हरे कृष्णा हरे कृष्णा कृष्णा कृष्णा हरे हरे। हरे रामा हरे रामा रामा रामा हरे हरे॥  

“The Absolute Truth is Sri Krishna, and loving devotion to Sri Krishna exhibited in pure love is achieved through congregational chanting of the Holy Name, which is the essence of all bliss.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.97) Or, as Narottama Dasa Thakura puts it: “The treasure of divine love in Goloka Vrindavan has descended as the congregational chanting of Lord Hari’s Holy Names.”



Even in former ages, when more difficult processes were recommended, the goal was always bhakti, or devotion to the Supreme Lord. In this age the most accessible form of bhakti is sankirtana, or congregational chanting of the Holy Names of God. It is the yuga-dharma, the religion and saving grace of this age.




“My dear king,” Sukadeva Gosvami told King Pariksit, “although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, the one good quality about it is that simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom” (SB 2.3.51).


Human life is especially meant for self-realization. Yet, owing to a bad educational system, people have no desire for self-realization. This is the hallmark of the age of Kali. We have short lives, and we tend to be “quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” And yet each one of us, being a pure spirit soul, originally has all good qualities. All we need to do is cleanse our mind from the dirty thoughts and desires that have accumulated there over countless lifetimes. Like thick dust over a mirror, these dirty things prevent us from understanding our spiritual identity. Therefore, great saints in the devotional line strongly recommend the process of hearing and chanting to cleanse the mind and bring out our dormant good qualities. In his Mukunda-mala stotra (42), the self-realized saint King Kulasekhara of the Sri-sampradaya recommends hari-nama, in the form of both congregational chanting (sankirtana) and individual meditation (japa). (…)


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Golden Avatar of Krishna, spread the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra throughout India, and He predicted that one day the Holy Names would be heard and chanted in every town and village of the entire world. His prediction came to pass in 1965, when His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a powerful disciple in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s tradition, sailed to New York and began the Hare Krishna Movement, which has spread to all major cities of every continent—and further.


Through harinama-sankirtana, Ratha-yatra festivals, and the massive distribution of sanctified foods and books expounding the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, the Hare Krishna Movement grew from strength to strength. But His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada did not just want to attract people. He wanted to keep them and turn them into lovers of God, Krishna.  And the main symptom of a person in love is that he or she cannot live without speaking of the beloved. Although it is true that the brihad-mridanga (the printing press) can be heard farther than the clay mridanga, Srila Prabhupada wanted the devotees to chant and dance in front of the Deities every morning and evening. And he wanted us to chant sixty-four rounds of japa every day, although eventually he came down to sixteen because we couldn’t come up to the mark. And he said that everything we do “must be accompanied by the chanting of the Holy Name.”


In India especially, where materialism wasn’t as all-pervasive as in the West, Prabhupada asked the devotees to chant for longer periods of time. In Juhu, Mumbai, he told the temple president that all the devotees should sit down together for a twelve-hour kirtana every Sunday—even though at that time the devotees were intensely busy working toward the completion of the Radha-Rasabihari temple complex. And in Vrindavan, the transcendental abode of Lord Krishna, he wanted all the visiting devotees and whoever else had spare time to take part in a continuous 24-hour kirtana. Things started quite harmoniously, with groups of men and women taking turns to lead the kirtanas. Srimati Daivisakti remembers starting her shift at one o’clock in the morning until, in March of 1978, an all-male Nama-hatta crew took over the 24-hour kirtana. Then, in 1979, the leadership changed and there wasn’t much kirtana going on at the Krishna-Balarama Mandir. Then again, in 1984, signs of kirtana revival appeared, only to vanish with the arrival of summer. In brief, it wasn’t until Aindra Dasa came from New York City in 1986 that the legendary 24-hour kirtana emerged as a reality.




(Excerpts from an article compiled by Vishaka-priya Mataji,

Kirtana Ashrama, Vrindavan)

More details about Aindra Prabhu and the 24-hour kirtana can be found under the “life”-section of this web page. 


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