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In the Sanskrit language 'Man' refers to 'manas' - the mind (from where we get the English word 'mind') and 'tra'
means 'to free' or 'to liberate'. Wikipedia: "A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is
considered capable of creating spiritual transformation". The word 'maha' means great, so the maha-mantra is seen
as the Great Mantra for Deliverance.
The maha-mantra (original Devanagari [Sanskrit] text above) is generally written in simple
English as: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
According to tradition, this mantra is a way of communicating with Krishna, the supreme intelligent force in the
universe. It is said that Krishna is attracted to bhakti (devotional love), and higher qualities can be revealed in
the heart of one who chants with attention, sincerity, love and determination.
The mantra can be sung along with musical instruments (kirtan), can be chanting softly on wooden prayer beads
(japa), or can be meditated upon in the mind (manasa).
Essay on the
Written by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada - appeared on the cover of
the first Hare Krishna L.P. released in 1966
The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare 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 principal 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, 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 offences on the grounds of spiritual understanding.
Image above is © Copywrite The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust,
It depicts Radha (Mother Hara) and Krishna. The image of the smiling monk is the late,
great Bhakti Tirtha Swami, Afro-American author and guru. The maha-mantra written in Sanskrit text is courtesy