Does Sex Attraction Bring People to Krishna?

28,360 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » Does Sex Attraction Bring People to Krishna?

Bir Krishna Goswami

Dear devotees,

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I would like to get some feedback concerning certain methods that I have seen devotees employ in order to attract people to Krishna consciousness. These methods utilize young attractive females.

One example is having devotees publically dance a “rasa-lila” enactment to modern music with a Krishna conscious theme.

Another is having ladies dance in such a way in Harinamas that attention becomes focused on them.

Do we think these ways are effective in spreading Lord Caitanya’s message?

Please give me some feedback.

Your servant, Bir Krishna das Goswami

Please click the "Like" button below if you haven't done so already!
 
 
 
28,360 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » Does Sex Attraction Bring People to Krishna?
 


Comments • [comment feed]

1 sita-pati

akama sakama va
moksakama udara dhih
tivrena bhakti yogena
yajeta purusa param

People come for all kinds of reasons.

I think if we just keep emphasizing the personal purity of the practitioner as the potency of the Harinam, all deviations will be left behind as we continue to advance. That means our own ulterior motives, and also deviant tendencies in the wider movement.

Comment posted by sita-pati on December 10th, 2007
2 Unregistered

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada !

As we read in Bhagavad Gita, Krsna consciousness is full with Sat-Cit-Ananda.
Truthfulness, Knowledge & Hapiness.

Srila prabhupada discouraged the use of pressure or any trick for attracting people into KC, as we read Srila Prabhupada’s view on book distribution & devotees using persuvasion & tricks for selling books, he chastised for such practice and had said that people should be attracted by the natural beauty of vedic wisdom, honesty & truthfulnes and hapiness that is reflected in the behavior of devotee. At that time people were complaing that they are being harassed & bugged by the devotees to buy Krsna books.

Same way, the street kirtans or public dance by devotees is done in true loving service to Lord Caitanya & his (devotees) true wish to serve the mission of Srila Prabhupada. Hence we should stick to the genuine practise of displaying true love to the Sankirtan Movement & not frame up the display which has any sly angle or any gimmick. If sex attraction is used in spreading the movement its a faulty idea & can bring only complications in the long term. Sex is the strongest bond of the material nature & the mind is so complex, that it can even cheat the devotee if he is living on two planes of Krsna consiousness & sense enjoyment.

Just as Srila Prabhupada says ” we are selling Diamonds & everybody cannot afford to buy diamonds”, so we need not use desperate means, we should follows the policy of previous acharyas & gurus in spreading the sankirtana movement. Creating sincere devotees from the present pool of devotees is very important, as a purified and advanced devotees automatically chanelizes resources and atttracts further devotees by mere his Vani- (speech) and Vapu (personality).

The people of demonic nature will never be attracted to Ksrna Consiousness nor people who continue to live sinful life even after coming into krsna consiousness will sustain the love of God for long time. srila Prabhupada says ” When a person wants to go to school, he must know what the school is, if he goes to the grocer stores & asks for school, its foolishness. The person must know what the school is & what the grocer store is” . So getting into the proces of kowing or following the Science of God is a priviledge and meant for the select few whom the lord grants mercy.

We should never attempt or think about using non-standard process of calling people or diluting the integrity of pureness of the process. Its like the dangers of DNA clonning, if we shift from the standard process, the next generations will take to higher steps of deviations & eventually it may again be like the so many Gods & processes we see in the world of following the process of self-realization.

Krsna Consciousness is such an rare & priceless gift a human can get. Its liberation granted by Mukunda straightaway on the Earth to his dear Devotee. We must keep it pure, simple and followed with rock-solid conviction. In Srila Prabhupada’s words keep the process and the Word Of God “AS - IT - IS”.

Its understandable the anguish sometimes we all feel that the Earth of 6 billion people only a miniscule percent is in Krsna Consiousness, but the moral & ethic has to be pure & genuine. Srila Prabhupada has aproved the use of technology for preaching purpose, so the resources for spreading is abundant, the lack is in the number of front-runners for the spreading the message of Godhead.

Your servant,

Haribol!

Comment posted by amolwa on December 10th, 2007
3 Kulapavana

Dear Maharaja,

I am not sure that we should equate using stage performances by our young female-bodied devotees with sales techniques employing sexual images. It is probably disrespectful to those devotees and may not be true at all. Who would you have playing the part of gopis in the rasa-dance? 50 year old ladies? Young boys? Old men? That would hardly be appropriate.

Out of many questionable tactics we have employed over the years in the spreading of our movement, this one is probably the least controversial and damaging. If we are showing young, happy devotees doing exciting things for Krsna, how can this be wrong? We want to send a message that nice, “normal” people also join our movement.

And by the way: why should we not call for scrutinizing performances of young boys on stage? After all they are a sexual image for roughly 50% of all people too.

Sometimes the offence is in the eye of the beholder.

Your servant - Kula-pavana dasa

Comment posted by Kulapavana on December 10th, 2007
4 Bir Krishna Goswami

A note of clarification:

I want to clarify my point in posing the question about using lust to attract people to Krishna consciousness.

I am against it 150% and so disgusted with the flagrant use of it in so
called “Rasa Lila” dances and in public harinamas that I was impelled to
post this article on dandavats. I want to see if others feel the same way or
not. That is my intention.

ys
BKG

Comment posted by Bir Krishna Goswami on December 10th, 2007
5 gargamuni

Maharaja,

Your description of what is happening on stage appears too vague to comment on. Is it that the girls are being overtly sexual, or is it that they happen to be in girl’s bodies that men would be naturally attracted?
Is it someone’s strategy to use sex to sell Krishna consciousness or is it just classical Indian dance merged with western influences that you are asking about?

Comment posted by gargamuni on December 10th, 2007
6 Pandu das

Dear Bir Krishna Goswami,

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

I think a fair comparison would be if we were to serve meat to the public (the material body is basically meat, after all) to attract them to chanting Hare Krishna. If am correctly recalling what I have read, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada said this could be done. I just hope it never has to happen like that.

One of Srila Prabhupada’s fundamental points was for us to learn to distinguish love from lust so that we can strive for pure love. Personally as an aspiring devotee struggling to become free from the modes of passion and ignorance, I could easily suffer agitation due to semi-erotic imagery, and that is definitely not what I look for in devotee association. I agree that we should do our best to appeal to people’s higher natures and avoid reinforcing the bodily conception of life.

Hare Krishna.

Sincerely, your servant,
Pandu das

Comment posted by Pandu das on December 10th, 2007
7 Unregistered

Dandavats to All Vaishnavas. Jaya Srila Prabhupada. Dandavats to BKG Maharaj
Traditionally in India women from respectable families do not take part in stage shows or public performances where their body is exposed. Even in plays where there are female roles, men will play the role of the females. This way the physical and mental integrity and chastity of everyone involved is protected. Women who do not adhere to such rules are considered “Society Women” which is a very mild term for a degraded lady. All those standards have degraded now.

I have seen ISKCON temple drama performances where women played the role of men to avoid unwanted interaction in such scenes. This is commendable and also within “contemporary practical” boundaries. In such Dramas the women playing the roles of both genders were well covered in terms of dress. Such a standard can be adopted where the traditional way is not practical.

The second point about ladies dancing in Harinamas is also to be noted for
1. Dancing in such a way as to attract attention
2. Improper attire (I have seen this at Ratha Yatra Harinams involving the youth groups/ bus tours). Many young ladies / Matajis, many even born in the movement wear their sarees way below their navel. That shows a very basic lack of cultural training bordering on indecency. That is definitely not helping to establish Iskcon as a moral spiritual authority but we have problems enforcing a high standard of decency among the youth in our society.

Finally
The Rasa Lila is not for cheap stage performances or PhD theses or Book publications. We are sending a message of cheap romance if we continue with this trend. It is meant for self realized persons to enter and relish the highest transcendental pastimes of Krishna. It is not meant for a naive and unqualified audience who are still attached to Samsara.

To do a public drama with women in Rasa Lila is an insult to Rasa Lila and the women’s family. We are facilitating offenses towards this highest Lila and to Krishna himself by continuing with this trend.

Ys
Sharath

Comment posted by sharathramaraj on December 10th, 2007
8 radhe108

Maharaj,
dandavats , All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
IMHO, it depends on how these activties are performed , if they are performed under the guidance and authority of Pure Vaishnavas then they must be auspicious . Otherwise , they may prove harmful . Same goes for the name of the event as well(as it is said ‘Rasa Lila’) . Whatever is the name, so be it. It is mostly a question of potency and spiritual strength of the leader who takes the initiative . During Srila Prabhupada’s time also , many lady disciples also danced in temples and in public as well. So it is not up to us to decide what is right or wrong. It is up to the Pure empowered Vaishnavas who can take charge. It is their decision their discretion.
Haribol, pranams.

Comment posted by radhe108 on December 10th, 2007
9 Unregistered

If we can utilise wealth, fame, knowledge, strength, and renunciation in Krishna’s service, then why not beauty too? I would have to ask whether the female devotees engaged in these dances feel exploited. I doubt it. Rather, they seem to be very happy to be able to engage their natural talents in devotional service. Both men and women can be attracted to join ISKCON by seeing the young ladies having a wonderful time in Krishna consciousness.

I haven’t seen any example of female devotees being forced into doing some Rasa Lila or Harinama dance against their will (I would be opposed to that of course). The only examples that I know about are ones where the ladies have taken the initiative themselves, because they like to perform and they believe that they can help attract others to Krishna consciousness in that way.

I think that such dances show people that women in ISKCON can engage their talents in various ways, have fun and be appreciated. If some men happen to notice that there are attractive young women in ISKCON, I don’t see a problem with that, and it might even inspire them to take up Krishna consciousness. Men will notice the attractive Vaisnavis whether they are dancing on stage, giving a Bhagavad-gita class, playing a musical instrument or just sitting around doing nothing.

My opinion is that these dances can be effective in attracting people to learn more about Krishna consciousness, or at least provide a favourable impression of ISKCON. Of course, that depends on the dancers having some natural talent for dancing and being well-rehearsed – if they are not very good at what they do they can have the opposite effect, but the same is true for any kind public presentation.

My only concern about such dances is that the dancers be properly protected in case they get hassled before, during, or after their performance. Female devotees sometimes get hassled even while dancing in a regular Harinama and it is the duty of the male devotees to step in and assist them.

Comment posted by Carana Renu dasi on December 10th, 2007
10 Unregistered

I know for a fact that people have become attracted to Krsna consciousness due to their sexual attraction for devotees, not just men for ladies, but also ladies for men. I have seen numerous times where someone who is not a devotee is sexually attracted to devotees, and then start going to the temple, and eventually become devotees. This is simply a fact of life. You cannot take the sexual attraction away from young good looking healthy people, unless you put them in burkhas. Since devotees usually present an “exotic” factor along with youthful beautiful devotees, this will naturally be sexually attractive to many people.

So the question being raised by Maharaja is, are the current actions of female devotees, when they engage in plays and harinam, effective in spreading Krsna consciousness? Obviously yes. I have seen this many times where people are interested in the devotees and then become devotees themselves.

Then Maharaja tells us that he is 150% against it. I am curious as to understand why? Is it because they are young and beautiful? Or do they seem to you to be doing something that non-devotees will find to be overly sexual? If it is the former, I don’t see any problem, what if they were not beautiful and young, would that be better? How about the men who are young and handsome? Are they also improperly acting if they dance in a way that may arouse sexual feelings in women? If it is the latter, I am sure that is not the case. Devotee women appear far more chaste in appearence then what current western fashion dictates as modest. In India many people are accepting western fashion trends as normal, to many of them, devotee women appear very conservative. So I don’t see the problem, at least from what I have seen, which is a lot since there are countless videos of harinams and performances by ISKCON ladies from all over the world on websites like youtube. What they do seems very conservative by pretty much any standard, except maybe for Islamic countries and the most ultra conservative hindus, nethier of which are the target audience of ISKCON. What would you have the devotee ladies do? Stop participating? Follow ultra orthodox standards which will be appreciated by almost no one and seen as demeaning to the majority? Any of this will be bad for the devotee ladies enthusiasm for service, and for public perception of ISKCON.

Someone first mentioned that in India women from “respectable families” don’t show their bodies when performing dramas, then he goes on to claim that men will play female roles, and that women who don’t adhere to this standard (which one?) are considered low class “society women”. Well maybe that is true to some extent in some place in India, but I have to disagree with claiming that it is the standard all over India, or even a widely held view. Profesional women actors and dancers are highly respected all over India, without their resorting to some Islamic orthodox standard of “decency”. I doubt there is any woman in India more respected, and even worshipped, then Aiswarya Rai, isn’t it so? If some famous Bollywood actress shows an interest in ISKCON, that is seen as a good thing isn’t it? Wouldn’t she be treated as a major coup for ISKCON interests?

Even so, the standard in India is not the standard for most of the world. If we want to succesfully spread Krsna consciousness then we should respect the reason Srila Prabhupada told us he added female participation in ISKCON in the first place.

Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 7.38

sabā nistārite prabhu kṛpā-avatāra
sabā nistārite kare cāturī apāra

SYNONYMS

sabā — all; nistārite — to deliver; prabhu — the Lord; kṛpā — mercy; avatāra — incarnation; sabā — all; nistārite — to deliver; kare — did; cāturī — devices; apāra — unlimited.

TRANSLATION

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in order to deliver all the fallen souls. Therefore He devised many methods to liberate them from the clutches of māyā.

PURPORT

It is the concern of the ācārya to show mercy to the fallen souls. In this connection, deśa-kāla-pātra (the place, the time and the object) should be taken into consideration. Since the European and American boys and girls in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement preach together, less intelligent men criticize that they are mingling without restriction. In Europe and America boys and girls mingle unrestrictedly and have equal rights; therefore it is not possible to completely separate the men from the women. However, we are thoroughly instructing both men and women how to preach, and actually they are preaching wonderfully. Of course, we very strictly prohibit illicit sex. Boys and girls who are not married are not allowed to sleep together or live together, and there are separate arrangements for boys and girls in every temple. Gṛhasthas live outside the temple, for in the temple we do not allow even husband and wife to live together. The results of this are wonderful. Both men and women are preaching the gospel of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Lord Kṛṣṇa with redoubled strength. In this verse the words sabā nistārite kare cāturī apāra indicate that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted to deliver one and all. Therefore it is a principle that a preacher must strictly follow the rules and regulations laid down in the śāstras yet at the same time devise a means by which the preaching work to reclaim the fallen may go on with full force.

Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 23.105

yukta-vairāgya-sthiti saba śikhāila
śuṣka-vairāgya-jñāna saba niṣedhila

SYNONYMS

yukta-vairāgya — of proper renunciation; sthiti — the situation; saba — all; śikhāila — instructed; śuṣka-vairāgya — dry renunciation; jñāna — speculative knowledge; saba — all; niṣedhila — forbade.

TRANSLATION

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then told Sanātana Gosvāmī about proper renunciation according to a particular situation, and the Lord forbade dry renunciation and speculative knowledge in all respects.

PURPORT

This is the technique for understanding śuṣka-vairāgya and yukta-vairāgya. In the Bhagavad-gītā (6.17) it is said:

yuktāhāra-vihārasya yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā

“He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.” To broadcast the cult of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one has to learn the possibility of renunciation in terms of country, time and candidate. A candidate for Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the Western countries should be taught about the renunciation of material existence, but one would teach candidates from a country like India in a different way. The teacher (ācārya) has to consider time, candidate and country. He must avoid the principle of niyamāgraha — that is, he should not try to perform the impossible. What is possible in one country may not be possible in another. The ācārya’s duty is to accept the essence of devotional service. There may be a little change here and there as far as yukta-vairāgya (proper renunciation) is concerned. Dry renunciation is forbidden by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and we have also learned this from our spiritual master, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Gosvāmī Mahārāja. The essence of devotional service must be taken into consideration, and not the outward paraphernalia.

(…)

A Vaiṣṇava is immediately purified, provided he follows the rules and regulations of his bona fide spiritual master. It is not necessary that the rules and regulations followed in India be exactly the same as those in Europe, America and other Western countries. Simply imitating without effect is called niyamāgraha. Not following the regulative principles but instead living extravagantly is also called niyamāgraha. The word niyama means “regulative principles,” and āgraha means “eagerness.” The word agraha means “not to accept.” We should not follow regulative principles without an effect, nor should we fail to accept the regulative principles. What is required is a special technique according to country, time and candidate. Without the sanction of the spiritual master, we should not try to imitate. This principle is recommended here: śuṣka-vairāgya-jñāna saba niṣedhila. This is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s liberal demonstration of the bhakti cult. We should not introduce anything whimsically, without the sanction of the bona fide spiritual master. In this connection, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura comments on these points by quoting two verses by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.255-256).

anāsaktasya viṣayān yathārham upayuñjatah
nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe yuktaḿ vairāgyam ucyate
prāpañcikatayā buddhyā hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumukṣubhiḥ parityāgo vairāgyaḿ phalgu kathyate

“When one is not attached to anything but at the same time accepts everything in relation to Kṛṣṇa, one is rightly situated above possessiveness. On the other hand, one who rejects everything without knowledge of its relationship to Kṛṣṇa is not as complete in his renunciation.” To preach the bhakti cult, one should seriously consider these verses.

Comment posted by shiva on December 10th, 2007
11 Unregistered

My experience is that many of the young women of ISKCON, especially including the youth on the bus tours, are often the best singers, dancers and actors. They are often the most qualified to make an attractive Krishna conscious presentation to the public; in addition to looking nice. Furthermore, young devotees need to be empowered and encouraged, especially to take leadership roles. Otherwises, what will be the future of our movement? I think to just force the young girls in our movement to hide and wear lots of extra clothing would be quite disempowering, an obstacle to their spiritual development and a loss for our movement.

If the sannyasis and brahmacharis don’t feel as though participating in those types of presentations are healthy for their renunciation, then that is their prerogative, and they should use their own spiritual intelligence to make those types of decisions. But I don’t think they should be imposing their needs on everyone else.

Do we really want to be a movement for repressed renunciates?

Comment posted by Omia on December 11th, 2007
12 varahanarasimha

dear Bhir Krsna Maharaja
Please accept my humble obaisences
all glories to Srila Prabhupada
Obviously this must have something you have seen outside your own zone otherwise you surely would have said something I am sure. However being a senior devotee, Guru and memeber of the GBC it seems in each case you should discuss, with the GBC’s in that zone.
Srila Prabhupada wanted sannyasis to travel and make sure a proper standard is there in each place, often sannyasis do however not ‘dare ” to speak out to not become unpopular, but this should not be a sannyasis concern , if something is not up to standard , you should please speak out. I agree this use of women in an exploitive way as you are describing is not pure bhakti - anyabhilasita sunyam–this vers is our guideline for all we do in KC- everything we are trying to do in KC, is trying to meet that standard if not, we should always reject it.It sounds this Rasa lila stuff is rather bogus- and minimum over sentimental, and for a sannyasi easy can seem using lust to attract others to KC, unfortunalty there is all kinds of levels of mixed devotional service –what you have described sounds like another aspect of Karma misra bhakti- don’t feel it is disrespectfull
to speak out on this….purity is the force…..KC is no sentimental proscess—sentimental
referes to senses -and mind , KC must be on the spiritual platform
your humble servant
Payonidhi das

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on December 11th, 2007
13 Unregistered

It is an interesting question - We can see that in the bhagavatam there are numerous examples where Women have been traditionally more in the background as in Chaste
in there role in society -

There is though at same time a tradition of dance and drama in vedic Culture that is also seen expressed as well

Therefore such dance or Drama has always been part of festivities in Vedic Culture so its not a new phenomena

It is also a fact that one can definitly conclude that effulgent women stressed nicely and decorated with earings and gold jewerly silk saris or fancy saris etc is a very attractive sight etc -

In the bhagavatam it is mentioned that such a sight in the eyes of a man brings happiness to the mind of a man and of course we know that such sight can be at times bewildering even to the greatest sages practicing renouncement -

So there is no doubt that there is some attraction and that such organized Dance Drama etc will attract some additional souls to Krsna -

The same though could be said for effulgent brahmacaris and sanyasis going out preaching - many women will also be attracted towards such purer oplulence as renounciation is also an oplulence and after all men dance as well -

So It seems that if such dance and Drama is performed in a traditioanl way with traditional dress and in KC or centred around KC then there is no harm -

I think its important though that the dress is not to much revealing - for instance in traditional indian Culture we see that women are basically more of a problem for a man to contend with than visa versa -That is why in traditional vedic culture a women covered her hair and even in Vraja and Mathura Rajasthana and s0me other places in India women will immediatly cover themsleves fully including ther faces from being seen - as an act of chasity and compassion towards men who may be bewildered due to attraction as they are aware and consciou of there beauty as its effects on the mind of men

So generally women class in general were kept in more chaste disposition in terms of there dress and behaviour in society - for instance not showing navel areas chest area under armpits and other sensitive areas - which is now a commen practice by women in most countries as part of fashion changes that has taken place in last 100 yrs or so -

Even we can see that going back 50 to 100 yrs in times in Brittian for instance in Victorian times women would be fully clothed at all times and not show any areas like chest areas or under armpits or navel areas showing off there bodies in these sensitive areas -

Now because there is wide spread slackness in dress code based on a market driven force capilitlism that has harnessed the power of sex attrcation to sell anything and everything -women as a class have been grossly exploited in the name of so called freedom of expression - especially in western culture -

The same change in more taraditonal dressing has been gradually sutly and grossly been appearing in some devotee women dress at times - if you look at some of the older photos in early days- say 60s and 70s you will hardly see any such exposure of navel area chest area and under armpits - but now in many temples and at times of festivals it occurs often- Surely women are aware of the sutle eeffects that such exposure has on men as it is a conscious choise to dress one way or the other for whatever reasons that they do so -

As we know there are different ways to arrange a sari so as to cover these areas more than less so to speak- it is a matter of conscious recognition of such exposure and its sutle effects on men and a conscious decision to dress in a way that is either less revealing or more revealing -

At times Ive seen that some not only dress in more revealing fashionable way but also tend to at the same time conscioulsy or psycholologically sutly battle with this by constantly fidgetting to mend there clothes to minimise such exposure around men -

Which of coures tends to draw more attention to such areas - the more obvious and commen sense less of an endevour way to go about it -would be to dress more fully in the first place -and thus spare the mens minds from be subject to this constant fidgetting and and ajustmenst being made and on the womems part there would be less time spent ajusting and correcting the exposure all the time an d being nervous in these ways -
So both would be winners in these sutle ways -

I feel at times there is a certain slackness around that is questionable at times and is also very much part of this disscussion as well - sure climate may have some role to play but Vedic Culture is Vedic Culture - sure there is a strong market driven force around or more of a scoiety peer pressure going on amongst women to mimic the more slack western dress fashion styles -so that is currently mostly to blame

So I think that such Dance or Drama is ok if done decently and is aftre all part of vedic culture and having women fully dressed in more traditional Indian dress and not showing these areas to general public or to also devotees in general -

In 4h canto King Prithu teachings it is said that a chaste women is an auspicious source of strength to the man- so if womens shakti can in a more harmless way bring someone closer to Krsna -as in through dance or drama attract even one soul to turn away from maya then that is a great achievement and surely pleasing to Krsna -

Aftre all Srila Bhaktivedanta Sarasvati once said -that if he could make one devotee by using the funds from selling the Marble from a temple to save one soul from maya - then he would do so - such is the intense desire of a vaisnava to turn one soul back towards Krsnas lotus feet -

So I think there is no harm in utlizing such aspects of Vedic Culture to help to attract people to Krsna- if its done performed in a decent and reasonable KC way - as part of a complete programme as in kirtan class distribution of Prasadam book selling and Sadhu Sanga offered to conditioned souls etc -

Comment posted by bkt-jace on December 11th, 2007
14 Shyamasundara Dasa

Dear Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Bhakti-vighna-vinasa Narasimhadeva Bhagavan ki jaya!

I just want to make four quick points.

1 I agree with comment #5, your description is too vague, give some clear examples.

2 Indradyumna Svami utilizes attractive “cultured” ladies very effectively in presenting KC in Poland.

3 Kubja was attracted by “sex” attraction.

4 I suggest that you ask this question to several senior devotees with a lot of experience in this field, their opinion will have value.

Your humble servant

Shyamasundara Dasa

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on December 11th, 2007
15 Citraketu dasa

Hare Krsna!

Please accept my humble obeisances!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada and all pure Vaisnava devotees of the Lord!

I would like to comment on this. I do not wish to offend anyone or speak out of place.

I personally believe that modern music with a Krsna conscious theme might be acceptable for some kind of performance. But, that might also depend on time and circumstance. However, the “rasa-lila” is a high risk performance to undertake. It would probably be best to get authorization from the local Temple authorities if not GBC before proceeding with a production like this.

Again I would say this is high-risk. These ladies or whomever is in charge may need help to understand some better way to present Harinam. This is one charge against Krsna consciousness that might be overlooked. Materialistics like to point out any moral discrepancy in Krsna consciousness and probably due to their lack of understanding Lord Krsna’s pastimes. It seems too easy to let our guard down.

My belief is that these ways you mention are the least effective way to spread Lord Caitanya’s message at least in comparison to other types of direct Krsna conscious presentations. The young ladies involved and those in charge may not realize the seriousness of how we present Krsna consciousness. They may not fully understand how we are to take the Rasa dance seriously.

There is a passage about the “meat” comment I would like to add.

[Hansaduta and I were quite amazed to hear this. We must have looked a little shocked because Prabhupada reassured us, “We will never serve meat. But the idea is that if visitors feel too much inconvenience from our rules, then arrangement can be made for tea or coffee, or even betel or bidi. Not exactly in the guest house, but some kind of shop in the front of the Gurukula building where they can get these things. We can even bring them tea into the guest house if need be. But we want that people will come. We want to give them the opportunity for spiritual life, and therefore we have temple and guest house combined.”]
Biographies and Glorification of Srila Prabhupada
A Transcendental Diary Vol. 4 - Hari Sauri dasa
Vol. 4 - August 1976 - October 1976
TD 4-5: Sri Vrndavana-dhama
Sept. 29th, 1976

I hope some of this helps someone.

Your servant in Krsna consciousness,

Citraketu dasa

Comment posted by Citraketu dasa on December 11th, 2007
16 Akruranatha

I agree with the commenters who say that specific concrete examples are needed before we can pass judgment.

Obviously I thin everyone agrees in principle that Krishna conscious women should be chaste and should not be used as prostitutes or in a prostitute-like way (like the gypsies who bewildered Lord Caitanya’s servant Krishna Dasa).

Many of the non-ISKCON bharatanatyam performances I have seen, though not what I would call “unchaste” (i.e., they were not designed to arouse the sexual appetite, like pornography), still had the fault that they were presenting Krishna and the gopis in a very mundane way, without any feel for the real moods of the characters.

Even some of the widely acclaimed Indian dramas involving Krishna lila seem lacking from this point of view.

On the other hand, when I see the vasant rasa lila performance of the “Ranganiketan” troup of dancers from Manipur organized by H.H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja, I think what a wonderful cultural presentation of Krishna consciousness it is. It brings tears to my eyes to appreciate the beauty of these performances.

Dressing nicely on Harinama is important. We are out there to glorify the sound vibration of the holy names, but paying attention to being neat in appearance and being musically melodious will help us properly glorify. Dancing nicely is important, too.

When we go out on Harinama in Palo Alto once a month, the ladies from the temple dance blissfully together and have a good time. Other girls walking by are inspired to join in the kirtan and dance with them, learning their steps. It is very nice.

Maybe it is a tribute to the crowd on University Avenue that we do not get too many low class men leering at or insulting the ladies. Sometimes a drunkard or madman comes by, but usually they mind their manners.

One of the first times I went to the temple (I must have been 15 years old), my girlfriend tried to prevent me from going, but when I insisted on going for the Sunday feast, she tagged along. She may have been predisposed to not like what she saw there. [This would have been 1974, in the Miami temple in Coconut Grove]

One of the things she saw there was that the men were dancing in a circle blissfully together with big smiles, and the ladies were off in the background looking glum. She asked one devotee lady, “why are the men all dancing happily and not the women?”, and according to what she told me later, the lady replied “we still haven’t finished our chores.”

Anyway, I have my doubts that the lady devotee did say that, but my girlfriend had this impression of the Hare Krishnas as a society in which men had all the fun and women had only toil, drudgery and gloom. As I say, this girl wanted to find fault. She found many other faults, too. (She offered to donate her pet rabbit, and a brahmacari told her “animals are dirty”, which was anathema to her.)

I think women on sankirtan should dress properly, be neat and not flaunt their bodies in a sexually suggestive way, but they should definitely dance in bliss and have fun. Krishna consciousness is blissful for everyone.

Some people in the old days used to tell women book distributors to flirt with men to get bigger donations. Of course I think everyone condemns that policy. Also, for obvious reasons, men on book distribution should not flirt with women, either.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on December 11th, 2007
17 anandadd

Dear Devotees,

It has been really wonderful to read the variety of comments and perspectives from the the Vaisnavas. This, so far, I believe is the first perspective coming from a Mother and former bramacarini. This is from the perspective of training, elevating and encouraging women. I think it takes a little bravery not to post this anonymously, but there are some things I would like to say and hope that it is well taken.

I want to draw on one of the comments

“that a chaste women is an auspicious source of strength to the man”

Also, the comments made ‘not to discourage the women,’ and that ‘preaching is the essence’

Simply put, I think it is important to think of our young women as true Yogini’s (at the very least, in training.) And that we can draw on basic qualities to decide if a particular service proper engagement. By focusing on the qualities I think women can feel encouraged and in the exhilaration of being on a growing edge. I also wish that we as a movement focused more on cultivating and noticing these qualities in women, rather than the physical things. These four (4) qualities when embodied tend to embody chastity. Maybe others can think of other qualities also.

1) grace 2) nobility 3) kindness 4) the capacity to elevate beyond the physical platform

and also to train women to have the habit not only of external discrimation in terms of fashion, but to view people on a regular basis on a level of qualities.

Young women especially tend to feel a natural need to be beautiful and noticed, but there are ways to channel that that elevate and do not degrade. Who better to help with this than our mothers or future mothers anyway!

For example as a rubric: Is my dress for this service graceful, is it noble, is it kind, does it elevate?

And the same, Is this service/preaching graceful, noble, kind?

(To myself, to Srila Prabhupadas intentions, to men, to the movement, to those who attend?)

A society of Krishna Conscious women (young, in between and old women) like this, would be very inspiring, safe, nurturing and very, very attractive-by nature.

Begging for the mercy of the Vaisnavas,

Your servant,
Ananda dd (now in New Orleans, most recently in NYC)

Comment posted by anandadd on December 11th, 2007
18 kavicandra swami

I recently saw the Rasa dance in Manipura. There were 108 Krsnas and 108 Gopis. They were all about 7 seven years old, dressed with veils and the big Manipura dresses, and tilak. It was very charming and only a pervert would have been sexually aroused.

I have seen the Polish Festival harinam parties. HH INdradyumna Swami always keeps the ladies in the front. They are dressed in beautiful saris, flowers in their hair and wearing garlands. On the beach or in the midst of the partially dressed guests at the Woodstock festival, they uplift everyone’s consciousness. Their dancing attracts many others to join in and gradually start chanting. On the beach many bring their children to have their photo taken with the devotees. It all looks very nice to me. One drunk said to me, “you have the best women”.

Comment posted by kavicandra swami on December 11th, 2007
19 Damana Krishna dasa

I had also my doubt that such performaces are useful for propagating the KC philosophy. Rasa dance is a very intimate personal activity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Caitanya never spoke about it in public. Dramas he performed in association of devotees he considered to be qualified enough for such performances. Madhva, Ramanuja, etc never discussed even about this. Srila Prabhupada also at least to my knowledge didnt put any rasa lila performance on stage. My opinion is that it is doubtful that people who get attracted by nice appealing movements of oposite sex will be able to apply something of our spiritual practice. Maybe they will come to get married to some of this performers, but not neccesarily they will have interest to stay practicing even if they success in their effort to marry or even live together. Maybe even they will get the wrong idea of Krishna’s activities. In India there are many performances of such dances, but doubtfully any of this made some practicing devotees. Srila Prabhupada could attract people by purity and straight preaching with pure knowledge. If people see enjoying devotees they may get a shock when asked to follow 4 regulative principles. I have many times observed that Matajis especially those new coming are very much attracted to “go on stage” where they can be observed by oposite gender. But the enthusiasm for other at least so powerful services like book distribution doesnt seem there. So could be this makes a wrong habit in devotee. Maybe its same for male, but I have not seen many male performances so far. I am very happy this topic was brought to the discussion by HH Bir Krishna Maharaja.

Comment posted by Damana Krishna dasa on December 12th, 2007
20 sita-pati

Some one made the comment that “in traditional Vedic culture a wom(a)n covered her hair”.

My understanding is that the head covering is a cultural import that came into India with the Muslim invasion.

It depends on which period of traditional Vedic culture we are talking, but representatively in Vedic culture women braided their hair, but did not cover it.

Comment posted by sita-pati on December 12th, 2007
21 Suresh das

Women will always look beautiful to material eyes. They will never change, nor should we expect them to. What must change, for men, is our vision. The sign of success in spiritual life is one’s ability to be in a room with very beautiful women, but not be disturbed. That is what we are all seeking. Srila Prabhupada stated that if a brahmacari looks into the face of a women, and thinks she is very beautiful, then it is to be considered a subtle falldown. For most materialistic men, they want to fall down, again and again, and always remain victimized. A materialistic man can not understand why this is a bad thing. We know it is wrong because it leads us to another birth, perhaps as an animal. For myself, I would like to just come to the platform of not desiring to falldown.

Comment posted by Suresh das on December 12th, 2007
22 sita-pati

I have many times observed that Matajis especially those new coming are very much attracted to “go on stage” where they can be observed by oposite gender. But the enthusiasm for other at least so powerful services like book distribution doesnt seem there. So could be this makes a wrong habit in devotee.

This is my observation and concern also. The focus, especially in formative stages, needs to be on the personal purity of the performer, not material arrangements. Otherwise the person engaged in this way may be learning to water anarthas alongside the bhakti creeper.

I have seen people who were brought up in this way, and who are later in devotional life struggling to disentangle the two. Bhanu Swami spoke about it recently in this way:

Many devotees join with certain stubborn anarthas which are not dissolved by bhakti, because the anarthas themselves create aparadhas which prevent bhakti from dissolving the anarthas. and as a result bhakti is used to shelter those anarthas, which then have opportunity to remain dormant or grow in certain circumstances. the question is: how to handle those anarthas (complexes, dysfunctionality) when their very nature negates the bhakti process even after decades of practice.

One Vaisnava acarya engaged a gang of thieves to collect to build a temple by stealing. Mission accomplished - but what happened to the persons so engaged according to their propensity? He killed them by sinking them in a boat mid-river.

So we need to be careful that we don’t successfully attract men by encouraging women to dance in public harinam in this way, only to sink the women mid-river…

I think one immediate and obvious point is this: anyone dancing in this way without chanting the Holy Name with enthusiasm is in a very precarious position.

Comment posted by sita-pati on December 12th, 2007
23 Unregistered

Dear Bir Krsna Maharaja.
pamho. agtSP.

Ladies in ISKCON are often struggling with finding peace in marriage life. Public performances like Rasa-lila are not helping in this at all. Girls can (and do) thus develop a sense of independence, being self-sufficient and being attractive to male gender, and struggle with this.

One thing is expert dancer, who is trained to interact with public. But in ISKCON Rasa-lila, this is usually not the case. Some young girls, not even initiated, are picked on sunday feast, and pushed on the stage with minimal training in KC. I can only imagine what that does to their minds, and what impression it leaves, especially after they distance themselves from ISKCON.

It is not an easy decision, but besides benefits for ISKCON institution, please consider the feelings of those dancing ladies too. They are exploited at least to some degree. Surely, they dance for Krsna, hopefully, the best they can as young ISKCON devotees, but….., we all know what was the mind is like after just few months or years in KC.

Besides, such public performances have to do with girl’s respect. Srila Prabhupada mentioned, that it is not respectable for a girl to dance for men, even for a husband. What to speak of dancing for nondevotee men on party events. Developing the taste for being attractive in public can actualy damage girl’s shyness, and certain male devotees may think twice before marrying such publically exposed girl. On the other hand, other type of male may become attracted to exposed girl.

I guess it all comes down to what we want to do with this ISKCON that we inherited from Srila Prabhupada. Do we preffer brahminical standards of vaisnavism, or are we more into something that we may consider so-called more entertaining and interesting?

ys gauradasa

Comment posted by gauradasa on December 12th, 2007
24 Shyamasundara Dasa

Sitapati said:

“Some one made the comment that “in traditional Vedic culture a wom(a)n covered her hair”.

My understanding is that the head covering is a cultural import that came into India with the Muslim invasion.

It depends on which period of traditional Vedic culture we are talking, but representatively in Vedic culture women braided their hair, but did not cover it”

————–

This is a copy of text I sent to another forum last July when the same subject was raised hopefully the moderator will leave the links in even if they are not live:

Dear Maharajas, Prabhus and Matajis,

Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Bhakti-vijna-vinasa Narasimhadeva Bhagavan ki jaya!

In the following section of Mahabharata Adi Parva chapter 210 we find that Draupadi came before Narada Muni wearing a veil:

“The virtuous princess of Panchala, worshipping the celestial Rishi’s feet, stood with joined hands before him, properly veiled.”

The same translation is found in both the Gangully edition and MN Dutta edition of Mahabharata, full text below.

In the Ramayana, there is one scene when Ravana came to the Ashokavana to convince (bully) Sita to be his wife. Sita had been stripped of all her belongings (but was not naked) and had been tortured by the Rakshasis. Still when Ravana stood before her, Sita took a blade of grass in her hand and held it between her and Ravana as a symbolic gesture of her being veiled and shielded from a strange man.

In South India women cover their heads with a string of flowers.

Srila Prabhupada indicates in his writing that Maharaja Yayati cursed two of his sons and that their descendents became the Greeks, Romans, and Turks. Indeed there is evidence to suggest a lot of cultural exchange between ancient India and other countries if we look at it from the point of view of a large world culture which gradually broke down and fragmented with the start and progress of Kali yuga. Why do I raise this point? Because there is evidence to indicate that the custom of high class and cultured women covering their head and even faces to be quite pervasive in many parts of the ancient world well before Islamic times.

I recently read the “Iliad”, there I learned that when Andromache, a princess of Lydia, and wife of Hector, prince of Ilium (Troy), heard that her husband had died at the hands of Achilles that Andromache fainted and her veil came off her face.

In the “Odyssey”, Odysseus is wandering for ten years (after the ten year long Trojan war) and trying to get back to Ithaka. In the mean time many men approach his chaste wife Penelope in hopes of marrying her. Homer writes that when the male suitors came before Penelope and the ladies of her court that she and her female associates took their robes and covered their faces so as not to be seen by men in public.

In Rome respectable women also covered their bodies when they went out in public.

“At the time of her marriage, the Roman woman donned the stola, a long, sleeveless tunic, frequently if not always suspended at the shoulders from short straps, which was worn on top of another tunic. It is probable that the stola was typically made of undyed wool. The stola was a symbol of marriage, and by the late Republic all women married according to Roman law were entitled to wear it. Not all did, of course, since it was not a particularly fashionable or flattering garment, but wearing the stola was a way for a woman to publicly proclaim her respectability and adherence to tradition. Statues of the first empress Livia, for example, prominently display her stola, even this one whose head has been lost (a close-up clearly shows the strap of her stola).

As the drawing at left shows, respectable women also wore a long cloak, called a palla, over their tunic and stola when they went outside. This was rectangular in shape and was typically draped over the left shoulder, under the right arm and back across the body, carried by the left arm or thrown back again over the left shoulder. The palla could also be pulled up to cover the head, as shown in the above statue of Livia or in this depiction of a matron whose elegantly draped palla has a fringe.”

http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/clothing2.html

I have attached a few images of Roman women from the Capitoline Museum in Rome. As described in the quote above they have their heads covered by the “palla.”

The following link is a depiction of how respectable women dressed in classical Rome from Classical Studies Department, The Open University, Walton Hall Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/cla.....strip1.htm

In conclusion the evidence from Mahabharata seems to suggest that respectable women covering their heads is pre-Islamic and indeed covering of the head by respectable women was a cross cultural phenomena. I suggest that they (including Islamic) have common origin in Krsna’s Vedic culture.

Your humble servant

Shyamasundara Dasa

Regarding the following statement:

“but representatively in Vedic culture women braided their hair”

Braiding of hair and other ways of controlling the hair was especially in reference to cleanliness associated with cooking and deity worship at home. Cultured people followed brahminical culture and its standards of cleanliness. When relaxing in the privacy of her home, sleeping or if ill a cultured woman need not keep her hair braided. But if she was engaged in cooking or near where deity worship or yajna was being performed she would braid her hair to keep loose hair from contaminating the area. There are instances in sastra where a king was cursed for serving a rishi food contaminated with hair. Since the main business of Brahminical culture was the worship of the Lord, His servants were always engaged in some form of devotional service requiring high standards of cleanliness hence the general dictum of respectable women always keeping braided hair.

Mahabharata Adi Parva

SECTION CCX

(Rajya-labha Parva)

“Janamejaya said, ‘O thou possessed of ascetic wealth, what did those
high-souled ones, my grandsires, the illustrious Pandavas, do, after
obtaining the kingdom of Indraprastha? How did their wife Draupadi obey
them all? How is it also that no dissensions arose amongst those
illustrious rulers of men, all attached to one wife, viz., Krishna? O
thou of the wealth of asceticism, I wish to hear everything in detail
regarding the behaviour towards one another of those rulers of men after
their union with Krishna.’

“Vaisampayana said, ‘Those scorchers of foes, the Pandavas, having
obtained their kingdom, at the command of Dhritarashtra, passed their
days in joy and happiness at Khandavaprastha with Krishna. And
Yudhishthira. endued with great energy and ever adhering to truth, having
obtained the sovereignty, virtuously ruled the land, assisted by his
brothers. And the sons of Pandu, endued with great wisdom and devoted to
truth and virtue, having vanquished all their foes, continued to live
there in great happiness. And those bulls among men, seated on royal
seats of great value, used to discharge all the duties of government. And
one day, while all those illustrious heroes were so seated, there came
unto them the celestial Rishi Narada, in course of his wanderings.
Beholding the Rishi, Yudhishthira offered him his own handsome seat. And
after the celestial Rishi had been seated, the wise Yudhishthira duly
offered him the Arghya with his own hands. And the king also informed the
Rishi of the state of his kingdom. The Rishi accepting the worship,
became well-pleased, and eulogising him with benedictions, commanded the
king to take his seat. Commanded by the Rishi, the king took his seat.
Then the king sent word unto Krishna (in the inner apartments) of the
arrival of the illustrious one. Hearing of the Rishi’s arrival Draupadi,
purifying herself properly, came with a respectful attitude to where
Narada was with the Pandavas. The virtuous princess of Panchala,
worshipping the celestial Rishi’s feet, stood with joined hands before
him, properly veiled, The illustrious Narada, pronouncing various
benedictions on her, commanded the princess to retire. After Krishna had
retired, the illustrious Rishi, addressing in private all the Pandavas
with Yudhishthira at their head, said, ‘The renowned princess of Panchala
is the wedded wife of you all. Establish a rule amongst yourselves so
that disunion may not arise amongst you. There were, in former days,
celebrated throughout the three worlds, two brothers named Sunda and
Upasunda living together and incapable of being slain by anybody unless
each slew the other. They ruled the same kingdom, lived in the same
house, slept on the same bed, sat on the same seat, and ate from the same
dish. And yet they killed each for the sake of Tilottama. Therefore, O
Yudhishthira, preserve your friendship for one another and do that which
may not produce disunion amongst you.’

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on December 12th, 2007
25 Dvijapriya dasi

Thank you maharaja for bringing up this issue. Though some may think it politically incorrect, it needs to be discussed

It’s wonderful seeing properly dressed, chaste young ladies, engaging in drama, dancing and so on. A good example are the many beautiful girls on the Polish tour that Indradyumna maharaja organizes. So many of the youth are attracted and young ladies flock to the sari booth and are eager to dress like the devotee girls.

Unfortunately, many of our devotee girls are adopting the Britney Speers way of dressing by exposing too much of their bodies. It’s unattractive, unchaste and definitely sends the wrong message. Not so long ago, my teenage son told a young lady (his peer) to cover her exposed body in front of a sanyasis. The father of the girl chastised him saying it was inappropriate. I don’t know where I heard this but it applies.”If you speak nonsense they’ll praise you but if you speak the truth they’ll ridicule you.”

The following excerpt for Srila Prabhupada’s purport to SB 6:5:14 says it all.

“Today it has become a much advertised fashion for a woman to go almost naked, covering the lower part of her body only slightly, in order to draw the attention of a man to her private parts for sexual enjoyment. The intelligence engaged to attract a man to the lower part of the body is the intelligence of a professional prostitute”

So mothers teach your daughters to dress in a chaste manner both in the temple and out and to forget tattoos as they just bring attention to the parts of the body they’re displayed on.

Thank you Syamasundara prabhu for the detailed information regarding covering the head. It’s interesting that when you look at the old Iskcon movies the matajis always covered their heads.

Your servant,
Dvijapriya dasi

Comment posted by Dvijapriya dasi on December 12th, 2007
26 Suresh das

I would like to clarify “being in a room with beautiful women” does not mean being alone with them. According to Srila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Prabhupada, this is a very dangerous position, for any man. Even to be alone with a female child, or a relative, or one’s own mother is great danger. Even to look at a statue or a doll of a woman’s body can be agitating for men. But for ordinary social conventions, such as a temple room with women, or out on sankirtan or harinam, or at festivals, the test of our advancement, and the sign that the Krishna Conscious process works, we must not feel attracted, even to the most beautiful women. So many religions, and religious leaders fail, because they can not overcome this point. Even from modern society’s already low standards, a man must control himself in public, or be punished by law.

Perhaps for some of us, it is not possible to interact with women at all, and for those devotees, they must live apart from society. Srila Prabhupada stated “out of sight, out of mind”. What is the answer to this problem? It seems to be one of the greatest, unsolvable mysteries for men.

Comment posted by Suresh das on December 12th, 2007
27 Bir Krishna Goswami

I would like to be more specific about my request for feedback.

First of all I am interested in getting feedback from all the devotees. I consider the feedback I get from all devotees equally valuable. My belief is that Krishna speaks through all the Vaisnavas equally depending of course on their level of spiritual advancement, It is not necessarily true that those with a position in the hierarchy are more in touch with Krishna than others. When I referred to Rasa Lila dancing I was not referring to traditional Indian dance but rather dances portraying Krishna’s loving relationship with the Gopis done to modern music. Specifically the song Syama. This dance is done publically (parks, streets, etc) as a means of preaching.

As far as the comment about Harinamas is concerned it was in relationship to Harinamas where the women are arranged in such a way as to draw attention to themselves (physically) rather than to the mantra.

Thinking about it more deeply I am basically concerned about how people will see Prabhupada’s movement and whether or not they will take us seriously. I doubt that any serious religious society would employ means that would be seen as questionable in attracting people. I am trying to see ourselves through the eyes of the people who are not Krishna conscious, especially the intelligent class of men that Srila Prabhupada wanted to attract.

When I do this (attempt to see through the eyes of potential devotees coming from the intelligent class), I question some of the methods that we are employing at present such as the aforementioned methods.

I am not questioning the consciousness or intention of those who employ such methods. I am only questioning the efficacy in terms of our strategy to carry out Srila Prabhupada’s will of making the whole world Krishna conscious.

Bir Krishna Goswami

Comment posted by Bir Krishna Goswami on December 12th, 2007
28 anandadd

I am feeling really encouraged by some recent comments that seem to really highlight womens roles as inspiring, chaste KC role models and that are focusing on training and protecting us.

I just wanted to restate an earlier point as a direct quote also

“One Vaisnava acarya engaged a gang of thieves to collect to build a temple by stealing. Mission accomplished - but what happened to the persons so engaged according to their propensity? He killed them by sinking them in a boat mid-river.
So we need to be careful that we don’t successfully attract men by encouraging women to dance in public harinam in this way, only to sink the women mid-river…”

In my endeavors to share KC with people, I find 3 main criticisms, or reasons my students and others hold back from us. 1)they feel many women are stifled in the movement and there is no place for them to really connect socially except in my classes 2) people are afraid of the proseletising that happens in a way that is sometimes pushed on people, too soon, too quickly or in an insensitive way.3) long time Yoga practitioners from other groups sometimes feel that we are good at talking but they want examples and help in the rhelm of realization in ways that make their lives better first.

As an aspiring Vaisnavi, I want loving relationships with other vaisnavis. Real friendships that are beyond the physical platform and based on real KC, rather than shallow concerns. In recent years, I have found great hope at Vaisnavi retreats and an internet forum or two. But in terms of real life sangha with aspiring Vaisnavis, I find often women in our movement are in a sinking ship. Often the training has been either very heavy and external for the renounced, or all about being beautiful sense grat for the married each containing lots of backbiting and competition. I am sure there are many communities where this is joyfully not the case, thank God. But, as a general theme, I just am praying that a better way to raiseup and inspite/empower and train women comes to place.

I have lived in and among various spiritual communities and various denominations of sincere religious people since my early years and I find the values and qualities stressed as well as the relationships to genrally be deeper and more loving among women in some of them. Though, I must say, ISKCON has given a tremendous gift to women, in terms of teaching westerners and reminding easterners what it means to be protected and chaste.

Anyway, there are one or two groups I am thinking of in particular where the women are chaste, graceful and pious and where people are attracted to their teaching just so that they can begin to embody these qualities themselves, and enjoy the loving and nourishing friendships with other women.

We as women, need somewhere to go. Rather than NOT THAT, NOT THIS and then being caught in fear and some kind of inner battle or going. We need to know what our positive value is to the society in detail with training, what our offering is, what qualities full of life to aspire for in general as a gender. This is part of protecting us as a gender. The mothers can teach this, those who are mature and ready. Maybe those who can take a father role can help set up the systems.

But my point is, that we need a clearer inner compass as a whole. Obviously 7 year olds dancing rasa lila is a very sweet, innocuous heart opening way to culturally introduce the pastimes. I think with these things clarified, both men and women will be enlivened in the movement, and more people will come. They will come because they see more happy women, empowered, chaste, energetic, living under God’s grace- open to teaching and sharing this with them, in KC.

your servant,
Ananda dd

Comment posted by anandadd on December 12th, 2007
29 Jiva-daya dasa

Dear Maharaja,

Although I am new to all of this, I do have the opinion that the marketing of Krsna Consciousness using techniques that are accepted in the common goods/services markets is flawed and will not be effective in “making the whole world Krsna conscious”. Many people are searching and often become discouraged when they find hypocritical behavior within a movement. Therefore, I think that attracting the public with such sense gratification then telling them to control their urges will seem to many to be hypocritical at best and therefore not be effective in “recruiting”. While one of the most attractive components to KC is that one can continue with seeming sense gratification (dancing, singing, eating) but still be Krsna conscious, it does seem ludicrous to believe that one could somehow include sexual gratification among these “spiritualized activities”.

I also would like to add that, in my humble opinion, the cultural context (Indian) in which Krsna Consciousness is most often presented to the public is exclusive and therefore could also be questioned as to its effectiveness in spreading the movement. I know from personal experience that many who come into contact with devotees, while being very attracted to the philosophy and attitudes of the followers, lament the fact that they are not Indian, never will be, and therefore feel excluded from ever truly being part of Lord Chaitanya’s movement.

your servant,

Jiva-daya dasa

Comment posted by Jiva-daya dasa on December 12th, 2007
30 Unregistered

Dear Bir Krsna Maharaja.
pamho. agtSP.

Now that you are mentioning Rasa Lila dancing to the song Syama, I can think of one specific group. Since this is going on in your GBC area, you will certainly have to deal with it. This problematics was presented to you some years ago, and at that time you didn’t object the group, although you mentioned, that if you had a daughter, you would not want to see her engaged in this group.

I wish you all the best in solving this. My opinion remains, that such outreach is not acceptable for any serious religious group, what to speak of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON. It just doesn’t look right, if you know what I mean.

ys gd

Comment posted by gauradasa on December 12th, 2007
31 Kesava Krsna dasa

Dear Maharajas and prabhus,

Now that Maharaja has clarified some things it seems safe to pass comment. Maharaja is looking through the eyes of potential devotees coming from the intelligent class. If we consider how materialistic people think, or how a lusty spiritual practicioner thinks, any situation could be construed as an opportunity for sensual pleasure.

If the dress is revealing while promoting what is essentially an esoteric - rasa-lila - pastime, we can understand the concern. Srila Prabhupada always warned about linking mundane lust with the playful activities of Krishna with the gopis. If any depiction of Krishna’s confidential pastimes are dramatized this way an obvious lesson in thoroughly understanding this matter is required both for the players, and specifically the audience. But then, even the greatest sages have a hard time trying to get a glimpse of understanding this matter.

The jubilant dancing of the ladies on Harinama, decent and beautifully dressed of course, should be a source of happiness for all of us. We should not forget that many women are discouraged from joining Iskcon because of the inferiority attached to womanhood in terms of gender roles and so on. For those women to see the joyous dancing of our lady devotees, should make them think again by asking themselves, ” Why are these ladies so happy?”

These visuals of devotee women should help to break the downtrodden stereotypical negativities. But if these same displays are bad enough for Maharaja to give the title ‘ Should sex be used….” to attract people to Krishna consciousness, then he must be seeing some overt sexual overtones. From a sannyasa point of view they may seem more so than for someone with lusty vision.

By normal lusty standards this dancing of our women is very tame, but perhaps too tame for Iskcon’s high standards. So on the whole it seems that a little more covering up of certain areas of the body to appease celibate sensitivities, and discretionary choice of philosophical drama should help to fix the problem.

Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on December 12th, 2007
32 urmila devi dasi

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you very much, Bir Krsna Maharaja, for the above clarification in post #27.

It is very gratifying that you are concerned about how our movement appears to intelligent and educated people. Perhaps you are also concerned with the women of our movement being protected and not exploited.

I wonder if you have personally seen the Shyama dance on the Polish tour? I’m not sure how it is portrayed elsewhere by other devotees, but I saw the performance several years ago at the Woodstock festival in Poland. The woman were very chastely dressed and the drama was not exactly of the rasa-lila pastime. Rather, I understood the dance-drama to be a general metaphor for the fallen jivas who regain their spiritual position through bhakti and the mercy of Vaisnavas. The dancing style I witnessed in Poland was very modest and subdued, as well. There did not appear to be any type of sexual theme in any part of the presentation. I wonder if it were presented as a drama with spoken lines, rather than as a dance, if the person who objected would continue to do so. I doubt it.

The dance-drama reminded me of the many philosophical plays we used to perform at Sunday feasts and street preaching in Prabhupada’s time. These include the scholar and the boatman, wrong bank account, fish out of water, and so forth. In the Shyama dance-drama, instead of dialogue, the words of Gaurangi’s Shyama song are used.

Personally, I found the presentation in Poland very moving and spiritually inspiring and not at all improper or disturbing. I should add that sometimes I have seen devotee presentations that involve dress and/or styles of dancing that are very sensual and most likely inappropriate mediums for a spiritual message.

Perhaps the problem is not inherent in women doing a philosophical or pastime dance-drama to Western music, but the specific people and mood of a particular performance. It could be that this same Shyama dance-drama has been performed elsewhere by different devotees other than those I saw, and done under the guidance of persons not of Indradyumna Swami’s vision, and they have degraded it into something unpalatable. Perhaps you, or others who have informed you, have seen some of these other versions. For comparison, I have witnessed kirtanas in temple rooms, done by men dressed in dhotis and using traditional instruments, that were sexually inappropriate. I recall in the 70’s one erstwhile sannyasi leading kirtana in Gita nagari who kept looking at the women and moving his body like Elvis Presley. It was very disturbing and soon afterwards he gave up his sannyasa.

Your question about attracting intelligent, educated and higher-class people is an interesting one. Such people in the West attend functions including opera, ballet, symphonies, and theater, some of which have highly religious themes. In India they attend traditional dance and dance-drama presentations based on sastra.

So, in my opinion, the dance-drama of Shyama I saw in Poland would be considered appropriate for a religious organization, and attractive to intelligent, educated, and wealthy people in the Western world. I have much experience with that class of people. I would think that most Indians of any class–especially the more educated ones–would also likely find it appropriate for a religious function.

There are people who might reject our message with that medium of presentation, but I doubt that practically anyone in those groups would give up their present sectarian affiliation to start chanting Hare Krishna no matter how we present ourselves. These people include fundamentalist Christian evangelicals who reject any and all dancing, ultra-orthodox Jews who reject any performance of women for a mixed audience, and so forth.

Addressing a point you brought up in your first posts, I should add that I also feel uncomfortable to see kirtana presentations and harinamas where the only devotees who are dressed and decorated in an especially fancy way are the young and attractive women. I feel even more uncomfortable if such gorgeously dressed pretty young girls make up the entire harinama party. My concern in such situations is that the women appear to be exploited, even if that is not the intention of the organizer.

My suggestion to festival organizers is that kirtana performances and harinama processions that include dancers (unlike bhajanas that may only include musicians) should have dancers of all ages and both genders (with men separated from the women, of course!). If the standard for the preaching program is festival-type attire, then such should be worn by everyone, not having only the young and pretty girls standing out in an otherwise drab crowd.

Finally, Maharaja, I am afraid that the reaction of some devotees and leaders to your question may be to exclude all young attractive devotee women (or all women) from meaningful and equal participation in kirtana and preaching. The main argument I still hear against women giving class, leading kirtana, dancing in kirtana (yes, there are places that ask women not to dance in kirtana at all!!) is that the women are thus being exploited and the men will be distracted.

One devotee friend recently suggested that perhaps the solution is to have an ISKCON standard for very visible preachers–both male and female– that they be properly situated in an ashrama (married or solidly renounced). Then no one, either man or woman, who is actively looking for a spouse would be allowed to do a service such as leading kirtana or giving class. Having seen improperly situated men use their preaching and/or leadership position to attract and manipulate women–at least emotionally if not physically–I would suggest this devotee’s proposal as worth consideration.

The GBC now has a committee to evaluate kirtana standards. Perhaps the above discussion could be part of the criteria they use for making their decisions.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by urmila devi dasi on December 12th, 2007
33 Unregistered

Dear BKG and vaisnavas, dandavats!

Speaking only for myself as a Vaisnava youth, two big issues I see are:

1) “Desperation” on the part of organizers to get anyone to go on harinama because of various things including lack of spiritual enthusiasm/ISKCON social issues/”insert your local temple authority/GBC/money issues”. This desperation leads to a “at least they are out chanting, no matter what they look like” attitude, which DOES have great merit based on the power of kirtan (I do not wish to minimize this!), but with no long term thought about how the devotess are presenting themselves. Srila Prabhupada (from what I have heard from you older souls and seen on the movies…) always dressed impecabbly and showed that one can have style and grace even in clothes of a renunciate.

This “desperation” can also apply to using modern music to present Krsna. It’s the classic preaching conundrum from above: Is it a)better to preach a little and chant, no matter how it is present, or b) take a little more time and energy and present something really outstanding (Indradyumna Swami’s festival seems to be a good example). The spiritual maturity (which I am NOT at all) of the devotee presenting is also a major factor - both for the spiritual power and their overall presention. The more mature a devotee is, the better they seem to be able to present KC in a tasteful way.

Example: Compare Indradyumna Swami’s early harinamas in Paris (pre-sannyasa?) to his full blown and lavish Polish festival now. I obviously did not see those harinams (being still a twinkle in my parent’s 50 rounds), but I can guess that at least some of the devotees had different colored socks or non-matching dhotis or saris or whatever. Maybe they even used Balarama mrdungas instead of authentic Bengali-fired clay (oh no’s!). Now compare that with the polish of the Polish festival (sorry!). You get the point.

2) Parents not getting their kids to wear respectful attire (this goes for both girls AND boys - guys, no boxers showing in the temple for peat’s sakes! And girls, if you want me to see your latest and greatest belly button ring, please meet me at the beach with laddus) because of either :

- lack of caring, often because they, the parents, were not cared for by ISKCON…

- desperation again: “at least my kids are at the temple and not at home vegging or worse things…” or because of what I feel is actually the most important point:

- lack of parent/older devotee participation in harinamas/ratha yatras/kirtans in general. This is an issue I feel STRONGLY about.

Look around at the next kirtan or Ratha Yatra or Sunday Feast you attend. Where are the older devotees? No, seriously? When the kirtan dissolves into an almost mindless pursuit of the latest and greatest “cool chant” or the dancing is getting weird (creating tunnels with upraised hands for others to run through…), it’s almost always younger devotees doing it.

The next time you are at the Brooklyn temple for Ratha (for instance), notice that at a certain point the older Vaisnavas disappear - some are probably tired, but are some disgusted with the direction the kirtan is heading? I remember one such kirtan where the mrdungas were wailing and the sweat was flying. Boy, oh boy was I blissed out! Then a guest friend who was near me stopped dancing and asked, “Have you noticed that we’ve pushed the ladies off to the side?” We had. There were only gurukulis and new-ish devotees present and the kirtan and turned into the classic all-guys-turned-inwards-smashing-the-wompers-loudly-circle.I don’t know how to properly include girls in a kirtan and still keep the purity - this is not a topic for me to even approach. I just knew that in my enthusiasm to dance and “please” Krsna, here I had completely not even noticed other wonderful devotees around me. I was so ashamed that I left the kirtan.

I might be going out on the rant limb here, but there seems to be a generational gap in the handing down of proper kirtan procedure in terms of singing, tunes, dancing and overall behavior. I’m not saying be a prude or stick the women in the back again! There can be excitement and over flowing of emotions - just do it with grace for Radha and Krsna. Someone, EVERYONE, needs to help us youth translate the raw emotion and desire for the kirtan nectar into a more mature expression of love.

Comment posted by burfi_lover on December 12th, 2007
34 Locanananda dasa

There is no doubt Srila Prabhupada considered dramatic performances a powerful tool in the spreading of Krishna consciousness, and presenting Krishna lila is not off-limits:

In a letter to Nayanabhirama, he wrote:

“Here also in India we are making drama, and at our Bombay Pandal on the last evening we had one drama about Krishna and the gopis in which the gopis gave the dust of their feet for curing Krishna’s headache. This was very much appreciated by the audience. So in this way we can present the philosophy of Krishna consciousness very nicely for everyone to relish.” (Letter to Nayanabhirama dated 1-28-73)

On the other hand, we know that the most confidential pastimes of Krishna and the gopis
are to be approached with the utmost discretion. Caitanya Mahaprabhu discussed these topics only with His closest associates. And Srila Prabhupada has given ample warning not to cheapen the intimate dealings of Krishna and the gopis, which should only be discussed by those who are on the liberated platform. In a lecture given on December 30, 1968, Srila Prabhupada made this point:

“Because sometimes the foolish rascals they say ‘Oh, Krishna performed rasa-lila. Let me also perform rasa-lila.’ Therefore, I forbid that don’t discuss Krishna’s rasa-lila with ordinary persons. They cannot understand. They’ll simply think that ‘Oh, it is very nice to dance with girls, boys and girls dancing.’ No.”

So although these pastimes of the highest love are described in Srila Prabhupada’s books, they are not meant to be presented to an audience of ordinary persons, either in talks, in dramatical presentations or in publications for mass distribution. Here is an excerpt from a letter to Satsvarupa Maharaja written when he was Back to Godhead magazine’s chief editor:

“In BTG the rasa-lila episode cannot be published. We are writing on the activities of Krishna, and rasa-lila is one of the most important pastimes of His transcendental activities. Therefore, it must be published in the book, but it cannot be published in any public paper. This is the instruction of my Guru Maharaja. Actually, rasa-lila means to curb down the lusty propensities of the conditioned soul. Unfortunately, it acts differently on the conditioned soul if he is not prepared to understand what is Krishna. So do not try to print this.” (Letter to Satsvarupa dated 10-15-69)

Portraying the rasa-lila is always a delicate matter. Srila Prabhupada rejected one ISKCON artist’s depiction of this pastime, saying that the characters looked like hippies.
Based on the many caveats in Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, I would conclude that the rasa-lila cannot be presented by adult performers to any audience whatsoever, and especially not to the spiritually uneducated public. The one exception might be a performance by children in their most innocent state, to an audience of Krishna devotees familiar with these mellows.

As far as the dancing of women is concerned, it will be perceived differently according to one’s particular frame of mind or asrama. Shortly after arriving in the United States, Srila Prabhupada wrote to Sumati Morarji:

“Recently one dancer from Madras came here (Balasaraswati) and just to see the mode of reception, I went to see the dance with a friend although for the last forty years I have never attended such a dance ceremony.” (Letter dated 10/27/65)

In Vedic culture, sannyasis and brahmacaris are strictly prohibited from hearing or seeing women dancing. Of course, nowadays that is a difficult standard to follow, but if it is know in advance that a dance will be performed by a woman, those in the renounced order can easily absent themselves.

As far as what will attract the intelligent class, I would say that devotees are the most intelligent class, and what attracts them intellectually to Krishna consciousness will attract other intelligent people as well. There are many educated people who are proud of their academic achievements and they may never become sufficiently submissive to hear the message of Godhead from the authorized source. Still, if they hear the chanting of the Holy Name from the lips of surrendered souls, it will act, and their spiritual life will begin.

As a final point, I would like to encourage devotee woman to take up the call to preach Krishna consciousness, following the path chalked out by Srila Prabhupada. Our spiritual master said that in this age everyone trusts women and they are therefore our secret weapon in spreading this movement. I am convinced that intelligent men will become inspired to hear more about Krishna consciousness when they see chaste devotee women dancing jubilantly in kirtana. Let everyone therefore join the Sankirtana Party of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and taste the nectar of the Holy Name.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Locanananda dasa

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on December 12th, 2007
35 Kulapavana

Dear Maharaja,

First of all let me say that I think it is very commendable that you openly ask for a feedback in this matter. It requires real courage for a person of authority to ask such questions in public. I wish more ISKCON leaders were inspired by your example.

Over the years I have talked to quite a few of young people who either attended festivals where such performances took place, or who were part of the festival crew, and I have never encountered a single negative comment in that regard. More importantly, people who are openly inimical to our festivals never (to my knowledge) used such performances by our ladies to criticize our movement. Usually they simply say that we use clever cover of Indian art and culture to convey our religious message. I take that as a compliment to the efficacy of our strategy.

your servant

Comment posted by Kulapavana on December 12th, 2007
36 Unregistered

The majority of the population are not brahminical by nature. They are not interested in pure brahmanas. If we only present Krsna Consciousness in a pure form then persons of lower nature will ignore us. Prabhupada wanted us to establish varnasrama. So we need to attract and engage persons of ksatriya, vaisya and sudra natures, not just brahmanas. Our preaching should reflect the diversity of human nature. The truth is, if we are to become a large movement then we need to present a way of life that allows for the mix of subtle sex and Krsna consciousness. Within this broader society the pure brahmanas will have their respected niche. If we fail to attract persons of nature lower than brahmana then we are failing in our mission. Respectable, attractively dressed women have a place in varnasrama, and they present a positive alternative to overtly sexual women.

Comment posted by govinda das on December 12th, 2007
37 Unregistered

One thing I truly don’t understand is the evolution from “covered heads” to uncovered heads for ladies. Looking back at all the old photos of Iskcon practically all the ladies covered their heads with saris. Especially in front of Srila Prabhupada or on the altar. And if you look at all the old paintings (which Srila Prabhupada personally supervised) practically always the gopis have covered their heads with their saris. So perhaps Urmila devi or some other female Prabhupada disciple can give us some quotes or anecdotes regarding this point.

Since Srila Prabhupada personally directed the early devotees in everything from cooking to cleaning to tilak to clothing I would imagine at the very least he encouraged the practice. I would assume he instituted it on some level. Perhaps he even taught the ladies how to wrap a sari and cover their heads. Yamuna, Jadurani, Malati, somebody?

I seem to remember (I tried finding it on the Vedabase but couldn’t) Srila Prabhupada telling how his mother would be carried in a covered palanquin whenever she went outside so as to not be seen.

Comment posted by Shrutadev on December 13th, 2007
38 varahanarasimha

Dear Bhir Krsna Maharaja
Please accept my humble obaisences
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
It seems to me that this presentation of Rasa Lila, is not what Srila Prabhupada wanted,
Kavicandra Maharaja beautifully described the beautiful festival in Poland.So maybe it can be used , Indraduymna Maharaja is an expert.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada once said:
“All these days we have not spoken about lila.
“But this (lila) is our most confidential asset. This is our only sadhya (perfection). One should not make the mistake of thinking that anartha-nivrtti (overcoming impediments such as lust and greed) is the prayojana (goal of life)”.

So certainly Srila Prabhupada never said devotees could not hear Rasa lila, but it is one of the most confidential pastimes of Krsna– and if this is for public display I strongly doubt.
Recently while traveling from Mayapure to Vrindavan ,I spend the whole time explaining to one indian businessman why Krsna’s Rasa lila is not immoral, it is a very advanced subject for non devotees to understand.It seems better to focus on other lilas, though in India especially in Vrindavan during Kartika much Rasa lila pastimes are done, but that is Vrindavan, and that is a difference to the west .Certainly hearing Rasa lila is also purifying to a sincere devotee, but a materialistic person will always misunderstand, the demon Sankacuda also misunderstood and tried to steal all the Gopis from Krsna, at Radha Kunda, shortly after that Krsna killed him. close to the sitting place of Lord Caitanya at Shyama kunda site..the Jiva is here in this world to be “imitator Krsna’s “and hearing Rasa lila will for him only invoke lust unless he is very very special and pious .
There is only one Purusha one enjoyer in Rasa lila ,that is Krsna ( or Balarama when He performs His Rasa Lila with, His Gopis) .Even Nanda Maharaja, Yasoda, or any one in paternal love can not enter this lila, now how can and ordinary person understand this?
Jiva Goswami at one point established Svakiya bhava explaining all Gopis and Radha are actually eternally married to Krsna to diminish the offenses of the ordinary person and help them understand- and it is a fact Radha and Krsna are also eternally married, but in the material world ,this parakiya rasa is not for the ordinary person, only a devotee can understand Krsna’s Rasa Lila properly no one else.
A few years ago the GBC banned the practice of the Garbha dance in the temples which is also some kind of Rasa Dance- hand in hand thing , for westerns with hippy back ground they love it, but we suggested that the GBC ban this practice, similarly also the performance of Rasa Lila is generally not a good idea for public preaching.
However there is also Bharat natyam dance- is that considered some kind of sense gratification? Though it depicts Krsna lila by a lady ,certainly not. It is most beautiful though it is certainly not meant for a sannyasi to be looking at in our humble understanding.
I recall in LA how some devotees ,male and female expertly did street performances and they are very effective preaching .It is sad to see the clashes of the sexes still going on in ISKCON ,I believe Mother Urmila has pointed this out, and we are also very concerned with women stay protected, they are all our mothers and sisters and require full respect and protection. Any temple authority telling matajis not to dance in Kirtana and be in blissful KC is a fool, and should be replaced as soon as possible.
Personally I believe the best solution in the long run is to have some temples with renounced men , and some separate temples with renounced ladies only, these temples could be a back bone for our ISKCON society. and inspire many young male and female devotees into renunciation. Such temples would be also be increasing the sankirtana movement tremendously
Anyhow these are separate issues, the point is even Krsna’s priya narma sakhas confidential friends like Subala that brings messages between Radha and Krsna, also don’t go to Rasa lila pastimes at night, so why should the general public be made aware of these most confidential lilas-performed by female devotees is surely not meant for renunciates to observe neither.Lets us not forget the pastimes when Lord Caitanya heard a devi dasi sing bhajans and ran to embrace her though thorny bushes…Svarupa Damodara said , my Lord this is a lady singing. Lord Caitanya said:” You have saved my life”.
During Lord Caitanyas lilas in Navadvipa he has nightly kirtans at Srvasangam, our Acaryas has explained that this place corresponds to the Rasa Sthala in Vrindavan , Seva kunja. But this kind of “rasa lila” is what Mahaprabhu is allowing, the chanting of the holy name and Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya wants everyone to dance in great ecstasy in this Sankirtana movement-this other Rasa lila is not for the general public in the west,this is our humble understanding, for devotees these pastimes are praise worthy of course-many devotees daily sing
sri-rasa-mandala jaya,
jaya radha-syam,
jaya jaya rasa-lila sarva-manoram
“All glories to the place where the rasa dance of Sri Krishna was performed. All glories to Radha and Syama. All glories, all glories to the divine rasa dance, which is the most beautiful of all Lord Krishna’s pastimes.”

but confidential-displaying them seems to us the 9th offense to the holy name.

Your humble servant
Payonidhi das

I like to share one thing I read about HH Sripada Maharaja by his servants:

While returning from the hospital to his flat Sripada Maharaja asked us to search his room and find his Manipur Nat Sankirtan (Rasa Lila) audio cassettes. From September 10, 2006, until the day of his disappearance, Sripada Maharaja’s mood and behavior was different from what we had previously experienced. Everyday, he would listen to and sing along with these cassettes for the entire day except for when he was taking his medicine, prasadam or a little rest. We thought that Maharaja was taking it easy during his recovery, as his normal schedule was very active and he never previously took the time to listen to Kirtan cassettes. The Manipuri Nat Sankirtan cassettes that he was listening to are Kirtans sung in the Manipuri language, which describe the pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani. Since we do not understand the Manipur language, Sripada Maharaja, during his lunchtime, would sometimes explain to us what was being sung on the tapes. He said that the songs describing the Rasa Lila are so absorbing that one can completely forget this world. He said, “This world is on one side and that world is on another side.” He was always in an extremely happy mood and said he was feeling more enthusiastic than ever.

One afternoon, Sripada Maharaja explained to us that one of the Manipuri songs described Srimati Radhika’s walking to be like that of a graceful female elephant. Sripada Maharaja expressed many other details about the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, however, due to our unfortunate lack of qualification we could not understand them nor did we make any recordings of Sripada Maharaja during this time. Sripada Maharaja described how the Rasa Lila is performed according to the ancient Manipuri tradition. He also told us that once he discussed the Manipuri Rasa Lila with Srila Prabhupada and said that Sr
ila Prabhupada was very pleased with the profound Manipuri Vaishnava culture.

We asked Sripada Maharaja how the Gaudiya Vaishnava culture and these peculiar Manipuri tunes originally came to Manipur. Sripada Maharaja said that the songs and devotional culture are from Narottam Das Thakur whose disciples came to Manipur and initiated King Bhagyachandra Maharaja. The tunes were developed by Bhagyachandra Maharaja himself and some subsequent Manipuri kings. While explaining more, Sripada Maharaja described how the performance of Rasa Lila is done in the Manipuri tradition. It first begins with the glorification of Gaura Lila wherein Lord Gauranga is requested to come and be the principal witness of the Rasa Lila. The glories of the Yuga Dharma Hari Nam Sankirtan are extolled, and prayers are sung to Lord Nityananda. Then only does the Rasa Lila begin.

A week before his disappearance, Sripada Maharaja, in a deep mood, wrote down a wonderful transcendental song in the Manipuri language. He then sang and recorded it for all of the devotees. Many devotees now have a recording of this wonderful transcendental song. It was sung in what we, his disciples, call “his gopi voice”. Sripada Maharaja’s written words for the song and translation by him are as follows:

VRAJAPREMDA LUPPE
ANGAOBAGUMLE
RADHABU THIRAKLE
SRI GAURANA

Translation: Immersed in the loving thoughts of Vrajaprema, Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu is searching for Srimati Radhika like a mad man.

KEIDANO BRINDAVAN
KEIDANO KUNJAVAN
KADAIDA LEIKHRE
SAKHISHINGDUNA
THIRAKLE RADHABU
SRI GAURANA

Translation:
“Where is Vrindavana
Where is Kunjavan
Where are Sakhis?”

Crying again and again uttering these words Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu is searching for Srimati Radhika like a mad man.

HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA
KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE

HARE RAMA HARE RAMA
RAMA RAMA HARE HARE

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on December 13th, 2007
39 Shyamasundara Dasa

Did anyone else find comment #36 to be disturbing like I did? As if Srila Prabhupada did not present Krsna Consciousness purely but mixed it with subtle sex to attract Westerners )-:

ISKCON is meant to create a class of Brahmanas hence we specifically appeal to those with the potential to rise to that level. And we also are meant to uplift all classes of men. This is not done by presenting some diluted form of Krsna Consciousness as text 36 suggests. It only serves to water down the process even more.

If one reads Srimad Bhagavatam 7th canto chapters 11-12 where Narada Muni explains Varna Ashrama one will find that ALL members of VAD had to be highly qualified including the sudras.

It also assumes that Brahmanas do not have sexual desire. Ajamila certainly had sexual desire as did Daksha and Kardama Muni (SB 3.21.15), there are so many examples. And there will be persons of lower varna with low sexual desire due to physical or mental condition (hence the proliferation of drugs to heighten sexual desire).

Arjuna was not a Brahmana but Gita was spoken to him. Devahuti was not a Brahmana but Kapila deva spoke Sankhya darshan to her. Vidura was not a Brahmana etc, etc. The philosophy was not diluted just because the listener was not a brahmana.

Comment posted by Shyamasundara Dasa on December 13th, 2007
40 varahanarasimha

Shyamasundara Prabhu is right text 36 is one of those typical attempts to water KC down-
actually it is the opposite of what preaching is supposed to be, purity is the force- not impurity…but this is Kali yuga and there is always going to be some persons trying to delude KC, and introduce things that contradicts Srila Prabhupadas teachings- we have just presented the GBC with a resolution to ban eating of grains on Visnu tattva days, as this is a clear violation .
We have heard about some devotee complaining that Srila Prabhupada’s books should not be distributed at universities , their ignorance is very shocking—luckily there is many persons that are strong in KC , so a lot of good training is needed for younger devotees so the next generation will be fixed up. This is a challenge for those who accept disciples to train devotees nicely in KC, maybe focus more on quality also, not only on having many disciples, but if some disciples are trained nicely in KC they can assist in training many other devotees and make them fixed up in KC-then ISKCON is facing a bright future- there can be no laxness in training disciples -Srila Prabhupada showed this by his personal example, and untill the very last moment of his life was teaching his disciples
your servant
Payonidhi das

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on December 13th, 2007
41 Unregistered

Dear Shyamasundara Prabhu,

I’d like to clarify my point, I don’t wish to disturb anyone. The varnasrama system is Krsna Consciousness mixed with sex desire. The ksatriya desire to control, the vaisya desire to make money the sudra desire to enjoy the senses, and the desire for women to dress nicely are all examples of subtle sex desire. The grhastha asrama is another example of Krsna Consciousness mixed with sex desire. My point was that dressing well, putting on make-up and dancing in a way that is not overtly sexual is acceptable within varnasrama. Presenting varnasrama is not to diluting the process.

Let me raise this question: given that most of planet earth are nowhere close to the standard of pure devotional service, and don’t relate to the pure presentation of Krsna Consciousness, what would you suggest we do to attract them?

Your servant,
Govinda

Comment posted by govinda das on December 13th, 2007
42 Krsna-Rupa d.d.

Dear Bir Krishna Maharaja,

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

Although I am completely unqualified to make any judgement or worthy comment on this issue, as you have raised it, and asked for everyone’s opinion, then the following few points come to mind.

I have recently been on the harinamas with HH Indradyumna Swami in Sydney, and it is very enlivening to be with such an enthusiatic team. However it is difficult to adjust to the fanciness of the girls who are in the party, and as a local devotee I felt out of place. I was worried I looked ugly, would do something wrong, or would upset Maharaja. So I was feeling very shy. I was hardly able to concentrate on chanting due to these feelings, and no one was just naturally blissfully dancing, due to the intense structure. My husband and I both agree that while this is a very attractive program, a lot can be said for the natural mood devotees feel when they go out and chant and dance, rather than worry about looking very attractive. the public can sense how carefree and happy we are and they want that. I have had enough time before I came Krsna consciousness worrying about whether I was attractive and I dont plan to spend my precious time as a devotee being overconcerned about makeup and dress. The women in the public already have make-up and dress anxieties, and problems with self-esteem, and we can give then an alternative to that materialistic way of life. On the other hand they may be attracted to the devotees when they feel that they dont have to give up make-up and beauty if they take to spiritual life.

It is a shame that the mood seems to be that if a female devotee dresses more modestly in a more renounced way, or if the devotees want to dance more naturally rather than in show-style, they may feel unwelcome on these harinamas. The public also like to meet monks too. It is a shame that the devotees dont believe this. The men are allowed to dress in usual brahmacari/ grahasta cloth, so I feel there is a definite contradiciton. Why arent they wearing fancy clothes and dancing in a certain fancy way? why should I be under pressure to have all fancy jewellery and sari and so forth? What does it really have to do with chanting? I told one of the girls I did not feel pretty enough to be on the harinama, and she said I looked beautiful in my own way, which was wonderful that she was not expecting any fancy dress from me. But, it would be nice if these sort of questions didnt come up at all for the girls, and that we create an environment for women free from these anxieties of body appearance.

Also I was asked several times to not have my hair covered with sari as “HH Indradyumna Maharaja doesnt like it”. My husband HG Rupa-Raghunatha das Prabhu does like it covered, and this was the first time I wore my hair uncovered, but I have been doing it all week so I dont upset the devotees or Maharaja. This kind of situation puts devotees under a lot of pressure and such an instruction can end up changing our whole tradition.

So I think the show style harinama can potentially upset the regular female devotees a little. Peer pressure is a real factor and we want a nuturing environment in Iskcon, not a body conscious one. I would not want my daughter to worry whether she was pretty enough to go on harinama. I would want her to estatically chant ‘hari bol!” with love of God.

The organisers mentioned to me that no mothers with prams were allowed on the harinama, which I thought was a shame as we are trying to get everyone to chant. If I see a pretty girl dancing, it doesnt make me think “I can do this too” as Im not in that “pretty girl” category. Very few women are. If I see a mother chanting, I think “oh ordinary people are apart of this too, so maybe I can try it”.

Regarding the Rasa Lila, I am very unqualified to comment, but one point is that it is an offense to preach the glories of the Lord to the non-devotees. So in the Shyama dance, we are portraying a conditoned soul, then showing the spiritual world, with Krsna and the gopis. So it seems we are preaching to an audience, who do not know that Krsna is God, that if you give up what you are now and chant Hare Krsna, you can become a pretty girl and dance. You can join a herem. But this is confidential knowledge, that we are gopi’s dancing with Krsna, not to be discussed or flaunted, as it can be misunderstood. This esoteric meaning should not be learnt until later.
The presentation I have seen, however, would probably just be taken as a metaphor, the dancing girls “represent” happiness and joy of Krsna consciouness, rather than a potrayal of our true identity. The audience would rarely think so deeply about it. This is is also demeaning to women, why should many women dancing around one man represent “happiness and joy”. In this world for one man to have so many maidservants means exploitation! So we should not encourage this type of metaphor. Actually I think if someone sees this they may mistake our religion. They will misunderstand why so many girls are dancing around the one man, as they have no idea how he respects them all. If you were not a devotee, how could you understand this drama without somewhere assuming that women are sex-objects? No matter how chastley they are dressed, without the higher knowledge we have about Krsna, this is the only subtle conclusion one can come to.
Please note that I would not want the organisers in anyway to think I am passing judgement of the harinama and dancing performancers, I am simply offering my thoughts on the topic as a service, as requested.
Your servant
Krsna-Rupa d.d.

Comment posted by Krsna-Rupa d.d. on December 14th, 2007
43 Unregistered

Sydney
December 14,007

There is no doubt that the devotees who have written comments this far are aware of the urgency and importance of saving conditionned souls; that is Lord Caitanya’s intense desire.

Having said that,

I am currently travelling as part of Indradyumna Swami’s Australian ‘troop,’ performing harinams and evening programs in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. My only comment is this: “You judge a tree by its fruit.”

When you see how enthusiastically the conditionned souls react when witnessing our harinam parties (with attractive Vaisnavis at the helm), you cannot help but be stunned.

Yesterday, in front of a private elementary school in an exclusive subburb of Sydney, one hundred children (age 10-12) danced with us and sang the maha-mantra at the top of their lungs for no less than one hour, their wealthy and distinguished parents looking on with smiles of approval.

When you witness see such a sight, you simply forget what is ‘proper’ and ‘unproper;’ rather, your eyes swell up with warm tears, bathing in the comforting thought that these conditionned souls, these “young flowers” of Australia, have been saved by Lord Caitanya’s causeless mercy.

Some photos are available at:

http://picasaweb.google.com/cy.....inam121307

Your humble servant,
Chandrashekhara acharya dasa

“As far as possible, people should be given chance to develop Krsna consciousness. Rupa Goswami, one of the big acaryas, he says, yena tena prakarea manah krsna nivesayet: “The first business is somehow or other people should be Krsna conscious.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bhagavad-gita 9.29-32 — New York, December 20, 1966

Comment posted by bcsdasa on December 14th, 2007
44 varahanarasimha

Mother Krsna Rupa’s comment speaks tons, one thing though , she writes:

“but one point is that it is an offense to preach the glories of the Lord to the non-devotees”
,that is a misunderstanding but to preach about the intimate glories to the Lord like Rasa Lila generally is.
I once headed up a chanting party in Copenhagen for around 2 years, we would sit down
and chant for up to 10 years a days, distribute prasadam , books etc.
It seems this whole discussion is about Indraduymas Maharajas sankirtana style though no one has named names, including HH Bhir Krsna Maharaja- some devotees on another website found faults with the mingling of male and female’s there etc.
I will not pass any judgement— Indraduymna Maharaja is obviously empowered.
However I would never dare do what he is doing, I see no need for dressing up, to much , let the holy name do its magic, nor have we ever done Rasa lila drama etc . Making sure everyone does not look to raggedy is off course important, but obviously Indraduymna Maharaja has his style .I can sure understand where mother Krsna Rupa is coming from,
Her question is really is this Harinama program promoting the bodily concept of life? It would be nice to hear HH Indraduymna Maharaja- explain this certain style of Harinama and allow devotees to ask him questions about it

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on December 14th, 2007
45 Unregistered

Dear Devotees,

I thought IDS current Aus tour was meant to attract those who have not yet been attracted to ISKCON from witnessing the more dressed down model of devotees in odd socks, covered heads, second hand clothes, ankle freezing saris and or dhotis looking like the devotee just got up and women down the back to be hassled by the drunks and crazies and those who sing out of tune and cannot walk in two lines.

I applaud any attempt to finally make ISKCON look like we are not a bunch of hippies and that even though we have the ultimate treasure, we have to still remember that we are still preaching in the middle of Kali-yuga to persons who are only attracted to material and not yet purified enough to simply drop everything for the Holy Name.

There was not a huge backlash when GMB brought through his Bali dancers and performed in Aus. Nor now is there a huge backlash when a devotee attracts one through wearing a yoga outfit and moves in physically compromising positions to bring some closer to Krishna.

However, it is interesting to see that female devotees dressed meticulously and dancing in moves that I did as a brahmacarini albeit probably more glamorous, would enrage our menfolk and be seen simply as sex attraction. I am sure these girls who are on the tours are not thinking, ‘Oh goody, today I shall attract even more men to me by my prowess’.

We need to grow stronger in our resolve as devotees and not to immediately jump on the bandwagon of material vision. If spectacular harinams, pristine looking devotees and dramatic performances work to bring more beer drinking and meat pie eating Aussies closer to Krishna then I see no problem.

We could quote many verses about covering heads, women, men, butter, fire and the like, but IDS seems to be the one getting on with the preaching here and not worrying about how this is going to be perceived. Isn’t it like the bramacari who was so overwhelmed by his bramacari friend who touched a woman and carried her across the river. He was disturbed because he viewed the woman as being a sexual threat, as opposed to the bramacari who simply saw a person who needed help crossing the river.

y.s
Vpdd

Comment posted by Vpdd on December 14th, 2007
46 Praghosa

Dear Bir Krishna Maharaja,

Pamho. AgtSP.

You did not specify in your original text where this ‘rasa-lila’ dancing was being performed and by who. However you did mention the song Syama. As a result many have assumed that your comment was directed at Indrayumna Maharaja. As I understand it that is not the case and your experience of this problem is not directly related to Indradyumna Maharaja or the Polish tour. Perhaps you can confirm this one way or another?

Your servant, Praghosa dasa

Comment posted by Praghosa on December 14th, 2007
47 Unregistered

Dear devotees,

In any religious society, in our case Iskcon, there will be members who are over-strict, saying there is nor room for sense gratification, even regulated, and who will try to act pure straight away. There will also be members who practically don’t follow any rules, and there will be the majority of members in the middle, following the process but living normal life without hypocrisy. Devotees in the middle group will think, “I’m on the level I am now. Let me use my qualities, energy etc. for Krsna, in a regulated way, according to time place and circumstance.” KC is for everyone, not only for monks or beautiful people or people with money etc. The criteria is to be sincere and keep Krsna in the centre of any activity.

Because many comments are about attractive matajis dancing on harinam and the Shyam dance I can give my point of view as I’ve been a member of the Polish tour on and off for 9 years. I can tell you that devotees on the tour are very sincere. The devotees doing harinam love it, love to dance and like to chant, otherwise they would choose another service. This is a hard service. For several months we dance and chant for 5 hours each day, sometimes more. Do you think this is easy? Do you think matajis that happen to be beautiful do it because they want to attract attention to themselves? Somebody who thinks so should try it.

About covering the head, Indradyumna Swami wants his female disciples to cover their heads. That was the rule as far as I remember, though it wasn’t strictly followed. Also, on harinam it is difficult to cover the head when dancing or wearing a crown. Surely nobody would object. If in doubt just ask Maharaja personally.

As for the Shyam dance, well maybe there are people who think it is like a harem but most will just enjoy the performance. Is it because of different interpretations that we should stop the dance? Then shall we stop selling Krishna book because someone will interpret Krishna as a lusty boy without morality? No. Good dancing and performing are for people to come and enjoy KC. It will bring the majority of people to Krishna, at least bring them closer. And it’s already happening.

Comment posted by Ramesvari devi dasi on December 14th, 2007
48 Akruranatha

Now I am getting a clearer picture of what the controversy is about. I have never seen or heard the “Syama” dance song or performance, and I have not seen exactly the Indradyumna Swami style-harinama performances. (I have seen some footage of the Poliush festivals and have read H.H. Indradyumna Swami’s very inspirational diaries.)

One thing I can say, though, is that after reading these comments, I have become very eager to see what all the fuss is about. I might have to make a trip to Poland even.

I appreciate Krishna-Rupa dd’s comments. Surely no one should be made to feel that she is not “pretty enough” to go on harinama, or should feel pressured to wear a lot of make-up and jewelry if that is not her style.

On the other hand, from what I have seen, Indradyumna Swami and his parties are doing some of the most dynamic preaching in ISKCON today, and I agree with those who say we should not argue with success, that we judge by the results.

When I mentioned before that it is good to dance nicely and be neatly dressed and musically accomplished on hari-nama, I was not referring to any specific party. I have heard (sorry I do not have the reference) that Srila Prabhupada wanted the men to all wear silk clothing and have nice fresh garlands when they go on Harinama.

People enjoy a spectacle, and if we can give them a nice, Krishna-conscious spectacle without compromising the integrity and purity of the presentation, that will make for successful preaching.

(Yukta-vairagya means devotees do not have to look like starving, homeless beggars or like people who could not hold down a “real job”. I have actually had people tell me their impression of Hare Krishnas was that losers who could not make it in society joined Hare Krishna because they needed a place to be accepted and to survive economically. Of course, the people who said that are fools, but nothing in our philosophy *requires* us to make that kind of impression.)

(When I first met devotees they came to my school in Miami Beach, when I was in 8th grade. The late great Kusa Krata Prabhu was falling asleep during the presentation, and I was thinking, “That guy looks like he is really stoned on drugs.”) :-)

I am embarrassed when we sometimes go on Harinama all rumpled and with dread locks and tattoos and bones through our noses. I mean no respect to devotees who are attracted to such “tribal” styles, and I do kind of enjoy the idea that Lord Caitanya is picking up even the uncivilized and that even spooky goblins are attracted (in Berkeley we even have self-professed vampires who are addicted to coming to the temple). However, on Harinama we should be conscious of what kind of impression we are making, and I feel we should at least appear neat and clean, if not saintly and transcendentally effulgent.

But rasa lila is something very esoteric and it makes sense to at least question whether we should be performing public rasa lila dramas to modern music as an integral part of our preaching. Still, my uninformed impression is, if Indradyumna Swami is doing it, and if it is successful, producing good results, I am inclined to think our leaders will approve.

The Krishna Book, of course, is in a different category from dramas. It is presented so nicely with all philosophical explanations. Practically anyone who seriously reads it will become a devotee of Krishna. That is a proven fact.

But if watching public dramas inspires people to read Krishna Book to find out what it is all about, that is true success.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on December 14th, 2007
49 Bir Krishna Goswami

A clarification on my article:

I was not referring to anything that Indradyumna Swami does as I was not even aware that his party does any of these things. I have never seen any performances or Harinama’s done by his people. So, please do not take this as a commentary on anything he does.

In the Rasa Lilas I have seen the Gopis are dancing around Radha and Krishna and at the end Radha and Krishna are embracing tightly in a tight embrace which lasts for sometime.

Comment posted by Bir Krishna Goswami on December 14th, 2007
50 anandadd

Thank you Krishna Rupa for sharing your experience of wanting to be free to chant and dance as a woman in a way that is free of the bodily platform-without concern for age or attractiveness. Obviously that doesn’t mean unmatching socks, but it means wanting enough protection to share the holy names without too much focus on how you look. That’s what I meant about focus on grace (and purity). And this focus can be for married and renounced women as an option.

I am grateful to hear and see your ‘voice’ here on Dandavats.

There are so many different styles and expressions of Krishna Consciousness that work.
But this post really clarifies a position that I think could stand to be heard more often.
begging for the mercy of the Vaisnavas,
Ananda dd

Comment posted by anandadd on December 14th, 2007
51 varahanarasimha

everyone is trying to serve Krsna to the best of his abilities, I think enough is said on this issue, I just want to appriciate all the wonderful devotees in ISKCON…so Rasa lila?
As long as it is not unmarried boys or girls embrazing each other, Live and let live, the “Radha and Krsna players “are not going in some secret “Nikunja” after
the play- dear Bhir Krsna Maharaja you are an authrity in ISKCON you can speak up , if something is not bonafide….I am sure I wont mind watching Rasa Lila any time of the day,anything that reminds me of Krsna, even the taste of water it is all good to me.
Vasudeva sarvam iti—–In Vrindavan the dramas are mostly done by small innocent boys, the Lila performance is very attractive to all, and if someone becomes attracted to matajis and become devotees, this has been going on since day one in ISKCON. Our friend Ravatinandana Prabhu first met a mataji that sold him a book, he was so attracted by her many good qualities, and her KC, later he felt very thankful to her..the whole material world is running on attraction for the opposite sex, what to do? This is the material world…lets go back to Krsna and then we shall all only be attracted to Radha and Krsna and their servants…and Mr Lust (as Srila Prabhupada sometimes called lust) will have no entrance there ..there will be only pure love for Krsna and Krsna reciprocating.
I recall having heard one mother that was preaching while distributing books,” we are all looking for attraction, Krsna is the supreme attractive “..I see no mistakes here.
Your servant
Payonidhi das

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on December 14th, 2007
52 Unregistered

Srila Prabhupada never compromised in his preaching strategy. On the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase, there is a section called “Krsna Conscious Play Scripts” which includes quite an extensive section of quotes from Srila Prabhupada regarding his desires for preaching, plays and public performances.

In the wonderful book, “The Great Transcendental Adventure” by Sriman Kurma Das, there are these very interesting passages regarding Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on public performances:

“Only weeks before, a leading dancer from the “Nederlands Dans Theater” currently touring Australia, had purchased one of Srila Prabhupada’s books from a devotee on the streets of downtown Melbourne. After reading the book, he had suddenly defected from the troupe in mid-season and moved into the temple in St.Kilda.
This had caused considerable shockwaves through the dance world. Bhakta George—aka George Coleman—who only weeks before was performing naked on stage with the world’s most controversial dance troupe, now danced fully-dressed in saffron cloth outside Myer’s Department Store on Bourke Street.
George was both a stunningly expert dancer and an experienced choreographer. This inspired Madhudvisa to stage a Krsna conscious dance drama for Ratha-yatra. Madhudvisa encouraged Mekhala to utilise her classical ballet training in the drama. Soon, selected devotees wrapped in coats and gloves were spending long hours rehearsing in the cold loft above the Hare Krsna shop. “The Little Fish—the Story of the Tiny Conditioned Soul and His Fall to the Material World” would soon have its debut.

Monday, 17 July 1972
Devotees and guests alike appreciated the full-length drama and were moved to dance and chant blissfully at its resounding finale. The Ellis D. Fogg Light Show Company pumped out psychedelic coloured images on the walls amidst coloured slides of Krsna and Srila Prabhupada as the chanting grew in intensity. Finally, everyone feasted on a multi-course prasadam feast—spicy carrot subji, pappadams, halavä, date balls, coconut honey balls, and apple chutney. The first annual Ratha-yatra festival was deemed a resounding success.
* * *
A day or two after the festival, an airmail letter arrived from Srila Prabhupada in London. Madhudvisa, still elated from the festival and especially the drama, was surprised to read the contents:

London
8 July, 1972

My Dear Madhudvisa,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated June 30, 1972, and I have noted the contents. I am very much pleased to see the photos of the Jagannatha cart being made by you in Melbourne, and I can understand that your energy and experience are being put to good use there in Australia. That is the secret to success, utilizing our God-given energy to please Krishna.
Regarding your question of dancing-show, whatever it may be, it may not deviate from the real Krishna Consciousness program. We are Hari Kirtana men, that’s all. We can attract people by some gorgeous show, but inside there must be strict purity and seriousness, otherwise, we shall be attracted by the gorgeous show only. There are two energies always working simultaneously, and Maya means when we diminish the spiritual energy, then automatically we become attracted to the external dress of Maya. So I do not care very much for these plays and dramas unless they are coming directly from the Vedas. If we can recite from Bhagavad gita the first chapter without any need for elaborate scenery or stage-props and gorgeous dresses, that is best. Just like your Shakespeare. Macbeth may be recited by two men, without anything else, and simply by their acting ability and the meaningful words alone, they can very easily capture the entire audience and give them real substance. We have so many stories, like Jagai-Madhai, Krishna departing for Mathura, like that. Satire will not help us. Our message is very grave, and because it is the Absolute Truth, it will work without any artificial presentation.
Because they heard of our program in Bombay along with the Zavery sisters Manipuri Dancers, here in London they had arranged one program of lecturing by me along with a recital by one man playing on the vina just to attract attention to my speaking. I am not in approval of such arrangements, and it will be dangerous thing in future if we begin this type of program just to attract the masses. Already I see this happening practically all over the Society, so better we stop it now and get ourselves firmly on the track chalked out for us by Lord Caitanya. We are simply Sankirtana men, our program is chanting, dancing, distributing prasadam, and speaking high philosophy, that’s all.
Hoping this meets you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Madhudvisa quickly wrote back reporting on the successful festival. He explained:

I am very much ashamed to admit that for the program following the Ratha-yäträ festival, we had a full-length musical dance drama, illustrating the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. You explained in your last letter that satire will not help; you said that we should not bother ourselves with props and costumes as well as extensive lighting. Those who witnessed this play however, exclaimed that it was tremendously successful and many of the devotees as well as the guests were in tears during the final act when the fallen jiva ultimately surrenders to the spiritual master. During this scene, there was an enormous slide of your Divine Grace projected on stage, and apparently the connection was made by the devotees that if they felt themselves resisting you in not surrendering wholly—when they saw your mercy, this moved them greatly.
I am feeling very much confused in that we were trying to illustrate a very philosophical point, but at the same time we did not follow your instructions, because your letter arrived two days after the festival …

Madhudvisa described in detail the recent Melbourne Ratha-yatra and added that he was thinking of staging a play based on the teachings of Lord Caitanya.

Srila Prabhupada replied, reporting on the successful London Ratha-yatra:

I am very glad to hear that there has been a very nice Ratha-yäträ festival in Melbourne, and that despite all obstacles many people joined, and it was very successful. Similarly, in London we have already celebrated a very successful Ratha-yäträ procession and many thousands of persons joined in marching from Marble Arch to Trafalgar Square, and in Trafalgar Square I initiated nearly 30 new disciples and we had a fire yajïa and many, many thousands of persons had observed it, mostly Englishmen.

In this letter, Prabhupada uncompromisingly reiterated his instructions on drama:

Regarding the dramas, my point is not to deviate from gravity, and compromise or distract from the situation. Keep this point in vision and continue. That is a very good proposal, to stage one play based upon Lord Caitanya. Read Teachings of Lord Caitanya on the stage, just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu is giving instructions to Sanatana Goswami. The actors may speak a little philosophy, without the need for special costumes or other things. Then kirtana. There must be always kirtana. Dialogue, kirtana; then again dialogue, again kirtana; again repeat; like that. No humour should be there. Just philosophy and kirtana.
If it is successful, then the same dialogue-kirtana may be followed by other sankirtana parties in Europe and America.

All in all, however, Prabhupada appreciated Madhudvisa’s service:
All blessings of Krishna upon you. You have done so nicely. Keep always in your vision that our movement is so great and keep gravity. You are experienced devotee, I can see things are going nicely …”

So although we know that Srila Prabhupada sometimes expressed different perspectives at different times to different devotees the essence of what Srila Prabhupada taught us never changed. Of course, it is always up to the individuals and the leaders to apply Srila Prabhupada’s teachings according to time, place and circumstance. We can only pray for Srila Prabhupada’s guidance in these matters.

Comment posted by Shrutadev on December 14th, 2007
53 Locanananda dasa

All of this talk about Harinam Sankirtana is pumping me up to get back out to Times Square tomorrow night for more chanting and dancing with the devotees. I’ve been nursing a torn Achilles tendon for about a year and have to wear an ankle brace whenever I leave home, but I’m getting physical therapy now and after it is completely healed, I hope to be able to put some of the dance moves I saw practiced by Indradyumna Swami’s troupe to good use.

Many years ago, in fact , more than thirty years ago, Maharaja and I had been doing Sankirtana together full time in France when he began having devotees dress up as Krishna and other residents of the spiritual world. It was no easy task getting then ready each day for their public appearance. We also distributed prasadam and magazines to thousands of people daily on the streets of Paris. That city is still rocking from our kirtanas in the 70’s.

Once, on the occasion of Lord Nityananda’s appearance day, Maharaja was dressed as Caitanya Mahaprabhu with a yellow dhoti and I played his transcendental brother, wearing a blue dhoti and turban. As often happened, our whole troupe was hauled into the police station, but he and I were released quickly because we were Americans. When we emerged back onto the street, still in full attire, a radio journalist approached me and asked, “Who are you?” and I said, “I’m Lord Nityananda and this is my brother, Lord Caitanya.” The reporter looked amazed and then asked, “And how old are you?” In character, I replied “We’re five hundred years old, and we have come here to spread the chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna”. I think we made an impression.

There is no activity more blissful than the public chanting of the Holy Name, accompanied by the resounding sound of the mrdanga and the rhythmic chiming of karatalas.

As sung by Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

“In the land of Nadiya, on the island of Godruma, the magnanimous Lord Nityananda has opened the Marketplace of the Holy Name, meant for the deliverance of all fallen souls.

“O people of faith! O people of faith! By the order of Lord Gauranga, O brothers, I beg these three requests of you: Chant “Krishna!” Worship Krishna, and teach others about Krishna.

“Being careful to remain free of offenses, just take the Holy Name of Lord Krishna. Krishna is your mother, Krishna is your father, and Krishna is the treasure of your life.

“Giving up all sinful activities, carry on your worldly duties only in relation to Lord Krishna. The showing of compassion to other souls by loudly chanting the Holy Name of Krishna is the essence of all forms of religion.”

Nadiya Godrume Nityananda Mahajana

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on December 14th, 2007
54 Unregistered

Dear Bir Krishna Maharaja,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. You are my dear Siksa Guru and I appreciate your concerns about keeping our societys standards. However, I am currently in Sydney, attending harinamas fronted by beautiful devotee women and attending preaching programs where the Shyam dance is performed. This is under the direction of Indradyumna Swami. I have been observing this forum over the last few days while simultaneously attending the programs so I have been meditating on what has been said. My observations were that the young girls who are heading the harinamas are dressed very beautifully but also very chastely. Most of them were born devotees and have been practising bharat natyam dancing from a very early age so they are accustomed to the beautiful costumes and make up etc. that are naturally a part of the culture of dance. I would be happy if my daughter were spending her days preaching in such a format.

As a female devotee myself I have experienced many different types of women and the performers are certainly not lusty and bodily conscious. They are very professional actually and they spend long hours chanting and dancing as a form of preaching. It is a credit to them that they are spending their youth and their talents serving Krishna instead of wasting their beauty to allure men into sense gratification. The young male members of the party are also dressed very nicely on the harinamas and one of them also wears a colourful silk costume to peform his martial arts on the stage .

I don’t agree that we should use sex as a tool for attracting people but does that mean attractive devotees should wear brown saris and cover their heads and not preach because it may envoke sex desire? Mother Urmilla brought out this point “Finally, Maharaja, I am afraid that the reaction of some devotees and leaders to your question may be to exclude all young attractive devotee women (or all women) from meaningful and equal participation in kirtana and preaching. The main argument I still hear against women giving class, leading kirtana, dancing in kirtana (yes, there are places that ask women not to dance in kirtana at all!!) is that the women are thus being exploited and the men will be distracted.” Personally I find it healthy to see devotees preaching and I am grateful for that.

My husband and I have an optical business and the florist who works a few shops down said she was turned off our movement many years ago when she visited a temple as she couldn’t see a place for the women.

I personally found the Shyam dance to be a very touching expression of the jiva and his sojourn in material existence and his return to the spiritual world and the bliss he finds. This performance is performed after a philosophical discussion by Indradyumna Maharaja on the basics of spiritual life eg. we are not this body and how we can’t be really satisfied in the material world, how we have to take up the process for self realisation and return to a place of permanent happiness in the spiritual world. After this philosophical discourse the Shyam dance starts… Gaurangi is singing a beautiful song about how the spirit soul is lonely in the material world and a girl is dancing in black and looking morose. One girl is dressed up as Krishna (who looks like a girl anyway) and he is dancing with another girl who is Radharani and it is done with all the bharat natyam hand and feet movements-not at all sensually. Then the song talks of how the jiva soul wakes up and sees Krishna and is taken to him by Radharani then they briefly embrace, in a loving (not lusty) way and then the jiva embraces a couple of the ladies (in a way that welcomes her home) who are playing the Gopis and they do hand gestures to make garlands and they they all dance sweetly in a circle until the end. As Mother Urmillas points out “The woman were very chastely dressed and the drama was not exactly of the rasa-lila pastime. Rather, I understood the dance-drama to be a general metaphor for the fallen jivas who regain their spiritual position through bhakti and the mercy of Vaisnavas.” This is also my understanding of the dance.

I find it a relief to go out on a harinama that is professional and organised. I find sometimes the devotees in the mood of wanting to dance “naturally” turn quality people away by wildly dancing and causing a scene. The Holy Name is still the central focus but we are presenting it in a way that shows we are together people. People have been responding also. We have had a lot of quality people attending our programs. I was talking to one lady last night. She was a middle aged professional, classy lady and she was very impressed with the show and these are the types we are attracting.

I am currently pregnant with my first child and I don’t feel at all threatened that I am not physically appearing like the young pretty girls on harinama. I just try and get absorbed in the service.

I agree with Mother Urmillas points on this topic. She is a very mature experienced devotee and I feel her evaluation is a valid one. She is another devotee who has experienced the festival first hand and she gave a very balanced opinion.

I think opinions should be reserved until you have experienced these types of harinamas and the public program as a whole.

All glories to the Vaisnavas.

Your servant Manjulali dasi

Comment posted by Manjulali dasi 1 on December 15th, 2007
55 urmila devi dasi

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Here’s a description of the Shyama dance as done on the Polish tour:

Krishna is dancing and maybe ten devotees are also dancing. All the dancers, including “Krishna,” are women. There is nothing to indicate the rasa lila pastime in particular, as is the case with the Manipuri performance. The impression I got was that it was a metaphor for any and all pure devotees who are serving Krishna in the spiritual world.

In the front of these is another dancer who is dressed totally in black. She is the focus, while the others are doing some very simple steps in the background. This dancer is expressing, through the words of the Shyama song and gestures, that she has knowingly left Krishna and His service and now wants to return. My impression was that she represents any and all fallen jivas.

At one point in the music/dance, one of the pure devotees approaches the fallen jiva and removes the black clothing. Underneath is a colorful dress like that of the pure devotees. The pure devotee puts in the hand of the now pure, previously fallen jiva a garland to offer to Krishna. The newly pure jiva offers Krishna the garland, and Krishna embraces the newly pure jiva. It reminds me of the painting of Krishna embracing Gopa Kumara when he returns to Goloka Vrindavana.

The newly pure jiva then joins the general group of devotees who are dancing with Krishna.

Again, I found it a very moving performance. It’s sad that others have “copied” it and changed it to something else.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by urmila devi dasi on December 15th, 2007
56 sita-pati

Lord Krishna explains that by the influence of time the pure knowledge of yoga is covered over, and requires a periodic renovation. This doesn’t just happen over millennia - it happens daily in our own lives. We come originally attracted by the pure essence of Krishna Consciousness, then over time due to our inherent external, sensual orientation we drift toward the periphery again, and get wrapped up in “Vedic” things like astrology, yoga, vedic music, and so forth.

A natural tension exists between creating a sustainable form and staying true to the essence, with periodic excesses on both sides. An emphasis on the Holy Name turns into an unofficial “ban” on learning to play the instruments properly. An emphasis on making a nice presentation transforms into dependence on material elements.

I think that in a vibrant healthy society there is a need for both, and the tension between the two and the introspective dialog generated from it maintains a healthy dynamic balance.

I am sure that we can do both types of kirtan - the “formal cultural presentation”, and the carefree spontaneous expression of devotion. I don’t think anyone is advocating that everyone has to do it like “this”, all the time.

Again, our emphasis has to be always on the purity of the performer as the real potency of the Harinam. Excellence of elements may be there above and beyond this, but if it replaces or eclipses this solid foundation then there may be apparent short term success, but it will not last.

My concern with formally encouraging the ladies in kirtan like this would be less for the effect on the minds of men, and more on the ladies themselves.

Someone mentioned this as a manifestation of the varnasrama Vedic culture, and I think there is some merit in seeing it that way. This type of arrangement is fine if the ladies are looked after, both spiritually and materially - for that is the purpose of Varnasrama civilization. Encouraging them to dress up and present themselves in this way at the expense of getting a taste for the pure chanting of the Holy Name, without encouraging attachment to mundane conditions at the same time, will be detrimental in the long run. Varnasrama civilization is meant for protecting women from exploitation, not exposing them to it.

Now, I am not saying that this is the case, I am merely presenting it for consideration: what happens to a lady whose training in Krishna Consciousness consists of performing Harinam in this way, with less emphasis on sadhana?

What happens when she gets married? When she is no longer young and attractive? Will she have sufficient realization and training, or will she suffer due to being overly attached to the details of a particular form of devotional service that is no longer possible for her?

Will she end up mentally and emotionally stuck at that age, without the ability to mature beyond it and evolve her devotional service with her changing life circumstances?

What about wider support? Are we simply exploiting young ladies, utilizing their youth and beauty in this way, without taking responsibility for protecting them when they are not on Harinam? Is it the logic of half a hen where we utilize them for some time, and forget about them the rest of the time?

Who is maintaining them, and taking care of their development in life, such as marriage and family life? Are we providing a supportive environment for these things to take place?

I feel that we run the risk of utilizing people if we don’t equip them at least to take care of themselves the best they can. Encouraging a young lady to develop philosophically and in her sadhana can help her to sustain herself even in an environment with a ruined social system, which is what we have right now.

Artificially imitating a few superficial aspects of Vedic culture without taking care of the ladies is a bait and switch. It may give short term results, but we need to see what happens to the participants over the length of their life.

So I don’t advocate one way or another. Some people may be capable of taking care of ladies and doing this, but we should be careful not to imitate the superficial aspects. Personally I would be uncomfortably encouraging ladies to get too much into the “front-end” of Vedic varnasrama presentation if I weren’t able to provide the “back-end” of protection for them. In that case, better they learn to take shelter of the Holy Name, and practice detachment from material opulence and austerity.

Comment posted by sita-pati on December 15th, 2007
57 Suresh das

Shrutadev Prabhu makes a really good point in Post #37 - that women should cover their heads with their saris, like they did in the early days of ISKCON. In the early days of ISKCON men also wore dhoti tops. Srila Prabhupada instituted women covering their heads with their saris, and men wearing dhoti tops. I have noticed that ISKCON men no longer wear their dhoti tops. I was even at the L.A. Rathyatra last year, speaking with Shrutadev Prabhu himself, and I noticed with much surprise that he was not wearing his dhoti top.

Comment posted by Suresh das on December 15th, 2007
58 varahanarasimha

The real issue in my humble opinion is that there is not enough Harinama and booksitribution in the first place , why should any member from new bhakta to GBC member shy away from this activity? This is the sankirtana movement…we should all participate in it , Srila Prabhupada in one lecture says we have to create vaisnava heroes, not this sitting down class of men, that does nothing.
There is a purport that is often forgotten Sb 7.9.44

“The members of the Krsna consciousness movement are not at all interested in so-called meditation in the Himalayas or the forest, where one will only make a show of meditation, nor are they interested in opening many schools for yoga and meditation in the cities. Rather, every member of the Krsnaa consciousness movement is interested in going door to door to try to convince people about the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, the teachings of Lord Caitanya. That is the purpose of the Hare Krsna
movement
The members
of the Krsna
consciousness

movement must be fully convinced that without Krsna one cannot be happy. Thus the Krsna
concious person avoids all kinds of pseudo spiritualists, transcendentalists, meditators, monists, philosophers and philanthropists ”

Your servant
Payonidhi das

Comment posted by varahanarasimha on December 15th, 2007
59 Unregistered

In the text 49 Bir Krishna Maharaj explained clearly that his question is NOT related to Indradyumna Maharajas preaching program. I would like to ask you to please take it into consideration while writing your responses. Otherwise we get some unnecessary criticism and/or misdirected comments, which appear even in some of the texts written after Maharaja’s explanation.

Comment posted by gndd on December 15th, 2007
60 Bir Krishna Goswami

Hare Krishna! I need to make it abundantly clear since some people are still under the impression I was referring to Indradyumna Swami’s program.

I have never seen his program, I don’t know what it consists of, I have never been to Poland.

I am sure whatever Indradyumna Maharaj is doing is pure and good for the preaching.

I am referring to programs taking place in other places in Europe where he does not go.
—————————————————–
Here is an excerpt from a letter I got about one such group:

…”but after a while they started to dance in hotels around the country to serve as entertainment at corporate events for different companies…”

….not traditional songs, but many were movie songs or modern indian pop music. One Hindi song, Jhiya jale, is especially contaversial, since it is … a honeymoon song, basically discribing the events of the wedding night…..
————————————————–

In any case, I am a firm believer that the topic in general should be discussed in an open forum such as dandavats.com

I am not an advocate of the mushroom philosophy where devotees are not allowed to talk about controversial subject matters.

I think the discussion we are having is very healthy and wanted by the devotees (just look at the responses within such a short period of time), and I plan on asking other questions (trying to avoid misunderstandings in the future by making myself clearer) in the future because I value feedback from the devotees.
ys
BKG

Comment posted by Bir Krishna Goswami on December 15th, 2007
61 anandadd

I think its important for new female devotees to have a voice, especially when they are speaking of chastity. Especially if we are interested in spreading KC to women. ( P.S. Even enthusiastic, passionate, sincere, not fully trained new devotees)

At the same time, I have to say I am so enlivened by HH Indrayumna Maharaj’s preaching, when I get to see it on video. Every senior devotee I know who has gone on tour comes back radiantly enlivened almost as if they had gotten a chance to directly associate in Lord Caitanyas pastimes.

But I still feel KR voice is valid to be heard. I remember when I first joined 11 years ago after practicing austerities on another Yoga path for some years and I remember how painful it was when senior devotees tried to silence my real and valid voice and contribution saying I was too new and had to defer. Also, if we are interesting in spreading KC to women also, then it should be safe for new female devotees to share their hearts and experience as long as it is respectful.

As for the value of refined performance for the upper classes it is there and I understand. I grew up in a family that listened to (and sang) Opera and classical music on a regular basis and especially when we visited our family in Europe we would go shopping on 5th avenue and appearances, presentation, manners etc became of utmost importance.

Though I acknowledge the great value in refined artistic expression in KC life both as a soothing almost therapeutic influence in the lives of Vaisnavas as well as its positive impact on presenting an integrated and attractive presentation that creates very good PR for our movement, I still think that Krishna Rupas point is valid.

For myself, in early KC life, an essential and heart nourishing aspect of the training was austerity and exclusive focus on Krishna. As I matured the focus was allowed to focus on sharing that nourishment with others to inspire them in KC. But my nature and training prior to coming to KC is more contemplative and that would not have been right for everyone.

HH BK Maharaj has now clarified that his question had nothing to do with HH Indrayumna Maharaj’s festivals. But maybe the gift of his statement not being clarified at the beginning is this wonderful opportunity for us to all explore together the pros and cons of different approaches, to glorify some wonderful devotee preaching, as well as to understand and separate out the place for each approach (and if some have a place at all.)
Its important for leaders to understand that just because one thing works really well for some, it is not necessarily for everyone, and that does not necessarily mean anything in terms of the KC of the system or the devotee that doesn’t fit with it.

I am sorry to drag this discussion on after HH BK Maharaj concluded it so well in the last post. But I just felt that this needed to be said.
Begging for the mercy of the Vaisnavas,
Ananda dd

Comment posted by anandadd on December 15th, 2007
62 Unregistered

Comment #57 addresses the question of what happens to a lady whose training consists of looking nice on harinam, with less emphasis on sadhana.

Well, I was dancing on harinam, wearing a crown etc. for several years during the Polish tour. In our case most of us do have a spiritual foundation. We get our spiritual strength from this service and from the morning program. Many of us have been devotees for over ten years and have done a variety of services.

Now I’m married with two children. I’m still chanting sixteen rounds each day. In no way did I ever feel exploited. Now, I obviously cannot push a pram and dance at the same time so I don’t dance on harinam. But when my children are older I hope to resume this service, with them. As long as preaching is successful and people and devotees are happy, lets serve Krsna and be happy!!!

Comment posted by Ramesvari devi dasi on December 15th, 2007
63 Krsna-Rupa d.d.

Please accept my humble obesiances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada

I find it a shame that the devotees take to such extreme opposites when considering a topic. No one is saying that harinamas should be messy or involve ragged dressing and ragged dancing. It is a wonderful relief to see an organised public presentation of harinama with good musical quality. Actually I was hoping that devotees in general harinamas can find a nice medium. I am really inspired by the devotees in Melbourne who are trained in such a way that they dance nicely and orderly on harinama, yet are also naturally joyful. Usually at least 10 or more devotees going out twice a week, and with the girls dressed beautifully and yet also chastely and simply in cotton saris. There is no need for extremes in our movement. Too messy or too fancy can be equally mis-representing and this was the original question, how are we representing our movement?

I really appreciate some of the comments about austerity, it is good for women to practice this simple spiritual life. I also understand there is lots of austerity in learning Bharat natyam and music etc, and one can do this intense practice with the intention of pleasing Krsna. It is not exactly the method for Krsna-bhakti, but if this is ones forte then it is wonderful to be using it for Krsna.

The main thing is to increase the preaching. I pray that the devotees always remain inspired to do this

I beg forgiveness if I have intentionally or unintentionally committed any offenses

your servant
Krsna Rupa d.d.

Comment posted by Krsna-Rupa d.d. on December 15th, 2007
64 Unregistered

I think this is a nice mood from Maharaja and constructive - As in, asking for feedback about certain subject matters - At Times it is a fact ,that there may be some issue(s) which requires more higher level dicussion(S), in the brahminical sense or more advanced Brahminical insights into some philosophical subject matter -

Regarding hearing from all devotees whether “Big” or “Small” and that Krsna can in sense speak thru anyone -Its a fact -

It is intereting to note, that this was one of the Charactoristics of Jayananda Prabhu, who would at times even ask younger Bhaktas as well as older devotees for feedback at times.

So it is nice to see that A senior - GBC member - is reaching out in these kinds of ways, to both “Big” and “Small” devotees so to speak, for feedback -

(( In any case, I am a firm believer that the topic in general should be discussed in an open forum such as dandavats.com

I am not an advocate of the mushroom philosophy where devotees are not allowed to talk about controversial subject matters.

I think the discussion we are having is very healthy and wanted by the devotees (just look at the responses within such a short period of time), and I plan on asking other questions (trying to avoid misunderstandings in the future by making myself clearer) in the future because I value feedback from the devotees. ))
ys
BKG

Comment posted by bkt-jace on December 16th, 2007
65 bhakta piyush

The purpose and focus of the Ratha-Yatra Festival has and always will be for the people to see Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra on the cart. Pulling attention away from the focus of the Lord defeats the purpose of the event. Dancing is not for the purpose of attracting anyones attention to any individuals, but for the pleasure of the Lord and the focus should be towards Lord Jagannatha so that persons may be saved from the cycle of birth and death.

I have heard two incidents in this regard. One is the comment by Srila Prabhupada that while one is pulling the cart they are liberated, but as soon as they stop and partcipate in other activities, meaning that they go about their normal day to day actvities forgetting Lord Krishna they are again in maya.

This can also be true if someone is dancing in the temple of standing right before the Lord and thinking of something unrelated.
I heard this second story a long time ago in Vrindavan SB class, I cannot remember the whole incident but the point of the story was well taken. Once Srila Prabhupada was asked by a devotee if his wife could dance in the temple as she was an expert dancer. Srila Prabhupada said no, again the wife insisted and the husband went once more was told that SP would arrange for the dance before the Deities while no-one was around, only the altar doors would be open, without any pujari. Again the wife insisted that she would like to dance in public, this time Srila Prabhupada chastised the husband saying “Neither do I want to go to hell, nor send you or your wife.”

So care, attention and thoughtfulness are required to present this movement in a nice way so that the actual result is that all are benefited without being ostracized. An overall picture is needed as to what the purpose is and then after thinking and “making a very nice arrangement “things will go on in a very nice way.”

I am grateful to our senior leaders who are concerned about our spiritual welfare.

Comment posted by bhakta piyush on December 16th, 2007
66 urmila devi dasi

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

It’s hard to believe the above “Prabhupada says” in comment #65 about performing dance in the temple, in light of the letters we have from him to the contrary.

Particularly one wonders about such a story coming from a temple that has a firm policy against even older, senior women who are VIHE sastra teachers giving class in the temple. That policy exists in spite of a GBC resolution specifically asking that temple to have women giving class, and in spite of Prabhupada having personally asked women to give public class there in his presence. If they are opposed to an older, scholar woman giving class, one would imagine that they would also oppose dancing. That is one temple where almost any type of dancing by women in kirtana is also discouraged.

Of course, it could be that the story in #65 is true, but in relation to some very specific circumstance.

If anyone would like to see two letters where Prabhupada very much encourages traditional dancing for preaching, please go to: http://www.radharani.com/quotes_dance.html

Note that there are two letters on that page–one needs to click on the thumbnail of each one at the top. These are photographs of the original letters.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by urmila devi dasi on December 16th, 2007
67 anandadd

I love this point that the focus is to be on Jaganath. Not the women.
**
And I think this discussion is amazing the way that it is pulling out so many important points from all sides. It is very helpful to me personally.
**
When I was at the beginning of my Bramacarini training, the women were encouraged to not even have a mirror and have very strict sadhana and to only associate with women. This helped to wean us from the bodily concept of life and put the focus on Krishna. It was very valuable training for me-though very difficult. It really gave me strength and experience of the real thing, and an inner compass. (Though I wish we as women had more loving sangha with each other, that would have helped more!)

Since then I have gone back to graduate school, ran preaching centers, developed programs that were not orthodox, gotten married to an lovely Indian man and had a child. We have lived in little India NYC, as well as many very different and diverse expressions of human civilisation since then. And in general I try my best to fit in externally, though sometimes my best guess fails and needs adjustment. But anyway, that internal compass and that early training really helps me.

But I have to say that since leaving Bramacarini life, the expectations I seem to receive from the devotee community in general in terms of what is KC, are ‘to be fashionable’ and the judgements/rubric are often on a very shallow plane. I am talking about retreats or conferences. I am talking about day to day.

I would really like to not have to go outside of ISKCON to find meaningful day to day, caring association with intelligent women of depth.

I also very much appreciate the help that the devotees in this conference have given me to help me unknot some of my anarthas and free me misunderstandings that are keeping me from focusing more and helping others to focus more on Lord Krishna.
Begging for the mercy of the Vaisnavas,
ys,
Ananda dd

Comment posted by anandadd on December 16th, 2007
68 anandadd

typo: I am NOT talking about retreats and conferences, but day to day and Sunday Feasts. I have found the conference and retreats to be very enlivening and deep and getting better every year. Sorry for that.
**
This forum seems to be clarifying a need to look at our policy on training women. I don’t mean telling them not to teach class, or not to speak out or to shut down, or to dress this way or that, or to be beautiful and give a powerful refined performance for the public.
I mean what kind of culture are we creating taking all of that into consideration?

What kind of culture and ground are we creating for the women in our movement to grow in KC. What kind of behaviors and perspectives and values are we, through the policies, supporting in our women as a gender?

It would be nice for someone with more formal training in Sociology to study and give us feedback the culture this creates for the women in our movement. I would also like to hear more womens voices.

I think we need to be asking what changes need to occur to create a depth, a gravity and a real and joyful KC in the women who, we hope, will be and become the mother of Vaisnava Saints one day. How can we help the women to relax and be less fearful, and free to be kinder to each other? How we create a more nourishing example for the children?

I think that is a healthy vision to at least shoot for. Otherwise, it is just being looked at from a more narrow plane based on goals like fear of sense gratification or acceptance of some Yukta Vairagya which in the long run for the health of our movement, isn’t as important.

begging for the mercy of the Vaisnavas,
your servant,
Ananda dd

Comment posted by anandadd on December 16th, 2007
69 Locanananda dasa

In his purport to Cc. Adi 9.29, Srila Prabhupada succinctly explains the sum and substance of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement:

“There is no distinction made between those who are fit and those who are not fit
to hear or take part in the sankirtana movement. It should therefore be preached without discrimination. The only purpose of the preachers of the sankirtana movement must be to go on preaching without restriction. That is the way in which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced this sankirtana movement to the world.”

There are different ways, all of them authorized, to present sankirtana. Srila Prabhupada spoke of a twenty-four man World Sankirtana Party that would travel from city to city and perform street chanting. He wrote about having kirtana performed on stage before a paying audience. Even when book distribution was reaching greater and greater heights, Srila Prabhupada insisted that public chanting must go on and even recommended that one or two devotees could chant while others sold books. Short skits can be performed (no rasa-lila dancing, please) and short announcements can be made to educate those who gather as onlookers. In some situations, for example in public parks, devotees can sit and chant, adding a harmonium and tamboura. One can add the blowing of conchshells, a mantra sign, mounted posters, flags and other auspicious symbols held by devotees who are not playing musical instruments. Let’s not forget that distributing prasadam always increases the blissfulness of the sankirtana party. So there seems to be some leeway when considering how to expand the Sankirtana movement according to time, place, the circumstances, the audience and its culture.

We are trying to play a small part in the glorification of the Lord’s Holy Name with our Saturday night Times Square Harinam Sankirtana Party. Last night, with temperatures below 30 degrees, a few stalwart sankirtana veterans chanted, danced and handed out magazines to a grateful public happy to see us. One of the onlookers called out to me when the chanting ended.

“Lochan, I wanted to let you know the judge agreed to give me custody of my two kids.”

I had met James a few months earlier at Times Square and he explained that he was living in a homeless shelter and that his kids were in foster care.
Despite this adversity, James wanted to find out how to practice Krishna consciousness, so he visited the temple that Sunday and truly enjoyed the spiritual program.

James is blessed by Krishna and has found inner hope from his association with the sankirtana party. He gave a five dollar donation last night, the biggest donation we received that evening, and because he is giving from the heart, I know he will continue to make progress on the path back to Godhead. By material calculations, anyone would have written him off as a candidate unfit for success, but he is making his life successful on account of his favorable attitude toward those who chant the Holy Name of the Lord.

When devotees gather to chant and dance in public to the beat of the mrdanga and karatals, their dancing crushes the inauspiciousness of the material world under their feet. Chanting with all one’s heart is different from chanting at the top of one’s lungs.

Our chanting is the natural call of the soul for Krishna to engage us in His service and for Him to display His causeless mercy to the fallen conditioned souls who are bewildered by His material energy. Anyone who thinks of himself or herself as a devotee of Krishna should join the sankirtana party on a regular basis beginning as soon as possible. Temple managers should organize these activities to include the greatest number of devotees, those living in temples and those living at home. Pregnant women, women with children, kids, the elderly… there can be no discrimination at to who is fit and who is unfit. I began taking my daughter out with our Downtown Brooklyn sankirtana party in a stroller beginning from when she was six weeks old. From what I remember, she slept through the whole thing, but the Holy Name is not obstructed from reaching the soul, neither that of a sleeping baby nor of a homeless man.

All glories to Sri Krishna Sankirtana!

Your servant,
Locanananda dasa

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on December 17th, 2007
70 Akruranatha

I am also enjoying the lively discussion and would like to thank H.H. Bir Krishna Maharaja for starting this thread.

The quotations from Srila Prabhupada about theatrical preaching are especially interesting. I had not heard them. Theatrical preaching is a potential untapped resource that could reach lots of different people in new ways, if done correctly. It is interesting that Srila Prabhupada was warning against the humorous, satirical type of skit, which has often been an ISKCON staple. We need to learn how to do Krishna conscious drama well.

This may be a bit off topic, but has anyone seen the Hollywood movie Bee Season? It is mainly about a girl who is a spelling bee prodigy and her family, especially her father, who is a scholar of Jewish numerology, but there is a minor side plot about her older brother experimenting with the Hare Krishnas.

The way the boy gets involved in the Hare Krishnas is presented funny. I know the film makers were not devotees, and the whole subplot had more to do with how the boy was being neglected within the family dynamic as the father was intensely eager to exploit his daughter’s mystical gift.

Anyway, the boy becomes a Hare Krishna basically because this attractive young woman Hare Krishna devotee leads him into it. It is kind of jarring the way the nondevotees think that this kind of romantic enticement would work. It did not ring true at all, to me, how this girl devotee has a kind of romance, though innocent enough, which brings this boy into the temple.

Anyway, I kind of forget most of what happened in the movie. The mother has a nervous breakdown, and has been pschotic for years. I think the sister devises a means to get the family back together, at which point the boy stops drifting away into the Hare Krishnas. I did not find it a very good film, and I found its treatment of the Hare Krishna movement a little off. On the other hand, it does have a lot of “big screen” time involving Hare Krishnas.

It is adapted from a novel I never read. Maybe the novel presents a more realistic portrait of Krishna consciousness? (I hope).

The only reason I mentioned it is, it is presented in the movie that the boy is more or less lured into involment in Krishna consciousness by his sexual attraction to a young girl devotee. It seems pretty innocent by Hollywood standards (but I seem to recall there was some kissing). It just seems like, these Hollywood people do not understand our culture at all when it comes to interaction between boys and girls.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on December 17th, 2007
71 Unregistered

pamho.

Urmila mataji posted link to two letters where Prabhupada encourages traditional dancing for preaching. http://www.radharani.com/quotes_dance.html

I couldn’t help noticing, that Srila Prabhupada was very specific in what kind of dancing to perform. In first letter he speaks of dancing group to “depict very exquisitely stories from Krishna Book”. And please note, that “Krishna Book” is UNDERLINED. So it can be concluded, that if dancing is to be seen as encouraged by Srila Prabhupada, then it must be based on stories from Krsna Book. I’d say that the point is not in dancing at all, but in presenting Krsna Book.

And second letter, Srila Prabhupada requests, that devotees prepare 7 (seven) dances from Caitanya Caritamrita, and 7 (dances) from Krishna Book. Again, it is clear, that the point is not in dancing, but in presenting nice stories from sastra, with purpose to attract people to buy books.

Krishna Book appears in both cases, so it can be safely concluded, that Srila Prabhupada wanted that dances are based on some real stories from there, instead of dances being concocted based on our imagination.

But true, this was 1975, devotees are mature and pure now. Possibly we can now move a step further, and start describing our own realisations in dance and drama.

ys gd

Comment posted by gauradasa on December 17th, 2007
72 bhakta piyush

In my comment #65 above the following sentence was posted in error. It clearly make no sense.

“This can also be true if someone is dancing in the temple of standing right before the Lord and thinking of something unrelated.”

It should read as follows:

“This can also be true if someone is in the temple of standing right before the Lord and thinking of something unrelated.”

I am also of the opinion that the story was related to something specific. It may point to an individuals desire for thier own name, fame and glory.

I appreciate the letters in #66 They confim that Srila Prabhupada wanted the expert dancers and performers to have organized staged programs to glorify Lord Krishna. If someone distracts another from this point it will be dis-service.

I have extracted the references to dancing from one letter for convenience.

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“Because your wife is fully trained as a classical dancer, even she taught in such big university, so she can organize classical dancing to portray stories about Krishna and his Pasttimes and that will be a very nice proposal. Recently in Bombay we have held a benefit charity perfromance called “Hare Krishna Benefit” performed by the Javeri Sisters, a famous classical dancing group from Manipur.

“These dancers were depicting stories from Krishna’s Pastimes, and the dancing was very nice. So this art of dancing, as any art can be employed in the service of glorifying the Supreme Lord. If she is an expert dancer, your wife can organize a dancing group to depict very exquistely stories from our Krishna Book.”

Letter to Prajapati, February 25 1972
——————————————————————————————————————————-

The following is taken from Bhaktivedanta Vedabase. In the letter above we see that the aim above was to glorify Lord Krishna. That is the whole purpose and aim of applying this art or any art for that matter. Immediately when the “backs are to the Deities” there is a problem. The purpose is to keep Krishna in the center.

_____________________________________________________________________

18. “Why Are Their Backs To the Deities?”
The scene: Mäyäpur Gaura-Purnima festival, 1976. Prabhupäda is seated in his room, talking with Prajäpati däsa and his wife, who are leaders of a Krishna conscious dance and theater group. They are showing Prabhupäda pictures of one of their performances in a temple.
“Why are their backs to the Deities?” Prabhupäda asked.
“Because Jayatirtha said … ”
“Jayatirtha?” Srila Prabhupada said it in a way that obviously rejected their reply. He then asked that whatever GBC men were nearby should come at once to his room. When the men had gathered, Srila Prabhupada began lecturing to them on the point of not turning one’s back to the Deity. “Rüpa Gosvämi has said, ‘Do not turn your back to the Deity,’ but now they say someone has said it is all right.” Prabhupäda looked around heavily to the devotees in the room. “This is the problem,” he said. “We have so many big, big äcäryas.”
When a devotee began speaking and mentioned another one of Srila Prabhupada’s leading disciples, Prabhupäda immediately cut down, with a few words, both the devotee in the room and the person he had referred to. Then everyone was silent.
Finally a devotee asked, “Srila Prabhupada, what about women dancers onstage?” Earlier that day, a group of young women from a Bengali village had been dancing and playing mrdanga in the temple and some of the devotees had questioned whether it was proper to watch them.
Srila Prabhupada replied that women should not appear onstage for dramatic performances. Men should play the women’s roles. He said that in India it was done that way previously; women’s parts were played by boys. Only later were women introduced in the women’s roles. Prabhupäda said no respectable woman would do that, so they used prostitutes. Prabhupäda continued speaking, outlining the history of Bengali drama.
He then told the devotees about the time he had played in a drama about the life of Lord Caitanya. It had been directed by a prominent figure in Bengali theater. Prabhupäda described how when the play was finished, all the actors stood there but there was no applause. They looked out at the audience to see why there was no applause, and they saw that everyone was so moved by the story that they all had tears coming from their eyes.
“That’s because you were in the play, Srila Prabhupada” remarked a devotee.
Prabhupäda shook his head and made a typical wave of his hand, as if to dismiss the notion that the play was important because of him.
SPN 4-19: Little Drops of Nectar
_______________________________________________________________________

Comment posted by bhakta piyush on December 17th, 2007
73 urmila devi dasi

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In response to comment #71, the words “Krishna Book” in that letter were underlined because in the days of typewriters, book titles were underlined. Today, with computers, one puts book titles in italics. The underline was not for emphasis.

Also, one could not conclude that Prabhupada wanted only dances based on Krishna Book and Caitanya Caritamritathat just because in those two letters Prabhupada says the dances should be on those books. For comparison, if I tell you I would like a potato subji that does not imply that I only want to have potato subjis every day.

In response to comment #72, Prabhupada was talking about another time when he said women shouldn’t perform for the public. I was personally with Prabhupada when he watched the Ramayana in New York in 1976 with Rasajna as Sita. He said she was the best actress in the world, and appreciated the performance very much. There are many, many instances of Prabhupada being very happy with dramas that included women. Some, such as The Age of Kali, were not pastimes per se, but rather philosophical plays. Others, such as Mr. Fish (I played maya in that one!), wrong bank account, etc. were not lila at all, but based on metaphorical stories that Prabhupada told.

As for Bir Krishna Maharaja’s question about women performing dances to Indian love songs in hotels as part of preaching , I would think it’s pretty clear that Prabhupada did not want us listening to, playing, or performing what he called “cinema songs.” This prohibition would apply equally to men and women.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

Comment posted by urmila devi dasi on December 18th, 2007
74 urmila devi dasi

Prabhupada on head covering and dancing:

“If you have gone to the warfield and if you practice nonviolence there, this is useless. Why should you go? There is a Bengali proverb that naste bose gunthanam(?), that… In India, the girls, they cover their head. That is the system of married girl’s shyness. So it is said that one girl is on the stage for dancing. Now while she is to dance, she’s covering the head. What is the use of covering the head? You have come to dance, you dance. Similarly, in the warfield, you have gone there to fight. Where is the question of becoming nonviolent? So things should be done according to the time and atmosphere.
(lecture Bhagavad-gita 2.27-38 — Los Angeles, December 11, 1968)

Comment posted by urmila devi dasi on December 19th, 2007
75 Unregistered

PART 1

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

I followed the discussion but I had no intention to comment. However, when it has become very clear to me about which dancing group HH Bir Krishna Maharaja is being concerned with, I decided to write a few points especially since the vaisnavis from the group do not desire to do this themselves.

One of the reasons for my writing is also that I think these vaisnavis deserve to know that their service to Lord Krishna has value and it is being appreciated as such and that hundreds hours of practice and even many more hours of performing at public programs has not gone in vain, as they might have got the impression.

The dancing group Rasa lila from Slovenia has had about 200 permormances on public programs, ratha yatras, harinamas, school programs – all in the last four years. In about 95%, their performance was part of a larger program, accompanied by a harinama – bhajan group. The bhajan group always consisted of at least three men, I’m just mentioning this to stress they were not alone in all this programs, but with other devotees. Even on the few occasions when they performed without the bhajan group, some husband accompanied them.

They have even been invited by one of the biggest shopping centers in the country to perform there. I don’t know who wouldn’t accept the opportunity to distribute the Holy Names? Again, the bhajan group, chanting Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and the dancing group would exchange on the stage and make nice preaching programs. They also danced on few Ratha yatra festivals in Croatia with few hundred devotees and many more people attending. In the last two years they were invited to dance on the big Summer Festival in Radhadesh, and they danced at the well known Venice harinam in Italy. Many senior vaisnavas, like Krisna Ksetra Prabhu, Candramauli Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Param-gati Swami, Kadamba-kanana Swami, expressed appreciation for their service during the years.

Comment posted by manditangi on December 26th, 2007
76 Unregistered

PART 2

They are not and have never performed a presentation of the Rasa lila dance, although the name of the group is such. They are presenting the Shyam dance in the exact and unchanged manner as it is (or it was?) being performed on Poland tour and as Mother Urmila has described it in one of the previous letter. I have seen them dancing the Shyam dance at least ten times and many other devotees can confirm this as well. At the end of the dance Krishna is embracing the soul, returning to Him and not Srimati Radharani. In order to make sure the audience understands the dance properly, the story about the soul trying to find its way back home to the eternal Lord Krishna’s abode is always explained first. They are dancing also some other dances, some bharat natyam dance (story about Lord Rama etc.) and jhulan yatra dance. Due to lack of understanding of hindi, it happened that they danced also to one improper song mentioned by some devotee in a letter to Bir Krishna Maharaja. When they found out they stopped dancing it for the devotee public, but still danced it for some open programs due to shortage of other dances, knowing that here in our country no one understands the language and the coreography has already been made. In my opinion this was a mistake, but who doesn’t make mistakes? As Lord Krishna is teaching in Bhagavad-gita, one should correct one’s mistake and not abandon one’s duty (service).

The vaisnavi dancers are dressed very nicely and are very chaste. Probably no need to explain, but their dancing clothes are from India, so is the jewelery and other items they use. They look very professional and their performances are always very spiritually enlivening. They look very representative and not at all hippy-like. On all the programs I was, I could witness that people were always highly enlivened and inspired, wanted to make photos, and desired to come and see some more performances. When my relatives saw the Shyam dance on one of the programs, my mother and my sister were moved to tears. They understood it very clearly it was about a soul returning to God.

Comment posted by manditangi on December 26th, 2007
77 Kesava Krsna dasa

Dear prabhus,

There are clearly two sides to this story. On one hand we have Maharaja using a very provocative title to gather opinions about what he feels is an affront to sannyasa or Iskcon sensibilities. Then we have a number of devotees who have witnessed the presentations in question, and vouch for its Krishna conscious appeal.

I am no nearer to formulating an opinion, except to urge the usual balanced approach, as any normal person would. But then, when I read how these same questionable shows are attracting people, even moving them to tears in some cases, I begin to wonder, “What is all the fuss about?” I also wonder, if these devotees spend hours of their time and energy trying to please the Lord out on Harinama, are not the words “sex attraction!” a little harsh to use?

Then we have to take Maharaja’s version of events which imply something sensual, and not up to standard. It is vaisnava etiquette to not take sides in a dispute between vaisnavas, especially those senior to us, except again to clear up any asiddhantic discrepency. Here however, we have a question put to the floor as it were, asking for feedback on something, we must admit, not crystal clear, and perhaps slow in coming.

Proof that this question had some hazy obscure-ness about it, is that some commentators thought the question was directed at HH Indradyumna Maharaja, to which Maharaja had to refute, and explain more clearly his objective. The initial confusion made devotees wonder, “Who is Maharaja referring to?”

Clearly, any question of this nature should be thoroughly worked out and presented so as to not elicit all the allegations and counter-allegations we have read. The aggregate message has been, “Be careful about presenting Rasa-lila to the innocent, or lusty persons, and let the Harinama devotees have a happy time.”

I do admire Maharaja’s attempt to put out the question this way, because there are many wise non-leader devotees around who can give sound input. He is not playing a ‘top-heavy’ role in this regard. As to whether I myself am any wiser after this particular exercise, I am not too sure, due to the various directions the comments were headed. I think i can safely say,”I wonder!”

Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa.

Comment posted by Kesava Krsna dasa on December 26th, 2007
78 anandadd

Thank You Mantidangi Prabhu, for explaining how the Rasa Lila troupe is performing in Slovenia. I have never been to Eastern Europe but there seem to be so many inspiring KC programs there.

Those devotees that are able to be fully engaged in hearing and sharing the pastimes and glories of the Lord and his associates are so lucky. I admire those whose lives are situated in such a way that they are able to be around so much Kirtan while inspiring others to learn more about God/Krishnas love for us and our hidden longing to return to Him.

I also really appreciate the way Bir Krishna Swami first proposed the question, in a very open way. It allowed for a very dynamic discussion in which many important points, clarifications came out about principles, standards, values and perpectives that I feel were really worth hearing and considering on a touchy issue. I think the value of the discussion was not in pinpointing a particular group, but in hearing from the larger body of Vaisnavas on an issue that can really step up the purity and focus in our efforts to share KC with the world.

Much of KC these days is shared from the grass roots up, and for this to happen most effectively, it helps for those of us in the grass (sic) to be a part of these dynamic discussions so that we can make the best decisions possible.

your servant,
Ananda dd

Comment posted by anandadd on December 26th, 2007
79 Locanananda dasa

Maharaja wrote:

“One example is having devotees publically dance a ‘rasa-lila’ enactment to modern music with a Krishna conscious theme.

“Another is having ladies dance in such a way in Harinamas that attention becomes focused on them.

“Do we think these ways are effective in spreading Lord Caitanya’s message?”

I am sure the ladies who are taking part in Harinam Sankirtana are purely motivated,
and that their dancing reflects the natural awakening of joyful Krishna consciousness. It is very encouraging to hear about any devotees, male or female, who are enthusiastic about Harinam Sankirtana. Performing Sankirtana for the benefit of the conditioned souls is a great austerity, but it is also the yuga dharma, the religion for the age. This recommended type of group chanting is actually the direct plea of the spirit soul to be engaged in the service of the Lord. It is also an appeal to the Lord that He distribute His mercy to all of His parts and parcels.

Personally, I see no harm in trying to attract the innocent public to Krishna consciousness
through choreographed dance on Harinam. There is another consideration, though, that should not be overlooked. Arranging the Harinam party in such a way that attention is drawn to the dancing of women does not favor the men in the Harinam party who are renounced, that is, the sannyasis and brahmacaris. Just as they should not be expected to watch women dancing on stage as mentioned in a previous post, their attention should not be diverted to women dancing on Harinam. This is a principle that should not be ignored by organizers of the Harinam party. If the men find it too distracting, to show respect for their vows, the organizers should consider toning down the choreography.

Just my humble opinion.

Your servant,
Locanananda dasa

Comment posted by Locanananda dasa on December 28th, 2007

Comments are closed. Please check back later.

 
 
Home » Does Sex Attraction Bring People to Krishna?
 
  • Post Details

Author: Administrator Administrator's website Administrator's email
Post Date: Sunday, December 9th, 2007
Categories: Bir Krishna Goswami
Trackback: Trackback
 
  • Last update: Wed July 23

  • Who is online

    • 28 currently online
    • 169 maximum concurrent
    • 11714673 total visitors

    Registered users online

gkd -
  • Registered users: 6285

  • Navigation

  • -OTHER INCOMING LINKS
  • BC VTE Bhakti Sastri Online
  • Bhaktimarga Swami's blog
  • Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
  • Bhaktivedanta College
  • Bhaktivedanta Institute (Alachua)
  • Bhaktivedanta Manor
  • Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network
  • Bhaktivedanta Vedabase Online
  • Cooking with Kurma
  • Darshan of SS Radha-Londonisvara
  • Dharmapatnis
  • Diary of a Traveling Preacher
  • Euro GBC
  • Forbidden Archeology
  • Gaudiya Vaisnava texts
  • Indradyumna Swami Media
  • ISKCON Bangalore Official
  • ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry
  • ISKCON Health & Welfare Ministry
  • ISKCON Ministry of Educational Development
  • ISKCON's Congregational Development Ministry
  • Iskcon-desire-tree
  • Iskcon.com
  • Jayadvaita Swami's personal site
  • Krishna Dharma's website
  • Krishna Lila Entertainment
  • Krishna.com
  • Krishnamarriage.com
  • matchlessgifts.org
  • Mayapur Academy
  • Mayapur Days
  • Mayapur International School
  • Ministry of Educational Development
  • Our Spiritual Journey
  • Parisisvara
  • prabhupadavani.org
  • Radio Krsna Central
  • Saligrama Sila site
  • Sridham Mayapura
  • The Bhaktivedanta Archives
  • The ISKCON Sannyasa Ministry
  • The Official GBC site
  • Trivikrama Swami
  • Vaisnava Calendar
  • Vaisnava Calendar Reminder
  • Vaisnava care website
  • Vanipedia
  • varnashrama.org
  • Vedic Astrologer
  • Vedic knowledge online
  • Vedic view on controversial issues
  • Website in Bengali language
  • Yadunandana Swami's personal site
  • Alachua Temple Live Podcast
  • Comments by author
  • Donate through searching
  • Founder Acarya
  • Incoming Links
  • Iskcon News TV Channel
  • Iskcon Radio stations
  • Iskcon Universe Feed
  • Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
  • Krishna conscious "youtube"
  • Krishna Conscious Media
  • Most commented articles
  • Most read articles
  • New Dwaraka Archived Lectures
  • Polls
  • Stats
  • Temple webcams
  • Thanks!
  • The last seven day's most read articles
  • ISKCON GBC Executive Committee’s Letter to Ukrainian Devotee Refugees
  • Thirteenth Padyatra Winds through Slovenia
  • NASN June 2014 - North American Sankirtan Newsletter
  • News from the Bhakti Yoga Club at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Open Vyasa-puja book 2014: pdf now online
  • Hundreds of school children attend ISKCON program in Mayapur
  • Hare Krishna devotee Buddhi Wilcox has been nominated in the Pride of New Zealand Awards
  • Pete Doherty donates £2,500 but more help is needed
  • Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha Temple, Durban honours Mandela Day
  • Mayapur Jhulan Yatra Festival 2014

     
    "Artwork and photos courtesy of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. www.krishna.com. Used with permission"