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Chanting the Holy Names

The Secret of Chanting with Bhakti

By Sacinandana Swami

It’s almost a paradox - only when you stop wanting to enjoy chanting for yourself will the chanting produce unlimited nectar. To understand this mystery we must ask: “What is bhakti? What is devotional chanting?”

It means you chant, not for yourself, but for Krishna. “In what way?” Anukulyena! You do it with a favorable mood – that of wanting to give pleasure to Krishna. In this way a kirtana leader can think: “I want the devotees to chant nicely and for Krishna to relish their call.” Thus, activity for Krishna is not done mindlessly.

Krishna has many expansions; you can chant for Nrsimhadeva’s pleasure or for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara, etc. 

In general, devotional service means that you must learn to absorb your consciousness in three things so that your activity becomes bhakti (bhakti yoga or devotional service in Krishna consciousness).

What are the secrets of bhakti?

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ


jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam


ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-


śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā

(Brs. 1.1.11)

Devotional service or bhakti means:

i. Activity

ii. For Krishna

iii. In a favorable mood

This you have to learn.

This is called bhakti. Such activities are not jnana (to gain knowledge), nor for our liberation, and they are also not karma (for our sense enjoyment). They are for Krishna.

When you do this, then your practice becomes very sweet, full of taste and you will be able to give up material sense enjoyment even though you may be surrounded by cars, mobile phones and computers.

It is important to perform our devotional practice in this way, for as Srila Prabhupada said:

“Only by drinking the nectar of chanting and hearing the pastimes of the Lord can one forget the intoxication of material existence.” (SB 3.21.17 pp)

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