Perhaps the most famous Hindu mantra in the West is the Maha Mantra dedicated to the spirit of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe who descends to the Earth whenever balance needs to be restored between good and evil. Popularized by the Beatles and George Harrison in 1969, the mantra has become synonymous with Western Krishna Consciousness (ISKONN) devotees. But the Hare Krisna mantra dates back more than 5,000 years ago.
Ram was the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, the ideal king, father and servant of God who placed honor and adherence to duty above all else. He and his followers defeated King Lanka to rescue his wife, Sita, bringing light and goodness back to the world as told in the Ramayana. Krishna began killing demons in his infancy and continued to free the enslaved throughout his life. Providing his recipe for a good life in the Bhagavad Gita including Bhakti, he also gave Hindus their ultimate hero – a leader, friend, philosopher and man of action.
The Maha Mantra beseeches Vishnu through his avatars to take away our sorrows, pain and failures. Repetition gives us peace of mind, bliss and joy because these 16 words counteract anxiety and conflict.
There are millions of versions of the mantra, here are just a few…