Question : How different is Hare Krishna Nama Prabhu from "Om Namo Narayana " the mantra chanted by Bakta Prahalada and "Sri Rama Jayam" or " Sri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram " or similar mantras. In Hare Krishna nama prabhu.... , "Krishna" is the supremo but "Rama"is a human form of an incarnation of Vishnu What's the significance of having "Rama" in the mantra.
Answer: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says namnam akari bahuda nija sarva shaktih. Lord has unlimited names and each of his names are invested with unlimited potencies. So all of them are powerful to liberate us from the material energy if chanted under the guidance of a bonafide spiritual master.
Liberation is only basic for eternal life. After liberation if you
are attached to Name of Narayana you will go to associate with expansion of
Krishna as Narayana in Vaikunta planet. If you are attached to Lord
Ramachandra's Name you will go the eternal Ayodhya dhama in the spiritual world
and so on. If you are attached to name of Krishna and Radharani by chanting
& hearing and remembering the Hare Krishna Nama Prabhu under guidance of
Lord Chaitanya's parampara you will go to the planet Goloka Vrindavan.
Whatever may be the Nama, you have to serve that Nama Prabhu under the guidance of a bonafide spiritual master who is a liberated pure devotee of the Lord in order to receive the full benefit of reaching the spiritual world beyond just getting liberated.
We, as disciples of Srila Prabhupada adopt the meaning that Srila Prabhupada gave us for the Mahamantra. In the famous Hare Krishna address by Srila Prabhupada he explains that our chanting is like the child crying to the Supreme mother Srimati Radharani (Hara) for the mercy of the supreme father Krishna (Hari). Krishna means all attractive and Rama is also another name of Krishna meaning all-pleasure Elsewhere Srila Prabbhupada explains as follows: .
“Rama and Krishna are names of God, and Hare is the energy of God. So when we chant the maha-mantra, we address God together with His energy. This energy is of two kinds, the spiritual and the material. At present we are in the clutches of the material energy. Therefore we pray to Krishna that He may kindly deliver us from the service of the material energy and accept us into the service of the spiritual energy. That is our whole philosophy. Hare Krishna means, “O energy of God, O God [Krishna], please engage me in Your service.” It is our nature to render service. Somehow or other we have come to the service of material things, but when this service is transformed into the service of the spiritual energy, then our life is perfect"
Furthermore for kali-yuga, these string of 16 names is prescribed in Kalisantarana upanishad. This fact comes in a dialog between Lord Brahma and Sri Narada in that upanishad as follows:
harih Om |
dvaparante narado brahmanam jagama katham bhagavan gam paryatan kalim santareyam iti |
"At the end of Dvapara Yuga, Narada, after traveling the world, approached Lord Brahma and asked him: 'How may I overcome the (evil effects of) the Kali Yuga?'"
sa hovaca brahma sadhu prshto asmi sarva sruti rahasyam gopyam tacchrunu yena kalisamsaram tarishyasi |
"Brahma said: 'You have asked me an excellent question. I shall reveal to you the secret of all Vedas, by which you will cross over the (ocean of) samsara filled with the bad effects of the Kali Yuga. This secret must be preserved and protected.'"
bhagavata adipurushasya narayanasya namoccaranamatrena nirdhrtakalir
bhavati| naradah punah papraccha tannama kimiti |
"'By merely uttering the names of the Primeval Purusha, who
is Bhagavan Narayana, one is freed from the clutches of Kali.' Narada asked
again: 'What are those names of Narayana?'"
sa hovaca hiranyagarbhah |
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare |
hare krshna hare krshna krshna krshna hare hare |
iti shodasakam namnam kalikalmashanasanam |
natah parataropayah sarvavedeshu drsyate |
"Lord Brahma said: 'O Hari, O Rama, O Hari, O Rama, O Rama O Rama, O Hari, O Hari! O Hari, O Krishna, O Hari, O Krishna, O Krishna O Krishna, O Hari, O Hari! This collection of sixteen names (of Narayana) destroys the evils of the Kali Yuga.
I don't see any other effective means (of liberation) in the Vedas.'"
Note: Gaudiyas chant this mantra by reversing the order of the two halves, i.e. the Hare Krishna first and then the Hare Rama.
But Lord Chaitanya propagated it by chanting Hare Krishna first.
The explanation I have heard is that upanishad being part of vedas there is a vedic injunction that only one who does not have brahminical samskara cannot chant any upanishadic mantra.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is Krishna Himself as Bhakta Avatara wanted to give mercy to everyone irrespective of their prequalification of being brahmanical etc. So he propagated the Mahamantra without violating this vedic injunction by starting with Hare Krishna instead of Hare Rama.
Lord Chaitanya being Lord Krishna Himself can distribute His Names anyway He wants. After all He is the very foundation of all Vedas. He chose to distribute His Nama as Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
The first effect of such
association with Hare Krishna Nama Prabhu is that even a mleccha and sudra
becomes sattvik and develop brahmanical qualities or samskara, he becomes fit
to chant vedic mantras.
Question: Anyone who chants 16 rounds enters into the Lila of Nama avatar. If our child who has just begun his journey of chanting inspired by Srila Prabhupada but not yet reached that level of 16 rounds, maybe he is at 1 round or 2 or 4 or 8 etc. What is the possibility of that person to get deliverance if he or she fails to reach 16 rounds for some reason?
Answer: Children should chant happily as many rounds they can. They should not be forced. If forced, child will associate force or lack of voluntariness with it and start disliking japa. We have experience in ISKCON gurukula that those children who were forced to chant, when they became adults they did not want to chant as they associated unpleasantness with it.
You can trick a child into voluntarily chanting japa daily. That is an intelligent job. They should never feel that we are using our control over them to make them chant. Even if they chant one round voluntarily, that is better than forced japa of many rounds. They should be indirectly influenced by speaking positive experiences and reciprocations of Nama Prabhu in your life and life of others.
That will be a foundation for them to take voluntarily chanting 16 rounds when they grow up. Till then do your best to give them positive experience of Krishna consciousness like nice kirtan, dancing, prasadam, etc.
At least parents should be
careful not to plant any negative emotion associated with any of the practices
of Krishna consciousness in them due to their familiarity with them or ignorance
As far as they coming to the stage of chanting 16 rounds, we cannot guarantee. The Lord in every jiva’s heart inspires them at the right time to take full shelter of our Acharya, Srila Prabhupada by reading his books etc., at the right time. Having done our best to influence them in a pleasant manner, rest is between the jiva and the Lord. Be patient and hope for the best. As Srila Prabhupada has said Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind.
Question: The behavior of jiva at a transactional level in life for eg. Being truthful, not being rude, etc., have a positive impact on soulful japa?
Answer: Ultimately the principle for devotees’ behaviour is that it should please Guru and Krishna. The principles of worldly morality of being truthful when taken to extremes (like Yudhisthira hesitating to listen to Krishna who asked him to tell a lie with trickery in the battle feild that Ashwathama is dead) is not highest principle.
Or if you don’t be angry with someone who offends pure devotees or Krishna such so called moral or soft behaviour conflicts with the absolute morality. Absolute morality means not displeasing Krishna at any cost. Vaishnava principles are more sacrosanct than principles of worldly morality.
Morality is important for vaishnavas too in order to set example to common folks to adhere to them. But never at the cost of displeasing Krishna. If in exceptional situations it pleases Krishna by breaking it he will break it.
Even as per worldly dharma sastra, in certain exceptional situations of life threat lies can be told in the material world and that is called apad dharma.
Suppose someone holds a knife at
your throat, you should lie intelligently to come out of the danger.
Arjuna was giving big lecture on worldly morality of not killing his teachers and grandfather and uncles and cousin brothers. But when he understood it is Krishna's wish to kill them for the higher cause of adharma as decided by Him, he set aside those sentiments and whole heartedly engaged in the violent war.
Karmis adhering to transactional truthfulness is a good quality for harmony in this world. Therefore telling lies comes under sin. (Without exclusive interest of Krishna). However the absolute value of avoiding this sin at all costs when seen from a transcendental platform is akin to a bunch of thieves truthfully and with fairness share the things stolen. (From God here).
I will only take what is mine and will not touch others is a good moral principle but an even greater transcendental principle is that I will take with gratitude only what is allotted to me by God who is the supreme proprietor of everything and not touch what is given by God to others. Morality should be integrated into Krishna consciousness to gain its absolute value.
For instance, I want to please Krishna and you want to please Krishna then we have to be absolutely truthful to each other. That does not mean that as rule devotees can tell lies to non-devotees.
Not recognizing the universal all-pervading Supreme knower, owner and enjoyer and not connecting it to moral principles of this world smacks of dishonesty of the soul from the absolute plane.
All the moral principles are like 0s without 1 before it. And that 1 is Krishna's pleasure. With 1 before the 0 gains true value. Since lot of subjectivity is involved in ascertaining what is Krishnas pleasure, it has to be carefully applied in exceptional case by case basis in consultation with vaishnavas so that knowingly or unknowingly the higher principle of pleasure of Krishna is not be misused for the convenience of one's selfish purposes.
Anything that pleases Krishna is good for everyone even in the material world though materialists may not have broad intelligence to understand it. Krishna is 'atmarama' or fully satisfied in Himself. When we mean for His pleasure, it will be for the good of the universe. His pleasure is never selfish like our pleasure. Therefore consultation with other vaishnavas is required to come to a consensus that selfish purposes are not in the scenario and also to ensure that we do not jeopardize the mission of the Lord.
The rule should be to adhere to the worldy morailty as we also have an duty to be examples for the world to act piously an dnot sinfully. Breaking worldly morality can only be an exception for a vaishanava with a check and balance as explained above.
Questions: As a beginner into Krishna Consciousness, what is the first milestone in the road to soulful japa?
Answer: The first milestone is to gain proper knowledge about japa as you are doing now. As far as implementation of that knowledge step by step milestones I have given within 108 modules.
Question: It is mentioned that inattentive chanting is disrespectful to the Holy Name. But all our minds are like monkeys. It keeps wandering off though we don't want it to. Is there any way this sort of situation can be?
Answer: If read carefully all 108 modules next one year and practice what I prescribe as a student would do.
I (Author) assure you this because you will learn how to receive spiritual energy from the Nama which you do not know though freely available. Kripa from the Nama Avatara is raining. We have to learn to catch it.
Question: Whenever I start new round I will make a commitment that I should chant and hear nicely, but while doing japa I sense that I am not up to the level I feel disappointed and my japa will be average or below, What is the solution?
Answer: Follow patiently soulful Japa modules for a year. End of it you will be better. There is no quick solution. Enthusiasm and determination has to be maintained even if we fail many times. No pain no change.