Telegraph – HENRY SAMUEL – Sep 15, 2011
Praying in the streets of Paris is against the law starting Friday, after the interior minister warned that police will use force if Muslims, and those of any other faith, disobey the new rule to keep the French capital’s public spaces secular.
Claude Guéant said that ban could later be extended to the rest of France, in particular to the Mediterranean cities of Nice and Marseilles, where “the problem persists”.
He promised the new legislation would be followed to the letter as it “hurts the sensitivities of many of our fellow citizens”.
“My vigilance will be unflinching for the law to be applied. Praying in the street is not dignified for religious practice and violates the principles of secularism, the minister told Le Figaro newspaper. Go to story
Five hundred years ago Lord Chaitanya established this sankirtan movement, propagating the chanting of the holy names in the streets and other public places. When the local government authority, Chand Kazi, issued an order prohibiting the chanting in the streets, Lord Chaitanya defied it and organized a demonstration of civil disobedience. He rallied large numbers to go out into the streets and chant, and the sankirtan party proceeded to the residence of Chand Kazi. He was fearful of the crowd, but invited Lord Chaitanya to talk. At last, persuaded of the bonafides of the sankirtan movement, Chand Kazi issued a proclamation declaring that no one should disturb or stop sankirtan in that district henceforward, and that this order would be binding upon his descendants also.
Srila Prabhupada brought Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtan movement outside India to the West in 1966, and the pioneers of the Hare Krishna movement pushed it to every major city in all continents. They braved hostile crowds, inclement weather, and police arrest, jail and even torture, just to fulfill the order of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya, and to plant the seed of the holy name around the globe.
In the years since Prabhupada’s departure, the sankirtan movement has dwindled so that it is now rare to see devotee chanting parties in the cities of the world. At the same time, secularism has gained momentum, and there is an ever-widening divide between peoples of different faiths, particularly among the Christians and Muslims in Europe, where demographics threaten the European culture. Globalization has further aggravated tensions between and within nations. Quarrels, riots and uprisings break out over economic strife, government fail, and Facebook entries. The sankirtan movement is needed now more than ever to restore sanity to humanity, for the vibration of the holy names revives the spiritual consciousness of all, and counteracts the influences of the modern age, Kali-yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy.
God’s Law vs Man’s Law
excerpt from Chaitanya-charitamrita Adi-lila 17.127:
[The district chief minister, Chand Kazi, ordered the stopping of chanting the holy names in public:] “No one should perform sankirtan on the streets of the city. Today I am excusing the offense and returning home.”
Such orders stopping sankirtan in the streets of the world’s great cities have been imposed upon members of the Hare Krishna movement. We have hundreds of centers all over the world, and we have been specifically persecuted in Australia. In most cities of the Western world we have been arrested many times by the police, but we are nevertheless executing the order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by chanting on the streets of all the important cities, like New York, London, Chicago, Sydney, Melbourne, Paris and Hamburg. We must remember that such incidents took place in the past, five hundred years ago, and the fact that they are still going on indicates that our sankirtan movement is really authorized, for if sankirtan were an insignificant material affair, demons would not object to it. The demons of the time tried to obstruct the sankirtan movement started by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Similar demons are trying to obstruct the sankirtan movement we are executing all over the world, and this proves that our sankirtan movement is still pure and genuine, following in the footsteps of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
excerpt from Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.14, New Vrindaban, June 18, 1969:
So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was informed that “The Chand Kazi has warned us not to chant Hare Krishna. What shall we do?” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Don’t care. Go on chanting. Go on chanting.” So then, when the magistrate saw that they have not stopped, then he sent some constables and government police force, who broke their mridangas and dispersed the crowd. So this information was given to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and He said, “All right, then we shall, I mean to say, issue this civil disobedience.” So He called for many thousands of people. He was very popular. This incidence shows that even He was at that time sixteen-years-old boy, He was so learned, Nimai Pandit, that He defeated a great scholar, and at the same time, He was very popular because by His simple calling, many hundred thousands of people gathered with mridangas, and they began kirtan in the street and went to the house of that Kazi. So at that time Kazi thought that “This is a mass movement. So my order will not be… There will be some disturbance.” So he came to his senses.
My Dear Caru,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated August 31, 1972, and I have noted the contents carefully. Now regarding this business of Sankirtana, the solution is simply to go on with Sankirtana activities as you have been doing, and let them arrest us if they like, we will not stop. Just like in London, they became arrested so many times and there was so much public display of arresting that gradually the police stopped arresting and now they have Sankirtana anywhere they like without any botheration. If we take this case into court and spend so much money for big big lawyers, and still if we do not win, then they have got legal right to stop us. So better to forget this business of lawyers and judges and simply go on with Sankirtana. That is Civil disobedience movement. Let them fill their jails with us again and again, but we shall not stop our Sankirtana movement. Also it may help if you get some public sympathy through publicizing our constant persecution in the newspaper journals. Gradually the city officials and constabulary will become embarrassed to arrest us further and gradually we will be allowed to carry on our Sankirtana unhampered. But I do not think this business of expensive lawyers and going to court will solve anything, better to simply become determined to hold our Sankirtana in our own manner as we like, and simply depend upon Krsna and His protection at all times.
Hoping this meets you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
P.S. There is no difference between our chanting on the street or in temple or in jail. A Krishna Conscious person is not afraid of any place, but he wants to chant constantly in all circumstances.