Chanting Nāma Mantra

QUESTION: Another thing which I wanted to ask you was regarding Chanting. Japa as I have understood is a Dhayana Yoga with Dhayana being done on Sri Naam which is non different from Sri Hari. So whatever Krishna has said in Chapter 6 can be taken as an aid towards Sri Naam Dhayan.

This is true but remember what he says later too. For example in Chapter 12 at the beginning.

Krishna nāma mantra is basically like any other form of meditation (dhyāna), and therefore should follow the same basic guidelines of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, etc. but Nāma mantra is also quite distinct from many other forms of meditation, because (as Krishna explains in chapter 12), the object of the meditation is actually a living being with will and feelings, who we try to attract with our affection, and who, once attracted starts to make efforts from his own side to attain us. Other objects of meditation are not personal (and/or not all-powerful) and can’t reciprocate in the same way.

So although nāma japa is certainly dhyana, it is a unique type of dyāna not entirely the same as what jñānīs, tapasvis etc are doing when they do dhyāna. Sri Rupa Goswami, in Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu does not really seem to classify nāma-japa as dyāna but instead includes it under the umbrella of saṁkīrtana, at least so far as I understand him.

QUOTE: But I have seen many a people doing Japa along with playing the Chanting box which has Srila Prabhupada doing Japa and they doing along with. Would this sort of thing be Japa or Kirtan because what I understood is that glorifying Sri Naam with others is Kirtan and meditating on Sri Naam individually is Japa or can we say that both are same as ultimately its Samkirtanam?

Both are Saṁkīrtan.

Japa, according to Sri Rupa Goswami and Haribhakti Vilas, should be muttered very quietly or contemplated silently. But (and this may blow people’s minds) not everyone is cut out to do that sort of Japa, and it is not really necessary for everyone to do it. Any form of Saṁkīrtan will be effective if done properly.

The style that we use to chant nāma mantra is really not so important. What is important is that we chant with genuine attraction to loving Krishna – which means chanting without selfishness and the distractions that come with it. Whatever techniques one uses in bhakti-dhyāna are incidental. Bhakti is not technique-oriented. Bhakti is beyond that. It is emotional. With all the technique in the world, but no sincere interest in affection for Krishna, and no accurate comprehension of the object of affection – the so-called dhyana is ineffective – regardless if it’s done while driving through Manhattan and counting with a metal clicker, or if it’s done in a cave at the top of the himalaya.



1 Comment

  1. This is beautiful. I typically do daily solo harinam as a practice instead of nama-japa because I feel that it engages me better in thinking favorably of Radha-Krsna. I have been sternly told that japa is required for advancement…it is nice to know that I can do harinam as a practice.


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