A troupe of second generation ISKCON artists performed for Kartik Vandanam 2, the second in a series of annual classical music and dance evenings, this October 17th in Vrindavana, India.
Held in honor of Kartik, the most auspicious month of the Vaishnava year, the devotional “garland of prayer” was performed under the stars in ISKCON Vrindavana’s Bhaktivedanta School Gardens, which were lit with hundreds of lamps.
The two-hour performance featured a dozen artists from around the world, all of whom spent more than ten years rigorously studying the Indian Classical Performing Arts.
“Each art has its own history of devotional tradition, and thus the various flavors of bhakti are presented through the expressions of each artist,” says organizer Mahadevi Dasi. “And these particular artists have individually and collectively mesmerized audiences all over India and the world with their unique flavor of devotion and expertise.”
Dina Bandhu Dasa, famous for leading spiritual tours around Vrindavana’s holy places, acted as MC for the event. Describing the eight major temples of Vrindavana, he took the audience on a spiritual tour from their seats to a background of classical prayers.
The show’s audience included many local Brijabasi families, who had been sent personal invitations as part of an attempt to build bridges with local classical artists and friends of ISKCON.
In the front row was ISKCON’s founder Srila Prabhupada, present at the event in the form of a life-size photograph. The image showed Prabhupada clapping his hands and enjoying a performance by devotee actors with a huge smile on his face.
“Prabhupada was always happy to see the creative abilities of the devotees,” says Mahadevi. “He called his western disciples his ‘dancing white elephants’ and predicted in his introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is that ‘This Krsna Consciousness Movement will be propagated by the spreading of the cultural arts and education.’ Today, the children of his disciples are fulfilling that prediction.”
Part of Kartik Vandanam’s purpose is to encourage ISKCON managers to support second generation performers. “We have keenly observed with great satisfaction how these young devotees have provided transcendental entertainment for temple openings, Ratha Yatras, weddings and other festivals for many years,” says Mahadevi. “We encourage ISKCON managers to hire these professional-level artists for their events rather than paying ‘professional outsiders.’”
Kartik Vandanam 2 was held in loving appreciation of Rasajna Dasi, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who came from a professional theater background and supported second generation artists in their efforts. One of the original members of the UK’s famous Bhaktivedanta Players, she is currendly undergoing treatment for cancer, and the Kartik Vandanam performers held her uppermost in their minds as they offered their musical prayers to the Lord.
With such honorable aims, Kartik Vandanam 2 deserved an enthusiastic response—and it received one. The event was so successful that an encore will be performed due to popular demand on November 1st.