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Harinama Sankirtana on the streets of Leeds

Saturday, 29 November 2008 / Published in Articles / 3,675 views

By Haridasa Thakura dasa

Hare Krishna and obeisances to all,
All glories to SRILA PRABHUPADA!!!

When I joined in the mid 70’s there were two main activities that we concentrated on; one was book distribution and the other was harinama sankirtana (street chanting of Hare Krishna). Of course other activities took place and I don’t wish to minimise them but the above two were what most of us felt were what most pleased Srila Prabhupada. For those of us who are direct disciples we
know that Prabhupada is as much with us now as he was then and the more we please him the more we feel his personal presence. Grand disciples can also have the same appreciation even if they joined after Prabhupada left our external vision. This relationship is cemented by service to his instructions and it is as simple as that.

We must not lose sight of the need to help as many people as possible who reside in every town and village throughout the world. The more we procrastinate (and I am the worst offender) the more people are lost to the opportunity of coming into contact with this movement, which is their only hope. We have to try to understand Prabhupada’s compassion and listen to his words that are as important now as they were when he spoke them. I have written this and documented our street chanting by photographs and video. I am completely unqualified but somehow or other I have been thinking about this street chanting and how little people see of us on the streets.

So I’d like to make a humble request that every devotee gives some thought to expanding this street chanting and thereby give others the opportunity to enter into the spiritual world and avoid the pitfalls of sinful life, Srila Prabhupada will be so happy and so will we!

On 8th November we met in Leeds to perform harinama on the busy, shopping-crazy streets. This was all arranged by Manoharini Radha Devi Dasi who is a dedicated local devotee. Quite a few devotees came down from Newcastle Upon Tyne including Janananda Goswami. So many people were around, there must have been easily 10 thousand minimum who heard the Holy Names that day, and what to think of all the follow on conversations with all the photographs talked about and sent hither and thither. It was one of my best experiences for many years and I know it was the same for many of the others too. My personal favourite was when we chanted and danced through the Victoria Arcade, an upmarket shopping precinct where all the elite gather together, do their shopping and drink their tea and coffee etc, and then on to chant and dance through the Leeds City Market where the working class also shop and drink their tea and coffee at a discounted price of course. Here we came across arow of butchers shops that I knew to be there.

They were so happy to see us, one butcher even danced with Janananda Goswami and that was a wonderfully funny and a completely blissful experience. Actually, Maharaja was an inspiration of jollity and gay abandon, waving to all and dancing nonstop.
Anyway, I just wanted to share the news that the HARE KRISHNAS are very much alive in Leeds, and still around giving people happiness and freedom from material bondage at no cost to themselves.

When I think about it I realise that when I joined over 30 years ago the people we met at that time have had children (many of them) whom we are now seeing, and this is all the more reason to get out there and let our presence be known, to let people see us as we are. If we don’t do it who will? If we all come together in this way, all the present problems that our great ISKCON society faces will disappear just as the mist lifts when the sun appears in the sky.

Imagine a new wave of street chanting taking place all over the world. Imagine the devotees in South Africa, Africa, South America, North America, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, Russia, China, Japan, Europe, the UK etc, travelling to every town and village with harinama, prasadam and book distribution. So many people in this world don’t know a thing about us, they’ve never even seen us what to speak of hearing the holy name. If it happened all over the world It would be such an ecstatic happening that it would shake the world off its axis!!! Srila Prabhupada and all the past Acharyas would not only be very, very pleased, they’d be dancing with us too!.

I personally want to do this, I dream of this but I’m a little lazy it’s true, I’m a self conscious nobody, and that’s true too, I’m also getting old (I have my bus pass) and I’m attached to my material comforts and my hideaway tendencies, but none the less, I pray for this to happen in my lifetime so that I can die happy. Hare Krishna!!!

Here is what Srila Prabhupada has to say:

harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha

TRANSLATION

In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realisation than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of the Lord.
Cc.Adi-lila 17.22

In this Age of Kali, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna. Simply by chanting the holy name, one associates with the Lord directly. Anyone who does this is certainly delivered.
The use of the word “kevala” ["only"] prohibits all other processes, such as the cultivation of knowledge, practice of mystic yoga, or performance of austerities and fruitive activities.

PURPORT
Our Krsna consciousness movement stresses the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra only, whereas those who do not know the secret of success for this Age of Kali unnecessarily indulge in the cultivation of knowledge, the practice of
mystic yoga or the performance of fruitive activities or useless austerities. They are simply wasting their time and misleading their followers. When we point this out very plainly to an audience, members of opposing groups become angry at us. But according to the injunctions of the shastras, we cannot make compromises with these so-called jnanis, yogis, karmis and tapasvis. When they say they are as good as we are, we must say that only we are good and that they are not good. This is not our obstinacy; it is the injunction of the shastras. We must not deviate from the injunctions of the shastras. This is confirmed in the next verse of the

Chaitanya-charitamrta.
Adi 17.25 (you can look it up).

Here is a link to my “HARINAMA” Album located on Picasa which will be updated from time to time:

http://picasaweb.google.com/haridasthakur.das/HARINAMA?authkey=JzgcXgcdaq0#

On the 15th November we were in Newcastle Upon Tyne and to view the video of an amazing happening follow this link: http://uk.youtube.com/user/HTdasa

or go to YOU TUBE and type in “HARE KRISHNA PIED PIPER” in the video search box. If you wish you can also subscribe (free) to my video links on the site.

Your servant,
Haridasa Thakura dasa

8 Responses to “Harinama Sankirtana on the streets of Leeds”

  1. Locanananda dasa says :

    Haridasa Thakura Prabhu is absolutely right, that granddisciples can appreciate Srila Prabhupada’s presence even if they joined after His Divine Grace left our external vision,
    or even if they had been born after he ended his transcendental pastimes here on earth.

    Harinam Sankirtana is the great unifier and equalizer. It is by propagating the chanting of the Holy Name that all devotees can work together and serve together
    without considering their physical and cultural differences or their diverse views on the multitude of issues that presently consume us. When we are chanting together, our purpose is, first of all, to please Krishna, and that is accomplished by pleasing the spiritual master whose instruction to us all was to perform the yuga dharma.
    Srila Prabhupada’s instruction was to “chant, dance and become purified,” so our own purification is a second goal. Third, as servants of the Holy Name we must act on behalf of the Lord to attract the conditioned souls back to His lotus feet, to their constitutional position.

    Last night at Times Square we again saw how the Holy Name is all-attractive. We were joined by two devotees from Equador, Abhaya Caran dasa and Bhakta Tito, both granddisciples of Srila Prabhupada. They expressed how they were experiencing Srila Prabhupada’s appreciation that we had all come together to perform Sankirtana at Times Square, the crossroads of the world. There were so many groups of young people who naturally joined the kirtana party to chant and dance with the devotees that even the onlooking police were amazed.

    Harinam Sankirtana empowers us to transcend all of our misgivings, both as a group and as individuals. It establishes what we all have in common and diminishes the issues that divide us as a movement. The time has come for real leaders to step forward to organize the world sankirtana party. Otherwise, how will Haridasa Thakura Prabhu’s dream become a reality?

    Your servant,
    Locanananda dasa
    NYC

  2. Ananta Purusottama says :

    Yes, I agree. Sukadeva Prabhu and I, along with some temple devotees have been going out every Saturday lunch time since February 2005. We give out prasadam, leaflets about the Holy Name, and a verse & purport from Bhagavad-gita, (2.17), along with contact information, we will usually have at least one devotee distributing small books, and/or BTG’s. It’s the highlight of my week, and it’s something I feel very fortunate to be able to continue by te Lords mercy.

    Ananta Purusottama das

  3. The photographs were very nice, and the bliss of the sankirtan parties in Leeds and Newcastle, along with those who saw and heard them, is evident from the pictures.

    This last Friday (the day after U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year here), a group of about 20 or 25 devotees led by Vaisesika Prabhu converged on a busy shopping intersection in San Francisco (the corner of Powell and Market) for a three-hour harinama session. We met many nice people, some of whom enthusiastically joined us in chanting, and we distributed 513 books and thousands of prasadam lollipops.

    Some people we met had just begun reading Prabhupada’s books and were looking for devotees and remarked on the “synchronicity” of having encountered us on that day. We know that Krishna sent us there to meet those people (along with others), and we can be confident that we were rightly situated at that time.

    Afterwards most of us reconvened at Vaisesika’s house in Burlingame where Mother Nirakula had prepared some hearty prasadam, and we continued chanting and hearing from Prabhupada’s books and sharing realizations about the readings and the day’s events.

    Such sankirtan outings require a little planning and organization, to get sound equipment and book tables and find appropriate spots and arrange for transportation and assembling the “troops”, but this is really what the Hare Krishna movement is all about, and there is nothing more satisfying to the devotees or purifying for the whole world.

    All our efforts at organization and management should be primarily directed at supporting and increasing this blissful activity. This is the real business of the Hare Krishna movement. Of course we need books and cars and temple Deity worship and daily Bhagavatam classes and prasadam and all the other necessary ingredients for the sacrifice, but this public sankirtan yajna is really what it is all about.

    Sunday feasts are okay, but big harinama sakirtan parties are “the bomb”, as the kids say. It is just so enlivening to bring the Krishna consciousness out onto the street for the benefit of all the people.

  4. Locanananda dasa says :

    There will be an inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, 2009
    to celebrate Barack Obama’s taking the Oath of Office as President of the United States.
    What a perfect opportunity for devotees to all come together to chant the Holy Name!
    If we were able to be a part of the July 4th Parade, why not the Inaugural Parade?

    I know devotees in New York who would travel to Washington, D.C. to take part in a Maha-Harinam Party if local devotees were to organize it. If anyone reading this knows whether a Sankirtana program is planned for that day in D.C., please write to me at lfelda@aol.com. What more auspicious way to begin his first term as President than for Barack Obama to see devotees on the streets of the nation’s Capital chanting the Holy Name!

    Your servant,
    Locanananda dasa

  5. Pandu das says :

    Dear Locananda Prabhu,

    Hare Krishna. I got excited when I saw your suggestion about having a Harinam party at in DC. I’d be willing to drive in from Gita-nagari. I hope this is something we can do. Even if not in the parade, there will be people everywhere.

    Hare Krishna.
    Pandu das

    pandu.bms (at) gmail.com

  6. Locanananda dasa says :

    I just heard from Krishnadasa Kaviraja Prabhu who informed me that devotees from Potomac have applied to be in the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. on January 20th.
    I will keep you up-to-date as news comes out concerning government approval for us to take part.

    Your servant,
    Locanananda dasa

  7. Locanananda dasa says :

    As promised above, I must inform you that the application for devotees to participate in the Inaugural Parade was not approved. However, it is possible there will be a separate Harinam party in Washington, D.C. either on that day (Jan. 20) or the day before, which is Martin Luther King Day. I received this information today from Anuttama Prabhu
    who is in charge of ISKCON public relations.

    Your servant,
    Locanananda dasa

  8. Pandu das says :

    Any news on an Inauguration Day kirtan? It’s just next week. I saw a notice that one group is having an indoor kirtan party with a big admission fee, but I’m hoping for something much more public (and free).

    Hare Krishna.

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