Namhatta or service groups are community based programs held at various locations across the country to facilitate the communal development of Krishna Consciousness in a particular area. There are many locations for these programs and your nearest ISKCON centre can provide a full listing.
“Namahatta” means the market place of the Holy name. It gives one a forum to ask questions, to clarify and get more information about spiritual subject matters, an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together and congregationally chant the Holy names of the Lord, to give association to others and to receive association from others. We are allowed to be inspired, to freely express ourselves respectfully and to experience a deep relationship with Srila Prabhupada, without whose books, lectures and teachings would have left us not knowing who we really are, what our constitutional position is, what is our life’s purpose and who we should be serving.
These basic teachings are the strong foundation required to remove the dust that covers our real identity. Answers to the questions that we seek are found in scripture – The Bhagavad-Gita “The Song of God”. We are always in search of that “something”, to be fulfilled, to be happy, to not be in anxiety, to not be stressed, depressed or worried. We are in a constant cycle of being busy, but not being fully satisfied with what we are busy doing. Then we come to the point of questioning and we ultimately realize that there is “something” out there – that there is a role that we need to fulfill, a role that we need to play.
Through the books written by Srila Prabhupada, we enter into a world that is “sat cit ananda”: eternal, full of transcendental bliss and knowledge. We understand that we are here in this material world, as small parts and parcels of God that is qualitatively like Him, but not quantitatively. We learn that God has a name, which is Krishna. We learn that Krishna is the Supreme Person, that He has a personality, just like us. We learn that we can communicate with Him, talk to Him, pray to Him, offer Him flowers, fruits, leaves, a lamp, incense or water and that He will accept these offerings, if they are offered with devotion. We learn that we need to reconnect with the Supreme whole, to which, we as parts and parcels belong to. We learn that by glorifying and chanting His names “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” that we can connect directly with Him.
As one goes through their spiritual journey, there are many tests that are put on one’s path. These tests are there to strengthen one’s love for Lord Krishna and Srimati Radharani, Srila Prabhupada and for all devotees who have dedicated their lives to preach Krishna Consciousness. These tests are there to develop an unflinching faith and to help us fully surrender to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. We all have different relationships with the Lord, and our aim and goal in this human form of life is to go back to Godhead and fulfill these roles that we all have.
Srila Prabhupada taught us everything we need to know in spiritual life and more. He gave us the strong foundation that we need and the accelerated method that we can use to go back home, back to Lord Krishna. Srila Prabhupada, in essence stated that we all are suffering because of our misidentification with the body, which is made up of matter. Our real natures are spiritual and eternal and we are meant to serve the Supreme Lord, Krishna. But because we wanted to be independent from Lord Krishna and enjoy independently from Him and think that we are the controllers, we therefore came into this material world to do just that.
This material world is full of suffering. There is birth, disease, old age and death. We are in a period called Kali-Yuga, which is a time full of quarrel and hypocrisy. We have since time immemorial falsely identified ourselves with the body, but the body is just a covering of our true spiritual natures. Since this world is material and we are spiritual in nature, this environment is not suitable for us. We therefore went through many species of life which is 8,400,000 in number to reach this human form of life, which is rare and fortunate, to relearn how to serve Lord Krishna and engage our minds, actions and attitudes to becoming more Krishna conscious, so that we always remember Lord Krishna. We therefore have to purify ourselves by chanting the Holy names of the Lord, to cleanse our heart, mind and senses.
The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra is the key and is an open secret to anyone that is willing to hear. Chanting is a form of devotional service that we render to Lord Krishna. This is our personal time with Him. Through the Holy Names of the Lord, everything is revealed. Therefore having forums like the namahatta’s gives us an opportunity to learn more about the Lord and His pastimes, His incarnations, His reasons for appearing in this material world, His unconditional love for all of us and how we should unconditionally love Him in return.