Brought to the West in 1965 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, “Hare Krishna” quickly became a household word. In 1979, Dr. A. L. Basham, the world’s leading authority on Indian history and religion, wrote of the Hare Krishna movement, “It arose out of nothing in less than 20 years and has become known all over the West. This, I feel, is a sign of the times and an important fact in the history of the Western world.”
But what exactly do the words “Hare Krishna” mean? In this short essay from the LP Krishna Consciousness, which first introduced Beatles George Harrison and John Lennon to the chanting, Srila Prabhupada explains the meaning of the Hare Krishna mantra.
The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare [Huh-ray; Krish-na; Rahm-uh] is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness.
As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Krishna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere. The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called maya, or illusion. Maya means “that which is not.” And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, he is said to be in illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Krishna consciousness.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare is the transcendental process for reviving this original, pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.
Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original, natural energy of the living entity. When we hear this transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. This simplest method of meditation is recommended for this age. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this maha-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum.
In the material concept of life we are busy in the matter of sense gratification, as if we were in the lower, animal stage. A little elevated from this status of sense gratification, one is engaged in mental speculation for the purpose of getting out of the material clutches. A little elevated from this speculative status, when one is intelligent enough, one tries to find out the supreme cause of all causes-within and without. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind, and intelligence, he is then on the transcendental plane. This chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra is enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness—namely sensual, mental, and intellectual. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this maha-mantra. It is automatic, coming from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification. In a more advanced stage, of course, one is not expected to commit offenses on the grounds of spiritual understanding.
But there is no doubt that chanting takes one immediately to the spiritual platform, and one shows the first symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the mantra. We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting and dancing. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a little more time, but even such a materially engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly. When themantra is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy on hearers, and as such this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved.
The word Hara is the form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krishna and Rama are forms of addressing the Lord Himself. Both Krishna and Rama mean “the supreme pleasure,” and Hara is the supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, changed to Hare in the vocative. The supreme pleasure energy of the Lord helps us to reach the Lord.
The material energy, called maya, is also one of the multi-energies of the Lord. And we, the living entities, are the marginal energy of the Lord. The living entities are described as superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with the inferior energy, an incompatible situation arises; but when the superior marginal energy is in contact with the superior energy, Hara, it is established in its happy, normal condition.
These three words, namely Hare, Krishna, and Rama, are the transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His energy to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother. Mother Hara helps the devotee achieve the Supreme Father’s grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.
No other means of spiritual realization is as effective in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as the chanting of the maha-mantra:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
The Search for Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy. Some of us seek happiness through our families, in natural and healthy living, in successful careers, active social lives, fine gourmet foods, gambling, or through sports and exercise. Others experience happiness in politics, the arts, academia, or in hobbies ranging from mechanics and computer science to drama, philanthropy, welfare work, and literally thousands of other activities that comprise man’s unending quest for pleasure. Millions of people find their happiness in liquor, mood elevators, tranquilizers, or other drugs.
Each day doctors and scientists discover more about how the human mind and body work. Yet with this abundance of scientific knowledge and space-age technology, which vastly outstrips that of all previous generations, is modern man really any happier than his predecessors?
The basic problem in our search for happiness is that our sources of pleasure are all limited. What many people consider man’s most basic and fundamental pleasures—eating and sex—can only occupy a few moments of each day. Our bodies constantly thwart our plans for enjoyment. After all, you can only eat so much before becoming ill. Even sex has its limits.
Chant and Be Happy provides information about how we can expand our pleasure beyond our present limitations. It deals with a pleasure principle that operates beyond the bounds of time and space and emanates from the very innermost part of our being. This book thoroughly explains how this inner happiness can be experienced immediately by anyone, through the mystical power of transcendental sound vibrations.
This technique for obtaining unlimited happiness does not depend on new products touted by Madison Avenue whiz kids or Hollywood moguls, but has been successfully practiced by countless people throughout the ages. Chant and Be Happy explains how to use these transcendental sound vibrations to attain the ultimate state of happiness. It’s an easy process and it’s free.
To achieve this unlimited and imperishable happiness one need only chant and hear what sages of ancient India have for millennia called the Great Chant for Deliverance, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. This simple sixteen-word mantra is comprised of sound vibrations powerful enough to awaken the natural happiness within everyone.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
In recent years, millions have learned how to chant the Hare Krishna mantra and experience this true, spiritual happiness. It is the most popular mantra in India, the homeland of meditation, and differs from other systems in two ways. First, the complete mantra is chanted (not just a fragment of a mantra) and, second, the mantra is chanted aloud (not silently).
A brief introduction by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acharya (spiritual master) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, explains the exact nature and meaning of the mantra. Chapter One, a recent exclusive interview with former Beatle George Harrison, reveals how the Hare Krishna mantra has played a leading role in his life over the last fifteen years. George explains that although he had achieved riches and fame beyond what most people could ever hope for, he found that there was “nothing higher” than the happiness he experienced from chanting Hare Krishna. George discusses his confidence in the mantra’s powers over death, explains how much of his musical career has been influenced by and intimately connected with the Hare Krishna mantra, and describes the knowledge, bliss, and spiritual intelligence that comes from chanting.
In Chapter Two, Srila Prabhupada speaks with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison at John’s estate in Tittenhurst Park, discussing the potency of the Hare Krishna mantra as the path to peace and liberation.
Chapter Three is a fascinating account of how Srila Prabhupada brought the chanting of Hare Krishna from India to the Western world in the midst of the counter cultural turmoil of the sixties and convinced the disillusioned hippies of New York’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury that this mantra, not psychedelics and antiwar protests, would make them happy. The history of chanting and meditating for higher consciousness is discussed in Chapter Four. The next chapter delineates the life and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the sixteenth-century saint, mystic, and incarnation of Lord Krishna who popularized the timeless practice of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
Chapter Six, a narration taken from one of India’s most important historical and philosophical literatures, the Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita, reveals how by simply hearing the chanting of Hare Krishna from a genuine spiritual master anyone’s character can be freed from all unwanted qualities.
The next chapter forms a treatise on self-realization, mantras, religion, and the power of the mind in meditation, compiled from the teachings presented in Srila Prabhupada’s books. Chapter Eight explains the wide-ranging effects and personal benefits one can expect from chanting Hare Krishna. The final chapter gives practical, step-by-step instructions for chanting, which if followed will open the door to ultimate happiness.
Everybody is looking for Krishna.
Some don’t realize that they are, but they are.
Krishna is God, the Source of all that exists,
the Cause of all that is, was, or ever will be.
As God is unlimited, He has many Names.
All are Krishna, all are one.
By serving God through each thought, word, and
deed, and by chanting of His Holy Names,
the devotee quickly develops God-consciousness.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare
one inevitably arrives at Krishna consciousness.
(The proof of the pudding is in the eating!)