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Gaudiya Vaishnavas chant the name of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and Rama. They call it Nama Yajna.

In some places, they have been doing continuously it for hundreds of years. For example, in Katwa (West Bengal), where Lord Chaitanya took sannyasa, chanting has been taking place for 500 years. It is supposed to continue for 1000 years!

ISKCON also does the same. In Prabhupada Bhajan Kutir (Mayapur), nonstop Harinam Sankirtan is going on.

Chanting is the most crucial spiritual process in that school. Why is so? In Hinduism, there are other spiritual processes like yajna, puja, meditation etc. Why among all these processes chanting is the supreme path in Gaudiya Vaishnavism?

By the way, this question is not about what is the right method of chanting (Is there a time, place or method for chanting the holy name?). This is about the theological justification behind chanting.

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    Does this answer your question? Superiority of Japa Yoga
    – Rickross
    Jun 21, 2022 at 8:33
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    Japa and harinam sankirtan are two different things. Jun 21, 2022 at 9:15
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    Nama Sankirtana is nothing but Nama Japa so not a different thing
    – Rickross
    Jun 21, 2022 at 10:01
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    harinam sankirtan is a congregational chanting. Japa is done in private. It is the repetition (not loudly) of a mantra, mostly connected to tantra. Jun 21, 2022 at 10:44
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    Not necessary to do Japa in private .. it can be done loudly too (there are 3 modes of doing Japa) .. Nama Sankirtana is nothing but Nama Japa
    – Rickross
    Jun 21, 2022 at 16:35

2 Answers 2

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Yes, harinama-sankirtana is enjoined by the scriptures. Vishnu himself ratifies it.

Once Nārada asked Lord Viṣhṇu where he does he actually resides. Thus, Lord Viṣhṇu replied:

Padma Purana: Uttara Khanda - 92.23

Then the devotee, with a pleased mind and devoted, should go, taking with him sandal, flowers, good tāmbūlas to the temple of Viṣṇu and Śiva. Then having separately offered articles (and modes) of worship like water for washing the feet, respectful oblation etc., and bowed again, he should do auspicious things like singing. He should also honour the good dancers having musical instruments made of bell-metal, lutes, tabors etc., so also he should honour the singers with fragrant flowers and tāmbūlas, since they are the forms of Viṣṇu. In the Kali age penance, sacrifice, gifts made with devotion to the good lord of the world, always give delight.

O king, I (Nārada) asked, “O lord of gods, where do you live?”

Viṣṇu, pleased with my devotion then spoke to me thus:

नाहं वसामि वैकुण्ठे योगिनां हृदये न च ।
मद्भक्ता यत्र गायन्ति तत्र तिष्ठामि नारद ॥

“I do not live in Vaikuṇṭha, nor in the heart of the yogins. O Nārada, I stay there where my devotees sing (my praise).”




Further, the Nārada-Pancaratra also considers the Name-chanting as the Supreme.

Forth Ratra, Chapter 3, Nārada-Pancaratra

ksetresu vaisnavesv etad aryavatte bhavisyati nasti visnoh param satyarh nasti-visnoh param padam

If these holy names are chanted in a holy place in the land of Aryavarta, they will award one increased benefit. Know for certain that there is no truth superior to Lord Visnu, and no goal superior to Him.


Text 200

nasti visnoh param jhanam nasti mokso hy avaisnavah nasti-visnoh paro-maniro nasti-visnoh param tapah

There is no knowledge superior to the understanding of Lord Visnu, no liberation superior to association with Lord Visnu, no mantra superior to the holy names of Lord Visnu, and no penance superior to surrender to Lord Visnu.


Text 201

nasti visnoh param dhyanam nasti mantro hy avaisnavah. kin tasya bahubhir mantraih kimjapair bahu-vistaraih

There is no meditation superior to the remembrance of Lord Visnu’s transcendental name, form, and pastimes. There is no mantra greater than the holy names of Lord Visnu. Considering this — what is the use of chanting other mantras in relation to Lord Visnu?


Text 202

bajapeya-sahasraih kirn bhaktir yasya janardane sarva-tlrthamayo visnuh
sarva-sastramayah prabhuh

What is the need of performing thousands of vajapeya sacrifices if one is engaged in the devotional service of Lord Visnu? Lord Visnu is the most sacred of all sacred places and the goal of all religious performances.


Text 203

sarva-kratumayo visnuh satyarh satyam vadamy aham dbrahma-sdra-sarvasvarh sarvam etan mayoditam

I am telling you the truth — Lord Visnu is the actual enjoyer of all sacrifices. I have thus revealed to you the essence of everything within the universe


And hence, we have the theological justification behind chanting (hari-nama-samkirtanam).

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I just want to add what Lord Chaitanya said.

সব-লোক-কর্ণ-গর্ত্ত কুন্ড-পরিসর।
জিহবা-স্রুব, ধ্বনি-রস ঘৃত মনোহর।।

sab lok karna garta kunda parisar|
jihva srub dhwani rasa ghrita manohar||

"The living entities' ears are sacrificial pit. The tongue is the sacrificial ladle. The sound of Lord Krishna's glories is the sacrificial offering (ghee)." -Caitanya-Mangala, Madhya-khanda, Chapter 9, Song 21, verse 81.

Caitanya Mangala is one of the standard biographies of Lord Chaitanya. It was written around 16th Century by Locana Dasa Thakur.

So what Lord Caitanya meant is that chanting the holy names (Harinam Sankirtan) is similar to performing a Vedic sacrifice. This metaphor is quite interesting.

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