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Hari Naam San kirtan

The Vedic scriptures state that spiritual life begins when one inquires into the nature of the absolute truth, the Supreme Godhead. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are monotheists and know the personality of Godhead as Krishna, the All-attractive.
But it is also recognised that The Supreme has unlimited names such as Rama, Buddha, Vishnu, Jehovah, Allah, etc.
The ultimate goal of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is to develop a loving relationship with the Supreme Godhead. To understand knowledge of self-realisation one must approach a genuine spiritual master.

The Vedas also tell us that the understanding of the self, as being non-material or spiritual by nature, is the preliminary stage of realisation of the absolute truth. To understand knowledge of self-realisation one must approach a genuine spiritual master, just as one learns the essence of any subject from a perfected practitioner. The congregational chanting of the maha-mantra:

 

|| Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare ||

 

as promoted by Sri Caitanya, is accepted by the Vedas as the most effective means of self-purification in this age. The Vedas describe the mantra as a prayer to the Lord, “Please Lord, engage me in Your service”. Devotees may accept formal initiation into the chanting of the Holy Name vowing to abstain from intoxication, gambling, illicit sexual connections and the eating of meat, fish or eggs. ISKCON members believe indulgence in the aforementioned activities disrupts physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and increases anxiety and conflict in society. At the time of initiation devotees also agree to chant a prescribed number of mantras each day.

Hearing from Realised Souls

Devotion at the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna is a gift of realised devotees. The process of Sravana or sitting at the Lotus Feet and Hearing Krishna Katha from such elevated personalities in the lines of Pure Disciplic Succession of Archaryas is most effective.

 

This submissive hearing helps us awaken devotion towards Lord Sri Krishna and frees us form the bondage of material birth and death.

 

Nitya Bhagvata Sivaya i.e. hearing every morning and evening from realised personalities who we are connected with helps understand deeper truths of life.

Reading - Books are the Basis

It is believed that Bhaktivedanta Swami’s most significant contribution are his books. Within the final twenty years of his life Bhaktivedanta Swami translated over sixty volumes of classic Vedic scriptures (such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam) into the English language. For their authority, depth, and clarity, his books have won praise from professors at colleges and universities like Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, Syracuse, Oberlin, and Edinburgh, and his Bhagavad-Gita As It Is was published by Macmillan Publishers, in 1968 and unabridged edition in 1972, and is now available in over sixty languages around the world and some other books by Bhaktivedanta Swami are available in over eighty different languages.

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust was established in 1972 to publish his works, it has also published massively researched multivolume biography, Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, that in opinion of Larry Shinn will “certainly be one of the most complete records of the life and work of any modern religious figure”. Prabhupada reminded his devotees before his disappearance that he would live forever in his books, and through them woud remain present as a spiritual master or guru. Bhaktivedanta Swami had instilled in his followers an understanding of the importance of writing and publishing not only with regard to his works, but also their own initiatives. His early disciples felt Prabhupada had given them Back To Godhead for their own writings from the very start. A prominent Gaudiya Vaishnava figure, Shrivatsa Goswami, who as a young man had met Bhaktivedanta Swami in 1972, affirmed the significance of book publishing and distribution in spreading the message of Caitanya in an interview with Steven Gelberg:

 

“Making these Vaisnava texts available is one of Srila Prabhupada’s greatest contributions. Apart from the masses, his books have also reached well into academic circles and have spurred academic interest in the Chaitanya tradition … The significance of making these texts available is not merely academic or cultural; it is spiritual.”

Eating Prasadam

Prasadam literally means “mercy” and devotees of ISKCON use this term to describe pure vegetarian food that has been offered to Lord Krishna. Food that has been offered to the Deities in the temple is known as maha-prasadam. Most Food contains karma which binds us to the cycle of birth and death because although it may be vegetarian one may still harm other living entities in the process of obtaining it:

 

The farmer may accidentally kill insects during the cultivation of crops or the plants may feel some pain when they are uprooted. However, when the food is prepared for the pleasure of Krishna He accepts the love and devotion present in the offering and removes all sins from it.

 

The karma present in the food is therefore transformed into spiritual energy. Honouring (eating) this sanctified prasadam is the basis of bhakti-yoga and helps one to make tangible spiritual advancement. Sharing and distributing prasadam is also very important! religion of mankind.

Chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra

Maha means “great” and mantra means “sacred chant for deliverance.” Of all mantras in the Vedas, one is called the maha-mantra, or great mantra:

 

|| Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna,
Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare ||

 

The words “Hare” (pronounced ha-ray), “Krishna” (pronounced krish-na), and “Rama” (rhymes with “drama”), are Sanskrit words. “Hare” is an address to God’s energy, known as Radha, and “Krishna” is name of God meaning “He who is attractive to everyone.” “Rama” means “one who gives pleasure and enjoys life.” When chanted the maha-mantra is a petition to God: “O Krishna, O energy of Krishna, please engage me in Your service.

Following Regulative Principles

There are four pillars upon which human society rests. These pillars are: mercy, truthfulness, austerity and cleanliness. Everyone appreciates these qualities. By following the four regulative principles, we support these pillars and free ourselves from miseries and from causing pain to others. Along with chanting Hare Krishna, following these principles form the basis of Krishna conscious practice.

1. No eating meat, fish and eggs – Killing animals destroys the quality of mercy. One turns one’s body into a
graveyard by consuming dead animals. These foods are saturated with the modes of passion and ignorance and
therefore cannot be offered to the Lord. A person who eats these foods participates in a conspiracy of violence
against helpless animals and thus curtails his spiritual progress.

2. No Gambling – Truthfulness is destroyed by gambling. This is quite obvious. Gambling turns a person into a liar, a
cheat. Gambling invariably puts one into anxiety and fuels greed, envy, and anger.

3. No Intoxication – We know many arguments against the use of intoxicants. It is not a very difficult thing to
understand because anyone with a sane mind will accept that taking intoxicants is physically, mentally and
spiritually detrimental. It destroys the principle of austerity because the reason people take to drugs is that they
want to avoid their suffering in the material world- they do not want to face that austerity. Drugs, alcohol, and
tobacco, as well as any drink or food containing caffeine, cloud the mind, over-stimulate the senses, and make it
impossible to follow the principles of bhakti-yoga.

4. No Illicit Sex – Cleanliness is destroyed by illicit sex. This is sex outside of marriage or any sex for any purpose other than procreation. Sex for pleasure compels one to identify with the body and prevents one from
understanding Krisna consciousness. The scriptures teach that sex is the most powerful force binding us to the
material world. Anyone serious about advancing in Krisna consciousness should therefore abstain from or regulate
sexual activity according to the scriptures. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krisna says that sexual union for conceiving a
child to be raised in God consciousness is an act of devotion to Him.