Paris Metro Yoga

Harinama in Paris Metro

Chandrashekhara Acharya Prabhu and Gadadhara Priya Prabhu have developed an innovative harinama program palatable for the commuters on the Paris metro. They go out weekdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Chandra is a natural musican and master of ceremonies, and he speaks a few words of introduction after he and three devotees enter the metro car chanting, playing harmonium, drum, karatalas.

"Now is the time for a daily session of what we call 'Metroyoga.' Yes, metroyoga, ladies and gentlemen—we have to adapt ourselves to urbanization. But do not worry; it is totally authentic according to the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition of India, it is free . . ." After chanting for one stop, he tells about the associated culinary tradition and one devotee offers a Dwaraka burfi, using tongs, to each passenger beginning with the more obviously favorable, along with a mantra card with the "http://www.metroyoga.fr/" web page on the front. Many accept, sometimes as many as six of the eight in each division of seating. At the third stop, Candra mentions the purifying effects of the mantra, even twenty feet underground ("Thank God for us!"), and at the fourth he concludes, "Ladies and gentlemen, they do this free of charge, with devotion, to bring a little bit of joy to Paris. Please, give a round of applause to the metroyoga team! Thank you for your tolerance. See you next time." Then the devotees leave, continuing to chant, and waiting on the platform till the metro begins moving, when they wave to their audience, many who smile and wave as well.

 
What do the people think? One Muslim girl wrote an email that very evening: "I entered inside the metro . . . in the middle of the chanting that you were singing. I didn`t understand much, but I felt various emotions; it touched me immensely to see your smiles, your friendliness and kindness, which could be seen from the traits of your faces. As the doors of the train were closing, one of you gave me a CD, which I rushed to listen to upon returning home. I found these chants to be absolute amazing. . . . A big, big 'thank you' to you all for those few minutes of joy."
 
One girl who received the sweet and mantra card from us followed us when we moved from one subway car to another as we do on the high speed train home at the end of the evening. She visibly lamented when her stop came, and she had to leave us. The sweet mantras brought another girl to tears.
 
One girl waiting for the metro smiled as we walked by. I gave her our card; when she took it I offered her a sweet. When we chanted; I noticed she was chanting along, so I told her that we had some CDs of the music, and that if she gave a donation, I would give her one. She dug through her pockets as she boarded the metro with us, and then her bag, and finally gave us three euros, and we gave her the CD.
 
In five days, I only saw one guy who was a little offended, some were just absorbed in their books or listening to a portable music device, but many liked the chanting and the entertaining presentation, and no doubt have a good feeling about the Hare Krishnas and their chant.
 
kalim sabhajayanty arya
guna jnah sara-bhāginah
yatra sankirtanenaiva
sarva-svartho 'bhilabhyate
 
Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved by the performance of sankīrtana [the congregational chanting of the holy name] (SB 11.5.36).