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The Necessity of Repetition

"Why do they have to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare over and over again?" -is a reasonable inquiry of any concerned mother whose son has joined the BLISS association. The devotees at the time of initiation promise to chant 16 rounds (16 x 108) of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and it constitutes one of the most important instructions of Srila Prabhupada to his followers. In fact Srila Prabhupada states that out of all instructions of the spiritual master, the instruction to finish one's prescribed number of rounds is the most essential. What is the need for this perhaps externally seeming mindless repetition?

If we look around, we see that repetition is a major part of our life. We see that repetition is used when a radio station repeats playing a song of some artist. The more people hear the song, the more it is likely for people to start singing it themselves. Even after many years, songs are being played on radio or the internet and people still derive pleasure out of them. Repetition is also used in advertising. For example the MacDonald's restaurant chain often uses the slogan I'm lovin' it. By repeating this slogan campaign over and over they have convinced people to consume (and loving it) scientifically proven poisons, which is a great accomplishment. And who could have not noticed the viral campaign of the government urging people to wear masks and get vaccines at the time of the Covid pandemic. Repetition is a useful tool to shift people's attention from whatever they are focused on to that which is essential. Lord Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gita: "From whatever and wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self." (Bg 6.26) Spiritual life is essential because this is the true life of the soul. In fact life itself is caused by the spirit soul present in the body. Without the soul, the body has no meaning and that is why after death we get disposed of it. Therefore it is not unreasonable to shift one's attention from songs and slogans of the material world to the self and the supreme self. Chanting of Hare Krishna is the most powerful way how to do this since this divine vibration is non-different from the Lord Himself. When the sun rises, automatically I will be able to see my own reflection in a mirror. Similarly by reviving my original spiritual consciousness (Krishna consciousness) I simultaneously revive the consciousness of my spiritual identity as the servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna since I am eternally his part and parcel inseparable. The transcendental nature of the Lord's name is confirmed in the Padma Purana: "'The holy name of Krsna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krsna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krsna's name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krsna Himself. Since Krsna's name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krsna's name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krsna and Krsna Himself are identical.' (Madhya 17.133) Disturbance is due to want of an ultimate goal and if one is not in Krsna consciousness, there cannot be a final goal for the mind. Since Krishna is the Supreme Godhead, He is all-pervading through his feature of impersonal Brahman, localized through his feature of Paramatma, who resides in every living entity's heart and He is a transcendental person, a source of all loving relationships through his feature of Bhagavan. His extensive energies and opulences are unlimited and therefore the only thing that is beyond Him is "maya" (in translation: "that which is not"), which constitutes yet one of His energies. Krishna says: daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te "This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it." (Bg 7.14) This maya energy of the Lord manifests as the stringent laws of material nature that are constant and unchanging. The repeated birth, death, old age and disease are its most cruel representatives and they act on the living entities constantly without interruption. No one in the history was able to stop the influence of these physical laws and similarly in the future it will be impossible since the maya energy is directly controlled by the Lord Himself to facilitate the sense of false independence for the rebellious souls who do not want to engage in His service. Chanting of the maha-mantra is like a genuine cry of a child for its mother. "O energy of Krsna, O Krsna, please engage me in your service" is the most precise translation of the maha-mantra as given to us by the acharyas. In order to overcome the repeated birth, death, old age and disease we must constantly chant the holy names following the advice of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu of being more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, praising others and not expecting any praise for ourselves. In this humble state of mind, the Lord will joyfully welcome us in His service again and remove the influence of ever-repeating influence of material energy on the soul.

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