2020.31-43 Downtown Toronto Harinam, Street Distribution, Work Sankirtan, Temple Distribution, Work & Professional Outreach. Online

It is marathon month! Sharing Sankirtan stories from 2020 with you… it was another memorable time, and right now, its another memorable time. I feel fortunate to be able to go out, and to share with you. Thank you for your kind support!

Old City Hall, Toronto

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 12 November 2020

Dear Devotees,

Hare Krishna!

Please kindly accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I pray that you are all well and in good health and spirits.

By your blessings I am able to participate in this Hare Krishna movement, despite my disqualifications. Thank you!

Summary:

29 Sep 2020 – Old City Hall Harinam

6 Oct 2020 – Old City Hall Harinam

8 Oct 2020 – Old City Hall Harinam

10 Oct 2020 – Walk to Temple – Street Distribution + Summer Hill Harinam

20 Oct 2020 – Old City  Hall Harinam

22 Oct 2020 – Old City Hall Harinam

23 Oct 2020 – Niagara Falls Clifton Hill Harinam

24 Oct 2020 – Niagara-on-the-Lake distribution & downtown Harinam

29 Sep – 10 Oct – Sankirtan in the professional world

29 Sep – 27 Oct – Various Online Sankirtan

3 Nov 2020 – Old City Hall

6 Nov 2020 – (Summer in November) Old City Hall

Sep-Oct 2020 – Combined temple distribution & temple guest Sankirtan

————————————-

Total 13 Outings

The mini-summer in an otherwise chilly Toronto November was a great blessing though I couldn’t go as much as I would have liked to.

It has been fun, trying to figure out how to go out on Sankirtan. It has been quite challenging on the time front, but Krishna has been merciful. My spiritual master has always been encouraging, and somehow or other I have managed to focus on Sankirtan and book distribution, despite all my other commitments and duties. I am sure you are much busier than me, but surely you can figure out how to make time?

I am a gap-filler by nature. I was instructed “do the needful” at the beginning of my journey in Krishna consciousness. And this suits my personality just fine. I am drawn to wherever there is a gap, a need. There is surely a shortage of Krishna consciousness in the world today. But while there are many practicing devotees, there is certainly a BIG gap in the Harinam Sankirtan area, especially in Toronto. The devotees are practically invisible. Millions of souls are milling about, going to work, shopping, hanging out, going to restaurants, etc., but the mercy of the Holy Name is being denied to them. This is violence, no? 

Many devotees, such as Rupanuga Prabhu are busier than ever before, propagating the Krishna consciousness movement online. I know that Mother Aditi and Bhadra Krishan Prabhu are doing online programs. So many souls, like Madhava Govinda Prabhu, Sucaru Mataji, Manoj Prabhu, Paramahamsa Prabhu are distributing books by phone. These are all great. What about those who are not ready for those classes or are not in the mercy circle of a devotee yet? The journey in Krishna Consciousness has to start somewhere, no? I still remember the days when I was on the fence after reading the books, and the Harinam Sankirtan party of Bhaktimarga Swami, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Prabhu, Dharmaprana Prabhu and others rescued me from my fence-sitting! I am sure we can do a lot together even if we go out alone together in different parts of the city, and help the souls get enough Sukriti to participate further in the Krishna Consciousness movement!

Imagine if 10, 20, 500 devotees were chanting on different street corners in Toronto and surrounding areas? Everywhere you go, there is the sound of the Holy Name… do you think we could make a dent in the hard materialistic times we live in?

Agreed, I don’t think it makes sense for people to go in large numbers out in public, but wherever you are, go out in ones or in twos! Be seen, be  heard chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Srila Haridas Thakura will bless us!

If you live in a small place, then put on a mask, take your voice and GO! If you live in a big city, put on a mask and GO OUT! Don’t shake hands, don’t get too close to people, but let your voice vibrating the Harinam Mahamantra reach the ears of the poor suffering souls of this age. You will feel happy, Mahaprabhu will be pleased with you, and our lives will be worthwhile. Please go, and report your outing to encourage others. Harinam Sankirtan is the only medicine in the age of Kali, vaccine or no vaccine.

Here are 2 experiences that stood out… never a dull moment out on Sankirtan!

One evening, I was feeling dejected as I went in the dark that I was a madman to go out like this, and who was benefiting from my impure chanting anyway. But I forced myself to go and start. Glad I did! As I stood chanting, an elderly man, unsteadily approached and said “I know this, I know this deeply. Deeeeply”. And then he began crying. He raised his arms, he looked up to the heavens and crossed himself. He said “my man, you have saved me”, and then “do you know what you have just done, you have just saved a soul”. I don’t know what his previous experiences with devotees have been, but he was quite emotional. He said “but it is so hard, SO HARD, how do you do it”. I said “never stop chanting” after a mantra, and continued chanting. He then said “I will say something to you, but you don’t stop chanting”. He said how people think “Toronto” means “meeting place” and that is right, but the full meaning was “Meeting place where the different tribes meet but no one fights”. He said “thank you thank you thank you” so many times”, and tried his own version of chanting. He rambled on philosophically as I continued chanting. Then he said “I have something for you, for your temple”, and pulled out some money, counted out 5 dollars in change. I had to give him a book. I pulled out a Nectar of Instruction. He held the book to his head, he placed it on the wall and bowed to the book. He danced around with the book. He started reading, read a bit, nodded, and then say “my dear man, you have saved me. I have outlived my life, my father is gone, my daughter is gone but I am still here, thank you for giving me hope hope hope”. And then we exchanged some deep Japanese-style bows (I was chanting and playing Karatalas) and he left.

The very next time I went, another madman approached me. The man looked like he was of South Asian descent, told me his name was Raglan. But he was lost to the world, drugged, cigarette in one hand, a Coke in another. The Karatalas just drew him in, he came close, close, closer, until he was about 2 inches from my face, staring into my eyes with a mad look on his face. I had to stop, and say “not this close OK, you stand here” and he obeyed. But as soon as I started the Kirtan his feet moved to the beat, closer, closer, closer. This happened many times. I finally stopped and asked him if he would read, he said no, so I pulled out a Mantra card and he said “I want that, I want that”. So he chanted the Mahamantra with me almost unwillingly. It is as if there were 2 personalities, one was demoniac and one was a bewildered confused lost soul, so innocent. I felt like maybe he was possessed. His feet moved like a zombie’s, his eyes were bloodshot, it is practically as if he wanted to step into me. I felt unsafe. He  (the demoniac personality) had already told me to stop thrice, even thught he couldn’t stop dancing and he couldn’t leave, as if he was hypnotized somehow by the chanting… and the voice was getting more menacing. It was late, dark, and I was not sure anyone else passing would help if he did something stupid. So I stopped and asked him if I could go elsewhere, he agreed, like a child. I said “don’t lose this card, this card will bring great good fortune to you”. As he took the card, I moved across to the South West corner of the intersection and began to chant. He disappeared shortly thereafter.

Going out on Harinam is putting oneself out on a limb, depending only on Krishna’s mercy. This should be done carefully. Many cannot do it at all – for example, as Aruna Keshavi said later “what if the man was COVID-infected?”, I responded, “then the virus is chanting Hare Krishna by now”. That was a joke but it was a serious risk! But those who can do this, should do this, because it bestows the highest blessings on one. I am a madman, mostly in the material sense of the word. But I pray to be mad to spread the mission of Srila Prabhupada or at least die trying.

My 2020 goal is 108 outings, and I have 65 left to go, with just 49 days left this year. Please bless me that I may humbly perform this service. I am very greedy for your blessings. In fact, I am 100% convinced that I can only go out on Harinam Sankirtan because of your blessings, because otherwise I am just a useless fool.

Praying to be always out on Harinam Sankirtan, or at least be in Harinam Sankirtan consciousness 24X7, this is my humble desire, though I must admit that unfortunate as I am, I still maintain all sorts of material attachments. Please bless me.

your servant, 

Mahabhagavat Das

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Author: Mahabhagavat Das SDA

I am a formally initiated disciple of His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari. My spiritual master was initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1971. He is the author of the famous Ultimate Self Realization Course. Check it out at www.joincourse.com.

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