Monday, July 07, 2014

Travel Journal#10.10: The North of England

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 10
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2014, part two
)
The North of England
(Sent from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on July 7, 2014)

Where I Went and What I Did

I spent a week based in Manchester, the first three days joining Sutapa Prabhu and his party from Bhaktivedanta Manor and doing harinama in Manchester and Liverpool and attending the first Sheffield Ratha-yatra. After that I did harinama in Manchester with Toshan Krishna Prabhu and Bhakta Dan on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and did harinama and the nama-hatta program in Sheffield on Wednesday. Thursday night we did a successful sacred sounds event in Preston. Friday I joined Raghunatha Bhatta Prabhu and John from Scotland doing harinama in Liverpool and the nama-hatta program there. That weekend I did harinamas and nama-hatta programs in York and Leeds, before returning to the Newcastle area to end the month with a week of harinamas there, and a wonderful eight-hour kirtana, celebrating twelve continuous months of monthly eight-hour kirtanas in Newcastle.

I share insights from Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures, a selection from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s journal, notes on a lecture that Mahavishnu Swami gave in Manchester, notes on a recorded lecture by Radhanath Swami, excerpts from an upcoming Back to Godhead magazine, glorification of kirtana from the Preston Sacred Sounds program, and realizations from a Bhakti Vriksha meeting in Newcastle.

Sheffield Ratha-yatra


After 34 years of playing a leading role in the Sheffield nama-hatta, Kay decided it was time to organize the first Sheffield Ratha-yatra, which happened on May 18. Devotees from all over England came for the Ratha-yatra. Mahavishnu Swami told me he was very happy to be there and considered it a wonderful event. Parasurama Prabhu and his crew came with the cart, decorated it, and supplied wonderful prasadam for the event. Giridhari Prabhu and the festival team came. Sutapa Prabhu came with some devotees from the Manor who had been traveling with him. To my surprise, devotees even came all the way from Newcastle, way to the north. Some devotees I had seen at the North UK Retreat two weeks before were there and so were devotees I had seen the previous week at Birmingham 24-hour kirtana as well. It was wonderful to connect with my UK devotee friends I had not seen since last year at these festivals three weeks in a row!


Sutapa Prabhu and his party did harinama for over an hour before the Ratha-yatra, and I passed out invitations. 


One man videoed us for over ten minutes!

As I talked to one smiling mom, who our party passed, her daughter, perhaps ten years old, said to me, “Didn’t I see you in York?” I smiled, and said, “Well, it must have been last year because I have not been to York this year.” The kid said it was. I told her I planned to return to York, and asked if she was from there. She said she was from Sheffield, so I encouraged the whole family to come to the Ratha-yatra and the stage show after. It was curious how the girl remembered me from York last year. 

Traditionally the cities do not give the Hare Krishnas the best routes for their parades, especially for the first year. At least the place where we pulled the cart was populated by many Sunday shoppers, although not extensive in size. Hopefully, next year we can extend the route to include the busy shopping street where we usually do harinama.

The procession did attract a bit of attention and some passersby stayed for quite a while to watch and to inquire from the devotees what it was all about.


Kanwar and Mariana, who kindly let me stay with them when I visit Sheffield, came to the Ratha-yatra. He stands with me in this photo.


She passed out prasadam to onlookers.


Erzsebet from London is always ready to encourage the onlookers to participate.


Any festival is more festive with Mahavishnu Swami.


Dayananda Swami, a fairly new swami who is originally from Rotherham, practically the next town over, also attended.


At one point, Kay’s daughter, Radha, led with great enthusiasm.


Some people watched us from above.


The Ratha-yatra cart was not permitted to go through the city to the venue for the stage show, so we just had massive harinama instead. 


I danced and passed out invitations to the stage show as usual. Thanks to Agi Holland for the picture.

We chanted outside the venue of our stage show for a few minutes after our procession arrived.


Mahavishnu Swami added at lot of enthusiasm to the chanting party.


Kanwar and Mariana, my Sheffield hosts, delighted in the kirtana circle dance.

The stage show was at the Broomhall Centre, the location of our weekly Wednesday evening program in Sheffield.


It featured some lively kirtanas both by Giridhari Prabhu of the festival team and Radha, Kay’s daughter, who has a pleasant, powerful voice and a lot of youthful energy.


Kay, the organizer, is wearing a blue sari, and of the women so attired, is closest to the camera, and Parasurama Prabhu is playing his ukulele in the front to the right.


The guys danced nicely,


and so did the ladies.

Mahavishnu Swami spoke as well. Dayananda Swami answered questions. There were also a couple groups of young Indian dancing girls. Some parts of the program I missed while taking prasadam and talking with my friends.

There was extra prasadam, and Parasurama Prabhu put a table with the pots out by the sidewalk next to the Broomhall Centre, so fortunate passersby could get some and many did.

Five of us did harinama the Wednesday before the Sunday Ratha-yatra, and one person Kay talked to came to the Ratha-yatra and liked it so much he came to the weekly nama hatta program the following Wednesday. Two other people who came to the Ratha-yatra also attended the program the next Wednesday, and one of those, who lives five minutes walk from the Broomhall Centre, came for several weeks afterward.

The first Sheffield Ratha-yatra brought a lot of devotees together from all over England and increased people’s awareness of and interest in Krishna in Sheffield. The next Wednesday after the event, when I did harinama by myself in Sheffield before the weekly program, I found the people much more favorable than usual.

Liverpool Harinamas

Sutapa Prabhu and a party of book distributors from Bhaktivedanta Manor distributed books in Liverpool for four hours and then did harinama for an hour and a half or so. I chanted for some time while they were distributing books, and Phil from Manchester joined me.



One photographer, Glyn Kelly, took some high quality pictures of us and kindly agreed to send them to me. If you like his photography, you may want to see his photo page on Flickr.

When I later joined Sutapa Prabhu and his team our chanting procession encountered a hen party. 


Some of the ladies enjoyed dancing with us 


and trying to play our instruments.


Later an older man danced with our party.

The next week while I was chanting with a couple friends in Liverpool, one person came up to me and complained I was chanting in the same area as his Gaudiya Math book table. I had noticed the Christian preacher next to me, who did not complain about me, but had not noticed the Gaudiya Math book table. If I had, I would not have chanted near it. He interpreted my behavior as challenging and started blasting the ISKCON GBC and ISKCON devotees. I just wanted to chant Hare Krishna and not enter into a whole discussion with him, so I said, “If you were chanting Hare Krishna on the other side of the street, I would not come up to you and start criticizing your institution and your guru.” Then I went on singing. He went away when he realized that I was not interested in listening to him and that I was not going to stop chanting.

Manchester Harinamas

After the Sheffield Ratha-yatra, Mahavishnu Swami and his party stayed overnight in the Manchester temple. Knowing Mahasvishnu Swami loves harinama, I invited him to do harinama in Manchester before continuing on to Brighton, and he kindly agreed.

I sang by myself before Mahavishnu Swami’s party arrived and met a young Italian lady who had lived in a Hare Krishna ashram for three months in Australia last year. She gave a donation and was very happy to learn of the temple programs in Manchester, her new home.


Mahavishnu Swami led such a lively kirtana!


One boy danced with our party with great enthusiasm.


Then Vidyapati Prabhu, a disciple of Mahavishnu Swami who also plays accordion, sang a joyful kirtana too, and his guru danced.

An Indian Lebara salesman bought water for everyone in our party.

I was wondering how I was going to cover the price of my £13 week bus ticket for Manchester, but Raghunatha Bhatta Prabhu of Bristol, who was with the swami’s party, let me distribute his books and keep the money and as well as the rest of the books, so I got £10 from that on that very day.

Toshan Krishna Prabhu, who spent almost six months with Rama Raya Prabhu’s harinama party in Union Square Park, set up a similar program in Manchester with our friend from Michigan, Bhakta Dan, who also did much harinama in New York.


They had a little altar, his Gopal deity, books, incense, and a donation box, and they would sit down on a cloth and chant for five or six hours a day. I would join them for three hours, when I was not traveling to Sheffield, Preston, Leeds, or Liverpool.

I would sing part of the time, and the rest of the time dance and invite people, who were obviously somewhat attracted, to the temple programs.

While chanting there in Manchester, I met a young Indian man from Huddersfield, between Manchester and Leeds, but closer to Leeds. I gave him all the details for the Leeds programs, and he surprised me by coming the next Sunday and bringing his friend and his uncle. His uncle bought a Bhagavad-gita from me and gave me a nice donation.


In the course of my travels, I sometimes see things that I have never seen before, like a street musician with a monkey mask playing the drum.

Preston Sacred Sounds Event


Once a month devotees in Preston have a Sacred Sounds event which consists of three hours of chanting and some spiritual food. It is to introduce people who are musically inclined to the chanting of the Vedic mantras, particularly the Hare Krishna mantra. They have some regulars who come every month, and some new people also come.


My friends Toshan Krishna and Bhakta Dan Prabhus, who play in the 24-hour kirtana in Vrindavan and who have been part of the six-hour harinama in New York City’s Union Square, kindly agreed to come and share their enthusiasm for kirtana with the people. Both led attractive tunes and people appreciated.


One lady who came for the first time, learned the mantra, and when the leader gave everyone the chance to lead the chanting of one mantra, she chanted it perfectly. She also got very much into the dancing.

It was a typical late night program that messed up everyone’s schedule, but on the bright side, several people participated enthusiastically, and the one new lady had a very positive introduction to kirtana.

Liverpool Monthly Program

I was surprised to meet at our monthly program in Liverpool one girl named Meg, who had seen the extra harinama that I had attended with Sutapa Prabhu and his devotees from the Manor the previous week.


She had followed the party for some time, talked to one of the local devotees, heard of the monthly program and decided to come the following week. She got there early, helped the devotees cook, bought some japa beads, and stayed late to help straighten up the room. Another new person also came.


One young Oriental lad came for the second time and also stayed to help straighten up the room. 

In Liverpool, the university has a meditation newsletter which the devotees’ program is mentioned in, and often people come from that. It was great to see there in Liverpool a program attended by both committed regulars and new people.

York Harinama


I was happy to see that Govardhan Devi Dasi and her husband, John, have increased the size of their party with the addition of Preitie, a young Indian devotee lady with lots of energy, who comes from Leeds to assist them on their Saturday harinamas. Although York is much smaller that Leeds, Liverpool, and Sheffield, the other cities in the north where we do harinama, it is said to be the biggest tourist city in England outside of London itself, and on Saturdays it is busy with national and international tourists. I sang for an hour or so before Govardhan and her husband joined me and then Preitie came later on. 


I was surprised to see the enthusiasm of Govardhan and Preitie for singing and dancing in the rain, especially considering Govardhan is senior to me in age. 


Thanks to Govardhan’s husband, John, for taking the pictures. He is in the picture below at the Quaker meetinghouse, the venue for our monthly programs in York. 



Our altar and our book table there are the most beautiful of all the nama-hattas in The North of England. 


The mantra sign, to the right, is also unique.




Leeds Harinama

I was very impressed by the enthusiasm for harinama in Leeds. The weather was either raining or just about to rain for much of the time. All I had in the beginning was a pair of karatalas. My harinama friends, Toshan Krishna and Bhakta Dan Prabhus, who had their own instruments, did not want to continue traveling with me, and the local devotees did not bring any instruments. One young lady from Latvia named Elina, who had recently moved to the Leeds area, but who had not yet attended devotees’ meetings and who had never been on harinama before, decided to come because of attraction to harinama videos she had seen on YouTube. I was worried about the kind of experience she would have because when she joined us there was just me and one or two older ladies. Later things picked up. 


Govardhan Dasi saved the day, spontaneously driving an hour and forty minutes from her home in Scarborough, with both a harmonium and a mrdanga, being inspired by the previous day’s harinama in York. Manoharini Radha Dasi engaged many of the ladies in dancing in a pattern and made Elina feel part of the team. John, who has been coming ever since he got an invitation from me last year, and another new devotee man, enthusiastically distributed invitations.


John, here holding the pamphlet I originally gave him, was so enthusiastic in distributing the invitations that although it was raining half the time, he said that it did not feel that two hours had passed. I was very impressed to see the enthusiasm of the Leeds devotees on the rainy harinama. Govardhan indicated that she would be willing to come regularly and do harinama before the Leeds program on the last Sunday of the month, and that would be a great boon for them. 

Thanks to Raj Prabhu for taking the pictures of the Leeds harinama.

Newcastle Area Harinamas

I chanted in Newcastle for five days out of the last six days of the month, going out for three hours a day. Almost one hour was spent chanting, coming and going, between the temple and Northumberland Street, a busy shopping street. During that two hours I was on Northumberland, people would give me between £6.40 ($11) and £8.50 ($14.50), and I would give out invitations to the temple and distribute a few books, often Chant and Be Happy. It is so long ago, I cannot remember any special details, except for on the day of the eight-hour kirtana, which I’ll mention later.

The day did not chant in Newcastle, Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu and I had lunch at Bhakti Rasa Prabhu’s house near Hexham. His wife, Kirtida dd made awesome lasagna. Afterward we did harinama in Hexham for an hour.


Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu took this picture of us chanting in front a shop called humorously enough, “Hares of Hexham.”

During the course of the harinama we met a lady who was very happy to see us, having seen the devotees on a harinama in Hexham earlier in the year.

ISKCON Newcastle’s 12th Monthly Eight-Hour Kirtana

I wasn’t planning to do harinama before Hare Krishna Newcastle’s 12th monthly eight-hour kirtana, but sunny Saturdays are rare and I like going out, so I did. On the way to my spot, an older man said, “You a Hare Krishna? Got any books for sale?” I pulled out a soft Gita, saying, “These are £5.” He said, “I just happen to have £5” and bought it. A great start for a great day!

I was very inspired to see the complete dedication of many Newcastle devotees to their monthly eight-hour kirtana. In addition to chanting, these enthusiastic devotees were fully engaged in decorating, cooking, and serving prasadam. A couple Indian youths drove 3½ hours from Birmingham for the event.


Yuka, from Japan, who studied in nearby Durham, where she met the devotees, came all the way from Derby to chant and dance with her old devotees friends.

When I suggested to my Newcastle friends they do a twelve-hour kirtana a year ago, they decided it was more realistic to do an eight-hour one, and they enthusiastically did their first eight-hour kirtana on the first Ekadasi in June. I had no idea they would appreciate it so much they would make it a regular monthly event and do it for twelve months without fail!


Radhe Shyam Prabhu, one of the main organizers of the event, was our first singer.


I also sang near the beginning. I chanted just half an hour so others would have time to sing.


Kirill, from Russia, played guitar.


Anjali, new from last year, sang beautifully, getting the guys dancing.


Dhananjaya Prabhu, who has been part of ISKCON Newcastle for many years sang, and when he was not singing, he would often play the bass.


In our eight-hour kirtana sometimes the guys danced with great enthusiasm.


Sometimes the ladies were inspired to dance.


Sometimes they swung the kids.


Sometimes everybody danced in jubilation.


Sometimes devotees leaped into the air.


We kept the door to the temple open, hoping to create interest in passersby. Many appreciated from the doorway, and a few came in and stayed one for some time.


One new lady from the street even danced. She brought friends to a Sunday program a month later.

In addition to chanting for eight hours from noon to 8:00 p.m. they have lunch at 3:00 p.m. and dinner at 8:00 p.m.


I was amazed that there were five desserts for lunch, along with quite a number of other preparations.


At the first event last year, there was one meal of four sweets and three other preparations.

This year during my travels in the UK, I mentioned the Newcastle eight-hour kirtana and for the June event, devotees came from Edinburgh and Karuna Bhavan in Scotland, and the two Birmingham devotees returned. Actually when I think about the other temples I go to, even in big cities, it is rare to have an eight-hour kirtana every month. That is an opulence of Newcastle ISKCON and shows the dedication of the Newcastle devotees to kirtana.

Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to Bhagavad-gita 2.69 that “the sage feels transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual culture.” Here in my spring/summer base in The North of England, I feel pleasure seeing new people coming in touch with the spiritual practice of Krishna consciousness and existing devotees coming to increased levels of enthusiasm for it. All glories to Lord Caitanya’s auspicious sankirtana movement, giving humanity transcendental knowledge and pleasure through the medium of the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord!

The photos I took of these events which I did not use in this journal can be seen by clicking on the link below:

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 34:

No one, while remaining on the material platform, should discuss these different descriptions of bhava and anubhava by quoting different statements of transcendental literatures. Such manifestations are displays of the transcendental pleasure potency of the Lord. One should simply try to understand that on the spiritual platform there are many varieties of reciprocal love. Such loving exchanges should never be considered to be material. In the Mahabharata, Udyama-parva, it is warned that things which are inconceivable should not be subjected to arguments. Actually, the transactions of the spiritual world are inconceivable to us in our present state of life. Great liberated souls like Rupa Gosvami and others have tried to give us some hints of transcendental activities in the spiritual world, but on the whole these transactions will remain inconceivable to us at the present moment. Understanding the exchanges of transcendental loving service with Krishna is possible only when one is actually in touch with the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya 15.120, purport:

Unless Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu discloses the fact, no one can understand who is actually a great devotee of the Lord engaged in His service. It is therefore said in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 23.39), tanra vakya, kriya, mudra vij├▒eha na bujhaya: even the most perfect and learned scholar cannot understand a Vaishnava’s activities. A Vaishnava may be engaged in governmental service or in a professional business so that externally one cannot understand his position. Internally, however, he may be a nitya-siddha Vaishnava—that is, an eternally liberated Vaishnava.”

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.32 on August 13, 1974, in Vrindavana, India:

If you execute this devotional service, immediately you become free from the threefold miseries.

Chant Hare Krishna, take prasadam, and work for Krishna. The result is you will go back to Godhead.

Even if there is difficulty, do not give up the association of the devotees.

You can understand Krishna or see Krishna. It is only possible by service.

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 15.237, purport:

In the Hare Krishna movement, the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, the dancing in ecstasy and the eating of the remnants of food offered to the Lord are very, very important. One may be illiterate or incapable of understanding the philosophy, but if he partakes of these three items, he will certainly be liberated without delay.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 40:

No one should claim his eternal relationship with Krishna unless he is liberated. In the conditioned state of life, the devotees have to execute the prescribed duties as recommended in the codes of devotional service. When one is mature in devotional service and is a realized soul, he can know his own eternal relationship with Krishna. One should not artificially try to establish some relationship. In the premature stage it is sometimes found that a lusty, conditioned person will artificially try to establish some relationship with Krishna in conjugal love. The result of this is that one becomes prakrita-sahajiya, or one who takes everything very cheaply. Although such persons may be very anxious to establish a relationship with Krishna in conjugal love, their conditioned life in the material world is still most abominable. A person who has actually established his relationship with Krishna can no longer act on the material plane, and his personal character cannot be criticized.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.13.8, purport:

Temples and monasteries should be constructed for the preaching of spiritual consciousness or Krishna consciousness, not to provide free hotels for persons who are useful for neither material nor spiritual purposes. Temples and monasteries should be strictly off limits to worthless clubs of crazy men. In the Krishna consciousness movement we welcome everyone who agrees at least to follow the movement’s regulative principles—no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating and no gambling. In the temples and monasteries, gatherings of unnecessary, rejected, lazy fellows should be strictly disallowed. The temples and monasteries should be used exclusively by devotees who are serious about spiritual advancement in Krishna consciousness.” 

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.13.9, purport:

Such a sannyasi is free to accept or reject the marks of sannyasa. His only thought is ‘Where is there an opportunity to spread Krishna consciousness?’ Sometimes the Krishna consciousness movement sends its representative sannyasis to foreign countries where the danda and kamandalu are not very much appreciated. We send our preachers in ordinary dress to introduce our books and philosophy. Our only concern is to attract people to Krishna consciousness. We may do this in the dress of sannyasis or in the regular dress of gentlemen. Our only concern is to spread interest in Krishna consciousness.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:



Today’s drawing shows three
devotees dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
One is a brown-faced woman
and two are young men.
Harinama brings together
many varieties of people,
and they all get along
amicably and chastely.
They may have different
opinion and moods,
but when they get together
and sing Hare Krishna they are
a unified group.
Harinama is a
great melting pot
where all people
of different backgrounds
mix harmoniously.
This is because beneath
all the external differences
we are all spirit-souls,
servants of Krishna.
In harinama the
superficial differences
are forgotten and
the spiritual oneness
becomes prominent.

Mahavishnu Swami:

Srila Vyasadeva is the original sankirtana devotee [distributor of transcendental literature]. We are engaged in distributing Srila Vyasadeva’s work.

The Srimad-Bhagavatam convinces us that the Absolute Truth, the source of all energies, is a person.

You are not from any of these places [America, Canada, England, etc.]. Before you were born, where were you? You do not know.

Lord Caitanya desired that all people hear Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam to become free from lamentation, illusion, and fearfulness.

Srila Prabhupada said in a conversation, “When I came to America, I gave. Others went to take. I did not want to take anything, I wanted to give.”

Srila Prabhupada saw that if no one was going to bring Krishna consciousness to the West, then he must do it.

Srila Prabhupada admitted his books were not up to the scholarly standard and thus he engaged editors like Pradyumna and Jayadvaita.

Srila Prabhupada was firmly fixed in the conclusion of the Srimad-Bhagavatam that material advancement of civilization is a waste of time. Life is meant for understanding and perfecting our relationship with God.

Because Srila Prabhupada was so submissive to Krishna’s desire to preach, desiring to dance as He liked, Krishna empowered him.

Manchester has everything but mini-Prabhupadas—people enthusiastic to share Krishna consciousness.

If there is nobody to do it in this world I must do it.

No one knows who to love, or with whom we have the ultimate relationship of love. Once they know that ultimate relationship, they can learn how to love others.

Spiritually we are stunted.

People are thinking somewhere out there in this world there is real happiness.

Kesava Bharati Swami used to have a room in the Soho temple, and people from the lunch program would come and he would answer their questions for hours. As a result many people joined the Krishna consciousness movement.

Reading Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita and associating with Srila Prabhupada’s early disciples can give us conviction in Krishna consciousness.

The early UK devotees were successful because of their love and gratitude for Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada was so bold. In London he had the devotees announce the installation of the deities although they did not have deities.

There is a pastime in Mula Prakriti Devi Dasi’s book about when Srila Prabhupada was living in Delhi. A man offered to clean his room, and while doing so removed the spider webs from it. Seeing this, Srila Prabhupada expressed dismay, saying, “The spiders were the original tenants. They were here before me.”

Radhanath Swami:

from a recorded lecture:

Our spiritual advancement is there according to how much we are willing to cooperate to expand the Lord’s mission.

Things do not happen automatically. Krishna’s mercy comes in reciprocation for our sincerity.

Due to their humility, the great devotees would cry to Lord Krishna, and by that consciousness of Krishna, they would feel Krishna’s presence.

People leave their Deity worship and their gurus looking for “the nectar,” but the real nectar is in devotional service.

Nagaraja Prabhu:

from “Magical Distractions” in Back To Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 5:

The Internet and the smart phone haven’t solved our greatest problem: we’re all going to die. While our eyes are glued to our digital screens, time is stealing our limited stock of days.”

Srila Prabhupada writes, ‘The material world is an illusory energy to deviate the living entities from the path of self-realization.’”

Navina Syama Prabhu:

from “Taking Shelter” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 5:

As Srila Prabhupada instructed, “The more one sleeps, that means he’s under the control of maya.” (Lecture, Mumbai, December 22, 1975) This is why he insisted that his followers rise at the brahma-muhurta hour, well before dawn, and seek comfort instead in the early-morning chanting of the holy names. “If you want to follow Caitanya Mahaprabhu, there is no question of sleeping in the morning.” (Conversation, Aligarh, India, September 9, 1976)

Back to Godhead magazine, Vol. 48, No. 5, from the “Vedic Thoughts” page:

from Rg Veda 1.156.3, [quoted in Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.49, purport]: 

“O Vishnu, Your name is completely transcendental. Thus it is self-manifest. Indeed, even without properly understanding the glories of chanting Your holy name, if we vibrate Your name with at least a small understanding of its glories – that is, if we simply repeat the syllables of Your holy name – gradually we shall understand it.”

from Skanda Purana 3.4.4–5:

Parasara Muni said, “You should know, O best of brahmanas, that in each cycle of four ages the branches of the Vedas are thus organized by a different Vyasa. But Krishna-dvaipayana Vyasa, know it well, is the Supreme Lord Narayana Himself. Who else on earth, O Maitreya, could be the author of the Mahabharata?”

from Sri Naradiya, quoted in Caitanya-bhagavata, Adi-khanda 16.283:

Compared to a person who is attached to chanting japa, the person who performs loud chanting of the holy name of Sri Hari is one hundred times better. This is because the person who chants japa purifies himself, whereas the person who chants the holy name loudly in kirtana purifies himself, all those who are with him, and everyone else who hears the holy vibration.”

Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu:

A simple person with a simple heart who is just trying to be Krishna consciousness, what they cook, that is real prasadam.

Raghunatha Bhatta Prabhu:

[Regarding the love of God awakened through the chanting:] There is no frustration in that love and no end to that love.

Toshan Krishna Prabhu:

The mantra is everything. There is nothing higher than the mantra. There is nothing that I can put into the kirtana to make it better for you. You have your own relationship with the Personality of Godhead. You have to put into it yourself. In the kirtana, I hear from you and you hear from me. Although there are many of you and one of me, we are both chanting and hearing.

Bhakta Dan:

This chanting can bring about that happiness we are looking for deep in our hearts.

The maha-mantra is the best mantra. The fruit of it is to sing and dance eternally in the spiritual world with Krishna, the Supreme.

Purushottam Kumar:

from “Time for the Journey Back Home” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 5:

Suppose you are presented with a luxury car, say a Rolls Royce, with a warning that it contains a bomb that will definitely explode at some unrevealed time. Who would be drawn by the charm of owning such a luxurious suicide car? The unequivocal response would be, ‘No sane person would even look at it.’ But all of us own such a vehicle and are obsessed by it. We call it our body, and we go overboard to display our fondness for it.”

Jake:

One time I analyzed what I do and what I want to get from it, and I found that everything I was doing I was doing for some motive except coming to the temple.

Anu:

I had emotions like arrogance, and I always thought that they were perfectly OK, but now I feel as a servant of the Lord and his devotees, I should not have such emotions.

Kirill:

I feel to lose the mercy of the Lord is the greatest loss.

Anjali:

What I am concerned with now is how to have a deeper relationship with God, how to relate nicely with others, and how to reciprocate with those who have helped me so far.

Attendee at a nama-hatta program:

Another way we can understand that a vegetarian diet is natural for human beings is to consider our behavior when we are hungry. If we see some fruit, we will naturally think of eating it, but if we see a cow, we will not think of eating that.

Anonymous devotee:

The reason I am not Christian or Muslim is I like prasadam.

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ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam

Glory to the Sri Krishna sankirtana, [the congregational chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna] which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.” (Lord Caitanya in His Siksastakam, verse 1)