His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaja gave an wonderful talk on the topic “Becoming Instruments for Mahaprabhu’s Mercy”.
New York City was graced with the presence of the GBC Chairman, HH Bhakti Charu
Swami, on the weekend of August 26-27. Local leaders of various ISKCON affiliated Hare
Krishna groups in the New York area were invited. Representatives from the Bengali, West
Indian, Russian, 26 2nd Ave temple, Yuga Dharma Ashram, etc. also gathered to hear
updates from Maharaja and exchange ideas on how to work better together to increase the
spiritual enthusiasm of all devotees in the NYC area, particularly during the current troubling
time. Srila Prabhupada disciples, including HH Chandrasekhar Swami, HH Jayadvaita
Swami and ISKCON Brooklyn Project Manager HG Hansarupa prabhu, along with several
second generation ISKCON devotees, were also present.
HH Bhakti Charu Swami shared that Srila Prabhupada liad once described New York City as
one of the most important places for preaching in the world, and that message had left a deep
impact on him. Srila Prabhupada had undergone so much difficulty in order to establish
Krishna Consciousness in New York City and understanding that mood, HH Bhakti Chant
Swami stressed the necessity to focus on developing a stronger preaching strategy here. He
requested the devotees present at the meeting to accept H(ì Hansarupa prabhu as their leader
and coordinator and also to make an effort to get to know him and cooperate with him. HH
Jayadvaita Swami reiterated that there are many diverse groups of people practicing Krishna
Consciousness in New York City, and that this was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate
together and increase the quantity and quality of programs. All the devotees left the meeting
feeling enlivened and inspired.
On Sunday, August 27th, a beautiful sunny day in New York City, congregation members of
the ISKCON Brooklyn Hare Krishna temple and other sangas gathered in Tompkins Square
Park for a Community Picnic.
The day started off with 1-1H Chandrasekhar Swami leading an upbeat kirtan in the north
end of the park. The mrdanga, karatalas and chanting could be heard from outside the park,
even from the south side- even though a large Jazz festival was getting ready for their
afternoon program, and we liad no amplification! A large group of devotees had already
gathered and were chanting when HH Bhakti Charu Swami and HG Hansarupa das arrived,
and the kirtan’s momentum picked up.
HH Bhakti Charu Swami then continued the kirtan and led all the devotees in dancing in a
large circle. He then led the entire group in a small harinarn around the famous ‘Prabhupada
Tree’, the very spot where HDG Srila Prabhupada had chanted 50 years ago. The atmosphere
was that of gratitude, as devotees offered their humble obeisances to this most auspicious
tirtha, or holy place. Devotees from the NYC Yuga Dharma Ashram ecstatically distributed
books to onlookers and curious bystanders.
As the kirtan wound down, all the devotees gathered around to hear HH Bhakti Charu Swami
speak words of encouragement. He communicated the message that everyone present were
following in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps by taking kirtan and preaching outside of the
temple building, and emphatically requested that we should all take it upon ourselves to
continue this. ‘Many people in the park here today think they have come for some jazz
festival, but actually they do not know yet that they are looking for Krishna. We are here to
give them the opportunity to get acquainted with Him.” He also spoke about the Brooklyn
temple and some of the challenges being faced under the current administration with
compassion. He explained that as the movement of light or sound waves does not
travel in a straight line some of ISKCON’s history also has its’ high points and low
points. He felt confident seeing all the wonderful devotees at the picnic, and
that reassured him that ISKCON’s presence in New York City would rise again.
HG Hansarupa Das was then introduced and he spoke, recounting his memories of HG
Jayananda Prabhu. Hansarupa prabhu explained that he always strived to follow in Jayananda
Prabhu’s footsteps of caring for each and every devotee personally, and for not thinking
himself above any menial service, even if it is to wash pots at the end of the day once
everyone else has gone home. There was an informative Question and Answers period at the
end of the discourse, and many devotees expressed their honest feelings about Brooklyn
temple. Maharaja assured all of the devotees that the GBC is diligently working on resolving
the conflict surrounding the Brooklyn temple today.