Are there any references in the Gita to the chanting of the holy names?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJanuary 24, 2012

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Someone asked me a question that ‘Krishna has recommended chanting Om in BG and not his name. I quoted him ‘Satatam Kirtayanto mam’&  ‘Man mana bhava mad bhakto’. Is there any other reference in BG which states that Krishna’s name is to be chanted?

Yes, there is one ….., very explicit and strong reference in BG 10:25,where Krishna says ,”yajñānāṁ japa-yajño ’smi, sthāvarāṇāṁ himālayaḥ”. that among all forms of sacrifice, I am the chanting of the holy names. So this may seem like just one part of the verse describing many vibhutis, but actually it is very significant ,m because many people are not able to connect japa with the Yajna, the Bhagavad Gita, through out its message, emphasises that the action should not be renounced, Krishna says that ” yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-karma, na tyājyaṁ kāryam eva tat, yajño dānaṁ tapaś caiva, ,”pāvanāni manīṣiṇām. that Yajna dana and tapa , these are the activities that purify the great souls, and therefore they should not be abandoned, He tells in the 18th chapter, So the whole message of the Bhagavad Gita is for Arjuna to do his karma of a kshatriya. and by doing karma for kshatriya and perform sacrifices, as Yudhistar performs, Yudhisthira performed rajya surya sacrifice, and later on the ashvamedha sacrifices, and to give dana, Yajna dana tapa karma, and to perform austerities, while doing the kshatriya duties while doing all the sacrifices and later on by takin up vana prastha…, but the point is that yajna is considered to be a very important duty repeatedly mentioned in bhagavad gita, and in this verse Krishna is telling that in all forms of the yajna, the best yajna is the yajna is the chanting the hole names. So this is no trifling reference, because something yajna that is mentioned through out gita and emphasised through out the Gita, and now Krishna is telling that the jupa is the most important element of the yajna. So japa is just not the most important element, but it is the best of all yajas. Now in addition , the Krishna does not necessarily recommend the chanting of the holy name of Om several times. The only explicit place where He recommends the chanting of Om is in the seventeenth chapter, where He is talking about how material activities can be spiritualized by changing of Om, other places, where he quotes the Om is more to identify that Om is non different from Him. Krishna talks about Om , himself being Om, in Bg 7:8 , 10:17, and 10:25, and in none of these places except for Bg 7:8, He is explicitly recommending the chanting of the holy names. “raso ’ham apsu kaunteya, prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ, praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu, śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu, but there also He says that along with that that have to remember Me, So Bg 7:8 He does’t recommend , He identifies and other place where He recommends the chanting of the holy name is in the 8th chapter. Bg 8:13, He says ,oṁ ity ekākṣaraṁ brahma, vyāharan mām anusmaran, yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaṁ, sa yāti paramāṁ gatim. He says that one should chant the Om but along with that he has to remember Me, and then that person can attain supreme destination. So yes, Krishna , identifies Himself with Om so as those who are the chanters of the Om should understand that actually, even when they are chanting Om, they are actually worshiping Krishna, even if they don’t realize that they are worshiping Krishna, because Om is the indirect reference to Krishna. So , You can refer to the article ” the relationship between hare Krishna maha mantra and chanting of Om” which is there in the web site also. but going to a more implicit level now, On explicit level , Krishna does recommend chanting of Hare Krishna maha mantra, and chanting of His holy names in general , in Bg 9: 14, and BG 10:28, . But going deeper, the Bhagavad Gita is not going so much into the details of how to practice bhakti, the Bhagavad Gita ia a book which is spoken on the battlefield. and Bhagavad Gita has a particular context and a particular purpose. The contest os that Arjuna has to decide what to do on a battlefield. and he has multiple paths and his crises is to decide which path to choose. So Arjuna has lived in a culture, where he knows karmis , where he knows yogis where he knows jnanis , where he knows bhaktas, so now he just wants to know which path to choose. So the vedic culture there were multiple, vedic culture was n one sense, user friendly. It although it talks about one supreme sadhya and one supreme sadhana, sadhana means supreme goal, and sadhana means preme means to that goal, ultimately speaking, but for those who are not suited for that supreme sadhya and sadhana, the vedic culture gives other sadhana and sadhana, So the supreme sadhaya established in Bhagavad Gita is Krishna himself. He is the ultimate goal. but for those who cannot accept that goal, the vedic culture also talks about aspiring for Brahmans, aspiring for heavens, these also sadhayas, they are subordinate and intermediate sadhayas. So the supreme sadhana is bhakti , Krishna says in Bg 18:66 sarva-dharmān parityajya, mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja,. bhakti is supreme, just forger everything else. but still for those  who do not practice bhakti, Krishna gives other methods also. He gives the method of karma, jyana , ashtanj yoga and methods like that. So there is sadhaya and sadhana, and there is flexibility in what a person wants to choose based on his qualification, his adhikar, his level of spritual advancement. So now Arjuna’s crises was that because there was flexibility of sadhaya and sadhana , he was confused that which ias the best and which is the best for me. So Krishna resolves that by establishing that Bhagavan, the personality of Godhead is the highest sadhaya and bhakti to Him is the highest sadhana. So once that is established, Arjuna already has the knowledge of how to practice, how to practice, bhakti or how to practice yoga. Arjuna already knows that, and Arjuna can do that, but Arjuna’s question is what to practice, that’s why Bhagavad Gita does not go too much into the details of how to practice bhakti, but it ery eneqvivovoically establishes that it is the bhakti that has to be practiced, it is the bhakti and bhakti alone that has to be practiced, and that is , if you study Bhagaved Gita systematically, I have given about 50 lectures on the Bhagavad Gita, and they are available on “Iskcon desire tree” where chapter by c hapter I analyze, how Krishna is developing and reaitering and emphasising and concluding on the theme of bhakti in the Bhagavad Gita. It’s is just not sarva dhaman paritija , as a concluding verse, it is there through out in Bhagavad Gita.So, why is changing of hole names is not mentioned so frequently in Bhagavad Gita, because that is the detail of the processes. So Krishna has establised to Arjuna that bhakti is the processes to follow, and how to follow , Arjuna already knows that he has to chant the holy names, he has to worship the deity, and he has to hear from saints. and if you read in the mahabharat , you will see that he does all . Draupadi chants the holy names when she is in crises, when ever the pandavas are in jungle , they do sharan kirtan , they to hear from the sages, and they also do yajna, they also worship the deities and they also perform jayna, so basically, to summarize, Yes, there are referncenced to the the chanting of the holy names also. and more importantly , the Bhagavad Gita focuses on the details of what to do, but the prinicple of what to do. So onec Arjuna has understood that he has to practice bhakti, he already knows how bhakti is practiced. So the Bhagavatam says there are nine ways to pracice bhakti, sravanam, kirtanam, vishnu samaranam, ….. Bhagavd Gita does not contain any exuisite verse like that, it is a small book of of 700 mverse and it a specific purpose , to establish for Arjuna which is the best sadhana, once established , he knows how to practice it.

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Chaitanya Charan das
  • January 28, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Hare Krishna Prabhu, Thank you for you blog, I have one favor to beg. I am interested in listening but only if it is a podcast. Can you submit your post as a podcast to itunes. That way people can just subscribe to your channel. With podcast there nothing to download (it is automatic) and you can listen to it while your on the road.

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