The Ten Offenses in Chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra
The Hare Krishna mantra is unlimitedly powerful and has the potency to immediately cleanse us of all the reactions from our sinful activities from this an so many other lifetimes. It has the power to awaken within us our original pure love for Krishna. The Hare Krishna mantra has the power to connect us with an ever-increasing ocean of transcendental pleasure. On the other hand one can chant the Hare Krishna mantra for many, many births and not achieve any significant results at all. Why?
The answer is there is a quality to the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. If the chanting of Hare Krishna is done purely then the results will be very quick and very great, but if there are offenses in the chanting then the results will be very, very limited. Chanting Hare Krishna with offenses has been compared to trying to light a fire with one hand and pouring water on it with the other hand. So actually you will not be able to light the fire in this way. There will be practically no result. Only your effort will be there, but there will be no result.
Therefore if we want to be successful in the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra it is essential that we come to the platform of offenseless chanting. Actually in the beginning we can not chant the Hare Krishna mantra purely. There will be many offenses for sure. The only way to overcome these offenses actually is by chanting:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
At least 16 rounds a day every day without fail. Also we must strictly following the four regulative principles:
- No illicit sex life [sex is only for having children in marriage, nothing else]
- No meat eating
- No gambling
- No intoxication
If we are thinking that we can make any advancement in Krishna consciousness without coming to the platform of chanting at 1east 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and strictly following the four regulative principles we are simply deluding ourselves. There is no spiritual life without following these principles, only useless sentiment.
In addition to following the four regulative principles and chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily we have to consider the ten offenses in regard to chanting the holy name:
- The first is to blaspheme the great devotees who have tried to spread the glories of the holy name throughout the world. The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is non-different from Kṛṣṇa, and one who attempts to spread the holy names throughout the world is beloved of Him. Kṛṣṇa Himself does not tolerate offenses against His pure devotees.
- The second offense is to deny that Lord Viṣṇu is the Absolute Truth. There is no difference between His name, quality, form, pastimes and activities, and one who sees a difference is considered an offender. The Lord is Supreme, and no one is equal to or greater than Him. Consequently if one thinks that the Lord’s names are nondifferent from the names of demigods, he offends. The Supreme Lord and the demigods should never be considered on the same level.
- The third offense is to consider the bona fide spiritual master to be a common man.
- The fourth offense is to blaspheme Vedic literature and authorized scriptures like the Purāṇas.
- The fifth offense is to consider the glories attributed to the holy names to be exaggerations.
- The sixth offense is to concoct perverted theories about the holy name.
- The seventh offense is to commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name. It is understood that by chanting the holy names one is free from sinful reactions, but this does not mean that one should act sinfully on the strength of chanting. That is the greatest offense.
- The eighth offense is to consider that religious rituals, austerity, sacrifices or other forms of renunciation are equal to chanting the holy name. Chanting the holy name is as good as associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Pious activities are only means to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they can even be performed for some material reason.
- The ninth offense is to preach the glories of the holy name of God to a faithless person who is not interested in hearing them.
- The tenth and last offense is to maintain material attachment even after hearing and chanting the holy names of God. The idea is that by chanting the holy name without offense, one can obtain elevation to the liberated platform. On the liberated platform one is freed from all material attachment. Thus if one chants the holy names and still has material attachments, he must be committing some offense.
[from TLC 1: Teachings to Rupa Gosvami]
Srila Prabhupada always stresses these points very strongly at initiation ceremonies and if he is not personally performing the initiation he stresses these points in his letter to the initiates.
The following quotes from a July 1969 letter Prabhupada wrote to his new disciples in London are typical:
“So this initiation means the preliminary chance for preparing oneself to achieve this highest perfection. I am very glad that you are already interested in the Krishna Consciousness Movement, and you will please chant at least 16 rounds daily, observing the rules and regulations.
“The four principle rules is that you will refrain from 1) meat-eating or partaking of fish or eggs, 2) illicit sexual connections, 3) intoxication (including cigarettes, coffee and tea) and 4) gambling.
“In addition to these rules there are ten offenses to chanting the Maha Mantra which should be avoided. These rules are as follows: 1) blaspheming the Lord’s devotee. 2) Considering the Lord and the demigods on the same level. 3) Neglecting the orders of the spiritual master. 4) Minimizing the authority of the Scriptures. 5) Interpreting the Holy Name of God. 6) Committing sin on the strength of chanting. 7) Instructing the glories of the Lord’s Name to the unfaithful. 8) Comparing the Holy Name with material piety. 9) Inattention while chanting the Holy Name. 10) Attachment to material things while engaged in the practice of chanting.
“So follow faithfully the above rules and regulations, help your godbrothers and sister in London to propagate Krishna Consciousness, and there is no question that you will all come out successful. I hope this will find you well.”
So you can see that coming to this platform of chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and strictly following the four regulative principles is simply a prerequisite, a requirement which must be met before anyone can be initiated as a disciple in the Hare Krishna movement. And this initiation is simply the beginning. “So this initiation means the preliminary chance for preparing oneself to achieve this highest perfection.”
So after initiation there is whole process of training that one must undergo under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master to gradually rise himself to the platform of pure, offenseless chanting. There has to be surrender, service and he has to hear the instructions of the bona fide spiritual master and follow those instructions.
So Krishna consciousness is not a very cheap thing that can be had very easily. Krishna is not available to anyone very easily. Krishna can only be achieved by the mercy of His pure devotees. So there is no access to Krishna consciousness directly to Krishna. That is not the process. And Krishna will not reveal Himself to the devotee unless the devotee pleases and gets the mercy of Krishna’s pure devotees.
Therefore having a bona fide spiritual master and serving him and pleasing him and getting his mercy is essential. Otherwise there can be no advancement in Krishna consciousness. And unless the spiritual master is a pure devotee of Krishna then he has no potency to give you Krishna. He is simply a cheating rascal.
So in fact above all the rules and regulations and offenses I have mentioned the most important thing, the essential thing, which is required if you want to come to the stage of purely chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is you must have a bona fide spiritual master who is a pure devotee of Krishna. Without having a bona fide spiritual master you can chant Hare Krishna forever but you will not be able to advance because Krishna does not reveal Himself in this way. He only reveals Himself to those devotees who surrender to and serve and please His pure devotees.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!