The Holy Life in Mayapur
Harinam On a Full Stomach

Today the Harinam Party of ISKCON Mayapur goes out chanting. It’s been doing so for 3 to 4 hours everyday since March 2006; every week, and every month of every year.

Besides singing from village to village in the greater Navadwip area, once a week or so it also carries by rikshaw, and occasionally by boat, enormous pots of hot kitchuri, after it has been religiously offered to Lord Krishna. This Prasad, as it is called, coupled with the sweet singing of God’s holy name, will certainly please the hearts, the tongues and the stomachs of today’s scheduled villagers.

This young singer is Nitai Priya das, a peerless kirtan leader, the son of African born Shastra das here on the right. Together, with a handful of international converts to India’s devotional path, they’ve kept afloat this program on both sides of the Ganges river like a God-given mission.

The jolly boatload alights some twenty minutes downstream to the greetings and excitement of their hosts who, paradoxically will be the ones treated to dinner tonight. Kitchuri is India’s staple food – a mixture of rice, dal, vegetables, not to forget the hot chillis, lots of them.

Around Mayapur all beings no matter how low or poor are describes in holy scripture as special beings; serving them is said to be very pleasing to God.

This is the place where the now worldwide Food For Life charity started in answer to the urgent call of ISKCON’s founder Srila Prabhupada: ‘’No one should go hungry within ten miles of Mayapur.’’While realizing that the sound of God’s holy name is more easily appreciated on a full stomach, ISKCON officially created the Nagar Sankirtan Department in 2007, which currently engages twenty-six full-time volunteers. As the project runs entirely on donations Shastra das has launched a website where people can easily donate or become patron members. A plate of kitchuri costs 7 Indian rupees, so a program like this where some 300 villagers attend costs about Rs2,000, roughly 40 US dollars.
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Brimming with jubilation, it’s time to go home, though not without a feeling of sadness. An afternoon is long enough to form bonds, especially between the youths. For some villagers and volunteers alike, today was also NOT their first meeting. As they say in these parts, “Pore dekha hobe, Mahaprabhur ashirbade” “See you next time, by the grace of our Great Master. The great master is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Avatar of Lord Krishna who took birth 500 years ago in Mayapur itself. Mahaprabhu revived the chanting of the mantra we’ve been hearing today. It comes from the ancient Kalisantarana Upanishad, where a Sanskrit verse predicts iti sodasakam namnam kali kalmasanasanam. In the modern age of Kali, the chanting of these 16 combined names of Hare Rama and Krishna will be most effective for spiritual realization. On tonight’s smooth ride home down the oily Ganga, what could be easier indeed than bathing one’s soul in Krishna’s holy names.

[Ends with dancing kirtan while cruizing magically down Ganga at sunset]
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