By Janananda das
SYDNEY - BREAKING THE BONDS ON BONDI BEACH
World famous Bondi beach, Christmas day 2006. 25 devotees descend amidst the thousands of beach combers with their surf boards and numerous other gadgets for trying to find happiness. The kirtan begins winding our way along the promenade. Then into the bar areas, onto the grass, with bodies lying everywhere in different states of awareness. The kirtan reaches higher and higher peaks raising the fallen to their feet.
Suddenly we are engulfed with dozens and dozens of youngsters dancing feverishly to the beat. Okay every one put your hands up - Hare Krishna - they roar back with gusto. The dancing and chanting goes on and on into the depths, lifting up the hearts of thousands, penetrating the darkness of ignorance. They cry with hands folded bending down on their knees. More, more! Sing more. Give us another tune. It’s hard to stop and why should we. One young man from Eire comes forward and speaks up - sing a song for me it’s my birthday. What’s your name I ask - Sham he says - “Shyam” - Jaya Radhe Shyam……
Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan is the only panacea. It’s just indescribably blissful and carries us away from our false egos and the apparent problems of this world and cures the problems at the root.
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur stated “Lord Caitanya did not advent Himself to liberate only a few men in India. Rather, His main objective was to emancipate all living entities of all countries throughout the entire universe and preach the Eternal Religion….
There is no doubt that this unquestionable order will come to pass….
Very soon the unparalleled path of hari-nama-sankirtana will be propagated all over the world….
Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mrdangas, and karatalas and raise kirtana through their streets and towns! When will that day come? …
That day will witness the holy transcendental ecstasy of the Vaisnava dharma to be the only dharma, and all the sects and religions will flow like rivers into the ocean of Vaisnava dharma.
When will that day come?
NEW YEARS EVE
Sydney - teaming with millions - they say as many as two million assembled on the quay to witness the New Year Celebrations and the seven million dollar firework display. Our party of chanters weaves its way in towards the Quay but the cloth of people is so tight we can hardly progress. We spin around on the periphery of the packed crowds whipping up a storm. What can I say - everywhere people are amazed at the kirtan and dancing - how can they not be - it’s the most natural thing for the soul. When they are drunk they let down their egotistical barriers and are freer to act. It seems as if Nityananda Prabhu Himself is with us, dancing through the madness - it’s wonderful. The Television gets us for the news. “What are you guys on? What makes you so happy and dance like this?”
The chanting of the Holy names I reply. Try it and see. He jumps in with us spinning around and chanting as best he can. We stop and announce to the still sleeping people……”Happy New Year everybody and chant Hare Krishna for everyone’s welfare. Let’s chant and bring in a really auspicious new year.” To see the smiles, laughs and joy on people’s faces upon coming in contact with the sankirtan, is indescribably rewarding and satisfying. It is contagious. Why is it that even though practically every feels the same way the next time the sankirtan party goes out we find some excuse not to go? Harinama sankirtan is the sure medicine for us and the general public. There is no other solution. Chanting together with devotees. We even begin to realize that all the so called karmis are devotees as well - just a little more covered and the chanting removes the covering.
THE QUAY IS THE KEY
We go down to the quay where devotees rarely go - through the check in areas for the ferries on to the sleazy bar areas clustered along the water’s edge. Our small and inexperienced crew wonder what will happen now. As usual Nityananda has a plan and these half drunk visayis are a big part of it - it’s only 7 pm. The cameras flicking, karatals clicking, Lord Caitanya’s tricking His mercy sticking, their hearts pricking they begin ticking with the beat of the sweet names of the Lord. Faces smiling in every bar, hands waving , for what they are craving they begin raving at the sound of the names of our Sweet Lord. - it is such happiness to see these brothers and sisters happily reciprocating with the sankirtan party. We can really experience the words of our acaryas - the holy name of Sri Hari is surely all that be. Everything else in this world is transient - here one minute gone the next. Only the soul and the Holy names remain.
We have the highest gem, the greatest treasure which produces the nectar we are always hankering for. When we plug in and feel the surge of nectar, we ask “why don’t I do this more often?”
Over 35 years of going out on Harinama, it seems to me the response nowadays is far better than ever before. From Sydney to Auckland, to London, to Berlin, to New York and Vancouver, to Amsterdam, to Prague, to Mumbai and Washington, to every town and village on and on. The chanting is the life of the soul. Wake up sleeping souls chant the holy names.
Oh for that day when I take this seriously and realize there is nothing to be had in the fourteen worlds but the Holy names.
HARI NAMA PRABHU KI JAYA
Hoping this finds you more and more absorbed in chanting the holy names.