Goal for 2013 - 50,000 + books!

Last Update: Jan 31, 2013

Monday, July 26, 2010

Niagara Falls MSF - 1-year Anniversary Special

By Radhamohan das

Because of the G-20 summit in Toronto on the last weekend of June, we had to postpone our Niagara Falls special Monthly Sankirtan Festival (MSF) by a week. We were apprehensive about many things - new location, turnout, logistics, and above all, physical absence of Shyama-mohini dd (who was away that week attending the annual retreat with HH Bhakti Charu Swami in Vraj, USA). However, by Lord Caitanya's causeless mercy as always, everything worked out seamlessly. Shyama-mohini dd did an excellent job before leaving of planning and coordinating the prasadam with a team of devotees (both for sankirtan and devotees), and was also a constant source of inspiration and encouragement via email and phone. Devotees had their best time, were extremely inspired, enlivened and very enthusiastic to go out again!

We rented a 48-seater school bus to drive devotees to the Falls, which saved the hassles of coordinating cars and drivers. A few families drove their own cars, bringing the total participation to 55. Plan was to leave at 9am, do sankirtan from 11am to 2pm, picnic lunch 3 to 4pm, and return by 6pm. Given the 1.5 hour drive one way, we made special arrangements to make sure that devotees were on time. By Lord's inconceivable mercy, at 9:10am the bus had left downtown Toronto. The bus journey allowed devotees to bond together in an environment free from the stress of driving. There was kirtan all along, and for many this was the best part of the entire trip. We utilized the time on the bus to set the mood, bring everyone on the same page and do some training as there were some new people on the bus. We started by reading an excerpt from HG Vaisesika prabhu's email which was full of words of encouragement and inspiration. We also read a very inspiring message sent by Shyama-mohini dd. Next we discussed the "what" and "how" of book distribution based on Vasesika prabhu's instructions, assigned teams and team leaders, shared the itinerary and special instructions for the day. On the outskirts of the city, we were greeted by Mr. Sudesh Gupta, Shyama-mohini's grand uncle. He guided the bus to the best spot near the Falls, and also drove Vrndavan prabhu around later to show different spots including the park where we would take lunch.

It was the most beautiful day with thousands of people at the Falls. We found a good spot on the grass next to the side walk and made it our nucleus base, where we kept all the boxes of books, water and prasadam. Constant kirtan and dancing went on at that spot, which was a huge attraction for the tourists. They were taking pictures and many were dancing along. It also allowed devotees, especially with kids, to rest in the tree shade as the sun was scorching hot. At the same time, many devotees spread out on the side streets distributing prasadam, mantra & Rath Yatra cards, and books to the fortunate souls. Devotees had the greatest fun ever (you can read Shama Sharma's experiences - her first MSF - on this blog http://torontosankirtan.blogspot.com/2010/07/be-heard-my-first-tryst-with-msf.html). 3 hours later, devotees had distributed about 1000 pieces of prasadam, 100s of Rath Yatra cards and 82 books for ~$300 laxmi (1/3rd of which was in US$ suggesting many books went across the border!). Devotees were exhausted but no one wanted to stop. We then took few group pictures, and drove to the park for lunch prasadam, which was very elaborately cooked by a team of devotees. Devotees shared their experience while partaking in sumptuous prasadam. Around 4:30pm, we drove back to Toronto with non-stop kirtan in the bus, which heightened up as we entered downtown and neared the temple. As the final thing, devotees gathered in the temple hall and shared their realizations from the day, which brought tears in my eyes as I remembered the unlimited causeless mercy that Lord Caitanaya and the disciplic succession have showered on us undeserving souls. Devotees went home physically exhausted but spiritually enlivened and wanting more. One lady with a baby, who got Bhagavad-gita at the Falls from Sankalp and Shaun (both 14) showed up at the Sunday Feast in Toronto the next day! Few people who got festival cards at the Falls also came to the Rath Yatra festival a couple weeks later.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Be Heard - My First Tryst with MSF

Shama Sharma

It was the very first time that I participated in Sankirtan festival at ISKCON Toronto and that too at the annual big anniversary at the Niagra Falls!It was personally my third visit to the Falls but this was the first time that I enjoyed this beauty of the nature from inside out with Krishna's mercy and in the loving association of the devotees. It was huge fun sitting with so many devotees in the same bus with all of us singing, dancing, clapping, laughing and make our way to the Falls. We got very nice training and guidance during the journey from Radha Mohan Prabhu about how to have a humble Krishna Conscious mindset while distributing books.On reaching Niagara Falls, I started with participating in Kirtan and enjoying the Harinaam. People there were so attracted to the Kirtan that some of them even joined and started dancing with us. It was so fulfilling for me personally to see the big smiles on their faces which originates from the internal happiness with the effect of none other but the Holy Name!I felt so enthusiastic while distributing books because it was really a humbling experience to meet so many awesome people. I am so thankful to have so much mercy from Krishna to make it happen for me.I also realized that the guidance that we got on the way from the sankirtan team was so practical as it helped me to keep my focus during whole time while I was on book distribution.The bus tour, food, trip guidance and actually everything in this tour was so organized that I would like to convey my heartiest Thanks to the organizing members who made it a wonderful experience for all of us!

How I Came Through Srila Prabhupada’s Books – One Devotee’s Story

As compiled by Rashi Singh

One year ago, HG Vaisesika Prabhu graced ISKCON Toronto with his presence for the first time, and our temple has not since been the same. Not only had he empowered and inspired a group of devotees to form the Toronto Sankirtana Team, but by his mercy, many people are feeling the buzz of book distribution, and so many more are reaping its benefits. One such person is now a regular, valued member of the ISKCON Toronto family. At a regular Sunday feast, I have the privilege of honouring prasadam with this devotee, who explains her story to me.

About a year ago, Haleh Ashkevari was driving with her daughter in the Bloor-Spadina neighbourhood. Haleh was unassumingly parking her car, while her daughter walked into a nearby store in the trendy area. As Haleh stepped out of her car, a devotee approached her and asked if she was interested in yoga. She said yes. The devotee began showing her the pages and some pictures of the Bhagavad Gita, using the tips that HG Vaisesika Prabhu provided, that Haleh herself is now very familiar with. Intrigued, she gave the devotee $20 in exchange for the book, after which he introduced her to Vaisesika Prabhu. “Do you believe in the power of prayer?” Vaisesika Prabhu asked.“Sure,” she said.“I’m going to teach you one – repeat after me.” And then Haleh uttered the Hare Krishna mahamantra for the first time in this life. “I’ll never forget that feeling,” she remembers. “I really felt like something had taken over me. The mantra was so powerful.” Snapping her out of her somewhat bewildered and happy state, Haleh’s daughter then approached her to leave for the next store. And she did, but not before Vaisesika Prabhu invited her to the temple. She came the very next day, and gave Vaisesika Prabhu her contact information, upon his request.

For two months, she didn’t come to the temple due to a busy travel schedule, but Vaisesika Prabhu stayed in touch with her. “He was so kind, and very personal,” says Haleh. “I don’t think I knew how lucky I was!” With the encouragement of HG Vaisesika Prabhu, Haleh began coming to the temple more regularly. Although she felt it was a little scary at first, the devotees made her feel very welcome. Also at the insistence of Vaisesika Prabhu, Haleh began going out on books. “It’s been a wonderful experience. I feel that going out on books is a self-cleansing process for me. Every time I recognize things in people that are preventing them from surrendering to Krishna , I feel like I’m looking in a mirror.” At this point in Haleh’s story, I’m in awe. Was it just one year ago that Haleh came into our lives? She is such an integral part of our community, and such a warm and loving personality. And as she says something so simple, and so humble, I begin to appreciate the power of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and of Vaisesika Prabhu’s care. “I feel like going out on books allows me to meet people who remind me of what the things are that I need to work on to progress in my Krishna Consciousness,” she continues. “I’m reaching a point in my spiritual life where I’m realizing many of my faults, and my personal obstacles. I hope that going out on books will continue to purify me, and I really hope that I have the blessings and association of all the Toronto devotees to help me!” Again, I’m deeply inspired by Haleh’s humility, and the depth of her realizations. There are so many people in our city who are in desperate need of Srila Prabhupada’s books. With a little bit of courage, and a lot of mercy, we should all try to assist the Toronto Sankirtana Team as much as possible, and play a small role in pushing on Srila Prabhupada’s glorious mission here in Toronto .

Speaking to Haleh makes me realize that we really are just instruments, and Krishna will send us people who are ripe for Krishna Consciousness if we endeavor with sincerity. I also realize that book distribution is as much for our own purification than anything else. “Here I am a year later, praying for the mercy and blessings of all the vaisnavas,” Haleh says. “I am eternally grateful and indebted to HG Vaisesika Prabhu.”

We're Back!

After having been away for a while, we're back to blogging again! What you may ask, were we upto in all these days/months!

Well, well summer is time for activity everywhere...and so the Sankirtan Team has also been buzzing with heightened activity in the last little while. The Anniversary MSF trip to Niagara Falls, Receiving and processing the humoungous book order and finally preparing and executing the Ratha Yatra Sankirtan Plan. While the fun doesn't end here, we thought we should update you on the happenings nevertheless. Stay tuned for reports on these very exciting events that just happened.

Also coming up next:-

1. CDM - Ceto Darpan Marjanam - Organized cleaning of the temple - July 24th


Lets clean the temple of Sri Sri Radha KsicoraGopinath in the association of like-minded people and relish yummy pizza after!

2. Vaisesika Prabhu returns to ISKCON Toronto August 12-16th - More info coming up soon