirit souls who are subordinate parts of Him. The mantra consists of three names: Hare, Krishna, and Rama. Each name carries deep spiritual significance. The process of chanting Hare Krishna involves both hearing and speaking the mantra. When we hear the mantra, either by our solitary chanting, chanting with others, or listening to recordings, the vibrations of the syllables enter our ears and have a purifying effect on the mind. And when we speak the mantra, the vibrations are also transmitted through the tongue and the mouth, further purifying the body and the senses. The Hare Krishna mantra, specifically, is a maha-mantra, or great mantra, and has the power to deliver the practitioner from the cycle of birth and death. The mantra is derived from the ancient Sanskrit text the Kali-santarana Upanishad and is traditionally considered the most effective means of attaining God realization in the current age, Kali-yuga.

Hare refers to the divine feminine energy of God, also known as His internal potency. Krishna refers to God Himself, the supreme consciousness. Rama represents the supreme pleasure of God. When we chant Hare Krishna, we are inviting God to reveal Himself to us in His full glory, complete with His divine energy and bliss. In the Bhagavad-gita (10.25) Lord Krishna states that of all the spiritual practices, the repetition of the Lord’s holy name is the highest and most effective. The Ramayana also states, “In the Age of Kali, the chanting and remembrance of the names of God is the most powerful means of crossing the ocean of material existence.” This is because the name of God contains all of His divine qualities and energies, and by repeating the name, we can access those qualities ourselves.

But chanting Hare Krishna is not just about asking for something from God. It is also a way to purify our hearts and minds and connect with God on a deeper level. As we repeat the mantra, our consciousness becomes elevated, and we become more attuned to the spiritual realm. The practice of chanting Hare Krishna helps bring us out of the cycle of birth and death and closer to the ultimate goal of self-realization, which is pure love of God and service to Him.

As a side benefit, chanting Hare Krishna can also bring us relief from the stresses and anxieties of daily life. The repetition of the mantra helps calm the mind and bring a sense of inner peace and balance. It can also help increase our focus and concentration, as the mind becomes more and more absorbed in the sound of the mantra.

Srila Prabhupada time and time again emphasized the importance of chanting Hare Krishna. He explains that this practice is the most effective way to purify the mind and the heart and connect with God. Through the repetition of the mantra, we can tap into a higher state of consciousness and come closer to understanding the nature of God.

Prabhupada stressed that the practice of chanting Hare Krishna should be done with faith and devotion. When we approach the practice with a sincere and open heart, the blessings of the Lord are more readily received. Prabhupada recommended that we chant the mantra at least sixteen rounds per day on a set of prayer beads (known as a japa mala), as this helps us establish a deeper absorption in the holy names. The repetition of the Hare Krishna mantra has a profound effect on the practitioner’s consciousness.

The practice of chanting Hare Krishna is not limited to a specific time or place. It can be done anywhere, at any time, and does not require any special equipment or setup. All that is needed is a sincere desire to connect with God and the willingness to repeat the mantra with devotion.

According to the Bhagavad-gita (6.34), controlling the mind is more difficult than controlling the wind. The practice of chanting Hare Krishna helps to focus and stabilize the mind as it becomes absorbed in the sound of the mantra. This increased focus and concentration can lead to a deeper understanding of the nature of God and the self.

Prabhupada also emphasized that the practice of chanting Hare Krishna should be accompanied by a disciplined and ethical way of life. This includes following such principles as nonviolence, truthfulness, and sexual purity, as well as engaging in activities that help develop a deeper spiritual understanding. By combining the practice of chanting Hare Krishna with a virtuous lifestyle, the devotee can make rapid progress on the spiritual path.

Beyond Personal Benefits

The benefits of chanting Hare Krishna extend beyond the individual practitioner. The practice also has the power to transform society as a whole. As more and more people engage in the chanting of Hare Krishna, the consciousness of the collective is elevated, leading to a more harmonious and peaceful society. Chanting Hare Krishna is not just a solitary practice but can also be done in the company of others. In the Krishna consciousness movement, devotees often gather together to chant and engage in other devotional practices as a community. This can enhance the experience of chanting and bring a sense of unity and connection with others.

The practice of chanting Hare Krishna, as taught by Srila Prabhupada, is a powerful tool for self-realization and spiritual growth. It helps us purify our hearts and minds and connect with God on a deeper level. And as more people adopt this practice, the consciousness of society is elevated, bringing us all closer to the ultimate goal of realizing and serving God.

Richard Dirden has a passion for exploring the spiritual aspects of life and is excited to share his insights with readers. He hopes to resonate with readers on a personal level and is committed to helping others deepen their understanding of the divine and find their path to spiritual fulfillment. Richard resides in Bradenton, Florida, with his wife, Sarah, and their two sons, James and Chris.