The Standard for Chanting (10/27/18)
Dear ______ Prabhu,
Sorry for taking so long to reply to your question. Let me make a few comments below.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu told His devotees that one should be a lakhpati, which means one should chant 64 rounds daily. This takes about 8 hours. That is our goal. Actually, our ultimate goal is to always chant, but Lord Caitanya’s instruction was a lakh minimum. When he first came to the west Śrīla Prabhupāda tried to get the western devotees to chant 64 rounds, but they could not, so eventually he told them to chant at least 16.
In our small mission, the ācārya should try to chant 64 rounds. The sannyasis should chant at least 32 rounds daily. Other devotees, especially āśrama devotees, should chant at least 16 rounds daily. Those devotees living outside should also set their goal as 16 rounds daily. However, due to various duties, 64, 32 or 16 rounds may not always be possible, especially for the householders. The nature of the world is such. So Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta said, “The mālā should not starve” and he sanctioned that those disciples who are too busy serving may chant 4 rounds (emphasis on ‘serving’).
Yes, as you have said, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja did say once that those in the āśrama do not need to chant, and those living outside should chant 64 rounds. His point was that service in the āśrama means that one is always with Kṛṣṇa and living outside means one is always with māyā. Householders need as much help as they can get. But this statement should not make the āśrama devotees lazy so they think, “I don’t need to chant, or I can chant the bare minimum.”
As far as possible these goals for chanting should be fulfilled by the guru, sannyāsīs and other devotees. But if someone is wasting their time in useless endeavours and claiming that they cannot finish their rounds, that is not acceptable. Lord Caitanya has said that the holy name is everything (Kīrtanīya sadā hari). If we do not take our chanting seriously, how will we acquire the goal of love of God? Talking prajalpa, politics, watching movies and TV, Youtube, games etc. are all the distractions of māyā to stop our devotional service.
Other Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava missions may have other standards of sādhana, but this is the standard goal that I have set for our humble mission.