Chanting: Potency of Chanting

                                                                  Q. I have grown up chanting the Gayatri Mantra but since joining Krishna consciousness movement, I was told that we can not do it until we are brahmana-initiated. Why is that?

                                                                  According to Vedic injunction, "sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nisphala matah" i.e. unless one is initiated in the mantra by a bona fide spiritual master, coming in disciplic succession, the mantra will not be effective or will not give the desired result.

                                                                  Q. 1. Also, if a man is born as sudra, is he not eligible to study the shastras, because the sudra's karma is to help all other varnas?

                                                                  As you stated in the initial premise of your question, one cannot be designated as sudra solely on the basis of birth, but by guna and karma.

                                                                  Q. It is easy to theoretically understand that we are not the body. But it is hard to really realize this fact in every situation, especially if the situation is extremely harsh or extremely wonderful. How can one practically realize that we are not the body in any situation whether good or bad?

                                                                  Q. I've heard three different versions of the end result of Ajamila's story.
                                                                  a) Because he chanted Lord Narayana's name at the time of death, he is liberated; b) He is given another chance to be born again to lead a Krishna Conscious life; c) He is given another chance in the same lifetime to lead a Krishna Conscious life. Which of the above is true? Should not the first one be the correct version, because according to Bhagavad-gita if we chant Krishna's names at the time of death we will be liberated?

                                                                  Q. One of my close friends has stopped chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra saying that since the mantra destroys all material desires, as a grhastha (householder), he needs the material motivation to support his family, and also that chanting the maha-mantra while maintaining material desires is offensive. He has taken to the chanting of Sri Lakshmi Suktam, which awards material prosperity and also indirectly reminds him of Lord Vishnu. How do I explain things properly to him?

                                                                  Q. Can the Supreme Soul can be realized only when mind becomes pure? Does the chanting of "Hari Om" purify the mind? Is there any mantra helpful in attaining the highest goal of self-realization? What are the different phases of sadhana practiced in ISKCON?

                                                                  Yes, practical realization of the Supreme Soul is attained when one becomes fully pure, free from the effects of passion and ignorance, and lust, greed and other attendant impurities of heart.