New York Street Chanting Brings Devotees Back To Srila Prabhupada
IRM devotees are now doing Harinama 4 times a week in New York. The Saturday night Harinamas have grown and over 20 devotees now come to join in. And these are devotees who were unknown to us – they just show up!
We had related in our previously [http://krishna.org/Articles/2000/09/00103.html] IRM has revived Harinama (congregational chanting of Krishna’s holy names on the streets) in the world famous ‘Times Square’ of New York city, which some would say is probably the epi-center of Maya’s kingdom on planet Earth! (Maya = the personification of the illusory material energy). We are pleased to report that this bold move has brought immediate explosive results. The Harinamas started initially with just 3 devotees on a Saturday – Locanananda Das, Brahma Bhuta Das and Bhakta Avatara Das. Now in the space of just 3 months amazing things have begun to happen. Firstly, the devotees are now doing Harinama 4 times a week. The Saturday night Harinamas have grown that over 20 devotees now come to join in. And these are devotees who were unknown to us – they just show up!
Also we have had up to 50 members of the *public* join in as well – they will chant and dance with the Harinama party for up to half-an-hour. They will just jump in and dance in a circle with their arms raised. Young breakdancers also love to join in. They attract the biggest crowds and enliven people to chant and dance with the devotees. And just as Srila Prabhupada envisioned, the Harinama chanting parties are facilitating massive book distribution. Srila Prabhupada envisioned the dual thrust of Harinama parties attracting the crowds to stop and watch, whilst devotees accompanying the party would then be able to distribute books to the curious crowds. And Srila Prabhupada’s formula works. One devotee is able to distribute at least 50 books in just half-an-hour to the enthralled crowds.
Some amazing things have been happening on these far-out Harimana parties:
- One well-to-do elderly woman danced by and stopped at the corner and happily ran back and exclaimed to Madhusudhana prabhu who was distributing books while the devotees sang kirtan (prayers), that she hadn’t seen the Hare Krishnas in such a long time that she thought she was hallucinating!
- At the time of the UN Millenium Peace Conference, President Clinton’s motorcade passed within a few feet of the devotees as they chanted and danced in Times Square.
- Two couples from Taiwan got such a favourable impression that they asked the devotees if they could them to Taiwan to do the Harinama there!
- A TV crew from Australia’s ‘Rush TV’ were in New York on their way to film a programme, when upon seeing the shaven-headed devotees, they stopped and decided to film an interview with them there and then on the spot! This only happened because the devotees where dressed as devotees, and again shows the value of going out onto the streets wearing robes and tilak (sacred clay marking on the forehead, designating the body as a temple of the Lord).
One enlivening scene that happens repeatedly is so many people walk by with children, and they stop and explain to the inquisitive kids who we are; for as we know, children are usually the most captivated by the sound of the Harinama.
Also it is as if Krishna is mysteriously directing devotees to the Harinama, since so many devotees from all over the world have appeared to join in with the chanting party. Here are just some the devotees we have met:
- A young boy who lived in the Hawaii temple happened on us by chance and danced so beautifully that a huge crowd gathered.
- A French mataji living in a temple in Ireland on vacation in New York City bumped into the devotees and joined them for an hour.
- A family of devotees from Ecuador on vacation to the USA happened on the Harinama the same way and joined in for two hours, actually leading the kirtan.
- Veda Guhya dasa and his wife Janaki devi from California were in town for one night on business and bumped into the chanting party while strolling through Times Square and chanted with the devotees for nearly an hour.
Every week without fail the chanting party ‘bumps’ into devotees visiting from all over the world. So whether on vacation or business, it seems Krishna truly is everywhere for the devotees!
And finally just to illustrate the power of Harinama to unite all the devotees please consider the following. Many of the devotees who show up regularly to join in the Harinama are affiliated to the various Gaudiya Matha groups. The power of Harinama is becoming such a draw that Puru Dasa, who runs the Gaudiya Matha Narayana Maharaja center in New York, is now being forced to hold another program on Friday nights when the devotees do not go out to chant, since many of his group are joining the Harinama on Saturdays rather than attending the weekly program he holds on the same night!
And please remember – we are not reporting on some special event which happens when devotees go out on Harinama at the time of some festival. The above transcendental activities are going on every week in New York City, 4 times a week, right now. Please come and join in!