In the Bhagavad-Gita, yoga primarily refers to a spiritual practice in which one readies the soul to unite with God. To serve, honor, revere, love, and adore God is bhakti.
Chanting and Meditating on the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
is one of the primary practices of Krishna consciousness.
Chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is one of the most joyful and effective means of meditation for deepening our consciousness and relationship with God, Krishna.
Within the sacred tradition, the three words of Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahā-mantra (great mantra) are explained as follows:
- ‘Hare’ from the Sanskrit root hṛ, can either be a direct address to Hari, ‘the Lord who takes away our suffering,’ or it can be a direct address to Harā, the supreme feminine aspect of the Absolute Truth who takes us to spiritual liberation.
- The name Kṛṣṇa is analyzed as follows: ‘Kṛṣ’ is a Sanskrit verbal root meaning ‘to attract’ and ‘na’ is an abbreviation of ‘nand’, that which gives pleasure. The well-known Sanskrit word ānanda, bliss, comes from this root. Thus Kṛṣṇa is taken to mean ‘God, who is infinitely attractive, and the source of all pleasure.’
- The name Rāma, from the Sanskrit root ram, also indicates that God is the source of spiritual pleasure.
Mantra meditation is generally performed in two ways:
- Kirtan: Chanting/singing the mantra melodiously in call and response fashion. Typically done with a group of people, but can also be done alone, with or without the accompaniment of musical instruments. Kirtan can be gentle and peaceful, or lively and upbeat, and while sitting, standing, or dancing.
- Japa meditation: Chanting the mantra softly as a personal meditation, typically done while counting on a strand of beads.
Cultivation of Transcendental Knowledge
The practice of Krishna bhakti is guided by sacred texts with powerful commentaries from an unbroken chain of realized Teachers. By studying and reflecting upon the unrivaled wisdom found in the Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, and many other texts, we tap into an ocean of transcendental knowledge that propels us on our journey of self-discovery. With a heightened understanding of ourselves and our place in the world, we gain clarity of purpose, contentment in relationships, focus for setting personal and career goals, and the ability and determination to reach our full potential. And we apply all these gifts to our own spiritual progress and that of humanity.
Vegetarian food becomes spiritualized and karma-free when it is offered back to God, the Absolute Provider, with love and devotion. This simple yet sublime practice deeply nourishes both the body and soul by cultivating the qualities of gratitude, compassion, and non-violence in one’s character. When done for someone we love, the simple act of cooking becomes an act of devotion. Similarly, by cooking with devotion to God, and offering the food to the divine before we partake, we free ourselves from karma, advance spiritually, and sanctify our bodies. Moreover, by eating karma-free vegetarian food, we support the spiritual and material health of our families, our communities, and the entire planet.