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What is my real identity? Who is Krishna? What is bhakti yoga?
Read the books of Srila Prabhupada, one of the most prolific authors of commentaries on and translations of Vedic texts.
Propagator of the greatest spiritual sound vibration
The ringing of a doorbell, the thought-provoking lecture of an astute scholar, the guttural roar of snarling traffic, or the soothing sounds of a gurgling stream: these are experiences that affect people on physical, emotional and intellectual levels. So much so that people often seek the respite of gentle music to placate their frayed minds at the end of a long agitating day at work. If these material sound vibrations can affect us on so many levels, then what of sounds that transcend the material platform?
Ancient sages declare that there are particular spiritual sounds, or mantras that emanate from a spiritual stratum. If one is able to connect with such a pure sound, then one can derive immense benefit that will help one progress through all the materialistic clutter, and help awaken pure consciousness.
The greatest such sound for this era is a spiritual sound vibration called the Maha-mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
This sound vibration is not a sectarian chant, nor does one need to even understand its meaning to acquire its full benefit. The words are in Sanskrit, an ancient language that forms the basis for modern Indian languages. ‘Hare’ refer to the spiritual, all pervading energy of the Supreme Lord; ‘Krishna’ means ‘the Supreme Lord who is all attractive’; and ‘Rama’ means ‘that Supreme Lord who is the source of all pleasure’. ‘Maha’ in Mahamantra means the greatest chant for liberation in this era.
The chanting of the Mahamantra was introduced to the West by Srila Prabhupada when he arrived in New York in 1966. With virtually no resources, he sat in Tompkins Square Park and chanted the Mahamantra with his set of cymbals. Curious onlookers had their first encounter of a real, live swami dressed in his traditional saffron robes introducing a meditative experience that was to reverberate around the world in a few short years.
Embraced by the hippie and pop culture of the day, the words ‘Hare Krishna’ were soon identified with the set of shaven-headed monks of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness or the Hare Krishna Movement as it popularly became known. Even The Beatles, especially George Harrison, were early followers of ISKCON and they recorded the Mahamantra with devotees chanting. Its blissful effects soon spread like wildfire around the world. George Harrison continued to chant this Mahamantra until he passed away.
Srila Prabhupada had implicit faith in the chanting of these holy names as a means to liberate the soul from its entanglement in the material world. He taught that the chanting should be done as a daily personal meditation as a means to reinvigorate one’s spiritual consciousness, counteract the distress of this age, and develop love of God. He also gave us the ecstatic collective chanting called kirtan. Using both traditional Indian and Western musical instruments, the chanting of the mantra on the streets by ecstatic groups of followers is nowadays a regular sight in the West. That ‘Hare Krishna’ became a household name all over the world is directly attributed to the effort and purity of Srila Prabhupada.