“No ancient story, not even Homer's Iliad or Odyssey, has remained as popular through the course of time. The story of Rama appears as old as civilization and has a fresh appeal for every generation,” says David Frawley who wrote an adaption of the Tulasi Ramayana in English. This truth of the statement was strongly felt at the annual Akhand Ramayan Path organized at Chinmaya Mission in Andover, MA where dozens of devotees sat long hours to read the Ramcharitmanas continuously for 24 hours.
The ability of any reader to read the text continuously in a musical fashion is a testament to the incredible Bhakti-poetry of Tulasidas. The Akhand Path held at Chinmaya was truly Bhakti filled and elevated the devotees to a higher plane.
It is common to have a special desire as people undertake this effort. This year the reading was dedicated to bring about world peace. The event started with the lighting of candles for world peace.
“We are so honored that Acharya Dr. Shashi Dwaraknath ji lit the first lamp to inaugurate the Akhand Ramayan Path. It is the perfect positive action by this great spiritual person to start the twenty hour recitation of the Ramayana, which has proven over centuries to have a great positive impact” says Ritu Gaind, who along with her husband leads a core team of volunteers who organize the annual Akhand Ramayan Path at Chinmaya Maruti temple in Andover, MA. The team has worked tirelessly to host a Sunderkand Path every month and an annual Akhand Ramayan Path.
The Akhand Ramayan Path is a mammoth effort involving over 100 volunteers who did everything from providing food, doing the decorations and reading the Ramayana for 24 hours uninterrupted. The grand finale came with the Samarpan team of Sita Ram Singh, Ram Bhatt, Akhilesh Pandey, Ram Parvesh and Neelkanth Mishra all of whose devotion & singing energized the entire temple complex.
The Path was followed by Bhajans. Young Shreya, Sadhna and Rameshi, opened the Bhajan session. Laxmi Ramesh, Neelima Chaturvedi and Kiran Nath led several Bhajans supported on the Tabla by Nishikant Solwalkar. The highlight of the Kirtan was the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa by Shri Bhola Shrivastavaji who is 90 plus years old.
For the devotees the event was a divine experience. "I have been attending these events since last few years and have no words that could describe the fragrance of immense divinity and energy present during Akhand Ramayan reading. Monthly reading of Sunderkaand is concluded with annual Akhand Ramayan event," said Jay Pandit.
“It is beautiful and divine experience to sit with the bhaktas and recite,” said Kiran Nath.
For me the joy of attending these recitals is hard to explain. The power of the story and lyrics truly makes me connect to something beyond here. Hari Ananth Hari Katha Anantha - The Lord is infinite and His tale is unending. We look forward to the next reading of the Ramayan soon. If you would like to learn more, please join the Bhakti-Ramayan group on Facebook.