Chakra Announcements

Street Harinama in Leeds, U.K.

by Haridas Thakur das

Posted December 3, 2008

When I joined the Hare Krishna movement in the mid-'70s there were two main activities that we concentrated on: book distribution and harinama sankirtana (street chanting of Hare Krishna). Of course other activities took place, and I don't wish to minimise them, but these were what most of us felt were what most pleased Srila Prabhupada. For those of us who are direct disciples, Prabhupada is as much with us now as he was then and the more we please him the more we feel his personal presence. Grand-disciples can also have an appreciation of him even if they joined after Prabhupada left our external vision. This relationship is cemented by service to his instructions, and it is as simple as that.

We must not lose sight of the need to help as many people as possible who reside in every town and village throughout the world. The more we procrastinate (and I am the worst offender), the more people are lost to the opportunity of coming into contact with this movement. We have to try to understand Prabhupada's compassion and listen to his words, which are as important now as when he spoke them.

I have been thinking about street chanting, and about how little people see of us on the streets. I'd like to make a humble request that every devotee give some thought to expanding the street chanting and thereby giving others the opportunity to enter into the spiritual world and avoid the pitfalls of sinful life, Srila Prabhupada will be so happy, and so will we.

On November 8 we met in Leeds to perform harinama on the busy, shopping-crazy streets. This was all arranged by Manoharini Radha dasi, who is a dedicated local devotee. Quite a few devotees came down from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, including Janananda Goswami. So many people were around that at least 10,000 people heard the Holy Names that day, what to think of all the follow-on conversations, with photographs talked about and sent hither and thither.

It was one of my best experiences for many years, and I know it was the same for many of the others too. My personal favourite was when we chanted and danced through the Victoria Arcade — an up-market shopping precinct where all the elite gather together, do their shopping and drink their tea and coffee etc., — and then on to chant and dance through the Leeds City Market, where the working class also shop and drink their tea and coffee, at a discounted price, of course.

Here we came across a row of butcher shops that I knew to be there. They were so happy to see us. One butcher even danced with Janananda Goswami, and that was a wonderfully funny and a completely blissful experience. Actually, Maharaja was an inspiration of jollity and gay abandon, waving to all and dancing nonstop.

Anyway, I just wanted to share the news that the Hare Krishnas are very much alive in Leeds, and still around giving people happiness and freedom from material bondage at no cost to themselves.

When I think about it, I realise that when I joined over 30 years ago the people we met at that time have had children (many of them) whom we are now seeing, and this is all the more reason to get out there and let our presence be known, to let people see us as we are. If we don't do it, who will? If we all come together in this way, all the present problems that our great ISKCON society faces will disappear, just as the mist lifts when the sun appears in the sky.

Imagine a new wave of street chanting taking place all over the world. Imagine the devotees in Africa, South America, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China, Japan, Europe, etc., travelling to every town and village with harinama, prasadam and book distribution. So many people in this world don't know a thing about us. They've never even seen us, what to speak of hearing the holy name. If it happened all over the world, it would be such an ecstatic happening that it would shake the world off its axis. Not only would Srila Prabhupada and all the past Acharyas be very, very pleased, but they'd be dancing with us too.

I personally want to do this. I dream of this, but I'm a little lazy. I'm self-conscious, I'm getting old (I have my bus pass) and I'm attached to my material comforts, but nonetheless I pray for this to happen in my lifetime.

Here is what Srila Prabhupada has to say: "Our Krsna consciousness movement stresses the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra only, whereas those who do not know the secret of success for this Age of Kali unnecessarily indulge in the cultivation of knowledge, the practice of mystic yoga or the performance of fruitive activities or useless austerities. They are simply wasting their time and misleading their followers. When we point this out very plainly to an audience, members of opposing groups become angry at us. But according to the injunctions of the shastras, we cannot make compromises with these so-called jnanis, yogis, karmis and tapasvis."

My "Harinama" photo album is located on Picasa. That site will be updated from time to time.

On November 14 we were in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. You can go to YouTube and see the video "Hare Krishna Pied Piper." You can also subscribe (free) to my video links.