We think everything occurs on this planet but that is not correct. There are inhabitants on all planets and this mantra is known throughout the entire Universe.
The word “maha” means “great,” “mantra” means “mind deliverer.” Mantras have the power to deliver our minds from the material realm to the spiritual realm, and of all mantras, this is the greatest mantra.
The latest incarnation of God to appear on this planet was Lord Gauranga, also known as Lord Chaitanya, also known as Mahaprabhu. Whenever the Lord comes in an incarnation, He comes with a specific purpose. There are innumerable incarnations and each one has a specific purpose. So Lord Gauranga’s (Lord Chaitanya’s) specific purpose was to introduce the world to the chanting of God’s names and to declare that this is the process by which one can achieve spiritual perfection in this age of Kali yuga. It is known as the yuga dharma, the religion of the age.
So the religion for this age, which everyone should participate in, is hearing and chanting of God’s names – congregational chanting, sankirtan, like we have been doing.
And Lord Chaitanya appeared in India only 500 years ago in small town known as Nabadwip. This is very current, this is not like thousands of years, this is after…, well, He began to teach after Columbus discovered America. Lord Chaitanya appeared in 1486, Columbus discovered America in 1492. Everybody knows about Columbus, nobody knows about Lord Chaitanya. Very unique. God comes and gives the way to reach perfection and go back to the spiritual world – nobody knows about that. Some merchant trying to go to India to do business went the wrong way and bumped by mistake into what is now known as North America – everybody knows about that. See, it’s our material world.
But we know about Lord Gauranga. We have the opportunity to take advantage of the most wonderful gift that has ever been given: mantra-meditation.
It is declared in the ancient scriptures, long before Lord Chaitanya appeared, that in the Kali yuga, which is our age now, those who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will chant the names of God. So this is what we are doing. And we are trying to encourage as many people as possible to do the same thing.
And the specific mantra that Lord Gauranga gave to us is the maha-mantra. This is the prescribed mantra for the Kali yuga. This is the mantra He chanted and this is the mantra He taught to others.
It’s made from three words: HARE, KRISHNA and RAMA. Hare is addressing the devotional energy of God. Krishna is one of God’s many names which means the All-attractive person. And of all of God’s names, which are enumerable, Krishna is the foremost name. All the other names of God are contained in the name Krishna. This is not the Hindu God, this is the foremost name of the one Supreme Lord. Rama is another one of God’s names which means the Giver of spiritual pleasure. Combined together, these three names make up the maha-mantra.
As all the names of God are contained in the name Krishna, all mantras are contained in the maha-mantra. So if you chant the maha-mantra, you get everything.
So in Bhakti yoga that is the main mantra that is used. Sure, there are many, many mantras, but this is the number One, “maha,” great mantra.