Chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra is potent always, but it is especially potent in this Age of Kali. Therefore Śukadeva Gosvāmī, while instructing Mahārāja Parīkṣit, stressed this chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.
kaler doṣa-nidhe rājann
asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ
kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya
mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet
“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is full of faults, there is still one good quality about this age. It is that simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.” (Bhāg. 12.3.51) Those who have accepted the task of spreading the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness should take this opportunity to deliver people very easily from the clutches of material existence. Our duty, therefore, is to follow the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and preach the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world very sincerely. This is the best welfare activity for the peace and prosperity of human society.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s movement consists of spreading kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana. Paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam: “All glories to the Śrī Kṛṣṇa saṅkīrtana!” Why is it so glorious? This has also been explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: by the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one’s heart is cleansed. The whole difficulty is that in this Age of Kali there is no sattva-guṇa and no clearance of the heart, and therefore people are making the mistake of identifying with their bodies. Even the big philosophers and scientists with whom we deal are practically all under the impression that they are their bodies. The other day we were discussing a prominent philosopher, Thomas Huxley, who was proud of being an Englishman. This means that he was in the bodily conception of life. Everywhere we find this same misunderstanding. As soon as one is in the bodily conception of life, one is nothing but an animal like a cat or a dog (sa eva go-kharaḥ). Thus the most dangerous of the dirty things within our hearts is this misidentification of the body as the self. Under the influence of this misunderstanding, one thinks, “I am this body. I am an Englishman. I am an Indian. I am an American. I am Hindu. I am Muslim.” This misconception is the strongest impediment, and it must be removed. That is the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā and of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Indeed, Bhagavad-gītā begins with this instruction:
dehino ’smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Bg. 2.13) Although the soul is within the body, nevertheless, because of misunderstanding and animal propensities one accepts the body as the self. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam. To cleanse the core of the heart, which is full of misunderstanding, is possible only through śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana. The leaders of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement should very seriously take this opportunity to be kind to the fallen souls by delivering them from the misunderstanding of materialistic life.
One cannot be happy in any way within this material world. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (8.16):
punar āvartino ’rjuna
“From the highest planet in this material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place.” Therefore, not to speak of going to the moon, even if one is promoted to the highest planetary system, Brahmaloka, there cannot be any happiness in this material world. If one actually wants happiness, one must go to the spiritual world. The material world is characterized by a struggle for existence, and survival of the fittest is a well-known principle, but the poor souls of this material world do not know what is survival and who is fit. Survival does not mean that one should die; survival means that one should not die, but should enjoy an everlastingly blissful life of knowledge. This is survival. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant to make every person fit for survival. Indeed, it is meant to stop the struggle for existence. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā give definite directions on how to stop the struggle for existence and how to survive in eternal life. The saṅkīrtana movement, therefore, is a great opportunity. Simply by hearing Bhagavad-gītā and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one becomes completely purified. Thus the struggle for existence ceases, and one goes back home, back to Godhead.
- Srimad Bhagavatam 8.5.23