Too busy to chant

Will Krishna accept me even if I'm too busy to chant sixteen rounds? I heard that Krishna is very merciful and loves his devotees even if they don't chant. Does singing bhajans count as japa? Can I develop love for Krishna by some other means than chanting?

Our Answer:

If you really want to awaken your innate love for Krishna, the most highly recommended practice is to chant His names. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna's most recent incarnation, has demonstrated and recommended this over and over.

Chanting in the association of devotees dedicated to the Lord's service is even more powerful. Chant at least sixteen rounds and build up gradually. Practice perfect attention while chanting as the name is the Lord Himself. Try to chant without the ten kinds of offenses.

You can chant in the shower, you can chant in the car (not as japa, but as kirtan). Opportunities for chanting are everywhere. You can also pray. You can pray for the intelligence to arrange your life so you have time to chant!

The dharma is chanting. Japa is just to make sure you chant enough. The acharyas recommend both. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did both. If you take rest early, you can rise early and chant japa before anyone gives you anything else to do. Another point is that chanting elevates our consciousness so we don't need to sleep as much. Instead of sleeping eight hours, you can sleep six hours and chant two hours.

Srila Prabhupada, who introduced gave a clue how a busy man in household life might chant sixteen rounds. Chant four before breakfast, four before lunch, four before dinner, and four before taking rest for the evening. He said that if we chanted sixteen rounds daily and tried to avoid the offenses in chanting that by the end of our lives we would become pure enough to be eligible to return to the spiritual world.

Lord Krishna came all the way from the spiritual world to demonstrate, as Lord Chaitanya, how to develop love of Krishna by chanting the holy name. Why then are you so attached to finding excuses not to do it?

Chanting and mental disturbance

My mind is disturbed even though I try my best to chant Hare Krishna. How constantly should I keep hearing the mantra?

Our Answer:

When chanting Hare Krishna we practice neglecting the mind and paying attention to the sound of the holy names. It doesn't matter what crazy ideas the mind comes up with. Our concern is just to hear the sound vibration of every syllable of the Hare Krishna mantra. When we notice that we're paying attention to the mind and not the mantra, then we bring the mind back to the mantra.

Because we have paid close attention and obediently served our mind for as many as millions of births, the difficulty of ignoring it and focusing on the sound of the mantra should not be surprising. But just as a mother patiently keeps her children from causing trouble—although they do the same stupid things again and again—we must patiently control our minds.

It's important to always try to control the mind by hearing the sound of the mantra attentively. In the course of time, we will improve at it. Krishna will appreciate our efforts and give mercy in the course of time.

As long as we're chanting, we should be hearing. Try to focus on one mantra at a time, and then part of the mantra at a time, and then a smaller part. Then you won't have time to meditate on the distracting thoughts of the mind and you will become purified by hearing the mantra.

First, make a determination to do nothing else except focus on the mantra for this period of time. Then focus on the sound of one mantra at a time, and go on to the next. Don't lament about the past or dream about the future, just listen to the sound of the mantra, whether you like it or not, because it is Krishna's desire we chant His name in this age. Set a fixed number of rounds to chant and then gradually increase.