From stencilling and painting huge maha-mantra signs on the walls of towns and villages while on padayatra in Goa and Karnataka South India, we arrived at a new innovative phase in teaching this sacred chant to the people. A group called the Harinama Mandir Orchestra are using harmony, rhythm and texture to teach new devotees how to chant. This rhythmic singing of sacred sounds of the maha-mantra could range from simple melody to highly complex structures with repetition as a core aspect. All of this done in an enchanting meditation lounge!
In Australia, devotees used image projection technology to display awe-inspiring words of the maha-mantra to new audiences in Melbourne. In both cases creative ways are being designed to grab the interest of fledgling devotees.
Srila Prabhupada demonstrated invincible spirit when he visited apartheid South Africa in 1975 to promote Krishna consciousness. The youth groups from South Africa rendered special kirtan and prayers for those afflicted by the COVID-19 virus, especially senior devotees of ISKCON. In India alone, there are over 300,000 new cases and 3,000 deaths across the country each day at present. Clearly there is a need to intensify harinama sankirtan and in so doing invoke the mercy of the Lord to protect His devotees.
ISKCON Kirtan Ministry’s Ekadasi Sravana-Kirtana Festival was yet another opportunity to strengthen our faith in the holy names especially during these challenging times.
Mauritius joins the ongoing series to celebrate the auspicious occasion of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Srila Prabhupada. Their 125 hour Kirtan Mela Utsava has attracted local and international participants.
His Grace Mahatma Prabhu (ACBSP) takes his online participants from across the globe to a unique level of chanting with a central objective to unplug, create the mood and connect with the maha-mantra.
The world is locked down, but as soon as one sincerely chants the holy name, he becomes free. That’s the process of liberation.
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So chant and be free!
ISKCON Kirtan Minister
~ Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.14
Krishna has unlimited potencies, and similarly, in the holy name of Krishna there are unlimited potencies. Krishna has thousands and thousands of names, of which the name Krishna is supreme.
Devotees from South Africa participated in a prayerful kirtan for devotees and the world. Taruni Radha Devi Dasi and Paramahamsa Dasa (from Johannesburg) together with the Durban Kirtanuity Youth Group (Shankarshan Dasa, Balarama Dasa, Sudhir Prabhu, Raghukula Tilaka Dasa and Purushottama Dasa) were amongst those who participated.
The kirtan culture here in South Africa is indeed sweet and wonderful. The youth, alongside their seniors are ever willing to engage in kirtan. We are indeed grateful to Srila Prabhupada who visited South Africa in October 1975 and with his mercy alone, ISKCON South Africa became a reality.
These are indeed trying times and we all are encouraged to take caution yet, taking caution is not the final step. We have to take shelter and that means engaging in chanting the holy names of Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We extend a sincere appreciation to ISKCON Kirtan Ministry for such an opportunity, allowing us to serve humanity at this crucial period in our history.
We will continue to pray and chant for the devotees and humanity at large during these trying times. Let us all keep chanting and take shelter of Sri Mukunda, the giver of liberation.
~ Raghukul Tilaka Dasa (South Africa)
Durban Kirtanuity Youth Group
Taruni Radha Devi Dasi and Paramahamsa Dasa
Due to the pandemic Australia has been in lockdown for almost a year, with no visits to the temple or harinama festivals. The sound of the holy names of the Lord was conspicuous by its absence in Melbourne. When some restrictions were lifted, Vrindavan Kirtan Prabhu seized the opportunity to organise a weekend Preaching Bhakti Yoga Kirtan festival.
It was held over two days and the kirtan was divided into four different slots. On Saturday it was held at a yoga studio and on Sunday at ISKCON Melbourne. It was aimed mainly at new people that have never attended a kirtan festival before. An impersonal and fast-moving Melbourne very quickly settled down into absorbing and meditative kirtan. The entire setup created an ethereal atmosphere. Using image projection technology, the words of the maha-mantra were brilliantly displayed. The melodic waves of the kirtan rippled right through the room and soon the participants were dancing and singing. Every word became a song and every step a dance. What is a festival without mouth-watering prasada? This was served and all present experienced a truly successful kirtan festival.
The team of devotees are very excited as the Covid restrictions are gradually being lifted in Australia, and they are looking forward to organise many such creative programs in the future.
~ Dinanukampa Dasi
The first-ever exclusive online Japa Retreat by His Grace Mahatma Prabhu (ACBSP) took place on April 18 and 25. More than 600 participants from 38 countries attended the retreat, including prominent ISKCON leaders as HH Jayadvaita Swami Maharaja, HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami Maharaja, and other senior Vaisnavas.
During the retreat, devotees were given an amazing opportunity to dive deeper into their chanting of the maha-mantra and experience a greater taste for the holy name.
Mahatma Prabhu thoroughly elaborated on the question of controlling the mind by following three steps: 1. Unplugging - Disconnect from your life. When I chant, I chant! 2. Creating the proper mood - Appreciation. The holy name is an extension of Krsna’s love for us. 3. Connecting to the meaning of the mantra - What is in your mantra?
One of the most significant meanings elaborated profoundly was “Krsna, please accept me. Although I don’t deserve it, I want to reinstate my relationship with You”. Deep feelings of separation from Krsna, sincere emotions of despair and remorse for turning our back on Him brought up our desire to reconnect with Krsna and enter a deeply prayerful realm of Japa.
The highest point of the retreat was a final session where we chanted along with Srila Prabhupada. It was a heartfelt experience for so many devotees who admitted that they have never felt such a strong connection with Srila Prabhupada before.
Another online Japa retreat will take place soon and will have several translations into Hindi, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese.
Currently, Mahatma Prabhu is organising Japa sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 AM EDT (8:30 PM India) Zoom.
All the details on the current and upcoming events can be found on the official Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HGMahatmaDas
~ Nadiya Dasi
Ekadasi provides us a superb opportunity to increase our love for Krishna by remembering His nectarean pastimes and hearing His holy names. It was a doubly auspicious occasion to do just that with Kamada Ekadasi falling on the 23 April, merely a day apart from Ramanavami, which was celebrated on the 21st.
Lokanath Swami, our ISKCON Kirtan Minister gave an enlightening talk on the significance of fasting on Ekadasi, which also includes the performance of additional bhajan, kirtan and chanting. Maharaja explained and sang the famous Vaisnava song “ yasomati-nandana” in his soul-stirring voice. He concluded his talk by offering prayers for the protection of Pankajangiri Prabhu, and other devotees who are struggling with the Covid 19 virus.
Vishvarupa Prabhu’s absorbing talk was on Ramayana’s depiction of Lord Rama as an ideal role model for all, sharing inspiring stories on the potency of His holy name. Prana Govinda Prabhu spoke on Nama tattva, the holy name being ever-fresh and on awakening bhava to receive Krishna-Prema. Giri Govardhan Prabhu reminded us that this is Srila Prabhupada’s 125th Birth Anniversary year and conducted an interactive bhajan session with the virtual audience singing a variety of melodious tunes. Sarvabhauma Prabhu, ISKCON’s famous traveling preacher in India, Pakistan and the Middle East gave a captivating talk elaborating the glories of Rama Bhakta Hanuman.
Setting an excellent example of an ideal Krishna conscious family, Nityananda Prabhu together with his wife and young, musically talented daughters recited the condensed version of the Valmiki Ramayana called Nama Ramayana in Sanskrit. They also provided meaningful explanations of the slokas.
ISKCON Kirtan Ministry would like to extend gratitude to these six excellent speakers for their comprehensive and devotional insights. Clearly their presentations added immense value to the purpose of the Ekadasi Sravana-Kirtana Festival.
~ Gauranga Dasa (UK)
Inspired by His Holiness Lokanath Swami Maharaja and following in the footsteps of ISKCON South London, Sri Sri Krishna Balaram Mandir, Mauritius have organised a 125 hour Kirtan Mela Utsava to celebrate the auspicious occasion of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Srila Prabhupada.
Live Kirtans are being held in the Kirtan Sanga (Mauritius) group on Facebook. His Holiness Sundara Caitanya Goswami Maharaja launched this Kirtan Utsava on the auspicious day of Sri Rama Navami Maha-mahotsava, 21 April 2021.
The kirtan schedule for the week is from 4-7 pm. and on weekends between 1 - 6 pm. (Mauritius standard time). Thus far devotees from different parts of the world have enthusiastically participated in the Mauritius Kirtan Mela Utsava.
On behalf of Vyas Krishna Dasa and myself, I would like to invite you to join us live at http://bit.ly/KirtanSangaMauritius
~ Kusum Sarovar Priya Devi Dasi
Harinama Mandir is a group of musicians who have teamed up in order to propagate the Krishna Consciousness movement under the direction of ISKCON. This group gives ample opportunities for all classes of men to utilize this art of chanting the holy names of the Lord rhythmically and systematically, as a service to Krishna.
The main motive is to vibrate the holy name of Krsna every where so that people will benefit by hearing the transcendental sounds.
Open invitations were extended to all to join and about 25 enthusiastic participants experienced the powerful sound vibrations of the Lord’s names. This was a mixed group of participants from different linguistic groups, gender and age. There was enthusiastic chanting of the holy names of the Lord and all participants experienced the bliss of these transcendental sounds through enchanting music.
Look out for their upcoming event: Harinama Mandir Orchestra Team Presents ”Mantra Meditation Lounge” at Nepal Academy Hall.
~ Prem Niketan Gaura Dasa
As we traveled in South India something new happened: we had to teach people the maha-mantra word by word and explain to them who Lord Caitanya is, for both were virtually unknown. Since we did not have explanatory leaflets, we were forced to find innovative ways to ensure that people would not forget the holy names.
To reciprocate for their hospitality, we awarded them a certificate of appreciation displaying the maha-mantra. Generally our hosts would frame the certificates and hang them on their walls, so the names of the Lord would be present in their homes for many years to come. We also stencilled and painted big maha-mantra signs in red on the walls of the towns and villages through which we passed. Everyday on their way to work or the fields people would read these names and hopefully start to chant and remember them.
But what better way to convince people of the value of chanting the maha-mantra than by doing it ourselves with such pleasure. Our large international group of Krishna-bhaktas of all ages happily chanting and dancing all day in the heat or cold or rain was convincing.
(Extracted from Padayatra Worldwide - On the road with Lord Caitanya - by Lokanath Swami, From scenic Goa to Karnataka, Chapter 4, Page 194)
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World Holy Name Festival is from 17 to 23 September 2021. This is the 25th Anniversary of the World Holy Name Festival, our Silver Jubilee which coincides with the most auspicious 125th Birth Anniversary of Srila Prabhupada. We plan to celebrate these epic events with global online festivals, and at the same time offering the platform to equip devotees around the world to perform local festivals. Save these dates, mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information soon!
~ Sri Krishna Chaitanya Swami
ISKCON in Latin America and the Caribbean would like to invite you to join them in a first time event of online kirtan “Nama Sankirtana.” In a dynamic effort to join together to glorify Srila Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu devotees from Colombia, Peru, Panama, Mexico, Guyana and many other countries will come together to chant the holy names. Srila Prabhupada’s mercy is reaching every place and even though we are facing many challenges, ISKCON in this side of the world stands strong, proving how powerful the mercy of a pure devotee is. The online event will take place on 22 May and we look forward to the participation of many devotees in this marvelous event.
~ Radha Govinda Devi Dasi
Mauritius Kirtan Mela Utsava
Varuthini Ekadasi Sravana-Kirtana Festival
Nama Sankirtana Latin America and the Caribbean
Mohini Ekadasi Sravana-Kirtana Festival
London Kirtan Mela
~ HH Sacinanadana Swami Maharaja