The secret buried deep in the scriptures for more blissful and absorbing Japa of the Hare Krishna mahamantra.
Chanting in a Musical Way
Many devotees find it much more absorbing and relishable to chant their daily rounds of japa in a musical way by singing the holy names. It not only deepens our mood of calling out to Nam Prabhu, the bliss of chanting increases beyond bounds.
Personally, I can testify that singing the holy names during japa gives me millions of times more bliss, remembrance and realizations in the Nam than when I just chant softly to myself. Just like we experience a unique feeling of ecstasy by singing the verses written in the scriptures and by our Acharyas, in comparison to just reading them. Speed also plays an important role in invoking remembrance. If we just quote some verse or sing very fast, it does not give our mind enough time to properly penetrate into the meaning of each word, which in turn checks us from fully relishing the nectar which is stored in that verse. Our mind does not get the scope to properly visualize, process or remember the words or names that we are chanting and it immediately jumps to the next line without first fully relishing the first line. For example, if I sing jaya radhe, jaya kr?s?n?a, jaya vr?ndavan, sri govinda, gopinatha, madana-mohana really fast then my mind does not get enough time to remember that Yogapith Vrindavan where Govindadev is sitting with His sakhis, immediately it goes from Govindadev to Gopinath’s lila. Gopinath has His own pastimes of rasa lila in Vamsivat, etc. When one is singing or chanting very fast, it becomes difficult to fully immerse oneself in the meaning of each word. As Srila Prabhupada used to say, when we chant too slow then the mind wanders and if we do too fast then also the mind wanders as we do not have enough time to focus on the name.
Lord and the Lila will be Revealed
Sanatan Goswami says vishnudham bhakti acharam, the topmost bhakti is to always remain in contact with the Supreme Lord and His pastimes via Sankirtan, kirtan. Kirtan means singing. Sada sangata apekshaya means always one wants to remain in touch with the Lord and Haridas Thakur and Bhaktivinoda Thakur, in the presence of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Haridas Thakur is directly recommending that among your japa at least some part of it should be done as kirtan. It’s not a light statement, it’s very important, but unfortunately it is taken very lightly. It is mentioned in Harinam Chintamani, sankhya madhye kichu nam koribe kirtan, sarvindriya sphurti hoye ananda nartan. Haridas Thakur recommends us to loudly sing some of our rounds too. Why? Because through that the Lord and the lila will be revealed to all your senses. Sarvindriya sphurti, sphurti means revealing. All your senses will become absorbed in the lila and the Lord, His forms and ananda narthan, you will not only feel bliss, all your senses and even your soul will begin dancing in ecstasy. This is possible through Kirtanmoy japa. Otherwise Haridas Thakur would not emphasize or would not highlight this characteristic of singing while doing japa. Sankhya madhye kichu nam koribe kirtan. Sankhya means japa, Sankhya means which we count, japa. So Haridas Thakur is recommending that you do kirtan even for some of your daily rounds.
Whole World Becomes One in Kirtan
Some people think Haridas Thakur used to complete the 2-3 lac names of his nam sankhya only in japa. No, out of his japa he used to sing the names also obviously because he himself highlights this feature of singing while doing your japa. The Supreme Lord is revealed to all the senses by chanting in such a manner. If this was not a unique characteristic of kirtan and it was possible with japa only then he would not have said this. Japa is very nice but two things happen in Kirtan. One is that the speed becomes a bit slower when we have to sing the mantra, so the mind has ample time to meditate on the meaning of each name. And if you will ask any devotee in the world what they like more – japa or kirtan, the answer will be 99% kirtan. Now everyone is participating in kathas, in lectures, sometime devotees fall asleep but in kirtan nobody falls asleep. Now it is Kirtan melas, kirtan yoga everywhere. Even non devotees join devotees in this kirtan, the whole world becomes one in kirtan. Normally non devotees do not accept our philosophy but when the Kirtan portion comes, everybody joins it.
Quality and Quantity in Sadhana
Sankhya madhye kichu nam koribe kirtan. It’s a very very important instruction. Even when we sing the mahamantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, it may take 9 seconds but like mentioned earlier there is no time to focus on each word Hare Krishna Hare Krishna. However, when you sing approximately at speed of 15 seconds Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, then one can actually focus on the lilas of Radha-Krishna, Gauranga easily. Every word becomes alive and we feel like we are just watching those lilas.
So 15 seconds if you chant one mahamantra or one verse then 108 times (1 mala) or one chapter of 108 verses of the lila will take us 27 minutes because one minute we can complete four. So 108 means 27*4 so it will take 27 minutes or 1/2 hour you can say. So if one round takes you Ω hour with this speed then 16 rounds will take 8 hours and 8 hours is actually the time which we take to chant 64 rounds. For siddhas who are realizing every single name in their full blossom, quantity is not a concern. So for siddhas they can chant with quality and quantity both but for those who have not reached that platform, we have to focus on quality. For example Haridas Thakur, even though he was a siddha and he had his fixed quantity, still he would never compromise on quality and proof of that is he told Gauranga Mahaprabhu that ìI cannot complete my rounds now, 3 lacs.î Because he was chanting with a particular speed, he could have increased the speed also and finished his 3 lacs but he told Lord, ìI cannot finish my 3 lacs so I want to leave this worldî So the quantity is so important that he preferred to leave this world, end his pastimes than to compromise on quality and just keep the quantity going on at faster speed.
For us, quality is even more important because according to Caitanya Caritamrita, ek krishna nam hoibe sarv paap nash. One Krishna Nam is enough to destroy all your sins and take you to Goloka but because there is no quality due to our offenses, hence we are taking shelter of Nitainam along it. So if we chant with quality then how much will that be like? Even though it will be like 1/2 hour for one round, the goal of remembrance will be achieved.
The Goal is to Remember 24 Hours
If you chant in a musical way then you will relish the Nam. In that case, then even if it takes more time, you will nevertheless still feel blissful. You will not count on time that so much is remaining, so many rounds. You will feel going on and on. So if we have the quality then quantity automatically comes. In fact one should ideally do slower so that the whole name and the form of the name, the syllables, can reveal themselves. It’s not the number of rounds you can complete. No, it is the quality of remembrance. If you are remembering the Lord’s pastimes throughout the day and night.
Ultimately the goal is to remember all 24 hours. That is what Haridas Thakur said, that is what Prabhupad said, but because we cannot remember 24*7 we chant so that at least we can remember for 2 hours of the day. But,if we don’t feel the rasa while mechanically chanting because our mind has no time to process each name. By singing each name, our remembrance of rupa, guna, lila becomes very strong.
Kirtan Reveals the Nam Bhagavan
Our Harinam japa, Nitainam, Nitailila, Chaitanya Bhagavat shravan, Dham vas, Tulasi sewa, Vigraha sewa, everything is ultimately meant for the purpose that all our senses will relish kirtan and that is the highest goal. Nitai Gaur are sankirtanaika-pitarau, it is not mentioned – japaika-pitarau. No, They have come to give sankirtan. They are the inaugurators of kirtan. So our japa can also become kirtan Param Vijayate Sri-Krishna-Sankirtanam, 1st verse of shikshastakam talks about victory to sankirtan and next verse talks about Nam ruchi. So everything is ultimately kirtan, so why cannot our japa can also be kirtan? Why can’t our lekhan can also be be kirtan and why can’t our shravan also be acquainted with Kirtan as we sing each verse? Even singers and musicians feel drawn to the rhythmic sounds of kirtan. So as we can see, Kirtan attracts all.
Go Deeper in Sadhana
Why is the music industry in this world is so famous? Why are there so many podcasts where people go on giving speeches after speeches, yet they are still outnumbered by the number of people who like to hear music. As soon as one hears music,one feels like closing one’s eyes. When you close your eyes that means you are going deeper into something. Naturally you are visualizing the meaning of what you are singing or hearing. Whereas in talking you are kind of externalized, you are not fully absorbed in the sound vibration. Sometimes japa becomes like that because we are just inaudibly repeating the mantra. But when the japa becomes a little musical, immediately it becomes so much more blissful. Even as a brahmachari I have observed that the devotees who would engage in Kirtan for long periods of time would be the most sober and also happened to be the most advanced devotees. Everybody is stressing on chanting 64 rounds, but nobody is stressing on quality. Everyone is emphasizing on the chanting of 64 rounds, but in truth, even one name chanted purely has the power to transform us into pure devotees.
One has to have that faith. So the goal should be remembrance. Remember the names, like my Gurudev told me ‘nam chinta’. If one can remember the name, then one can increase the quantity but first there should be quality. mahagraha habe chitte namera sankhyaya, you know when you will chant with quality and remembrance then mind will push you to go on without stop. That goal we must reach.
Every Lila has Singing
Param vijayate sankirtanam. So that’s sankirtan yagya. Whether it is Krishna nam, Nitai nam, Gaur nam, Radha’s nam, ultimately all our saddhana, all our processes, all our bhajan should have kirtan touch, the singing touch to it because hat is all in all in Goloka. When we will go in nitya lila, we will not be doing japa, we will be singing. The gopis are actually singing Krishna’s name while taking out buttermilk and Nityananda is singing Gauranga’s name in Navdvipa, all the devotees are singing Nitai’s name everywhere and Gauranga is singing mahamantra everywhere. So everyone is singing, every lila is singing. So why not give singing touch to all our processes, bhajan. My humble request to everyone is to try this process of Kirtanmoy japa.
जय निताइ. हरे कृष्ण. Jai Guruvarga.
Bhaktiratna Sadhu Maharaj.