Kirtan in America: An American Perspective

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By Mangalananda das

Introducing: Bhakti & Hare Krishna Kirtan

We are told in ancient scriptures about a time of reason when the science of reconnecting with God was understood by most people. This was way back before the religious age of blind faith or the present secular age of blind doubt. The ancient culture of that time approached the whole of life and all aspects of existence with the prime objective of achieving pure love of God (bhakti). This non-sectarian science of self-realization was called yoga. The Bhagavad-gita was one of the most famous explanations of this science at that time, and it still is today. The instructions spoken by Krishna to His warrior friend Arjuna were never meant as a philosophy for only monks and renunciates. The teachings offered a variety of paths, and the essence of all these paths, bhakti, could be achieved by everyone.

Bhakti is a condition of the heart which opens our Krishna/God consciousness. In turn Krishna consciousness is a state which inspires bhakti. So bhakti and Krishna consciousness go well together. There are nine activities which will help us discover our Krishna consciousness. They begin with hearing, chanting and remembering. And while any one of them is sufficient for achieving pure love of God, chanting the names of God—like Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare—is considered by experts to be most effective. This form of meditation is called kirtan.

Here in the West, kirtan was brought to the public’s attention in the mid-sixties—first in New York City’s Thompson Square Park by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and some of his students and soon after by way of pop culture in the Broadway hit, Hair. It was common to hear Hare Krishna Kirtan on the streets of the city back then, a natural fit for the counterculture movement of the time. Unfortunately, the appearance of kirtan in that place and at that time did not help its credibility with mainstream America. Of course this was also a time when mainstream America didn’t give credibility to cigarettes causing cancer, pollution creating global warming, or health food being healthy.

A lot has changed since then. I can go just about anywhere without gagging on second-hand smoke, then on my way home drive to a Safeway in my hybrid and pick up a some organic produce. The attitudes about chanting have also changed. The new American Kirtan movement is alive and growing. If you don’t believe me, just google “kirtan.” I did and got 598,000 hits in .07 seconds. For me this is exciting. It would be even more exciting if the chanters were Personalists.

Kirtan in America

I started participating in the Hare Krishna Kirtan movement in the early 1970s. The chanting profoundly changed my life and I’ve been an advocate of the benefits of kirtan ever since. As a songwriter born in the U.S. I naturally write about my unique American experience which includes kirtan. For the last three years, my wife, Joie, and I toured all over the U.S. as the musical duo AverageSoul. We took the opportunity to drop in on many of the Hare Krishna Temples along the way. I was sad to find that despite America’s growing interest in kirtan, I saw no wave of new faces coming to chant. The Temple programs were failing to inspire more locals to join in the kirtans. In fact, compared to the 70s and early 80s, attendance was down and the majority of full-time residents were foreigners.

Kirtan gets a very small part of the overall energy and finances given to running a Krishna Temple. Most of the manpower and money goes to orthodox Deity worship. Large temples were purchased or built back in the 70s and 80s with money from armies of street-solicitors. The strategy was “Build it and America will come.” But this idea failed. The problem has been compounded by the fact that these huge properties which house the Deities can’t be maintained without a tithing congregation. Worship of Deities is a very foreign concept for Americans, and except for Indian-born believers, it still has not attracted committed congregations.

Great saints in the devotional tradition have said that Deity worship is a valuable tool for personal spiritual growth. This is an accepted fact. We have seen many a heart won over by beautiful Deities. However, it’s apparent that over the past thirty years in America, Deity worship hasn’t attracted many new American followers.

A real strategy has to be developed and executed to propagate Hare Krishna Kirtan, the yoga of our times.
I thought of the old Hare Krishna creed “Chant and be Happy.” And I had to ask myself why the Hare Krishna Kirtan movement was not having the same success as the new American Kirtan movement.

The following is a list of my personal observations and comments. Of course there are exceptions to these examples on both sides. In looking for answers, I try to remember the words of Srila Bhaktivinode: “A truth-seeker should have a comprehensive, good, generous, candid, impartial, and sympathetic soul; Party spirit is the great enemy of truth.”

These are some definitions I read to keep myself on track:
Bigotry = obstinate devotion to one’s own opinion
Obstinate = adhering to an opinion or course of action despite logical arguments or reasoning
Fanatic = intense blind devotion

I’ve written this to try to make sense of it all for myself or spark an idea in someone else who’s trying to understand it.




Final Thoughts

When I step back and look at the Hare Krishna Kirtan movement here in America I see that the heart is missing and the missionary spirit is lost. Sharing the joy of kirtan with Americans involves making a real connection with the public. That connection is made first through recognition of common moral and ethical values and cultural norms. With that foundation in place, building a relationship of mutual respect and trust is possible.

Everything required to bridge the gap between America and the Hare Krishna Kirtan movement, oddly enough, has been undermined by the PR of the Hare Krishna religion itself. A religious institution is the face by which its followers are identified. And the Hare Krishna religion, thus far, has not been a good calling-card for individuals trying to promote kirtan. Policies to bring the religion in-line with the conventions of local behavior and culture need to be established.

The Kirtan movement in America started off with a handful of young people chanting with A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Although a strict monk, he accepted both men and women as students. Both genders studied with him and lead kirtans. The movement promoted love for God—the kind that included all of God’s children, all creatures, and mother Earth. It had everything that was good about the counterculture movement of the 60s without the drugs, booze, and irresponsible sex. It was nonviolent and nonsectarian. And the teachings presented for westerners a revolutionary concept of Mr. and Mrs. God.

The simplicity of the Hare Krishna Kirtan process, the solid philosophy, the living example of the teacher, and the acceptance one felt by the group created a sense of well-being and hope for the future. All this, along with the ultimate goal of pure love created an optimism that inspired people to drop everything and volunteer heart and soul to create a change for the better in themselves and in the world. That was the spirit of the early Hare Krishna Kirtan movement in America, and whatever it takes to get it back is worth doing.

Hare Krishna Kirtan is a musical journey to self-discovery. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge and a joy that should be experienced by all the folks in town—not just a few.

Thanks for listening
Michael Cassidy

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1 Unregistered

Hare Krishna. I agree 100%. Thanks for sharing your brilliant realizations, please continue to do so. I hope we can work towards repopularizing Hare Krishna kirtan in America. Obviously there is potential interest as you have pointed out, we just need to remove the barriers.

Comment posted by narottamadasVSS on February 18th, 2007
2 satyahit2

Ok that was great I really liked those thoughts on kirtan in general & the synopsis done . Yesterday from the Alachua temple we 12 or so devotee’s went into the woods ar the Rainbow gathering in the Ocala Florida forest. We distributed 7, 5 gal buckets of kiterie & or halava . when asked i said thats rice & vegies & thats cream of wheat with pineapple,butter & sugar It disappeared very quicly . How about taking or cooking on the spot an extremely opulent feast,(ie gulbjamuns,puris,halava, etc), so that after some time all the hippies would be lying on the ground or dancing in ecstasy after taking opulent prasadam. Go all out with the prasadam . Srila Prabhupada did with us. Why were not doing the same. As for the kirtan we plunked ourselves in the middle of things,Salvation Army christian style, with an electrified speaker . little pushy but no one balked thank God. better methinks to simply start a truly ecstatic kirtan which attracts everyone spontaneously. Prasadam is easy to distribte with a little enthusiasm instead of just standing there. Books, little ones were distributed for free & we only found one discarded after which was given in a minute to another person thankfully. As for street kirtan it was performed by the Lord Himself and as ya’ll know he attracted literally everyone !!!millions ..even animals treees & stones. But what we can do is have such wonderfully ecstatic and rhymic dancing kirtans that it attracts most people. I have seen this happen often, just by having an ecstatically rhymic kirtan everyone seeing and hearing is positively affected. By appreciating Krsna kirtan they are appreciating Krsna, just like by appreciating one of Srila Prabhupada’s books they are becoming initiated and krsna conscious. So no cap on street sankirtan Its wide open and only requires complete enthusiasm to sing play dance & chant uninhibitedly and most will take part and or smile in great appreciation. Seen it a milion times. It, Krsna kirtan is All attractive . Although if done as a penance or austerity the people will see just that and not be attracted except for a very small minority wanting just that. When however people see devotee’s in any garb, singing & dancing in ecstatic happiness mostly all love it or at least become very attracted & never forget. If then prasadam and books are added , this becomes the original program which Srila Prabhupada gave us before paraphenelia, and just money collecting for the big temples. Which Mangalananda thinks/sez has failed. The GBC or traveling sanyasis may exemplify this behaviour of leading the devotee’s on ecstatic hari nam parties with prasadam & books ..In this way the Lord Chaitanya Hari nam parties will again inudate the USA and elsewhere in full ecstatic joyfullness. No flowery new age words intended. Just the real thing everyone is hankering after. For Gods Sake …satyahit2@yahoo.com

Comment posted by satyahit2 on February 18th, 2007
3 Unregistered

Dear Mongalananda Prabhu, thank you very much for your most thoughtfull article about kirtan and attracting Americans to Srila Prabhupada’s Hare Krishna movement. I really appreciated your reseach and logic. However I do not know what we can do other than get out and chant the holy names. Certainly Sura and the LA temple bhajan band has had great success in Southern Ca. Even in red neck land we’ve had success distributing prasadam in yoga studios and new age feastivals. However our bhajan band isn’t is up to par as Sura’s thus we don’t do as much chanting publically. Once a year or twice Praladhanrisinga Prabhu from Mayapur visits and he does wonderfully in this setting. Singing,(bhajans), astrology, palmistry, councling and prasadam are really appreciated by these new age Americans. So good KC music, prasadam and the other things I mentioned and we have a whole American preaching field that is ripe for picking and they’ll invite us back so long as remain free from the type of mentality you spoke about in your article. Again I thank you for this food for thought . I must read it again in order to more deeply comprehen and consider how we in the good old/new South can utilize your findings for Lord Krsna and Srila Prabhupada’s glorification and desire to save the world. Thank you for your songs and years of dedication to His Divine Grace.
sincerely,
Yogindravandana das
Iskcon Ms. USA

Comment posted by Yogindravandana das on February 18th, 2007
4 Unregistered

Well put prabhu. Let’s make it our heart and soul to give Krishna and Krishna kirtan as transparent via mediums. Let’s give everyone a taste of Krishna’s bliss, by getting out of the way.

We had this experience last fall. A few of us were chanting (bhajan style/picnic style) on a university campus open space. Students were coming up to us telling us that “compared to us, the Christian “preachers” down the way were like hell.” Many were eager to learn what we were doing. It was sweet for us and apparently tasteful for many of them.

Hari bol!

Preaching in America to Americans, what next?

Comment posted by Dvarakadhisa das on February 18th, 2007
5 Unregistered

Thanks for the article, it is very informative. I think one of the main problems is that that there are offenses to be considered in chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra. For neophytes on the street the maha mantra may not always be a palatable thing because they are full of offenses and they won’t be attracted by the mantra because Krishna most likely won’t have mercy on them. Here is a quote from Srila Prabhupada:

(Shrila Prabhupada in Cc Adi 8.31 purp)”A neophyte student who is not sufficiently educated or enlightened should not indulge in the worship of Sri Radha and Krsna or the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. Even if he does so, he cannot get the desired result. One should therefore chant the names of Nitai-Gaura and worship Them without false prestige. In the beginning one should *** very regularly *** chant Sri Gaurasundara’s holy name and then chant the holy name of Lord Nityananda. Thus one’s heart will be cleansed of impure desires for material enjoyment. Then one can approach Vrndavana-dhama to worship Lord Krsna.”

So it is obvious here that Srila Prabhupada wants the names of Nityananda and Gauranga to spread also. It’s not just about spreading the glories of Krishna. First the glories of Nityananda and Gauranga should be spread before we tell others too much about Krishna. The pastimes and names of Nitai-Gaura are even more pleasing than the names and pastimes of Krishna because they are instantly merciful to a conditioned soul, whereas Krishna demands surrender and a offenseless mindset.

Here is a quote by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada:

Purport to Chaitanya-Charitamrita Adi 8.31:

“The Hare Krsna Mahamantra considers the offenses whereas the Names of Gauranga-Nityananda don’t consider offenses. An offensive chanter will never achieve the fruit of chanting (pure love for Krsna) by chanting the Hare Krsna Mahamantra. Therefore till the time he is commiting offenses, he should chant the names of Nityananda and Gauranga. Due the repeated chanting of the names of Nityananda and Gauranga, the offenses will be destroyed and he will achieve the fruit of chanting.”

“The name of Krsna and Gauranga-Both are non-different than the named Lord. Those who think that Krsna is any way inferior or limited than Gauranga are in gross ignorance. But in practical considerations with respect to benefit awarded to the conditioned souls, the chanting of Sri Nityananda and Gauranga’s Name is more useful and helpful for everyone. The mercy of Krsna’s names is generally only upon liberated or perfected souls who are surrendered to Him. But the magnanimity of the names of Lord Nityananda and Gauranga is especially for the souls who are offenders and full of anarthas and desires for material sense-gratification. The chanting of Lord Nityananda and Lord Gauranga’s Names and Their worship quickly delivers the soul from all the offenses and thus the soul achieves shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga-Krishna without any delay.”

So I must say that I agree with Mangalananda das and his views that kirtana should take first priority, but the Nityananda and Gauranga mantras should be sung first and then the maha mantra. After all Srila Prabhupada said:

Shrila Prabhupada during a Room Conversation, August 14, 1971, London:

Prabhupada: No. We are recommending “Chant the holy name of God.” So if you have got the holy name of God, you can chant that.

Prabhupada: Anyway, if one chants Allah or Jesus Christ, we have no objection. We don’t say that you stop it. We say that you chant the holy name of God. If that name is of God, you chant.

So why would Prabhupada be against us chanting the names of Nityananda and Gauranga if he would allow us to chant the name of Allah or Jesus?

The fact is that we need the names and pastimes of Nityananda and Gauranga to spread the names and glories of Krishna.

Comment posted by Nitai-Gauradas on February 19th, 2007
6 sita-pati

Some really great points in here, and a good shout out on the subject of becoming a little more “seeker-sensitive” without compromising on the core principles.

I’d say to be “conservative at the core, innovative at the edge”. Keep the same temple program (just work to make it more sattvic) and do things around that “outside” in the community.

We do things with or without robes, depending on the the situation. One thing to bear in mind about the robes though - they might look out of place now, but in 50 - 100 years people will be giving respect to the old school. Represent!

Comment posted by sita-pati on February 21st, 2007
7 Unregistered

Mangalananda prabhu I value your sincerity but I differ on my view as to why the “American kirtan movement” is enjoying more success (maybe that is a subjective view) then the devotees. The American kirtan movement is a causal gathering of people who see the kirtan as part of their spiritual practice, there is no specific philosophy or moral ideology which is being taught as part and parcel of the kirtan. That activity is non denominational and attracts people who have a wide variety of philsoophical views. Devotees are doing something very different, teaching a lifestyle and philosophy which is part and parcel of the kirtan. The people who are involved in the kirtan movement more then likely have all had encounters with devotees or gaudiya literature and reject gaudiya vaisnavism for one reason or another. They will naturally attract more people from the section of the populace in the western countries who are interested in Indian religion (the new age crowd) because there is nothing which they would find objectionable in that kirtan “movement”. With the devotees they find a lot which is objectionable. They dislike the philosophy and they dislike what they see as a sectarian religion. It has nothing to do with the way the kirtan is presented. It is because they object to gaudiya vaisnavism and because they are not ready for gaudiya vaisnavism. Changing the way devotees present kirtan will not cause more people to become interested in becoming devotees. In some cases it may attract more people at first, but once they find out about gaudiya vaisnavism the result will be the same. Krishna consciousness is a process of realization, not coercion through some material arrangement. Krishna is in charge of people’s destiny. When people have reached the stage in their material existence where they are ready for Krishna consciousness then Krishna reveals to them the truth of Krishna consciousness. No material arrangement can change the time of that moment.

The way kirtan or is done in ISKCON is done that way as part of Sri Caitanya’s sankirtan lila. It is naturally attractive to those who are ready for it. Devotees don’t need to change how they do kirtan. Thinking that some material arrangement in dress or loudness or speed or whatever will make people more inclined to become devotees is simply false. How devotees perform kirtan (speed, loudness, style) is an expression of their devotional sentiments. Any attempt to obstruct that freeflow of ecstacy is an error in judgement. Kirtan is not some magical or hypnotic act which can coerce people into becoming devotees by the external appearence of dress or sound quality. It is the potency of the devotees spiritual ecstacy which awakens the conditioned souls through the power of the incarnation of the Lord in the holy names. Only those souls whose time has come for Krishna to reveal himself will be able to come under the shelter of Sri Caitanya’s lotus feet, material arrangements have no potency to affect that reality.

Comment posted by shiva on February 21st, 2007
8 Akruranatha

This is a wonderful, well-written article that points out the central importants of kirtan and especially the hare krishna maha mantra to ISKCON. It is so much what we do that we are know as the “Hare Krishna” people.

When kirtan is being done nicely in public, at least where I have seen it, it is still very attractive to most of the general passers-by. Well-organized and attractive public harinama sankirtan should go on as often as possible in the major cities of the world.

We have a regular harinama party in Palo Alto California at least one Friday each month, attended by devotees from the San Jose temple and the Berkeley temple. We usually have about 30-40 devotees. We are an “after work” crowd, and many of us wear western clothing (I have sometimes come straight from a deposition or mediation in a suit and tie). There is always a good mix of dhotis and saris, too, but regardless of different styles of dress, the onlookers can easily see we are all united in relishing the kirtan and dancing. Families bring their children who happily take part.

I would say most of our devotees are from India, but we always have some 20% - 30% non Indians, too. Thus, we clearly represent an authentic tradition, but it is something that everyone feels welcome to join.

We have a good representative sample of races and national origins, some whites, blacks, hispanics. Last time I was selling a book to a woman who spoke Russian, and she was impressed that I was able to engage a Russian girl from our kirtan party to complete the sale in her native language.

We always set up a book table with a vertical display rack and we generally sell a number of books during the kirtan. People like to come up to the rack to browse the books, and eventually they ask questions or talk with the polite, non-pushy distributors who are manning the display. Amogha Lila Prabhu and others walk through the crowd distributing many books.

We also pass out plastic wrapped prasam cookies. (Once we passed out little flat “simply wonderful” patties, but the crowd did not really appreciate them as much. The cookies work a lot better here.)

From the comments of the onlookers, many of them can understand that we are engaged in some kind of powerful meditation process. (There is a strong bhakti “vibe” that cannot be ignored)

Lots of young people come just for the fun of public dancing and try out a few steps with us, and learn the mantra with big smiles on their faces. Many people ask when we are coming again so they can join next time. We give mantra cards, but not many come to the temple, which is about 1/2 hour drive away.

A few months ago a graduate engineering student at Stanford University was taken aback to see the kirtan party. He is from Mathura, but did not know such things were going on in California. He immediately started coming to the temple whenever he can get a ride, and he also goes out on every monthly weekend festival to distribute books. He especially loves the public kirtans. Who wouldn’t?

A word on musical ability and other “material” considerations: while of course the important thing is the sincerity and offenselessness of the chanting, that does not mean that no “quality assurance” should be exercised. Lord Caitanya used to arrange the kirtan parties at Ratha Yatra with principal dancers, principal lead singers, etc. (of course they were all pure devotees).

While it is not simply a mundane musical performance, we should bear in mind that we are chanting to please the Lord and should by careful to keep the rythm, to try to sing nicely, to only play instruments that we can play skillfully, etc. We usually select our best kirtan leaders, Vaisesika, Satyadeva, Jananivasa, Lokanath. These are not showy vocal stylists singing elaborate “runs”, but devotees who have the knack of raising the mood and controlling the tempo, choosing pleasing tunes that everyone can follow.

Similarly, though we have an ecclectic style of dressing in our Palo Alto parties (in that not everyone wears dhotis and saris), we ask everyone to be neat and clean and well-groomed. We discourage bizarre, hippy attire or forms of dress (or undress) that could frighten or put off the general public. We are displaying the yuga dharma; we are not a freak show.

(I mean, if someone has dredlocks or big, tribal piercings, they are still welcome to blissfully join the party, of course, and we sincerely offer them all respects. But we do ask the devotees to try to be clean and neatly dressed, as far as possible. Men should keep their shirts on, especially if they have huge, gaudy tatoos. The devotees easily accept this form of “quality control”, because we are not singing and dancing for our own pleasure, but for Loird Caitanya.)

Seeing men with dhotis and kurtas and shaved heads is not as strange in many American cities today than it was in 1969 or 1975. We are not seen as being part of the hippy counterculture or “flower power”. Most people react favorably, understanding that this is a genuine spiritual movement. It might help that there is also a mixture of devotees who have western attire and are obviously responsible, well-educated and mostly professional people chanting alongside the “monks”.

We are going out again tonight. I hope we can gradually increase this excellent program.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on February 23rd, 2007
9 Akruranatha

Last night’s harinama in Palo Alto was another exceptional exhibition of Lord Caitanya’s mercy. There were about 30 - 35 of our regular San Jose Yatra devotees, led in beautiful, ecstatic kirtan by Satyadeva and Vaisesika Prabhus.

At least four “newcomers” joined from the very beginning (7 p.m.) and kept chanting and dancing with us the entire time (past 9 p.m.) One of them was Anwar, a professional percussionist who has a special interest in Turkish and Indian music, one was Angela, who had visited our temple a few years ago when it was in a little storefront on Union Street, and who is a follower of a popular lady yogi. They both took books and gave donations (Angela said she had been looking for a good commentary on Bhagavad Gita.)

But I was most impressed with two young guys who were seniors at Menlo Park High School. They really got into the chanting, and had been studying Bhagavad Gita on their own. They were white American guys and I do not know what prompted them to take up the study of the Gita (of course Supersoul prompted them, but there was no obvious family or academic connection or anything).

One of them, William, was able to quote English translations of Gita verses in conversation and clearly had some understanding. (He liked the part about doubts being slashed with the sword of knowledge, and that being armed with yoga Arjuna should fight. He also liked that we should meditate on Krishna as smaller than the smallest.) I asked him if he did any regular form of meditation or yoga (thinking he might be connected to some organized group), and he said that he only read the Gita and prayed for illumination within.

William told me he had seen a photo of Srila Prabhupada a few days ago and knew he was someone very special. He was praying yesterday that something special would happen spiritually to him that day, and he knew that joining the Harinama party last night and buying Prabhupada’s books was clearly it.

I was most impressed by some of his realizations. For example, I was telling him that Lord Caitanya was the most merciful avatara, and started to say that Krishna in the Gita demands that we surrender, that we have some qualification in knowledge, austerity, detachment, and pious behavior. He said he already had a sense that as times changed from Krishna’s era and the world became more morally degraded and illusioned (he wrote a paper on Kali yuga in high school), that the process of enlightenment must have become more powerful to compensate! I told him that Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movent was that especially powerful process, and he readily accepted.

I expect to see William at our temple, and possibly he will become a regular fixture as he continues to study Prabhupada’s books.

I do not yet know the total figures for how many books we distributed, but a gross estimate is that we passed out about 50 books and collected about $150.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on February 24th, 2007
10 pustakrishna

Just writing a little note to an old friend, Mangalananda das, from Pusta Krishna das. You sat there in Tampa, Florida writing poetry and songs to glorify “Govinda”. You are an artist and you have dovetailed your creativity in Krishna consciousness. I think that what you may be feeling, at least in part, is that our youth has slipped away and we find ourselves in the twilight of “old age”, at least physically. There is still Sankirtan going on, throughout the world. That gleam of being a “new convert” is still there, at least I see it, when I give a class or program in Krishna consciousness. I even feel it myself. Srila Prabhupad, I think, felt it all the time as well, when he said: “preaching is life!” So, do not despair. Just as Krishna is nava-yauvana, ever youthful, so is bhakti. We hear in the Brhat Bhagavatamrita that the cowherd boys, gopas, while walking through the forest of Vrindaban, would drink in the beauty of Krishna. When Krishna would pass behind a tree, and would not be visible to them directly, for that moment, the gopas would feel as if an eternity had passed. Then when He would again appear to their sight, they would be so satisfied beyond conception. I think our recollections of former days in our service lives is a very faint reflection like that. We miss the zeal of chanting the Holy Name congregationally, we miss the spontaneous enthusiasm that comes from sacrificing the very best years of one’s life for Krishna, and…we miss Srila Prabhupad, impossible to replace. Someday He shall come out from behind that tree again, and we shall drink in the full satisfaction of that association. All is possible by the unlimited grace of the Holy Name of Krishna, by the compassionate mercy of the vaishnavas. Remembering you always with fondness, dear Mangalananda Prabhu, I remain Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on May 12th, 2007
11 Unregistered

Real devotees are not interested in ‘pleasing the public”–the public’s taste is fickle and ever-changing, whereas Lord Sri Chaitanya’s sankirtan movement has changed very little since the time of Lord Chaitanya–mrdanga, kartals, and flowing robes–flowing robes were considered “cool” in the l960’s and 70’s, and now they are not–so what! We are not trying to please the public, but to please the Lord, Srila Prabhupada has said, “rather than adjust ourselves to accomodate the public, let the public adjust itself to accomodate us!”
Sure, we can do harinam dressed in business casual, or we could wear suits with little bow ties like the Black Muslims but the closer we stick to what has been given to us in disciplic succession, the better off we are. Sometimes the public is captivated, sometimes not, just like “winter and summer seasons”, which we must tolerate without being disturbed.
The Mayavadis also do kirtan sometimes, because silent meditation becomes too tedious for them, but that kirtan is not real–they simply want to use glorifying Krsna, or Durga, or whoever, as a means of realizing “Oneness”–we need not concern ourselves with such New Age antics, but simply continue to serve the pure devotee without false prestige.

Comment posted by Sri Clayton on May 13th, 2007

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