Members of the D.C. Supersonic Kirtan group and devotees from the ISKCON temple in Washington D.C. joined together to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra at the Peoples Climate March on April 29th. They also shared a spiritual environmental message from the Sri Isopanisad.
Over 200,000 people participated in the march, including indigenous peoples, environmentalists and climate activists, scientists, educators and government workers. They hoped to promote a more environmentally-friendly alternative to the current U.S. administration’s agenda.
Supersonic Kirtan and ISKCON members were part of a group called Keepers of Faith, which included representatives of all major faiths in North America.
The group met directly in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, and members of different faiths took turns ascending a small stage and leading prayers from their tradition in support of the Earth. ISKCON Communications Director Anuttama Das, his wife Rukmini Dasi and granddaughter Revati Buchwald were asked to represent the Vaishnava-Hindu tradition.
Rukmini first gave a short talk based on the first verse of the Sri Isopanisad. She explained that according to the Vaishnava tradition everything within the universe is owned and controlled by the Lord, and that therefore we should only accept those things necessary for our subsistence and not abuse the environment. Twelve-year-old Revati then led the group in chanting Hare Krishna for several minutes.
Next D.C. Supersonic Kirtan, devotees from ISKCON of D.C., and members of environmental effort The Bhumi Project chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra throughout the march, which extended for over twenty blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue. They carried a sign that read “Hare Krishnas Support Mother Earth” as they chanted.
Amrita Hari Dasi, an active second-generation member of the Washington D.C. Hare Krishna community and assistant director of ISKCON Communications in North America, was selected to stand at the very front of the march to show the diversity of people fighting for environmental justice.
Dressed in a sari and tilak, she held a sign reading “Climate, Jobs, Justice” along with environmentalists, activists, a rabbi, and members of marginalized and indigenous communities.
“To be marching alongside 200,000 other people for a common purpose is inspiring and a powerful expression of first amendment rights that we are lucky to have and be able to exercise,” she says. “As devotees, we honor Mother Bhumi, and it’s more important than ever to show the world that we have the answers to help combat climate change in the forms of vegetarianism and our growing number of sustainable eco farms and communities.”
She adds: “We need to do our part as the younger generation to bring about change in our own temples and communities, to reduce our waste and stress on Mother Bhumi, and be examples of how to live in harmony with nature and all living things.”
Anuttama Das agrees. “It’s important for us to understand as Vaishnavas that we have an obligation to be active in our communities – to try to create a culture that’s conducive towards pure living and spiritual practice. We’re not meant to live in a vacuum -- we need to get involved.”
“We were particularly excited to chant the Hare Krishna mantra at the march,” he concludes, “Because we know that we can’t clean the planet if we don’t first clean our own hearts and minds.”[ bhumi-project ] [ climate-change ] [ environment ]