The vaisnavas, whenever and wherever they meet, greet one another with just two words, “Hare Krishna”. These are for the vaisnavas, the most revered, most powerful and about the only meaningful, words they can think of. It we split the words, just for the sake of etymology, we will get ‘Hare’ which is the eighth from of declension (sambodhan or address) of the word “Hari”, the all-powerful, the all-knowing, the all-encompassing Supreme Being. It is from Hari that everything emanates—from the lowest of the life forms or inanimate objects to the mightiest of gods including Brahma, Shiva, Indra and the rest and everything disappears into. “Krishna” is also Hari in all his magnificant aspects, but above all, in the form of the one who loves most and is loved most. “Harekrishna” thus encapsulates the quintessential vaisnava philosophy of worship coupled with sublime love. This love again is best reflected in the form of Radharani, or ‘Radhe’ in which form her name is lovingly and reverentially chanted by vaisnavas in recognition of her unique status as the consort of the Lord. If Hare Krishna symbolizes the life breath of vaisnavas, “Radhe Radhe” brings home to them the ultimate devotional prayer form, for they all aspire to taste the love of the Paramapurusha Krishna in the Radha manifestation.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who was Lord Krishna Himself taking on the aspects of Radharani to taste the indescribable spiritual yearning of Her to be united with Krishna, gifted this ‘Hare Krishna’ mahamantra to all and Sunday. He personally led the Harinam Sankirtana in the streets of Nabadwip and in such congregation everybody could take part from the high-caste Brahmin to the lowly so-called untouchables. Biographical accounts of Mahaprabhu suggest that he knew himself to be Lord Krishna reappeared, but would not let it be known publicly. He would, instead, propagate “Hare Krishna” Mahamantra for the deliverance of the fallen souls.
It is this panacea against all the worldly and evils that Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad had rediscovered and re-affirmed in the early parts of the last century through the establishment Gaudiya Mission. His father, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur, had sown the seeds by clearing the jungles of distorted and harmful forms of religiosity in the last part of the nineteenth century. ‘Hare Krishna’, Srila Thakur and Prabhupad, had forecast would one day emerge as the most cosmopolitan spiritual ‘mantra’ and unite the world as the citizens of one abode: the Lotus feet of Lord Krishna.