Lord Chaitanya tells us that in this age of Kali, there is no other means of salvation except the chanting of the holy name of God:
“harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nasly eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā.”
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
We live in a technologically advanced age, where sense gratification is the highest priority of most in society. Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are the primary activities and people are always searching for more extravagant ways to perform such activities. Chanting the holy name of God may seem like a very simple thing, but most are not interested in it. During the course of the day, how much time do we spend thinking about God? How much time do we spend talking about God? The answer, in most case, is not much time at all. The Vedas say that “sravanam” and “kirtanam”, chanting and hearing, are the best ways towards transcendental realization. When we constantly chant the name of God in an offense-less way, we are performing both methods at once. We purify both our ears and our tongue simultaneously.
During the Christmas season in America, we see many people engaged in the public chanting of Christmas carols, or songs relating to the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. The songs are very pleasing to the ear and are generally well received by the public. However, this chanting shouldn’t be limited to one month out of the year. Why not sing about God every day? This is what the Vedas teach us; pretend that every day is God’s birthday.
Chanting is performed by the repetition of Vedic mantras. The mantra with the most efficacy in this age is the Maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” It is best to chant with others in a group, which is called sankirtana. One can also chant quietly alone in what is known as “japa” meditation. This is performed using a japa mala, or strand of prayer beads. Each japa mala contains 108 small beads connected together on a string with one large bead at the center. Holding the mala in your right hand, place one of the small beads adjacent to the large bead in between your thumb and middle finger. Repeat the mantra once out loud and then roll to the next smallest bead and say the mantra again. Repeat this process until you reach the large bead. In this way, by repeating the mantra 108 times, you will have completed one round of japa meditation. Once you reach the large bead, turn the mala around and start the chanting process again in the reverse direction starting with the small bead adjacent to the large bead. The large bead represents the “Krishna” bead and is not to be chanted on.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada recommends that we chant the Maha-mantra as much as we can, and to perform at least sixteen rounds of japa meditation every day. Even chanting the mantra one time will give you a tremendous spiritual benefit, so why not give it a try?