Devotees from the Five Truths Pancha Tattva Center in Omsk, Siberia organized a Srimad-Bhagavatam online marathon, in which the translations of all 18,000 verses were recited over ten days, from April 10th to 19th.
The marathon, which aimed to inspire devotees and benefit the world during the current dark times under a global pandemic, was entitled Spiritual Victory in Seven Days. This time period was also set to be the original length of the event, based on how long it took Sukadeva Goswami to recite the Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit, who had only seven days to live. With opening and closing ceremonies added, however, the event lasted ten days.
Four-and-a-half thousand people watched the broadcasts on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and the Russian social media network VKontakte. Readings took place in Russian and were translated into English, Hindi and German, while the audience hailed from 29 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Germany, Belarus, United States, Great Britain, Moldova, Bulgaria, India, Armenia, Italy, Latvia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Canada, Czech Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Netherlands, France, Lithuania, Indonesia, Malta, Serbia, and Spain.
The online Srimad-Bhagavatam was intended for the benefit of the world
In the opening ceremony, ISKCON gurus Jayapataka Swami and Chaitanya Chandra Charan Das welcomed devotees and spoke about the value of hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, especially in this age of Kali, and the importance of Srila Prabhupada’s purports. The speakers explained that this online recitation would be without the purports in order to get the full picture of the Bhagavatam and complete the event within several days. However, they emphasized that devotees should then go on to read the scripture again with Prabhupada’s purports to gain the full depth.
At the beginning of the marathon, devotees recited Bhagavad-gita As It Is for two four-hour broadcasts. “Srila Prabhupada said that it is important to read Bhagavad-gita before reading Srimad-Bhagavatam,” says organizer Valmiki Das, a member of Russian ISKCON’s Governing Body and regional secretary of the Ural Region. “So we did that to follow his instructions, and to first understand who Krishna is, how He reveals himself to the world, and how He creates this world.”
The main marathon included thirty-one broadcasts for a total of 92 hours of Srimad-Bhagavatam recitation. Valmiki Das was the main devotee reciting the entire scripture from his base in the Omsk countryside, reading an incredible ten to thirteen hours a day.
(left) Chaitanya Chandra Charan Das (right) Valmiki Das
Many devotees also read along from their homes, with 15% of them finishing the whole Bhagavatam, and 35% reading for five to ten hours a day. About 10% of the people watching or participating were wellwishers and friends of Krishna who heard about the event from devotee friends and were attracted by the structure of the marathon.
As well as Valmiki’s daily readings, senior devotees Mondakini Dasi, Chaitanya Chandra Charan Das and Brajasundara Das gave morning Bhagavatam classes every day at a convenient time for an international audience, and an afternoon question and answer session.
Devotees and friends from all over the world sent in 320 questions, and 160 of these were answered live.
To break up the readings and exercise the body, there were also yoga classes and yoga nidra, a restful meditation.
(left) Brajasundara Das (right) Mondakini Dasi
After the marathon, organizers received sixty-seven pages of feedback, with participants saying they wished they could continue it for the rest of their lives, and expressing their gratitude for being able to see the full picture of the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“It gave some the taste to read Srila Prabhupada’s books again where that taste had been lost, others the inspiration to revive their spiritual life, and some the drive to chant more japa and with more attentiveness,” says Valmiki. “Others were inspired to begin chanting sixteen rounds for the first time.”
Spiritual Victory in Seven Days has been such a hit that another marathon, this time reading the Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, is set to begin on May 6th on the sacred day of Nrsimha Chaturdasi.
“We may also read the Chaitanya Bhagavata and Nityananda Charitamrita, by Vrindavan Das Thakura,” Valmiki explains.
The online event may also include cooking lessons for those who would like to cook for Krishna during the marathon and honor it as prasadam, for added spiritual benefit.
“Many thanks to all the devotees who took part in arranging this marathon; as well as to the senior devotees, our spiritual masters, and Srila Prabhupada, for giving us this opportunity to preach the glories of Srimad-Bhagavatam,” Valmiki concludes.
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See videos of the Spiritual Victory questions and answer sessions (in Russian, with English translation) here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2eSQ_yGu1esjD7fbVaMJKA[ bhagavatam ] [ marathon ] [ srimad-bhagavatam ]