Chanting the Lord's Name gives eternal bliss and happiness. Now the question arises, 'There are so many Gods and Godesses in my faith and each of them has umpteen names! Which one should I pick and choose?' Infact Yudishtira himself had this doubt and, questions Bhishma in the prelude to Vishnu Sahasranama,
"kim ekam daivatam lokE kimvApekam parAyaNam
stuvantam kam prApnuyu: mAnavA: subham
ko dharma sarvadharmAnAm bhavata: paramO matah
: kim japan muchyatE jantu: janma samsAra bandanAt
"Who is the greates Lord in the world? Who is the one refuge for all?
By extolling whom can one reach happiness and prosperity?
Which is the faith that is the best of all the religions?
By chanting whose Name can the beings cross the sea of Samsara? "
And Bhishmacharya answers,
jagat prabhum dEvadEvam anantam purushOttamam|
stuvan nAma sahasrENa purusha: sathatothitha:
"The endless Supreme Powerful Being, and protector of all - Sri Vishnu --
By singing his Names, man attains prosperity and happiness."
Thus speaks Vishnu Sahasranama. However, given the current busy day, where one finds it difficult to even sing a thousand names, we are forced to turn to our scriptures for an easier way.
The Upanishads are considered to be the Knowledge portion of the Vedas. One such upanishad, "Kali Santarana Upanishad" resolves this predicament of ours!
The following conversation between Sri Narada Maharishi and Lord Brahma is found in Kali Santarana Upanishad.
At the end of Dwapara Yuga, Narada, after traveling around the world, approached Lord Brahma and asked him, “How may I overcome (the evil effects of) Kali Yuga?”
Lord Brahma said: “You have asked me an excellent question. I shall reveal to you the secret of all the Vedas by which you will cross over the ‘samsara’ (ocean of life) filled with the bad effects of the Kali Yuga. This secret must be preserved and protected.”
“Bhagavata Adipurushasya nArAyaNasya nAmoccAraNamAtreNa nirdhrtakalir bhavati |
nAradah punah papraccha tannAma kimiti,”
Said Lord Brahma, 'By merely uttering the names of the Primeval ‘Purusha’, who is Bhagavan Narayana, one is freed from the clutches of Kali."
Narada asked further, “sa hovaca hiranyagarbhah” | What are those names of Narayana?"
“ HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE |
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE ”
iti shodashakam nAmnAm kalikalmashanAshanam |
natah parataropAyah sarvavedeshu drushyate ||
Lord Brahma said, “This collection of the sixteen Names (of Narayana) destroys the evils of the Kali Yuga. I don't see any other effective means (of liberation) in the Vedas.
Narada further clarifies for the sake of us, ‘O Lord, what are the rules to be observed with reference to it ?"
Brahma replied that there were no rules for it. Whoever in a pure or an impure state, utters these always, attains the same world of, or proximity with, or the same form of, or absorption into the divine.
Sri Sri Swamiji says that though all Names of God are divine and have the power to deliver us from the evils of this age, this particular Maha Mantra is prescribed in the Shastras and has been chanted, followed, preached and lived for by great Mahans like Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and ascertains so,
"Wherever Maha Mantra Nama kirtan is performed, the cosmic changes there. Waves of the Lord’s Presence exist there. There will be peace in that home. All auspicious happenings will take place!"