Prabhupada memories with Lokanath Maharaja

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Prabhupada memories with Lokanath Maharaja
Interview
August 29, 2020

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Hare Krsna everyone and welcome to another session of Prabhupada memories and we’re so fortunate that today we’ll be speaking to His Holiness Lokanath Swami, who is a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada. This is your opportunity to hear directly from the disciples of Srila Prabhupada and to get that inspiration and that connection to get directly closer to our divine Grace. So we really want to welcome Maharaja today, thank you so much His Holiness Lokanath Maharaja for joining us and how are you today Maharaja?

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : (laughing) I am happy!

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : It’s so nice to have you and those who don’t know Maharaja, I think majority everyone knows Maharaja but just a little background about Maharaja. He became an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada in 1972 and then he received sannyasa initiation from His Divine Grace in 1975 and then at the age of 26 years old Srila Prabhupada ordered him to preach Lord Chaitanya’s message by organizing padayatra, the walking festival worldwide and the first leg of the journey was from Vrndavan to Mayapur. In the course of his padayatra service His Holiness traveled by foot to many of these major tirthas and sacred sites of India and also in 1989 he inaugurated the service in America and then for the centennial service, which is the hundred years of Srila Prabhupada and marking that celebration, him as the minister. He also created a celebration for this amazing event and it was unprecedented success. If I am correct Maharaja you organized a hundred padayatra around the world in 1996.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Not correct, more than a hundred they were Hundred and eleven.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Wow! Hundred and eleven and on top of that I think on that centennial festival there was like record-breaking number of books that were distributed, plates of prasada were served and like you said, festivals coordinated worldwide. Also, you’re the zonal secretary for Maharashtra and Noida and the Bureau member for all of India and in addition to his preaching in Maharashtra His Holiness has traveled the globe and is well known for his inspiring lectures, kirtans and his also amazing books. We’ll be talking about his books a bit later. He is also an initiating guru in our ISKCON today and has disciples all over the world. So it’s an absolute pleasure to be speaking to you today Maharaja and thank you for agreeing to come on. I just wanted to start with Maharaja, in 1971, I believe it was your first interaction with the Hare Krsna movement and in 1972 you got your first initiation. When you first met Srila Prabhupada, what were your feelings or recollections at that time?

Lokanath Swami Maharaja: In 1971, I attended the Hare Krsna festival in Bombay. I did not meet him then, I met him in 1972 and of course Srila Prabhupada was there and there were big advertisements all over Bombay saying,

“The Americans sadhus are here! The European sadhus are in the town!.”

So this was mind-boggling or catching our imaginations. So, we all rushed, ran through thousands of people, I was in the audience. The devotees on the stage, their performance of their kirtans was out of this world, I had never experienced anything like this. With all their heart, with all their strength, they were doing kirtan. That was it. I was wondering how Americans could be, European be sadhus. But when I saw their kirtana performance I was like, they are sadhus, they must be sadhus, otherwise this kind of ecstasy and you know! And I heard Prabhupada talking everyday. So what impressed me, the one take-away would say from that festival or Prabhupada’s talk was, from my very childhood I had an inclination and thoughts of serving people, serving society, serving humanity, I had this but I did not know what to do, where to start, what are the resources.

So, Prabhupada quoted Bhagavatam one day and he gave that example, how by watering the water on the roots of the tree or by putting fertilizer on the roots of the tree and that’s it, the trunk of the tree, the branches, the flowers, the fruit, everything is nourished. So Krishna is the source of all of us and so, if we serve Krishna, everyone is served. So, that was it. I was looking for it and I got it. So I would say, that was my meeting or Prabhupada really met me and he caused a stir in my heart. I was sold out and I became his.

Like that and I bought some small books of Srila Prabhupada, I did not have much money, so I bought small books and then I started singing and chanting myself. I was studying in college and was sharing a room with my roommates so whenever they were all out, I would close the doors and windows and curtains, latch the door by myself and I would jump remembering the devotees, dancing on that stage. So the kirtana influenced me the most and then later on there was another festival in 1972 at Hare Krsna land, Juhu. I ran back, I got my life back again and then at the end of that festival I decided to join. I wrote a letter addressed to the temple president saying I liked your dazzling arati and ecstatic kirtanas and sumptuous prasadam, I did not know the meaning of what is sumptuous, that word was not in my dictionary before and dazzling arati. I had a flyer from their festivals, I copied some of the things I liked and I agreed to follow the four regulative principles, please accept me.

So I went to the Juhu temple and found out the president and he read my letter on the spot and he was so delighted because those days you know, Indians or Indian youths, coming forward to become full time devotees, this was a rare occurrence. So immediately, that was Giriraj Prabhu then, he was a brahmachari, announced to the brahmacharis, “Hey! We have a new bhakta here! We have a new bhakta here!”. Soon after a while they brought me behind the asram and I did not know where they were bringing me to and the barbar was waiting for me and I was shaved up. Same evening there was a program in a school, Garga Muni Swami Maharaja was heading up, so I accompanied him and the boys in the school did not know English, so I was handed the microphone and I became the translator of Garga Muni Maharaja’s talk of preaching. So I became a preacher the very first day.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Oh wow!

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Hari bol! And then later on, at the time of Kartik Giriraj Maharaja Prabhu wrote the letter of recommendation and I traveled along with many other devotees from Bombay. In Vrndavan, Kartik at Radha Damodar temple, I was initiated. My encounters and talks and meetings started from that time onwards.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa: Thank you so much for that information and it’s amazing to see how so quickly you transitioned to become a speaker on your first day. That’s just phenomenal. I wanna show everybody your lovely poster behind, Padayatra Worldwide! Srila Prabhupada from early 70’s was talking about starting padayatra and of course you took on this mission and there are so many little pastimes about Mercedes-Benz turning into a bullock-cart using those as going forward. But can I start with why was Srila Prabhupada so close to this idea of padayatra, what was his feeling towards that because you had correspondence with him. Would you share?

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Yes, Srila Prabhupada was Senapati bhakta, Chaitanya Mahparabhu’s Senapati bhakta, commander in chief of sankirtana’s army of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is representing Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, so what is he going to do? The prediction of Caitanya Mahaprabhu has to be made true, My holy name will reach every town, every village of the world. So this is on the mind of Srila Prabhupada. We had 100 temples or 5200 temple devotees going out and from those temples doing nagar sankirtana, spreading the holy name around. But that was not enough for Prabhupada. Prabhupada wanted to go faster and bring the holy name to even those towns and villages where there is no presence of ISKCON. So we were thinking how to spread the holy name, how to make Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction come true.

So there was one gentleman, Parmananda Punjabi, and he had written to Prabhupada proposing why don’t you start padayatra and go to Indian villages. I think that clicked Prabhupada and Prabhupada was willing to do so. But he said my followers are westerns, they don’t speak the local language, if you come up with some local Indians then I could provide some Westerners.

And then on the day of Radhastami, in 1976 as we were visiting New Delhi because we knew Srila Prabhupada was going to be there. So we were travelling with German Mercedes. I was enjoying travelling North India all over, Panchabhuta Swami that time and myself were co-leaders. As we have comeback, Prabhupada on Radhashtami day, I was with Srila Prabhupada myself and Atmatattva, he said, “bullock cart”. That was it, we did not protest, no argument, although we had good time travelling with western, German buses but Prabhupada has bullock cart, so I was surprised and delighted and I was also amazed how Prabhupada found out. My cultural background, I come from Maharashtra and we are worshippers of the Lord Panduranga Vitthal, Sri Krsna in Pandharpur and all the pilgrims coming to Pandharpur, they come walking, they do padayatra. Even my Father have been walking 100 kms for coming to Pandharpur dham for darshan and walking 100 kms back. So, Prabhupada picked the right person at the right time. From there we went to Vrndavan and started, prepared and Prabhupada did the inauguration for our Bullock cart sankirtan party. Vrndavan to Mayapur, Mayapur was our destination. We were on the road with the a mission, with Prabhupada’s instructions and empowerment.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Maharaja, there are some lovely pictures which I want to share so that everyone can see. This picture is here “Welcome to the Padayatra”.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : This is just outside of Dwarka in 1984-85. We started another padayatra, major padayatra from Dwarka to Kanyakumari to Mayapur. 8000 kms to be completed in 18 months. We arrived in Mayapur to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Chaitanya Mahparbhu’s appearance day in 1986. So this is the group we started with, this group then came bigger, bigger and bigger as we marched from one state of India to another state. This is just the beginning.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Then you could see the group getting larger here.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Yes, yes we had more than 20-30 country devotees. Lots of Gujaratis, Bengalis and Indians.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Maharaja, just coming back because kirtana is very close to your heart and there is one lovely picture that I want to show everybody. We can see you are in ecstasy, chanting with Srila Prabhupada. Can you give us a little hint about this story here right now.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Yes. So when we started padayatra or bullock cart sankirtana from Vrndavan and we were getting towards Mayapur. On the way to Mayapur, we arrived here at Prayag (Allahabad) on Kumbha Mela. This is the month of January, 1977 and Srila Prabhupada also has come from Mumbai on a train to Kumbha Mela. This is within our camp you could see the tent also in the background and this is in open. Prabhupada is sitting outside this tent and there is little audience sitting in front of Srila Prabhupada, this has become a little stage, we are singing there, this is in Allahabad. The Padayatra party has arrived also, so I’m with the padayatra party.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : One thing that we are aware of is, you had a lot of communication with Srila Prabhupada through letters about padayatra, instruction through that means. Could you share? I would love to hear, if possible for you. How it felt to do this service number one and number two is there any specific instructions that Srila Prabhupada mentioned in letters to you regarding Padayatra.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Besides the letters, the day we started Padayatra, I think it was 10 September, 1976 in Vrndavan in Prabhupada’s quarter. He addressed us, we sat with Prabhupada for over one hour. He gave a lot of instructions and inspiration, including what kind of cart we should have, our cart should have tire wheels. When we go to the village where we should park, next to the well, because that’s where all the villagers come to fetch the water so you will be right there. We should have 2 blankets for each one of us because it was winter time. So lots of those instructions, Prabhupada as a caring father gave and very practical. So many letters exchanged.

As we have arrived in Kanpur from Vrndavan to Kanpur, before Allahabad, we had written to Srila Prabhupada, “Prabhupada send us some men and we need some money for maintenance”. So Srila Prabhupada said, “do not depend on outside havoc” and Prabhupada hadn’t closed sankirtana newsletter i.e., ISKCON book distribution course were there and he said, “Our institution is maintained by sales of our publications, so you have to distribute books in vernacular language and raise funds and maintain. So we took that seriously and gradually now we are distributing more and more books. Wherever we went and we became more than self-sufficient and the additional funds were now being donated to different projects including recently for Padayatra India, we contributed happily and rupees for TOVP.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Wow, Jai! Hari bol !!!

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : So like that our program was going on successfully within India and then he wrote another letter not to me but one Nityanand Prabhu at NewTall, America. Prabhupada wrote that, “Lokanath Swami’s Bullock cart Sankirtan party is doing well, or very successfully they are doing Padayatra”, and he said, “we could have millions of such carts all over the world”. So I don’t know whether that’s an instruction or Pabhupada’s wish, our prediction of future of padayatra and that is a big thinking of Prabhupada, millions of carts all over the world. He wasn’t thinking that the Bullock cart or padayatra program is just a service that he had given to me and is limited to me or my life time, Prabhupada was thinking beyond me and for the next 10,000 years this Padayatra should go on with millions of carts. May be in the future or when there is no more petrol, then our bullock cart could be in business and our bullock cart could pull the cars, passengers may be sitting in the cars, we would pull their cars with bullock carts.

Prabhupada one time, when we invited Prabhupada, he was so very happy with what we are doing with this subject. So whenever we met, he inquired about the welfare and how padayatras are going on and like that. When it was 1996, in our centennial time, every leader within ISKCON was thinking, what kind of offerings they would make for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. So I was also thinking, what I could do, of course I was made centennial minister, Prabhupada centennial minister. I was doing lots of planning and organizations with the help of all of the leaders together, GBCs, sannyasis. But as my personal offering I was thinking, what I could do? So we came up with this strategy of organizing padayatra in 100 countries at the 100th Birth Anniversary. So we expanded from one padayatra in India to 100 padayatras all over the world. So it is doable and it is happening, going on till this day.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : On this part of this Padayatra because this is very close to your heart and like you said, this is meant to go on for, carry on even after everybody passes. We want to carry on this, something close to Srila Prabhupada’s heart.

So those that want to know more, please go to www.lokanathswami.com/ and there you will be able to find how you will get involved with this padayatra service and also find out much more, and also find out about Lokanath Swami Maharaja. Padayatra is one area but for you is kirtan, we all know, we all love your kirtan. You came to Birmingham 24 hours kirtan a few years ago and we were so grateful you came. So how did the kirtan aspect become prominent to you Maharaja. What is that because your kirtans are heard everywhere, we love them, but for yourself, what was that connection to kirtan?

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Kirtana got me when I was just a young boy in a village and a kind of culture in our family, that practice, that culture and I came from, our family did kirtana, our village did kirtan and in our Maharashtra kirtanas are very very popular because of Sant Tukaram Maharaja. Pandharpur is known for kirtanas. So when I was just a little boy and especially used to do on Ekadasi, today is Ekadasai.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Yes

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : On ekadasi, all night long they do kirtana, sleepless nights and they stay up and do kirtanas. So I was a little boy, also sitting with them, watching them, hearing them, picking up notes. So this was imbibed, the kirtan spirit from when I was little in the village. And then as I said that triggered at my very encounter with the Hare Krishna Movement was that kirtan on stage. So that stirred up and then has become my life, my second nature. I know Srila Prabhupada kind of liked me singing.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : That’s so nice. So you became the minister for the Harinam Sankirtan Ministry for ISKCON because of that. We’ll be talking about that later as well, if that’s okay. I just want to bring regards to Srila Prabhupada because of course the Padayatra has started, but is there any intimate pastime you can share with us of you and Srila Prabhupada, that is still resonating in your heart right now?

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : That’s a difficult one.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : I am so sorry.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : (laughing) There are several one!

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Please, please!!! We are happy to hear.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Which one to take. When I was in the time of my sannyas initiation I think Srila Prabhupada was so personal and so considerate and a fatherly figure as I approached Prabhupada for giving me sannyas. In those days there was no sanyas ministry and you don’t have to get approved by GBC centres and waiting periods, those things came later on. Those days, our days, Prabhupada days, it was mostly the transaction that would be made between Prabhupada and the candidate. I had approached Srila Prabhupada earlier, so when I was 2 and half years devotee, I had approached Srila Prabhupada, “give me sanyas” and Prabhupada said, “wait”, and then I waited for 1 year.

One day I walked in Prabhupada’s quarters, this is in Bombay and I approached him and paid obeisance and sat across in front of him and a table in between. Then I again reminded Srila Prabhupada that I want sanyasa. Another reason why I was demanding sanyasa then was, there was Sridhar Swami, not Sridhar Swami Maharaja, my God brother from Canada. We were buddies, we were brahmacharis, we were preaching partners, we were together in Mumbai. His sanyasa was approved by Srila Prabhupada a few days earlier, so I was like me too, me too, like in a family, parents give toys or something to one son then the other one is also like mummy me too, daddy me too. So I approached Srila Prabhupada and then with a dialogue Prabhupada was trying to preach to me or taking me out of it. But then I kind of persisted, begging and bugging, so Prabhupada already said, “Oh you are already a sanyasi”. So I did not buy into that, I kept on saying no no Prabhupada. Then Prabhupada said go with Sridhar to Vrndavan, travel together. You take sanyasa in Vrndavan. So I thought it was very very personal and Prabhupada was so personal in those circumstances.

So, in 1977, Prabhupada was not well, everybody knows Prabhupada was in Hrishikesh with Bhakti Charu Maharaja and Tamal Krishna Maharaja. Anyway, I should just make the long story short, I will not start all the way from Hrishikesh. So you know Prabhupada comes to Vrndavan thinking he is going to leave the world, he wanted to go to America and stop in London. He was there for Janmastami and Vyasa Puja in London 1977. Again his health got worse and back to India and He was in Mumbai for sometime and I was there, serving intimately. Bombay is my office Prabhupada said and we were brahmacari, Bombay brahmacari, we were rightly stationed because as the office expands a lot of time is spent in office. Srila Prabhupada also used to spend a lot of time in Bombay, he travelled to USA back to Bombay, he would go to Australia back to Bombay, he would go to Moscow back to Bombay, so we were rightly situated. So I have this book called Bombay is my office and there I have shared many intimate movements with Srila Prabhupada. But then Prabhupada was not well, back to Bombay from London and then onto Vrndavan still not well. One thing is that I was traveling with a little bus, padayatra was going on, some other devotees were taking care. So then, we were travelling and we returned because we did not know Prabhupada’s health status.

So Prabhupada had kindly allowed us to have his darshan in his quarters and Prabhupada was lying on the bed. Still Prabhupada was enquiring, as we were distributing books, he asked, “Which book is selling the most?”. So you could see, Prabhupada has said that he would never die, he would be in the form of his books. So then a lot of long lengthy dialogue and a lot of things happened. Towards the end our party men were walking out of the room and I was the last one to walk out. Prabhupada signed me and said come back. I went back and I sat next to Prabhupada. We have to sit very close to Prabhupada, very close to his mouth because Prabhupada kind of whispered not even talk. Then Prabhupada said I would like to meet you, I would like to see you and he also said what time suits you? he asked a question. It was amazing, Prabhupada is asking me what time suits you? Then I said no question of my suitability, whatever time. Prabhupada said, “Is 4 o’clock okay?”. We settled for 4 o’clock. Then all day I was wondering, what is that Prabhupada wanted to say because Prabhupada was very serious and grave when he had said to me, I want to talk to you. The whole day I was wondering and not able to come to any conclusion on what Prabhupada wanted to talk about.

So at 4 o’clock I went back to Prabhupada’s quarter but then his secretaries directed me to Krishna Balarama temple at the guest house reception and there lots of Prabhupada’s servants and secretaries and busy men were sitting. As I entered they told me what Prabhupada wanted to talk to me at 4 o’clock, Prabhupada could not contain also, so he told what he wanted to talk to me about. So they told me that Prabhupada wanted to travel with the Bullock cart. So then we arranged myself, Trivikram Maharaja and Panchadravida Maharaja, three of us went to Mathura to arrange the bullock cart. So the bullock cart had come and parked in front of the Krishna Balarama temple and we were delighted in a sense. In those days when Prabhupada wanted to travel, that meant Prabhupada was not leaving us, so this used to be our conclusion. So Prabhupada wants to travel means he is staying longer, welcome.

So we were happy to travel the next day with the bullock cart, but of course then during the night some devotees, Tamal Krishna Maharaja, Bhakti Charu Mataraj, Bhavanand Prabhu approached and expressed their concern about the bunky road and this and that. So Prabhupada then dropped that program of travelling with the bullock cart.

Next day, although Prabhupada gave up the idea of travelling with bullock cart but there in mind that Prabhupada wanted to travel to all the holy tirthas all over India, as a trial run he said let us try within Vrajamandal with the Bullock cart. So this was Prabhupada’s mind traveling. He is so busy with ISKCON’s activities and preaching, so he had no time for himself or for pilgrimage. So he wanted to go to the holy tirthas.

So next day again we were in Prabhupada’s quarter, Prabhupada was lying on the bed and we all were around Prabhupada. Prabhupada said, “I want to travel with the busses, you replace the bullock cart with the buses”. So he did not give up the idea of travelling because he used to say that he wants to leave the world fighting with maya and preaching is fighting. So while fighting he wanted to leave. Now the plan was to travel with the buses and everyone was on board now. All those who were assembled around him were taking turns, appealing, asking for permission for them to travel with Prabhupada. Giriraj Prabhu said, “I am good at making life members, fundraising. So wherever we go I could make members, so could I travel with you Prabhupada”. Prabhupada said, ”Yes, you can”. Then Bhakti Swarupa Damodar said, “Wherever we go there are so many scientific minded people, I could organize some scientific preaching or some interview with you. Could I go with you”. Prabhupada said, ”Yes, you could go”. There was Bhakti Chaitanya, he was from Punjab, India, he was a sannyasi. He said, ”I am a good driver, Srila Prabhupada, Could I come”. Prabhupada said, ”Yes, you could come”. And then me too, I also in a humorous way, although I knew I had to go because a lot of discussion had taken place about the bus travelling and towards the end, could I come, could I come, this was at the end. I knew I had to go but still humorously I said, “Could I come, Srila Prabhupada”. Prabhupada said, ”You will be our leader”.

Then we got busy, we bought a big India map and we were deciding which route to take and where to get busses. Myself, Tamal Krishna Maharaja, Bhavananda and some others, we were putting our heads together and making plans. So travelling with the busses idea from the bullock cart idea, this was only 4-5 days before Prabhupada’s departure, on 14th he departed. So neither bullock card travelling nor bus travelling happened. Then, when we had to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance, the governing body commission (GBC) of ISKCON they were considering how we could celebrate. I think I was one of them to propose. Jayapataka Maharaja also proposed that let us have padayatra, bullock cart sankirtana party, let us start from Dwaraka and visit all the places of Chaitanya Maharprabhu’s pastimes in South India. And this way we will be celebrating Chaitanya Maharprabhu’s 500th anniversary as well as we will fulfill Prabhupada’s desire or you can call it the last will of Srila Prabhupada. He wanted to go on pilgrimage, so we will have Gaura Nitai in the chariot or in the cart and Srila Prabhupada also on the chariot, as if Srila Prabhupada is taking Gauranga all over India and sankirtana party in the front. So this was proposed and this was resolved, so this is what we did.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Maharaja these are the pictures. You can see yourself [display].

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Yes, Yes. I think this is when we arrived in Orissa or Bengal, this may be Bengal because we passed through 8 states of India. And again this programme started on Radhastami, I was given instructions to do bullock cart preaching on Radhastami in 1976 and in 1984 Radhastami we started from Dwaraka and Jayapataka Maharaja and so many leaders were there. So this photo with Bhakti Charu Maharaja and Bhakti Raghav Maharaja, this is in Bengal.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Thank you so much for sharing. You know one session with you Maharaja will not be sufficient, will not be enough. Everybody if you want to know more about the pastimes, the conversations that Maharaja had with Srila Prabhupada then there are few books. There is a specific book which you can see in the corner, “In conversation with Srila Prabhupada.” I will put it on the top so that everyone can see it a bit clearer. You can get this in Amazon. As you were saying ‘Bombay is my office’, you can see that in the bottom corner as well and of course you have, The Mayapur Vrndavan Festivals. So there are all these festival books.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : You see this backdrop, this is the front and back cover of a book called Padayatra Worldwide, this is a book.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Very interesting. Is this book released, is it going to be released?

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Yeah, this is a trailer, this is just the first volume, two more to come.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Fantastic. So if anybody wants to now get hold of the Padayatra Worldwide book or any other books, Amazon is the best way to connect for those books. What we can do is we can also send links to everybody, we will try getting them on different networks but please do check Amazon. There is Amazon India, Amazon UK, do check and type Padayatra Worldwide, you will find this book. Thank you Maharaja, also we will be talking hopefully, that we will specifically focus on our session at some points on the In Conversation with Srila Prabhupada, the book has so many memories on that and it will be a nice way to speak on that as well. Thank you Maharaja for sharing such intimate pastimes with Srila Prabhupada and going forward we know right now there is a lot of work that is happening with Padayatra. So if anybody wants to get involved please check out the website, www.lokanathswami.com/

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : We have parikramas, kartik parikrama, Vrndavan parikrama, Mayapur parikrama. Not only should they read, they should come out, walk, experience, have firsthand experience.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : So please everybody read and also action, these are the two points. Also right now we have got some other festivals going on, because of COVID we cannot get out but we are trying to do something. Our festival that is the world holy name festival, Maharaja which of course you are leading us in, so padayatra is one thing but also with the kirtana aspect and these festivals you are also leading. Can I just bring up the poster that I have got right now and I will just show it on the screen of the world holy name festival. Just wondering if you could just, please let us know the significance of this festival and how people can get involved.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : This is the 24th time we are doing this festival. We started in 1996 as a world holy name day and this is to commemorate Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America, you remember on 17th September, 1965 Prabhupada arrived in America and he arrived as ambassador of holy name. He gave the gift of the holy name to the world. So each year around 17th september as you could note this year also we are doing on 17th and goes on till 23. So from one day, holy name day then a few days and then gradually it is now a 7 days long festival. It is a global festival with lots of kirtanas. So this poster, the flyer you are seeing, everyday for 7 days from 4 to 5‘oclock we will have different presentations on the holy name. ISKCON’s sankirtana ministry’s different planning and strategies, how to spread the holy name, how to get ISKCON devotees involved and get them to propagate holy names.

So that is 4-5 and 5-6 we will have japa retreat. You know japa retreat, we would like that we reform, we do our chanting better, more attentively, so we have selected 7 best chanters and they are all leading leaders, Prabhupada disciples. So each day they will make a presentation, japa retreat interactive for 1 hour. Then 6-7, we have seven Bhagavatam classes, one day each and we have selected seven verses from Bhagavatam which glorify the holy name. So they’ll be Bhagavatam class given again by Ravindra Svarup Prabhu, Vaisesika Prabhu and you name it, all big names, big guns are going to be giving these Bhagavatam classes. Then 7-8 every day this is IST, Indian standard time you have to convert that into your time, your country’s time. 7-8 we have kirtans by Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Maharaja and there are so many Maharajas and Prabhus and even matajis are going to be singing for one hour. This will be globally broadcasted and then each day we’ll conclude in 8-9 session and we have picked up seven topics which again glorify the holy name and we have Jayapataka Maharaja and many other Maharaja like Anuttama Prabhu, Rukmani Mataji. Then there are special events, all day we’ll be doing a japathon. Devotees from around the world will be following in the footsteps of namacarya Srila Haridasa Thakur and chant, chant chant.

Then there’s one day 20th global connect, 24-hour kirtan in 24 zones, so that is scheduled. This is the day to do public chanting, go into the streets, go into the parks and there are many other events and we also have partnered with a fortunate team that is headed by Shaktavesh Avatar Prabhu. So that is also part of the campaign and we want you all to identify those prabhus or those fellow brothers, sisters, they had never ever chanted before or they did not even know what Hare Krsna maha-mantra is. Teach them and get them to chant Hare Krsna maha-mantra one time and do the recording. Are you going to show something?

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Yes I’m going to show that right now.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Okay so like that, you will get to hear more about this festival.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : So i’ll bring this up now because since it’s one of the ways that people can get involved with the world holy name festival. It’s a short video only two minutes long, so I really request everyone to see it.

In Video message by Lokanath Swami Maharaja:
Dear devotees, Hare Krsna. Our ISKCON Harinam Sankirtana has partnered with ISKCON online to promote the campaign, fortunate people. I invite you to participate in this outreach campaign; the goal of this fortunate people is to bring love and peace to the whole world. Because real love is love of godhead and once you have love of godhead then you become peaceful. Mahaprabhu brought the holy name. It is simple, open the whatsapp link below, say your name and location, say this chant is dedicated for love and peace. Chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare one time. Click send, all these instructions are given below. Your chanting will become part of the united offering to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Encourage the people around the world to become fortunate, start with yourself and become familiar with how it works and look around for those who do not chant. Encourage others to do this and also become fortunate. Maybe some of your family members are not chanting, maybe some colleagues in your office are not chanting, make yourself fortunate and then make others fortunate also.
Click the link and send your video today.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Wow, so this is the actual link. Thank you so much for that Maharaja that video is so enlivening. You could see right now we’ve a short version of the link www.bit.ly/chantnow ,if you put that into your browser or on your mobile device it will take you to the actual whatsapp number that is connected where you will be given instructions of what to do next. Really we request all of you to check this out, I can see we’ve had over 200 people on live, so if all of you can also spread this message that’ll be really appreciated. Become part of this world holy name festivals and let’s break some records.

So Maharaja, thank you so much, you’ve been an absolute inspiration to all of us and I know that we’ll be speaking to you more often with your blessings. Is there any final message before we unfortunately have to close, is there any final message that you would like to give to the viewers right now.

Lokanath Swami Maharaja : Yeah, the world holy name festival is just around the corner, we just mentioned that to you. So you all get ready, prepare, spread the word around and be a part of it and make the unfortunate world fortunate by you chanting and getting others to chant also.

Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa : Thank you so much Maharaja, thank you everybody for joining and finally please do click the link www.bit.ly/chantnow and please make the world fortunate as Maharaja said. So Hare Krsna and thank you Maharaja for all your time and we really appreciate you sharing these Prabhupada memoirs with us. Hare Krsna.