New York City Hari Nam

NYC_HariNam_Report.docx

June 27, 2014                                                                                                                                           NYC Hari Nam Report


Ramaraya Prabhu has been valiantly singing the Holy Names of Krishna in Union Square Park for the last 2 and half years and has built up a team of steady team of devotees to help, so that we regularly have Hari Nam parties of 25 or more, every single day, without fail on the streets of New York City. When he began this yajna, things were not so easy; already in his mid-fifties, he started this with only a few devotees and had no financial support or even a place to stay. Today they stay in a brand new ISKCON Hari Nam Ashram, just 30 minutes from the center city and boast a team of 18 steady Hari Nam Warriors.

 Ramaraya was one of Aindra’s key kirtaniyas in Sri Vrindaban Dham for decades and felt an urge to carry forward the same kind of valiant dedication to Sri Nam that had been instilled in him during those years. As many may know, Aindra Prabhu who loved HariNam used to say that he would only return to the west for doing Hari Nam in the streets of New York. Srila Prabhupada once said that “New York was the Father Land of ISKCON and India was the Mother Land”, so it was a natural for Ramaraya to carry forward his continued service to Sri Nam in New York, remembering Srila Prabhupada and Aindra Prabhu’s love for preaching here.

Many Manhattan workers became attracted and spontaneously joined him daily. As a variety of other came to join him, Ramaraya continued throughout the first freezing winter months performing kirtan daily in the subways of New York and after 18 months passed this way, he still had only 4 dedicated men, but with no fixed residence or even a place to cook prasad.

As Abhiram Prabhu (ACBSP) was himself looking for a new inspiration, he came to see this lonely kirtan team, sitting in the heart of New York and became so inspired by their effort that he decided to also join the party. Having a long history of building up temples and other facilities for devotees, like the MVT, Abhiram first rented a basement with what little monies they had and began living and chanting with them. The team grew over the summer of 2013 to 7 full time and strong brahmacaris; slightly improved facilities were rented. This ‘improved’ facility meant that now 7 men could pack into a 500 square foot apartment and at least have a regular prasad and morning program.

Now, Abhiram could lead the morning program, cook the kichidri and send the team out with ‘General Ram’ (Ramaraya) who would continue for 6 hours daily, with an enlarged, well fed and eager team. The Hari Nam Party always has the support of many other devotees, who live around New York as well as others, who are learning about Krishna Consciousness while sitting in kirtan on the streets. Some team members have now been through the full cycle of getting a first exposure on the streets from the Hari Nam Party and eventually dedicating themselves and shaving up. Bhakta Lee is a shining example; formerly the leader of a Rap Band whose members were mostly vegetarians, he has shaved his lion-like dread locks and donned a dhoti and tilok to support the kirtan with strong mrdanga and kartal playing. So the Hari Nam becomes both a kirtan party and new bhakta program all at once and continued to grow.

These early team members remember their struggle as wonderful times, for they were daily just begging the Lord to help them get by, each day, with one more meal and the ability to pay one more rent, so they could keep chanting His Holy Names. They all felt it a great privilege to have shared these most challenging of times with others similarly committed to fearlessly spread the Name of Krishna in the heavy materialistic city of New York and to see how, like Lord Narasingha Dev saved Prahlad Maharaj, the Lord also came to their rescue, in the form of this new ashram facility and a greatly increased team, with book distribution, a cook and a small temple room.
When out of the blue, offers were made to assist in finding a proper ashram, the Harinam Party felt certain that the Supreme Person, Krishna, had actually reached into the hearts of those who made it possible to provide a newly renovated wonderful facility: a four-story residential ashram 30 minutes door-to-door by subway from the daily Harinam spot at Union Square in Manhattan was purchased in May, fully renovated just prior to occupancy.

The NYC Harinam Ashram is now growing so fast! Nearly every corner of the new facility is filled to capacity. There are 18 full time devotees, plus several constantly visiting devotees. Normally breakfast is served for around 22, since a few guests also come in the morning to hear the class.

Some of the young devotees who stay in the Ashram say that they never want to leave the exciting preaching field of NYC.  A primary inspiration is being able to serve the sacred mission of glorification of Krishna, despite the challenges of residing in this harsh city, following in the footsteps of our Founder-acarya.

On Saturday June 22 alone, the NYC Hari Nam party distributed 250 large books and received over $1,200 in contributions! All the books were distributed by devotees in dhotis and saris and tilok, directly in front of the Harinam party, "just like the Old Days"! Although the average is still only 1/3 of that amount, the team is determined to become a major factor in book distribution by gradually building their skills. So now, in addition to broadcasting the Holy Name, book distribution is also growing!

We constantly pray that Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya will be pleased by our efforts and invite all devotees to consider a mass return to the streets, where this ISKCON revolution met with so much success in the past. Srila Prabhupada’s system for preaching is as relevant and practical as it was in the so-called ‘olden days’ and still brings in devotees from the innocent souls! New Yorkers love to see us and we meet with only gentle smiles and often clapping and dancing by the passers-by. We have included a YouTube link, for your pleasure, of some of the kirtans, at http://youtu.be/kP7CZ7m4sQ0

Thank you Romapada Swami. ys Kuladri das

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Comments

  • beautiful, where is it exactly they sing? I may take a stop in :)

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