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Requesting Your Help

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 / Published in Appeals / 2,048 views

By Janananda Gosvami (on behalf of the Kirtan Standards Committee)

The kirtana is at its climax The leader from the top of his lungs bursts forth with a resounding

Gurudeva, Gurudeva, Gurudeva Gurudeva ….. Jaya Gurudeva Jaya Gurudeva Jaya Gurudeva Jaya Gurudeva etc.

Some devotees look at each other – who am I supposed to be singing to or should I be singing it at all. Who is the leader referring to? A kind of silent unsurety lingers in the background or foreground.

Some say we should not at all chant others say at specific occasions and times, others anytime, anywhere. Some say before Jaya Prabhupada is okay some after.

Some say it is to Srila Prabhupada, some to their initiating guru, some to all the gurus, some the predecessor guru.

On behalf of the Kirtan standards committee I would like to hear what the esteemed assembly of learned and experienced devotees could kindly contribute to this topic. Not just our sentiments and likes but what is correct.

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10 Responses to “Requesting Your Help”

  1. Pusta Krishna das says :

    Does not Krishna dwell in the hearts of all, and does He not communicate with His devotees? The paralysis of feeling, of bhakti, has led to an intellectualization of a natural process of spiritual loving service.
    I will share something of personal experience with you from my time in Srila Prabhupada’s personal service, and I do so out of compassion for the confusion that you currently are addressing.
    There were times when one of my godbrothers suggested something to me, and forcefully I might add. Note, I was a sannyasi preacher with a reputable track record of success in pleasing Srila Prabhupada, and I was also a GBC personally appointed by Srila Prabhupada. I was personally requested by Srila Prabhupada to serve as his personal servant during his last world tour.
    So, I was not, hierarchically speaking low on the so-called totem pole. When I came back confronting Srila Prabhupada with the suggestion if not order by one of my godbrothers, initiated earlier than I for which I felt obligated to honor or respect even if their very nature was rather harsh and even demeaning…when I came before Srila Prabhupada with the suggestion of this or that godbrother, in private with only Srila Prabhupada and my self together, Srila Prabhupada forcefully and with some anger said to me, “Why are you listening to him! He is not your guru, I am your guru!” And, with that, the issue was fully resolved.
    On whose order do you even chant Hare Krishna? There are many kirtan standards which have really turned left me astonished! When I see that Sankirtan assemblies turn into a “rave”, with sannyasis literally jumping into the crowd of chanters as if heros to be ‘carried above the heads of the chanters’. And many finding their way to closely associate themselves with followers of Neem Karoli Baba, chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, not from the lips of pure devotees or really devotees at all by their own admittance, then the “Kirtan Standard Committee” has greater issues that indicate spiritual dysfunction beyond their capacity to “control” or to “regulate”.
    And the question of whether or note to glorify “Jaya Jaya Gurudeva” or not, indicates a disconnect that has troubling consequences, such as, “Do I have a guru at all?” How will one learn to serve the highest divinity if one does not have confidence that they have a guru worthy of giving their heart and soul to? What indeed is meant by Lord Chaitanya saying that He is the servant of the servant of the servant of the beloved Lord of the gopis? Yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado…
    Submitted out of compassion for those who have learned about Krishna from Srila Prabhupada primarily or secondarily, a mission of which you count your selves.
    Pusta Krishna das

  2. Pusta Krishna das says :

    Having had a chance to “sleep on this” since I offered my comment above (which I am grateful to the editors for allowing without editing), I would like to provide a potential solution to current or future servants in ISKCON regarding the praise of “Gurudeva” or “Prabhupada” during kirtan.
    The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was conceived of and founded by Srila Prabhupada. He left the foundation for its future, as well, through the publication of the shastras he translated and left commentaries for. These are primarily intended for devotees. While walking along a path together in 1976, in a deeply reflective state, Srila Prabhupada said the following precisely:

    “ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesu abhidhasyati
    We are simply living on Krishna’s promise.”

    This verse is from the Bhagavad Gita As It Is is sloka 18:68. The entire translation is: For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and al the end he will come back to me. The next verse of Krishna’s is: There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.

    How can we therefore apply this in terms of the question raised very sincerely by Janananda Goswami? Srila Prabhupada is the siksha guru of all, Jagat Guru, while having been the diksha guru for only about 5,000 personal disciples. Certainly, we must glorify Srila Prabhupada. We must acknowledge through whom Krishna’s pure teachings of the Parampara has come to us. Our more contemporary (current) diksha or even siksha gurus “must” have drank at the well of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. His teachings are worthy of fully surrendering to, heart and soul. And, in this institution, ISKCON, we must recognize, one and all, that we are simply distributing the “prasadam, the mercy” which Srila Prabhupada has delivered us from Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Krishna.
    NO ONE SHOULD FOOLISHLY TRY TO DIGEST THE HONOR OF SRILA PRABHUPADA. NO ONE SHOULD BE ENVIOUS OF HIS UNIQUE POSITION IN THE WORLDWIDE SANKIRTAN MOVEMENT OF ISKCON, LORD CHAITANYA’S PROMINENT SERVING BRANCH.
    Thus, it must be acknowledged that ISKCON’s Gurudeva is His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. For the ISKCON society, this is true now and going forward. In kirtan, therefore, it is surely authorized to chant “Jaya jaya Prabhupada, Jaya jaya gurudeva”.
    With the advent of so many diksha initiating teachers (necessary to transmit the Holy Names and suggesting how to chant without offenses), the siksha, even that of these servants of the servants, must not create a political battlefield for pratishtha of this one versus that one. Even if one is currently popular. Let it be transmitted to current and future generations of servants within the ISKCON mission that this is the case and the tattva.
    Humbly submitted, Pusta Krishna das

  3. Sankarsana das says :

    The following is information I’ve heard of before and found on a website devoteeassociation.worldpress.com, along with other dos and don’ts regarding kirtan:

    CHANTING JAYA GURUDEVA…? Srila Prabhupada objected to the chanting of “Jaya Gurudeva” since he considered it to be a direct insertion into our movement from the sahajiya sampradayas in Bengal who always say things like “Jaya Gurudeva,” without referring to any particular guru. Srila Prabhupada criticized this as impersonal and did not want it chanted by his disciples. “Who is the guru?” he would challenge. Srila Prabhupada also did not appreciate the extended chanting of Jaya Prabhupada at the expense of chanting the Hare Krsna maha mantra.

    CHANTING JAYA PRABHUPADA…? Once when we were coming from a tour of the Gurukula Srila Prabhupada heard the devotees chanting Jaya Prabhupada over and over. He said he didn’t like the devotees chanting Prabhupada over and over and he told us to tell them to chant Hare Krsna. Once or a few times is ok but not more than that.

    I could not find who the devotee is who gave these reports on the website. Other than this, I recommend watching Jayadvaita Swami’s two part seminar on kirtan standards recorded in Mumbai about a couple years ago. Maharaja very much adhered to what Srila Prabhupada did when leading kirtan, and instructions Prabhupada gave on leading kirtan in those videos. They are available on You Tube.

  4. Padmapani_das says :

    One time after giving Bhagavatam class in Toronto in 1976, Srila Prabhupada made his way from the vyasasana and up the stairs to his room. Along the way a few of us were enthusiastically chanting in kirtan, “Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada…” over and over again. When Srila Prabhupada reached the landing, he turned around, folded his palms, slightly bowed his head and smiled the most beatific and oceanic smile I had ever been blessed to see. Srila Prabhupada was pleased. This happened another time in the San Francisco airport in 1974. Perhaps some devotees have different experiences according to time, place and circumstance, but I’m sure glad that I chanted, “Jaya Prabhupada” to Srila Prabhupada with all my heart and soul.

    Jaya Prabhupada!!!

  5. Pusta Krishna das says :

    Many, many years from now, after the dilution of Srila Prabhupada’s mission by more and more “anything goes” liberality, and dozens of how I came to Krishna books etc., where will the beacon of Srila Prabhupada be recognized? Srila Prabhupada did not flinch when Pradyumna addressed Srila Prabhupada a
    “GuruMaharaj”, nor when we addressed him as “Srila Prabhupada”.
    While I like Jayadvaita Swami as an individual, he is not my guru. So, who will you call guru in the future of ISKCON? Will it be someone who gives initiation to the Holy Names? Will it be someone who gives you some instruction?
    The important point is that you not accept counterfeit money or fool’s gold. It is the backing that is important. It is the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, pure and simple, authorized and undiluted.
    If you want Christmas, but it seems politically incorrect to say “Merry Christmas”, if you want ISKCON Krishna consciousness but you don’t say, “All Glories to Srila Prabhupada”…then you have lost the heart of the current. Only 40 years since his disappearance, and just see!
    Pusta Krishna das

  6. Sankarsana das says :

    Padmapani prabhu relates how Srila Prabhupada responded differently on different occasions to devotees chanting, “Jaya Prabhupada!” It’s true Prabhupada would say contradictory things sometimes and a quote can be cherry picked to support a view in a one sided way. In all matters therefore a comprehensive understanding of Prabhupada’s instructions need to be considered, along with sastra and sadhu. On the subject of kirtan standards, we rely mainly on instructions Prabhupada gave, since references in sastra are limited. Descriptions are there of Lord Caitanya’s kirtan parties, but hard and fast rules about kirtan aren’t. Srila Prabhupada sometimes surprised his disciples by pointing out that certain mantras and kirtan phrases they heard were bogus. Prabhupada was concerned devotees could become tinged with sahajiya or other unwanted tendencies. Those dangers remain possible when Prabhupada’s instructions about kirtan are neglected. If an experienced devotee has done thorough research on instructions Prabhupada gave on a subject, and makes them available, why disregard the research because the devotee is not one’s guru? In Jayadvaita Swami’s kirtan seminars he asked devotees in the audience if they knew of any contrary instructions Prabhupada gave to the one’s he was quoting Prabhupada on. No one offered any and Jayadvaita Swami affirmed no contradictory instructions were to be found in the research he did. Mission drift can be avoided by hearing and implementing instructions Prabhupada gave on kirtan and multifarious subjects. And hopefully experienced devotees who do vital research on Prabhupada’s instructions won’t be viewed as cherry pickers, nor as espousing an opinion of their own.

  7. Sankarsana das says :

    An editorial change I would like made on my last entry I just sent in about 5 hours ago is the following sentence if it can be changed: “In Jayadvaita Swami’s kirtan seminars he asked devotees in the audience if they knew of any contrary instructions Prabhupada gave to the references he was quoting Prabhupada on.”
    The way I used the word “one’s” is incorrect grammar anyway and should be ones, but references is a better word to use. Thank you if it’s not too late to change this.

  8. Pusta Krishna das says :

    There were several times a godbrother would say something to try to impose their idea. Having an intimate association with Srila Prabhupada as his personal secretary, I presented the idea or opinion before His Divine Grace (I did not filter ideas that came to me intended for Srila Prabhupada). Time and again, Srila Prabhupada was angered, and spoke forcefully: “Why are you listening to ______das? He is not your guru, I am your guru!”
    Devotional service is based on faith and love. The ISKCON Mission was conceived of and created by Srila Prabhupada (Lord Nityananda’s Saktyavesh Avatar) fulfilling the order of Lord Chaitanya. I am not dishonoring JayaAdvaita Swami by saying these things. I am hoping we confer ongoing honor on Srila Prabhupada, Jagat Guru & the Founder Acharya of ISKCON.
    When the contact and influence of Srila Prabhupada is diluted again and again, into the future, ISKCON will become more a religion and less a Spiritual Cultural Movement as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada.
    Srila Prabhupada in his Will provided that his GBC would be the future management wing of his mission. It is in Krishna’s control what will be. I therefore can only pray to my Lord Krishna to hear the hearts of His devotees. I have never visited an ISKCON temple where there was not chanting of “Jaya Jaya Prabhupada”. His murti sits upon the Vyasasana of the temples in his mission. No other disciple, nor disciple of disciples into the future will have such honor, nor should they.
    Rather than being concerned with being small minded, we need to be big-hearted. Srila Prabhupada always used the example, that if a great man is walking his dog, when you approach him, you pat the gentleman’s dog on the head. Love me, love my dog! Similarly, this is how you will attract Krishna, the Supreme Person, if you honor his very dear and empowered bhakta. Humbly submitted, Pusta Krishna das

  9. Sankarsana das says :

    It seems to me that Pusta Krishna prabhu has been saying “to-may-toes” and I have been saying “to-mah-toes” while conferring on the concept of keeping Srila Prabhupada in the center. There is no disagreement here. My angle was this can be achieved by devotees being thoroughly educated on Prabhupada’s instructions and applying them. Pusta Krishna prabhu’s angle was imploring us on the magnitude of Prabhupada’s greatness and how it should not be forgotten.

    From watching Jayadvaita Swami’s kirtan seminars I’m aware that his perspective differs from Pusta Krishna prabhu’s perspective. So as Pusta Krishna prabhu says, “Who should we listen to?” Whoever is sincere and dedicated to Prabhupada’s mission should be appreciated in any case although we may not entirely agree with them.

  10. Pusta Krishna das says :

    The question that Sankarsana das asks is the essence of the question of the survival of ISKCON as a mission which can continue to transmit the transparent teachings of Lord Chaitanya. I realize how sensitive an issue it is as regards “who to hear from and who to believe”. I do not minimize that question, in fact I hope to maximize that question. Please, forgive me if my replies are not always palatable.
    Your question “whoever is sincere and dedicated to Srila Prabhupada’s mission”, that’s a consideration. I do not intend to minimize the direction of the opinions that even my godbrothers may have. In my years, I have seen a lot. The point that must be emphasized is that Srila Prabhupada was never to be accepted as an ordinary man, but rather, “acarya mam vijaniyat”. The acarya is to be accept as Krishna Himself, as Servitor God. That is Krishna’s perspective.
    We all first generation Srila Prabhupada disciples will soon be passed on. Time is Krishna. My hope is not for a ‘material legacy’ for Srila Prabhupada. No! Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur said it best…”he reasons ill who say that Vaishnavas die, when thou art living still in sound.” We assisted him to make it so.Not a mundane thing…but “transparent medium to Krishna”. That needs to be central to ISKCON’s future.
    We have seen many come and go, they talked the talk, even for a good time walked the walk, worse stayed and misrepresented also. Some of the first…were last. You must understand that ISKCON cannot afford to lose its connection to Krishna consciousness….acarya mam vijaniyat. Begging for the understanding of those who make such decisions that will determine the future stature of Srila Prabhupada, for the sake of the present and future aspiring vaishnavas. Just as a temple has its Deity, so too a mission has its Deity Servitor. That is Srila Prabhupada. Pusta Krishna das

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