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Sastras and Studies II.

Maha-mantra Tika
Hare Krsna Mahamantra - references
Manu on pramana
Sri Nrsimha Maha-mantra


The fifth chapter of this book was found by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Adi Kesava temple in South India as mentioned in CC 2.9.237-241. Sometimes advaitists and deva worshipers claim its inauthenticity because it uproots their views. If that would be the case, why would only one chapter be presented and not a whole fake sastra?

on the authorship of the English translation published by the BBT:

The booklet "Maha-mahopadesaka Srila Bhakti Sudhakara" (edited by Sundarananda Prabhu and published in 1940, shortly after Bhakti Sudhakara Prabhu's demise) states that the English translation of chapter five of Brahma-samhita, ascribed to Srila Sarasvati Thakura, was actually rendered by Bhakti Sudhakara Prabhu in collaboration with B.P. Tirtha Maharaja. (Bhaktivikasa Svami: Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava, notes at the end of 2nd tome)

Bhakti Sudhakara Prabhu: better known as prof. Nishikant Sanyal, played a significant role in Gaudiya Math publication
Bhakti Pradipa Tirtha Maharaja: disciple of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and one of the first GM missionaries to the West (1933)

Academic view

Ekanath Das: In his book Pancaratra Samhitas and Early Vaisnava Theology (Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1994, 2nd volume; 1st volume on, M. Matsubara does give "our" Brahma-samhita a place among Pancaratra samhitas: "In the Brahma- (5.1), Krsna is God Himself, but in the earlier texts he appears merely as an Avatara of Visnu."

He also gives the following dates for a number of relevant "Samhitas":
(all dates A.D.)

400 Narayaniya
500 Satvata, Pauskara, Jayakhya
600 Ahirbudhnya
700 Parama
800 Sanatkumara, Naradiya, Paramesvara, Laksmi, Visvaksena, Visnu, Padma, Sesa (?)
1300 Isvara, Sriprasna, Visvamitra, Brahma, Sandilya, Aniruddha
1600 Brhadbrahma, Narada

I find the date of A.D. 1300 for "our" Brahma-samhita to be astonishingly early. It adds to the credibility of this scholar, at least in my eyes. After all, the text was discovered by Lord Caitanya and the only commentary that exists is Jiva Gosvami's, if one discounts Visvanatha's, which is of course later and supposedly no longer extant.

Q: Who is the author? How can Brahma write it in 1300 AD?

A: This is a good question. We are talking about two views here: the view of the bhaktas and that of non-bhakta scholars. For this type of scholar the Brahma-samhita appears to be an A.D. 1300 product. For the bhakta it was composed "at the dawn of creation", by Lord Brahma himself.

I propose that both views are valid. Something pronounced by Lord Brahma at the dawn of creation may very well appear to be a product of A.D. 1300, even after the most sophisticated research methods have been applied.

The views of the bhaktas are not based on research but on faith. This faith is cultivated in the association of bhaktas and is a very wonderful thing.

Q: On what evidence the statement that BS was written in 1300 AD, is based? It is apparently not in the text itself, so what makes one assume that it was written in that year?

A: Textcritical analysis of all extant Pancaratra Samhitas with special attention to the development and introduction of new terminology. The entire body of literature used by different Vaisnava sects must be taken into consideration. The author explains his method, especially his attempts to establish a chronology, in the second chapter of his book. This is a rather complex procedure and I do not want to present it here in detail. I suppose a good university library would also have a copy.

A.D. 1300 does not need to be taken as the date of creation of the Brahma-samhita. All it takes is a person who "knows" what Brahma spoke at the dawn of creation. This is what is called "revealed scripture." Bhaktas believe that certain highly qualified persons can know what Lord Brahma or Lord Krsna spoke, no matter how far back in time it happened; even if a partial or total annihilation took place in the meantime. If the words of Lord Brahma or Lord Krsna are then written down, bhaktas do not think that the saintly person who wrote down these words "invented" them. It is accepted as authentic. Scholars can only find out when it was written. But they can't disprove that the words were originally uttered by Lord Krsna or Lord Brahma.

Q: Matsubara's assertion that our Brahma-samhita is a Pancaratra text ought not to be taken seriously. No one else does. What are his credentials or evidences for saying that? I would rather guess that it belongs to some other tantra category, but not Pancaratra.

A: I do not know much about this author and have no time to systematically present his evidences. I would think that anybody who is keenly interested in this subject can take a look at his book and then decide for themselves what to accept and what to reject.

The author himself doesn't claim to have spoken the final words on the topic of Pancaratra Samhitas. In his preface he writes:

"In the following chapters, although I made quite a few additions and revisions wherever necessary to bring them up to date with my own and others' more recent studies, much of what I wrote must still be tentative and some other points are put in the barest outline to serve only as a stepping stone for future students of Hinduism with similar interests, hopefully to stimulate and promote their further research works. In this academic field we are not at the point of arrival, but of departure. One may well agree with Francis Bacon (1561-1626) who says that a serious student never fails to consider the possibility that he has made mistakes. He also says that it is extremely important to present a hypothesis, because then for the first time original and promising arguments may begin to develop."

As far as Matsubara's credentials are concerned:

B.A. in 1962 and M.A. in 1964 at Tokyo University. Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian studies at Harvard University in 1971.

More than 40 articles in Japanese, which include:

Sanskrit Oral Verse-making Technique, 1973

Kalidasa's Raghuvamsa and the Sanskrit Epic Ramayana, 1991

Ekantin and the Bhagavad Gita, 1990

Monotheistic Theory of the early Vaisnavas, Vyuha Theory in the Early Pancaratra, 1990

The Formation of the Pancaratra's Theory of the Four Vyuhas 1991

I am neither endorsing nor contending this author's views. I don't know the topic well enough to do that. My posts are of a purely informative nature.


Mukunda Datta Das

There are actually several different Garga-samhitas (A.B. Keith mentions astrological treatises in his History of Sanskrit Literature), which is important to keep in mind.

Braj scholar Alan Entwistle explicitly mentions one which concerns itself with Govardhana (among other topics) as a post-16th CE work written by an unknown Pustimarg Vaisnava motivated by a desire to give Govardhana the same kind of prominence Vrindavana was developing under the Gaudiya gosvamis. See his Braj: Centre of Krishna Pilgrimage (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1987) for many such references.

Charlotte Vaudeville, another highly respected name in the field, mentions the GS as it is cited in the Srinathji-prakatya-varta, a Braj work describing the (Vallabhite) history of the Deity of Govardhananathaji we know as Gopala in the Caitanya Caritamrta; but in a footnote (41, on page 96) she also seems to regard the GS as a "spurious" samhita, following Otto Schrader (cf. the latter's Introduction to the Pancaratra and the Ahirbudhnya-samhita cited in the former's "The Govardhana Myth in Northern India," in Myths, Saints, and Legends in Medieval India, Delhi: Oxford, 1996). This implies a Vallabhite leaning, since the quotes from Giriraja-khanda of the GS appearing in the above Varta are enveloped by commentary which identifies Vallabha as a divine incarnation (ibid., 97) and are accepted as evidence of this allegation by the Pustimargis. I don't see that they actually do this, but they do explicitly name Srinathaji as "Devadamana," a common name for Him in that sect.

I could mention other scholars but these two are probably sufficient, I think. A Garga-samhita, or a number of them, would seem fairly important in Vrindavana, even if their origins are questionable. Vajranabha, the founder of the famous "deva" murtis of Vraja, is mentioned in 10.62.26-8. But some think this section was interpolated. All throughout the work, though, Srinathji figures with prominence, unlike Srimati Radharani. My impression is that the various GS texts are highly interpolated. And in general, it's a good idea for devotees with a real need to receive books like this from their bonafide gurus or similarly qualified authorities.

I didn't mention these scholarly opinions earlier because before introducing an inferior pramana, I wanted to wait until it was clear that we don't have a readily available opinion on the GS from our acaryas. There is a "critical" edition of the GS published by Vibhuti-bhushan Bhattacharya as "Sarasvati-bhavana-granthamala # 86" (Varanasi: Sampurnananda Samskrta Visvavidyalaya, 1996). I haven't looked at it lately, but I think it has a Sanskrit introduction which might be helpful. I also suspect this is the text we're interested in, since it closely resembles the one Kusakratha Das has translated.

Gerald Surya:

Please don't confuse the eternal Pancaratra texts with the larger category of bonafide and unbonafide smrti texts. A review of the characteristics of Pancaratra can be found in Matsubara's partial translation of Ahirbudhnyasamhita, Otto Schrader's Introduction to Pancaratra, Agamas and South Indian Vaishnavism, and Rangachar's Introduction to Pancaratra. Pancaratra are as eternal and bonafide as Veda and Purana and deal with the glories of Lord Narayana and His vyuhas. The Sri Vaishnavas draw heavily from Pancaratra, which was defended by Yamuna in his Agama-pramanyam. Furthermore, I believe that scholars say that Pancaratra is not as corrupted as the Puranas.

Narada-pancaratra, Brahma-samhita, Krsna-yamala tantra, or the Dharma Sastras (Manu), etc. do resemble Pancaratra although they may be bonafide smrti texts in their own right.


Gopiparanadhana Das

It refers to Madhyandina version of Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad, part of Vajasaneyi Sukla (White) Yajur Veda. VSYV exists in two 2 versions belonging to the Madhyandina and Kanva schools. Brhad-aranyaka Up. thus exists in 2 slightly different versions. Kanva version is more rarely referred to; Baladeva Vidyabhusana at least once quotes from it in Govinda-bhasya.

Maha-mantra Tika - Explanation of the Maha-mantra by Srila Jiva Gosvami

Translated by Bhakti-vaidurya Madhava Swami

1. By His uncommon beauty, Sri Krsna Candra takes away the mind of everyone. However, when Sri Radha expands Her own cleverness, She also captures Sri Krsna's mind. Therefore She is called "Hara"

2. By His loveliness and by the sweet sound of His flute, Sri Krsna, who is decorated with the most captivating qualities, attracts Radha. Therefore He is called "Krsna."

3. It has been heard from the mouths of great souls that Lord Hari led away the fawn-eyed Radha from the Rasa dance to secluded bower. Therefore Radha is called "Hara."

4. As He sports with Radha, His blackish effulgence causes shiny gold to also appear blackish. Therefore He is called "Krsna."

5. In pursuance of the wishes of His beloved Sri Radha, He constructed in the forest near Govardhana a lake named Syama-kunda and then drew the waters of all holy bathing places there. Those who know this call Him "Krsna."

6. By Her unsurpassed love, Sri Radha attracts Him who is the performer of wonderful pastimes to the Vrndavana forest on the banks of Yamuna River. Those of steady intellect therefore call Him "Krsna."

7. One day while Krsna was in Vrndavana, He killed the demon Arista, who was disguised as a bull. At that time Radha affectionately called out to Him "O Hari!" Therefore She is known as "Hara."

8. Sometimes due to excessive love, Sri Radha's voice becomes faint when She sings the glories of Sri Krsna's pastimes. Therefore those who are expert in discerning spiritual sentiments call Her "Hara."

9. Once, in the forest of Vrndavana, Sri Krsna dropped His flute due to the intense experience of loving sentiments. All that time Radha snatched up His flute. Therefore She is called "Hara."

10. Once Sri Krsna put His arms around Sri Radha, took Her into a bower shaped like one of the caves at Govardhana Hill and there enjoyed with Her. Therefore He is called "Rama".

11. Everyday the most merciful Sri Radha bestows (rati) happiness upon Krsna. Therefore She is called "Hara."

12. The minds of the devotees always find pleasure in Sri Krsna, who is an ocean of transcendental bliss. Therefore that beautiful dark form of Krsna is called "Rama."

13. Radha is called Rama because She enjoyed Acyuta through loving pastimes in a forest pavilion made of flowering creepers. Because Krsna is with that Rama, He is called "Rama".

14. When all of Gokula was filled with wailing because of a forest fire, Sri Krsna extinguished it, thus greatly pleasing the Vrajavasis. Therefore He is called "Rama".

15. Sri Krsna went to Mathura to kill the demons headed by Kamsa. By Her to enjoy confidential pastimes with Krsna, Sri Radha brought Krsna back to Vrndavana. Therefore She is called "Hara".

16. When Sri Krsna came back to Vrndavana, He took away the suffering of the Vrajavasis and by His wonderful pastimes captivated Radha's mind. Therefore the son of Nanda is called "Hari".

Explanation of the Mahamantra by associate of Sri Caitanya and disciple of Svarupa Damodara, Gopal Guru Gosvami (translated by Bhanu Swami):

Oh Radha, please attract my mind, and free me from this material world.
Oh Krsna, please attract my mind.
Oh Radha, attract my heart by showing your sweetness.
Oh Krsna, purify my mind by giving knowledge of how to perform worship of You through Your pure devotee.
Oh Krsna, give me steadiness to appreciate Your name, qualities and pastimes.
Oh Krsna, may I develop a taste for serving You.
Oh Radha, please make me qualified for your service.
Oh Radha, please instruct me on how I can serve you.

Oh Radha, let me hear of your intimate pastimes with your beloved.
Oh Rama, let me hear of Your intimate pastimes with your beloved.
Oh Radha, reveal to me your pastimes with your beloved.
Oh Rama, reveal to me Your pastimes with your beloved.
Oh Rama, engage me in remembering Your name, form, qualities and pastimes.
Oh Rama, please make me qualified for your service.
Oh Radha, be pleased with me.
Oh Radha, be pleased with me."

another version:

1. The great devotees are always remembering Sri Radharamana, whose blackish youthful form is the embodiment of ecstatic bliss and which destroys the disease of birth and death brought about by ignorance.

2. When those great devotees see that a disciple has appreciation for the love of Radharamana, and is also grateful, self-controlled, peaceful and steady-minded, they feel obliged to be merciful by giving him the prayer consisting of three names: Hare, Krsna and Rama. [the maha-mantra]

3. When you touch fire, it burns your hand even without your desiring it. In the same way, when wicked-minded people remember the Lord by any means, He takes away all their sins. Therefore He is called "Hari."

4. Comprehension of the principles underlying the Supreme Personality of Godhead's form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss takes away ignorance and its activities. Therefore the devotees remember Him as "Hari."

5. Or, because He takes away the three kinds of suffering from all living beings, whether mobile, or immobile, He is called "Hari"; or else, by the hearing and glorification of His transcendental qualities, He takes away the mind of all conditioned living beings, therefore He is "Hari"; or, being greater than hundreds of thousands of Cupids, by His special sweetness, He takes away the minds of all other avataras, therefore that Sri Krsna is called by the name "Hari." The vocative form is "Hare."

["Krsna, when in the vocative case, is also Krsna." (Harinama Cintamani, Nama Bhajana chapter); "Every name in the Hare Krsna maha- mantra is a vocative address. There is no use of the fourth (dative) case as in mantra." (CBh 2.23.76, Gaudiya Bhasya by BSST)]

6-8. In order to achieve the happiness of love in the rasa dance, by Her form qualities, love, affection, etc., Sri Radha, the daughter of King Vrsabhanu, who is the Lord's own pleasure potency, takes away the mind of Krsna. Therefore She is praised as "Hara." The vocative form is "Hare."

9. The root krs means, "attracting," or "existing," and the word na means, "satisfaction" or "bliss." When combined, these two indicate the Supreme Absolute Truth Sri Krsna.

10. The Supreme Lord Govinda, whose form is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss, is beginningless and before all others. He is the cause of all causes. Therefore He is called "Krsna."

11. That beautiful, dark son of Nanda, with eyes like lotus petals, is the only source of bliss for the residents of Gokula, therefore He is called "Krsna."

12. Lord Siva said to Parvati: "O Devi, by uttering the syllable, ra all sins go away, and by uttering the syllable ma, when the sins try to enter again, they are blocked."

13. The yogis take pleasure in the infinite, transcendental Soul who is a true reservoir of bliss. Therefore they designate that Supreme Brahman by the name "Rama."

14. Sri Krsna, who is the chief of those expert in loving affairs and the worshipable Deity of amorous pastimes, always enjoys Sri Radha. Therefore He is called "Rama."

15. Because He attracts Sri Radha's mind and enjoys Himself by sporting with Her, He is known as "Rama." In the Kramadipika, Krsna says to Candrama: "Radha's name is far superior to hundreds of My names. Therefore even I do not know what will be the result for one who always remembers Radha."

Hare - Because Radha captures Krsna's mind, She is called "Hara." The vocative form is "Hare."

Krsna - Because He attracts Radha's mind, He is called "Krsna."

Hare - Because Radha takes away Krsna's reputation as shy, sober, etc. She is called "Hara."

Krsna - Wherever Radha is, or wherever She goes, there She sees Krsna and thinks, "Now He is touching Me and forcefully pulling My bodice and other garments." Therefore He is called "Krsna."

Krsna - Because He pleases Radha with His flute playing, He draws Her into the forest of Vrndavana. Therefore He is called "Krsna."

Krsna - Because Krsna's activities are always drawing the heart of Radha, He is called "Krsna."

Hare - Wherever Krsna is, or wherever He goes, there He sees Radha, "Now she is in front of Me, leaning against My side." In this way He is constantly pleased. Therefore She is called "Hara."

Hare - Because Radha takes Krsna away by forcing Him to meet Her in a secret place, She is called "Hara."

Hare - Because Radha takes Krsna away by making Him come to the forest of Vrndavana, She is called "Hara."

Rama - By His humor, appearance, etc., Sri Krsna gives delight to Radha. Therefore He is called "Rama."

Hare - Because Radha instantly takes away Krsna's patience, support, etc., She is called "Hara."

Rama - By kissing Her, touching Her breasts, embracing Her, etc., Krsna enjoys Radha. Therefore He is called "Rama."

Rama - Because Krsna sometimes enjoys with Radha by making Her play the dominate role in love, He is called "Rama."

Rama - Because He enjoys such love playing, He is called "Rama."

Hare - When the Rasa dance is over and Radha has captured Krsna's mind, She goes away. Therefore She is called "Hara."

Hare - After the Rasa dance is finished, Krsna has also captured Radha's mind and goes away. Therefore He is called "Hari."

Explanation of the Maha-mantra by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

(from Sri Krsna Kathamrta translated by Bhakti-vaidurya Madhava Das)

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

O Hari! Having captured my mind, please free from material bondage.

O Krsna! Please attract my mind by pulling it to You.

O Hari! Please capture my mind by Your unsurpassed sweetness.

O Krsna! Please purify my mind with knowledge about devotional service given to me by Your own devotee.

O Krsna! Please make me able to relish Your transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes, etc. [The next Krsna was missing from the translation]

O Hari! Please make me fit to serve You.

O Hari! Please make me able to relish Your transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes, etc.

O Hari! Please direct me to do some particular service for You.

O Rama! Let me hear about Your most cherished pastimes in the company of Your dearest devotees.

O Hara (Radha)! Please reveal to me Your most cherished pastimes with Your beloved Sri Krsna.

O Rama! Please reveal to me Your most cherished pastimes with Your beloved Radha.

O Rama! Please engage me in remembering Your transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes etc.

O Rama! Please make me fit to serve You while remembering Your transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes etc.

O Hari! Having accepted me as one of Your own servitors, please enjoy me as You please.

O Hari! Please enjoy me in Your transcendental way. This is my humble request at Your lotus feet.

Mahamantra-vyakhya: Explanation of the Maha-mantra

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare


The Lord's divine qualities revealed in the Mahamantra

harati tri-vidham tapam janma-koti-satodbhavam
papam ca smaratam yasmat tasmad harir iti smrtah

The Lord is known as Hari because He takes away the sins and three types of suffering accumulated over millions of births, of those who remember Him.

krsir bhur-vacakah sabdo nas ca nirvrti-sucakah
tayor aikyam param brahma krsna ity abhidhiyate

The root krs- indicates the supreme attractiveness of the Lord, the suffix -na indicates the supreme joy. Thus, the name Krsna indicates the Supreme Brahman who is the acme of these two characteristics.

ramante yogino'nante satyananda-cid-atmani
iti rama-padenasau para-brahmabhidhiyate

The yogis take pleasure in the Supreme Self which is existence, knowledge and bliss absolute. Therefore that truth, known as the Param Brahman is also called Rama. (Rama-tapaniyopanisad 1.6)


Mahamantrasya madhuryamayi vyakhya

The Lord's intimate qualities revealed in the Mahamantra

vijnapya bhagavat-tattvam cid-ghanananda-vigraham
haraty avidyam tat-karyam ato harir iti smrtah

The Lord is known as Hari because he takes away the ignorance of His devotees by revealing to them the actual nature of the Supreme Lord and His personal spiritual form.

harati krsna-manah krsnahlada-svarupini
ato harety anenaiva sri-radha parikirtita

Because she steals Krsna's mind, because she is the incarnation of Krsna's joy, Radha is also known by the name Hara.

anandaika-sukha-svami syamah kamala-locanah
gokulanandano nanda-nandanah krsna iryate

The dark, lotus-eyed Lord, the only master of the highest joy, who brings pleasure to Gokula, the son of Nanda, is known as Krsna.

vaidagdhya-sara-sarvasvam murta-liladhidaivatam
sri-radham ramayan nityam rama ity abhidhiyate

Krsna is also known as Rama because the joys of conjugal life are the essence of His being, because He is the tutelary deity of loving sports incarnate, and because He brings pleasure to Srimati Radharani.


Mahamantrasya yugalasmaranamayi vyakhya

Remembering the Divine Couple through the Mahamantra

mano harati krsnasya krsnahlada-svarupini
tato hara sri-radhaiva tasyah sambodhanam hare

Because she steals Krsna's mind and because she is the embodiment of Krsna's divine joy, Radha is known as Hara. Hare is the vocative form of that name.

apagrhya trapam dharmam dhairyam manam vraja-strinam
venuna karsati grhat tena krsno 'bhidhiyate

Because he robbed the women of Vraja of their shame, their religious principles, their self-possession, and their pride, and through the playing of His flute drew them out of their homes and into the forest, He is known as Krsna.

ramayaty anisam rupa-lavanyair vraja-yositam
manah-pancendriyaniha ramas tasmat prakirtitah

Krsna is glorified by the name Rama because He constantly causes the Vraja cowherd women's minds and senses to enjoy the charms of His beauty.

The remembrances of Sri Jati Sekhara Prabhu, a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja:

One pandit asked Sarasvati Thakura about the chanting of Hare Krsna, saying it was a new thing and not mentioned in the Vedas. "Maybe there is some inference in the Gita or Bhagavata, but not in the Vedas," he said. Sarasvati Thakura then quoted from the Rig Veda sukta: "om asya jananto nama cit viratyano(?) - it mentions the name as aprakrta. By chanting Krsna - Krsna is the cit nama (transcendental name) - Krsna is manifest." Also, he quoted the Kalisantarana Upanisad (in which the Hare Krsna mahamantra is clearly mentioned. The Upanisads are part of the Vedas, so the Hare Krsna mahamantra is part of the Vedas), why Hare is in the form of address - Krsna, not Krsnah, with the visarga at the end. This means it's in the vocative form. Hare, Krsna, Rama - in the vocative form. He explained that this time "Rama" in the maha-mantra means "Radhika Ramana Rama." It can be chanted on mala or with mrdanga and karatala. Vrndavan sadhus say that it must be chanted on mala because it is given as a mantra by the guru at diksha, and therefore cannot be chanted with mrdanga and karatala. Sarasvati Thakura said, "It is a mantra, all right, but not a mantra like `om namo vidmahe...' etc. It is a mantra, but a mode of address also. Whenever addressing any man you can call him loudly also, so, therefore, it can be used with mrdanga and karatala." In this way Sarasvati Thakura expertly answered all kinds of questions and established his siddhanta.

The way of chanting:

Dhyanakunda dd: I have once heard it is not by chance that the name of the internal energy (hare) is placed both first and last in both lines, since we approach Krsna through Her. Cannot think of anything else philosophical.

But one practical reason why the words in the Maha-mantra are in the order in which they are is that mantras, texts meant to be chanted, must follow the authorized chanting meters. Otherwise they would be difficult to chant and they would sound awkward. The Hare Krsna Maha-mantra is in the anustup meter (eight syllables in each line), and this placement of words, with their long and short syllables, agrees with the anustup meter:

harE kRSNa harE kRSNA
kRsna kRsna harE harE
harE rAma harE rAmA
rAma rAma harE harE

Dravida das: Well, I did a little research on the verses in the Bhagavad-gita in anustup, and though the Hare Krsna meter is very rare, it does appear in the first half of 4.21 (where I stopped looking). But I have a question and a comment.

First, how can you say that "mantras, texts meant to be chanted, must follow the authorized chanting meters"? What about om namo bhagavate vasudevaya or om namo narayanaya, or especially gauranga (see CC 3.2.31)?

Second, I would argue that the way the HK mantra is actually chanted is not divided as you have it. Especially that long A in the last Krsna of the first line is anomalous. Rather, the mantra is chanted with only one (or no) pauses, and that would be after Hare Hare. We're talking japa here; in kirtan anything goes. Of course, most devotees give more or less equal stress to every syllable, but let's assume one is trying to chant precisely.

So the way I "feel" the meter of the HK matra is more like a variant of the Suka-Sari verses from Govinda-lilamrta, i.e.:



In other words, when chanted precisely, the mantra naturally falls into a series of sixteen "triplets" of equal value. The anustup format doesn't seem to fit as well.

Introduction to Hare Krsna mahamantra

Hare Krsna Mahamantra - references

Vedic mantra on the same level as "om", so powerful that it needs (contrary to other mantras) no rsi, devata, nyasa etc.

The mahamantra is mentioned in various scriptures as the only means of deliverance in this age of Kali:

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
iti sodasakam namnam kali-kalmasa-nasanam
natah parataropayah sarva-vedesu drsyate

The sixteen names of the Hare Krsna mahamantra: hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare, hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare destroy all the inauspiciousness of the age of Kali. This is the conclusion of all the Vedas. (Kali-santarana Upanisad from Krsna Yajur Veda)

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
ratanti halaya vapi te krtartha na samsayah

Hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare: Whoever chants this mantra, even neglectfully, will attain the supreme goal of life. Of this there is no doubt. (Agni Purana)

nama sankirtana deva tarakam brahma drsyate
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

From the nama sankirtana of Hare Krsna mahamantra is taraka (delivering) Brahman revealed. (Brahmanda Purana 6.59-60)

harir eva samaradhyah sarva deve suresvarah
hari nama maha mantrair nasyatpapa pisacakam

All the grievous sins of one who worships Lord Sri Hari, the Lord of all lords, and chants the holy name, the Mahamantra, are removed. (Padma Purana, Svarga Khanda 50.6)

hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
sodasaitani namani dvatrimsad varnakani hi
kalau yuge maha-mantrah sammato jivatarane
varjayitva tu namaitad durjanaih parikalpitam
chandobaddham susiddhanta viruddham nabhyaset padam
tarakam brahma-namaitad brahmana gurunadina
kalisantaranadyasu sruti-svadhigatam hareh
praptam sri brahma-sisyena sri naradena dhimata
namaitad-uttamam srauta-paramparyena brahmanah
utsrjyaitan-maha-mantram ye tvanyat kalpitam padam
mahanameti gayanti te sastra-guru langhanah
tattva-virodha-sanprktam tadrsam daurjanam matam
sravatha pariharyam syadatma-hitarthina sada
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

Hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare, hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare: This sixteen-name, thirty-two syllable mantra is the mahamantra in the age of Kali by which all living beings can be delivered. One should never abandon chanting this mahamantra and take to other so-called purificatory processes which are practiced by rascals, or engage in chanting other metrical compositions of the name of Krsna that are against the pure conclusions of the scriptures, or are filled with rasabhasa. About this divinely spiritual mahamantra, which delivers one from material existence, the original guru, Lord Brahma, has said, kali-santararadi srutite, "The srutis have declared this mantra to be the best means of deliverance in the age of Kali". Having all heard this from Brahma, the sons and disciples of Brahma, beginning with Narada, all accepted the Hare Krsna mahamantra and, having meditated on it, attained perfection. (Ananta-samhita)

Ananta-samhita is a Pancaratra agama, part of the pancaratra corpus known collectively among Gaudiya Vaisnavas as the Narada Pancaratra)

Radha tantra 7-16:
7 ‘“Listen, best of sons, to the truth of initiation in the correct order. Son, when one has turned ten years but before twelve, 8 one should hear the sixteen names of Hari, one after the other. My son, without Hari’s name, the ears cannot be purified.” ‘Vasudeva said: 9 “Listen, mother Mahamaya, the embodiment of the seed of the universe! Please explain step by step your understanding of Hari’s name.” ‘Tripura replied: 10 ‘“Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare. ‘“Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. 11 ‘“Best of sons, listen to the thirty-two syllables of Hari’s name, to the parts that accompany it and to its eternal Metre, 12 for this Metre is most confidential, an undecaying great abode. You who are rich in penance! Hari’s name is a mantra full of all power. 13 ‘“The seer of the mantra of Hari’s names is Vasudeva; the metre is Gayatri; the divinity is blessed Tripura; and the application is attaining perfection in my Mahavidya. 14 ‘“Best of sons, first a man should hear this mantra. Son, rich in penance, when he hears it from the mouth of a Brahmin with his right ear, 15 he should first hear the Metre and then the mantra; thus he will become pure. When one hears it before the age of twelve, the ears will become purified. 16 ‘“Son, a man or woman who engages with a Mahavidya without purification of the ears will immediately become an inhabitant of hell.

Mahamantra is further mentioned in CC 1.7.83 (krsna-nama maha-mantrera), CC 3.9.56 ('hare krsna, hare krsna' kahe avisrama), Narada Pancaratra, etc.

Some object that Sri Caitanya didn't chant it as it is not recorded in CC in full. This refute His contemporary devotees (also see CC 1.7.149p.):

hare krsna krsneti krsneti mukhyan
krpa-murti-caitanya-deva upagitan
kadabhyasya vrndavane syan krtartha

When will my heart become satiated by perfecting the chanting of the Hare Krsna mahamantra in Sri Vrndavana Dhama, which the most merciful Sri Caitanyadeva personally chanted and distributed to the fallen souls out of compassion? This wonderful mahamantra is mixed with the mellows of love and is the chief and the perfection of all other mantras. They are full of spiritual energies and glories. (Sri Vrindavana Mahimamrta by Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati 17.89)

hare krsna rama nama gana dana karinim
soka moha lobha tapa sarva vighna nasinim
pada padma lubdha bhakta vrnda bhakti dayinim
gaura murtim asu naumi nama sutra dharinim

He makes the gift of the song of the names 'Hare, Krsna and Rama', and destroys all obstacles such as sorrow, delusion, greed and suffering. He gives the devotional service of Lord Krsna to the multitude of devotees who are eager for the shelter of His lotus feet. I fall down swiftly to offer my prostrated obeisances to the Lord in His golden form, who holds a string of meditation beads. (Srila Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Susloka-Satakam 23)

anu-brahmandayor madhye
caitanyena samahritam
malam bhakti-pradayinim

"Sri Krishna Caitanya has offered everyone in the universe the garland of the holy names Hare, Krishna and Rama, and thereby taken away their sins. (Srila Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Susloka-Satakam 79)

Caitanya Bhagavata Madhya-khanda 23.75-80: (trans. Kusakratha Das)

75. The Lord personally taught them, "Please happily hear from Me the maha-mantra of Lord Krsna's names. It is:
76. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
77. The Lord said, "Regularly chant japa of this maha-mantra.
78. In this way you will attain all perfections. Chant at any time and in any circumstance. There are no other rules for chanting.
79. Gather together, five or ten, in your own homes, clap hands and sing kirtana of these holy names.
80. You may also sing these words: haraye namah krsna yadavaya namah gopala govinda rama sri-madhusudana ('I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. He is the descendant of the Yadu family. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Gopala, Govinda, Rama and Sri Madhusudana.' Also see CC 2.26.64)
81. Gathering at home with parents, wife, and children, please sing kirtana in this way."

japato hari namani sthane sata-gunadhikah
atmanam ca punaty-uccair-japan srotrn-punati ca

"Compared to that person who is attached to chanting japa, the person who performs loud chanting of the holy name of Sri Hari is one hundred times better. This is because the person who chants japa purifies himself, whereas the person who chants the holy name loudly in kirtana purifies himself, all those who are with him, and everyone else who hear the holy vibration." (Naradiya Purana, Prahlada-vakya)

pasu-paksi-krma-adi balite na pare
sunile se harinama ta'ra saba tare
japile se krsna-nama apani se tare
ucca-sankirtane para-upakare kare
ata eva ucca kari' kirtana karile
sata-guna phala haya sarva-sastre bole

"The animals, birds, and insects cannot chant the holy name, but by hearing the holy name chanted they can benefit. Chanting the japa of the holy name of Krsna purifies oneself, but the loud sankirtana of the holy name of Krsna benefits all living beings. Therefore, loudly chant the holy name of Krsna in kirtana, and you will get one hundred times the benefit of chanting japa. This is the verdict of all the sastras." (CBh 1.16, Haridasa Thakura speaking)

"Listen my dear Misra, in Kali-yuga there is no need for severe penances or performance of opulent sacrifices; whoever worships the Supreme Lord Krsna he be crowned with fortune and success. So go back to your home and worship Lord Krsna with undeviating faith and attention, giving up falsehood and pretensions. By chanting the holy name of Lord Hari, Krsna, you will simultaneously obtain both the proper spiritual practice and the ultimate goal. In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way. I am repeating this great chant for deliverance to you. This consists of sixteen names of the Supreme Lord with thirty two syllables: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. By constantly chanting and worshiping this Maha Mantra, your heart will feel the first blossoming of love and God; then gradually you will understand the truth about the proper spiritual path and the ultimate spiritual goal." (CBh 1.14, Caitanya Mahaprabhu speaking to Tapana Misra)

sri-radhar bhave ebe gora avatar
hare krsna nam gaura korila pracar

(Vasudev Ghosh's bhajan "Jaya Jagannatha Sacira-nandana", text 4)

prakasila mahaprabhu hare krishna mantra
premera vadara kari barila samsara
andha avadhi yata kare parsa
bindhu na padila mukhe ramacandra dasa

Sriman Mahaprabhu is so kind that He manifests the nectar of the Hare Krishna mantra. The holy name will free all souls from the cycle of birth and death, from lower planets, from hell. The holy name will give one a taste of divine love for Radha-Madhava. Whether blind or dumb, anyone can drown in this flood of prema. In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has filled everyone with love of God. But Ramacandra Dasa is so unfortunate that he couldn't even taste a drop of that nectar. (Ramacandra Kaviraja, the associate of Narottama dasa Thakura)

The mahamantra is also mentioned in Bhakti-ratnakara, Mathura-mandala- parikrama section, "The Madhvacarya Sampradaya" chapter.

Nayana-ranjana Das:

In his purport to Caitanya-bhagavata Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati says very clearly that Haridasa Thakura chanted either loudly or softly and that is why his cave became Vaikuntha.

CBh 1.16.172:

tabe haridasa ganga-tire gopha kari'
thakena virale ahar-nisa krsna smari'

"Then Haridasa went and found a cave on the bank of the Ganges. He remembered Krsna day and night as he resided alone in the cave."

Purport: "While remaining in a solitary cave on the bank of the Ganges at Phuliya, Srila Thakura Mahasaya loudly chanted the names of Krsna and passed his days and night remembering the pastimes of the Lord. Sometimes he would chant the sixteen name, thirty-two syllable, maha-mantra loudly (uccaihsvare), and sometimes he would chant softly (mrdusvare). Every day he would complete the chanting of three hundred thousand holy names, or in a year he would chant one hundred million names of Hari. Some people consider that chanting the names of Krsna in a solitary place is in the category of "upamsu-japa," or "chanting very mildly." They say that this maha-mantra, or chanting the holy names of the Lord, should not be heard by others; only the person who is chanting should hear. If the lips move, or if the holy names are recited, then (it?/they?) will automatically be heard by others. But if such persons lack faith in the Vaisnavas who chant the holy names of the Lord, then by the influence of Kali they dare to quarrel with those Vaisnava chanters."

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says in his song Sri Nama from Gitavali:

gay gora madhur sware
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare

(1) Lord Gaurasundara sings in a very sweet voice, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

CC 2.7.37 p.:

In addition to other duties, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the system of chanting the holy name of the Lord a fixed number of times daily, as confirmed in this verse (tomara dui hasta baddha nama-ganane). Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to count on His fingers. While one hand was engaged in chanting, the other hand kept the number of rounds. This is corroborated in the Caitanya-candramrta and also in Srila Rupa Gosvami's Stava-mala:

badhnan prema-bhara-prakampita-karo granthin kati-dorakaih
sankhyatum nija-loka-mangala-hare-krsneti namnam japan

(Caitanya-candramrta 16)

hare krsnety uccaih sphurita-rasano nama-ganana-

(Prathama-caitanyastaka 5)

yo gAyati sam aniZaM bhuvi bhaktA uccaiH
sa drAN samasta-jana-pApa-bhide 'lam ekaH
dIpeSv asatsv api nanu prati-geham antar
dhvAntaM kim atra vilasaty amale dyu-nAthe

hari-bhakti-sudhodaye - in the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya; yaH - one who; gAyati - sings; sam - completely; aniZam - day and night; bhuvi - on the earth; bhaktA - a devotee; uccaiH - aloud; sa - he; drAk - quickly; samasta-jana-pApa-bhide - for breaking the sins of all the people; alam - able; ekaH - alone; dIpeSv - in the lamps; asatsv - among the temporary; api - even; nanu - indeed; prati-geham - to every home; antaH - within; dhvAntam - darkness; kim - what?; atra - here; vilasati - shines; amale - pure; dyu-nAthe - sun.

In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya it is said: "A devotee who always sings aloud of Lord KRSNa's glories has the power to purify the sins of every person in the world. Even when all candles are extinguished, how can darkness devour any home once the sun has risen in the sky?" (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 8.272)

More references to Hare Krsna mahamantra
Harinama: Holy Name of the Lord

From the first verse from the Caitanya-candramrta by Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati we see that Lord Caitanya was doing japa of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra a fixed number of times. From the second verse from Rupa Gosvami's Prathama-caitanyastaka we see that the japa he was counting and chanting loudly "uccaih". So if Lord Caitanya was doing his japa (of Hare Krsna) itself loudly why can't you have loud kirtan? Lord Caitanya was doing loud kirtan also as confirmed by Thakura Bhaktivinoda. So Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor's statement that loud kirtan of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra has been disallowed by Lord Caitanya by the use of the word 'nirbandha' is unfounded and has no sastric basis whatsoever.

In fact, in Caitanya Bhagavata itself it has been described that Haridasa Thakura was loudly chanting the maha-mantra and an arrogant brahmana forbade him to do so and it was then that Haridasa Thakura quoted the verse that loud chanting is 100 times more powerful than silent chanting. There are many other instances and verses which can be quoted. Someday I want write a paper with all the proof against this statement that the maha-mantra should not be loudly chanted. I personally feel that silent chanting is for very very advanced devotees and that also they do it sometimes. I have seen the devotees who do not move even their lips while chanting. Many of them appear very morose throughout the day, don't look very inspired, get deviated easily, associate with the opposite sex, etc. This is just an observation.

Comment: In Vrindavan one time, I mentioned to Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor that this was not a bona fide mantra and he answered that it was not a mantra, it was a song that instructed us to worship Radha Govinda and Gaura Nitai, and to chant japa of the maha mantra.

A: I thought Bhaktisiddhanta said that bhaja nitai-gaura radhe shyam is a rasabhasa because they are including Nityananda Prabhu's name in the same line as Radhe Shyam. Bhaktisiddhanta did not say that it was song but considered it a man-made, chora nama:

"Sarasvati Thakura also told his disciples: "You should make a written notice and put it on every tree in every village, that this Nitai Gaura Radhe Syam is not a proper mantra, and is apasiddhantic. This is man-made, chora nama (not mentioned by any acarya). The real mantra is Hare Krsna Hare Krsna..."

"Another chant popular in Bengal and Orissa was "Sri Krsna Caitanya Prabhu Nityananda, Hare Krsna Hare Rama, Sri Radhe Govinda," which was not objected to by Sarasvati Thakura, though he never chanted it himself. He never said that this was rasa bhasa, saying that Nitai Gaura Radhe Syam was rasa bhasa, as they put Nitai Gaura and Radhe Syam in one line together, whereas the Hare Krsna Hare Rama, Sri Radhe Govinda is on a separate line." (from Bhakti Vikasa Swami's notes on Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati)

Manu on pramana

Q: What does Manu-samhita say about one's conscience as a pramana?

A: (Ekanath Das) Manu mentions "pramana(s)" in eight different places. I am not sure which one you are asking about. Could it be 2.6? Here Medhatithi has produced twelve pages of (small print) Sanskrit commentary. It appears to be an important verse:

vedo 'khilo dharma-mula smrti-kule ca tad-vidam
acarah caiva sadhunam atmanas tusnir eva ca

Max Mueller's translation:

"The whole Veda is the (first) source of the sacred law, next the tradition and the virtuous conduct of those who know the (Veda further), also the customs of holy men, and (finally) self-satisfaction."

This verse could be interpreted as being the basis of the famous "guru, sadhu, sastra," dictum.

The interesting word would of course be "atmanas tusnih," "self-satisfaction." Mueller has the following note:

"The 'self-satisfaction,' i.e. of the virtuous (Medh., Gov., Nand.), is the rule for the cases not to be settled by any of the other authorities (Nar., Nand.), or for cases where an option is permitted (Medh., Gov., Kull.)."

A verse that seems to summarize or repeat the statements of 2.6, appears at 2.12:

vedah smrtih sadacarah svasya ca priyam atmanah
etac catur vidha prahuh saksad dharmasya laksanam

Mueller's translation:

"The Veda, the sacred tradition, the customs of virtuous men, and one's own pleasure, they declare to be visibly the fourfold means of defining the sacred law."

Here, "one's own pleasure," is what remains to be defined. If these are the passages that you have in mind, it would appear that "one's own conscience" has been chosen by some as a suitable interpretation of both "atmanas tusnih" and "priyam atmanah." One could perhaps say "one's own discretion," but (I think), it would have to be made clear that this should mean the discretion of a properly trained person of saintly character.


Narayaniya is chapters 336 through 367 of the Moksa-dharma section in Santi Parva of Mahabharata. It is quoted in BG 12.6-7 purp., SB 11.5.29 purp.:

ya vai sadhana-sampattih
tay vina tad apnoti
naro narayanasrayah

Whatever among the four goals of human life can be achieved by various spiritual practices is automatically achieved without such endeavors by the person who has taken shelter of Lord Narayana, the refuge of all persons.

Sri Nrsimha Maha-mantra

ugram viram maha-visnum
jvalantam sarvato mukham
nrsimham bhisanam bhadram
mrtyur mrtyum namamy aham

"I bow down to Lord Nrsimhadeva who is ferocious and heroic like Lord Visnu. He is burning from every side. He is terrific, auspicious and the death of death personified."

Sri Narasimha Stotra Mala. Bhaktivedanta Academy. (1998) Anand Printers: Mayapur. Page 9:

"This mantra is quoted or at least referred to in many scriptures. The Nrsimha Tapani Upanisad also give the history of this mantra. In the last creation the presiding deity was Lord Nrsimhadeva and this was the mantra inspiring the entire creation into which Lord Brahma was initiated, as in the present creation the presiding deity is Sri Krsna and He initiated Brahma into the Kama-Gayatri."

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