By HG Rasamandal Das & HG Vrndavanlila Devidasi
What appeared to be a small village preaching program in a sleepy village near Bodhan, small place in the state of Telengana and the border of Maharashtra turned to be a day full of activities, immersed in kirtan, Krsna katha and devotee association.
Bodhan is said to be the treasury of Pandavas, no wonder it still retains some of its old splendor. As one keeps moving through its streets one can see number of beautiful and healthy desi cows strolling happily along with their calves. Unfortunately with the progress in kaliyuga the place has witnessed rise in the number of conversions and thus erosion in its old cultural values. Despite that traditional richness still thrives.
Incidentally the day happened to be little Kaushik’s birthday who wished for Harinam Sankirtan to mark the celebration after seeing one at Govardhan.
The day (July 3, 2015) was a working day but devotees don’t let go off such preaching opportunities. Initially the number was small but as the word spread, the number swelled. Very soon there was a group of about 25 devotees from Govardhan congregation ready to leave on the day including HG Gour Gopal prabhu, HG Vrndavanlila dd, Bhaktin Radhika, HG Rasamandal prabhu, Bhakta Varun, HG Shyam Sundar prabhu, HG Nityatripta dd, Bhaktin Ananya Bhakti, HG Ramasharan prabhu, HG Jananivas prabhu, HG Satya Madhava prabhu, HG Haridas prabhu, Bhakta Shiva Prasad prabhu, their mother, followed by Bhaktin Divya, Bhaktin Swapna, Bhakta Ekchakra, Bhaktin Karnika, Bhakta Deepak, Bhaktin Swati, Bhaktin Aishwarya, Bhaktin Devaki, Bhaktin Lata, and Bhakta Ashish. Packing themselves in four cars everybody left in the early morning hours round 6 from Secunderabad. They were to be later joined by Nizamabad devotees, especially HG Shambhu prabhu who had happily arranged for everybody’s morning prasadam.
On the way, near Janakampet, everybody paid their obeisances to Lord Narsimha dev. Situated in hilly ambience, the temple has an octagonal pond where from the original deities of the Lord had appeared and a small temple of Lord Shiva as the kshetrapal. After breakfast prasadam, everybody proceeded to Basar to take a dip in holy Godavari, also known as dakshin Ganga – wonderful development in Purushottam adhika mas.
Finally the group arrived at the venue in Kodgir, Bodhan exhausted after a long journey from Hyderabad. But the vibration of the ancient temple with self-manifested deities of Lord Vitthal and Rukmani and presence of so many devotees–Varkaris and the locals–charged the whole atmosphere. The temple had been organizing non-stop programs right from the beginning of Adhika mas. We were drawn to the presence of devotees known as Varkaris in large number completely absorbed in devotional service.
The program started with a brief introduction followed by kirtan led by HG Gour Gopal prabhu. At about 1400 hrs the men were led to the temple prasadam hall leaving women behind. In the meantime, little Bhaktin Radhika (daughter of HG Gour Gopal prabhu), Bhaktin Lata and another local devotee led the Harinam and kirtans glorifying the lord.
The local pin organizers of the program, Bhakta Vitthala and Bhaktin Vaishali had arranged for a sumptuous hot prasadam of puran puli with hot milk combined with rotis, sabji, rice, sambar, curd etc. served in typical Maharashtrian style. Their dedication was applaudable. There was free flow of ghee and milk, reminding one of Vrindavan.
Prasadam was followed by the second important part of the preaching program, the pravachan in Telugu by HG Jananivas prabhu. He spoke eloquently on the significance of chanting the holy name – Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare // Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare. He then proceeded to connect the village environment as an important component in increasing the sattvaguna leading to pure chanting of the holy name. He also spoke on cow protection and emphasized how the cow serves us till the last primarily through the cowdung; and also how our culture and cow are integrally related to each other. Locals present in good number listened to it in rapt attention.
We had a book distribution and cow products counter. The table proved a big attraction and the local devotees were curious to know about the cow products on display. Lot of the cow products were distributed and also Srila Prabhupada’s books. This served as an encouraging beginning to the HH Bhakti Raghava Swami’s dream-initiative of Go-gram yatra, organized by the ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry connecting villages, Cows and Lord Krsna, centered around the holy name.
Then we had a brief birthday celebration with the elders blessing Kaushik. What ensued was the finale of the whole day’s program – the ecstatic singing of Harinam and dancing to the accompaniment of wonderful music! The villagers exclaimed that this was the first time that they had experienced something like this and wished that the sankirtan went on and on. However, due to paucity of time we had to call off the day with an assurance to the assembled devotees that we would come back for a longer sankirtan program.
Govardhan congregation is thankful to little Kaushik who desired to have sankirtan on his birthday and his parents (Bhakta Vitthala and Bhaktin Vaishali) who arranged for the program and even donated heartfully for the cause of OM Sri Surabhi campaign on the occasion.
We appreciate and thank the opportunity afforded to us by the ISKCON-Daiva Varnasrama Ministry to experience the ambience of an agrarian-based environment where the holy name is chanted purely which is evidenced by the hospitality and humility shown by the local devotees.
Harinam sankirtant ki jai. Srila Prabhupada ki jai.