Why the Mahamantra Order Was Changed?

Question: Why the Mahamantra Order Was Changed?

A question was recently posed to us at our recent namahatta meeting. We were asked to find the answer. I am sure you can help.

The question is:

Originally the mahamantra was recited as follows:

Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare

Thereafter it was changed to start as follows:

Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

So when, why and who made this change?

Answer: What Makes You Think It Was Changed?

The person who has asked this question has been misinformed and has thus come to the misunderstanding that the mahamantra originally began with Hare Rama and that someone has changed it to begin with Hare Krishna. This is not a fact. He must have heard from those persons who are propagating this false idea that the mahā-mantra was originally in the following sequence:

hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare

Those in this school of thought sometimes refer to the edition of the Kali-santaraṇa Upaniṣad published by Venkatesh Press, Mumbai, which states that this mahā-mantra begins with the words:

hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare followed by hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare.

But earlier publications of the Kali-santaraṇa Upaniṣad clearly state that the mahā-mantra begins with hare kṛṣṇa and not with hare rāma. These earlier publications are still preserved in libraries in Calcutta and Jaipura.

There are also many other authoritative Vedic texts which present the mahamantra beginning with hare kṛṣṇa. For the sake of brevity we will mention only a few of them here:


hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
ṣoḍa-śaitāni nāmāni dvātrinśad varṇa kāni hi
kalau yuge mahā-mantraḥ sammato jīva tāraṇe

"Hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare.This hari-nāma mahā-mantra consists of sixteen names and thirty-two syllables. In Kali-yuga this mantra can deliver all jīvas."

In the Brahma Yāmala, Lord Śiva states:

hariṁ binā nāsti kiñcat pāpani-stārakaṁ kalau
tasmāl-lokod-dhārāṇa-ārthaṁ hari-nāma prakāśayet
sarvatra mucyate loko mahā-pāpāt kalau yuge
hare-kṛṣṇa-pada-dvandvaṁ kṛṣṇeti ca pada-dvayam
tathā hare-pada-dvandvaṁ hare-rāma iti dvayam
tad-ante ca mahā-devī rāma rāma dvayaṁ vadet
hare hare tato brūyād harināma samud dharet
mahā-mantraṁ ca kṛṣṇasya sarvapāpa praṇāṣakamiti

"He Mahādevī! Look! In Kali-yuga there is no easier way to eradicate sins than by śrī hari-nāma. It is therefore essential to propagate śrī hari-nāma among the general populous. The people in Kaliyuga can be easily liberated from the greatest hell by performing saṅkīrtana of this mahā-mantra. To chant the mahā-mantra, first chant hare kṛṣṇa twice, then chant kṛṣṇa twice, then hare twice. After that, chant hare rāma twice, then rāma twice and again hare twice. One should chant, articulate and perform sankīrtana etc., of Śrī Kṛṣṇa's mahā-mantra, which destroys all sins."

In the Rādhā Hṛdya Khaṇḍa of the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Romaharṣaṇa Sūta prays to Śrī Veda Vyāsa as follows:

yattvayā kīrtitaṁ nātha hari-nāmeti sanjitam
mantraṁ brahma-padaṁ siddhi karaṁ-tad-vad-no-vibho

"He Vibho! He Prabhu! Please instruct me in the brahma svarūpa nāma mantra of Śrī Hari which is the bestower of all perfections."

In reply, Śrī Veda Vyāsa gives the following instruction:

gṛhaṇād yasya mantrasya dehī brahma-mayo bhavet
sadhyaḥ pūtaḥ surāpo 'pi sarva-siddhi-yuto bhavet
tad-ahaṁ te bhidhā-syāmi mahā-bhāgavato hamsi
hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
iti ṣoḍaśakaṁ nāmnāṁ tri-kāla kalmaṣāp-aham
nātaḥ parataropāyaḥ sarva vedeṣu vidhyate

"O my son, I will certainly instruct you in that mahā-mantra, the acceptance of which a person in the bodily conception of life can be liberated and even a drunkard can quickly become purified and attain all perfection. I will instruct you because you are a mahābhāgavata and a suitable candidate. Just see! The sixteen word mahā-mantra, hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare, can destroy the sins of the three worlds. The four Vedas do not mention a method for achieving liberation from material bondage superior to the chanting of this mahā-mantra."

Ananta Saṁhitā also states:

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare
soḍasautāni nāmāni dvātriṁ-śad varṇa-kāṇi hi
kalāu yuge mahā-mantraḥ sammato jīva-tāraṇe
utsṛa-jyaitan-mahā-mantraṁ ye tvanyat kalpitaṁ padam
mahā-nāmeti gāyanti te śāstra-guru-laṅi-ghanah

"All śāstras agree that the hare kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, which is composed of sixteen names and thirty-two syllables, is the illustrious mantra to deliver the jīvas in Kali-yuga. Those who neglect this mahā-mantra and accept any other process, due to their own imagination or the imagination of others, are actually disobeying guru and śāstra. If someone asks, 'Why is this sixteen word hare kṛṣṇa mantra the mahā-mantra?' then the following answer is given.

'Among all of Kṛṣṇa's names' no name other than Hari can easily take away sins, great misfortune and ignorance. No name other than Kṛṣṇa can deliver prema. And no name other than Rāma can bestow liberation.' This is why the mahā-mantra is composed of these three primary names. Secondly, these sixteen names are an invocation. Oṁ, namaḥ, klīṁ, svāhā, etc., are not required to make the mantra more potent. For this reason it is called the mahā-mantra."

So in conclusion, the question we should ask instead is: Why are some people still thinking that the mahamantra begins with Hare Rama? Of course, if they prefer to chant it that way, we have no objection because once you start swimming in the nectarean ocean of the mahamantra no matter which you started you are still chanting the same thing.

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