As urban developers threaten to destroy the rich culture and heritage of Vrindavan, India—the holy place of Lord Krishna’s birth—devotees around the world united in a globe-encompassing kirtan to pray for the future of Vrindavana and its sacred Yamuna River this January 30th.
Organized by members of the ISKCON second-generation project the Kuli Mela Association, the Global Kirtan for the Yamuna River was held in 128 locations, covering all six inhabited continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, and Australia. Six of the events ran for a full 24 hours, while others ran for 12 or less.
With building of a controversial bridge across the Yamuna currently paused by court order, devotees and environmentalists wait with baited breath for the next high court hearing on February 23rd. In the meantime, however, their chanting resounded across the globe in a valiant effort to raise consciousness and awareness of the Yamuna River’s plight.
Keshi Ghat, Vrindavana, India
Following a procession in which ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada rode into the Kumbha Mela camp at Keshi Ghat on the back of an elephant, devotees from all traditions and lines gathered as one, forgetting their differences to pray for the Yamuna River. Flower petals and possibly the biggest ghee lamp ever seen were offered to her holy waters, as devotees—including Aindra Dasa of ISKCON Vrindavana’s 24 Hour Kirtan—chanted Krishna’s names..
San Francisco, California, USA
Some of North America’s leading kirtan performers lit up the Global Kirtan jam at Open Secret Bookstore in San Francisco, including Agnidev, the Mayapuris, and Jai Uttal. A recitation of Yamunastakam, composed by 15th century saint Rupa Goswami, a soulful Radha chant dedicated to the people of Haiti, Jai Uttal’s stories of his pilgrimage to Vrindavana, and a Mayapuris kirtan that roused everyone to their feet in ecstatic dancing made this evening of community-bonding one to remember.
“We attracted a full spectrum of guests, from SF Yoga Journal Conference guests to children,” says organizer Krishna Devata. “I even met a Buddhist who came because she saw that it was in support of a Sacred Site. I believe that the alarming construction project in Vrindavan that is currently paused, brought together numerous groups to collaborate on something we all value. Prayer is powerful and will give us a way to move from powerlessness to surrender in witnessing the daunting situation of Yamuna Devi. I hope that there is a way to revive this “dead river,” as the Yamuna is called by many environmental agencies.”
250 people attended the 8-hour Kirtan for the Yamuna at Moscow’s Center of Vedic Culture, the walls of which were lined with large photos of the Yamuna River and her banks.
Leading Moscow kirtaniyas including Thakur Haridas, Gauri Dasi, and Krishna Ramani Dasi launched into an enthusiastic kirtan which lasted until 10pm, inspired by Purnachandra Goswami’s preceding lecture motivating them for prayer.
Organizer Gauri Dasi raised the crowd’s emotions for the Yamuna, commenting that our children may never get the opportunity to see and pay respects to her holy waters. Yet the overall kirtan experience was a positive one. “Our non-stop kirtan was powerful and vigorous and we felt ourselves connected in prayers with other Vaisnavas around the world,” said participant Madhava Madhavi Dasi.
“We meditated on Yamuna Devi, and prayed sincerely, and the atmosphere was absolutely wonderful,” added Gauri.
New York City, USA
Located at the Bhakti Center on the Lower East Side, just one block away from ISKCON’s first temple at 26 2nd Avenue, New York City’s Kirtan brought people from across the musical and spiritual spectrum together in a bond for the Yamuna River.
Organized by Yajna Purusa and Rasanatha of the Bhakti Center and Gaura Vani of “so-hot-right-now” kirtan band Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits, the event featured the group Sanga, Laksmi Nrsimha Dasa, Radha Gopinatha of One, and traditional yoga musician Ishwari.
For Gaura Vani, the 12 hour kirtan—from 9:30am to 9:30 at night—was a powerful experience. “It just got more deep and touching as the day went on, and we really felt our love for chanting grow,” he says. “It was especially nice to be bringing solidarity around the Yamuna, because it increases people’s consciousness about Krishna and His life and activities. It also raised awareness of the condition of the whole Vrindavana area, which is all in dire need of help right now.”
Gaura Vani also feels that the Yamuna River personifies the situation that we, as Vaishnavas, face in this world. “The Yamuna is a divine river that is existing in this world,” he says. “Similarly, we have to act within the boundaries of this world while at the same time keeping our minds focused on the greater divine mission to uplift ourselves.”
The small group at the Radha Krishna Temple in London was a determined one, absorbed in chanting from 10:00 o’clock in the morning until 8:30 in the evening. Mainly attended by youth aged 14 and up, the event involved both Bhaktivedanta Manor’s Krishna Club and Soho Street’s Jagannatha Isvara Prema youth groups.
“The kirtan was so peaceful, meditative and blissful,” says Vasana-harini Dasi, who dueted with co-organizer Ananda Monet on a rendition of Jaya Radha Madhava in honor of the Yamuna River. “The potency of chanting the holy names and devotees coming together globally certainly had a positive effect, as we were all meditating on the same goal and offering Yamuna Devi our obeisances and worship.”
Madhava Dasa of Vrindavana’s world famous 24 Hour Kirtan sings his heart out at ISKCON’s Chateau-style temple in Petit Somme, Belgium.
Vrindavana, Sandipani Muni School
1,250 school student join together to sing for the Yamuna at ISKCON’s Sandipani Muni school in Vrindavana, India.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
To donate towards the $1,108 cost of the Keshi Ghat 24 Hour Kirtan and Puja for the Yamuna River, please visit the Facebook Cause Global Kirtan for the Yamuna River or email firstname.lastname@example.org to pay through PayPal.
Please send checks to: Kuli Mela Association, ”¨14319 Addison Street Unit 5, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, USA.
All donations made in in the USA are tax deductible and 100% of the contributions collected will be sent to Paramadvaiti Swami and his crew, who arranged the Keshi Ghat festivities.”¨”¨[ vrindavana ] [ yamuna ]