A Hare Krishna Community Radio station based in Alachua, Florida had a soft launch on Christmas Day, broadcasting a series of devotional programs on the holiday as well as over four days at New Year’s. The project, run by Sudharma Dasi, aims to grow into a full-time digital radio station and eventually to reach out to listeners beyond the ISKCON community with devotional music, interviews, discussions, meditations and more.
Sudharma Dasi, a Srila Prabhupada disciple, previously founded and headed up the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry, and served as a North American GBC and Temple Presidents Executive Officer. She was inspired to establish the radio station in conjunction with the New Raman Reti temple after she had to step back from her services due to health issues.
An Alachua resident for approximately the past thirty years, Sudharma has long been a unifier and communicator, so the move made sense.
Setting up the digital station at http://krishna108.airtime.pro/, she had to learn what equipment to purchase, how to use it, and how to present radio, all on her own. “Every single little component, from the vision all the way through to the practicalities, I worked on over time,” she says.
Prior to the launch on Christmas Day, Sudharma had been posting practice podcasts on https://www.alachuatemple.com/radio/ since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the twenty or so episodes, there are specials for various Vaishnava festivals with music, readings and talks; an “East Meets West in Devotional Song” episode featuring music by Jahnavi Harrison, Ananda Monet, the Mayapuris and Dhanya; and an interview with Akhandadhi Das on the Atma Paradigm. There’s also a narration of the story of Narada Muni, The Transcendental Musician by Madhumati Dasi and her daughter Syama Darshini, set to music.
On Christmas Day, four main programs were aired. In “Srila Prabhupada on Christ, Christianity, and Peace on Earth,” listeners could hear the ISKCON Founder-Acharya’s essay “The Peace Formula,” as well as his talk at St Pascal’s Saint Franciscan Seminary in Melbourne, Australia on June 28th, 1974.
“God’s name is Christ or Kristo or Kṛṣṇa. So we can chant combinedly. Where is the difficulty?” Srila Prabhupada said during the talk. When a guest asked, “How would His Grace see Jesus Christ?” Prabhupada replied, “Lord Jesus Christ, is... He is son of God, the best son of God, so we have all respect for him.”
The radio program also played a clip from Srila Prabhupada’s room conversation with poet Allen Ginsberg in Columbus, Ohio on May 12th, 1969, in which he said, “If one loves Krishna, he must love Lord Jesus also. And if one perfectly loves Jesus he must love Krishna too. If he says, ‘Why shall I love Krishna? I shall love Jesus,’ then he has no knowledge. And if he says, ‘Why shall I love Jesus? I shall love Krishna,’ then he has no knowledge either. If one understands Krishna, then he will understand Jesus. If one understands Jesus, you’ll understand Krishna too.’”
Next during “An English Gita Jayanti,” families and individuals from the New Raman Reti community each read one of the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is in English from their homes, and shared some reflections. Meanwhile musical interludes between each chapter featured songs by Ananda Monet from her Inevitable Time album, inspired by the Mahabharat.
The third program, “A Devotional Family Christmas,” saw local Gainesville radio host Gargamuni Allard share a holiday greeting with a Krishna conscious perspective. Ananga Manjari Dasi read a piece by Bhaktivinode Thakura about the teachings of Jesus Christ. And the Bhakti Center’s Brajarani Dasi reported from Rockefeller Center in New York City on spirituality, generosity and kindness at Christmas versus materialism and entitlement. There was also music by Visvambhar and family, Gaura Vani, Mangalananda Das, Dhanya, Havi Das and Parividhya Das.
Finally Sudharma’s co-host Tiffany Cooper of the Vaishnavi Ministry presented an interview with Sraddhanjali Dasi entitled “Can You Be a Christian and a Hare Krishna All at the Same Time?” Sraddhanjali, who is married to Kalachandji Das – Tamal Krishna Goswami’s brother –shared how the couple seriously practice both Christianity and Krishna consciousness; and how one enriches the other for her.
Sudharma broadcasts from her home with recorded contributions such as the Gita Jayanti readings sent in by devotees, and co-hosting and interviews conducted virtually.
Hare Krishna Community Radio also presented devotional programming on New Year’s Eve and throughout the weekend that followed. Recordings of bhajans by Bada Haridas, Agnideva Das, Madhava, Acyuta Gopi and others preceded a countdown to midnight for both East Coast and West Coast timezones. The weekend also featured “Inspiration: Time,” a program which reflected on time and how best to use it.
Over the coming weeks, Sudharma will be offering daily morning programming from 6am to 1pm, including morning prayers, japa, a class by Srila Prabhupada, and the continuing Inspiration series, which will look at topics like gratitude, mercy, and humility. There will also be weekend specials including a Mahabharat special, a Black History Month special, and a Gaura Purnima special.
Gradually, Sudharma will add more and more programming, developing Hare Krishna Community Radio into a full time station.
“I need a lot of support and involvement to make this really work,” she says. “There were over forty devotees who were involved just in the Christmas Day programs alone.”
Eventually Sudharma would also like to reach beyond the internal ISKCON community to family and friends of devotees, and the greater bhakti and kirtan communities. Shows will discuss topics like how to live a devotional lifestyle in the world today, vegetarianism and animal welfare, the environment, overcoming prejudice and exploitation, and the value of qualities such as humility, mercy and kindness.
“This project is about giving, in a way that others can understand, and be receptive to, and in a way that can be relevant in their lives,” Sudharma says. “I think the most fulfilling part for me is really sitting down and thinking about how can I make this interesting? What do the listeners want to hear?”
To listen to Hare Krishna Community Radio, visit http://krishna108.airtime.pro/
To hear previous shows, visit https://www.alachuatemple.com/radio/[ alachua ] [ christmas ] [ internet ] [ radio ]