By Janananda Gosvami
Have the days gone of the brave pioneering adventurous warriors in Krishna consciousness. Going alone to far distant places armed only with faith in Srila Prabhupada and the holy names. No money, support, place to stay, or assets of the material form. Is it still possible or effective to go out on the streets chanting Hare Krishna in the old fashioned style. It was not unusual for devotees in far fetching cities and towns to go alone against all odds. It may not be the trend of the day some may say, but the following might provide food for thought
Satya Medha prabhu who is a young devotee from Bangladesh, a disciple of HH Jayapataka Swami, working and living in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north-east of England. Newcastle is famous as a heavy working class city. The last place one would expect a shy, slightly built, brown bodied, Vaisnava to single handedly confront the forces of Kali. He goes out several days a week alone, even though he works full time in the IT world. Here is one of many of his amazing accounts which I hope will inspire others to take up the challenge of bliss. â€śThis sankirtan movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large. It gives us a taste of the nectar for which we are always anxiousâ€ť
â€śJust last week I had an hour of Harinama in Newcastle city centre in the morning nobody gave any donation. I tried to distribute books but no one seemed to be interested. The weather forecast was heavy rain, but morning was quite sunny. I thought of going to Sunderland, a nearby city. When I reached Sunderland city centre, it was full of people shopping. I set up the book table in front of a bank so that the wind didnâ€™t blow away the books. I was hesitating whether to put a donation box or not as I knew from the past that people here are very reluctant to give donations or buy books. Even I had heard that the people are a bit stone hearted , and very materialistic. Especially on Saturday they tend to drink incessantly and can become quite mad by the combination of the football matches and pubs. I was thinking - let me do Harinama for an hour then I’ll go back to Newcastle safely before it is dark. After a few minutes of starting Harinama some kids came and put some money in the donation box. I wasn’t expecting this, maybe kids liked the tune. So let me continue singing in this way I thought. Then there was another bunch of older boys, followed by a group of girls who came to give donations, They took books. It was just the beginning. Later 15-16 years old boys and girls were coming to take books and give laxmi. When they came others started following them from all directions - young men, elderly gentleman, young and elderly ladies, college students â€“ all types of people were coming. The donation box was full in no time and all the books were gone. More people came. I said â€śI’ve no books leftâ€ť. They said â€śtake the money anywayâ€ť. It started raining, but I couldn’t stop Harinama. People were still coming and giving donations, smiling and waving their hands. I was looking at their faces - Krishna is so wonderful, Krishna is so merciful - He gave them intelligence. I’ve a low voice, and I cannot sing nicely. After two and half hours my speaker’s battery ran out, I was trying to sing from the top of my voice. Thank you Krishna for allowing me to be a little instrument for Your pleasure. If I could only sing nicely to please Krsna!!
11 November, 1967 My Dear Brahmananda, I have read your statements regarding opening centers. I am not in agreement with Mr. Altman that we are expanding very thinly. In my opinion, a single sincere soul can maintain a center. You know I started the center at 26 2nd Ave. alone. I took the risk of 200.00 dollars per month for the rent. At that time there were no assistants. Mukunda was at that time a friend but there was no responsibility for him for maintaining the center. Gradually Kirtanananda and Hayagriva joined but they did not take any responsibility. Still I was maintaining the establishment simply depending on Krishna and then Krishna sent me everythingâ€”men and money. Similarly, if a sincere soul goes out and opens a center in any part of the world Krishna will help him in all respects. Without being empowered by Krishna, nobody can preach Krishna Consciousness. It is not academic qualification or financial strength which helps in these matters, but it is sincerity of purpose which helps us always. In this way you will follow my example as I did in the beginning at 26 2nd Ave. That is preaching, cooking, writing, talking, chanting everything one man’s show. I never thought about the audience. I was prepared to chant if there were no man to hear me. The principle of chanting is to glorify the Lord and not to attract a crowd. If Krishna hears nicely then he will ask some sincere devotee to gather in such place. Therefore, be advised that thousands of centers may be started if we find out a sincere soul for each and every center. We do not require more men to start. If there is one sincere soul that is sufficient to start a new center. Your ever well-wisher A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami