What Is The Maha Mantra?

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Mahamantra (great mantra)

Maha Mantra Definition

Also known as the Hare Krishna Mantra, the Maha Mantra is regarded as the ‘great’ mantra mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad.

It goes as follows:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Har

Maha mantra deep dive

A hugely significant mantra, its chanting cultivates awareness of the highest power and assists the journey of self-realization.

The mantra calls on the one reality, or infinite source, of the universe.

The Maha Mantra is the sound vibration of the Absolute, a means of spiritual realization of your nature beyond this physical reality:

The nama sankirtana (public chanting) of Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra delivers a complete revelation of all of spiritual reality

Brahmanda Purana 6.59-60

My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: simply by chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom

Srimad Bhagavatam 12.3.51
bhagavad gita statue - krishna and arjuna in a chariot

Let’s break down the meaning of each of the three words chanted in the Maha Mantra:

  • Hare: Hari (another name of Vishnu) or Hara (Krishna’s consort, Shakti)
  • Krishna: an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu
  • Rama: an avatar of Vishnu, considered purushottama (supreme personality & liberator of sins)

Vishnu is so important in Hinduism because he is the preserver and protector of the universe within the Trimurti, Vishnu is the great maintainer.

Maha Mantra History

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, expounder of the Bhakti Yoga movement in the 15th century and also known as the father of the kirtan movement, popularized the mantra. He believed, as a great devotee of Lord Krishna, that you could come to know God through love and devotion.

Mahaprabhu is also thought to be an avatar of Lord Krishna himself, arriving mercifully in the 15th century to bestow the Maha Mantra on humanity to protect us from evil and help us overcome the constant cycle of death and rebirth.

In more modern times, the mantra has been popularized by the Hare Krishna Movement, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). ISKCON is part of the Gaudiya, or Chaitanya Vaishnava, tradition, focusing on the devotional worship of Krishna.

Benefits of Maha Mantra

Here are some of the benefits that chanting the Maha Mantra is thought to bring:

  • Helps you to overcome bad habits
  • Guides you away from sadness/misery
  • Brings you joy and peace
  • Self-realization method (especially in the age of Kali)
  • Thought to destroy/absolve you of your sins (of present, past, and future)
  • Purifies the mind and heart
  • Demonstrates love of Krishna
  • Greater understanding of the self and Atma
  • Greater control of the mind
person meditating with japa mala

maha mantra in your life

The Hare Krishna Mantra can be chanted as part of a japa practice 108 times, but if this feels like too much for you, you can start by repeating the Maha Mantra as many times as you like. You could start with just once!

Things to consider before starting to chant:

  • Try your best to pronounce the mantra with proper pronunciation. There are lots of YouTube videos that you can copy if you’re starting out
  • Enter the practice with intention and focus. Remember, the Maha Mantra is a practice of Bhakti or devotion, so you should keep this in mind before going into the practice
  • Try your best to control the mind. If we are not fully present with the mantra, we are letting apathy take over our japa practice and therefore diluting its power. This is sometimes called ‘courtesy japa‘, which we want to avoid

More on mantra:

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Liz is a Qigong and Yoga teacher based in Gloucestershire with a love for all things movement, nature & community. She strives to create a trauma-informed space in which everyone is empowered to be their authentic selves. www.elizabethburns.co.uk

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