How To Chant On Japa Beads

1. Hold the beads in your right hand.
2. There’s one head bead, a bead that’s bigger than all the rest. Grasp the first bead to one side of the head bead (the one which is the largest) with your right thumb and the middle finger of your right hand. (Your index finger doesn’t touch the bead.)
3. Chant — Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The word Hare is pronounced huh-ray. Krishna is pronounced Krish-na. And Rama rhymes with the English word drama. Say each syllable of each word as clearly as you can. Concentrate your attention on the sound of each word of the mantra.  (As an option you can roll the bead back and forth between your thumb and middle finger when chanting the first half of the mantra and hold it still while chanting the second half of the mantra.  Srila Prabhupada sometimes did this.)
4. After you’ve chanted the complete mantra one time, move your thumb and finger to the next bead and chant the mantra again.
5. Chant on the next bead and then the next, until you have chanted on all 108 beads. You have now reached the other side of the head bead and have completed one full “round.”
6. Do not chant on the head bead, and don’t cross over it to continue. Instead, turn the whole set of beads around in your hand and chant in the other direction. The last bead of your first round is the first bead for your next. Chant on this bead, then the next. and then the next. Stop when you reach the side of the head bead again. Then you’ll have completed your second round.
7. Keep reversing directions in this way to chant your third and fourth rounds, and keep going. (How many rounds can you chant? Initiated devotees chant at least sixteen rounds a day.)
8. Treat your beads respectfully. Don’t let them touch the floor, your feet, or any unclean place. Don’t take them into the bathroom.
9. You can keep your beads in a bead bag, (available from ISKCON centers). This keeps your beads nicely while you chant, and when you’re not chanting you can hang the bag around your neck to keep your beads handy. When you put your beads away, store them in the bag in a clean place. (If you don’t have a bead bag, you can wrap your beads in a clean cloth and keep them in a drawer or on a shelf.)
One final word. Try to find time to chant a fixed number of rounds every day. You can start with two rounds or even one — but chant regularly, without fail, preferably in the early morning. This regularity of chanting, coupled (if possible) with a regular program of study, will give you a firm basis for further progress in Krishna consciousness and enable you to quickly advance along the pathway to complete spiritual perfection.

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