Sankirtan Stories





Memory of 26 2nd Ave

I was distributing books on Broadway -&- 3rd St. When someone came
to me who introduced himself as Henry. He said that he was
around the Swami in the old days. He said that, "the Swami used
to go to the park (Thompkins Square) lay a blanket on the
ground. Then he would begin a reading from the Bhagavada-gita.
Then we would have a really lively kirtan. Then it was everyone
back to Swami's place for a feast. He had a place on 2nd Ave -&-
1st St. (26 2nd Ave.?). When we got there, there was a huge
vegetarian feast already prepared for us all." Henry at this
point smiled and raised his finger,"BUT... we had to take our
shoes off!" At this he laughed, with obvious delight at the
memory, and walked away.

By his expression, i concluded that this was an insurmountable
obstacle to some unfortunate souls, despite the fact that there
was a feast waiting for them, which even the demigods would love
to relish.  by Madhusudana dasa


Hari Nam is the answer

Hari Nam is the answer. The inspiration and courage the N.Y. trip gave me to go to the streets will and IS saving both me and the project here in this area for Prabhupada's temple of Brhat Mrdanga Mandir.

We are going out every Saturday for Hari Nam in Carbondale and it is incredible. Everyone is coming up to us with big smiles and giving us hugs and thanks for being there and chanting. They are bringing their own instruments (drumming circles especially are real big in C'Dale) so it is just bliss!!! pure and simple like old times with Jayananda and Vishnu Jana Maharaja. 

Also a miracle...the twins brought friends and everybody brought bhoga dishes to offer the Deities this Sunday to the temple program. Much more participation is starting to flow. Everything comes from samkirtan. I set up a little book table along with our Hari Nam party on the street. I had forgotten until New York how interesting it is to hear people's hearts and speak with them about the books. They are very down to earth here and humble for the most part, so their questions are sweet and their input positive. No big sales deal, just sweet and what Prabhupada always said was the key to success "preaching is the essence".

By Dhanistha Dasi

Radhastami Festival in Berkeley
by Jayaradhe dasi

Hare Krsna brothers and sisters, 

I have said a few times I would describe the festivals I have been 
too but it almost seems to be a case of "you had to be there" and I 
do not know if I can give sufficient description, as Locanananda 
prabhu does in sharing the Times Square harinams, or Dhamaghosa does 
in describing the Seattle programs (and where is Makhancora, who also 
used to write so wonderfully about these special days?). But maybe I 
will try a little, I feel I owe some reciprocation as I read here 
with relish but say so little myself.

I must say I am impressed with New Jagannath Puri, the Berkeley 
temple. They put so much into the daily puja, and then so much more 
into the festivals, and with such joy and enthusiasm, that it really 
does atound me how they keep it up. The decorations in that large and 
high-vaulted temple room are elaborate, and I was lucky enough to be 
able to make as many garlands as I wanted, to decorate the gorgeous 
swing that hangs from that ceiling. Tasteful white streamers and thin 
colourful streamers hung from chandelier to the faux balconies, and 
helium-fed giant metallic parrots were tied to these streamers, 
though one escaped of its own accord during a particularly ecstatic 
kirtan on the morning of Radhastami and remains to this day with its 
head at the ceiling, maybe thinking to get to the higher realm.
The abhiseka arch was a joy to watch the assembly of, with magical 
little white lights and loads of asparagus fern and palm fronds and 
large deciduous branches. A woman named Carol created beautiful rings 
of flowers and greenery for this gazebo, as well as many many huge 
and wonderful vases for the temple room. This temple uses a lot of 
ginger flowers which look like the crests of some exotic birds. 
The Deities looked absolutely wonderful this day, and the abhiseka 
went on for a very long time, as there were so many substances to 
offer. At this point in the day the temple wasn't as crowded as 
later, so we got to go back and pour even more conches full of mango, 
or banana, or yogurt, rose water, etc., on the beautiful forms of Sri 
Sri Radha Gokulananda, Who look absolutely sweet in Their simple 
bathing robes, with no crowns, and Who shine with kindness in 
allowing us to perform such intimate service. Sri Gokulanandaji has a 
very attractive topknot which is not normally seen, due to His crowns 
and turbans.
A word about the kirtans. There were beautiful singers and much 
chanting of the mahamantra, along with Radhe Jaya Jaya Madhava 
Dayite, and other songs to Srimate Radharani. These kirtans and 
melodies had a way of sweeping one along with them, so that chanting 
felt natural and flowing as one gazed at the Divine Forms, and felt 
Their Causeless Mercy.
After the abhiseka the Deities were again dressed, and I must say I 
never saw Them look more beautiful or sweet than They looked then. 
Radharani had small perfect flat kind of pink roses framing her face, 
and a line of rhinestones inside that arch, in the depths of Her 
hair, and She looked all cuddled up with elaborate clothing and 
jewels and flowers. I felt Her sweet kindness more than ever before, 
as if She mercifuly made it easier to perceive this, just as many 
reported feeling the particularly personal reciprocation of Srila 
Prabhupada during his last visit to Bhaktivedanta Manor in August 
1977. Sri Gokulananda also looked especially sweet, and seemed to 
take pleasure in giving Radharani frontstage. Forgive me if that 
sounds sahajiya. I can only relate my feelings at the time. I do not 
claim them to be real. But because they are in relation to The Lord, 
I relish them all the same, and await the day when I will feel more 
than the shadow or show of attachments.
The afternoon feast was marvelous, as was the evening one which was 
cooked by the Hare Krsna Youth (more about them in another post). 
Actually I didn't have the second feast, but the pappadums were 
great, and I know from other feasts that these young people know how 
to cook.
After the first feast the abhiseka commenced, and continued for a 
good hour or so. People lined up in eagerness to get a chance to 
swing these Deities. One old woman did not let go of the rope so 
quickly, and had the most beautiful smile on her face as she sang and 
swung the Deities.
The morning and evening festivals can be seen on video, which were 
recorded by Radhika devi dasi, and given for a very small charge. If 
anyone is interested, I can check and see if she has been able to 
produce more (I got the only one so far, to take back with me to my 
isolated situation) and hook you up with her. This video is ecstatic 
I can tell you. You will have to bear with me in my silly dance 
steps, when I thought she was videoing my feet as I sat there, and 
tried to oblige the artistic effort by making them move (which drew 
the camera in for a closeup). 

Well, that's all for now, and I will sooon be back to talk of the 
Hare Krsna Youth, who I have felt much encouragement, for the sake of 
the future of Srila Prabhupada's mission, to have had the fortune of 
associating with.

Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda ki jai! 
Srila Prabhupada ki jai!
and all glories to the assembled devotees!

your sister,



Ravana fights back

We had a nice Rama Vijaya Mahotsava festival last night. Some devotees made a large effigy of Ravana by the lake up from the temple. So we had a program in the temple for a while and then it was time for Rama to go slay Ravana. I was kind of dreading having to go outside for a ceremony because it was so severely cold that day. There was a cold front going through our region and the wind and cold were reminding us that “we were not our bodies” throughout the day. The wind was biting right through my coat all day as we had to do some shopping. Walking from the car to the store was excruciatingly painfully cold. So I was in complete dread, thinking in the temple about how more freezing it would be at 8 o’clock in the evening. But the time came to go, and miraculously, the cold front had passed while we were in the temple, and it was relatively nice outside as we paraded with some very nice Deities of Sri Sri Sita Rama up to the lake chanting “Jai Rama Sri Rama Jai Jai Rama.” Lord Rama led our procession up to the lake and we beheld a gigantic effigy of Ravana, made of cloth and logs and bales of hay. We chanted on and on and then finally the moment came when a stout devotee lifted a mighty bow with a flaming arrow and aimed for the Bin Laden T-shirt pinned to the upper chest of Ravana. The flaming arrow pierced the head of Bin Laden and the effigy erupted into gigantic flames. I was told that this explosion of flame had something to do with an earlier abi-sheka of gallons of kerosene upon the body of Ravana. We kept chanting and warming by the huge bonfire of Ravana’s conflagration. Then the fireworks began, firecrackers going off with loud reports, and then missiles exploded up into the blackness, lighting up the night with showering balls of light. Alas, as the structure burned and lost it’s shape, the mountings of the remaining rockets crumbled and lost their hold and the trajectory of the rockets were compromised and went off course, much to our consternation, as those screaming meemies shot out into our crowd in all directions. We ran for our lives as Ravana retaliated with a firebrand of rockets into our midst. The demon wasn’t about to go down easy, not without a fight! One prabhu felt a scorch near his eye. One rocket blazed dangerously past a baby in her carriage. One prabhu spied a can of kerosene about 5 feet from the inferno and raced over to grab the can and bring it to our spot. I thought, “thanks for bringing it here, if it goes off now, well...” We turned and ran when it seemed that the whole thing was about to blow. I remember distinctly at that moment, how one must feel in a terrorist situation when a bomb is about to go off, how helpless one must feel. Then Ravana finally took his last gasp and died and the rockets were all spent, and we just enjoyed the roar of the bonfire for a bit. Somehow, the rockets going haywire and everyone running helter skelter was hilarious to us when we went back to the temple for a feast. We thought it was so funny, and amazing that no damage was done, and then again, we pondered what it would be, if anyone was hit? Rockets in a bonfire, not such a great idea. Firecrackers?, yes, but Rockets? Oh well, the things devotees will do, Jai Rama Sri Rama, Jai Jai Rama.

by Visoka dasa


Delightful story from the book "Gopal Jui"

This is a delightful story of how Ghanashyam Giri was to donate the Deity of Gopal Jiu to HH Gour Govinda Maharaja, and how there was a delay in this giving, and how some extraordinary dreams expedited the final transfer of Gopal Jiu into the care of HH Gour Govinda Maharaja.

Here is the account:

About 2:30 one morning (this is Ghanashyam Giri telling) I had a dream. Gopal (the Deity) came and was standing near my head. He said, “Why are you sleeping? Wake up! So many troubles have come to you, but have you felt any difficulty? No, because I am always behind you. Now you are alone. How can you arrange all type of festivals for Me? I am always very interested to hear nama-sankirtan. Gour Govinda Swami is your own relative. Why don’t you give Me to him? So, now tell Me, will you give Me or not?”

            In the dream I said, “Yes. Yes. I will give.”

            Suddenly my wife woke me up and said, “What are you saying? What will you give? To whom will you give? You are speaking like a madman. What happened?”

            I told her that Gopal had just come and asked me if I was going to give Him to Gour Govinda Swami or not and I said, “Yes. Yes. I will give. I will give.” I told her, “Gopal was standing near that window. He just left.”

            My wife said gently, “Go and donate Gopal to Srila Gurudeva. Whatever property you have you should also give to him. If he takes Gopal then Gopal will be happy and He will be taken care of nicely. You will be able to see Gopal here every day. Why are you hesitating?” in this way my doubts were cleared.

            The next day I was preparing to go to Bhubaneswar to see Gour Govinda Swami, but I heard that Gurudeva was coming to Gadeigiri. So I stayed and waited for his arrival. He came a few days later and I met with him.

            He asked me, “How are you? What about Gopal?”

            Gurudeva looked at me for a moment and laughed. He said, “What has happened to you? What has brought about this change?” He said, “Has Gopal spoken to you?”

            I said “Yes Gurudeva, Gopal spoke to me.”

            Then Gurudeva asked me, “What day was it that He spoke to you, and what time?”

            I told him, “Twelve days before, at 2:30 in the morning.”

            Gurudeva nodded his head up and down. “Gopal came and spoke with me on the same morning at 2:00 a.m., then at 2:30 He came to you. That morning I was translating the Bhagavatam into Oriya. I dozed off for a few moments. Gopal came to me and said, “You installed Radha-Gopinatha here. Has Gopinatha replaced Me in your life?”

            [Srila Gour Govinda Swami had commissioned a sculptor to make deities of Radha and Krishna to be exactly the same height, width, standing position, etc., as Radha Gopal in Gadeigiri, and had installed them on the ISKCON property at Bhubaneswar, naming them “Radha-Gopinatha”.]

            Gopal again asked Srila Gurudeva, “Is Gopinatha the same for you as Me?”

            With folded hands Gurudeva replied, “No.”

            Then Gopal said, “You are worshipping here, but I can’t come here. Gadeigiri is the house of My devotees. They have no wealth, but their mind is always on Me. Even if they only offer Me a tulasi leaf and a little water I am happy there. They are always saying, ‘Gopal! Gopal!’ I cannot leave them and come here. You are not doing any service for Me because Ghanashyam has not given Me to you. He promised, “Unless Gopal tells me to give Him to Gour Govinda Swami I will not give Him.” Gopal then said, “I will speak to Ghanashyam. First I have met with you and now I am going to Ghanashyam.”

             While Gurudeva and I were speaking, one of my family members was there. They said, “you are always talking about donating Gopal, but you are only speaking and not giving.”

            I said, “No, today I must donate Gopal to Gurudeva. Bring tulasi  and water and chant mantra.

            Gurudeva asked, “How will you donate to me?”

            I said, “As Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that Bali Maharaja donated to Lord Vamanadeva, like that I will donate Gopal to you. You place your hand under mine and I will donate three times with water and tulasi leaf.”

            I called for Brahmin who put tulasi  and water in my hand. I said, “First I donate to you Sri Radha Gopal Jiu. Secondly I give you all of Gopal’s paraphernalia. Thirdly I donate the property to you. From tomorrow you will take charge.




An Ecstatic Denver Harinama

This was an incredible Harinam experience I had in Denver.  We would regularly go on Harinam in Denver, with Apurva prabhu and the devotees. One day Madhuvisa came into town. Madhuvisa was known as the “emperor of sankirtan” in the old days. He and several young gurukulis were traveling around the USA hitting all the Ratha-yatras in every big city. Janaka and Nandu were two of the boys that I remember. They were on their way to LA, and stopped in Denver. And we decided to have a big Harinam in down town Denver. My daughter, Vrindadevi and her friend, Devaki, came along for the fun. 

In the van on the way to town, Madhuvisa gave an inspiring talk on Harinam Sankirtan. And on the sidewalk, he stopped the party and gave a little talk. He said that we weren’t meant to be entertainers for the people, that they had much better entertainers than us. He said that we are only out there to chant Krishna’s holy name to satisfy Krishna and Him only.  And if we just try to satisfy Krishna, and then the people will benefit. My daughter told me later that she was inspired by those thoughts, and it worked for her. Normally, when we first go out on the street to chant, we are caught up with self awareness, and “I’m the doer” consciousness. My friend Brajendranandana once told this nicely, he said that when he first shaved up, and went out on the streets to chant, “his head felt like it was a balloon, a 100 miles thick.” Then, if we don’t snap out of this consciousness, then we start thinking our kirtan is really bad, people don’t like us, and feel self conscious and embarrassed. 

Madhuvisa’s talk really worked. We completely forgot our own little selves, and chanted in wild abandon. I remember that was one of the most wildest kirtans I’ve ever been in. The people of Denver would always try to act like they were ignoring us, but this time you could see their astonishment, and they couldn’t stop themselves from relishing Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan movement. My daughter and her friend were dancing around in circles madly. And the young gurukulis, especially Janak and Nandu, were like transcendental madmen. At times the boys were just running back and forth through the crowds as they watched in astonishment. There were moments when it seemed like everybody on the sidewalk, was Krishna consciousness and in total bliss.  by visoka dasa




Sankirtana News


Despite having had the coldest December in New York City in ten

years, the Harinam party still went out to Times Square each

Wednesday and Saturday evening. On December 30th, we chanted over to

Rockefeller Center near the big tree where we used to collect

donations at Christmas time wearing Santa suits. Being there brought

back the memory of shaking hands with President Nixon who wished me a

merry Christmas when I told him I was from the Hare Krishna society.

That was back in 1984, but this Saturday was different. We were there

to directly glorify Krishna by chanting His Holy Name. The

temperature was about 28 degrees (10 degrees with the wind chill

factor) but chanting and dancing with exuberance made us oblivious to

the cold. The devotees felt extremely blissful to be chanting

together and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books.


While we were chanting, someone approached the kirtana party and

offered obeisances on the sidewalk. He rose and began to chant and

dance with us. He chanted so nicely that we asked him to lead the

kirtana and he immediately began to chant Prabhupada's tune.

Afterwards, he introduced himself as Jaya Govinda dasa. He had joined

the Krishna consciousness movement in 1976 and was later initiated by

Hrdayananda Maharaja. Just see how Krishna arranged for him to meet

our party! I would like to add his name to the list of devotees I

posted earlier who have participated in our program to broadcast the

Holy Name at Times Square, the crossroads of the world.

Devotees will be interested to know that the media is also taking

notice of our ecstatic kirtanas. Last week, we were filmed by a

camera crew from Channel 7 WABC TV, the same station that aired

the 20/20 show about the abuse of Gurukulis. A brief segment was

broadcast on the evening news showing the harinam party as one of the

attractions found at Times Square.


All glories to Sri Krishna Sankirtana!

Your servant, Locanananda dasa




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