One of the directly perceivable benefits of chanting the Holy Names of Krishna is it helps us individually and collectively overcome the two terrible signs of this day and age; quarrel and hypocrisy. The present age is described in Vedic scriptures as the age of ‘kali’. ‘Kali’ is derived from the root ‘Kalaha’ which means quarrel. The present age is beset with conflicts between individuals and nations, over trifles. Whether it’s for an insignificant seat in a train or for a few centimetres of land up in the uninhabitable icy Himalayan mountains, men have fought bloody wars and killed millions. Also the tendency to be a hypocrite is rampant; men play larger than life roles and lack congruency inside-out.
Even spiritual circles can be plagued with the disease of one-upmanship and rivalry. Members claiming to be spiritual seekers could want material positions in the community of devotees, and to stake their claim for position and power, may even hide their lack of spiritual advancement. They may present themselves as very advanced, and intensely compete for material benefits. A spiritualist then not only sees his purpose of being a seeker of divinity being defeated, but he also becomes guilty of hypocritical behaviour. Then the whole community gets adversely affected and the spiritual advancement of many others is throttled; people’s innocent faith is broken and the atmosphere is surcharged with terrible negativities.
Radhanath Swami warns a chanter of Hare Krishna to be careful to not become a victim of the same materialistic tendencies that characterize the human society in general. To prevent such anomalies in spiritual circles, Radhanath Swami offers a time tested, practical solution- chanting of Krishna’s names in kirtana or congregational chanting of the Holy Names, in unison. During this collective chanting exercise, the members sing and dance to the different enchanting melodies of Hare Krishna. The lead singer sings the refrain first and the others follow in chorus while dancing gracefully for the pleasure of God and other devotees. This kirtana not only fills the heart of the individual participants with spiritual joy but it also permeates the ether with tremendous positive energy of appreciation and love. Radhanath Swami says, “Whenever there is a reason to quarrel and fight, we have the opportunity to gain the greatest blessing of God by cooperating. The strength to be united comes from following the sacred principle of kirtana. No matter how many misunderstandings we have together, when we chant and dance together, we become united on a higher spiritual platform, and all the superficial, detailed differences between us are dissolved; all communication failures and misunderstandings amongst us disappear from the heart.”
Individual chanting and meditation sessions, also called as japa, help the chanter get introspective and connects him to God in a personal way. And while chanting in kirtana, he also connects to other like minded spiritualists, and their sacred spiritual bond of friendship grows. Moreover, it’s also very pleasing to God to see His beloved children unite despite their differences. Radhanath Swami puts it brilliantly, “We chant our japa in the spirit of prayer and we chant the kirtans in the spirit of unity”