January Sankirtan Address
By His Grace Rama Raya Prabhu
"By chanting Hare Krishna and performing harinama sankirtan one can rise to the highest plane of love of godhead."
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, founder acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, prayed on his Jaladuta ocean voyage to America in 1965 that by the strong desire of his spiritual master, a greatly powerful devotee of the lord, the holy name of Krishna would spread all over this world in pursuance of the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In all the towns and villages from the oceans to the mountains everyone would chant the holy name of Krishna. As a flood of transcendental ecstasy inundates the land all the poor fallen conditioned souls would be made happy and thus the Vaishnava’s desire would be fulfilled.
Later Srila Prabhupada said, “My mission is to spread the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra." The Hare Krishna movement will be spread by the perfect following of Srila Prabhupada of his spiritual master in Guru Parampara, or disciplic succession, from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We, the Yuga Dharma Ashram, are trying to humbly follow in those footsteps, as we approach on our 5 year anniversary, March 25th 2017.
In this Kali Yuga, the age of quarrel, dissension and hypocrisy, any endeavor that is pure, spiritual and truly devoted to God becomes very difficult due to the very heavy pervading atmosphere of atheism and envy towards Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and attraction to gross sinful activities. Everything has been mercifully simplified so that simply by chanting Hare Krishna and performing Harinama Sankirtan one can rise to the highest plane of Love of Godhead that is reciprocated between the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees in the topmost realm of Goloka Vrindavan, Vraja Prema, thus facilitating one’s quick and sure and highest elevation to the platform of self realization.
Each and every one of us owes this to ourselves as spirit souls to conquer over these conditions of the Kali Yuga, of the material energy, of birth death disease and old age, and thereby to regain our eternal loving relation with Krishna. This is the process that has been given by Krishna Himself as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu - the performance of the Yuga Dharma Harinama Sankirtan with full purpose, full enthusiasm, and full endeavor. Real friendship and good association means to encourage and inspire each other to take up Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement to the best of our ability.
We encourage everyone to become involved in Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement by helping distributing the Holy Names in public here in New York City and wherever you are in this world. We thank those who have pledged to become monthly donors or who have donated in the past. You have the blessings of Lord Caitanya for facilitating this great work. We are looking very much forward to the upcoming new year in the park as the weather gradually warms up.
Jeremy, a regular contributor to the Harinama party, came in touch with us just a few years ago. In his 30’s he moved to New York City, and works managing a chess shop on the Upper East side of Manhattan.
He first met us when he heard the Harinama and was intrigued by the chanting of "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare" in the Grand Central subway station 3 years ago. He was enthusiastically invited to learn more about Krishna Consciousness by taking books and attending Temple. Although he did not take up his first offer, he would see the Harinama party and Mahottsaha das periodically throughout the next couple of years. After first reading Beyond Birth and Death, the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness resonated with him and he became eager to learn more. A few months ago he started going to the Bhakti Center kirtans and classes.
Before he came in touch with the Harinama he was straight edge, a sub-genre of hardcore punk culture that refrains from meat eating, intoxication, and illicit sex. One of his favorite bands, Shelter (Post Youth of Today members) were followers of the Hare Krishna movement. Though he never seriously took up the practice of Bhakti Yoga, devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, he always had a favorable view of it.
Now he has become a steady contributor to the Harinama and the Bhakti Center programs. He finds a much deeper and fulfilling happiness that he did not have before. He particularly enjoys reading Srila Prabhupada’s books (Bhagavad Gita, Krsna: Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nectar of Devotion Etc.) for hours each day. We’re all glad and inspired by seeing him find true happiness through bhakti-yoga and the chanting of Krishna's holy names, which is the prime means of spiritual salvation in this age of Kali.
Beyond Birth and Death
By Mahottsaha das
There was only one day in the month of January where the weather was nice enough to be outside in Union Square Park rather than the usual wintertime subway station. While there, I stopped a guy who must have been in his thirties and told him that he had a cool beard and he looked very peaceful.
He said, “Oh yeah thank you.” Next, he just looked at me and started bursting up in tears and crying. He said, “Man it’s hard! Give me a minute.”
He told me some time ago this last summer he walked around Union Square Park a lot and that everytime he saw our Harinama party he felt really happy.
Over the summer, he fell very sick and almost died. Somehow he made it back to life and tried doing things that would make him happy, like learning to walk and learning to use his hands. One of the things he started doing to be happy was watching videos of the Harinama on YouTube.
I told him that I’m a monk and gave him a hug to console his sudden outburst.
He shared that the videos made him so happy and he came to the park to look for us and we were never around but today we were finally there.
As we kept walking he got more and more overcome with emotions. The nice loving interaction was too much for him to handle so he asked for a tissue paper.
As I came back with one, he was surprised that I actually came back to him. Very touched, he took a Bhagavad-Gita and gave a donation and said that he will continue coming by to spend more time with us and that next time he’d like to join the Harinama.
A Friend in Need
By Bhakta Cesar
While distributing books out in Union Square Park, I met an American gentleman who was watching the Harinama with some interest.
As I greeted him, he shared that he had some experience with the Hare Krishnas already.
When he was at a very low point in his life living homeless, he would go to Tompkins Square Park for the hot meal distribution that Adi Purusha Prabhu provides for the homeless.
Now, he is better situated materially in his life. He was so touched by the character and value behind the Hare Krishna culture and philosophy that he gave a sizable donation out of appreciation.
Book Distribution Highlights
Bhaktine Stella distributes a Bhagavad Gita, Science of Self Realization, and Higher Taste to an inquisitive gentleman.
This kind family cooked a fresh and opulent feast for the entire Harinama party and more, and the brought it from their home in NJ to the Harinama in Atlantic Ave Barclays Brooklyn subway station.
Then they helped distribute this prasadam and Srila Prabhupada's books.
"Wow you guys look so happy!"
He came because his friend had seen the Harinama and told him he should come chant with us.
This special man grew up in a Gurukula (traditional Indian school) in Vrindavan, India.
He has known Rama Raya Prabhu for his entire life and was very happy to see him leading kirtan.
He was amazed to see "westerns" doing kirtan and happily took home a Bengali Bhagavad Gita.
Sonya comes after a full day of work and distributes a Bhagavad-Gita to an interested onlooker.
Mahagopi joins us at Jackson Heights Roosevelt Ave subway station to introduce interested passerbys to the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness.
This devotee came up to us appreciating the Harinama.
He said that the best part of his week is on Fridays when he comes into the subway after work and sees us chanting.
She saw our sign on the book table, "Books On Spiritual Knowledge," and was instantly intrigued.
She shared that she had recently started her spiritual search so I gave her a "Starter Pack" that she enthusiastically took home.
Seeing us chanting and dancing, he happily took a pamphlet and a hug before leaving.