WHAT IS HARINAMA SANKIRTANA?
Harinama Sankirtan is the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Supreme Lord. Lord Caitanya stressed that the chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra is the easiest means of self-realization, with the key elements being the continuous hearing and chanting of the names of the Lord:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
This is the path prescribed in the Vedic literatures for achieving spiritual perfection, namely God-realization, and ending all the sufferings that we undergo in this world. Just by chanting the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra, one can be freed from the cycle of birth and death and can go back to the spiritual world where one leads a perpetual, blissful life in association with the Lord.
"By performing congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, one can destroy the sinful condition of material existence, purify the unclean heart and awaken all varieties of devotional service."
Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta, Antya-Lila 20.13
Lord Caitanya started the Harinama Sankirtan movement - the loud, public and congregational chanting of the maha-mantra accompanied by musical instruments and graceful dancing. Once one is caught up in the dancing and chanting he becomes completely absorbed in the sound vibrations of the mantra. The mantra then enters his consciousness, purifies his heart and awakens his dormant love for Krishna. This style of chanting Krishna’s holy names also allows others, such as passers-by, animals and plants to benefit from the auspicious effects of the mantra.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
On Saturdays, the community gathers at Surrey Street Market in Central Croydon to take part in congregational chanting and book distribution on the streets of Croydon.
If you would like to join us, please contact Vivek Gupta on:
+44 (0)7738 144 145
THE START OF THE SANKIRTANA MOVEMENT
The excerpt below is taken from the Introduction to the Srimad Bhagavatam, written by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhativedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The Lord was then married with great pomp and gaiety, and at this time He began to preach the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord at Navadvipa. Some of the brahmanas became envious of His popularity, and they put many hindrances on His path. They were so jealous that they finally took the matter before the Muslim magistrate at Navadvipa. Bengal was then governed by Pathans, and the governor of the province was Nawab Hussain Shah. The Muslim magistrate of Navadvipa took up the complaints of the brahmanas seriously, and at first he warned the followers of Nimai Pandita not to chant loudly the name of Hari. But Lord Caitanya asked His followers to disobey the orders of the Kazi, and they went on with their sankirtana (chanting) party as usual.
The magistrate then sent constables who interrupted a sankirtana and broke some of the mrdangas (drums). When Nimai Pandita heard of this incident He organized a party for civil disobedience. He is the pioneer of the civil disobedience movement in India for the right cause. He organized a procession of one hundred thousand men with thousands of mrdangas and karatalas (hand cymbals), and this procession passed over the roads of Navadvipa in defiance of the Kazi who had issued the order. Finally the procession reached the house of the Kazi, who went upstairs out of fear of the masses.
The great crowds assembled at the Kazi’s house displayed a violent temper, but the Lord asked them to be peaceful. At this time the Kazi came down and tried to pacify the Lord by addressing Him as nephew. He pointed out that he referred to Nilambara Cakravarti as uncle, and thus Srimati Sacidevi, Nimai Pandita’s mother, was his cousin-sister. He asked the Lord whether his sister’s son could be angry at His maternal uncle, and the Lord replied that since the Kazi was His maternal uncle he should receive his nephew well at his home. In this way the issue was mitigated, and the two learned scholars began a long discussion on the Koran and Hindu Sastras.
The Lord raised the question of cow-killing, and the Kazi properly answered Him by referring to the Koran. In turn the Kazi also questioned the Lord about cow sacrifice in the Vedas, and the Lord replied that such sacrifice as mentioned in the Vedas is not actually cow-killing. In that sacrifice an old bull or cow was sacrificed for the sake of receiving a fresh younger life by the power of Vedic mantras. But in the Kali-yuga such cow sacrifices are forbidden because there are no qualified brahmanas capable of conducting such a sacrifice. In fact, in Kali-yuga all yajnas (sacrifices) are forbidden because they are useless attempts by foolish men. In Kali-yuga only the sankirtana yajna is recommended for all practical purposes.
Speaking in this way, the Lord finally convinced the Kazi, who became the Lord’s follower. The Kazi thenceforth declared that no one should hinder the sankirtana movement which was started by the Lord, and the Kazi left this order in his will for the sake of progeny. The Kazi’s tomb still exists in the area of Navadvipa, and Hindu pilgrims go there to show their respects. The Kazi’s descendants are residents, and they never objected to sankirtana, even during the Hindu-Muslim riot days.