Many times people think that when one takes to spiritual life, his material set-up may become somehow neglected or that they will loose or miss something in this regard. As usual, the opposite is the fact and in this short article we shall see only a fragment of the benefits that regular chanting brings to those who take it up with genuine interest. When we water the root, leaves and branches are nourished automatically.
What is the Mantra
Chanting of Hare Krsna maha-mantra is a plea of the spirit soul to the Supreme Spirit, Krsna and His internal potency, Radha, to kindly accept one into Their eternal loving, transcendental devotional service. In that realm, there is no trace of material qualities and a devotee on the topmost platform experiences this eternal, fully cognizant and blissful state without any attachment to the temporary body and objects connected with it. Even before coming to the platform of pure devotional service there is a platform of brahma-bhuta, where one does not identify with the body and as a result there is no lamentation and no hankering (Bg. 18.54), which are, obviously, the concomitants of materially conditioned consciousness. For the general mass of spiritually inclined people, who are just on the threshold of entering the realm of bhakti, with all their expectations, motivations, (mis)conceptions and desires, seeing these connections may also serve an inspiration to lessen their doubts and go on extracting all the possible benefits of approaching Krsna, the all-merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 2.3.10)
One of the basic devotional practices is chanting round the beads, the japa-mala. When chanting on the mala, the practitioner holds the beads between his thumb and the middle finger, going from one bead to another, chanting
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Accupresure Stimulation of the Brain
Many may know, that on the thumb, there are areas, which, according to acupressure approach, influence the function of brain, specifically the pineal and pituitary glands. One may search more info about their functions.
Autonomous Nervous System Stimulation Through Breathing
While working as a psychologist in a hospital, I used to teach patients “abdominal breathing” techniques. The catch there was, that there are two branches of nervous system influencing the organs in the body, but also the level of excitement of the mind. One of them – the sympathetic is activated by inhaling and is connected with stimulation of the body and mind, the other one – parasympathetic is activated by exhaling and it´s effect is relaxing. The technique was that patients would learn to breathe into their abdomen using the diaphragm and the time ratio of inhale/exhale would be 1:2. In other words, prolonged exhaling relaxes the body and mind. This is a very simplified explanation, in case of interest just make a little research. Now, when chanting Hare Krsna on the beads, chanting of the mantra is naturally accompanied by prolonged exhales as the air and sound leave the mouth. From this point of view, along with the transcendental meditation of chanting the Holy Name of Krsna, one automatically practices this very effective breathing excercise with vast phycho-physiological connections.
Influence of Meditation on Stress, Depression and Addictions
The following is an Abstract from the thesis by our Godbrother Dhira Govinda Prabhu, who is a PhD. in psychology. He made a scientific study as his thesis at the Florida State University and this is the output:
Effects Of The Hare Krsna Maha Mantra On Stress, Depression, And The Three Gunas
“The author conducted a 3-group study on the effects of chanting the hare krsna maha mantra on stress, depression, and the three modes of nature- sattva, rajas, and tamas- described in the Vedas as the basis for human psychology. Sixty-two subjects, self-selected through newspaper advertisements in a Southeastern university town, completed the study. Average age was 24.63 years, with 31 males and 31 females participating. Stress was measured with the Index of Clinical Stress, depression was measured with the Generalized Contentment Scale, and the modes of nature, or gunas, were measured with the Vedic Personality Inventory. Subjects were tested at pretest, posttest, and followup, with testing times separated by four weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to a maha mantra group, an alternate mantra group, and a control group.
Subjects in each of the chanting groups chanted their mantra approximately 25 minutes each day. The researcher concocted a mantra as the alternate mantra, though subjects in the alternate group thought it was a genuine Vedic mantra. Primary hypotheses of the study were based on Vedic theory, and stated that the maha mantra group would increase sattva, and decrease stress, depression, rajas and tamas, significantly more than the other two groups. ANCOVA results, controlling for gender and age, supported these hypotheses at p<.05 for all dependent variables except rajas, with effect sizes (eta2) for the four variables whose results supported the hypothesis ranging from .21 to .33. The author suggests that the maha mantra has potential for utilization in clinical areas similar to those where other interventions of Eastern origin have been successful, such as treatment of stress, depression, and addictions.”
The Real Purpose of Chanting Hare Krsna and Devotional Service
So. Now that I have caught your attention a little bit, which is proven by your still reading this article, let me expose the actual purpose of chanting the Hare Krsna Maha-mantra. The purpose of practicing this meditation is nothing else than attainment of pure unnaloyed and unmotivated devotional service. Krsna is quite capable of fullfiling all the desires of His devotees, but a sincere soul tries to re-direct his desires from gross or subtle sense-gratification to the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. When that desire is there, although still covered by other motive, Krsna can understand and He will facilitate the devotee´s purification.
sa vidhasyati te kaman harir dinanukampanah / amogha bhagavad-bhaktir
netareti matir mama
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is very merciful to the poor, will fulfill all of your desires, for devotional service unto Him is infallible. Any method other than devotional service is useless. That is my opinion.
There are three kinds of men, who are called akama, moksa-kama and sarva-kama. One who tries to get liberation from this material world is called moksa-kama, one who wants to enjoy this material world to its fullest extent is called sarva-kama, and one who has fulfilled all his desires and has no further material desires is called akama. A bhakta has no desire. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. He is purified and free from material desires. The moksa-kami wants to achieve liberation by merging into the existence of the Supreme Brahman, and because of this desire to merge into the existence of the Lord, he is not yet pure. And since those who want liberation are impure, what to speak of the karmis, who have so many desires to fulfill? Nonetheless, the sastra says:
akamah sarva-kamo va moksa-kama udara-dhih / tivrena bhakti-yogena yajeta purusam param
“Whether one desires everything or nothing or desires to merge into the existence of the Lord, he is intelligent only if he worships Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by rendering transcendental loving service.” (SB 2.3.10)
Kasyapa Muni saw that his wife, Aditi, had some material desires for the welfare of her sons, but still he advised her to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In other words, everyone, regardless of whether he is a karmi, jnani, yogi or bhakta, should invariably take shelter of the lotus feet of Vasudeva and render transcendental loving service unto Him so that all his desires will be duly fulfilled. Krsna is dina-anukampana: He is very merciful to everyone. Therefore if one wants to fulfill his material desires, Krsna helps him. Of course, sometimes if a devotee is very sincere, the Lord, as a special favor to him, refuses to fulfill his material desires and directly blesses him with pure, unalloyed devotional service. It is said in Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 22.38-39):
krsna kahe, — ‘ama bhaje, mage visaya-sukha amrta chadi’ visa mage, — ei bada murkha / ami — vijna, ei murkhe ‘visaya’ kene diba? sva-caranamrta diya ‘visaya’ bhulaiba
“Krsna says, ‘If one engages in My transcendental loving service but at the same time wants the opulence of material enjoyment, he is very, very foolish. Indeed, he is just like a person who gives up ambrosia to drink poison. Since I am very intelligent, why should I give this fool material prosperity? Instead I shall induce him to take the nectar of the shelter of My lotus feet and make him forget illusory material enjoyment.’ ” If a devotee maintains some material desire and at the same time very sincerely desires to engage at the lotus feet of Krsna, Krsna may directly give him unalloyed devotional service and take away all his material desires and possessions. This is the Lord’s special favor to devotees. Otherwise, if one takes to Krsna’s devotional service but still has material desires to fulfill, he may become free from all material desires, as Dhruva Maharaja did, but this may take some time. However, if a very sincere devotee wants only Krsna’s lotus feet, Krsna directly gives him the position of suddha-bhakti, unalloyed devotional service.