What are the Glories of Holy Names (Hari Naam)?
If one chants the holy name even once without committing an offense, he attains all success. Constant chanting of the holy name will make one free of offenses, and then he will gradually be elevated to the transcendental platform on which he can chant the pure holy name and thus become a lover of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
krsna-mantra haite habe samsara-mocana |
krsna-nama haite pabe krsnera carana ||
(the above is in Bengali)
Translation: “Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord.”
It is stated in the Caitanya-charitamrta scripture:
diksa-purascarya-vidhi apeksa na kare |
jihva-sparse a-candala sabare uddhare ||
Translation: “One does not have to undergo initiation or execute the activities required before initiation by spiritual master. One simply has to vibrate the holy name with the lips. Thus even a man in the lowest class [chandala] can be delivered by this method.
What is the Need for spiritual teacher?
Although it is correct that one who fully engages in chanting the holy name need not depend upon the process of initiation, generally a an aspiring devotee is addicted to many abominable material habits due to material contamination from his previous life. These habits are an impediment for us to chant the holy name of the Lord without offenses and according to the proper regulative principles. This is why a proper deeksha is important.
Srila Jiva Gosvami explains deeksha in his Bhakti-sandarbha (283):
divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya sanksayam
tasmat dikseti sa prokta desikais tattva-kovidaih
Translation: “Deeksha is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as deeksha.”
adiksitasya vamoru krtam sarvam nirarthakam
pasu-yonim avapnoti diksa-virahito janah
Translation: ‘Unless one is initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, all his devotional activities are useless. A person who is not properly initiated can descend again into the animal species.’
What are the Stages in chanting?
There are three stages of chanting:
1) The first stage is the offensive chanting of the holy name
2) The second is the reflective stage of chanting the holy name.
3) The third stage is the offense-less chanting of the holy name of the Lord.
In the second stage, one automatically attains the stage of emancipation. In the offenseless stage, one actually enters into the kingdom of God, although physically he may apparently be within the material world.
What are the 10 offences to avoid while chanting?
To attain the offenseless stage, it is essential for a neophyte devotee to observe ten principles. One should also try to avoid these offences in serving the Lord and in chanting His holy names as much as possible.
(1) blaspheming a devotee of the Lord Krishna or any devotee in general
(2) considering the Lord Krishna and the demigods on the same level or thinking that there are many gods
(3) neglecting the orders of the spiritual master – this is severe
(4) minimizing the authority of the scriptures (the Vedas or Srimad Bhagavatam Maha Puran etc.)
(5) making your own interpretations of the holy names of God while chanting
(6) committing sins on the strength of chanting
(7) instructing the glories of the Lord’s names to the unfaithful
(8) comparing the holy name with material piety
(9) being inattentive while chanting the holy name
(10) remaining attached to material things in spite of chanting the holy names