nāma grahaṇa samaye asāvadhānatā anavadhānatā

To Be Inattentive While Chanting

From the up and coming booklet  Nama-Aparadha – The Ten Offences 
By His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami

Fix the Mind on Krishna 

While chanting the mahā-mantra on the beads given to you by guru at the time of initiation, the chanting should not be inattentive. Fix the mind on Kṛṣṇa. That means to chant very carefully, focusing the attention on Kṛṣṇa. The mind naturally fluctuates and oscillates. This is natural and therefore, in order to complete the required number of rounds we sometimes become inattentive. Our mind oscillates and becomes unfocused and our chanting becomes inattentive. This is an offence. One should not do this.

Chant During the Brāhma-Muhūrta Period

Therefore, for one who has this tendency he should be very careful to complete his prescribed rounds, as far as possible, in the brāhma-muhūrta period, the early morning period between 4:00 am and 6:00 am. At that time the atmosphere is calm and it will be easier to concentrate, whereas at other times of the day the mind must fluctuate. Most people have not risen from their beds, therefore the atmosphere is very calm; it is a very congenial period. As far as possible complete as many rounds as you can, then you will not commit the offence of inattentiveness. You may complete the rest of the rounds in the evening, when everyone has gone to bed, then the atmosphere is calm again, and thoughts do not crowd the mind. This is an easy way to avoid inattentive chanting.

Counteract Māyā’s Influence

Focusing the mind on chanting in the middle of the day from, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm is very difficult. It will be much easier to complete your rounds, as far as possible, from 4:00 am to 6:00 am, and you will feel very happy. If you can chant nice rounds then the whole day you will feel very happy and very easily you will be able to face māyā and counteract māyā’s influence, otherwise you feel uneasy, māyā will overcome you. That is a fact.

If in the beginning you cannot concentrate on the form of Kṛṣṇa, then it is better to chant before the deities in the temple. Look at the deities and chant then you can very easily concentrate. Or you may chant before a picture of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, or chant in the association of Vaiṣṇavas and sādhus. These are the processes recommended for chanting so that your mind will not fluctuate. By this practice the mind will become fixed, then there is no harm, you are safe and you can chant in any place because the mind is fixed and you will never be disturbed by external noise or situations. Before you achieve this stage, you should chant according to the above instructions.