The Chant Now initiative is a part of ISKCON Online, under the leadership of Pancharatna Das. ISKCON Online aims to thoughtfully package Krishna consciousness on all the new media platforms, including websites, apps, online e-learning, social networks, and more.
Chant Now, based out of Mayapur, India, is a team of about six devotees, including a Spanish department. Their primary purpose is to reach out to people who are not devotees of Krishna and encourage them to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
We interviewed Urugaya Das, Director of the Global Community, who told us in detail about the various aspects of Chant Now. He said, “Based on a core strategy of combining creativity and technology, we aim to transform ISKCON’s presence and utilization of the Internet into a state-of-the-art tool for serving ISKCON’s mission, especially in outreach and systematic spiritual education.”
Urugaya further said, “Chant now mostly aims to target those people who are spiritual, not religious, and encourage them to use the chanting of the Maha Mantra to improve their lives in a variety of ways. We aim to get people to chant Hare Krishna, take our courses and content, connect with local devotees where possible, and join our community of fellow practitioners online. Suppose, by circumstance, they cannot associate physically with devotees near them. In that case, we support them online by meeting with them regularly one on one and hosting online group live events and webinars.”
There are about 6,000 subscribers who joined the free 7-day workshop from Chant Now which introduced them to maha-mantra. Chant Now has 326 students who took a serious interest in chanting, which includes 40 students who took up the daily chanting of Hare Krsna for an extended period of time.
Urugaya explained, “We aim to have 50 students chanting four rounds daily and attending 75% of our live events online. As of now, we have 13 people at this standard. We have another six who are almost at this standard. We have had four of our students take initiation from an authorized guru within ISKCON.
He said of the challenges, “It has not been easy to represent Krishna Consciousness for non-devotees online and get a good audience. To preach online is so difficult. We are working mostly with volunteers and a small budget. So cooperation among devotees is a challenge. In addition to this, without human connection and spending extended periods with the new devotees, progress for them is much slower. Also, online is so hard because you cannot be physically with the people to guide them in detail. One hour two or three times a week over Zoom is hardly as powerful as meeting the person physically and spending quality time with them and seeing the real person. A computer screen is so impersonal, actually.”
But the team of Chant Now is confident that with their determination and consistency, their efforts will be recognized. Urugaya further said, “It’s mostly due to the leadership of Pancharatna Prabhu; he has been able to hold everything together and organize the devotees nicely. He secured a small government grant from Google to run ads, which was a huge boost for us to reach out to new people.”
Regarding their future plans, Urugaya Das said, “We want to increase the quantity and quality of our content and take over the whole digital world. We want to put many live events online and reach new audiences. We want to become experts in our fields of activity. So much illusion and misinformation is being propagated online. We are fighting back with the absolute truth of Krishna Consciousness.”
You can also contribute and support Chant Now with online skills, including technical expertise, website building/designing, graphic design, video editing and video creation, and other creative works. There is also a need for content creators, which includes writers, interviewers, and preachers. Any donations are also appreciated since that would aid in the purchase of equipment and recruitment of more staff.
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