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Television: The No. 1 Public Enemy of Devotion

Sunday, 24 December 2006 / Published in Congregational Development, Kaunteya Das / 13,137 views

By Kaunteya Das

The message of this posting is very simple: watching TV is bad, very bad for bhakti-yoga.

Yes, I hear the objection: “But Prabhu, we use it only to watch videos of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada!” If this is true for you, I offer you my humble obeisances and I assure you that this article is not written for you.

I see a lot of TV sets in devotees’ homes. Some are pervertedly prominent (shouldn’t the best place of the house be reserved for the altar?), others bizarrely humongous (as if it were essential not to loose any single micro-drop of poison). Televisions are used as babysitters (isn’t this irresponsible parenting? Isn’t this a less recognized form of child abuse?), as shelter in moments of boredom or tiredness (when the defenses of the intelligence are weaker and more vulnerable), to watch sports (muscular thugs running after balls of different sizes and shapes), to watch telenovelas and soap operas (basically chronicles of multiple adulteries), to “see what’s going on” (smokescreen news that are corporation-controlled, largely misleading, paradigm-influencing and mostly irrelevant anyway). And of course there are the movies! (abundantly spiced with tons of gross and subtle sinful sexuality, numbing violence, bodily identification, retarded nationalism, childish machismo, animal carcasses presented as food, “heros” indulging in smoking cancer-sticks and drinking alcoohol, protagonists uttering profanities, atheistic propaganda, unrealistic, repetitive storylines and so on). And of course TV mercifully showers on us the omnipresent publicity for useless and damaging products.

“But,” I hear another objection, “what about the educational programs?” Well, Prabhu, first of all we should analyze such programs and see how educational they really are. Then, even if we do find something truly educational in them, my question would be: is the educational content worth exposure to all the rubbish that comes along with it? Would you offer your children lassi mixed with pig’s urine?

Of course, I have to provide quotations; here is one: “Those outside of the Krsna consciousness movement are interested in reading heaps of newspapers, magazines and novels, solving crossword puzzles and doing many other nonsensical things. In this fashion people simply waste their valuable time and energy. In the Western countries old men, retired from active life, play cards, fish, watch television and debate about useless socio-political schemes. All these and other frivolous activities are included in the prajalpa category. Intelligent persons interested in Krsna consciousness should never take part in such activities” (Nectar of Instruction, verse 2, purport).

TV is robbing so much time to so many devotees; it’s piling trash on our psychic body (and sitting in front of it spoils our physical body too.). Due to weakness many are subliminally and passively absorbing the ideas, appetites and priorities of tenth-class people and professional sinners. How will this effect our growth?

Let’s not be surprised if the time of death comes and we find ourselves with our pants down and our TV on.

Let’s not be surprised if tomorrow morning (and on many more mornings) we loose the (unrecoverable) brahma-muhurta time because we watched those shows.

Let’s not be surprised if we can’t find the time to fulfill our commitment with japa.

Let’s not be surprised if we can’t find the time or inspiration for regularly hearing or reading the words of the Founder-Acarya.

Let’s not be surprised if our brains are turning into mush due to lack of utilization and we can’t remember even a sloka from the Gita.

Let’s not be surprised if we can’t find the energy to go on book distribution.

One more quote? Here: “Don’t be after these motorcars, television, and all nonsense things . . . Don’t be after these” (Morning walk in Rome, 25 May 1974). Do yourself a favor: take your TV and throw it in the garbage. Then go to the home of your best devotee friend, take his TV and throw it in the garbage. Then, together, go to another devotee friend, take his TV and throw it in the garbage. Continue the process till your whole community is rid of the pest.

Return those stupid videos to Blockbuster or to whatever hellish company your rented them from. Let’s then pick up our japa and peacefully spend the last years of our life in spiritual pursuits, regretfully begging forgiveness to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada for all the time we wasted in front of the TV.

Your servant, Kaunteya Das
PS – And here, if it helps building motivation to unplug the monster, we can read:

Facts and Figures about our TV Habit

I. TV Undermines Family Life
1) Time per day that TV is on in an average US home: 7 hours, 40 minutes
2) Amount of television that the average American watches per day: over 4 hours
3) Time spent daily with screen media for U.S. children age six and under: about 2 hours
4) Percentage of US families with children age 0-6 with at least one television: 99
5) Percentage of US households with 3 or more TVs (2003): 50
6) Percentage of parents who say that if they have something important to do, it is likely that they will use the TV to
occupy their child: 45
7) Percentage of Americans who always or often watch television while eating dinner: 40
8) Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49
9) Time per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 38.5 minutes
10) Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked, would rather watch TV than spend time with their fathers: 54

II. TV Harms Children and Hampers Education
1) Average number of hours per week that American one year-old children watch television: 6
2) Number of hours recommended by the American Pediatric Association for children two and under: 0
3) Average daily time American children under age two will spend in front of a screen: 2 hours, 5 minutes
4) Average time per week that the American child ages 2-17 spends watching television: 19 hours, 40 minutes
5) Hours of TV watching per week shown to negatively affect academic achievement: 10 or more
6) Hours per week that non-African-American teens (12-17) spend watching primetime TV (8-11 p.m. daily): 5:26
7) Hours per week that African-American teens spend watching primetime TV: 7:37
8) Percentage difference (African Americans vs. non-African-Americans): 40.2
9) Percentage of children ages 8-16 who have a TV in their bedroom: 56
10) Percentage of children age 6 and under who have a TV in their bedroom: 36
11) Percentage of children age 6 and under with a VCR or DVD player in their bedroom: 27
12) Percentage of those children who usually watch television in their bedroom: 30
13) Percentage of television-time that children ages 2-7 spend watching alone and unsupervised: 81
14) Percent of total television-time that children older than 7 spend without their parents: 95
15) Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children’s TV watching: 73
16) Percentage of day care centers that use TV during a typical day: 70
17) Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900
18) Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1,023
19) Percentage of self-professed educational TV that has little or no educational value: 21
20) Chance that an American parent requires children to do their homework before watching TV: 1 in 12
21) Average time per day American children spend in front of a screen of some kind: 4 hours, 41 minutes
22) Percentage of young adults who admit to postponing their bedtime for the internet or TV: 55
23) Percentage of 4-6 year olds in homes where the TV is usually or always left on who can read: 34
24) Percentage of 4-6 year olds in homes where the TV is not usually or always on who can read: 56
25) Amount of time children age 4-6 and under spend daily, on average, with screen media: 2:10 hours
26) Amount of time children age 6 and under spend daily, on average, reading or being read to: 41 minutes

III. TV Promotes Obesity
1) Adults in US technically obese: 1 in 3, or 62 million
2) Percentage of American children who were seriously overweight in 1964: 5; 2003: more than 15
3) Amount of daily moderate physical activity recommended for children: 60 minutes
4) Percentage of young people who report having had no recent physical activity: 14
5) Factor by which men who watch more than 21 hours of TV a week increase their risk of Type 2 diabetes: 2
6) Percentage chance that an overweight adolescent will become an overweight or obese adult: 70%
7) Percentage higher health cost for Kaiser Permanente members with Body Mass Index of 35 or higher: 44
8) Percentage of dollars spent on clothing for men and women’s plus sizes: 23
9) Economic cost of obesity in the United States in 2000: $117 billion

IV. TV Promotes Violence
1) Number of violent acts the average American child sees on TV by age 18: 200,000
2) Number of murders witnessed by children on television by the age 18: 16,000
3) Percentage of youth violence directly attributable to TV viewing: 10
4) Percentage of Hollywood executives who believe there is a link between TV violence and real violence: 80
5) Percentage of children polled who said they felt “upset” or “scared” by violence on television: 91
6) Percent increase in network news coverage of homicide between 1993 and 1996: 721
7) Percent reduction in the American homicide rate between 1993 and 1996: 20
8) Percent increase in number of violent scenes per hour on 10 major channels from 1992 to 1994: 41
9) Percentage of programs that show the long-term consequences of violence: 16
10) Percentage of violent programs that emphasize an anti-violence theme: 4

V. TV Promotes Overconsumption
1) Number of TV commercials viewed by American children a year: 40,000
2) Age by which children can develop brand loyalty: 2
3) Number of TV commercials seen by the average American by age 65: 2 million
4) Percentage of toy advertising dollars spent on television commercials in 1997: 92
5) Amount spent on television advertisements directed at young children in 1997: $1.3 billion
6) Percentage of local TV news broadcast time devoted to advertising: 30
7) Total amount of money spent in 1999 to advertise on broadcast television: $40 billion
8) Net worth of the typical middle-class American household after accounting for debts: less than $10,000
9) Percentage of American children age six and under who have products based on characters from TV shows or movies: 97

VI TV Squelches Political Awareness
1) Money spent on ads for the major presidential candidates between June 1, 2000 and September 13: $63 million
2) Money spent on issue ads between January 1, 1999 and August 30, 2000: over $342 million
3) Percentage of those which were attack ads: 61
4) Amount of time broadcasters must provide to candidates free of charge under the 1996 Telecommunications Act: 0
5) Value of public airwaves allocated to broadcasters at no cost under the 1996 Telecommunications Act: $70 billion
6) Amount spent on lobbying by TV broadcasters and the National Association of Broadcasters in 1996: $4 million
7) Number of network news stories about the environment in 1990: 377; 1996: 113
8) Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges: 59
9) Percentage of Americans who can name three Supreme Court Justices: 17

Source Key
I. Family Life
1) Nielsen Media Research, 2000. 2) ibid. 3) “Zero to Six: Elecontronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers,” Kaiser Family
Foundation, Fall 2003 4) ibid. 5) ibid. 6) ibid. 7) National Institute on Media and the Family, 1999. 8) Fahey, Valery. “TV by the Numbers.” Health.
Dec/Jan, 1992: 35. 9) American Family Research Council. “Parents Fight ‘Time Famine’ as Economic Pressures Increase.” 1990. 10) Mango, Jack.
“TV in America.” The Official Couch Potato Handbook. Reprinted in Wilson Quarterly. Autumn 1993: 44.
II. Children
1) Hofferth, Sandra L. “Healthy Environments, Healthy Children.” A Report on the 1997 Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Child Development
Supplement. University of Michigan, 1998. 2) American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement, August 1999. 3) “Zero to Six,” Kaiser Family
Foundation. 4) Nielsen, 2000. 5) US Dept. of Education. “Strong Families, Strong Schools, Building Community Partnerships for Learning.” 1994. 6)
Nielsen Media Research, 2000. 7) ibid. 8) ibid. 9) Annenberg Public Policy Center, Media in the Home 2000. 10) “Zero to Six,” Kaiser Family
Foundation. 11) ibid. 12) ibid. 13) Kaiser Family Foundation. “Kids and Media @ the New Millennium.” 1999. 14) ibid. 15) US Dept. of Ed., 1994 16)
Tashman, Billy. “Sorry Ernie, TV Isn’t Teaching.” New York Times. Nov 12, 1994. 17) Barber, Benjamin. Harper’s. Nov 1993: 41. 18) Nielsen, 2000.
19) Annenberg, Public Policy Center, 2000. 20) Harper’s “Index.” Sept. 1996. 21) Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2000. 22) National Sleep
Foundation, Press Release, March 28, 2000. 23) “Zero to Six,” Kaiser Family Foundation. 24) ibid. 25) ibid. 26) ibid.
III. Obesity
1) “America’s Great Big Fat Challenge,” The Washington Post, November 16, 2003 2) “A Not so Minor Risk,” The Washington Post, December 2,
2003 p. F1 3) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and
Obesity 2001,” 2001. 4) ibid. 5) Harvard School of Public Health. Cited by Associated Press. June 20, 1999. 6) U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. 7) “America’s Great Big Fat Challenge,” The Washington Post, November 16, 2003 8) ibid. 9)Department of Health and Human
Services, 2001
IV. Violence
1) Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Report. “Children, Violence, and the Media.” 1999. 2) American Medical Association. “Physician Guide to Media
Violence.” 1996. 3) Senate Judiciary Committee Staff Report. 4) US News and World Report. Apr 8, 1997. 5) MTV national survey. Chicago
Tribune. Aug 15, 1993. 6) Budd, Craig, and Steinman. Consuming Environments. Rutgers University Press, 1999. 7) ibid. 8) Senate Judiciary
Committee Staff Report. 9) Mediascope. National Television Violence Study. Studio City, CA, 1999. 10) ibid.
V. Overconsumption
1) American Academy of Pediatrics. Cited by National Institute on Media and the Family. “Children and Advertising FactSheet.” 2002. 2) McNeal,
1992. Cited by National Institute on Media and the Family, 2000. 3) Clark. “The Want Makers”: 195. Cited in Marketing Madness by Michael
Jacobsen and Laurie Mazur: 45. 4) Lamay, Craig, and Newton Minow. Abandoned in the Wasteland: Children, Television and the First Amendment.
1995. 5) Rocky Mountain Media Watch, Denver, 1995. 6) “Children and Advertising Fact Sheet,” Natl. Institute on Media and the Family. 7)
Advertising Age. “1999 U.S. Advertising Volume.” Prepared by Robert J. Coen, McCann-Erickson Worldwide. 8) Schor, Juliet. The Overspent
American. Basic Books, 1998. 9) “Zero to Six,” Kaiser Family Foundation.
VI. Political Awareness
1) Brennan Center-Wisconsin Study. Political Television Advertising. 2000. 2) Annenberg Public Policy Institute. “Issue Ads @ APPC.” 2000. 3) ibid.
4) Common Cause. Channeling Influence. Washington, DC, 1997. 5) ibid. 6) ibid. 7) Center for Media and Public Affairs Factoids. 8) Washington
Post Poll, Washington Post, October, 12 1995. 9) ibid.

RealVision, an initiative to raise awareness about television’s impact on us, is a project of
TV-Turnoff Network, 1200 29th Street, NW, LL #1 Washington, DC 20007
P (202) 333-9220 F (202) 333-9221 www.tvturnoff.org

Letter to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
"Mysterious Antiques"

19 Responses to “Television: The No. 1 Public Enemy of Devotion”

  1. DJH says :

    It reminds me of a class given by Mother Urmula DD.
    She said how many devotees come with this or that problem and that one of the main things they had in common? The television, with it being prominant in the home.

    I feel a sense of disapointment when I have visited devotees and they have had to watch the latest installment of a soap opera.

    We have so many books to read, lectures to listen, videos of Srila Prabhupada that can take up our time.

    I am also reminded that Srila Prabhupada says that life out side of the temple should be the same as that inside the temple, same requirements non diffrent.

    So those with a TV watching the latest soaps, movies and sport should ask themselves this, when was the last time they went to the temple just to watch TV?

    If the answer is never then get rid of this total waste of time.

    Many thanks for the facts and reminder

  2. Om says :

    Vow!!!! Terrific article kaunteya prabhu !! though we’ve heard “its bad” for years here it goes why and how !! The statistics are just incredible! Thanks for reminding all with your strong words and references!!
    A good warning for devotees with children who have a tv sitting at home and claiming its position as if one of the * members of the family*! , we know its hard to contol the children even if we control ourselves they are soo addicted, but we have to go beyond our strenght to prevent this disaster of watching TV especially prevent the innocent little brains from feeling that this is life and this is the world!

    At the same time by providing krishna concious programs through
    The public enemy#1 krishna can be( he is always!, but can be more accepted)
    The public best friend #1- it can be used as a great preaching stategy.
    Krishna is anyway everywhere,! so why not facilitate him to be on TV even more, and aim to gradually one day different channels showing different avatars at the same time so there’s no way out other than watching one of these channels, as there is severe addiction and no better programs to get addicted.

    Do you remember all those super hero serials( Indian) shakti-maan, mougli,…recently nicely there was this hanuman movie which made Indian children feel at home with thier real HERO, as the kids sometimes are not stupid they know that these cartoons or figures are not as strong as the gods like Hanuman and krishna.

    My cousin told me last time: I am paraphrasing ” My friends are all stupid-they worship these ..supermans… they don’t know that Hanuman is much much more powerful than any of these cinema heros or supermans? these characters will get blown away by Hanuman- and thats because LORD SRIRAMA has his extended blessings and LOVE for hanuman. But these superman’s never can compete with them. when I grow up I will make movies of all Indian gods and let people know how powerful they are!”

    Infact there is an Indian guy who studied animation from Newyork and wants the world at large to know about our Indian gods, he made this krishna cartoons. There is a new film of krishna(cartoon) by the way!!
    So we being preachers can use this also but being much much aware of the influence take oppurtunity to contra use it against people in maya, in the form of ( kind of )MAYA.
    I also have a dream to make krishna video games! thats another area of children enemy #2 perhaps.

    your servanT V
    Om

  3. Madhavananda Das (Orissa) says :

    Kaunteya Prabhu, thank you so much for your bold, well written and powerful article. Devotees need to think more about the consequences of watching TV.

    When doing house programs if I see a TV in a prominent place, I ask the parents if they allow strangers to come into their home to unsupervisedly play with their children?

    They say, “No of course not!” What is the difference then, I ask them, between that and allowing your children to sit and associate with so many strangers every day on the TV?

    Here is a nice comment from Jerry Mander, author of Four Arguments For the Elimination Of Television, that may help us understand more the effect of TV on our bhajan:

    “As you become able to pull back out of the immersion in the TV set, you can widen your perceptual environment to again include the room you are in.
    Your feelings and personal awareness are rekindled. With self-awareness emerging you can perceive the quality of sensory deadness television induces, the one-dimensionality of its narrowed information field, and arrive at an awareness of boredom.
    This leads to channel switching at first and eventually turning off the set.”

  4. Madhavananda Das (Orissa) says :

    It’s shocking that non-devotees often have a greater understanding of the ill effects of watching TV than devotees do. Here is a song written by Rob Williams, which says the same thing you recommended in your article:

    Kill Your Television (Set Yourself Free)

    You can drop it from the highest building with a grin. Just let it go. Watch it tumble past the windows hit the pavement down below, and shatter upon impact; coils wires tubes and glass, the couch potato jester becomes a useless harmless mass.

    Kill your television, go and set your self free. Stowe the limitless corporate vision and another’s twice told story. Grab the ad man by the eye balls, wipe the smile from his face. Kill your tv now, and save our human race.

    Wrap the chains up in your attic ’round your old trunk in your room, put the tv in that steel chest, seal up the video voice off doom, find the nearest patch of water be it river lake or sea, sink your package in the center for the fishes all to see.

    Or if you own a gun, just stage your own hit and run, and make your living room commercial free. Or take the hatchet from the shed the one with the real sharp edge, and exercise your right to privacy.

    Grab the fire starter fluid from beside the Weber grill, make sure adults are present, put it on TV at will, add newspaper, and old kindling, fire works from last July, do your patriotic duty. Live tv free light up the sky.

  5. Krishna Dharma says :

    Good points here. TV is asat sanga of the worst type. But it’s a hard thing to give up, even when this is known. One devotee I know who has a TV had a notice stuck to the screen, “Do not turn me on. Remember last time? How you wasted so many hours and ended up feeling lousy?” Still he carefully peeled off the sign and glued himself to the screen instead. It’s a question of taste and attraction – in the absence of taste and attraction for the Lord we will be drawn to his energy. Even if we kick out the goggle box we will simply transfer our attention elsewhere, to internet browsing, socialising, politicking, or a myriad of other timewasting but nevertheless alluring activities. We simply must cultivate a higher taste by serious and assiduous practise of hearing and chanting. Of course, some restraint must be there – vishaya vinivartante…- but if we do not make it our main business to cultivate Vasudeva katha ruchi we will be dragged down again – and again.

    One enjoyable practise I have discovered is to have sastra discussions with others. I have a large number of quotes about the value of this practise on my website at www.krishnadharma.com/sadhu-sanga. There is also a paper discussing some useful discussion techniques which may be helpful, at www.krishnadharma.com/hearing.htm

  6. asprng_vaishnav says :

    Hare Krishna Prahuji and Mataji
    I agree entirely with the article about TV. I was introduced to Krishna Consciousness 3 years back. I used to watch some TV before that. But I used to browse a lot on the internet reading about politics in the US and India, used to read news about cricket, baseball.
    When I started following KC, in first few weeks they told me about TV and stopped watching bollywood and hollywood.
    IMHO, internet is also asat-sanga and wastes many hours a week from a person’s life. Now, I try to cutdown on my internet time and try to read only KC-related stuff.

  7. vedicson says :

    Dear Kaunteya Prabhu,

    Thanks for your thought-provoking posts on this forum. You certainly add value to the much needed discussions that go on here.

    I read Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television a few years back. To say the least, he lays out powerful arguments to remove any hint of TV from our lives deeming it a unreformable evil. Yes, there are proponents of TV who believe it can be turned from the Dark Side but not Mander. The technology of TV is purposefully designed to mediate and colonize our experiences of reality through its own projections. These images are predominantly dictated by corporations that want to control the viewers desires. For the most part, people who disagree can only do so emotionally and don’t have much evidence to refute Mander’s claims. He was a big-time Ad executive who left that world to unearth its dark underbelly.

    The truth is, like smoking, many people know that TV is bad for them and a total waste of time. But the technology is hypnotic and somehow expertly bypasses the intelligence (buddhi) to plant whole trees of messages and material desires in our subconscious. This way it becomes very difficult to undo the habit. I mean even after reading this great book by Mander I didn’t stop watching TV. I couldn’t do it cold turkey (pardon the expression). Only when I was in a situation where I didn’t have access to a TV did I begin to experience some semblance of peace and independence which really improved the quality and quantity of my devotional service.

    There are no good arguments for TV. I am sure innovative devotees will come out with great TV shows and movies to somehow or other bring Krishna to the living rooms of conditioned souls across the world but devotees don’t need to watch them to be Krishna conscious. They never will. TV like most of modern technology is not neutral like a knife. A knife is neutral until it comes into the hands of someone like a doctor who uses it for good or a criminal who uses it for bad. TV is created and used to by marketers replace our intelligence. It’s in the mode of passion (creating and sustaining material desires) and ignorance (increasing our laziness and inactivity). Surely someone can use it to view Krishna consicous shows and videos but the temptations to change the channel are quite strong. This can’t be good for cultivating independence from Maya and attachment to God consciousness.

    I highly recommend Jerry Mander’s book to anyone who wants to hear a compelling angle on the inherent dangers of TV (and this technology-bent culture) on the human condition.

    Your servant,
    Premavatar das

  8. william duke says :

    hare krishna.
    agtsp.

    thanks for this good article.

    i hope the author is the same named devotee who was listed elsewhere as head of congregational development. we need members to know how much non sense tv is.

    first i suppose they have to be given something better.
    which is in sanga and the books.

    anyway the big thing i see is HOW BAD IT IS FOR KIDS.

    i’m grihastha.

    i should have never let a tv into our house.

    anyone care to help me convince my wife [a very good devotee] how we need to phase out this one-eyed-guru i’d sure welcome it [wld@dukesigns.com].

    appreciate the comment regarding letting strangers in ones house to play with the children.

    agtsp
    bill

  9. Sri Sakti says :

    Nice time to remind the theme! Its Christmas time and the family spends unlimited number of hours in front of TV, due to holidays etc..watching those horrible movies and stuff.

    “Kill Your Television (Set Yourself Free)” and that was a fantastic poem- thanks Madhavanada prabhu, I ‘ll surely use it to preach. I already sent a few emails forwarding this poem to my friends.

    I remember one of my uncles worked all day; Sat in front of the TV up to 4 am at then left for the job at 8 am, he never got married, never came for any social gathering- although this is a severe case! IT MAY HAPPEN TO ANYONE!!

    We cannot live without a TV : My maid once described how poor her friend was and said “they don’t even have a TV !” I was surprised, she said “well first thing we want to INVEST is on TV, everyone these days have TV , better you also buy one, its like a friend !!” even if she didn’t have a blanket to sleep or a nice sweater to wear she has a TV in her house. She would often hurry saying “I have to watch that serial’s suspense..!!”

    ys,

    S.S

  10. Madhavananda Das (Orissa) says :

    Here is another (“religious”) poem about the glories of Television.

    THE 23RD CHANNEL (instead of the 23rd Psalm)

    The TV is my shepherd, I shall want.

    It makes me lie down on the sofa.

    It leads me away from the Scriptures.

    It destroys my soul.

    It leads me in the path of sex and violence,

    for the sponsor’s sake.

    Yea, though I walk in the shadow of my

    Christian responsibilities,

    there will be no interruption,

    For the TV is with me.

    It’s cable and remote, they control me.

    It prepares a commercial before me in

    the presence of worldliness;

    It anoints my head with Humanism,

    My coveting runneth over.

    Surely laziness and ignorance shall

    Follow me all days of my life:

    And I shall dwell in the house

    Watching TV forever.

    ~Author Unknown

  11. Suresh das says :

    Not everyone can be a devotee 24/7/365. Most people go to church/temple once or twice a year. It’s a rarity if someone goes to church/temple once a week. Out of those persons who regularly pray to God, only a few, maybe a miniscule amount of the population of spiritual practitioners, think of God at every moment or every second of the day.

    Why are some devotees watching T.V.? It might be a symptom that they aren’t feeling deep enough happiness in Krishna Consciousness to completely give up their material consciousness. Any devotee who is watching T.V., or going to the movies, may have found that they worship Lord Krishna, and accept Lord Krishna as their God, but at the same time still wish to live a normal life in society.

    There are all different degrees of devotees, but not everyone is completely pure, can honestly follow the path of absolute purity, or desires to.

    The best course is to be loving and supportive of all devotees. Harshness and heavy scriptural quotes will do little good in encouraging people to stop watching T.V. The best course is for all the devotees who are absolute in their purity to teach everyone else that Krishna Consciousness works, by becoming happy, well-adjusted and saintly themselves.

    No one is going to listen to heavy-handedness, tough edicts and heavy rules. People really only respond to love and kindness. If people become happy by following Krishna Conscious principles, then gradually they will give up all kinds of materialistic engagements naturally and without any need for pressure.

  12. asprng_vaishnav says :

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji and Mataji,
    PAMHO. AGTSP.
    I think it is each devotee’s responsibility to remind their devotee friends not to indulge in Asat-Sanga like watching TV. I try to remind my devotee friends in a suttle way. I also proudly tell my non-devotee friends that I do not watch TV, hollywood/bollywood movies.
    IMHO, Diksha Gurus can remind their respective initiated disciples about these things.
    Also, temple presidents and senior devotees in each temple can preach their regular visitors about TV etc. I know that you do not want to scare away new visitors to ISKCON temples, but you can tell these things to your longtime visitors who would be more receptive and you do not have to fear losing them.
    Another thing, you can keep TV/VCR/DVD player to watch Krishna Conscious programs. Just do not get any cable connection and do not keep any antenna. Many places, you can not get any channel on TV without cable or antenna.
    IMHO, destroying TV is an extreme sounding like Taliban action. We can use material things like TV for Krishna’s service.
    Third thing, devotees should be reminded that their duty is not finished by chanting 16 rounds in a day. They can not indulge in Asat-Sanga remaining part of the day. That will be Vaishnava Aparadh.
    Hari Bol

  13. mahavidya das says :

    Nice article,i found theatre to be a medium to channel my desires for entertainment.
    Start your own temple drama group,you will always be in demand,you will have a lot of fun.
    Srila Prabhupada approved of Krishna conciouss theatre
    ys mvdas

  14. n.r. dasa says :

    Praise to Suresh Das for his brave honesty in being alone defending the non uttama adhikaris.
    Krsna Consciousness is a PROCESS. Not a rubber stamp.

  15. n.r. dasa says :

    Do yourself a favor: take your TV and throw it in the garbage. Then go to the home of your best devotee friend, take his TV and throw it in the garbage. Then, together, go to another devotee friend, take his TV and throw it in the garbage. Continue the process till your whole community is rid of the pest.

    Is this a quote from the Taliban?

  16. Piyush Mehta says :

    The “maya within maya” machine if used for watching non-Krishna conscious programs is a great disturbance, practically it pulls ones attention towards itself like a whirlpool. I once came across a story where a mother (just an ordinary everyday mother) was observing her infant playing, until the television was turned on the (usually active) child suddenly became very quiet, dropped the toys and started to stare at the screen hardly moving. The mother said she became so disturbed by this that she got rid of it (i.e. the television, not the baby.)

    I was interested In what Srila Prabhupada had to say about television, here are a few excerpts:

    Prabhupäda: Puru däsa. There was a very powerful king. His name was Puru. He was a devotee. The same thing, to become ruler of the senses. Come on. We are all ruled by the senses. Senses dictate and we follow. This is the general condition, and we have to become ruler of the senses. Then it is successful. Generally people are ruled by the senses. My sense says, “Please take me to the cinema,” the eyes. I immediately go and stand there three hours for the ticket. You see? So I am ruled by the senses. And when you will be strong enough, the eyes will say, “Please take me to the cinema,” and you will say, “No, you cannot go to the cinema.” Then you are ruler. So one is go-däsa. Go-däsa means servant of the senses. And one is gosvämé, master of the senses. That is the difference between gosvämé and go-däsa. Go means senses. When we are servant of the senses, then we are in the material world. And when we are master of the senses, then we are in the spiritual world. Come on. Hare Kåñëa. You have got. All right.

    – Initiation ceremony Lecture

    “”So every Vaiñëava, every devotee of Kåñëa, pure devotee of Kåñëa, is a paramahaàsa. So you, we are teaching people to become immediately paramahaàsa, highest stage of sannyäsa. And the method is simply chanting Hare Kåñëa. You see? The post is paramahaàsa. Vaiñëava. Vaiñëava means paramahaàsa. He’s above brähmaëa, above sannyäsa. But we must be real Vaiñëava. Vaiñëava means änukülyena kåñëänuçélanam [Cc. Madhya 19.167]. Anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam [Brs. 1.1.11]. There is no other desire, material desire. Desire means material desire, this contaminated desire. It does not mean that we shall not desire to become Kåñëa conscious. That desire is real desire. And any other desire, anyäbhiläñitä, for some material benefit, that is not required. But if we can keep ourself without any material desire, without any propensity for enjoying fruitive result… “I am doing something, I must enjoy this result. I must be enjoyer.” This is called jïäna-karma. “Oh, I must try to understand Kåñëa by my speculative method.” Why? Kåñëa is explaining Himself. Why don’t you try to understand Him in that way? Nonsense. (chuckling) What speculative power you have got? Simply you’ll commit blunder. Why? Kåñëa says, “I am this, I am this, I am that, I am that.” In the Bhagavad-gétä, explains. God says. Why don’t you understand Him as He says? If I say that “I am from India.My birthplace is in Calcutta. I have got five children. I was formerly a businessman,” then why do you understand to speculate about me? What is the use of this speculation? If you actually want to know what Swamiji is, Swamiji says that “I was householder, and I was doing medical business. I have got five children. And this and that.” So that is sufficient. Why do you want to know Swamiji by speculation? Similarly, these rascals will try to understand Kåñëa by speculation. No. There is no need. Paramahaàsa. That is paramahaàsa stage.
    So Çrédhara Svämé says, haàsa jatayo.(?) Jatayo means great sages, saintly persons. Haàsa jatayo yatra na niramanti karhicid api na nitaram ramante.(?) Just like our students, Kåñëa conscious person, if he is invited, “Come on, there is a nice picture in the cinema,” no. He’ll never go. He’ll never go. (chuckles) Because he has become haàsa. He is not a crow, that he’ll go such places. Why? What is there? So haàsa, here it is said, tad väyasaà tértham uçanti mänasäù. They reject, reject. Uçanti mänasä na yatra haàsä niramanty uçik-kñayäù [SB 1.5.10]. There was an incidence in my life. I was, of course, at that time householder. So one my friend, he was going to cinema with his family, and he saw me. I was in the street, and he immediately stopped his car and he asked me that “You come. We are going to cinema.” So I refused, that “If you give me one thousand dollars, still I shall not go to cinema.” So he dragged me. He took me to the cinema house, but I never entered. I came back. You see? Because it was detestful.
    So when one becomes completely separated from all these material desires, even if you offer him some profit, he’ll not accept. It is the test. Na yatra haàsä niramanty uçik-kñayäù [SB 1.5.10]. Because his mind is absorbed in greater things. Uçik-kñayäù. Brahman. Uçik-kñayäù means Brahman. Uçika kamanéyam brahman kñayo nivaso yeñäà te, tathä prasiddha haàsa mänasi sarasi carantaù.(?) Çrédhara Svämé explains, just like swans, they take pleasure in the mänasa-sarovara, in a place where transparent water, lily and very nice garden. They take pleasure. Yathä prasiddha haàsa mänasi sarasi carantaù kamanéya-padma-khanda-niväsaù.(?) You’ll find swans, they will gather near the lotus flower and dive there and entangle them with the stem. That is their pleasure, to remain surrounding the lotus flower.
    Lecture SB 1.5.9-11 New Vrindaban, June 6, 1969

    These Vaiñëavas, these boys, they are young boys. The girls, they are… They don’t care for their dress because they are dressing Kåñëa. This is the way. You dress Kåñëa nicely. You give Kåñëa nice foodstuff. Then you will forget, “Oh, I will have to satisfy my tongue in this way and that way, by chop, by cutlet, by going to restaurant.” You will forget. Therefore it is called bhaktyä pumäï jäta-viräga aindriyät. The materialistic persons, they are simply busy for satisfying the senses. Go to the hotel; satisfy the tongue. Go to the cinema; hear the cinema song, see nice girls, and so on, so on. But these devotees, they are not interested at all. The cinema is here, a few steps away, but you will never see a student or a disciple of Kåñëa consciousness will go to that nonsense place. Practical you can see. Why it has become possible? Bhaktyä pumäï jäta-viräga aindriyät. It is practical. The more you engage yourself in devotional service, the more you will forget your sense gratification process. And as soon as you become completely detestful for sense gratification, then you are liberated person, fit for going back to home, back to Godhead. This is the process.
    So the bhakti gives you chance to see Kåñëa, as you can see now. On this seeing or any other kind of seeing, they are the same thing. There is no difference. When Arjuna was seeing Kåñëa face to face—Kåñëa was teaching Bhagavad-gétä—that seeing of Kåñëa and when you read Bhagavad-gétä, it is the same thing. There is no difference. Somebody, they say that “Arjuna was fortunate enough to see Kåñëa face to face and take instruction.” That is not correct. Kåñëa, He can be seen immediately, provided you have got eyes to see. Therefore it is said, premäïjana-cchurita… Prema and bhakti, the same thing. Premäïjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaù sadaiva hådayeñu vilokayanti [Bs. 5.38].

    Arthaya, for some material profit, does not mean. Of course, if you take the meaning of artha as paramärtha, that is required. But material profit, as it is stated here in the Çrémad-Bhägavatam by Süta Gosvämé, that to go to the church or to the temple or to become a religious person, does not mean that it is meant for improving your material condition. Generally, people come to us or the temple for asibha (?). What is that asibha? “Now I have got five hundred rupees income. Please give me asibha it may become five thousand.” So this is not the purpose of dharma. Here it is stated, dharmasya hy äpavargasya na artaù arthäya upakalpate.
    Then we require artha. Without artha, without money, how we can live? That is also explained here, närthasya dharmaikäntasya kämo läbhäya hi småtaù. You require money, that’s all right, but not for sense gratification, not for going to the cinema. Here in Bombay city, people are earning money, lots of money, but we see there are lots of cinemas advertised, and people go there—there are hundreds and thousands of cinema houses—and spend their money. They’re standing for three hours, four hours to take a ticket for going to the cinema. Therefore actually those who are going to be religious for getting relief from this hard struggle for existence, for them arthasya, you require some artha, money… Närthasya dharmaikäntasya. If you are actually religious, then your artha should not be spent for sense gratification. Na tasya dharmaikäntasya kämo läbhäyo hi småtaù. Kämaù means sense gratification. It should be properly utilized, if you have got money, that you should be properly utilized, not for sense gratification-wine, women, and hotel, and cinema. No. Then by your artha you are going to hell. Artha, everything.
    SB 1.2.8 Bomaby, December 26, 1972

    Sri K.M. Munshi,
    Governor of Uttar Pradesh,
    Raj Bhavan, LUCKNOW.

    Dear Sri Munshiji,

    If I remember rightly, you have been criticizing in the meeting of the 16th instant about the culture of Hollywood cinemas. The Mayavadi philosophy having killed the spiritual variegatedness of the Supreme Being—the people are generally attracted in the variegatedness of material existence. In the vedanta sutras, we have direct information of how a spiritual entity is joyful—full of spiritual bliss. This idea of enjoyment is focussed through a material _ and as such the spiritual focus is reflected in a perverted manner. The attention of the people in general is attracted by the cinemas in place of temples, because the Mayavadi philosophy—impersonality of Godhead has created a void in the spiritual realm. But in fact the spiritual realm is not at all void. It is full of variegatedness of spiritual mellows. If you create a void in the Spirit unnecessarily, you have to create necessarily a fill-up in the material existence and that is the cause why temples are being replaced by vulgar cinemas.
    So simple criticism of cinema houses will not fulfill the purpose. We have to create tangible interest in the temples for spiritual advancement of knowledge. With that purpose in view, it is necessary that the priests and pujaris must be enlightened men both in Theism and Sanskrit language also. They shall be primary teachers of the Bhagavad-gita in different temples. Both these temples and their management have to be reformed in the present context. We shall have to accommodate the process of temple entry by all classes of people but they may be so admitted for proper qualification and not for the purpose of a mere show.
    Om Tat Sat.
    Yours truly,
    A.C. Bhaktivedanta

    Grains and vegetables can sumptuously feed a man and animals, and a fatty cow delivers enough milk to supply a man sumptuously with vigor and vitality. If there is enough milk, enough grains, enough fruit, enough cotton, enough silk and enough jewels, then why do the people need cinemas, houses of prostitution, slaughterhouses, etc.? What is the need of an artificial luxurious life of cinema, cars, radio, flesh and hotels? Has this civilization produced anything but quarreling individually and nationally? Has this civilization enhanced the cause of equality and fraternity by sending thousands of men into a hellish factory and the war fields at the whims of a particular man?

    SB 1.1.10 Purport””

    They have got goods enough; where to sell? As soon as they go to the British territories, “No, you cannot sell. If you want to sell, then hundred percent duty.” So price increase. This was the grudge. Everyone knows. This is the cause of two wars. The jagato ahita. Now, why so much? You require a scissor? Go to a blacksmith and pay something. He’ll make a scissor. “No. Produce millions of scissor.” Then where is market, sir? This is going on. Produce millions of TV machine. Simple they are used for wasting time. One or two or five made for some important business. Now they are producing millions of sets. They must sell. And people are induced to purchase. And as soon as they purchase, they simply see television. Idol worship. And learning vicious things. Some unnecessary picture is produced there. They like to see it. Two train are coming and they are smashed. (laughs) I have seen some television. People are learning how to smash, how to steal, how to harass people. Things are being shown like that. Not that “You are soul. You are spirit soul. If you degrade yourself, you then get this.” You make that television, that how transmigration of the soul is taking place. They have manufactured the machine, so utilize for your propaganda. We have got to do so many things. We can utilize everything. So if they are not used for Kåñëa’s purpose they’ll be used for committing disaster in the world. Just like the atomic bomb. They are meant for creating disaster, that’s all. What else they can do? And now everyone is having atomic weapon, just like India has now got. That means they are preparing, by nature’s course they are preparing for war, and “I put my atomic bomb on your head, and you put on my head. You die, I die, that’s all.”

    Room Conversation with devotees July, 2, 1974, Melbourne

    Prabhupäda: There must be something to repose my love. So they have no family, no Kåñëa. So naturally keep dog. [break] …must be there, to love. That is my tendency, but if I have nothing, then I will have to catch the dog. What can be done? [break] …furnish this television. Dog and television and whiskey and cigarette. That’s all. (laughter) Is it not? [break] …in India these things are entering: dog, television. And cigarette, wine, has already entered.
    Bahuläçva: This is the degradation. [break]
    Prabhupäda: Ah, yes.
    Bahuläçva: So much sex, everything you watch.
    Prabhupäda: And not only that, horrible scene.
    Bahuläçva: Yes.
    Prabhupäda: Killing and like that.
    Dharmadyaksa: They sit hypnotized. They say we are becoming hypnotized by chanting, but actually they are hypnotized by this TV set.
    Prabhupäda: No, no, that I have already explained. We must be hypnotized. If we do not become hypnotized by Kåñëa, then we must be hypnotized by this television and other.
    – Morning Walk June 26, 1975, Los Angeles

    Therefore they do not like that a temple should be constructed, it is waste of… (indistinct) …must be engaged to work hard, produce money and enjoy sense gratification. Hog civilization. We are restricting that “Don’t work hard like hog and dog or animals, just satisfy your minimal necessities of life, save time and (indistinct) spiritual understanding. This is our mission. Their mission is, “What is this nonsense, spiritual understanding? Simply some sentiment, waste of time. Produce, enjoy, invent so many things for sense gratification.” Western civilization. And this is very attractive to the räkñasa class. Eat, drink, be merry and enjoy. This is the räkñasa mentality. As soon as there is television, or similar invention, they become very much enthused. They purchase and sitting down, they waste their time. I have seen in America the old man of family, one dog, one television, simply wasting time. And 50 cents for eat. How they are wasting the valuable human life. How they are kept in the darkness. This is life. I have seen television. All some fictitious stories. Here, trained position. They have manufactured one big hammer and training strongly and these rogues they are sending their hammer to train and as soon as the hammer… smashed. They want to see. One man kept ferocious dogs and one girl (indistinct) the dog is chasing and the girl is screaming (indistinct) so many (indistinct). You know this?

    Morning Walk June 26, 1975, Los Angeles

    To end I will cite a phenomena in India when television spread all over, the whole of India came to a virtual standstill every Sunday, Muslims, Hindus whoever all were watching Ramayan or Mahabharat, today the Indian household has come to a standstill with everyone watching some soap opera or something else, I am speaking from practical experience, having lived there and travelled all over.
    We can and should create first class television programs glorifying Krishna and his devotees to attract the general population away from their suffering cycle of birth and death. There are old but very nice productions about Srila Haridas Thakur and the great Saint Tukaram among others.

  17. Suresh das says :

    I have found through experience that watching T.V. and going to the movies increases the Mode of Ignorance. The Mode of Ignorance brings only suffering as its reward. This suffering is the best incentive for me to try to escape the effects of the Mode of Ignorance. I have made arrangements in my life to spend more time chanting, and less time watching T.V., to try to escape the effects of suffering. I have also found the more I chant, the more distasteful watching T.V. becomes.

  18. dayananda says :

    When a devotee family has sankirtana as its focus, then other distractions are minimized. In the Gita (5.6), Krishna says that renunciation without yoga is miserable. Thus, simply to renounce TV may indeed be harsh to some. Krishna recommends yoga, specifically karma-yoga, which is intimately connected with yajna (sacrifice). The yajna for this age is sankirtana. Therefore, when a family is focused on karma-yoga and sankirtana, then the senses, mind and TV are easier to control.

    Prabhupada indicates that karma-yoga involves the offering of one to one-hundred percent of one’s wealth and activities to the sankirtana movement. The percentage of wealth and activities that a family offers is an external indicator of its advancement. Moreover, Prabhupada’s implementation of sankirtana involves primarily public chanting and book distribution, and secondarily opening Krishna temples to support the two primary functions.

  19. Suresh das says :

    My above experience came in handy tonight, in preaching to guest at the Sunday feast. I suggested to an Indian man, that instead of throwing away his TV, which I knew he wouldn’t do, nor would his family go along with, that instead he make arrangements to increase his japa, and study time of Srila Prabhupada’s books, so that he could gradually develop the higher taste. I assured him that gradually he would loose attraction for TV, naturally and without pressure, as I have, as he developed his higher taste for spiritual life. He was very grateful for the ideas I shared with him, and told me it was the answer he was looking for.

    Fortunately, for both of us, we admitted to each other, that there is very little worth watching on TV these days. It is why it is so much easier for us to become free from this particular addiction.

    Life is so short. As we get older and older, there seems to be less and less time for spiritual life. Queen Victoria was famous for saying that she would give up all the riches of the world, which she controlled, if she could have just another moment of time. We should all understand how valuable our time is, and how precious it is.

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