By Sacinandana Swami
Once again we have been privileged to obtain the association of the Holy Name for many long hours over a period of six wonderful days - including the ecstatic kirtans during the Ratha Yatra in Leipzig. As a result of chanting in the association of like-minded kirtan lovers, who came exclusively for the purpose of kirtan seva, an atmosphere was created whereby Krishna seemed to be present.
Did Krishna not promise Narada that He would come and stay wherever His devotees would gather and chant the Holy Names together? In fact, many felt that He has kept His promise. This is certainly the true miracle our hearts hanker for - a very real experience of the Lord's presence.
In reality, the whole purpose of practising Krishna consciousness is to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. Rupa Goswami cites the Padma Purana to establish this point:
smartavyaù satataà viñëur
vismartavyo na jätucit
sarve vidhi-niñedhäù syur
etayor eva kiìkaräù
“‘Krishna is the origin of Lord Vishnu. Krishna should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the shastras should be the servants of these two principles.’
From dry chanting to fulfilled chanting
But the experience of chanting can sometimes be dry – especially in the beginning. When we sit with devotees and chant the Holy name, we do not always have the experience of a divine presence. Instead, so much "mental stuff" seems to be churned up and comes to the surface of our minds. But if we persist and faithfully continue our journey of chanting, we shall leave the platform of the material mind behind and enter what we could call "the kirtan zone".
In other words, we feel very comfortable chanting and start to understand that we are essentially parts of Krishna, and not part of this ever-changing world. From there our journey will take us further to higher and higher realizations… How does this happen? The answer is that by the power of the Holy Names we are purified and become Krishna conscious. Jiva Goswami therefore praises kirtan as the most effective process for developing Krishna consciousness in this age:
“The congregational kirtan is superior even to singing alone because it produces such extraordinary devotional feelings.” (Bhaktisandarbha, Anu.269)
Good Press - a side effect of good kirtan
Just like last year, we are amazed by the wonderful press coverage the German press, which was not known for being very charitable to devotees over the years, have given us -he . The "mountain" of highly favorable newspaper articles on the pin board before the kirtan hall has grown daily. One newspaper article, for example, started like this: "They kept their promise. The devotees - as members of the Hare Krishna movement call themselves - are back for a week of singing, meditating and chanting to spread auspiciousness and blessings around. They have invited the people of our town to join them anytime…"
The German press thus seem to acknowledge Prahlada Maharaja's statement: "O Lord Nrsimha, those sages who loudly sing your names in bliss are the selfless friends of all beings." (Quoted in Bhaktisandarbha Anu.269
The Future of the Kirtan Mela
The Kirtan Mela was organized with the idea to help spread the awareness of kirtan as the yuga dharma in our movement and beyond. We wanted to give the devotees a totally ecstatic experience of the transformative power of the holy name. For this end we wanted to create a kirtan sanga whereby we invited our best kirtan leaders and thus attract great numbers of devotees, not only from Germany, but from the rest of Europe and the world.
After creating such an event, our plan was to bring the Kirtan Mela to Sridham Mayapur and help make Sridham Mayapur the “International Kirtan Capital”. In spiritual reality this is already a fact due to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance there as the Yuga Avatara. Also both Sri Nityananda Prabhu and later Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had envisioned and prophesied that an adbhuta mandir would be created in Sridham Mayapur, where the whole world would sing the holy names of Sri Krishna.
Simultaneously we wanted to encourage the devotees from different countries to increase the number of good kirtan events in their local communities. Now, where many first class kirtan events take place in Europe, America, Russia and India, the international body of devotees have many more opportunities to get the experience of deeply absorbed chanting for many hours in great Vaisnava sanga.
And this is very good, even intended. The idea is to have Kirtan Melas (mela means festival) everywhere. Why have it only in a few places? Kirtan is the yuga dharma, it should be held in every town and village!
A Practical Prospect
There are three very significant events coming up which I wish to list - the most important ones being:
1. The Kirtan Mela 2013 in Sridhama Mayapur - March 11-15, info at www.kirtanmela-mayapur.blogspot.de/p/home.html
2. The Radhadesh Mellows - January 26-27, 2013, info at www.radhadeshmellows.com
3. The Birmingham 24h kirtan, info at www.iskconbirmingham.org/festivals/24-hour-kirtan-2012
As a service to the international kirtan expansion in our movement, our Saranagati team are starting a webpage where you will be able to find such information about different kirtan events in as many places as possible.
Many devotees have reported a phenomenon which they observed during the Kirtan Mela: they would wake up in the morning singing a kirtan melody in their minds. Upon closer reflection they concluded that they must have affectionately been chanting throughout the night. The miracle of a kirtan had struck them. And for some, it still goes on….
Srila Prabhupada said: "One should be absorbed in the thought of love for Krishna. When one knows that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the source of everything and that everything emanates from him (aham sarvasya prabhavah…) then he can be absorbed in bhava, or the preliminary stage of love of Godhead." (SB 3.2.6, purport)
And Sri Caitanya once told His two most confidential devotees in great jubilation a sweet secret:
“My dear Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, know from Me that chanting the holy names is the most feasible means of salvation in this Age of Kali. […]Simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna, one can be freed from all undesirable habits. This is the means of awakening all good fortune and initiating the flow of waves of love for Krishna." (CC Antya 20.8 + 20.11)
By regular kirtan, the absorption in Krishna is possible. Therefore, let us all have as much kirtan as possible - anytime, anywhere.