Question: As practicing Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, we chant the Hare Krishna mahāmantra. Did Śrī Caitanya and His associates chant the Hare Krishna mantra? In Caitanya-caritāmṛta or other biographies of Śrī Caitanya, the mahāmantra is not mentioned as the mantra that was chanted. The mahāmantra is itself a legitimate mantra as per Kali-saṇṭāraṇa Upaniṣad, so I have no question about its validity. But how are the Gauḍīya sampradayas linked to the mahāmantra?
Answer: The simple proof that I can give are the following references from the works of our ācāryas where it is mentioned that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra:
1. hare-kṛṣṇetyucchaiḥ sphurita-rasno nāma-gaṇanā-kṛta
(Caitanyāṣṭakam 5 by Rūpa Gosvāmī)
2. hare-kṛṣṇetyevaṁ gaṇana-vidhinā kīrtayataḥ bho
(Śrī-śacīsūnvaṣṭakam 5 by Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī)
3. srī-caitannya-mukhodgirṇā hare-krsnetivarṇakāḥ
majjayanto jagat-premaṇṇi viajyantāṁ tadāhvahayāḥ
4. aṇū-brahmāṇḍayor madhye caitnyen samāhṛtām
(Śrī Caintanya-śatakam 79)
(Śrī Caintanya-śatakam 23)
There are many other stotras and aṣṭakas which refer to Śrī Caitanya’s chanting but they do not use the exact words “Hare Kṛṣṇa.” They mention harināma, kṛṣṇa-nāma or just nāma. Besides this, we know from tradition. In all the parivāras of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, one thing that is commonly accepted is japa and kīrtan of the mahāmantra. The only exception that I know is that of the followers of Rāmadāsa Bābājī. They do not perform kīrtan of the mahāmantra, although they also do mahāmantra japa.
Mantras in which Ear?
Question: A friend of mine had a question about this verse/BBT purport in Bhāgavata Purāṇa 4.25.51. Could you please help me understand?
devahūr nāma puryā dvā
“On the northern side was the gate named Devahū. Through that gate, King Purañjana used to go with his friend Śrutadhara to the place known as Uttara-pañcāla.”
It seems Śrīdhāra Swamī says in his Bhasya that karma-kāṇḍa is traditionally heard using the right ear (results in heaven) and jñāna-kāṇḍa is heard using left ear (results in mokṣa). It looks like the mantras received through the right ear are meant for heavenly planets and those from left ear are meant for mokṣa/Vaikuṇṭha.
If this is true, why are dīkṣā mantras given in the right ear in Vaiṣṇava lineages?
Answer: Yes, Śrīdhara Swamī says that karma-kāṇḍa is to be heard through the right ear and jñāna-kāṇḍa through the left ear. However, he is not talking about mantras but about śāstra. So his commentary refers to the study of śāstra related to karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa. Mantras related to any kāṇḍa are received through the right ear.
This whole story from the 25th Chapter is allegorical and not to be taken literally. This verse signifies that karma-kāṇḍa is heard first and then jñāna-kāṇḍa. Therefore, they are also called pūrva (“earlier”)-mīmāṁsā and uttara (“later”)-mīmāṁsā, respectively. Traditionally one first studies pūrva-mīmāṁsā and then one studies uttara-mīmāṁsā, or Vedānta. That is how the word atha in athāto brahma jijñāsa (Vedānta Sūtra 1.1.1) is explained by most commentators.
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