Published on May 27th, 2012 | by Shyam das


Chanting Japa – Mantra Meditation

Benefits of Mantra Meditation

When one is out and about in daily life, things tempt to knock one off balance emotionally, which can lead to one getting angry and stressed and developing negative sentiments towards other people.  Such sentiments and emotions are not healthy for one’s body, mind, or spirit. They cloud the mind, pushing one into unproductive mental circles of negative thinking.

They cause tension in the body, which leads to disease. They degrade the quality of one’s consciousness, work, service, and life.

Developing an inner calmness and maintaining it helps one develop and maintain good physical, mental , and spiritual health. It enhances the quality of one’s work, service, and life. Experiences happen in life to knock one off balance…it’s part of living. The test is to maintain balance throughout such experiences, so you can maintain the quality of your consciousness, work, service, and life.

It does take discipline. It is a challenge for us all. Mantra meditation is a tool to focus the mind.  Focusing the mind can help one to develop calmness and clarity in life. For what causes and maintains disquiet, if not letting one’s mind dwell in negative thoughts about the experience that triggered ones disquiet. And what causes and maintains a cloudy mind, if not letting one’s mind dwell in the very thoughts that cloud it.

The ability to focus the mind helps one to bring disquiet to quiet, and to clear the cloudiness to reach a clarity in one’s consciousness. This helps one maintain the quality of one’s consciousness, work, service, and life.

Chanting Japa

Hare Krishna devotees do mantra meditation by chanting japa. The purpose is to develop the consciousness into “Krishna Consciousness”.

The Hare Krishna way of Mantra meditation is to chant the Maha Mantra…the famous one that goes like this:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

Hare Krishna Devotees chant this mantra on Tulsi Mala, a.k.a. Japa Beads. These Japa Mala have 108 beads in a loop, plus one big bead which represents Krishna.

One starts on the smaller of the 2 beads next to the Krishna bead, holding it with the thumb and the middle finger, and chants the mantra, while rolling the bead with those fingers. After finishing the mantra, one proceeds to the next bead, opposite the Krishna bead, and chants the mantra on that one, then goes around the circle of beads as such to finish a ‘round’. It is recommended to chant 16 rounds like this each day.

The way to chant is with attention and focus, to listen carefully to the sound vibration.

Notice how it sounds. You don’t need to analyze it with the intellectual mind, as that is counter-productive. All you need to do is listen and feel the sound vibration and you can go deeper and deeper into it. You can notice other things as well…the feeling of the beads, your breathing, perhaps the smell of the incense or flowers, the sights, feelings, and sensations in the area. Again, no need to analyze these things with the intellectual mind. Just notice things, while keeping the mind focused on the mantra.

Silencing the chatter of the intellectual mind like this allows one to develop deeper understanding and realizations about many aspects of life.

For portability, the beads are held in a japa bead bag, which has a hole that is big enough for one to slip their hand in while holding the beads.

This enables one to go on Japa walks. In the woods, around the block, or to the park, Japa walks make for a nice walking meditation.

So whether you walk, sit or stand, chanting Japa as a mantra meditation can help you develop peace of mind, calmness, and clarity…a state of focus and awareness which you can carry with you throughout life.

The best of health and true happiness to you and your loved ones in your lives. May you grow ever closer to Krishna.

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49 Responses to Chanting Japa – Mantra Meditation

  1. mikael könig says:


    is the Japa beads important or just an help? and the 108 and 16 rounds, is there a special meaning with those numbers?

    • Japa beads are primarily a counting system. It is necessary for us to take a vow to chant the Hare Krishna mantra every day with numerical strength. It is useless to just chant Hare Krishna when you feel like it. We have to force ourselves to chant Hare Krishna even if we don’t feel like chanting, even if it seems we are not getting any benefit from it. So we need to vow to chant at lest 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day. That is the important thing. And the japa beads allow us to count the rounds as we chant them and make sure we are actually following our vow to chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day. So it is possible to use some other counting system, but it is essential to chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day. But chanting on Tulsi Japa beads is also particularly beneficial to us as Srimati Tulsi Devi is a pure devotee of Krishna. So as we chant Hare Krishna on Tulsi beads we are touching the body of a pure devotee. We are associating with a pure devotee. So we should chant at least 16 rounds a day on Tulsi japa beads and keep on chanting Hare Krishna for the rest of the day on or off beads.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  2. Sushanth says:

    Can I meditiate on this mantra sitting in padmasana posture and repeating it silently? I have been doing this since a long time.

    • No. You have to chant the Hare Krishna mantra with your tongue and hear it with your ears. It is about hearing and chanting. The power is in chanting and hearing the holy name.

  3. Aman says:

    Hare Krishna Madhudvisa Prabhu! Can I chant Hare Krishna silently? It’s very difficult to find a place where I can chant 16 rounds loudly without others not disturbing me (people are so fallen). Srila Prabhupada said “tongue must work while chanting” but as far as I know he didn’t say that voice also must come out. So is it okay to chant silently?

    • Hare Krishna Aman

      You can not chant Hare Krishna silently, but you can chant softly. The point is to chant the mantra and hear it. So you have to be able to hear it, but you can chant softly so you can hear it and it does not disturb others.

      Also you can keep looking around and I think you can find somewhere to chant Hare Krishna where it will not disturb others.

      But others will be disturbed sometimes when we chant Hare Krishna but that is good for them also.

      I have heard Srila Prabhupada say that you chant Hare Krishna and then when the person from upstairs or next door comes and bangs on your door saying “Stop chanting Hare Krishna” then you are successful. Because he is hearing the chanting of Hare Krishna and standing outside your door chanting Hare Krishna. So it is all good. All auspicious for everyone.

      But still sometimes you have to consider the others around you and chant softly or find a place where you can chant that is away from the other people.

      But the point is you can not chant silently, you have to be able to hear the mantra and actually it is good if others hear it too… So loud is best… But you have to adjust sometimes according to time and place.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

      • Aman says:

        Thanks Prabhu. Hare Krishna! I’m trying my best to chant 16 rounds softly/loudly everyday now.

        • Hare Krishan Aman

          Yes. Do it. Chant Hare Krishna mantra at least 16 rounds every day. It is not easy at times, sometimes it is very ecstatic. But we have to keep on chanting even when we find it difficult to chant Hare Krishna…

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

  4. Rashmi says:

    Hare krishna.

    While chanting any mantra after bath early in the morning say 5am.
    Inbetween chanting if I get to go to nature call ( number 2) .
    Wht should we do. Should we have to take bath after nature call and sit for japa .
    Kindly reply.

    • Hare Krishna Rashmi

      The thing is to go to the temple and be in front of the deities we have to be clean. So if we pass stool then before going into the temple we need to take bath and put on clean clothes.

      And the other thing is if we get into a regular program of rising every morning before 4:00 AM and taking bath then we will not need to pass stool until after the morning program. But in the beginning of course we may need to.

      So if you are going to the temple to be in front of the deities then we have to take bath. And we should always take bath after passing stool. That is the regulative principle.

      But for chanting Hare Krishna there is no regulation. We can chant Hare Krishna in any condition. And actually the most important thing is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra at least 16 rounds a day. That is our primary duty and everything else is secondary. So in some cases you can make exception and wash hands and feet and keep chanting Hare Krishna. I do this also sometimes particularly when I am traveling and there is not much facility for taking bath, etc.

      So you just need to use your common sense on these things. The main point is to chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day and you do need to be clean and in clean clothes to go into the temple and be before the deities. But otherwise for chanting Hare Krishna you can make some practical exceptions to the rule.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

      • Eric says:


        What is the significance of this mantra?…why is everyone focussed on this mantra except all the other mantras…? Can u plz explain?

        • Hare Krishna Eric

          Because Hare Krishna mantra is maha-mantra. It is the Yuga-dharma, chanting Hare Krishna is the only religious principle that is effective in this age of Kali-yuga. If you want to make spiritual advancement in this age there is no other way. The only way is to chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra.

          No I do not have any email address, etc, please post your questions here and if they are good I will answer them.

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

      • Saurav says:

        Can i chant hare krishna mantra in my mind??

  5. Jai Radhe says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji, is it necessary to offer a new tulsi mala on the lotus feet of Krishna at the temple before i start chanting on it? And regarding kanthi mala, do i need to offer it too before wearing?

    Jai Radhe

    • Hare Krishna

      It is a good idea but not really necessary.

      Srimati Tulsi Devi is already a pure devotee of Krishna. So the idea is when chanting Hare Krishna on tulsi japa beads you will be constantly in touch with a pure devotee of Krishna. And while wearing the Tulsi beads around your neck you will also be constantly in touch with a pure devotee of Krishna. So Srimati Tulsi Devi is already a soul totally surrendered to Krishna. So it is not necessary to offer pure devotees to Krishna before associating with them.

  6. hi im only a g=beginer to krishna and i have been chanting om radha krishna about 108 times even without beads . its hard to keep track , how many times a day should i chant hare krishna. or om radha krishna and is their a meditation i could practise for a beginer . thankyou david from ireland

  7. pranoy says:

    Hari bol prabhu, im 3 months into krishna consciousness, and chant 8 rounds daily. Your article has inspired me to chant even more. I alos gave up meat eating and intoxicating. But my query is sometimes when i chant i begin to begin to cry. I try to control but sometimes i really burst out, not in public ofc only when i chant in private. Is this normal?? also ive sinned a lot in my past and i repent a lot but never did i cry for it, but when i chant everything comes to my mind and i cant stop crying.. Plz help me am i normal, age 20 gender male. Hare krishna

  8. Jenn says:

    Often while chanting japa I break down and cry or feel other toxic emotions coming out. Is it important to just observe these feelings in a light and neutral way, and bring attention back to chanting, rather than try to do anything with them e.g. get them out faster or intellectually contemplate them in any way?

    Or is there something I should do to acknowledge the emotion?

    Is crying during japa indulgent and leading myself further into ignorance?

    Thank you!

    • Hare Krishna Jenn

      Yes. Best to ignore any distractions and keep on chanting Hare Krishna. It takes time. Chanting Hare Krishna is a purifying process and it may stir up various emotions and impurities in the beginning. So the idea is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra and clearly hear all the words.

      Devotees want to chant and hear Hare Krishna. They do not want to cry. The nectar is in chanting and hearing the Hare Krishna mantra, not in crying.

      Of course crying is one of the ecstatic symptoms. But devotees are not keen to exhibit these things.

      So just make sure you are chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day and strictly following the four regulative principles and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books at least 1-2 hours a day. If you are not doing these things seriously then concentrate on doing them seriously and these distractions will go away and you will gradually be swimming in the nectar of the ocean of transcendental bliss… Then there may be crying sometimes also but that will be a different sort of crying.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  9. Hrishikesh says:

    Please accept my respects,
    Can I chant japa on 27 beads and chant 64 rounds instead? Will it be equivalent to 16 rounds?

    • Just get proper japa beads at

      But, yes, in the meantime, you can chant 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra using any counting system that you can come up with yourself. As long as you chant the total number of mantras that is OK. But ultimately it is best to get proper japa beads and chant Hare Krishna on them.

  10. Sam says:

    Hare Krsna,

    Dear Guru Brother,

    Can you please enlighten me few facts regarding mantra japa.
    a) It is said that one should fix a place and time for mantra japa to attain maximum results and I believe it too. But when one is travelling it is hard to maintain the time and place. Or suppose you are on someone else’s place. What is the best way to solve the problem?

    b) If we carry bead bag and japa mala with us during travel. Then it occurs that when ever we go to any restroom or use place like it. Does our japa mala get malicious due to it. How to keep the sanctity of japa mala?

    c) Can we wear japa mala. But again while doing daily chores it gets malicious. Please confirm how it should be managed.

    Thanks for your guidance.


    • Hare Krishna Sam

      There is no need for having a fixed place for chanting Hare Krishna. Obviously if you are traveling you can not have a fixed place because you are always moving. This is not an obstacle for becoming Krishna conscious.

      But even if we are traveling if we want to become fixed-up devotees we have to live a very regulated life. The Brahma-muhurta, the time starting 1.5 hours before sunrise, is the most auspicious time of the day, so we do need to get out of bed before 4:00 AM every morning and be engaged in chanting Hare Krishna during this auspicious Brahma-muhurta time. This is very essential and that can be done anywhere. And we need to organize our lives so we are only accepting Krishna prasadam. We can not go on eating food that is not cooked by devotees and not offered to Krishna and think we can somehow become Krishna conscious. So in most cases that means we have to cook for Srila Prabhupada and Krishna ourselves.

      If we are traveling and we are not living in the association of devotees then how will we get Prasadam if we do not cook it for Srila Prabhupada and Krishna ourselves.

      And cooking and offering food to Srila Prabhupada also is not difficult.

      As far as keeping our japa beads with us obviously we do need to keep them with us. So many devotees miss the trees for the forest in this regard. All this talk about offenses is nonsense. It is not offensive to chant that Hare Krishna mantra on japa beads. Of course we do have to make some effort to be a little clean. Devotees who are traveling generally keep a spray bottle of water in their vans for example so they can purify their hands easily for example. So simple things like this can stop getting ‘malicious’ as you say.

      As far as the restroom is concerned of course if practical we should not take japa beads in there. But in my travels I do find sometimes this becomes very difficult to avoid. So in those cases I have a bag. Like a book bag or some sort of bag that you can completely close up. And I put my japa beads inside that bag and close it up tight and use the bathroom and wash my hands and come out and take my japa beads out of that bag and start chanting Hare Krishna on them again.

      So the point is to be always chanting Hare Krishna. And we just have to sometimes make some common sense adjustments here and there so we can keep on chanting Hare Krishna uninterrupted.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  11. DAYANAND says:

    I need hare Krishna chant audio of 108 times, in which site do I get it.

  12. Adam says:

    I purchased a japa mala and decided to count the beads. It turns out it has only 106 beads! Is this to be considered defective? Or is it still usable provided I simply take this into account and still do 108 repetitions per round? Or is there some significance to 106 bead mala that I have never heard of?

    • Hare Krishna Adam

      It is defective and if you purchased it from just contact our customer support on the website and we will send you a set with 108 beads.

      It sometimes happens, they are made by hand, they are supposed to all get checked…

      In the meantime you can keep chanting on them of course and just chant an extra 2 mantras for each round, but you need to get a proper set with 108 beads…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

      • Adam says:

        Thank you very much for clarifying!
        Unfortunately, I did not purchase it from as I probably should have. I thought the place I did buy from was as equally reputable , but as you say, mistakes do happen. A failing of our faulty human senses!

  13. Amina says:

    Hare Krishna,
    Thank you for reminding me of the necessities to chanting japa. I started to stop my chanting gradually as I became discouraged with things of the material world I see and forget how much chanting japa keeps me balanced and peaceful. I do however follow the four regulative principles always and chant before each meal. I also am chanting 16 rounds of japa a day again now and will continue always.
    Chanting Hare Krishna and am happy!

  14. karen kalita says:

    Hare Krishna
    chanting japa of lord Shri Krishna is a beautiful thing. Every body has to do chanting before taking food & every time when you do something spacial Steps in ypur life.

  15. PETER GOODALL says:

    I had my main question answered on the maha-mantra by a Hare Krishna lady in the city-centre of Belfast , Northern Ireland . Why the Hare krishna Mantra is not in the original text of the Bhagavad Gita but
    only in the commentary of the Gita As It Is , is because:
    As you know when Krishna told Arjuna to take up yogic meditation Arjuna
    said yoga was too difficult , he couldn’t even control ” the restless waves of the mind. The mind was going hither and thither ( here and there )”.
    So Krishna told him to “just surrender to me , and give up all varieties of religion ” Even that was too difficult as that was a bit too vague –
    So meanwhile when this was going on the whole conversation was being
    relayed by Sanjay , the witness to Vyasa who was writing this down – the
    whole Gita ( time was suspended for the exsposition of the Gita by Krishna ) .
    Only later when Arjuna was victorious and had time to try to surrender to Krishna, he needed a method and after the Gita was transcribed he was given the mantra !.
    He needed a method to give him strength to surrender to Krishna at the start of the Age of Kali. I had figured out myself about when the Gita was being written but the lady friend told me about the restless mind .

  16. Subodh says:

    Kindly address few of my concerns.
    1. Is it necessary to do minimum 16 rounds if not initiated?
    2 is it ok to chant japa without initiation?
    3 can I chant japa while lying on bed, i.e. At the time of going to bed.?


    • It is necessary to chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily if you want to become Krishna conscious. You are not going to become Krishna conscious without chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily. You can chant Hare Krishna in any situation. If you have heard the chanting from Srila Prabhupada you are initiated as long as you accept the principles Prabhupada is teaching. You can chant Hare Krishna anywhere at any time. There are no rules and regulations. But if you are chanting on tulsi beads then you have to respect them and keep them clean. So you can certainly chant Hare Krishna lying in bed but you would not want to have your Tulsi japa beads in bed with you…

  17. PETER GOODALL says:

    At the moment I am doing one round every morning . I find I get
    high in the morning then I have a come- down in the afternoon . Could
    this be normal in the beginning . ?. Can you get immune to some of the
    rounds and have to up the dose , to keep on an even keel ?. What about
    the scandalous gurus in ISKCON who turned onto sex and drugs or were
    they just psycopaths from the start anyway ? . I don’t want to have a falldown like the false gurus in ISKCON . I had a falldown with
    kundalini yoga . Please help . I hope to build it up to 16 rounds .
    It was taking me twenty mins. to do one round because I was singing it
    to the Radha Temple – London tune , instead of saying and the interfering
    thoughts . The mantra was doing me good in the past , nearly acheiving
    brahmacharya , and maybe improviing my memory .
    I don’t want a falldown . Hari Bol .

    • Hare Krishna Peter

      You don’t begin by chanting one round. It is very nice of course that you are chanting one round of the Hare Krishna mantra, a start I guess… But the beginning is chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and strictly following the four regulative principles [no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication] and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books at least 1-2 hours a day. When you are regularly doing these things and fixed-up in it you can think that “Now I have begun the process of saddhana bhakti, Krishna consciousness.” But honestly until you come to this point there is no real spiritual life. You can not expect the material energy to subside and to have your spiritual vision awakened by just chanting one round a day. It is just not going to happen. Krishna sees our sincerity and reciprocates accordingly. I guess one round is something but it is only ten minutes out of 24 hours. That is not a very big commitment….

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  18. PETER GOODALL says:

    I heard that it is ok to lie and steal if it benefits Krishna.
    Is that true ?. I think it is ok to tell a “white ” lie if it will
    protect someone from something bad , but I don’t think stealing is
    recommended in any purpose ? . What is the official line .

    • This idea was very much misused in ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada left the planet. When I joined ISKCON in Australia the devotees were engaged in so much stealing for Krishna. Saying they were ‘liberating Krishna’s Lakshmi… They were doing anything and everything criminal “for Krishna.”‘ But the problem was they had the wrong guru. Their guru was completely in maya and was instructing them to steal for him actually, not Krishna. They were stealing for a bogus guru… So if Krishna asks you to steal or lie then of course that is what you should do. There is no mundane morality in Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness means doing what Krishna wants you to do. But the problem is we don’t know what Krishna wants us to do because we are conditioned and can not see and hear Krishna with our contaminated material senses. So we need to be directed by a pure devotee of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada never instructed his disciples to steal for Krishna and was disturbed when he heard they were doing this and told them to stop it. So the idea is that anything can be done for Krishna if Krishna actually wants you to do it but to know what Krishna wants us to do we have to get the instructions from a pure devotee of Krishna and Prabhupada never instructed his disciples to steal for Krishna…

  19. Birendra says:

    Hare Krishna,

    These days I am very angry with people around me due to high blood pressure and diabetes and also due to my personal ambitions not being fulfilled. I try to remain cool and ward off negative thoughts, also try to drop my personal ambitions but to no avail. How can I start chanting japa? My mind sometimes loses faith in Krishna and slanders him although my heart knows very well that he is the only refuge.

    • You just have to surrender to the process of Krishna consciousness and actually strictly follow the four regulative principles (no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication) and actually chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra:

      Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
      Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

      on japa beads daily. There is no other way. You just have to decide to do it and do it and that is all. You just become determined to do it and do it. That is the only way…

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  20. Guy says:

    Excellent article on japa

  21. Marco says:

    Do we need to chant 16 rounds at once or we can do it by parts during the day?

    • Shyam das says:

      Dear Marco,

      You can do it in segments throughout the day. And then you can chant it all at once to practice focusing your mind on it for longer.

      Kind regards,
      Shyam Das

  22. Girish says:

    Hare Krishna,

    I travel for my workplace from home which is around 1.5 hrs travel in the early morning. Can I chant the Hare krishna mantra in mind using japa mala during that time, as i wont get any time later in the day. Please guide me as i want to engage myself in krishna consciousness and chanting is the first step to progress in krishna consciousness.

    waiting for your reply and mercy,


    • Shyam das says:

      Dear Girish,

      Hare Krishna. You can chant japa out loud or silently in your mind. So chanting during your travels is fine.

      Shyam Das

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