(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 12 November 2016, Vrindavan, India, Srimad Bhagavatam 6.18.1-8)
In an initiation ceremony, we receive the maha-mantra. So it is like those birthdays where you get a big gift, you open up the box and inside is a gift that you already have, “Oh, I already got that! I got the holy name before.” Yes, we have the holy name already as we have been chanting for a long time before initiation. But at the time of initiation, what we are receiving?
We are receiving the holy name along with the prayer of the spiritual master who has his credit with Krsna as a result of his service and his sacrifice in devotional service. Of course, whoever is initiating nowadays in parampara (disciplic succession) from Srila Prabhupada continues to initiate at sixteen rounds minimum. That we can do only because of Prabhupada’s prayer, because Prabhupada’s prayer is still standing next to us. That mercy is still there! So we should understand that what is given to us is something special.
Sometimes we find that in the marketplace of the holy name, some are buying the mantra still cheaper – only four rounds. They take some initiation for four rounds. That happens but on what strength? Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura said, “One should chant one lakh of names. Anyone who does not chant a lakh of names is fallen.” He said, “But at least four rounds, the minimum four.“ So what does this mean, the four rounds?? It was not that by chanting four rounds daily then one will go back to Godhead. With four rounds a day one is on the slow boat to China, as they say! When one is connected with the sampradaya (religious system in succession), one has begun their spiritual life. After many lifetimes eventually one will come to this level.
But here we are, sitting at the feet of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and we are chanting sixteen rounds minimum. Not that it is forbidden to chant sixty-four rounds but at least sixteen because sixteen is a blessed number and not less, not twelve. Some people say, “Oh I cannot manage sixteen, I can manage only twelve.” Well, you are on the slow boat to China and that is not good and it may take too long! Somehow or other, one has to adjust, to increase their chanting, to cut out other things and make time. One must go to bed earlier and get up earlier. Chanting sixteen rounds makes all the difference!