In the nineteenth century, Bhaktivinoda Thakura organized this method of preaching more systematically and set up a base for this preaching effort in Godrumadvipa, which he dubbed the “Nama-hatta” or the market place of the Holy Name. From here, he traveled to so many places and established over five hundred Nama-hatta sangas or associations headed by commanders who took care of the Nama-hatta members referred to as employees. There were traveling salesmen who went door to door preaching. Bhaktivinoda Thakura considered himself to be the sweeper or one who maintained the purity of the devotees and the program and gave his association to them periodically by visiting them, singing kirtans with them, and giving lectures to them.
Srila Prabhupada himself, in the latter half of the 20th century, gave this instruction to start such Nama-hatta programs in all the cities, towns, and villages. Mayapur, the Headquarters of ISKCON, was the fore-runner in establishing these Nama-hattas or sangas which met regularly and gave the opportunity for people to cultivate their knowledge and devotion to Krsna. His Holiness Jayapataka Swami the minister for Congregational Preaching in ISKCON assisted very ably by His Holiness Bhakti Raghava Maharaja, Bhakti Purushottama Swami, Gauranga Prema Swami, and several other preachers, has been very successful in establishing thousands of
Nama-hattas in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. Drawing on this success, hundreds of Nama-hattas are functioning all over the world.
(Excerpt from the Congregational Development Ministry Journal Nama-hatta)
-By Vijay Venugopal Dasa and Prema Padmini Devi Dasi —