Chanting Hare Krishna Devotees Chant outside the New York Hilton 1974

Published on February 24th, 2016 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada | Full size image


You May Inquire–Why Are We Chanting Hare Krsna?

Hare Krsna, this name, was chanted by Lord Caitanya, who introduced this movement five hundred years ago in India. We are following the footprints of Lord Caitanya. Because He chanted Hare Krsna, therefore we are chanting Hare Krsna. But Lord Caitanya has recommended that God has innumerable names, and any one of them can be chanted, …

Lecture Engagement — Montreal, June 15, 1968

Prabhupada: (chants mangalacarana prayers) Ladies and gentlemen, this Krsna conscious movement is reviving our original consciousness. At the present moment, due to our long association with matter, the consciousness has become contaminated, just like when the rain water falls down from the cloud, the water is uncontaminated, distilled water, pure, but as soon as the water falls down on this earth, it becomes mixed up with so many dirty things. When the water falls it is not salty, but when it is touched with the matter or earth, it becomes salty, or tasty, or something like that. Similarly, originally, as spirit soul, our consciousness is uncontaminated, but due to our association with the matter at the present moment, our consciousness is contaminated. Therefore we have got so many varieties of consciousness. Disagreements between one person to another is due to this contaminated consciousness. I think some way; you think otherwise. Therefore we do not agree. But originally, your consciousness and my consciousness were one. And what is that one? That conscious, pure consciousness, is “God is great, and I am His eternal servant.” That is pure consciousness. As soon as we want to imitate or artificially want to become one with God, immediately the contamination begins. There is a Bengali verse in which it is stated that,

krsna bhuliya jiva bhoga vancha kare
pasate maya tare japatiya dhare

The English translation is that “When an individual soul forgets his eternal relationship with God and tries to lord it over the material nature or resources, that condition, that forgetful condition, is called maya, or illusion.” So at the present moment, especially in this age, the forgetfulness of our eternal relationship with God is very strong. And by chanting this transcendental sound, Hare Krsna, the first installment is that our heart or the mind becomes cleansed of all dirty things. This is not a theoretical proposition, but it is a fact. If you go on chanting this mantra, Hare Krsna, it is not difficult. Although it is pronounced in Sanskrit language, everyone can chant it just like in this meeting we began to chant, and you also joined with us. Here, all my students, they are all Americans. None of them are Indian, but still, they have learned it very nicely, and it is not difficult. And there is no expenditure.

So what is this Hare Krsna? Hare means the energy of the Lord, and Krsna means the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So it is a prayer. There are three words only: Hare, Krsna and Rama, three words. That has been arranged in sixteen words: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. So our movement is that we request you to take up these sixteen words- not sixteen words, three words, Hare, Krsna, Rama. But is is arranged in such a way that there are sixteen words. So anyone can take it by heart, these three words, and chant it. It is universal. And if you think that “Oh, Krsna is the name of Hindu god,” if you have got any objection, then you may not chant Krsna, but you must have a name for God. Just like somebody, the Muhammadans, call Allah, the Jews call jehovah, or somebody calls something. That doesn’t matter. If you think that “Why shall I chant the Indian name Krsna, Sanskrit name Krsna?” so Lord Caitanya says that there are millions and billions of names of God. If you think that this Krsna name is not very suitable, you can accept any name. That doesn’t matter.

Our proposition is you chant God’s name. That is our proposal. Therefore it is universal. If you like, you can chant jehovah or you can chant Allah, but we request you that you chant God’s name. Is it very difficult? It is not at all difficult. Lord Caitanya said that there are innumerable names of God according to different languages, different countries, different societies. And each and every one of them has the potency of God Himself. If there is any God, so God is Absolute; therefore there is no difference between His name and He Himself. Just like in the material world, in the world of duality there is difference between the name “water” and the substance water. The name water is different from the substance water. If you are thirsty, if you simply chant, “Water, water, water, water,” your thirstiness will not be quenched. You require the substance water. That is material, but spiritually, the name Krsna or the name Allah or the name jehovah is as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Therefore if you chant Hare Krsna… You may inquire why we are chanting Hare Krsna. Hare Krsna, this name, was chanted by Lord Caitanya, who introduced this movement five hundred years ago in India. We are following the footprints of Lord Caitanya. Because He chanted Hare Krsna, therefore we are chanting Hare Krsna. But Lord Caitanya has recommended that God has innumerable names, and any one of them can be chanted, and there is no hard and fast rules and regulations for chanting. It is not that you have to prepare yourself or you have to educate yourself or you have to adjust yourself for chanting. No. Everyone. Just like immediately we began to chant. You were not prepared, but you joined with us, you clapped with us, you danced with us. So similarly, there is no preoccupation or any rules and regulation. You simply chant. And this is very easy. While walking, you can chant whatever name you like. We like Krsna. We chant always: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. While walking the streets, while you are going in the bus, and whatever, even while working with your hands, you can chant. There is no loss on your part. There is no expenditure on your part, but the gain is very great. Why don’t you try it? Try it. That is our request.

So the benefit will be that gradually you shall understand what you are. The whole civilization, modern civilization, is going on under a wrong impression that “I am this body.” In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that “One who goes on with the concept of the body, he is no better than an ass or cow.” Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke… [SB 10.84.13]. It is a very long verse. But actually we are not this body. So if we chant this mantra, Hare Krsna, then I can understand what I am. And as soon as I understand that I am not this body, then my activities become different, because at the present moment I am acting on the concept of my life as this body. Because this body is born of a particular place in a particular country, therefore I am saying that “I am American,” or “Indian,” or “China” or “German,” due to this body. And because I have got relationship with some woman with this body, therefore I accept the woman as my wife. There are hundreds of thousands of women, but the woman who has got relationship with this body is my wife. There are thousands and millions of children, but one child who has got intimate relation with this body I call my son. So if the body falsely identified, then we can understand that our identification with this world is also false. The real identification is, as it is stated in the Vedic literature, aham brahmasmi: “I am Brahman.” “I am Brahman” means “I am spirit soul. I am not this matter.” So this misconception has to be removed. Of course, it is not possible that everyone will understand or everyone will be able to understand it, but even a certain percentage of the human society can understand, immediately there is solution of so many problems- to understand aham brahmasmi. And how that solution is made, that is described in the Bhagavad-gita.

This Bhagavad-gita is the science of God. Just like in your Christian Bible or any other scriptures, Muhammadan or Christian or Jews or Buddhists… So aham brahmasmi means that “I am spirit soul,” this realization. As soon as this realization is there, then the other things immediately follow. What is that? Brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]. Immediately one becomes cheerful. So long we have got this bodily concept of life, we cannot be cheerful. Full of anxiety. And as soon as we understand that “I am not this body; I am spirit soul,” the next moment you will be cheerful. There will be no anxiety. I am full of anxiety because on account of this bodily concept of life. Just like one man has got very costly motorcar, and he is running the car on the street. He is very careful so that there may not be any accident in the car, the car may not break. So much anxiety. But a man who is walking on the street, he has no such anxiety. Why the man in the car is so anxious? Because he has identified himself with the car. If the car, if there is any accident to the car, if the car breaks, he thinks, “I am gone. Oh, my car is gone.” Although he is different from car, he thinks like that due to identification, false identification. Similarly, because we are falsely identified with this body, therefore we have got so many problems of life. So if we want to make solution of the problems of life, then we have to understand what I am. And unless this question arises in your mind- not only in your mind, everyone’s mind- then we should, we must consider that whatever we are doing, that is our defeat because we are doing everything in false consciousness.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said, parabhavas tavad abodha-jatah. Abodha-jatah means one who is born fool. Every one of us is a born fool. Why? From the beginning of our life I know that “I am this body,” although I am not this body. Therefore we are all born fools, everyone. And therefore, according to Vedic civilization, one has to take his second birth. One birth is made possible by conjugation of the father and mother. That birth is called animal birth. Janmana jayate sudrah. Everyone, by birth, is sudra, or the lowest class of man. And samskarad bhaved dvijah: “By reformation, one becomes twice-born.” And what is that reformation? By understanding oneself, “What I am.” Samskarad bhaved dvijah, veda-pathad bhaved viprah: “And after twice, after his second birth, if he tries to understand the spiritual science, the science of God, then he is called vipra.” Vipra means quite congnizant. And brahma janatiti brahmanah: “And when he understands that he is Brahman, he is spirit soul, then he becomes a brahmana.” Perhaps you have heard that in India the brahmanas are called the topmost men of the society. Why? Because he knows that “I am Brahman; I am not this matter.” Brahma janatiti brahmanah. So by understanding Brahman your position will be that prasannatma, you’ll be joyful, na socati na kanksati, you will never lament any loss, neither you will hanker after any so-called gain, na socati na kanksati, samah sarvesu bhutesu, and you will look every living entity on the same level. Mad-bhaktim labhate param [Bg. 18.54]. In that stage of realization, you can understand what is God and what is your relationship with God.

Therefore this movement is that one understands himself what he is. It is, of course, very plain question and answer. The other day we had some lectures in a, one Sunday school, and I called one, a small boy, and I asked him that “What is this?” He said, “It is my hand, it is my head, it is my leg, it is my body, it is my pants, it is my…” And I asked him, “Where you are? You are simply saying ‘my, my, my,’ and where you are?” So similarly, everyone can understand that what I am? If you think yourself, if you meditate on yourself, if you see your hand, “Am I this hand?” you will say, “No, it is my hand.” “Am I this leg?” You will say, “No, it is my leg.” “Am I this head?” “No, it is my head.” Then where you are? So that person who is thinking within that “It is my hand, it is my head, it is my leg, it is my pant, it is my coat,” that you are. So have you seen that thing? You have seen your father, you have seen your mother or you have seen your son. But have you seen the real father who is within the body of the father? Have you seen the real son which is in the body of the son? No. Then your whole conception of education, your whole conception of living condition and problems- in the false world. Therefore this movement is required at the present moment in the world. Ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12].

This will cleanse the status of your mental condition. Ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam. And as soon as you understand yourself, then the whole problem- social, political, economical- everything will be solved. Bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam. And gradually you shall realize your transcendental life. Your transcendental life is joyful. Ananda-mayo ‘bhyasat. Transcendental life means always full of joy, joyful. That is our nature. We are hankering after joyful life, but we do not know where to hanker, how to get it. By nature we are joyful. It is said in the Vedanta-sutra, anandamayo ‘bhyasat: “By nature a living entity is joyful.” But my joyfulness is covered by this material understanding. So I have to remove this material understanding; then again I shall become joyful.

So this movement is very scientific movement, and we have got authoritative statements. You cannot defy authority, authority. As an authority, minister of this Unitarian Church, in one place he has denied authority, and in another place he has quoted so many authorities. So many authorities he has quoted. Why? If you deny authority, then why you quote other authority? So you cannot defy authority. This is not possible. From the beginning of your life, when you were child, you asked your parents, “Mother, father, what is this?” Why? That is the beginning of life. You cannot go even a step without authority. You are governed by authority. You are running your car by authority- “Keep to the right.” Why? Why don’t you defy it? So authority we have to obey. But the difficulty is: who is authority? That we require to learn who is actually authority. So authority means who has no mistakes, who has no illusion, who does not cheat, and whose senses are perfect. That is authority. That is the definition of authority. A conditioned soul who… Just… “To err is human.” Any human being is sure to commit mistakes. However learned he may be, however advanced he may be, he must commit mistake. Therefore this word is, “To err is human.” And one must be illusioned. And there is cheating propensity of every man. Even a child, he wants to cheat. The mother asks, “Oh, what is in your hand?” Oh, the child says, “No, mother, nothing,” although the mother can see he has got something. So the cheating propensity is there. And above all, your senses are imperfect. You are proud of your eyes: “I want to see.” What you can see? If the light is off, your seeing power is immediately gone. If there is no sun, your seeing power is gone. Therefore we see under conditions. Therefore imperfect.

So you cannot get perfect knowledge by imperfect senses, by speculative knowledge. You have to accept authority. Just like if you want to know who is your father, the authority is your mother. The mother says, “Here is your father.” You have to accept. You cannot make research. Mother is the last authority, who is your father. Similarly, we have to accept authority, and if the authority is not a conditioned soul, if he is liberated soul, if he is not a cheater, if his senses are not imperfect, if he does not make any mistakes, if he is not in illusion, if you receive knowledge from that authority, then your knowledge is perfect. That is the process.

So we have got such authoritative, I mean to say, literature, Vedic literatures. You can test it by your reason, by your arguments, by your philosophical talks, everything. Religion without philosophical basis, without scientific basis, is sentiment. That religion based on philosophy and science, that is right. So Bhagavad-gita is that book. Any question, any inquiry, any doubt- all the answers are there, and very nicely. Just like one or two verse I shall explain to you. In one place Bhagavad-gita says that…, the Lord says that,

sarva-yonisu kaunteya
sambhavanti murtayo yah
tasam mahad yonir brahma
aham bija-pradah pita
[Bg. 14.4]

The Lord says that there are eight hundred, er, 8,400,000 species of life, different forms of life, species of life. There are aquatics, there are plants, trees, worms, germs, then birds, beasts, and at last, the human species of life, only 400,000’s. So Krsna says that “All the species of life- never mind whether he is man or he’s a dog, he’s a cat- he’s a living entity, and I am the seed-giving father of all living entities.” Now, how nice, you can understand simply. This verse, if you can understand, then you can have some idea of universal brotherhood. If you want to make universal brotherhood, you must find out the center- the universal father. So these questions and answers are there, and we have got the science of God, the education of science of God, Srimad-Bhagavatam. So these books are meant for human society, and if you take advantage of the knowledge imparted in this book and if you chant this Hare Krsna mantra, you will see how your life becomes improved, how you become full of knowledge, full of bliss, and how you advance in your eternal life.
Thank you very much. If any question, you can make. (end)

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4 Responses to You May Inquire–Why Are We Chanting Hare Krsna?

  1. M. krishna chaitanya says:

    Hare Krishna ,
    Is it enough to praise only krishna rather than all deities i mean we have 9 other avatar’s of vishnu . why only Krishna? why not matsya, kurma, varaha, narasimha, parshurama, vamana, srirama, buddha. If lord is supreme then why does he create good and bad and why does he take avatar’s why imean why not he enjoys

    • Hare Krishna

      Krishna includes everything so when we glorify Krishna we are automatically glorifying all of Krishna’s expansions also. So we only need to glorify Krishna, that includes glorifying everyone else.

      Krishna did not create anything bad. We create the bad by misuse of our independence. Nothing is bad if it is used in the service of Krishna. So when we take things and use them for our own selfish reasons then we create the bad. Bad is not a creation of Krishna, it is our creation.

      Krishna incarnates in different forms or Avatars for various reasons and it is a very big subject matter and if you want to study it in detail I suggest you read Srila Prabhupada’s translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-Lila.

      It would take a long time to explain and I do not have space here so please read Prabhupada’s books for the full answer.

  2. Saksham anand says:

    Hare krishna,
    I want to ask that what we have to do so that we never have to take animal birth…………….if we become krishna conscious would it help to have next birth nice………what I have to do so that In every birth I should get ISKCON GREAT KNOWLEDE………..I am very happy that I have get such a great knowledge………in this birth…

    • Hare Krishna Saksham

      If you don’t want to take animal birth then you have to not act like an animal. Our actions create our consciousness and our consciousness at the time of death creates our next body. So if we are in animal consciousness at the time of death our next body will be an animal body, if we are in human consciousness we will get a human body and if we are in Krishna consciousness we will not get another material body, instead we will return back home back to Godhead, back to Krishna’s planet Goloka Vrindavan in the spiritual sky which is eternal, full of knowledge and full of ever-increasing transcendental bliss.

      So the idea of becoming Krishna conscious is that you will be Krishna conscious at the time of death and then you will not have to take birth in the material world again. This is the goal. The goal is not to come back in the material world in a better body.

      The material world is always going to be a miserable place full of death and suffering, no matter what body we come back into it as. So we have to give up this idea of trying to come back into the material world in a better body and instead strive to become really actually Krishna conscious so we can remember Krishna at the time of death and go back home back to Godhead. This is the goal.

      As far as if you come back in the material world again even in human form it is very unlikely indeed that you will be able to get any contact with a pure devotee of Krishna. It is not ISKCON that you are attracted to, it is Srila Prabhupada. It is Srila Prabhupada who is delivering the pure transcendental knowledge that you are attracted to. But this access to a pure devotee of Krishna is very, very, very rare. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu states that a living entity is wandering from one body to another and even from one universe to another for millions and millions of births but only one fortunate living entity gets the chance to associate with a pure devotee of Krishna. So this opportunity that we have now to associate with Srila Prabhupada, a pure devotee of Krishna, is a very rare chance. It is not available in every birth. Rather last week I was listening to Srila Prabhupada and he said that if we do not become fully Krishna conscious in this life we will have to wait millions and millions of years for another chance.

      So it is true that once we have begun Krishna consciousness that will continue eventually, but we may not have the facilities to continue it for many, many, many births. So the idea is that if we have any intelligence at all we must take the teachings of Srila Prabhupada very, very seriously and make Srila Prabhupada’s mission our mission in life and in this way become pure devotees of Krishna in this life and at the time of death we will remember Krishna and go back home back to Godhead. This we have to do… Not make plans to come back in the material world in a better condition…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa


About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

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