How much japa is enough?

measure_progressWhen asking for diksa, all practitioners are asked the same questions; “Do you chant 16 rounds and follow the four principles (no meat, no gambling, no intoxication, no illicit sex)?”. Is 16 rounds enough for a practitioner to  achieve krishna consciousness, or is it kindergarten level of japa?

The word science implies that there is a method to achieving our siddha-deha, and 16 rounds following the four principles is integral in this method. Vaidhi-bhakti must be the method, though I must admit that it’s not clear to me exactly what it is. As a practitioner it’s certainly easy to find faults in ones practices and there is no shortage of things one is supposed to do, behave, think.

I don’t chant 16 rounds anymore. I have actually gone years without chanting, though I’m more steady now than I have ever been. I would even say the quality of my chanting is better now than when I chanted 16 rounds. I refuse to lock myself to chanting a specific number of rounds. Why? Because my consciousness becomes: “I just have to finish these 16 rounds, so I can go back to my sense gratification.”

A really simple hearted devotee has no duplicity. At any moment, even in the dead of night he is ready to render service to Guru. If a devotee says, “I am very tired now, Maharaja. I had no sleep. I cannot do this service. Please excuse me”. That disciple is not ready to serve. This is duplicity.
Gour Govinda Maharaja, Bhubaneswar 1992.

Whatever I chant now, is because I want to. It’s not about finishing chanting anymore, I chant to pay my respect to Hari-Nama. I chant to improve my chanting. I chant, to chant. Though, I need to measure progress. If this truly is a scientific method, then certainly I should be able to measure progress somehow.

But how is progress measured? I’ve started to write down the number of rounds I chant every day with some notes on the side if necessary. I’m not sure if this even qualify, but at least it’s something.

How much chanting is needed?

How do you measure progress?


2 thoughts on “How much japa is enough?

  1. One standard I’ve heard recommended by both my diska and my siksa gurus is to chant for a set time rather than a number of rounds. In our lineage the consensus seems to be that 16 rounds equals 2 hours of japa. So, one way is to set an alarm and just chant without looking at the clock.

    Regarding measuring progress there is a nice example in this article:

    It’s in the section titled “Renouncing material association”, from where the Bhagavatam verse bhakti paresanubhavo… is quoted.

    To this I can add a nice simile I heard from a sannyasi recently. When you go on a diet it’s not wise to weigh yourself everyday, but do it once a week or so, and see the result more clearly.

  2. To measure chanting by time, makes much more sense to me. It means you focus on the chanting itself – it gives room for loosing oneself in chanting. Not that I have experienced that…

    Bhakti, paresanubhava, and virakti is the measure of progress. Though, I don’t understand what is meant by “Paresanubhava means some sort of accurate conception of the subjective world, superseding my subject on the other side”.

    The trouble I have with this way of measuring is also that this progress can be seen as on a scale. I want a way to know if I’m 1% on the way, 8%, 10% or if I’m actually going backwards which is what I feel most of the time.

    Indirectly enthusiasm is mentioned as the test. It’s difficult to measure enthusiasm, when you are in such a low stage as me.

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