Hare Krishna Mahamantra [Confidential Inner Meaning]

Hare Krishna Mahamantra is a 16 syllable mantra that is the tarak brahma mantra of Kali Yuga. As per various Vedic Scriptures including Padma Purana, Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the only means to completely revive the eternal constitutional position of the soul as a part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

Hare Krishna Mantra was first preached initially 500 years ago by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is none other than Krishna in the mood of Srimati Radharani. He is the hidden avatar of the Divine Couple Sri Radha and Krishna as mentioned in various scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Caritamrta.

Srila Prabhupada (Founder of ISKCON Hare Krishna Movement) went to the USA at the age of 70 on instructions of his Guru Maharaj Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur to distribute prema (love of Godhead) to the world in form of this Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

Srila Prabhupada's disciple Aindra Prabhu re-inaugurated the Hare Krishna Mahamantra 24 hour sankirtan at Krishna Balarama Mandir in Vrindavan and has inspired devotees globally to focus and intensely refocus on kirtan as the main anga (mode) of devotion. He did kirtan 18-20 hours on a daily basis during the initial days of 24-hour kirtan. His kirtans are very intense and immediately bring desperation to know more about vraja-bhakti and inner confidential meaning of Vrindavan.

In the recent few years, many educated, intellectual and academically sound youth globally are gradually taking to Hare Krishna Mahamantra sankirtan in search of their inner quest and answers to the deeper meaning of life.

Hare Krishna (Mahamantra)

Chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra on the banks of Yamuna in Vrindavan
Chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra on the banks of Yamuna in Vrindavan

Number of syllables 16
Preached by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (500 years ago)
Mantra for Madhurya Prema Bhakti in topmost vipralambha bhav (love in mood of separation)
Method of chanting
  1. Nama Japa (Individual chanting on beads)
  2. Nama Sankirtan (Congregational chanting of holy names)
Sect Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Sampradaya Brahma Madhava Gaudiya Sampradaya
Tarak Brahma Nama Mantra for Kali Yuga
References as mentioned in Caitanya Caritamrta (Adi 7.76), Srimad Bhagavatam (3.15.25)
World wide preached by Srila Prabhupada (Hare Krishna Movement)
When to chant Anytime irrespective of any situation in life
Where to chant Anywhere
Eligibility to chant Anybody irrespective of their wealth, nationality, language, colour, faith, complexity, status (or any material identity whatsoever) can chant. Basically, anybody can chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra anytime and anywhere!
Result of chanting shudh (pure) Hare Krishna Mahamantra Topmost vraja-prema-bhakti (the original identity of the soul as a constitutional part of Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Radha and Sri Krishna in 5 rasas)


Meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra

The simple meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra is, "Hey Srimati Radharani, please engage me in service of Krishna."

Hare is the internal potency of Lord, who is none other than Srimati Radharani. Shaktiman (The Powerful) is powerless and holds no value without Shakti (Power). Sri Radha is the internal potency (Shakti) of Sri Krishna (Shaktiman).

All the source of shakti resides in feet of Srimati Radharani. If we study the scriptures, we find the reference of many marking on feet of Sri Radha, with each marking holding a confidential meaning. There is a spear (or trishul) on feet of Sri Radha that signifies that all the shakti of Krishna, and hence the entire creation manifests from feet of Srimati Radharani (sarva saktimayi).

For devotees who take complete shelter (purna ashyra) of Sri Radha, Her feet immediately cut off material attachments of the mundane world and grants them kripa (mercy) to dive in internal vraja-prema-bhakti very very soon.

So, when we tell Hare, we are praying to Sri Radha to engage us in service of Krishna with an objective to please both of Them.

Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the maha mantra (or king of all mantras) to remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Radha and Sri Krishna. This inner meaning of remembrance as explained by Rasika Vaishnavas is that there should be constant meditation on the inner passtimes of Sri Radha and Krishna. As the remembrance becomes non-stop (ruchi, asakti, then bhav), the inner confidential aspect of how we are related to Sri Radha and Sri Krishna eventually sprouts in the heart of the devotee (which is eventually the prayojana or conclusion of all Vedic Scriptures). In Bhagavad Gita (18.65), Krishna says to Arjuna, "Always think of me and remember me." Its inner meaning manifests in the heart as one chants more and more of Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

As one chants and gets acquainted with the inner science of self-realisation by reading books (Check Must-Read Books for spiritual advancement), own search, sincerity and by taking shelter of exalted saints like Srila Prabhupada, the inner meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra manifests within the heart of the seeker on its own.

Hare is beej (seed) for Ha-Hari and Re-Radha. The meaning of Hari is one who captivates or captures the cit (antaratma or soul) of everyone. In inner terms, Hare means One who captivates Radha (Jo Sri Radhika ko har lete hain) or in more confidential terms, One who is captivated by Radha (Jinko Shri Radhika har leti hain).

Rama is beej (seed) for Ra-Radha and Ma-Madhav (or Madhurya). Though Rama also stands for Rasika Ramana Rama (Krishna) but following in mood of Srimati Radharani, Rama is Radha and Madhav (or Madhurya) together for us.

Madhav is one amongst unlimited names of Krishna and is derived from Sanskrit word madhu which means honey. Hence Madhav means Krishna who is sweet like honey for Sri Radha and His devotees.

Madhurya is the topmost rasa amongst 5 rasas and is in the mood of vraja-gopis.

Hence, Rama holds two meanings:

  • Radha Madhav - Krishna and Radha together in the groves of nikunja Vrindavan
  • Radha Madhurya - the madhurya bhava or bhakti in direct footsteps of Srimati Radharani and vraja-gopis

Now Hare Krishna Mahamantra is:

Hare - Hari Radha
Hare - Hari Radha

Hare - Hari Radha
Hare - Hari Radha

Hare - Hari Radha
Rama - Radha Madhav (or Madhurya Rasa of Radharani)
Hare - Hari Radha
Rama - Radha Madhav (or Madhurya Rasa of Radharani)

Rama - Radha Madhav (or Madhurya Rasa of Radharani)
Rama - Radha Madhav (or Madhurya Rasa of Radharani)
Hare - Hari Radha
Hare - Hari Radha

The inner meaning as explained above manifests in the heart as the devotee chants greedily with an aim to embrace vraja-prema-bhakti as given by Six Goswamis, Nityananda Prabhu and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The Glories of Mahamantra

It is no ordinary mantra but comes directly from Vrindavan Prema Rasa. Though scriptures and Rasika Vaishnavas say that majority of devotees in prarambhic (initial) days or even after years of their spiritual journey won't understand what is so confidential about Hare Krishna Mahamantra and hence Rasika Vaishnavas just give them a simple yet complete meaning (as described in the previous section) to proceed ahead with chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra with excitement and enthusiasm.

This maha-mantra is always navin (new). Devotees have been chanting this mantra for 50-60 years and they always feel it new. There is no difference between Krishna and His holy names. Krishna's passtimes are always new, no matter how many times you hear them again and again. Similarly, the holy name in the form of Hare Krishna Mahamantra is always new, and with sincere chanting, anybody can understand it's inner confidential meaning.

The rupa (form), guna (quality), lila (passtimes) and dham (home, or Vrindavan) of Krishna and Srimati Radharani is hidden in Hare Krishna Mahamantra for conditioned souls and for those who by their lobha (greed), lalsa (desire) and kripa (mercy of Rasika Vaishnavas) have attained nama-ruchi (taste for chanting Holy Names), for them, nama or Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the sweetest and their most confidential treasure.

Just listen to your favourite song on loop for 20 days and you will get bored with it, but listen to Hare Krishna Mahamantra or participate in sankirtan for years and yet it will feel new every single time. Though it's another thing that even if you participate or listen to Hare Krishna Mahamantra for 6 months, or even say 1 month, you won't be the same. The inner confidential aspects of Krishna will slowly manifest in your heart and you will get the further direction internally or through someone with due course of sincere chanting.

Tarak Brahma Mantra for Kali Yuga

Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the tarak brahma mantra for Kali Yuga. People may inquire that what is tarak brahma mantra.

Tarak in Hindi is derived from word 'tar' which means to elevate. Brahma in context of this is the soul's original constitutional position and real identity as an eternal servant of Divine Couple in five rasas.

So, tarak brahma mantra is the mantra that elevates the soul to their original constitutional position as an eternal servant of Lord (in 5 different rasas as per individual and real mood).

This eternal identity usually starts sprouting in the heart of the devotee from anartha nivritti stage itself with due course of sincere chanting and desperation to know about their real identity (described in book Madhurya Kadambini and Aindra Prabhu's Book The Heart of Transcendental Book Distribution).

Though this identity is incomplete at the anartha nivritti, ruchi and asakti stage, BUT this slow for starter visuals helps the devotee to actually understand and relate that we are not the body, but eternal souls and have a proper constitutional position as a dear servant of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna.

There are 1000 cycles of 4 yugas in the day of Brahma - Satya Yuga, Treata Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. The description of this is well given in Srimad Bhagavatam, Padma Purana and the majority of Vedic scriptures.

Krishna in His full potency as Supreme Personality of Godhead descends on bhuloka (earth) just once in a day of Brahma, and one complete day of Brahma as described in Srimad Bhagavatam (6th Canto, 13th Chapter) is equal to 8 billion 640 million earthly years (Those who wish to understand it deeply should refer this).

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also appears once in the day of Brahma (in Kali Yuga). Thus, the opportunity to chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra and gain direct entry in our real constitutional position is very rare and we all are fortunate to be born just 500 years after Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has appeared. This is the golden time of Kali Yuga to revive our love for Divine Couple (which is our original position and comes to us naturally). 

For every yuga, there is one tarak brahma mantra that delivers the conditioned souls on bhuloka (or earth) to the topmost spiritual perfection.

In Satya Yuga, the mantra that granted spiritual perfection was Narayan Para Veda | Narayan Paraksara | Narayan Para Muktir | Narayan Para Gatih.

Similarly, there is tarak brahma mantra for Treata and Dwapar Yuga as well.

But Kali Yuga is special. Here, the tarak brahma mantra is not aishwarya brahma nama but rather madhurya tarak nama. Aishwarya means with reverence, respect and formality. Madhurya means with love that is expressed freely or is spontaneous.

In Satya Yuga, only shant and dasya rasa were possible. In Treata Yuga, only shant, dashya and sakhya rasa were possible. In Dwapar Yuga, only dasya, shant, sakhya and vatsalya rasa was possible for conditioned souls. But it is only in Kali Yuga that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given the topmost madhurya rasa for all.  (You can read about 5 rasas here to be acquainted with these terms used in the last couple of sentences).

The tarak brahma mantra of Kali Yuga Hare Krishna Hare Krishna | Krishna Krishna Hare Hare | Hare Rama Hare Rama | Rama Rama Hare Hare doesn't only grants the top-most spiritual perfection but directly takes one to the inner groves of Goloka Vrindavan in soul's eternal constitution position as a part and parcel of Divine Couple in 5 different rasas as per individual mood. The special thing about Hare Krishna Mahamantra is that it doesn't hold any sort of formality or aishwarya between Lord and the devotee but is madhurya or manifestation of exchange of prema (love) in the spontaneous form (raganuga bhakti).

Hare Krishna Mahamantra is so powerful that one doesn't need diksha (spiritual initiation) to wait for chanting this mantra, unlike other mantras which need proper initiation by a bonafide guru. Anybody can chant it anywhere, at any times, irrespective of any circumstance. Everything is hidden in maha-mantra and it automatically guides the sincere seeker (sadhaka) to the guru tattva, and opens all the doors of prema-bhakti as the devotee takes the holy names in the mood of surrender and sincerity.

Even imperfect chanting (nama-abhas) without any lobha (desire) for vraj-prema-bhakti easily gives mokha or liberation. In fact moksa awaits devotees who even chant nama-abhas maha-mantra.

If anybody just says the Hare Krishna Mahamantra once, they are bound to advance spiritually and go deeper very soon, what to speak of those who have given their lives in pure (shudh) chanting of holy names. Even if a devotee might be having mundane material conditioning, that will eventually be cleansed away by the effect of chanting the holy names. The prime importance is sincerity and full surrender (purna sharanagati) as mentioned in Srimad Bhagavad Gita (18.66).

Topmost madhurya bhakti (in vipralambha or separation mood) mantra 

This Hare Krishna Mahamantra is not an ordinary mantra for wellness, prosperity or wealth BUT directly comes from groves of Goloka Vrindavan in the 7th and 8th prahar (time period) of asta-kaliya lila of Divine Couple Sri Radha and Sri Krishna in topmost vipralambha prema rasa of Prema Vaichittya (For sincere seekers, you can refer the book Krishna Bhavanamrta BUT only after going through these foundational books strictly).

Prema Vaichittya is no ordinary thing. Reading text is one and understanding context is other. The inner meaning of Vedic Texts and scriptures is very difficult to understand, leave apart understanding the prema-rasa of Vrindavan which is very very rarely achieved by one in millions (Bhagavad Gita 7.3).

The Vrindavan vraja-prema-bhakti can only be attained by rare of rare devotees who have the kripa (mercy) of Rasika Vaishnavas and Divine Couple. As I have heard from Rasika Vaishnavas, I will try to write the madhurya aspect of Hare Krishna Mahamantra as Sri Vrindavan Dham inspires me at the time of writing this. 

[IMP NOTE: Read this only for getting an idea and hint that this topmost pure form of love is the prayojana or goal of chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra. It can't be imitated on the mundane material plane with the conditioning of mind, body and senses. The inner meaning manifests with sincere chanting of Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. It is well mentioned in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 13, that this material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world, and hence it is important to chant to cleanse our heart and make it fertile enough to appreciate and be eligible to dive into the nectarian parishudh (eternally pure) love of Vrindavan Prema-Rasa]

Aindra Prabhu mentions in some of his lectures that if devotees are really serious about going back to Godhead, back to Goloka Vrindavan in this one lifetime, then they might dare to read these two books - Govinda Lilamrta and Krishna Bhavanamrta. He also adds that he takes a great risk in telling it to all, and anyway very few handfuls of devotees would read it because not everybody has (eligibility) adhikar to read it. (The last few sentences are paraphrased from lectures of Sripad Aindra Prabhu).

If anybody is chanting Hare Krishna maha-mantra for several years and looking for more confidential aspects of bhajan (devotional life), then these two books are a must-read for them. They must not be limited to vaidhi bhakti (bhakti bound by rules and regulations) for a lifetime. The prayojana (goal) of vaidhi bhakti is raganuga bhakti (spontaneous) in the mood of vrajvasis.

So, coming back to Prema-Vaichittya, it is the highest stage of vipralambha prema (love in separation). There are 4 types of vipralambaha as described in Caitanya Caritamrta (Purport by Srila Prabhupada) and Ujjvala Nilami (by Srila Rupa Goswami). The four types of vipralambha prema (love in separation) are:

  • Purva Raga: Separation before meeting the lover (Krishna)
  • Mana: Separation due to loving fight with the lover
  • Pravas: Separation when lover goes to another place or country
  • Prem Vaichittya: Separation when lovers are present at the same place but fear that they might get separated in future

This Prem Vaichittya state is extra-ordinary. As described in Srila Vishwanath Cakravarti Thakur Prabhupada in Krishna Bhavanamrta, when Radharani and Krishna meet in the seventh & eighth prahar (of asta-kaliya lila) in groves of Vrindavan, they are looking into each other eyes, are at the same place but tears start pouring from their eyes due to the fear of being separated in the future.

They are cursing their tears as it is stopping them from relishing each other's vision. There is an intense separation in the heart of each other even though they are at the same place together! This is the pinnacle of love, or also called as Prem Vaichittya.

It is very tough to even think or describe the intensity of this transcendental love or prema. This is the mood of separation in which Chaitanya Mahaprabhu lived and preached Hare Krishna Mahamantra during his earthly passtimes 500 years ago. He carried this separation mood of Prem Vaichittya for the entire lifetime!! It is very difficult and impossible to describe the intense separation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu!

Mahaprabhu doesn't see the qualification of the devotee and gives this inner confidential prema-bhakti for Sri Radha and Sri Krishna to all via this Hare Krishna Mahamantra. It is from here that Hare Krishna Mahamantra descends to revive the fallen conditioned souls back to the original home, Goloka Vrindavan. It can only be understood by taking shelter of Rasika Vasihanvas who own Sri Radha and Sri Krishna.

Even demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva can't fathom this except for pure Rasika Vaishnavas devotees of Lord like Six Goswamis, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila Prabhupada, Aindra Prabhu etc.

When one takes just one name of Krishna and Radha in the form of Hare Krishna Mahamantra, their prema rasa journey starts then and there. That is the power of Hare Krishna Mahamantra and this Kali-yuga is a blessing as it is simplest in all 4 yugas to revive the love of Godhead and our original constitutional position as a dear servant of Divine Couple.

Even though Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself in the mood of Srimati Radharani, He is more kripalu (merciful) than Krishna Himself, as He doesn't sees any good or bad quality in any jiva (living entity) but directly gives prema (love) for Godhead in topmost madhurya rasa.

How to understand and experience the internal potency of Hare Krishna Mahamantra?

The best way to understand the meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra is to chant it endlessly. Iron cuts iron (Loha Loha ko kat ta hain) and in the same way, nama or Hare Krishna Mahamantra manifests the real meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra (Nama hi nama ka swarup prakashit karte hain). The very fact is that it is so simple. Anybody can do it at any time under any circumstance.

Once somebody takes to nama and chants sincerely, everything comes from within. It will be like oh is it so simple? It requires regular chanting to believe it to be true! One can experience it first hand.

In this Kali Yuga, the mind is the biggest enemy if you have failed to control it and the best of friends if you can control it (Bhagavad Gita 6.6). The mind easily becomes friends for devotees who chant Hare Krishna Mahamantra in full sincerity and surrender.

Listening to shudh harinam sankirtan further amplifies the desperation and greed to chant more, and guides the sincere seeker to inner aspects of Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

When and how to chant?

Whatever be the situation in life, do not give up chanting. You can begin with one round and slowly increase it up to 16 rounds. Srila Prabhupada established chanting of 16 rounds as an ideal standard for going deeper into the bhajan  (spiritual life). If you are not chanting, start it slowly. Take fixed determination of chanting 1 round daily. Check this video on how you can chant on beads in the right manner. You can also check cheat codes and secret points which might help you advance in bhakti quickly.

Nama or Hare Krishna Mahamantra is juthan (embrace, remnants) and the most confidential secret of exalted saints which they have given for the topmost spiritual advancement of the world. The devotee is indebted to the Rasika Vaishnavas and saints for this and cannot pay for it whatever price or service is rendered to them. We should take advantage of our good fortune and kripa (mercy), and chant with all sincerity. The inner meaning and confidential aspects of prema-bhakti manifests as the devotee chants Hare Krishna Mahamatra regularly with sincerity.

Yuga Dharma Harinam Sankirtan

In Srimad Bhagavatam (3.15.25), Srila Prabhupada writes that in this age of Kali, the highest spiritual realisation is chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna | Krishna Krishna Hare Hare | Hare Rama Hare Rama | Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Srila Rupa Goswami mentions in his book Vidagdha-Madhava that he regrets not having millions of ears and millions of tongue to relish the Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

The famous verse in Chaitanya Caritamrta Harer Nama Harer Nama Harer Nama Eva Kevalam clearly tells that in this age of hypocrisy and quarrel, there is no other way other than chanting the holy of Lord to get delivered from the fallen material condition of life.

Haridas Thakur who is none other than Brahma Dev daily used to chant 192 rounds (or 200 thousand times) of Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

Wherever there is shudh kirtan, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is directly present and everything else is taken care of by the Lord at such a place.

If any layman sits in kirtan and hasn't even sat or heard about kirtan ever will definitely get goosebumps and some positive inner connection with it. In Kali Yuga, out of 9 angas (modes) of devotion, kirtanam is of the highest priority.

Real humility as explained by Aindra Prabhu is congregational chanting the holy names. Aindra Prabhu says that we are Kali Yuga rejects and not qualified for any other mode of devotion other than Harinam Sankirtana. In Kali Yuga, it's very difficult to focus, control our mind, do deity worship, read books, listen to philosophy etc. Only Harinam Sankirtan and chanting the holy names will bestow the topmost prema-bhakti as repeated by scriptures and exalted Rasika Vaishnavas again and again. That is tripad api suniecheya or real humility.

Hare Krishna Movement

Srila Prabhupada (Founder of ISKCON Hare Krishna Movement) used to say that Hare Krishna Mahamantra can solve all the worlds problems. Hare Krishna Mahamantra unites the world (irrespective of material concoctions like caste, colour, race, ethnicity, religion, wealth, status) with a single common agenda of everyone being eternal spirit souls who are Satchidananda (eternal, full of bliss and full of knowledge). 

Under the roof of Krishna Consciousness, Srila Prabhupada united the world with the prayojona (goal) of topmost, easiest and sublime prema-bhakti. The main aim is spiritual perfection.

There have been several case studies by academicians globally on how an old swami from India landed in the USA on a ship in 1965 with just 40 rupees, few Bhagavatam books, getting two heart attacks on the way, and started a worldwide Hare Krishna Worldwide Movement!

Srila Prabhupada saw epicentre of everything as Krishna and won the entire globe by his kindness and kripa (mercy). 

He regularly said that just by chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra and these four regulative principles in bhakti, anyone can obtain spiritual perfection.

George Harrison of Beatles was very inspired by Srila Prabhupada and had produced Hare Krishna Mahamantra song in 1969 that became very popular. You can listen to it here.

Srila Prabhupada also established Jagannath Rath Yatra all over the globe accompanied by Street Harinam Sankirtan.

P.S. This article has been written by listening to vani (words) and teachings of Srila Prabhupada, Six Goswamis, Aindra Prabhu and many siksha gurus that I have been guided to by kripa (mercy) of Sri Vrindavan Dham.  I am an unqualified seeker and write as inspired from within by Sri Vrindavan Dham hence do listen to your antarswar (heart) to analyse and remember acharyas like Srila Prabhupada, Srila Rupa Goswami if you want to decode the meaning of vraja prema bhakti. Everybody has an individual journey and mood but the core remains chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra.

Jai Jai Shri Radhe!

Hare Krishna!

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