WHAT IS NAMA-HATTA?
Nama-hatta is the most traditional of the congregational programs and mirrors the organization of a regular ISKCON temple with the leader and his assistants in the center. There is no membership limit and some groups become quite large. Groups function under the direct supervision of ISKCON preachers responsible for the area. Minimally experienced devotees can serve as group leaders. Training of existing members and recruitment of new ones depend largely on the group leader’s initiative and inspiration by visiting preachers.
Nama-hatta groups are found throughout the world. Devotees come together at least once a week for kirtan, arati, and lecture from Srila Prabhupada’s books. Nama-hattas vary in size. Nama-hatta devotees follow the precedence set by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura by chanting songs about the glorious activities of Lord Nityananda’s marketplace and hold festivals to attract people to the Krishna Consciousness movement.
Interactive Nama-hatta bhajan groups give new devotees an opportunity to hear and chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in the association of senior Vaisnavas. Any member of the group may lead the kirtana. Also house programs have become a very popular feature of the Nama-hatta. Temple devotees visit the homes of congregational members, lead kirtana, offer classes on Vaisnava scripture and arrange prasada.
Nama-hatta, the market place of the holy name, was founded by Lord Nityananda in Navadwipa dham and elaborately described by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura in Sri Godruma Kalpatavi. The Nama-hatta program brings Srila Prabhupada’s teachings into areas where no regular temples are available or in hostile environments such as countries that do not allow ISKCON to establish centers. Groups can cater to specific member-groups like children, students, or professionals. Nama-hatta devotees are generally established in their social, familial, and economic situations, and therefore offer a stable environment for people to cultivate Krishna Consciousness.