Spiritual Questions and Answers with Radhanath Swami

What about chanting in other traditions?

By on June 11, 2016 in Insights with 57 Comments

ChantingQuestion to Radhanath Swami: In many other traditions – Christian and Buddhist traditions – there is chanting of a devotional nature. Through those chanting can one expect to gain similar results as gained through the chanting of the Mahamantra?

Radhanath Swami Answers: The power of transcendental sound has been accessed by various traditions, throughout history and throughout the world. Chants, prayers, hymns, recitation of texts, can awaken our inherent spiritual nature. Mantra means that which liberates the mind, cleanses the mind. The mind is like a mirror; if the mirror is dirty, you cannot see yourself in it. Similarly the soul is seeing itself through the mind. When the mind is covered with the dust of so many misconceptions, selfishness, arrogance and greed, we identify ourselves only as that. When the mind is cleaned through the mantra, the divine qualities of the soul reflect through the mind, and that effect can be perceived in everything we do in this world. Mantra is so simple, but so powerful.

There are different levels and different varieties of divine sound vibrations also. And different traditions through their chanting and through their practices help us tune into a certain aspect of the divine. In bhakti the mantras are designed to tune into that aspect of divine grace that awakens the love in our hearts.

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  • Sumbrahmanya

    Maharaj you have explained the significance of chanting very nicely. THANK YOU

    • Sumit Sharma

      Yes that’s correct. Radhanath Swami Maharaj has very expertly answered this beautiful question thereby crossing the boundaries of various traditions.

  • Gopinath Chandra

    A person might come in any authentic tradition, but if he or she sincerely practices, God within the heart will guide that soul.

    Bhakti Tirtha Swami, a very good friend of Radhanath Swami, in one of his books speaks of many Christian saints who experienced love of God in Madhurya Rasa. Because they were really sincere, Krishna revealed to them higher and higher truths that are beyond sectarian boundaries.

    • Piyush Singh

      That is really interesting information. Thank you very much for sharing.

      • Gopinath Chandra

        I guess Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj tells this in his reflections on the ishopanishad.

        I have heard so many people say that if Bhakti Tirtha Swami were alive they would have taken initiation from him

        • Piyush Singh

          If that is the case then he must be a really enlightened guru that so many people feel inspired by him.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Radhanath Swami frequently speaks of his last few interactions with Bhakti Tirtha Swami. “It can’t get better than this! ” Pastime. Heard of it?

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Ok. Let me explain, because yesterday was disappearance day of Bhakti Tirtha Swami.

            When Bhakti Tirtha Swami was on his death bed, Radhanath Swami was by his side. Due to cancer, Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj was always in excruciating pain. One day, in the middle of the kirtan he exclaimed, “It can’t get better than this! It can’t get better than this!” And he had a bright smile on his face.

            When Radhanath Swami asked him what he was referring to, he replied, “The holy names! It can’t get any better than this.”

          • Piyush Singh

            Amazing mood of HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami. It’s a great fortune to have such strong friendship as these two great souls have. I was recently reading and got to know that HH Radhanath Swami put all other engagements on hold just to be with his loving friend who needed his support at that crucial time. This is very inspiring.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            And after the departure of Bhakti Tirtha Swami, Radhanath Swami was so deeply in trance that for the few weeks that followed he hardly interacted with people.

          • Piyush Singh

            I see. He must be feeling a lot of separation from him out of their deep friendship.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Radhanath Swami tells that the relationship he shared with Bhakti Tirtha Swami was the deepest relationship he ever shared with another soul, next only to the relationship he shared with Prabhupada.

          • Sumit Sharma

            Thanks for sharing this! Radhanath Swami always puts stress on having loving relationships with others and he goes to saying even at the cost of ones own discomfort. I can image such relationships would be very profound as they stand on the solid foundation of loving and serving each other.

          • Piyush Singh

            So well said Sumit. To note care for our discomforts is really a very high level of care that can only be possible when the connection is absolutely at the level of spirit soul, I feel.

          • Y. Raja Shekar

            Piyushji. Thank you for very nice discussions with Hg Gopinath Cahndra Prabhu. The pastimes of divine relationship between Radhanath Swami and Bhakti Tirtha Swami are really relishing and nourishing.

            In this answer, Radhanath Swami is sticking to the essence and effects of genuine chanting God’s names. Very simple outcome is, if chanting of the any names of God is not cleansing the dust of mirror like our minds then there is some defect in our taking up chanting. Srila Prabhupada also says this: “There is no defect is the process. Process of chanting is always purifying. If we are not blissful while rendering service, that means we must understand that some where we are wrongly following. Process is perfect”.

          • Piyush Singh

            Wonderful details Raj Shekar ji.

            Yes, if the follower is making slow or no progress then the process cannot be blamed. The process indeed is perfect.

          • Piyush Singh

            That’s really inspiring and heart touching. Such kind of friendship is so rare to find in modern times.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Even in ancient times, for that matter. Deeply spiritual friendships are very rare in this material world.

          • Piyush Singh

            True. Even I don’t recall many of such true spiritual friendships.

            Perhaps this due to the nature of this world where it is a common tendency to be a bit selfish and having our limits up to which we can stretch for friends. Often our own interests come in the way to sacrifice for our friends.

            So, it seems like if we could see this unique and selfless friendship between HH Radhanath Swami and HH Bhakti Teerth Swami this must have been totally at the level of spirit because the spirit soul is not contaminated by the vices like selfishness and caring for oneself more.

            Is this the correct understanding?

  • Piyush Singh

    Such an informative and hope giving answer by HH Radhanath Swami. It is really interesting that the same God is perceived differently in different school of thoughts in different spiritual paths. Different people approach the same God through different mantras and make spiritual advancement. This shows that how the Lord is all accommodating and loves us all so much.

    Many thanks for publishing this useful answer.

    • sumit

      nice comment indeed!!!.. I also must appreciate the questioner as well, with wonderful questions we get to hear wonderful answers.. Practically whole of our scriptures are compilation of Perfect questions and perfect answers.
      A nice series of “Perfect questions and Perfect answers”

      • Gopinath Chandra

        Perfect Questions Perfect Answers was the first book I ever read in the Hare Krishna Movement. It literally changed my life.

        It was a book consisting of questions by Bob Cohen and answers by Srila Prabhupada. Reading Prabhupada’s answers I could understand – here is genuine guru.

        • NSP

          I read the book too! It was one of my first books too! A great book I must say.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Srila Prabhupada’s stand on the regulative principles gave me faith. Actually outreach is not so straightforward. You never know what attracts a person and what repels. Best is to depend upon Krishna and try our best

      • Sumit Sharma

        Yes very true! We have access to all this information through the dint of great leaders and saints like Radhanath Swami Maharaj.

    • Sumit Sharma

      This is such a nice forum to share ideas on spirituality and get nourished. Through the answer of Radhanath Swami, we can certainly conclude that the Supreme God is one Who is addressed by various traditions in different sweet ways, however the purpose of all those ways remains same ie. attainment of love of Godhead.

      • Piyush Singh

        Yes Sumit. This forum is really nourishes the intelligence of so many through these to the point answers by HH Radhanath Swami.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    Very nice answer by Radhanath Swami about there being different levels and different varieties of sound vibrations and how each one of them helps in a certain way to connect to the Divine.

    • Piyush Singh

      Yes, really nice and inspiring answer.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Great point! Ultimately, everyone should get connected to chanting the Holynames and every religion has in one or the other way encourages its followers to stick to that principle.

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde

    Wonderful answer by H.H. Radhanath Swami Maharaj. Thank you very much.

  • NSP

    God has made His holy name so accessible through different traditions! Great to know this from HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj!

    • Gopinath Chandra

      Today I was reading in a purport of Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada was emphasizing the point that we should not manufacture our own ways of chanting. We should follow the method given by God himself through the various authentic religions of the world.

      • Piyush Singh

        This is very useful and essential wisdom. After what good can we really manufacture while so much of the wisdom is already available in the scriptures.

      • Sumit Sharma

        That’s very correct Gopinath Chandra prji! And that’s why we must practice spirituality under a bona-fide Bhakti school which comes in a recognized disciplic succession. Vedic scriptures talk about finding a bona-fide spiritual master, service him and ask relevant spiritual queries. Only then, by God’s empowerment one can understand things as they are. There are people who try to chant the mantra in their own way thinking that they can do whatever they want, but which scriptures don’t accord with. Also, if we chant in association, we can understand what the mood of a devotee should be when he takes to chanting.

  • biswajit

    Wonderful answer by H.H. Radhanath Swami Maharaj. Thank you very much.

  • Gopinath Chandra

    It takes a while before the effects of the mantra really become visible. A person has to be patient and diligently practice the chant, sincerely with attention. Anything that comes cheaply goes away cheaply. Anything that’s obtained through hard labor stays.

    Indeed, the effects of consistent practice of mantra chanting stays across lifetimes. The scriptures cite the story of Gajendra, who remembered the mantras from a previous birth at a moment of crisis. And the mantras saved his life.

    • Piyush Singh

      I agree sir. Not only for mantra meditation but for anything in life patience and perseverance are needed to attain any success. No doubt that things attained by hard work are valued more.

      The incident of Gajendra sounds really interesting, remembering the mantras from previous life establishes the superiority of this subtle science of mantras. I read the story also and it is interesting to note that Gajendra could remember those mantras even when he was in the body of an elephant, that too to the extent that Lord Vishnu himself appeared to relieve him. So amazing.

      Are there any more incidents where animals chanted or remembered mantras? Can you please share? Thank you.

      • Gopinath Chandra

        His Holiness Janananda Swami has written a book on “Animals in Krishna Consciousness.” I haven’t found a copy for reading yet. But I am sure it will be interesting.

        In Bhubaneshwar, there was a bull who came to a particular place for Bhagavat Saptah for all seven days, year after year. I read that story in one of the books of His Holiness Gaur Govinda Maharaj.

        • anashree

          In one of his articles Vraj vihari prabhu mentions how Keshavan , an elephant, served the Lord in Guruvayoor temple for over seventy years, and left his body on Mokshada ekadashi day, offering obeisances to the Lord.

          • Piyush Singh

            That sounds really interesting and amazing. So, I think based on these incidents involving animals anyone should be able to conclude that animals are also living beings like we are.

            I know few people who say that animals don’t have soul and giving that as a justification they kill and eat animal flesh. I always found this totally baseless and incidents like this doubly prove the non sense of people eating meat.

          • Anand Patil

            Very interesting incidents. Even the incident of a dog that followed the party of devotees to Puri and was taken care by Shivananda Sen is amazing. That dog also achieved liberation as soon as he ate coconut pulp from the hands of Lord Chaitanya. Amazing power the Maha Mantra has.

          • Sumit Sharma

            Recently, I watched a video where a dog was jumping and murmuring something while ISKCON devotees were having kirtan. After some time, the dog left the body. He would certainly got a spiritual destination. Stories like these give us faith that not only human beings, but practically any species can participate in chanting of the glories of Holynames of the Lord.

          • Piyush Singh

            That sounds really interesting and hope giving. When a dog can get it we may have slightly higher chances.

          • Sumit Sharma

            That’s correct Piyush. This is the power of Holynames. It does not differentiate if it’s a dog or someone. The potency of Holynames cannot be judged by even greatest of the demigods. Sometimes it is said that Holyname is more powerful than the Lord Himself.

          • Piyush Singh

            That sounds really interesting to know that such a powerful object is available to us so easily.

          • Piyush Singh

            Yes Anand, that is also an amazing incident showing mercy on a soul in animal body.

        • Piyush Singh

          Wonderful incidents. Thank you very much for sharing.

          I also remembered that I heard once from HH Radhanath Swami that there was some street dog that got the blessings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and he left his body chanting Hare Krishna. I couldn’t believe that first but later developed some faith to believe the same. So inspiring.

  • Keshav Kishor Das

    This is one of the most frequently asked questions……! Now I am well equipped with most appropriate, precise and specific answer….! All glories to His Holiness and this website…!

    • Sumit Sharma

      Nicely mentioned. Radhanath Swami Maharaj’s answers always to the point and succinct. I always enjoy going over his Q & A sessions at the end of his lectures. Quite often I get very direct answer to queries which I have in my hearts.

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde

    Thank you very much for such a nice answer.

  • Sumit Sharma

    Great answer by Radhanath Swami Maharaj. Crux of every tradition is to awaken our inborn love for the Lord. There may be different levels at which God may be realized, however the purpose is same.

    • Piyush Singh

      So true. All religions have the same common purpose to awaken the dormant love of God.

  • Laxmikanth

    very balanced and very well framed answer by radhanath swami, answer wont hurt other and yet maintains and distinguishes and upholds the importance of each and every different tradition

    • Umesh

      I agree this is very balanced answer by Radhanath swami and at the same time clarifies the question.

    • Piyush Singh

      Indeed. This is answered with a perfect balance.

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde

    Thank you Maharaj for answering frequently asked question.

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