Live Streaming Nectar
Posted September 2, 2008
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I saw the notice that His Holiness Hridayanda Goswami would be giving a morning class at Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha Mandir in Sydney, (Australia) whilst he is in California (America!) The Internet would enable it. I shouldn't be surprised, but I was.
The plan was this: Maharaj would sit in front of a computer in California with an Internet camera pointed at him. The camera would make a video of him, capturing everything he said and did. The computer would transfer the video live as it happened to a web site.
The web site creates a 'live stream' which mean it makes the video available 'live' on the Internet in such a way that others who are logged in to the web site can view on a computer screen, watching live as it happens.
Temple President, Vara-nyaka dasa, and a disciple of Hridayanda Goswami, Arka dasa, had hatched the plan for the e-class idea together. When Hridayanda Maharaj began to make the video and send it to the 'streaming' web site Vara-nyaka would log on to the web site and play the live video on a computer. A video projector was then plugged into the computer which would display the computer image of the live video on a large screen for all the devotees at the morning class to see and hear. A loud speaker was also plugged in to the computer.
The image was large and clear. The sound was a bit wobbly at first until all the fiddly Internet enabling things got fixed. The whole thing was much better than I expected it would be. We could all see and hear Hridayanda Goswami very clearly. It was almost as if Maharaj was in the room with us.
We listened intently and took quick notes to review later to deepen our understanding. We laughed at Maharajah's humour and we were uplifted by his message. After his talk Maharaj asked if we had any questions. Another feature of the 'streaming' web site was that there was also a 'chat room' this is a box on screen that allowed Vara-nyaka to type our question in, and thousands of miles away in another county Hridayanda Goswami could see our questions and answer them speaking live on the Internet.
If you had known about this event you could have logged in to the web site at home and watched the live class at the same time, and you could have asked your own questions. Some other devotees did just that. It is amazing how, when put together for the right purpose, these Internet technologies could enable Srila Prabhupada's disciple to 'stream' the nectar of the Srimad Bhagavatam across the world to devotees assembled thousands of miles away.
"This is the first time this has happened at this temple. Although devotees are doing this at other locations around the world this was a historic event for us." Temple President Vara-nyaka said.
I asked Vara-nyaka if he had plans to use technology in other ways. "We are working on installing an Internet camera at the temple," he said. "In the future we will be broadcasting darshans and classes. We are planning to hold regular e-classes at our temple," he said.
Beam me up Scotty.