There are no hard and fast rules on how to chant Hare Krishna. Mahamantra, the great mantra, is a transcendental vibration that goes beyond matter and benefits anyone who hears it by uncovering and reawakening the spiritual consciousness dormant in all beings. However, the full revival of our original God consciousness doesn’t generally happen overnight – it is a gradual process. But even the first-time chanter can experience the bliss of mantra meditation and get profound realizations from their practice right from the start.
When to Chant?
You can sit down legs crossed or however you feel comfortable and chant Hare Krishna, you can take a walk and chant, you can chant when you’re taking a shower, driving a car, playing guitar, weeding the garden – anything. But for steady progress towards self-realization, the Vedas offer practical guidelines on how to execute mantra meditation most successfully. The peaceful, early morning hours when the passions of the new day have not surrounded you yet with work or school obligations, traffic noises and dealings with other people, are the best for sadhana, or spiritual practice. If morning is not a good time for you, you can schedule out some other time that you specifically dedicate for chanting. Even if you can only find 5 or 10 minutes every day to set aside as your meditation time, it is a great start.
How to Chant?
When you chant the mantra softly, speaking and repeating the mantra so that only you or someone close to you can hear you chant, it is called japa. When you sing the mantra to a melody, it is called kirtana. You can do either kirtana or japa at any time you want, but it is especially recommended to do japa-chanting during that meditation time you set aside every day. You can chant with japamala, japa beads, and count the mantras. Japamala has 108 beads. You chant the Hare Krishna mantra once on each bead, then move on to the next bead. I chant 16 rounds on my beads every day, which means 16 times 108 mantras. This is “the standard” amount of japa for those who have taken the vow of chanting and it takes about 1,5-2 hours.
Why to Chant?
The idea is not really to clear clear your mind of all thoughts and desires, as many think is the purpose of meditation. Krishna consciousness is a positive process for self-realization, and by chanting Hare Krishna all your thoughts and desires will be purified and restored to their original spiritual nature. This means that instead of self-centered, your consciousness will become more and more God-centered. You will realize more and more how you are not your temporary body, but the eternal being within. Consequently, the ups and downs of life will not affect you as intensely as before because your daily chanting will keep you in this transcendental state of mind.
What is the Meaning of Hare Krishna Mantra?
Hare refers to the female and more compassionate aspect of the Supreme. Krishna means “all-attractive” and is God’s name. Rama means the spiritual pleasure that exists between Krishna and His loving servant. Hare Krishna mantra is like a prayer wherein you ask God to accept you in His service. Srila Prabhupada translates the Hare Krishna mantra like this: “Oh Lord, oh energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your divine service.”