The three stages of chanting Hare Krishna mantra

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

By chanting Hare Krishna mantra one becomes free from sinful reaction. Not only that, he becomes very soon a devotee. Not only does he become free from all sinful reactions of his life, but his mind becomes fixed up in the lotus feet of Krishna. So try to understand what is the result of chanting. By the offenseless chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, we remain freed from all sinful reaction of life and our attachment for the Supreme Lord in devotional service increases.

Prabhupada in Tompkins Square Park

Prabhupada chanting the Hare Krishna mantra

There was an argument between Haridasa Thakura and a brahmana. Haridasa Thakura said that by the offenseless chanting of the holy name of Lord, one not only does one become free, not only does he become brahma-bhuta (liberated), but his love of Godhead manifests. The dormant love of Godhead manifests and automatically he is liberated. So that brahmana protested that “Don’t exaggerate your chanting in this way. One becomes liberated after performing so much austerities, penances, and you say simply by chanting Hare Krishna, one becomes liberated! This is too much exaggeration.” So there was argument, and the argument increased, and there was cursing also, and Haridasa Thakura was a little bit agitated, and the brahmana became offender and he suffered. That incidence is described in the Chaitanya-caritamrita.

So the first stage of chanting Hare Krishna mantra is full of offenses. But if one sticks to the principle… Therefore we have to regularly chant sixteen rounds at least. So even if there are offenses, by simply chanting and being repentant that “I have committed this offense unnecessarily or without knowledge,” so simply be repentant and go on chanting. Then the stage called nāmābhāsa will come. That is offenseless, when there are no more offenses. That is called nāmābhāsa. At nāmābhāsa stage one becomes liberated immediately. And when one is liberated, if he goes on chanting — naturally he will go on chanting — then his love of Krishna will become manifest.

These are the three stages of chanting: chanting with offense, chanting as a liberated person and chanting in love of God. The example is just like an unripe mango undergoes changes. It is not that chanting brings another thing as a result. No. The same thing becomes manifest in different feature. Just like if you taste an unripe mango, it is very sour. But when it is fully ripened, the taste is changed. The taste is now sweet.

So in the beginning we may be very much reluctant in the matter of chanting, but when you become liberated the chanting will be so sweet that you cannot give up. Just like Rupa Gosvami says that “If I had millions of tongues and trillions of ears, then the chanting of Hare Krishna mantra would have been relishable. What can I do with one tongue and two ears?” So that is liberated stage. That is prema.

That stage is attainable. If you follow the principles regularly, everyone will attain to that stage when he simply likes to chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.9-10 in Allahabad, India on Jan 15, 1971]


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