for ISKCON News on June 4, 2010
A colorful and surprising venue for the chanting of Vedic mantras.
Devotees from Rio de Janeiro experienced the contagious power of Krishna Consciousness on the appearance anniversary of Lord Narasimhadeva. In the inauguration party of the Wally Salomão Cultural Center, AfroReggae — one of the most influential non-governmental organizations in Brazil — broadcast a prayer to the half-man, half-lion form of God “tava-kara-kamala vare nakham-adbhuta srngam” over a powerful sound system to a a huge crowd, full of newspaper and television reporters.
The partnership between ISKCON and AfroReggae began with the volunteer work of Lila-Shakti Dasi, who had been giving singing lessons in the Vigário Geral slum where the NGO operates for some time. She later took advantage of this connection to introduce Krishna conscious mantras in the slum. But the extent of her impact was beyond expectations.
Last month, Chandramukha Swami, guru and leader of the New Vrajabhumi Community in Teresopolis, was invited to sing with AfroReggae.
“After some trouble to find the slum’s entrance, we were welcomed by one of the volunteers of the project, who asked us to park in a gas station and escorted us through the footbridge that takes one to the slum’s core.” No one is allowed in without an escort.
At the footbridge, some journalists from “O Globo” approached the party and asked to take some pictures of the devotees performing some chanting with the slum in the back. But the devotees’ attention was soon drawn elsewhere.
“We were hardly arriving when we began to listen, among a huge crowd, the chanting of Narsimhadeva’s mantra resounding in the powerful sound system. Unbelievable!” said Swami.
There were many voices singing, most of them from women. The devotees thought at first that Lila-Shakti Dasi must be there leading. But she had not arrived yet! Indeed, the members of AfroReggae had not only learned the mantras, but were leading the crowd in singing them on their own initiative.
When the devotees were spotted, they were ushered into the crowd’s midst to participate in the chanting, and the joy became magnified a hundredfold.
Chandramukha Swami was moved and elated by the experience.
“Lila-Shakti’s example makes us meditate: how valuable is a devotee of Krishna! How powerful is the shakti (spiritual strength) that Srila Prabhupada bestows on his devotees! How wonderful is the sankirtana movement of Sri Chaitanya that, although offering the supreme boon of prema-bhakti (pure love of God), has become available and accessible to everyone!”