Srila Prabhupada always instructed us to use everything in Krishna's service. Undoubtedly, this pandemic has caused heartbreak, brought uncertainty and forced us to reshuffle and reengineer our lifestyle. However, devotees across the world, irrespective of their religious paths have used the internet and different social media platforms in the service of the Lord. This rethinking of sacred space using technology has been received very favourably and has ushered in positive change in the way we worship and experience divinity within a challenging context.
This issue covers two very important festivals in our Vaisnava calendar - Nirjala Ekadasi and Ratha-yatra.
Nirjala Ekadashi is the most significant Ekadasi out of the twenty-four Ekadasis in a year. As the name suggests, the literal meaning of Nirjala is "without water." On this day, devotees abstain not only from food, but also from water. It is the day when the devotees of ISKCON feast on the teachings of our Founder acarya, Srila Prabhupada and chant the holy names of the Lord - Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Our Ekadasi Sravan Kirtan Festival is definitely the place to be on this Ekadasi. On this day this platform offers moving Vaisnava bhajans by world renowned devotees, heartfelt personal realizations on the glories of the holy names, recalling the glories of Ekadasi, resourceful lectures replete with the glories and potencies of the holy name, and so much more.
The one major festival that has been conspicuous by its absence is the spectacular Lord Jagannatha Ratha-yatra or "chariot festival". For New York and Rijeka however, the Lord is back on the streets! Join the devotees in these two cities pulling the most merciful form of Krishna and His siblings, the Deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra through the streets amidst the soul-stirring chanting of the holy names of the Lord. This was a sensational reprieve for the thousands of spectators, from the long lockdown.
For the next three months we will be showcasing “Srila Prabhupada on Padayatra” in our Padayatra column. The extra special read is the article entitled Golokera prema dhana Harinam sankirtana: The Highest Compassion wherein Sriman Gour Gopal Prabhu Adhikari started with “Akhanda Harinam” and soon introduced his one-hour “Harinama Forever” live sankirtana program on Facebook, when the world came to a standstill because of the pandemic. For the past 446 days innumerable viewers have become enchanted with the holy name through this innovative and dedicated service.
Our regular features - upcoming events, inspirational moments, japa affirmation, and interesting facts promises are set to keep you inspired. We therefore, invite and encourage you to participate in the different ongoing activities co-ordinated by the ISKCON Kirtan Ministry team.
To deepen and intensify our relationship with the holy name, in the previous edition I had left you with meanings of the first four words of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra by Gopal Guru Goswami. Here are the next four :
Krishna! O Krishna! Give me unflinching faith in Your name, form, qualities and pastimes. Krishna! O Krishna! Give me a taste for Your name, form, qualities and pastimes. Hare! O Hari! Make me worthy to engage in Your service. Hare! O Hari, Radha! Order me personally in the service You wish me to perform
~ Srila Prabhupada
Compassion, one of the primary attributes of a human being, more so of a devotee, can manifest at three levels. Bhakti Vinoda Thakur in Sajjana-toshani says, “Display of compassion in regard to the gross body of the living entities is counted among pious activities. Distributing free food to the hungry people … are all born from the compassion in regard to the body. Giving free education is borne from the compassion in regard to the mind of the living entities. But the highest kind of compassion is in regard to the soul of the living entities. From such compassionate propensity, the eagerness for delivering the fallen souls from the miseries of material existence by awarding them the devotional service to Krishna is produced.”
This highest compassion of reinstating the jivas in their original position in kainkarya bhava is easily achieved by distributing Krishna’s holy name. Krishna in His most munificent form of Caitanya Mahaprabhu did the same. He distributed golokera prema dhana harinam sankirtana to every jiva. Sriman Gour Gopal Prabhu Adhikari has been engaged in this seva for several decades, and continues this legacy of Srila Prabhupada, He has been running several congregations in different places. He introduced “Akhanda Harinam” in the twin city of Hyderabad and Secunderabad very successfully with thousands of people participating in it. In these endeavours, he has been trying to sow the seeds of bhagavata prema by rendering soul-stirring Harinama and Vaishnava bhajans.
When the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdown engulfed the planet, he embarked on the ingenuous way of reaching out to innumerable jivas through his one-hour “Harinama Forever” live sankirtana program on Facebook. From the very first day of national lockdown declared in India, he has been continuing with his “Harinama Forever” program without any break. In the material world where change is the only constant, it is indeed a magnificent achievement to witness his enduring commitment to this program. In spite of various challenges, as at June 30, 2021 he completed 466 days of Harinam apratihata. and has pledged to continue as long as Krishna wills, affirming “Harinama in every breath.” This is certainly a manifestation of Krishna’s mercy and Vaishnavas’ blessings upon Sriman Gour Gopal Prabhu Adhikari. This is compassion of the highest order and his dedication has attracted hundreds of souls to participate in this “Harinama Forever” maha yagna.
During these challenging times, the devotion of Sriman Gour Gopal Prabhu to the holy name of Sri Hari, who is eternally adored by liberated souls, is set to ignite the fire of Krishna prema in every heart. The holy name is the embodiment of delight and intense spiritual bliss, and destroys the sufferings of all who take His shelter. The holy name is the festival of happiness for Gokula-mahotsava, who is the life of Narada’s vina- “narada-viëojjivana.” We pray that this initiative by Sriman Gour Gopal Prabhu will assist us in cleansing the dust from the mirror of our consciousness.
Harinama is the only shelter in this age of kali - harer namaiva kevalam.
Please subscribe to Sriman Gour Gopal Prabhu’s page: https://www.facebook.com/ggpa108
To know more about his preaching program, visit: https://gourgopaldasadhikari.weebly.com/
Kirtan a day keeps the miseries away. You may join his whatsapp group where a kirtan is shared every day: https://chat.whatsapp.com/FOoJRDZ4g1C9DcaYFpg6GL
You may also contact Sriman Gour Gopal Prabhu personally if you need any spiritual counseling at 9949698296.
~ Vrndavan Lila Devi Dasi (Dr. Vrinda Baxi)
Nirjala Ekadasi which essentially means “without water” brings all the benefits of twenty-four Ekadasi fasting in a year. It is for this reason that Nirjala Ekadasi possesses the highest level of significance and importance.
ISKCON Kirtan Ministry ensured that the most auspicious Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi was spiritually charged with a program to inspire and enrapture with kirtan and lectures. While devotees were fasting physically, this Sravana Kirtana Festival offered a feast for the soul. The festival was launched by our very own Lokanath Swami who addressed everyone on the importance of Ekadasi and chanting. The king of kirtan then entranced over a thousand viewers with rapturous and enlivening kirtan. From the comments received, this was considered a rare and incredibly special space to chant alongside an esteemed soul.
His Grace Naru Gopal Prabhu from the land of holy name, Sridham Mayapur, addressed the online audience on the subject of holy name with great depth. His Holiness Bhakti Raghav Swami Maharaja began his session with sedating and deeply serene kirtan. Then he touched the hearts of his audience in his katha rendition about the 125th Appearance of Srila Prabhupada. Her Grace Mahadevi Mataji, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada enlightened us about Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi. It was an insightful katha. Mataji is an incredibly discerning speaker who contributed to the highlights of the first part of the festival.
The second session began with His Grace Prana Govind Prabhu who shared interesting perspectives about the Harinama Tattva in which he inspired us to dive deep into the holy name. The subject of attentive chanting is always refreshing and His Grace Ojasvi Prabhu and Sudevi Vilasini Mataji delved into the consciousness component of chanting. A rare rendition of kirtan through harmonic Indian classical ragas was exhilarating. His Holiness Bhaktimarga Swami’s expansive theatric experience meant an innovative take on the glories of the holy name. He left us all feeling enlivened through a soulful and striking kirtan rendition.
A spectacular Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi with sensational kirtan and astute lectures by senior Vaishnavas that left the online audience completely satisfied and hankering for more!
~ Aditya Chari (Mumbai)
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Once again, on 19 June 2021, we witnessed the spectacular festival of Jagannatha Ratha-yatra in Croatia, Rijeka with four sannyasis in attendance - Prahladananda Swami, Maha Vishnu Swami, Candramauli Swami and Kadamba Kanana Swami.
A week before the festival, the harinama ruci group and Maha Vishnu Swami arrived in Zagreb, ISKCON. There were a series of harinama festivals in the heart of the city. Croatia with its beautiful ancient architecture is a popular summer tourist destination for all Europeans, and at this time the towns are always extremely busy.
It was our pleasure to bewilder and simultaneously surprise the tourists when they saw our happy faces filled with love and smiles chanting the Lords holy names. Who does not want to be happy? Soon they joined us in singing and dancing like the proverbial saying, “every step a dance and every word a song.”
Saturday was the main day of the festival, the day of Lord Jagannath’s Street festival. Many devotees from all over Croatia, Slovenia and a few other neighbouring countries arrived in Rijeka.
Kadamba Kanana Swami inaugurated the festival with a soulful and soul-stirring kirtan which set the mood to receive the Lord. Thereafter Maha Vishnu Swami took it over. No need to guess what happened when the street harinama Guru got hold of the microphone. After hours of dancing and singing, Praladananda Swami took over with a sweet, mellow flow of the Lord’s names. Candramauli Swami who had been energetically dancing from the moment the kirtan commenced, enthusiastically took over the microphone showering us with melodious kirtans.
And just when we thought it was all over, Kadamba Kanana Swami was back again, electrifying everyone with kirtan leaving everyone in complete rapture. It was Maha Vishnu Swami who (as he usually does), ended the festival in grand style. Devotees were so grateful and satiated with all the mercy from these wonderful sadhus that there was a tangible peace in the atmosphere. Yet another Ratha-yatra never to be forgotten.
~ Prema Samputa Dasa (BTS)
If there is one NYC event that one should visit at least once in their lifetime, it's definitely the New York City Ratha-yatra. Having skipped the annual celebration last year due to the global pandemic, "the city", as New Yorkers like to call it, reopened just in time for the 44th annual parade to take place in mid-June. It was a three-day event, featuring various locations.
On June 11, The Bhakti Centre headed up a three-hour kirtan line-up at Tompkins Square Park, hosted by Jahnavi Harrison and Jai Jagannatha, which was later taken over by the NYC Harinam Ashram in Times Square, headed by a close associate of Aindra Prabhu and founder of the Ashram, Ram Roy Prabhu.
On the main day of the Ratha Yatra, June 12, a couple thousand people gathered on 5th Avenue and West 45th Street on the island of Manhattan to witness the parade and pull the chariot with Their Lordships Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra. Their Lordships were followed by a separate chariot with His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. It was definitely no surprise, that the separation from the devotees and the Lord along with the hunger for association was much stronger than the fear of getting infected with COVID -19. However, no one expected that many to show up for the main event. Although NYC is fully reopened, there are still many places in the world that are still experiencing a partial of even full lockdown. Nevertheless, to see so many devotees attend and joyfully partake in the festival was very pleasing to the heart. The different kirtana were led by Maha Vishnu Swami, the Harrison sisters – Jahnavi and Tulasi, Gaura Mani and Param Prabhus amongst others.
Devotees, curious bystanders, tourists on double-deckers and fortunate passersby – thousands of people – got the chance to hear the holy name, see and be seen by Their Lordships. Our gratitude extends to the Radha Govinda Mandir for being the main organizer of this glorious event.
Coming down Fifth Avenue, the procession reached its destination at West 4th St, Washington Square Park, where all the participants and just about anybody could take full advantage of the activities centered around the festival. There were booths with delicious prasadam, japa meditation tutorial booth, two separate kirtan parties with Acyuta Gopi, Ananta Govinda and the family, Gaura Mani, Mayuri Gandharvika as well as the NYC Harinam Ashram and others. As is usual at all Hare Krishna festivals, ecstatic dancing and joy brought out by the chanting of the Lord's holy names abounded.
Finally, June 13, the third day of the Ratha Yatra was celebrated by full immersion in the holy names at the Radha Govinda Temple. Lead by Ram Roy Prabhu and the NYC Harinam Ashram and many second generation devotees, it was a grand way to finish off the three day celebration of Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Lady Subhadra.
With Kali Yuga progressing, the world is especially in need of such large scale congregational chanting. Our prayers are that Srimati Radharani bless us with more opportunities to come together and help purify each other and the entire world through Harinam Sankirtana.
~ Braja Sakhi Devi Dasi (Brooklyn)
Eagerness to ignite a spiritual revolution in the world Srila Prabhupada performed Padayatra (pilgrimage by foot) a few times during his life, and also gave instructions to various devotees to organize this kind of a preaching program. In 1952-53, when he was still known as Abhay, he organized the “League of Devotees” in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh (Northern India). He urged the Jhansi residents to participate actively in this international preaching organization, quoting Lord Caitanya who said the residents of Bharata-varsa (India) had a special responsibility to distribute God consciousness throughout the world. Nourished by the books of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he was very eager to ignite a spiritual revolution throughout the world. Walking through the villages near Jhansi Accompanied only by his first disciple, Acarya Prabhakar, Abhay used to walk about the neighbourhoods of Jhansi leading kirtana (chanting Hare Krishna). The group gradually increased until fifty people were going on pilgrimage regularly, chanting together and visiting the temples of Jhansi.
Abhay would also go and preach in the nearby villages, usually accompanied by League members who were available. Once he went with Acarya Prabhakar on Padayatra to Chirgoan (20 miles from Jhansi) and on their return, they spent one day in each of the five villages along the way. At night the villagers would gather and Abhay would lead kirtana. He explained that although most of these simple farmers were not scholars in Bhagavad-gita or Bhagavatam, they could achieve the highest spiritual benefit simply by kirtana. Abhay was well received by the villagers who begged him to return soon, but next time, give them advance notice so that they could prepare a proper reception for him.
~ Adapted from Srila Prabhupada, the Inspiration behind Padayatra, by Gaurangi Dasi
Top Eleven Rankers of July 2021
|Name||Location||No of Videos||No of Chanters|
|1) Murali Mohan Dasa||ISKCON Ahmedabad LOK Disciples (India)||374||3,481|
|2) Krsna Kumar Dasa||Vrindavan (India)||8||163|
|3) Shyamalangi Devi Dasi||(Dubai)||37||52|
|4) Shetmanjiri Devi Dasi||Beed (India)||19||35|
|5) Shitalangi Radha Devi Dasi||Aravade (India)||13||19|
|6) Ananda Jita Dasa||(Netherlands)||16||17|
|7) Surat Loksanga||Surat (India)||16||16|
|8) Radha Manna||(Netherlands)||5||5|
|9) Bhakta Chaitanya||Bhubaneswar (India)||3||4|
|10) Ratikeli Devi Dasi||Noida (India)||4||4|
|11) Bhaktin Rohini Jadhav||Pune (India)||3||3|
The first 6 and a half hour association with HH Lokanath Swami was simply amazing and completed unexpected. For the first time I could chant 64 rounds before 11 a.m. which I could never have done without the grace and mercy of Lokanath Swami. His presence was a constant source of inspiration for all of us. The lecture which followed after chanting 64 rounds was so glorious that it motivated me to study scriptures and hear other lectures online.
~ Shivangee Jaiswal (Noida)
Jagannatha Puri Ratha Yatra
Sayana Ekadashi Sravana-Kirtana Festival Click Here
~ HH Sacinandana Swami Maharaja