Back to Godhead July/August 2015
In 1966, Srila Prabhupada led his followers in what was probably the first public chanting (kirtana) of Krishna's names outside India. The three-hour kirtana in New York's Tompkins Square Park attracted attention, and public kirtanas became a prominent feature of Prabhupada's movement. For many people today, kirtanas are the face of the Hare Krishna movement. Along with Srila Prabhupada's books, kirtanas are how people know us – and know what to call us.
When telling his countrymen about his movement's success in the West, Prabhupada would often happily remark, "We are known there as 'the Hare Krishna people.'" The public, and not Prabhupada, had come up with the phrase, and it accomplished what Prabhupada had set out to do – get people to chant Krishna's holy names.
Our cover story is a pictorial on last year's World Holy Name Week. Satyaraja Dasa's "Harinama Sankirtana: Taking Krishna’s Name to the Streets" continues the theme of public kirtana, as does Chaitanya Carana Dasa's "Rathayatra: When the Lord Comes Out, Let’s Invite Him In." Though his article is not about kirtana per se, anyone who has attended any ISKCON "Chariot Festival" knows that the chanting of the Lord's holy names is at the heart of this soul-changing event.
Hare Krishna. – Nagaraja Dasa, Editor