Prabhupada Honored By New York City
On Sunday, November 18th, the disappearance day of our beloved spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the City of New York installed a plaque in Tompkin’s Square Park to honor Srila Prabhupada.
Devotees have been trying for years to convince city leaders of the need to give recognition to the founder of the Hare Krishna movement for having inaugurated the sankirtana movement right here in New York City. Srila Prabhupada is finally being officially honored in a most dignified and fitting manner. This was a historic event, perhaps one of the greatest moments in the history of our movement in the Western world.
The celebration at Tompkins Square Park was wonderful. New York City’s Park Commissioner Stern showed up to unveil the plaque honoring Srila Prabhupada. The plaque mentions how Srila Prabhupada introduced the Hare Krishna movement under the elm tree, and the mahamantra appears in its entirety. The names of Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Stern appear at the bottom of the plaque, and poet Ginsberg is also mentioned.
Mother Vani gave a speech about Srila Prabhupada coming to America and Commissioner Stern also spoke, mainly about himself and elm trees. Many pictures were taken of the event. Mr. Stern talked with the devotees and stood for a group picture. He also received the Bhagavad-gita from Mother Vani. A kirtana began just before he drove off and the devotees remained in the park for another thirty minutes chanting Hare Krishna. After the program I read some of the offerings devotees had sent and Nimai, a former gurukula student, now 26, asked for a copy of Dinadayadri’s poem for framing. A few devotees from Iskcon Brooklyn showed up after the program had ended and showed no enmity towards the organizers of the event in the park. In all, about forty devotees participated and, afterwards, most of them headed over to the temple on St. Mark’s Place to continue chanting and to offer candles to Lord Damodara. Two devotees visiting from Bangalore will surely always remember circumambulating Srila Prabhupada’s tree during kirtana on this most auspicious occasion. Jayananda Prabhu provided a great sound system for the event, and Madhusudana Prabhu sold many books and magazines to passersby. He showed Commissioner Stern the picture of Srila Prabhupada standing before the elm tree which had originally appeared in the East Village Other in 1966 and which was reprinted this month in our magazine, Back to Godhead.
It was a great day in the history of the Hare Krishna movement, and Srila Prabhupada must have been very pleased.
Your servant, Locanananda dasa