Los Angeles Harinam

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By Govinda Datta Das

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

For the inspiration of all the devotees I would like to post these pictures of our Hari Nama SKP party that took place Friday night July 20, 2207.

We never know what plan Lord Caitanya has in store for us. But we always know He inspires the service in many ecstatic ways. This time there were a group of hatha yogis that just decided to join us right in the middle of the outdoor 3rd Street Santa Monica Prominade mall.

They helped to draw a large crowd as they performed their asanas and we chanted the Lord’s Holy Names. Then a group of young people also danced with us. As you can see, everyone is naturally attracted to the Holy Name. No one is disappointed as the Sankirtana is the ocean of nectar for which we are all anxious to experience. Young and old all experience the chanting to be very ecstatic. I hope this can inspire the devotees to join the Hari Nama.

We go out daily after lunch prasadam. Fridays we leave at 5pm to the Santa Monica prominade. Saturdays we leave at 3pm to Venice Beach.

Please call me at (310)559-5742 if you would like directions or more information.
Hare Krsna!





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1 Unregistered

Hare Krsna,
PAMHO. AGTSP.
Is this approved by any Maharaj or GBC? I know intentions are good and sincere, but it appears to me like a circus. Onlookers might have gathered to look at bodies of those HathaYogis and Yoginis. A dog and pony show also can attract crowds. Should we resort to that? Maybe I am too conservative.
Had Srila Prabhupad approved such thing in the past? Should we associate name of iskcon with HathaYogis? Lay people might think iskcon is about HathaYoga.
your servant
Hari Bol

Comment posted by asprng_vaishnav on July 24th, 2007
2 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,
Congratulations to the LA devotees on their daily effort in spreading the chanting of holy names.

Comment posted by kirtan on July 24th, 2007
3 Unregistered

I disagree with the last comment. So long as none of the devotees were doing hatha yoga postures, I don’t see any harm in the devotees chanting with those people.

My concern is why are the devotees playing an accordion? Surely this is not an authorized Vaisnava instrument. Neither Srila Prabhupada nor any of our Gaudiya Vaisnava acharyas ever played this instrument. This instrument is entirely based on the Western tonal system of music, and is thus definitely influenced by the lower modes of material nature. Such instruments are spoiling the natural sweetness of harinama sankirtan, and by performing on such instrument in public, the general populace is not being given an opportunity to relish pure Krishna kirtan.

It is a new ISKCON innovation that such instruments are being introduced into the Harinama sankirtan parties. My strong opinion is that all these instrumental innovations should be stopped. If we stick to the pure standard of Srila Prabhupada and our previous acharyas, only using mrdunga, kartals and in some instances harmonium to accompany the performance of harinam sankirtan, I am sure our kirtan parties will be more and more successful.

Comment posted by bh. kurt harris on July 24th, 2007
4 Unregistered

Haribol Asprng_vaishnav,

in answer to your question, it is approved by Prabhupada himself…!!!
Whenever hatha-yoga is done in the service to attract people to Krishna Conscioussnes, it is a good thing to do, people got interested and danced and chanted the Holy Name there in L.A….and don’t you have a good time at a circus, well, this is a transcendental circus, Krishna’s circus, nothing wrong with that.

Your apiring servant,

Bhakta Erik.

Comment posted by erik on July 24th, 2007
5 satyahit2

hare krsna This person who made 1st coment not only lacks imagination, but has a negative non spontaneous overly stiff vision of harinam sankirtan. Obviously the devotee’s performing are happy, the yogini’s are happy, the on lookers are hearing hare krsna , but person number one is unhappy. He is not concerned that everyone is happy but that there must be some fault. One devotee put things to me like this once, he said , we must be having too much fun . ie there must be a limit to the fun one may have in krsna’s service . Don’t enjoy yourself on harti nam prabhu, just perform austerity. Thats a very poor attitude for hari nam . Being in the public’s eye the best thing is that the public sees us as happy in our chanting of hare krsna . Not overly strained but peaceful ,content,and happy. and maybe even ecstatic.
satyahit das

Comment posted by satyahit2 on July 25th, 2007
6 Akruranatha

Regarding accordians, I have been to a lot of harinamas where devotees play accordians, and to me it seems very nice.

I suppose how good it is depends on the specific accordian player (the same can be said for mrdangas and karatals for that matter). My experiences with accordians on harinama have pretty much all been very positive.

(Sastra Prabhu’s nice playing in Mayapur seems to be appreciated very much by the local Bengali musicians and devotees there generally).

Really an accordian in many ways is just like a sophisticated harmonium that you can walk and dance with while you play. Harmoniums are not Vedic instruments or even medeival Indian instruments, either.

The first harmoniums or reed organs were made in Europe in the 1840s and soon they became popular in the U.S. It thus appears that Narottama dasa and Syamananda Pandit never played a harmonium or incorporated the harmonium into their styles of bhajans. They would have become popular during the time of Bhaktivinode Thakur.

I am not an expert on Vaisnava musicology and the history of the introduction of harmoniums to India, but my understanding is they were introduced by Christian missionaries. Nevertheless, they have become standard accompaniment to our Vaisnava bhajans, and we love them.

Srila Prabhupada played harmonium, even though its keys are laid out just like those of a piano (i.e., based on a “Western tonal system”) Is there any sastric reference for the statement that instruments based on a Western tonal system are “definitely influenced by the lower modes of material nature”? Wouldn’t that also apply to the harmonium?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 25th, 2007
7 Unregistered

Hare Krishna,

Well said Bhakta Eric I appreciate your reply in the sence of serving all qualities to Krishna. Also about music instruments I think in the same sence if some instrument is attracting peoples attention then no harm in using them!! I personally will see any thing good if it turns peoples attention towards Krishna (yes in satvic mode!).

Comment posted by omdas on July 25th, 2007
8 Danavir Goswami

New Dvaraka (Los Angeles temple) has been a vanguard of Krishna consciousness in North America for nearly four decades. In New Dvaraka, there is no debate whether book distribution is more important or deity worship is more important or Rathayatra is more important——for the New Dvarakans, all these services are executed with the same extraordinary devotion and expertise. I don’t think we can thank New Dvaraka enough for standing firm and flying Srila Prabhupada’s flag of victory.
Gaudiya Vaisnavism enthusiastically spreads harinama all over the world making it special among all spiritual groups. As far as the immediate article and photos of the regular harinama in Los Angeles, it is another very positive and blissful service that New Dvaraka renders. My respectful obeisances to the harinama parties and since we are speaking of harinama, we cannot forget our foremost American public harinama kirtaniya, His Grace Siddhavidya Prabhu, who has been charming the souls of Miami on harinama every day for eons.

Comment posted by Danavir Goswami on July 26th, 2007
9 sita-pati

I did kirtan there with Kukudmi das in 2001. That’s a regular spot for the L.A. temple Harinam, and some hatha yogis happened to be there. It’s no big deal really.

As Akruranatha prabhu already mentioned, the accordeon uses the same “tonal system” as the harmonium, which is an Indian knock-off of a European instrument (it’s practically just half an accordeon itself). The Vedic tonal system is far too complex for people today. See Bhaktisiddharta das’ “Spiritual Music Manifesto” for an in-depth explanation of how that works. All ISKCON kirtans use the western tonal system, not the Vedic one, which requires microtonal adjustments to the notes depending on which raga you are using.

Comment posted by sita-pati on July 27th, 2007
10 Unregistered

It is true that Srila Prabhupada played the harmonium and also allowed his disciples to do so under certain circumstances.

But we should consider this example and instruction in context: Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura never allowed harmoniums in his preaching institution. I have spoken with members of the Gaudiya Math who are familiar with how strict he was on this point. Neither Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, His associates, the 6 Goswamis, Narottama das Thakura, Srinivasa Acarya, nor any of the other members of our acarya parampara ever played a harmonium to accompany Vaisnava kirtans or bhajans. It is only in much more recent history that the harmonium has become prominent. Even 50 years ago, harmoniums were rarely seen in Gaudiya Vaisnava society in holy places such as Vrndavana and Mayapur. Given this history and context, are the devotees still so confident that they can and should introduce other types of Western instruments based on the fact that Srila Prabhupada has allowed his disciples a limited use of the harmonium?

Another point is how harmoniums are played. In all the recordings of Srila Prabhupada playing the harmonium, you never hear him playing chords, such as major or minor triads, to accompany his singing. I’ve seen other devotees play the harmonium this way, but I’ve never heard this style from Srila Prabhupada. From the little I understand of accordion playing, it is all based on playing chords. There is a “button side” of the accordion which is used for playing drones which harmonize with the notes played on the keyboard. Thus the accordion is all based on harmonies which Srila Prabhupada (and our previous acharyas!) never used. Again, are the devotees still so confident that this instrument is not an innovation, and that it is authorized simply because harmoniums are also marginally authorized?

Consider this: Why did Srila Prabhupada have us offer Vedic foodstuffs to the Deities instead of the Western preparations we were already accustomed to making? Why did he have us wear Vedic clothing instead of the clothes we were already wearing? Why do devotees bother learning Sanskrit verses instead of simply learning their English translations? And finally, why did Srila Prabhupada introduce mrdunga and kartals into his kirtans instead of just having the devotees accompany the kirtans with Western instruments?

I think Srila Prabhupada introduced Vedic culture because Vedic culture and it’s paraphernalia are of a more refined, divine nature. It is both better for our consciousness and more pleasing to Krishna when we use the paraphernalia of Vedic culture in Krishna’s service. If we fail to recognize this, I think we open the floodgates for all kinds of lower culture to enter into our society. After all, electric guitars are based on the same tonal system as harmoniums, and rock drumkits can produce many of the same rhythms as a mrdunga ~~ maybe to attract followers or to please our own senses we can start using these instruments in our kirtans too?

It is true that Srila Prabhupada allowed his disciples to play harmoniums, and it is also true that accordions many have certain features in common with harmoniums. But I think if we consider this issue from a variety of perspectives, especially in the context of the history of Gaudiya Vaisnava instrumentation, from an understanding of the value of Vedic culture and from a simple understanding of the differences between Western and Vedic music, that the devotees should be very very careful to assume that the permission to use harmoniums gives us a license for various types of other instruments Srila Prabhupada did not specifically approve.

My strong opinion is that the devotees should not mix new Western instruments in with the performance of our most sacred duty, harinam sankirtan.

Comment posted by bh. kurt harris on July 27th, 2007
11 Unregistered

Some of the arguments in this discussion totally miss the point of Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Although there is an apparent adherence to the “Vedic” style of music, dress or food, this is not necessarily the bhagavata marga that Srila Prabhupada establish as it is claimed by some of the comments. There are ample cases in which Prabhupada adjusted traditional standards to form Iskcon, particularly in the west.

The very fact that SP allowed women living in the asramas and to be engaged in direct deity worship is one that is considered controversial by some advocates of the ‘old school’. The point is that SP mentioned that such capacity to be able to adapt was what it made the difference between him and some of his godbrother’s preaching.

There may be many things that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta did not do and Srila Prabhupada did (just as allowing women in the temple/altar), but that doesn’t mean that we need to take a smarta approach to the practice and preaching of Krishna consciousness. Weren’t somewhat similar arguments that were used against Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in regards of his use of cars, and some western dress codes to try undermine HDG’s preaching?

Come on, these things should be well understood by now. There are plenty of material that inform us of Srila Prabhupada’s practical application of yukta-vairagya in regards of the preaching and practice.

The funny thing is that while arguing in favor of the ‘real’, ‘traditional’ Vedic-orthodox style, allegedly being violated by those devotees (-who are doing the real-thing; harinama-), some of the contributors are definitely using one of the most beloved representative of ‘western’ civilization; COMPUTERS! What about that violation of Vedic tradition? Isn’t this a purely western instrument? (Maybe the Japanese and other ‘orientals’ have a a lot to do with it, but still…).

I really feel for those prabhus in devotional clothes, surely singing devotional songs and most probably with a lot of devotional intentions. However, their presentation is compared to ‘a circus’, questioned if ‘it is approved by a Maharaja or GBC?’, and that they shoudn’t be using an accordion….(because it is in the ‘lower modes’!?).

I wonder who benefits most; those sincere devotees doing the ‘Prabhupada-thing’ (as when he chanted with hippies in the parks and whoever else - talk about ‘circus’ and ‘authorisation’) or some of us comfortably in the company of our computers looking for split hair arguments.

All glories to the Sankirtan devotees!!!

Comment posted by iksvaku dasa on July 29th, 2007
12 Unregistered

Yes. As long as the performance is not the Harinam, on the part of the devotees, it serves to attract many people to hear the Holy Name and participate - which is the purpose of Harinam - if not the sankirtan movement of Lord Caitanya

Comment posted by cbrahma on August 1st, 2007

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