Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra

On Stress, Depression, and the Three Gunas

A Doctoral Dissertation Using Modern Methods to Study an Ancient Practice

By David B. Wolf, Ph.D.

“Man”, the first syllable of “mantra”, indicates “mind”, and “tra” means “to free”.

The ancient Vedas recommend, especially for the current age, chanting of authentic mantras to free the mind from fear, and to move the self towards itself in self-discovery. 

The Vedas especially encourage chanting the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra for self-realization and for purifying our existence.

This doctoral dissertation, Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra on Stress, Depression, and the Three Gunas, is the first study, conducted according to rigorous standards of modern social science, to research the effects of the practice of Maha Mantra meditation.

How the Maha Mantra Liberates the Mind

In the context of social science, the twenty years passing between the completion of this original research and its current publication is substantial… a generation of progress in investigative and analytic methods, and a swelling literature on the impact and potential of spiritually-based interventions. Still, Wolf’s project remains exceptional. Acknowledging his favorable bias towards Vedic theory and his commitment to practice of the maha mantra meditation, he intentionally chose as a dissertation committee member, Walter W. Hudson, a pioneer in social work research methods, an aggressive skeptic of unsubstantiated claims for therapeutic benefits, and a professed “non-believer” in spirituality and conventional religion. In this context, applying best research practices of the day, Wolf’s findings, clearly and transparently described here, deserve careful and serious attention. Because he so candidly critiques his effort and results, we can think deeply about the outcomes he claims, and how they might best be applied to the evolution of our field.

Neil Abell, Ph.D., LCSW, Professor: Florida State University College of Social Work

Dr. Wolf has combined psychological insights, sociological theory and ancient wisdom in a compact package which must intrigue even the most skeptical of us about the power of mantras.

Robert Cohen, Geologist

Dr. Wolf’s dissertation focuses on a group experiment on the efficacy of chanting the hare krsna maha mantra on mental ailments… His invaluable work is widely being quoted and referenced in presentations in the field of mantra meditation and spiritual practice, guiding thousands towards Vedic spiritual practices.

Ninad Gandhi, Ph.D.

In his book, Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra on Stress, Depression, and the Three Gunas, Dr. David Wolf effectively presents an ancient spiritual practice through the lens of the modern scientific approach, making it fascinating and relevant to anyone seeking relief from the pressures of modern life. This scholarly presentation offers practical understanding of Mantra Meditation from both the original Vedic perspective and current modern research. This gives the reader impetus to live a more meaningful and content life and provides a scientifically backed method of achieving it. My daily Maha Mantra Meditation has significantly decreased my everyday stress as well as given me a deep sense of peace and well-being. I encourage anyone seeking a spiritual practice or technique to read and carefully consider the wisdom and research contained herein.

Sajana Allin, D.M.D.

About Dr. Wolf

Since the early 1980s David B. Wolf has served in diverse social and mental health service fields, including counselor training, crisis-intervention, medical social work, children and family counseling, spiritual life coaching and developing and leading personal transformation seminars.

In 1998 he started the Association for the Protection of Children (APC), an international child protection agency, and served as director of the APC for six years. As part of his doctoral studies he developed the Vedic Personality Inventory (VPI), a personality assessment tool based on Vedic psychology, and researched the effects of mantra meditation. He is a world leader in the field of mantra meditation research.

In the 1990s David Wolf began developing and conducting workshops and seminars on Transformative Communication, a communication-based approach to self-realization. These seminars became the foundational programs of Satvatove Institute, a non-profit organization based in North Florida, dedicated to educate people in transformative communication and principles of self-realization and spiritual empowerment, which David has co-directed with Marie Glasheen since 2003. In 2004 David established the Satvatove Institute School of Transformative Coaching.

David has conducted transformational seminars in more than a dozen countries (including India, Russia, New Zealand, Guyana, and throughout Western Europe and North America), and has coached and counseled thousands of people, groups, and organizations. He is the author of Relationships That Work: The Power of Conscious Living, as well as The Power of Bhakti: Ancient Spiritual Science for the Modern Distracted Mind, and has been featured as a communications expert on media outlets such as Fox News and CNN News.

Dr. Wolf has been practicing and teaching bhakti-yoga around the world for more than 35 years. He is an aspiring follower of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, and an avid reader of the books of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.

Upon reading Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra, I am reminded of a quote from Albert Einstein. “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”  David B. Wolf is making a link between ancient wisdom tradition and modern science and thus he enables us to find values in religion without needing to blindly follow. I consider his research as credible, innovative, scientific and statistically valid, and I regard Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra as a doorway to the possibilities of finding gems in the heritage of ancient sources of knowledge.

Helena Pokorová, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Author: Equine Psychosomatic

Dr. Wolf provides a sound theoretical basis and convincing empirical evidence for the effects of the genuine ancient meditation process in the form of Hare Krishna chanting. His work is instrumental to establish this chanting as an accepted method that reignites our inner life and takes us to step out of the daily drama of the modern lifestyle. When practicing this process, popularized in the West by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, my clients and myself experience the results reported in the study. Moreover, a common experience includes decreased hankering for transitory and ultimately self-defeating pleasures, while approaching the true purpose of human life whispered by the soul.

Jindrich Pokora, Economist, Executive Coach

I am delighted that Dr. David Wolf is publishing his important dissertation, Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra on Stress, Depression, and the Three Gunas. In this groundbreaking work, Dr. Wolf provides convincing scientific evidence that the “great mantra,” or Mahamantra, actually delivers the positive, life-changing benefits that sacred tradition has ascribed to it for thousands of years. In our overstressed, dangerously conflicted world, this simple, powerful, time-tested method to elevate our consciousness is most valuable and welcome.

Howard Resnick, Ph.D. (Hridayananda das Goswami)

Dr. Wolf is someone ahead his time, whose pioneering efforts include developing the Vedic Personality Inventory (VPI), a scale that measures the gunas, those intangible but perceptible constituents of the human psychological system. It is perhaps the best tool I know that foretells our capacity to self-regulate at any given time. This book is a magnificent read for anyone who is committed to advance human well-being. It provides a vast avenue for future research on mechanisms of conscious activation of our inbuilt higher gear by simple attention to the Hare Krsna mantra. The implications of this can dramatically, and in a very practical way, transform mental health and spiritual health – at low cost, towards making the art of Medicine great again.

Venugopal Damerla, MD, Prabhupada Research Institute for Integrative Medicine: Founding President and Medical Director