Please kindly accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
you for your blessings and prayers, by your mercy, I manage to go out
on Sankirtan! I know that it is very pleasing to my spiritual masters,
and what is more valuable than the pleasure of the spiritual master?
On my way back from my final outing for 2018, as I read the daily thought email, I excitedly shot off a breathless email in the ecstasy of Harinam Sankirtan right from the subway train, I got this response from Sankarshan Prabhu, the magnanimous soul who accepted this “useless fellow” (in the words of my respected loving caring father and early spiritual master Anant B. Joshi, no less) as a disciple…
“May all of your preaching endeavors be unlimitedly successful. We look forward to our arriving soon in Toronto.”
I feel so undeserving for all these blessings, but still somehow or other I am out there, living the Sankirtan life. What could I have possibly done to merit this? No, this is causeless.
There have been 11 outings since my last update, feels like someone took me out there by hand personally, I don’t remember too many details! In fact, I was going totally crazy asking again and again, “Krishna, should I stay here or move on, are you sending someone here or should I go elsewhere” and was just led from one soul to another, it was totally unreal from a rational perspective.
Dec 28 – Finch Station
Dec 29 – MSF, Finch Station, Yonge & Dundas, Nathan Phillips Square
Dec 30 – Finch Station, Yonge & Bloor, Yonge & Eglinton, Kensington Market
Dec 31 – Finch Station, City of Toronto’s New Year Party
Total 11 Outings
A year’s worth of gratitude
Guru, Krishna, and Vaishnavas, Your blessings made all the difference. All the Prasadam, all the Kirtan, all the encouragement, all the support, and all the opportunity for Sankirtan all over. Plus all the favourable souls, all the learning experiences while out there. How can I condense what I feel in terms of gratitude into some words? I simply offer my obeisances to you all, and pray to remain of service.
What should I do for 2019?
Well, definitely more of the same, my outings target goes back to 108… maybe I will include some more qualitative metrics, such as the number of rejections collected. I remember Vaisesika Prabhu’s earliest Sankirtan talks, where he spoke about counting the rejections and offering those to Krishna “Krishna, today I surveyed x souls for you”. Maybe that would be good use of a clicker 🙂 But I need to reflect on this some more, to see how I can improve my service to Guru, Krishna, and the Vaishnavas, how best to serve this Harinam Sankirtan movement, that is my meditation.
City dynamics change all the time. Old spots become unattractive, and new spots turn up due to changes in areas. I keep watching out as I pass around in the city, from a Sankirtan angle – foot traffic, other distractions, demographics, and spots to stand… I have lots to write about this but not enough time. But suffice it to say that if I had a full-time Sankirtan crew like the devotees had in the old days, I could keep all of them gainfully busy all day and probably all night! All other locations except two I have already written about in this marathon – so I will focus on the unique ones in the last several days…
Yonge & Bloor
We mostly avoid this location these days because the average “material wealth” of persons walking about there is a bit too high and it is hard to get people to stop. BUT, after reconstruction, there are a lot of different kinds of people (more mixed demographic due to new retail) especially further away from the main intersection. I met a few receptive souls here on one outing…
Yonge & Eglinton
Not too long ago, before I discovered Finch station, YOnge & Eglinton was my go-to spot. But then with construction and change in dynamics, I didn’t go there so much. But now, with the new Presto rules which allows unlimited start-of-travel within 2 hours, I can probably go there more. I met some amazing souls in the one outing I could go out on. And construction on one side has come to an end, with most people forced to use one side of the street, it is a great spot for anyone who wants to go there.
Nathan Phillips Square
I always used to stand outside old city hall and try to stop people, and had limited success… so I decided to go to Nathan Phillips square and find people who are not engrossed in watching the skaters on the outdoor rink there. I must say I found quite a few – some of whom I write below about. I will probably do that more often, because it gives me an opportunity to observe people a bit longer and detect which type of “mood” they might be in rather than someone walking by briskly.
City of Toronto New Year’s party
Heading out from a devotee gathering at the Ashram of Sri Rupa Goswami & Sri Sanatan Goswami Prabhu, with first class Kirtan and higher-than-first-class Prasada, it was a warm (by Toronto standards, for New Year’s eve) and rainy night. I made it just in time for the grand fireworks display. Tens of thousands of people gatherered there. There were young people, older people, families, sober people, intoxicated souls, and people of every ethnic group imaginable. People started heading to the subway after the fireworks ended, and I stood there on their way to the subway. I was able to touch less than 0.1% of the crowd with my one little voice.
The planned Harinam was cancelled due to rain (understandably we might have had problems with Mridangas and sound equipment), and devotees did Kirtan within the temple, but I had one outing left to go out on, so I went alone anyways.
All the books I had were finished within about 25 minutes. I estimated that if 25 book distributors stood in a straight line with about 5 feet between each person, we would still probably run out of books. It was incredible, all I said was one word, in a higher-than-normal volume for me “Meditation”, sometimes I’d add “sir/madam/guys/ladies/girls”…
In the absence of Harinam, no matter I was chanting, but revellers just shouted, screamed, or roared nonsense. If only we had the Harinam for them all to chant along with!
Here are a few memorable interactions:
Charlene – I met her in Kensington, and she started off saying no. Then we got talking about how the government doesn’t care for the ordinary people and I told her of statements from the Bhagavatam in which governments in this age are described as thieves and plunderers… that got her attention, interest, and she gave me her contact info, told me she is over 60 years of age – she said she knows how to eat well. She took a book and said she’d try to come to one of our events because “she likes how we think”.
S is an intellectual who runs a tea store inside Kensington. Originally from Bengal, he doesn’t like organized religion and ritual, but he said he is interested in meditation and philosophy. Being of an advanced age, I see value in getting him more sadhu sanga before he has to quit this body so I promised to invite him to events after he returns from his annual trip to India.
P – from Georgetown Guyana came at me as if he was going to fight me “who are you, what are you, which organization are you part of”. He was really angry about a lot of things, but fortunately he was not angry with me. He is quite the intellectual, has quite the foul mouth, but surprised me with the generosity of his donation, and his job – he works in cleaning garbage. He recognized Prabhupada on the cover of “Path of Perfection” and took more books to read… he said he has to work multiple jobs to stay afloat, but I feel hopeful he will show up some day to the temple.
Ryan – is a funky artist (funky is the word, his site was way too funky for me), also started out saying no, then he explained how he eats healthy, runs, does martial arts, meditates, etc., I said great, help others get as fortunate as you are (he’s not yet fortunate, doesn’t yet chant Hare Krishna), but still, he did take a book to “read and pass on to the less fortunates” 🙂
Q – yes, Q, that’s his name, took a book and expressed interest in learning about a simpler more spiritual lifestyle.
Byanjeru is from East Africa. She gave me some westernized name at first, Winnie or something, but when I saw her email address, I asked her for the “story of your email address”. I pressed her for her real name! She works at a not-for-profit, recognizing herself as privileged, wanting to give back to the underprivileged… so her employer works on social welfare projects in Africa. We spoke of the vastness and myserious aura of Africa, the feeling of adventure lurking around every corner (not all pleasant, we laughed). She took a Modern Times Vedic Perspective and also a Gita, and wrote back to me these words “It was really great to get to meet you today at Yonge and Eglinton. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. I will get to reading the Gita and let you know. Looking forward to chatting further.” Her name means “light, wisdom, energy”, in other words, her name means “Brahman effulgence” 🙂 She belongs with Krishna, no?
Yaser is from Uganda, just about to finish high school, looking to study digital animation… He was waiting around for friends near the rink BTW, and was quite cold – we exchanged tips on gloves vs. mittens and about layering up.we spoke about “the system that needs you to feed it”, and how “you need just one more thing to make you happy”. I spoke of how “happiness is on the inside, not on the outside” and he was sold. He took books, chanted the Mahamantra, and promised to attend one of the events.
Yolanda is a grandma we met on MSF – she has no phone (nephew uses hers), no email (can’t get a hang of the computers), but she was so amazing. She said her mother taught her “you never disrespect any other religion OK, they are all praying to the same God in a different language”. She said her mother dragged them to church sometimes 4 times a day! What a lady! I was totally inspired by this grandma who is a devout Christian but took so many books saying “I love to read, and I especially love to read spiritual books over those novels”, chanted Hare Krishna, saying “I will put this right here so I can see it every time I come in and go out”. She was so kind to Vitthal Bhakta, he felt so comfortable with this saintly soul! She invited us to come and visit her apartment any day, only thing, she wouldn’t know how we can get a hold of her before! She said “if you come here and don’t find me, slip a note under the door, I will see what I can do”. How I pray that I may give that vibe to other spiritualists especially from other traditions!
Looking forward to…
Hearing from My Guru Maharaja and Gurumataji who, every year, come
despite the worst possible weather, just to keep us inspired in Krishna
consciousness! If you can come, great, let’s have a great festival
together – if you can attend online, let’s do that, if you want to
spread the word, here is the link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/your-perfect-balance-tickets-54181834325
The goal is achieved, long live the goal!
The good thing in Krishna consciousness is that once we reach one target, there is another one… once we complete
our chanting quota for the day, there are more rounds to be chanted,
today, but surely tomorrow! There is always more to read from Srila
Prabhupada, his disciples, and his predecessors, there are more books to
distribute, more souls to serve, more pots to wash, more centers to
setup, more souls to follow up with, more souls to encourage on their
way, always more. So, with a glad (and heavy heart, because its over),
the yajna of Sankirtan outings in 2018 draws to a close. BUT, 2019 is here, and I have a new goal.
I don’t distribute that many books, to be honest… I am sure there are many, many book distributors out there who distribute more books in a day than I can do in a month, or even the entire year! I pray to do better, but no one else can do exactly the same kind of service I can do – because I am here now, and no one else is exactly where I am, no matter how good they are, and how much more beneficial to the souls they may be! So I must continue doing my little bit, no matter how little it may be in the grand scheme of things. One rejection at a time! 🙂
My Sankirtan outings goal for 2019 is 108, and write about them all, and I now have 108 to go. 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.