Chanting – which hand to use and why?

Francisco Valencia Berrueta, 22nd August 2011

Hare Krishna

My respectful obedience to all the devotees of Krishna

Para en canto de Mahamantra Hare Krishna con Japa, en la conciencia de Krishna, ¿ por que se recomienda utilizar la mano derecha y usar únicamente los dedos pulgar e indice?

(google translate: For in Mahamantra chanting Hare Krishna Japa, in Krishna consciousness, why it is recommended to use the right hand and use only the thumb and index?)

Your humble servant

Francisco

jagannatha dasa,22nd August 2011

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The right hand is used for chanting japa because the left hand is reserved for personal hygiene and other less exalted things.

We dont use the index finger.  The index finger is for pointing out faults in others, and for claiming pride and distinction for ourselves.  Therefore, we chant using the thumb and middle finger.  Please find attached an illustration.

Your servant,

-Jagannatha dasa

jagannatha dasa, 22nd August 2011

Regarding the ring finger and smallest finger, it is very difficult to chant with them.

I have heard more esoteric reasons in a class, but I have not done research into scripture for those points personally.

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Your servant,

-Jagannatha dasa

Uddhava Presta Das, 23rd August 2011

Hare Krsna

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

May I take the liberty of adding some comments that I heard from Sarvabauma prabhuji.

He mentions that the pointing/index finger is kept out of the chanting bag (in a way not used for chanting) to show the direction to a devotee who is asking the way to a Krsna/Vishnu temple and is in a place which is new to him.  This explanation got inscribed on my mind as the statement is more PALATABLE.

Hare Krsna

Uddhava presta das

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 24th August 2011

Uddhava Prestha Prabhu, hare Krishna! Please could you get a shastric

reference for this Prabhu? I have never heard it and would like to

understand the source of that information and be sure it is bona fide.

rAma Sita, 24th August 2011

Hare Krsna.

All I know is tarjani (index finger) is not fit for japa as it is forbidden and only angustha (thumb) and madhyama (middle finger) are used with the support of anamika and kanishtika (ring and little fingers). I was told that it is to do with the energy centres and connection there with other nAdis of the body. The nAdi that tarjani connects to is not fit for japam.

To show the way to temple I am not sure 🙂

regards

rAma

Rodrigo, 24th August 2011

All glories to Srila Prahbupada,

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga,

Dear servants of Sri Bhagavan Krishna and Srila Prahbupada.I am left-handed and uhhh,as far as i have remembered i have wiped my bottom while doing toiletry actions with my right hand;and ,that is the way I think it is with all left-handed persons.It is vice-versa with right handed persons who wipe with their left hand .I don’t know why this is.Does anyone know.Does that mean I have been chanting all this time with the wrong hand?since I began chanting I have chanted with my right hand in a bead bag( when i procured one)so please tell me godbrothers and sisters which hand should I really be chanting with;the one I wipe with (the right hand)or the one i never have wiped with(the left hand).It is just a matter of natural dexterous inclination.Please someone tell if or not I have been doing wrong by chanting with the hand I wipe my bottom with in toiletry actions.Thank you .Dandavat Pranams.

Your Servant Eternally in Krishna Consciousness,

A humble,tolerant home worshipper of Sri Krishna

who is not yet initiated,have mercies and grace,

Rodrigo

Manian VB, 24th August 2011

All glories to Gurudeva and Krishna

Which ever hand you do the Japa, purity of the hand and mind is

important. There are so many people left handers. If I am wrong,

devotees please forgive.

Hari Bol.

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 24th August 2011

Rodrigo,

Hare Krishna!

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

This discussion may feel petty, but there are some very nice principles involved here, so this group is fulfilling the purpose of helping us overcome practical day-to-day hurdles on the path of Krishna Consciousness.

The Vedic system is coming from the perfect source of all knowledge, Sri Krishna. There is a time, place, significance and reason for everything; this is not a whimsical system. Sometimes, the given reason is not reasonable to the material mind, but that is a conditioning. Ultimately, whether we are left-handed or right-handed, that is just a form of material conditioning as we got this present body.

One interaction I recall is when Srila Prabhupada was eating with a person of Indian origin who had become quite westernized in habits, after they were finished, Srila Prabhupada asked the person to wash his hands, the person replied that he had not eaten with his hand directly but used cutlery. Srila Prabhupada explained that the contamination was subtle, but it was there, that the hand was not clean by Vedic standards.

Yes sometimes, the spiritually perfect Acharyas, based on time, place, and circumstances, make some modifications but ensuring that the higher principle is kept. However, changes made by material considerations such as being left-handed or right-handed lead one to a slippery slope of where do we draw the line… Someone can say that they were born in the Middle East, and were brought up eating meat, therefore they should be allowed to eat meat? Someone can say they have been given a very beautiful or handsome body therefore they should be excused the no illicit sex regulation? Someone can say they love that intoxicants “relax” them so they request that they be allowed to continue with that habit? Someone can say they are left-handed therefore they want to offer worship to the deity with their left hand? Manian Prabhu does that make sense?

One positive example in the left-hand/right-hand chanting is a devotee in Toronto. His Grace Dharma Prana Prabhu is a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Some years ago he suffered a stroke and much of his language and the mobility in the right side of his body was lost. Of course, he didn’t forget Krishna Consciousness, and has been a great inspiration to me (and hundreds of other people) for the last 8 years I have been at the Toronto temple. He chants Hare Krishna clearly, some other mantras are sometimes slurred, but he chants enthusiastically and can get many many people dancing with him in Kirtan. He showed me my first steps personally. With Japa, he cannot hold/move his beads in his right hand. So he uses the left hand. Someone can say he is breaking the rules, but the higher principle is that he needs to chant, and he is chanting, anyway that he can with his current physical condition which makes it impossible for him to hold beads in right hand.

So Prabhus, I would recommend that unless physically impossible, instead of changing the hand with which one chants, which is the right hand as explained by our Acharyas, and following their instructions, learning to use the left hand for less-than-pleasant necessities is a better thing… someone needs to learn to subdue their mind a bit, others need to control their tongue in eating or speaking, some others need to overcome pride on account of wealth or beauty or youth… everyone has some type of conditioning to overcome, the left-handed/right-handed thing is the same.

Does this help Rodrigo Prabhu?

Your servant,

Mahabhagavat Das

Manian VB, 24th August 2011

Hare Krishna Prabhu,

All obeisance to Gurudeva

I thank you very much for correcting me. Your knowledge is so profound

in Vedic systems, I admire you and will try to improve myself with

your blesings. You have corrected me on several occasions for which I

am grateful to you. Your servanat

Hare Krishna

rAma Sita, 24th August 2011

Hare Krsna.

vAma is left hand; vAma hasta is used for one set of activities. While doing homam, taking theertham or taking prasAdam, etc we use the right hand as that is sadAchAra. As Mahabhagavat prabhu has already mentioned, these are all vedic standards. In cases, when only one hand works, the exceptions are fine.

On that note, the consort of the Lord is always on the left. For dharma activities like couple sitting to do sudarsana homam, etc in temples wife sits to the left of the husband.

Irrespective of the purity, etc the positions are better followed as per vedic standards.

regards

rAma

Uddhava Presta Das 25th August 2011

Hare Krsna Mahabhagavat Das prabhuji

Please accept my humble obeisances

All glories to Srila Prbhupada

Excellent explanation and inspiration….

Thanks a lot.  Really indebted…

your servant

uddhava presta das

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2 thoughts on “Chanting – which hand to use and why?

  1. Hari bol 🙂 all glories to his divine grace Srila prabhupada
    I’m new to the ISKCON movement
    I’m left handed
    I’m not sure if I can chant with my left hand and apply tilak with my left hand
    Please advise me,thank you
    Your useless servant,Nishtha Singh

    1. Dear Mother Nishtha,

      Hare Krishna!

      Thank you for your sincere question.

      It is better to use the right hand as recommended. Everyone has certain bodily preferences, and to a great extent, we try to accommodate those preferences, but with certain activities, it is beneficial to overcome the bodily preferences to do as our teachers have instructed us.

      To give you an example – it is natural for someone to be displeased when someone acts against one’s wishes. But in Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that we should practice tolerance. One can say “but I am used to expressing my displeasure always”, but looking deeper we can see there is a higher meaning to this.

      Another example is that some persons may prefer to stay in bed and sleep well into the morning, but we say rise early before sunrise… again, the person who tries to practice, that person gradually sees the benefit also.

      So wrt. chanting and applying Tilak, please use your right hand, with just a little bit of practice, you won’t feel uncomfortable, and in due course of time, the deeper reason why we should follow the process sincerely will also be revealed to you in your heart by Krishna. Plus, Krishna is the master of the entire unlimited Universes – If He wants, He can make you an expert with any hand or any part of your body. What is impossible for Krishna?

      I hope this helps. Hare Krishna!

      Sincerely,
      Mahabhagavat Das

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