hari bol prabhus/matajis
this was a nice article i read in the internet about chanting japa and the proper use of it ...though so many years have passed but still it is very imp to reming ourselves that 99.9 % of our devotional lives depends on chanting ....this will be useful to all of us...especially me ...so just for my purification i m writing this and passing this to all
Chanting a mantra or hymn softly and slowly is called japa and chanting the same mantra loudly is called kirtana.When japa is practiced it is for the personal benefit of the chanter, but when kirtana is performed it is for the benefit of all who may hear.
Japa chanting is best done on a set of beads. The more attentively and sincerely you chant the names of God, the more spiritual progress, you will make.
Japa beads consist of 108 beads strung together, plus one much larger bead known as the Krishna bead.
Before chanting, we must first take shelter of Lord Caitanya by chanting the panca-tattva-mantra: jaya sri krishna caitanya, prabhu nityananda, sri advaita, gadadhara, srivasadi gaura bhakta vrinda
Start at the first bead and chant one mantra; repeat until you reach the last bead. This is one round.
Before each round, chant the panca-tattva-mantra again.
Don't chant on or cross the larger bead (Krishna bead). Reverse the direction of your chanting at the end of ecah round.
One should note in this connection that chanting involves the activities of the upper and lower lips as well as the tongue. All three must be engaged in chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. The words “Hare Krishna” should be very distinctly pronounced and heard. Sometimes one mechanically produces a hissing sound instead of chanting with the proper pronunciation with the help of the lips and tongue. Chanting is very simple, but one must practice it seriously. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 7.32, purport)
While different tongues pronounce the mantra a little differently and the sastra does state that the holy name is still effective even if improperly pronounced, it is still beneficial to concentrate and practice clear pronunciation.
"H" in Hare: sometimes dropped
"A" in Hare: sometimes sounds like "O" as in Lorry; should be "uh" as in Hurry.
"R" in Hare: sometimes sounds more like "D"
"E" in Hare: sometimes sounds like "I" as in Bit; should be "ay" as in Ray.
"K" in Krishna: sometimes sounds more like "G" in Grip.
"R" in Krishna: sometimes dropped: "Kishna"
"N" in Krishna: sometimes dropped: "Krisha"
"A" in Krishna: is sometimes run together with the next Hare: "Krishna-ray"
Rama: be careful not to call out for Rum!
Sometimes with "Rama Rama Rama," you get the "revving-up-the-motorbike" effect: "manar-manar-manar-manarrrr!" (trying to chant too fast)
Note: Both Ram and Rama are OK
Result of poor pronunciation
Odi gish-odi gisha gisha gish-odiyodi
Odi rumma odi rummanar-manar-manar odiyodi !
(hint: try to chant the above quickly and you might recognise it!)
In the beginning you may be slow (around 10 minutes per round)
It is important to practice proper pronunciation, but in time you should naturally speed up (about 7–7½ min/round)
Ultimately it is individual, but many devotees find that speeding up increases the intensity of their chanting and their concentration level.
If your rounds are taking too long, it could mean that you are distracted.
Try to maintain good, clear pronunciation with a good speed.
Some devotees can chant a round in 5 – 5½ min, but be careful not to lose the clarity of the syllables!
One's mental and physical state is affected by one's bodily posture and can be altered by changing the posture. You can affect the mind's ability to concentrate by remaining peaceful and adopting a good posture.
Perhaps you have already experienced the difference between chanting sitting in a conventional chair (legs down) and sitting cross-legged. Try sitting cross-legged with a little extra support under your bottom. The back and neck should be erect in a straight line, the head up. Breathing should be deep and rhythmic.
“Prajalpa-japa”: Unnecessarily talking while chanting.
“Dive-bomb japa”: Falling asleep while chanting (head nodding off).
“Radar japa”: constantly looking around.
“Machine-gun japa”: much too fast while shaking the finger.
“Jibber-japa”: it is just gibberish, no one can understand it.
“Day-dreamy japa”: not concentrating, following the wandering mind.
This is the most essential part of chanting: how attentive are you?
Imagine you are driving a car and you have a passenger sitting next to you. The passenger is continually pointing things out and trying to draw your attention to them: “Oh, look there's a shoe sale on! Look at those nice shoes! Ah, look at that guy with the funny hat! Are those your gloves on the back seat? Look out, no, no, turn left! Oh, I thought we had to go left. Look at the TV shop — is that your favorite football team playing? Uh-oh, check this out: there's a guy getting arrested over there….”
If you keep getting distracted by what your passenger is saying, you're going to crash the car.
The passenger is like your mind, and driving the car is like chanting your rounds. However, if someone keeps talking to you and you continuously ignore them, eventually they are just going to shut up. That is the best way to deal with the mind: just ignore it and keep your attention on “the road”, the distractions will eventually shut up.
An interesting exercise: Keep a list of all the subjects brought up by the mind during your japa and then review it at the end. Usually you can just throw away the whole list because you didn't need to think about any of these things at all. It is a very graphic way of proving to yourself that you don't always need to take the mind so seriously.
Concentration exercises: There are some exercises you can try in order to strengthen your ability to concentrate. The mind is like a muscle that needs exercise. These exercises may give you a more constructive way to engage the mind.
The big picture: Chanting is just not about getting the technique right. It is just as important to not lose sight of the big picture. We are ultimately not independent of Krishna, and we must always humbly pray to Him and seek His shelter and guidance. We must always see that we have to get to the platform of taste in our chanting and ultimately attain love for Krishna.
Your mood, attitude, or mentality is also very important while chanting. Chanting is not just a mechanical process. It must be accompanied with the appropriate feelings, performed for the right purpose, and with proper consciousness.
Enthusiasm: One should realize that love for Krishna is the ultimate goal. He should have total eagerness to attain it, even to the point of crying for it, like a baby. That is the price one must pay.
Prayer: Remember that the maha-mantra is a prayer. Remember the meaning of the prayer, and offer it in a prayerful mood: a communication between you and God — a very personal experience.
Dependence: A devotee feels helpless without the Lord's mercy and dependent on the holy names.
Humility and reverence: When we take darsana of the Deity, we must first take our shoes off, ring a bell, bow down, conch shells blow, the curtains are drawn — we are seeing the form of the Lord. The same respect and reverence should be given to the holy name.
Service: Chanting is a kind of service. It should be performed in a serving mood, serving the holy name by uttering it. Not that we are the master of Krishna, causing Him to manifest.
Gratitude: Be thankful to the Lord for the mercy that He is bestowing upon you and all the fallen souls in the form of His holy name
Tolerance: All difficulties and obstacles of the mind must be tolerated. One may not have any taste for chanting or find the process hard to follow. All discomforts must be tolerated for Krishna's satisfaction.
Patience: It may take a lot of practice before one gets better at chanting. One must patiently continue to endeavor. We are eternal, so there is no need to panic.
Determination: Never become discouraged. Always continue with determination knowing that success is ultimately guaranteed.
Remember the importance of chanting: Be conscious of the importance of this chanting process. Remember that it is essential to our spiritual advancement.
Faithfulness: We must cultivate our faith in the holy name, put our trust in it.
Please let me in: Ask Krishna to allow us to enter into the inner realisations of chanting the holy names.
krsna rupa devi dasi