All you need is your voice and your ears to begin this simple, sublime yoga meditation.
Have you seen this message before? “Please chant these names of God—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—and your life will be sublime.”
You’re unusual if you haven’t, because for the past seventeen years this statement has been printed on millions of signs and billboards, cards and flyers, posters and book jackets. It’s been repeated on television and radio, in newspapers and magazines, and personally to hundreds of thousands of people in airports, in malls, and on street corners around the world. “Please, just try chanting Hare Krishna, and your life will be sublime!”
Why are we asking everyone to do this? What happens when you chant the names of God?
When you chant God’s names, you reawaken your original spiritual consciousness. Because all living beings are spiritual souls, we’re originally Krishna conscious. God conscious. But because we’ve been in this material world an endlessly long time, our consciousness has become covered by material illusion.
What is material illusion? It’s what we’re in when we think, “I am this material body, and this material world is mine, meant for my pleasure. It’s mine to possess, control, and enjoy without limits.”
This just isn’t the truth. We’re not these bodies; we’re spiritual souls. This material world isn’t ours, it’s God’s. And He alone has the ability to control it and the unquestionable right to enjoy it. When we try to usurp His position of proprietor, controller, and enjoyer, we simply end up trapped in the perplexities of the material world.
Once that happens, we can’t escape by our own strength. A man bound hand and foot can’t free himself. He must call on someone whose hands are free and ask for aid.
Krishna, the Supreme Spirit, is never overwhelmed by illusion. So if we want to get free from illusion, we have to cry out for help from Him. That sincere call for the Lord to protect us is the chanting of the maha- mantra—Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
By this chanting, which is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for his mother, we cleanse from our hearts the false consciousness that we are the lords of all we survey. As the illusions drop off, our true, happy, eternal spiritual consciousness revives. We return to our natural position as servants of the Lord, and ultimately the Lord reveals Himself when we sincerely chant this maha-mantra.
The chanting of Hare Krishna is not a material sound. It has nothing to do with cakras, oxygen levels, hypnosis, positive thinking, or anything merely mental or mechanical. Nor is the mantra to be chanted just for material benefits, such as wealth, fame, or even our daily bread. Hare Krishna is a purely spiritual sound, so it takes you at once to the spiritual platform, surpassing all lower stages of consciousness, whether sensual, mental,or intellectual.
Because the chanting is spiritual, anyone can benefit from it, regardless of material qualifications. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, man, woman or child, red, white, black or brown, American or Indian, Muslim or Christian or Jew. The chanting will help all of us, because God’s names are purely spiritual and we’re all spiritual beings.
Of course, for a person deeply entangled in materialistic life it takes more time to clear material misgivings from the heart. But even such a materially engrossed person can come to the spiritual platform quickly by chanting Hare Krishna.
The three words Hare, Krishna, and Rama are transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra. The words Krishna and Rama address the Lord Himself. Both Krishna and Rama mean “the supreme source of pleasure,” and Hare calls for the internal pleasure energy of the Lord. This energy helps us reach the Lord.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who brought this pure chanting of the names of God to the Western world, explained the meaning of the maha-mantra this way:
O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your loving service.
What we are praying for when we chant Hare Krishna is our return to our natural, blissful position as loving servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No other means of spiritual realization is as effective in this age as the chanting of the maha-mantra:
Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare