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Keeping vow of chanting 16 rounds of japa under all circumstances

Thursday, 05 April 2007 / Published in Articles, Questions and Answers, Romapada Swami / 9,121 views

Answer by HH Romapada Swami

Question:Say a devotee after getting initiated, is unable to do his 16 rounds of chanting on a day or few days, due to illness or anything of that sort, it is like breaking the vows, right? So how and what the devotee should do in such situation?

Answer: The power to execute or fulfill an instruction of the spiritual master is within the instruction itself, when we accept it with faith and submission. Srila Prabhupada enjoined that initiated devotees must chant minimum 16 rounds everyday without fail, and within this order is invested the empowerment to do it; he would not have asked us to do it if it were not possible!

By taking a solemn vow before the spiritual master and vaishnavas and Deities, we receive also the empowerment to able to keep that vow, under all circumstances, barring very rare, exceptional emergencies. A disciple should therefore be determined to keep their vow at all costs, with the conviction that the ability to fulfill is latent within that commitment – we simply have to be willing to do it.

This means making all necessary efforts to make it happen – such as giving one’s chanting the first priority in the day, dedicating a specific time early in the day for this most important activity before other duties demand our attention, arranging our life in such a way that this is made possible. It also means keeping good association, studying scriptures and so on to ensure that the fire of our determination to chant nicely is maintained healthy and strong. Thus, even when minor challenges arise in day-to-day life, such as mild illnesses or other exigencies, we would be able to withstand by virtue of devotional strength. In short, the commitment to chant 16 rounds involves ongoing effort and ensuring that we don’t create circumstances for ourselves where we cannot fulfill our commitments.

If after all sincere efforts on our part, due to some unavoidable situation or emergency, one is unable to complete the prescribed chanting on an occasional day, then one should feel genuinely repentant and make up for those rounds the very next day or at the earliest opportunity – this was the recommendation Srila Prabhupada gave.

The caution, however, is that this should not be made a common practice, a rationale ushering weakness within our internal resolve to fulfill vows. A tendency is commonly there in conditioned souls to relax one’s commitments and take solemn vows more lightly over a period of time; by genuinely regretting occasional lapses and taking the chanting very seriously, this tendency can be curbed and offenses of negligence can be avoided.

4 Responses to “Keeping vow of chanting 16 rounds of japa under all circumstances”

  1. tchlfxvt says :

    Dear Romapada Swami,
    Please accept my humble obeisciences
    All Glories to Srila Prabhupada
    As an un-initiated devotee I made a vow to Srila Prabhupada to always chant at least 16 rounds a day ,This was a New Years resolution about 5 years ago!
    Chanting has now become the most important thing to get done every day…… no exceptions .This is how I look at it ….
    Prabhupada has been so kind and given us so much Mercy , It was his wish that we chant 16 rounds every day ……so by chanting 16 rounds
    I feel as if I am doing a small bit of devotional service for my Spiritual Master. If this pleases Srila Prabhupada in any way , It would make me so happy.
    Your Servant ,

    PS……..Dear Romapada ,
    The last time I talked with you was in 1970-71 ? down in your little office at the Henry Street Temple , I was transporting Devotees into NYC to go on Sankirtan for you .

  2. varahanarasimha says :

    I found this interesting article by Sruta Kirti Prabhu

    Srila Prabhupada On Chanting Japa
    July 7, 1999

    Srila Prabhupada On Chanting Japa


    It is easy to understand that Srila Prabhupada enjoyed chanting japa. He always stressed to us the importance of chanting our 16 rounds. He told me that as a householder he used a simple process for completing 16 rounds that we could apply. He said, “When I was a householder I would chant 4 rounds before each meal and 4 rounds before retiring in the evening. In this way 16 rounds could be chanted without difficulty.” He laughed and said, “If you don’t take prasadam before chanting your 4 rounds then you will be sure to get them chanted.”

    In New Dwarka he said to me, “In the evening, if I get tired, I walk and chant.” Looking at me he said, “If you are tired, then walk and chant like I do. Sometimes, if I am tired I pace back and forth in the room. Simply, in one room you can do everything. If you are tired, you can stand up and chant, like I do.” It was very common to see Srila Prabhupada walking around in his quarters or sitting in his rocking chair, chanting rounds. Sometimes in the evening he would chant rounds while I was giving him massage in bed.

    Sometimes, he would say, “There, I’m finished.” Once in New Dwarka I was in his sitting room cleaning around his desk. He was sitting behind his desk chanting japa. As he pulled down a counter bead he looked at me with a beautiful smile and said humorously, “There, I have finished my 16 rounds. Now I can do any damn thing I want.”

    Sometimes devotees would ask Srila Prabhupada about following certain rules in regards to Ekadasi or following Catur mas. Srila Prabhupada responded, “My disciples, they cannot even chant 16 rounds and follow the principles.

    What is the use of these other rules and regulations. First, just do these things. Do the simple things that I ask you to do. Don’t concern yourself with all these rituals. First, chant your 16 rounds and follow the principles.”

    One day a brahmacari entered Srila Prabhupada’s room and told him that he had fallen down with a woman. He told Srila Prabhupada that perhaps he should get married. Srila Prabhupada answered, “Marriage. Why do you think marriage is going to solve your difficulties? You should chant. Just chant Hare Krishna. Chant your 16 rounds.” There were so many times that devotees went into Srila Prabhupada’s room with a problem they were hoping he would solve with some particular arrangement. His solution was always the same. “Chant Hare Krishna, chant your 16 rounds.” He developed the phrase, “Just do it” long before Nike.

    He once told a disciple, “If there is some difficulty, you chant loudly. If there is some agitation, chant out loud.” One time is was brought to his attention that a senior devotee was not attending Mangal Arati or chanting rounds, at least with the other devotees. Srila Prabhupada said, “Do it to set the example for the other devotees. You, yourself are very advanced. You do not need to attend Mangal Arati but you should set the example for those that require it.”

    Thank you Srila Prabhupda for being the Acarya. You always taught by example. You chanted rounds. You said three Gayatri mantras a day, rose early in the morning and put tilaka on your transcendental body. You never asked any disciple to do something you were not doing yourself. You always practiced what you preached. You showed us practically how a pure devotee conducts himself. I have been in illusion since time immemorial but I pray that I am never deluded into thinking that this process of devotional service is only for the neophyte.

    YS, Srutakirti dasa

  3. Damana Krishna dasa says :

    I always try to chant more rounds. I observed that actually difference between devotees who stay fixed many years in devotional service and those who slack down is how they are serious about chanting their rounds. If we see that Lord Caitanya asked his followers to chant 64 rounds and in previous ages on had to do so many austerities for thousands years, then we should be able to alot the neccesary time for chanting. Its is like breathing for the soul, and its better to live more simple then sacrifice rounds for material success.

  4. jaysanyal says :

    It’s most important. I would go with that- chanting 16 rounds daily.
    I Don’t know as to how long I will live. It’s better to do the japa and follow the principles till my death.

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