According to the Vedic scriptures, the ultimate goal of human life is to attain Shree Krishna. Keeping this goal in mind, the scriptures guide us to focus on different activities as a means to achieve the end which is union with the Supreme Soul, Shree Krishna.
Click here to watch a quick 10 min video where Shree Kripaluji Maharaj explains the significance of chanting God’s name. In his book Bhagavannāma Māhātmya – The Glories of the Divine Name, Shree Maharajji quotes the below verses from the Rāmāyaṇa:
कृतजुग सब जोगी विज्ञानी
करि हरि धयान तरहिं भव प्रानी
kṛita juga saba jogī vijñānī
kari hari dhyāna tarahiṁ bhava prānī
त्रेता विविध यज्ञ नर करहीं
प्रभुहिं समर्पि कर्म भव तरहिं
tretā vividha yajña nara karahīṁ
prabhuhiṁ samarpi karma bhava tarahīṁ
द्वापर करि रघुपति पद पूजा
नर भव तरहिं उपाय न दूजा
dvāpara kari rahgupati pada pūjā
nara bhava tarahiṁ upāya na dūjā
कलिजुग केवल हरिगुन गाहा
गावत नर पावहिं भव थाहा
kaliyuga kevala hariguna gāhā
gāvata nara pāvahiṁ bhava thāhā
“In the age of Satya Yuga the mode of goodness, sattvaguṇa, was predominant in people, therefore meditation on God was the means to attain one’s ultimate goal. In the age of Tretā Yuga people performed Vedic rituals (yajñas) as an offering to God. In the age of Dvāpara Yuga people performed elaborate deity worship and in this current age of Kali Yuga, the chanting of God’s names or saṇkīrtana is the only means to attain one’s ultimate goal.”
He quotes another set of verses from the Rāmāyaṇa to further support this idea:
एहि कलिकाल न साधन दूजा
जोग न जप तप व्रत मख पूजा
ehī kali kāla na sādhana dūjā
joga na japa tapa vrata makha pūjā
रामहिं सुमिरिय गाइय रामहिं
संतत सुनिय राम गुन ग्रामहिं
rāmahiṁ sumiria gāia rāmahiṁ
santata sunia rāma guna grāmahiṁ
कलियुग केवल नाम अधारा
सुमिरि सुमिरि नर उतरहिं पारा
kaliyuga kevala nāma adhārā
sumiri sumiri nara utarahiṁ pārā
“There is no other method in Kali Yuga. Neither yoga, nor japa, nor austerity, nor abstinence, nor yajñas, nor worship will take you to your goal. Just sing the glories of the Lord, engage your mind in rūpdhyāna, loving remembrance and listen to his glories from the saints. This is the only means in Kali Yuga to attain one’s ultimate goal.”
Having established the significance of chanting as the only means to attain God, the next question that comes to mind is “what to chant?” There are so many hymns, pads, kirtans, mantras, etc. How does one determine what is most appropriate and advantageous?
The great saints such as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Shree Kripaluji Maharaj instruct us to chant the Lord’s innumerable names in the form of the Hare Krishna, Hare Rama mahamantra or simply simply the words “Radhey Radhey” or “Radhey Shyam” because the scriptures explain that God resides in his names so chanting his names constantly purifies the heart. Listen to this mahamantra in Swamiji’s melodious and delightful voice by clicking here.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explained it in the first verse of his Siksastakam, the famous eight verses, as follows:
चेतोदर्पणमार्जनं भवमहादावाग्नि निर्वापणं
श्रेयः कैरवचन्द्रिकावितरणं विद्यावधूजीवनम्
आनन्दाम्बुधिवर्धनं प्रतिपदं पूर्णामृतास्वादनं
सर्वात्मस्नपनंपरं विजयते श्रीकृष्ण संकीर्तनम्
śhreyaḥ kairavachandrikā vitaraṇaṁ vidyāvadhūjīvanam
ānandāmbudhhivardhanaṁ pratipadaṁ pūrṇāmṛitāsvādanam
sarvātmasnapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śhrīkṛiṣhṇasaṅkīrtanam
“Chanting the holy name of Shree Krishna cleanses the mirror of the heart and extinguishes the blazing fire of misery in the form of repeated cycle of birth and death. It is like the radiance of moonbeams which causes the lily of eternal good to blossom in the nectar of the divine name. It is the very life of all transcendental knowledge. Every utterance of the divine name gives full taste of its nectarine sweetness that swells in the hearts of the chanters, like a surging ocean of everlasting Bliss and Peace.”
Let’s try another example closer to home. For instance, when one is thirsty, just saying ‘Water!” “Water!” alone will not quench the thirst. We actually need to drink a glass of water. However, chanting God’s name is not like that. Because God actually lives in his name, all his power, knowledge, bliss also reside in his names. As a result, chanting his name carries special importance.
In order to best understand it, I encourage you to experiment for yourself. Chant the Hare Krishna, Hare Rama mahamantra every day for one year. Start by chanting it for 15 minutes daily. After one month, ramp it up to 30 minutes daily. After two months, ramp it up to two sessions of 30 minutes or one session of one hour. If a visual/image is necessary, focus on any number of images of Shree Krishna or Radha Krishna.
Now notice the difference in your thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions. You yourself will be able to tell the difference. Only by chanting his name alone were you able to witness the positive changes in your personality and character. Now that is concrete proof that God resides in his name.