By Acarya dasa, All-India Padayatra leader
Our World Holy Name festivities in the Gujarati town of Mahuva began with Bhadra-purnima. After attending a meeting with our Gurudev, Lokanath Maharaja, all of us were enthused to distribute Srimad-Bhagavatam sets. We set a target of twenty-one sets, which immediately made us consider how to reach that goal. By the Lord’s mercy and Gurudev’s inspiration, we determined to do a series of house programmes. Every day in the company of local devotees we visited three to four houses with Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar’s utasava vigraha, and by experiencing the bliss of the holy name and the Lord’s presence, several people responded by inviting us to their homes. We had sankirtan, a class on harinama mahatmya and Bhagavatam mahatmya, and at the end of the sessions we distributed one Bhagavatam set at each house. In this year’s WHN festival therefore, along with the distribution of the holy name we also distributed Bhagavatam sets and soon reached, then went beyond, our target.
Many of us chanted before mangala-arati then listened to an online class by Devakinadan dasa. After that we performed sankirtan till 2pm. At 5pm we went for a house programme with Their Lordships. One hundred and fifty new people joined the sankirtan there and all of them chanted one round of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and heard katha describing the glories of the holy name. This nice celebration ended with the distribution of one Bhagavatam set.
While reading the Prabhupada-lilamrta I had a realization. In Calcutta in 1898 there was a virulent epidemic that devastated the city, forcing practically all residents to leave. Hundreds of people were dying daily. Eventually a babaji organized sankirtan, a Hare Krishna sankirtan all over Calcutta. Everyone joined the sankirtan – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Parsi – going street to street and entering every house until the plague subsided. Anyone familiar with the history of Calcutta will know the plague was eradicated by the sankirtan movement. I now feel that after Gurudev organized this year’s festival the coronavirus will surely disappear.
The WHN festival was just like the Janmastami celebration – we all engaged in the services required to ensure success. One of the services was to record more than 1200 videos of people saying the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, thus making them fortunate. People felt unable to chant but when they chanted with us, they continued chanting again and again. They experienced transcendental happiness while chanting.
Although we are new to Mahuva, within a short time many locals have become attracted to our Krishna consciousness movement. They especially like the roaring sankirtan by Dhirnayak dasa, Jagat Palak Nitai dasa, Shayam Kripa dasa and many other padayatris. Some people have become regular visitors and attended the daily house programmes throughout the festival. There is no ISKCON temple here but people are eager to receive Krishna consciousness.
This was the first time in the history of padayatra that more than thirty Srimad-Bhagavatam sets were distributed within seven days. As soon as the kirtan began people would get up and start dancing, and by seeing this level of enthusiasm there was widespread competition among the congregation to hold house programmes.
During the festival more than 500 people chanted one round of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra on japa beads and many took beads home, some promising they would chant one to two rounds every day. Prasad distribution at the end of a house programme was common, with hundreds of people enjoying the Krishna conscious fare. Many factory owners also invited us to do programmes at their premises so their employees could chant Hare Krishna and benefit from the WHN celebrations.
This was all possible by the mercy of Lokanath Maharaja, who has kindly engaged all his disciples in the service of Lord Gaurahari and inspires us daily through japa conferences. He also arranged for various programmes to be held as part of the festival, such as a japa retreat, a global kirtan connect, kirtan festivals, and the holy name in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. I request everyone to chant more and spread the holy name.
Jai Srila Prabhupada.