HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE | HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE  
  हरे कृष्णा हरे कृष्णा कृष्णा कृष्णा हरे हरे। हरे रामा हरे रामा रामा रामा हरे हरे॥  
 
   

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

Kirtana Ashram, Vrindavan)

 

Aindra Prabhu was born in Virginia, U.S.A in 1953 in an artistic family. His father played bluegrass music, his mother the harp, his brother the bass, and he himself took to the guitar—as well as other instruments and crafts. He happened to meet the devotees in Washington D. C. in the summer of 1973 while they were out on street sankirtana. Aindra Prabhu eagerly joined in, followed them back to the temple, and moved in more or less right away. A few months later, on Nityananda Trayodasi, he was initiated into the Gaudiya-sampradaya and given the name Aindra Dasa by Srila Prabhupada.

 

 

In retrospect, one can easily conclude that Aindra Prabhu was steadiness personified. He first began Deity service in Washington D. C. in 1974, continued that service on the Radha-Damodara Traveling Sankirtana Party, then in New York City until 1986, and since then in Vrindavan. Indeed, he left his body while preparing to cook for his Deities in July 2010, and he surrendered his last breath at the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda, to whom he had pledged his life.

 

 

Aindra Prabhu began leading kirtanas in the Washington D. C. temple, but after moving to New York City in 1981, he took the kirtana into the street with a small mouse amplifier out on a hand cart. One god-brother, Rasatala Prabhu, went out with him daily.  Later, after the devotees relocated to the present Brooklyn temple in October 1982, Aindra Prabhu got a donation from Bhavananda Prabhu, then co-GBC for New York. With that money, Aindra Prabhu bought a panel box van. Using the basement of the temple as a workshop, he made all the intricate artistic designs that gradually transformed the truck into an ornate golden temple. Early in the morning, he would drive to select locations such as Broadway, Central Park, and Upper Manhattan and sit there all day with his harmonium, kirtana party, book table, and “Changing Bodies” exhibit. In those areas, he aimed at the business industry, and they responded favorably, amazed to see the devotees sit in the same spot from 8 am to 5 pm every day—just like they did in their offices. Impressed with the devotees’ commitment, they would give donations, and some of them felt inspired to take up the life of devotion.  One such person became Acyuta Dasa, known in ISKCON for having completed Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi in Vrindavan. Every week, Aindra Prabhu would also go to ethnic areas in Queens, such as Jackson Heights, which has a high concentration of Indians and South Asians, and Ozone Park, whose population is mostly Guyanese and Trinidadian. And he would give them the Holy Names.

 

“Our main business is to vibrate the Holy Name of Krishna everywhere so that the people will be benefited by hearing the transcendental sound. The musical training is not so important as it is to keep ourselves spiritually fit in spiritual strength, that we should not forget. If we are in spiritual strength, there will be no scarcity of money; and the spiritual strength is that each and every one of us must chant the sixteen rounds of beads and follow the rules and regulations with great adherence.” (Srila Prabhupada's letter, Los Angeles 8 February, 1970)

 

Aindra Prabhu was the epitome of a sadhaka, always endeavoring to go the extra mile to show Krsna that he was serious about devotional service. For years he chanted one hundred thousand names of God every day, and he gradually increased to two hundred thousand. He also counseled devotees, studied the books of Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas, worshiped Radhe-Shyam in the temple and his personal Deities in his room, transformed the brahmacari quarters into a transcendental art gallery, scrubbed the toilets—and led the electrifying kirtanas that won him a place in devotees’ hearts the world over. Gradually, his eating and sleeping dwindled to almost nothing. As the soft side of his nature overtook the thunderbolt side, Krishna took him away. Aindra Prabhu had proved his sincerity.

 

The 24-hour kirtana revival began on the Rama-vijaya-dasami of 1986. That day commemorates the vijaya (victory) of Lord Ramacandra over the demon Ravana. But the param vijayate, the supreme victory, Lord Caitanya declared, is sri krsna sankirtanam, the loud chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna, because that chanting conquers not only bad qualities but ultimately birth and death as well. Not only that, but it is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss and enables us to fully taste the nectar we always hanker for.

 

And so, on the auspicious day of Rama-vijaya-dasami, the 24-hour kirtana started under the auspices of Aindra Prabhu, and it remained so for the next twenty-four years. As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa at the age of twenty-four and performed sankirtana, both publicly and privately, for the next twenty-four years, Aindra Prabhu also journeyed to Vrindavan twenty-four years ago with the intention of dedicating his body, mind, and soul to the sankirtana movement—which he did, also for a period of twenty-four years.

 

It was not an overnight success. Until ten years ago, living in Vrindavan throughout the year was a most difficult affair. Especially in the summer. Especially on the third floor of the Bhaktivedanta Swami Gurukula building. The electricity would go on and off—as it still does—throughout the day and night, sometimes for hours on end, and the generator would not be switched on because the Gurukula was closed for the summer. And because, even at night, the water just about steamed out of the taps, there was no scope for refreshing showers. So, to muster the strength to do anything more than lying in the pool of one’s own sweat required great determination.

 

Throughout the 1980s in the ISKCON world, sankirtana mostly meant going out selling Hong Kong paintings—or whatever generated the most profit—and the obedient devotees were thus engaged. So initially, Aindra Prabhu was alone, because the few rebels who joined him now and then in Vrindavan were not able to put up with the austerities. Not only the weather was difficult, but there was no money for maintenance. Aindra Prabhu had to pay rent for his rooms at the Gurukula, pay for his kichari prasadam—pay for everything he needed to maintain his and his crew’s body and soul together. At one point, the temple president decided to hire professional kirtaneers to strengthen the kirtana party. But these persons competed for name and fame, not for bhakti, and Aindra Prabhu dismissed them.

 

Purity is the force. And indeed, quality men began to feel attracted to joining Aindra Prabhu’s program during their visits to Vrindavan. (…) Materially speaking, the 24-hour kirtana slowly went from abject poverty to relative comfort. When the responsible devotees mentioned above started trickling in, they began recording Aindra Prabhu's kirtanas, took them back to the West, and sold the cassettes to other devotees. And they would bring back the proceeds to Vrindavan whenever they returned. Although Aindra Prabhu was a simple sadhu deeply immersed in his internal meditation in Vrindavan, he was also very merciful to the conditioned souls, wanting them to get the great treasure of the holy name. So he did produce several cassette albums for the transcendental pleasure of the devotees. To produce music in Vrindavan is no small feat, but for the sake of authenticity, Aindra Prabhu went through the ordeal. And so, the sound of peacocks, parrots, and other Vrindavan living entities mingles charmingly with the sound of Aindra Prabhu’s enchanting songs on albums such as “Cintamani-nama”, “Vrindavan Mellows”, and others.  As Aindra Prabhu’s transcendental fame grew, well-to-do devotees felt inspired to contribute to the maintenance of the 24-hour kirtana party. But Aindra Prabhu was not interested in living comfortably, and whenever the occasion arose, he would give donations to the temple. (...)

 

“He [Aindra Prabhu] was such a fixture in Vrindavan that one could take him for granted, assume that he would always be there. And he was always there, in the same place, doing the same thing, even looking the same. He never seemed to age. He was such a constant presence in Vrindavan, in the Krishna-Balarama temple, in the twenty-four hour kirtana, that I for one never imagined what the kirtana or the temple or Vrindavan would be without him, what life would be without him. He was like the oxygen we breathe. It is always there, so we don't think about it. But it gives us life.” (His Holiness Giriraj Swami)

 

Aindra Prabhu had the potency to stay in one place and affect the world, but those who travel can also affect the world. The real point is the intensity of purpose: letting go of petty, mundane attachments, and focusing on our goal. This is Aindra Prabhu’s example and our challenge. And we can take heart from the example of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who preached vigorously in Bengal and fought against many deviant sects but later became discouraged because the deviant groups he had fought to expose, and whom he had subdued for some time, were coming back again. In his despondent state, he had a dream in which Caitanya Mahaprabhu told him to go to Jagannatha Puri and establish a bhajana-kutira near Haridasa Thakura's samadhi and just chant the holy names there. His chanting, Mahaprabhu told him, would purify the whole world.

 

So there is great value in sitting in one place and just chanting purely the Holy Names for the benefit of humanity. At least for some time every year, we request the members of our worldwide community of devotees to donate some of their time and energy to the 24-hour kirtana in Vrindavan—a few days, a few weeks, a few months, whatever you can give, please give it wholeheartedly for the spiritual upliftment of the world. (...) Yad yad acarati sresthas…The legacy goes on.

nama om vishnu-padaya krishna-presthaya bhutale
sripad aindra-dasa babaji iti namine

namas te sripadaindraya nama-rasa-vinodine
nitai-jahnava-sarvasva sri-radha-svasr-sangine

 

I offer my humble obeisances unto Sripad Aindra Dasa Babaji, who in this world is most dear to Sri Krishna.

Obeisances unto you, Sripad Aindra Prabhu. You take great delight in the nectarean chanting of Krishna's names. You are the dear associate of Sri Radha's sister [Ananga-Manjari], and Nitai-Jahnava are everything to you.

 

 

 

Interview with Aindra Prabhu about his life (Click here...)

 

 

     
 

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