so let me go to that place, New York, which is the most important city in the world, and if I am able to do anything for Krishna and my Spiritual Master, even I am at the fag-end of my life, at least let me try for it there.”When Srila Prabhupada arrived in the USA in 1965, and established his International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) a year thereafter, he had a bold vision for the respiritualisation of the entire human race – beginning in the most important city in the world: New York. He initiated many Americans into the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra (Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare) by holding the first public chanting session (sankirtan) outside India in Tompkins Square Park on New York’s Lower Eastside. While Srila Prabhupada was on the planet, the Hare Krishna movement exploded throughout New York City, as it did in many other major cities around the world. “I am very, very happy to hear from you all the good news about New York center. Yes, from the very beginning I went to New York because I thought that Krishna consciousness is the most important idea in the world,
– His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder and Spiritual Master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), 23 December 1972
Since the physical departure of Srila Prabhupada in November 1977, however, ISKCON has been in a severe meltdown with Prabhupada’s ambitious disciples unauthorizedly posing themselves as his Diksa (Initiating) Guru successors. This has resulted in the disintegration of the preaching mission throughout the world, and particularly in New York City, as devotees and material facilities meant to be used in Srila Prabhupada’s service have rapidly declined in both quantity and quality; and when available are illegally diverted to these bogus ‘Gurus’.
To revive the movement based on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, and with him in the center as the Guru, the ISKCON Revival Movement (IRM) was formed with its Western headquarters based in New York City – right around the corner from where it all began in Tompkins Square Park 35 years ago.
Previous newsletters have highlighted the amazing preaching accomplishments by the IRM devotees in Manhattan via massive book distribution and ecstatic Harinama sankirtan parties, and culminating in the City of New York honoring His Divine Grace by establishing a permanent memorial in his honor in Tompkins Square Park. Well, we can now reveal another huge preaching development that illustrates the explosive growth and influence of the IRM in New York.
Jayananda das, member of the world-famous hardcore rock band the Cro-Mags and the devotee instrumental in establishing the IRM temple in Manhattan where only Srila Prabhupada is worshipped as the Guru, used his contacts at MTV to help launch a program that is flooding New York City with prasadam! (Prasadam, of course, is sanctified vegetarian food that is offered first to Lord Krishna via His pure devotee Srila Prabhupada before being consumed). MTV, or Music Television, is the world’s most widely distributed television network spanning most of the globe including the USA, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Holland, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latin America, the Scandinavian countries, Poland, Russia, S.E. Asia, Spain, Taiwan and the UK. In fact, MTV reaches 384 million households in 140 countries! It is also the world’s most valuable individual media brand, with an estimated value of $6.6billion. All the world’s most famous pop and rock stars perform on MTV and participate in the prestigious annual MTV Awards ceremony.
Alongside book distribution and Harinama sankirtan, prasadam distribution is the secret weapon in Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental armory that will conquer the hearts of the conditioned souls and turn them to loving surrender at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna!
“You write to say that with prasadam and the Maha Mantra we shall conquer over the world. That was the beginning of my program in your country. I thought like that. It was my plan from the very beginning before even coming here.“The IRM devotees in New York have full faith in these instructions of Srila Prabhupada, and as the following report from Jayananda Prabhu demonstrates, prasadam opens the doors to all classes of society to hear about Krishna consciousness:
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Sri Govinda, 71-09-06)
“Prasdam will conquer everyone.”
(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk Conversation, New York, 76-07-12)
|“The preaching is going on wonderfully in New York City. Book Distribution is exploding. Madhusudana Prabhu has brought so many nice devotees to Manhattan’s Radha Govinda Temple at 93 St. Marks Place, through his non-stop distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Recently, myself and a few other devotees started a Prasadam business. We call it “Mama Vani’s“. ‘Vani’ meaning ‘Instruction’, ‘Mama’ as in ‘Mother’. We chose this name because Srila Prabhupada’s main, or if you will, “The Mother of all his instructions” for New York was: |
“distribute prasadam and New York will become Krishna conscious. When New York becomes Krishna conscious the whole world will follow.” Thus the name Mama Vani’s.Only by the grace of the pure devotee can we spread love of God. And the story on how we acquired the temple 2 ½ years ago (see Newsletter 22) gave us realizations of that fact…let me give the devotees some more nectar on how Srila Prabhupada is blessing our endeavor. We began by introducing a 100% organic lasagna, cooked in the temple kitchen (adhering to the strict guidelines). It was then offered on the altar by Vani devi dasi during Arotik. Brahmabuta Prabhu researched the packaging, Nimai dasa got us the best prices for organic produce, and I opened the accounts with the health food stores. The response was UNBELIEVABLE! It began selling out. We had it in every health food store in Manhattan and they couldn’t keep it on the shelves. Then as usual on the path of Krishna Consciousness the tests came. Brahmabhuta Prabhu instructed us to bear down and keep going. We listened. In my limited vision I thought we had hit a snag – our lasagna is shipped fresh, unfortunately the big supermarkets want it frozen – We were all in anxiety. Now what? Well, Srila Prabhupada’s causeless mercy descended upon us. Within one week Krishna sent someone who knows how to get your product frozen packaged and distributed nationwide. But wait – It gets better!
We’ve also started a prasadam catering company (Mama Vani’s Catering) and have served out Prasada at J-Crews Corporate offices, K-7 Records and just last week 100 people at MTV’s headquarters at 1515 BWY. All the MTV stars got Prasadam and LOVED it! They’ve now offered us a job for VH1 and other concert events.(Note: VH1 is another hugely popular cable music TV channel that reaches 80.6 million homes.)
My friend Ian Robertson, one of the main presenters on MTV, said it was the best crowd ever. People who took prasada called their friends on the other floors and told them how great the food was. Before long we had a line out the door! We had Srila Prabhupada’s books in plain sight and a girl from MTV said, “Is this prasadam?” We replied, “Yes it is.” Turns out she used to eat at Govinda’s in L.A. and has read Srila Prabhupada’s books. She sat down with her three friends and Krishna Bhakta Prabhu preached to them for over a half-hour.
My realization on the whole event was this: The devotees at 93 St Marks have been going out on Saturday night Harinama religiously for years. They chant right OUTSIDE the MTV building. Krishna made the arrangement to get us INSIDE the building and distribute prasadam and preach to all the big stars at MTV.
Prasadam distribution Ki Jai! We’re now ready to cater to VH-1, Palm (Island) Pictures & Music, and a list of others. And the MOST ecstatic thing is one of the biggest concert promoters in N.Y.C. got word of our prasadam and a deal is in the works that will have us selling prasadam by the thousands to the concert goers, and serving the band members backstage!
Just by following the order of the Spiritual Master and distributing prasadam in N.Y.C., all of this has manifested. The devotees are cooperating very nicely, a lot of the old New York devotees are coming back and there is talk of buying a BIG building in Manhattan, opening a temple (like on 55th St. in the old days) and having a Mana Vani’s on the ground floor.
Our temple at 93 St. Marks has been open nearly 2 ½ years now and by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy we’ve managed to pay the rent. Now we have 6 months to go on the lease and we’re making the move to get Srila Prabhupada his skyscraper temple back with a restaurant. Prasadam is the secret weapon! We’ve been in with politicians (town hall meeting / Mayoral candidates), corporate executives and rock stars!
I am personally putting a message out to all the serious devotees: Come to N.Y. and help us get back what was stolen (55th St. temple) from Srila Prabhupada. Don’t believe the GBC lies that we’re the deviant ones. We’re Prabhupada men & women fighting to re-establish his position as the only Acarya. They’ve slapped this term ‘Ritvik‘ on us and speak derogatorily against us. But just look at the insanity that’s gone on in the movement since our beloved Spiritual Master’s departure. We owe Srila Prabhupada this because if he didn’t risk his life to give us the seed of Krishna Consciousness…..where would we be? Srila Prabhupada said many times, “the only way this movement of Lord Caitanya’s can be checked, is from within.”
“If Srila Prabhupada came here (N.Y.C.) first, that should say something. I’m convinced if we open this temple in Manhattan with a restaurant, the karmis (non-devotees) will be shaving up in New York in a minute! All glories to the devotees around the world, risking their lives, using their mind, body and words to re-establish Srila Prabhupada as the ONLY Guru for the Hare Krishna Movement. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!”
Your most fallen Godbrother,
Sway Calloway (radio personality, record producer, hip-hop artist, presenter “MTV’s Direct Effect”):
“Yo, John Cro-mag, you got some bangin’ food bro’!”
Kurt Loder (former Rolling Stone editor, presenter MTV News specials – including ‘The Cult Question’, about dubious religious groups):
“This food is so good that I called my friends from other floors to come and get some.”
John Norris: (personal friend of Jayananda’s; MTV News correspondent; co-host of the MTV Global Forum with US Secretary of State Colin Powell; has interviewed a galaxy of stars including Madonna, U2, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne): “Oh, this food is absolutely great. Glad everything is taking off for you.”