Question: Holy Name Has Taste Only After Initiation?
In the scriptures it is stated to chant 64 rounds. Why did Srila Prabhupada reduce it to 16? And why does he restrict us with various rules? And also, Maharaja, is it true that the taste of the holy name comes only after initiation?
Answer: Taste Greatly Magnified After Initiation
Actually the scriptural injunction as stated by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita is that we should chant His names 24 hours daily. So whether one is chanting 16 rounds or 64 rounds, this is a minimization of the Lord's instruction. The practical reality is that in today's hectic world many devotees are hard pressed even to complete 16 rounds in a day. So for such devotees how would 64 rounds be attainable? So this is Srila Prabhupada's special mercy to allow us to become accepted as initiated devotees even if we can complete only 16 rounds daily. Of course, if you are able to manage it in your schedule, you should chant at least 64 rounds daily. This will give you great spiritual strength. But if you can chant 16 rounds and engage the rest of your spare time and energy in preaching and distributing books of transcendental knowledge to those who are drowning in the ocean of ignorance, this will be even more pleasing to the Lord.
The four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no meat eating, no intoxication, and no gambling are essential principles for those who want to awaken the dormant love of God which is sleeping within their hearts. If we are trying to light a fire, we should not be simultaneously pouring water on it. So, if one engages in the above mentioned sinful activities, he will be counteracting the purifying effects of chanting with sinful activities which pollute the soul.
By the mercy of Krishna there is taste in the holy name from the very beginning of the self-realization path. But as soon as one takes complete shelter of the lotus feet of the bona fide spiritual master by the process known as initiation, the taste of the holy name becomes magnified many times over.