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What inspired you to start chanting the Hare Krishna mantra? #2

Ravindra-svarupa dasa (William H. Deadwyler, Ph.D.) is a disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and a member of ISKCON's Governing Body Commission. He is also an initiating guru who lectures internationally on Krishna consciousness. He has written many essays and articles which have appeared in scholarly journals and in Back to Godhead magazine.

The transcript of this interview follows below*

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The reason the idea of chanting appealed to me was the idea that Krishna and Krishna's name are the same. That God is nondual is a theological idea; in the world of duality, there's (a difference between) the name and the thing named. If I say, "water, water, water," it's not the same thing as drinking a glass of H20.

But the idea about the chanting was that because Krishna is absolute, He's fully there. He is His name. He's fully there in the name, but because our senses are materially contaminated, we can't perceive the real name. But the name is there - it's given to us by pure devotees.

So, if we chant, we are in contact with Krishna, and He purifies us. Gradually we learn that the name reveals itself (or Himself – as we say, "Nama Prabhu"). And that, to me, is convincing enough.

When I began chanting Hare Krishna, the amount of faith I had was enough to try it and see what would happen. That's it. And something happened. One thing that was scary was I realized that somehow or other, this is potent. It's powerful. It's doing things to me. (I wondered:) "Who are these people? What am I chanting? What am I getting into?"

What it was doing was, I recognized good, but still I wasn't sure what I was getting into. The power of the chanting was there.

I think at the time, when I was chanting I really did want something. I had a material desire, in the sense of at least wanting to become free from the material world. Moksha-kama, the desire for liberation, is also a kind of personal desire. When you're really advanced, you don't care even about that. But at least it's a permissible thing to chant for. Behind it was a desire for Krishna, and I chanted with some sincerity.

I had a friend who got involved with a Japanese movement that chanted, but they were chanting for success and automobiles and fulfillment of material desires. That wasn't my idea at all.