By Caru Das
The last 24 days, Holi Festival notwithstanding, have been a very busy time for Academic Outreach. Caru Das made 12 classroom presentations to a total of 2,040 High School Students and an additional 424 students along with teachers and some parents, toured the temple on 2 – 3 hour school field trips.
Temple Tours included lunch, kirtan, power point presentation, yoga, short video, in one case a Bharat Natyam workshop, and animal (cows, parrots, and llamas) handling.
Classroom presentations included power points, kirtan, and some cooking demonstrations.
Mountain View High, 800 students (with video feed). March 24, CP
Mountain View High, 800 students (with video feed) March 25, CP
American Leadership Academy, 80 Second graders, March 27th, SFT
Mountain View High School, 50 students: March 28th, SFT
Holi Festival March 29
Payson High School, 40 students, April 7th, CP
Kaysville High School, 70 Ninth graders, April 8th, SFT
Odyssey Charter School, 75 Second graders April 9th, SFT
Diamond Fork Middle School, 400 Tenth graders April 10th, CP
Silverton Colorado High School, 14 Students April 14th, SFT
Treasure Mt International School, 90 Ninth graders, April 17th, SFT
Kindred Cop, 45 all ages, April 18th, SFT
24 days, 2,464 Students plus teachers and parents.
CP + Classroom presentations = 2040
SFT = School Field Trip, most with Lunch = 424
We believe that every temple, however, could and should have an external sign inviting visitors in for a tour during certain hours of the day. We have proposed this a couple of times at NA Temple Presidents and GBC meetings.
While on a recent visit to Chowpatty temple, Caru Das was asked by Jagannatha Kirtan Das to take him on an imaginary tour of Spanish Fork temple. The following is a transcript of that interview, kindly provided by JK, who says the gist of the tour has been nicely implemented in Mumbai. Because both Chowpatty and Spanish Fork are Rajastani style temples there is a fair bit in the beginning on that type of architecture. Skipping over this part down to the ‘Changing Bodies’ section, just about everything thence could be implemented at any temple worldwide.
Interview of Caru Das by Jagannath Kirtan in Chowpatty temple
Basic temple tour adaptable to time place, and circumstances (in this case, Chowpatty)
February 4, 2008
Almost any devotee can give a tour, it’s just a question of how you balance things out, with the visitors’ desires to hear a tour and also get spiritual information. Basically, they’ve come here and so you can preach pretty straightforwardly. At the same time it’s nice to give facts and figures and weave a tapestry of cultural information. But there’s no question of holding back on the preaching. Every devotee can do it. I’ve had a lot of experience giving tours, so these things I’m giving you are like mantras. The tour never stays the same. It’s always evolving, getting better and better as Krishna gives more intelligence.
Our temple is built in Rajasthani style architecture. The first thing I do is familiarize tourists with the style of architecture. If they’re Westerners, you have to assume they know nothing. ‘Sthan’ means place, ‘raja’ means king, and the people who lived there were ‘Rajputs’. ‘Putra’ means son, ‘raja’ means king. They’re the sons of kings.
They were never really conquered by the Moghuls. Even though the Moghuls invaded India in about 1000 AD in huge numbers. The Rajasthanis were not numerous. But they were like the Spartans of India. They would rather commit ‘johar’ than surrender. Johar meant that they would give up their lives first. And the women and children would also drink poison. I think the Moghuls conquered two cities, Chittor and Mewar, and when they entered the city after a long siege, everyone was dead. So then they figured, what’s the point’ They wanted to get past Rajasthan to they could plunder the rest of India, so they made accommodations with the Rajasthanis. They included some of the princesses in their harems, and they hired them as generals in their armies. They didn’t like each other particularly, but in order to avoid doing each other damage they co-existed.
The architecture of Rajasthan is very unique in India. It’s influenced by the Moguls, and it’s Hindu also. 5 out of 6 tourists in Northern India go to Rajasthan, because of the architecture, and most go to the capital city of Jaipur, which is also called the Pink City, because of its architecture.
It’s nice to tell some stories about Rajasthan. You figure Westerners come for the facts and the figures and the information. I tell them how the Rajasthani princes used to become king by killing a man-eating tiger single-handedly. If you go to Jaipur, there’s a martial arts Museum in the City Palace. It shows the two implements. It shows a round shield and it shows a dagger. The dagger has got a plate like that, then two plates to protect the wrist then a spike. And what the Rajasthani princes had to do, they had to stare unblinkingly at the tiger. When they located a tiger, they couldn’t blink. Because as soon as you blink, the tiger would be on you like a freight train. They had to have enough nerves to stare unblinkingly at a tiger, and then set themselves, set their knee on the ground and their shield. And when they were ready to receive the charge, then they would deliberately blink. And of course you couldn’t go pound for pound with a 600 lb. tiger coming at you, so what you would have to do is try and get him up over the shield so then you could get into the underbelly. That was a right of passage, wherein you either became lunch for a tiger or you became king.
These are some nice stories, just like with the Spartans there’s all kinds of chivalrous stories, so similarly, there’s a lot of lore about Rajasthan. Not only because of the architecture but because of the charisma of the people. You also opted to build in the Rajasthani style here in Bombay, so you probably won’t find too many other buildings that look exactly like this here in Bombay or in Maharashtra.
‘Where did you research these stories about the lore of Rajasthan”
I did read a trilogy called Colonel Todd’s Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan. If you don’t want to be thoroughly versed, if you just want a few tidbits for the tourists, you don’t have to go to that extent. But that’s a good account. Although it’s written in somewhat stilted English, it’s very good.
Then I tell when the temple was established, how it came to be here. You in Chowpatty could talk about Radhanath Maharaja coming here alone, how the building was a high school, an orphanage. Talk about how renters have more powers than owners in India, how you can’t get a renter out. How it’s a miracle. How you were able to take over not only this building but the buildings around. Because that just doesn’t happen, you can’t just do that. You can’t get people out. Neither can you raise their rent, neither can you get them out. So we see the Lord’s hand in all this, in the acquisition of a property and all for Krishna’s service. There was an entire high school in this complex of buildings. There was an orphange. They were all moved, and to bigger, better facilities!
And then it’s very interesting what Radhanath Maharaja told me about the carver. The man who carved all the stone is a Krishna devotee. He’s a devotee but in his whole life he never did a Krishna temple. He’s very aged, and this is probably the last temple he’s ever going to do, and so he was very happy because of his whole involvement to do a Krishna temple. And he only charged you the cost price for all the carving, all the stone, and it’s including the woodwork too isn’t it’ I believe so.
And of course Krishna, most people in India are familiar with. Krishna, Krishna is a name for God, it means all-attractive, and at this point you can bring out the Bhagavad-gita, have a stack of Bhagavad-gitas, in case people want to buy one. Krishna is the speaker of Bhagavad-gita, the great crest-jewel of Indian wisdom. It was spoken 5,000 years ago in Sanskrit. Then when you translate it from Sanskrit to English, Gita means song, and Bhagavan means God. It’s the Song of God. And in here there are 700 verses divided into 18 chapters. You can show them the Sanskrit if you want, ‘Here’s the Sanskrit’. And say ‘in here you find all your core concepts’. This is a good term, ‘core concepts’: karma, yoga, reincarnation, dharma, vegetarianism, and so on and so forth.
That will have all taken place in our Utah temple lobby. And as we go through the downstairs, I’ll point out the gift store on the right, and the buffet on the left. Invite them at the end of the tour to browse, patronize each one. And our temple is upstairs. Here in Chowpatty you might want to point out the restaurant, and even go through it briefly. I don’t know, just maybe point out we have a restaurant over here. And of course you have many more things on your ground floor than we do. You can take them to Vrindavan Forest. Say Vrindavan is the place where Krishna appeared. It’s about so many kilometers from here, prime pilgrimage spot for all of North India, and then it’s a good opportunity to mention the tilak.
You mention you’re probably wondering why we wear this clay on our faces. And if they’re Westerners, I say ‘Look, imagine yourself as a pious Christian going to Bethlehem. The dirt, the dust there has been touched by Lord Jesus Christ’s feet two thousand years ago. Then wouldn’t you somehow or other want to contact the Lord by proxy by contacting the dust, or maybe putting it on your head. The dust has touched the feet of the Lord. If you touch the dust on your head, it’s comparable to putting your head at the feet of the Lord. Pilgrims to Vrindavan, the birthplace or Krishna, they also, they roll in the dust when they get into the area, wanting to contact something that’s contacted the feet of the Lord. And they also take the dust and anoint themselves with a V-mark, which stands for Vishnu. It indicates the body is a temple and we are servants of Vishnu, the Lord. And then when they go back to their home countries, they want to do the same thing, they want to take that dust with them, as a constant reminder of the Lord. It’s marketed.
I always keep a package of tilak in my pocket, in a nice wrapping: ‘Here for instance is a dried up finger of the dust from the holy place, it’s wrapped in cellophane and then exported. As devotees, every morning we anoint not only our forehead, but twelve parts of our body, each mark saying a different name of God. ‘Om Keshavaya Namah, Narayana, Madhavaya, Govindaya, Vishnave, Madhusudanaya, Trivikramaya, Vamanaya, Sridharaya, Hrishikeshaya, Padmanabhya, Damodaraya”. And I actually say it. It impresses them. That you can just rattle off twelve names of God like that. So that’s something you can say in the Vrindavan Gardens, in connection with Vrindavan.
What else you have to show them on the ground floor’
You could just preach unlimitedly. With the tour, probably your group (of westerners) is going to be quite keen, because they’ve come all the way to India. This is what they want. You can go on for quite some length. In our area, a lot of people just stop by on a whim, and they may have reservations about the Krishnas. You can sense their mood. If they’re drawing back, recalcitrant, kind of taciturn, then you make it a real quick tour. I can give a tour in seven minutes, if I feel someone’s not really into it. Because I’m not into it either if they’re not, so I want to get it over with as soon as possible. Being as pleasant as possible, you know what I’m saying. But you should be able to go on at quite length, about each and every diorama, if someone is really interested.
What we’ll do is Utah is we’ll go up the stairs, and at the head of the stairs there’s a huge Changing Bodies picture. We use this as a station, you might say. I guess we have one, two, three, four, five stations, five main stations: the lobby, then upstairs for the Changing Bodies, Prabhupada station, altar station, Maha mantra station. I’ll let them look at the picture then I’ll say, there’s a couple of different approaches.
A really easy one is to say: ‘I’m going to ask you two questions’. The first one is: ‘Is this one person or many different people” They’ll say it’s one person. Ok. Now, ‘Is it one body, or many different bodies” And most people say ‘One body’. And I say well, you got the first question right but you got the second question wrong. Medical science says that every seven to twelve years all the cells in your body change and are replaced by new ones. In fact, all the cells of our body are a different set of cells from what we had seven years ago, and seven years from now we’ll have a different set of cells. Then I’ll usually point to my body and say, now this is the kind of body I have now, but forty-five years ago I had this kind of body, pointing to the adolescent in the picture. What happened to that body of forty-five years ago’ Is it this body’ No, not according to medical science. That body is dead and gone. For all practical purposes it’s dead and gone. Not only is that forty-five year ago body dead and gone, but several others have come and gone in the meantime.
I found myself saying 61-year old body, 15-year-old body, and I had to consciously stop that. It’s actually a contradictory point you’re making. The point is, the very point we’re making is that the body is not 61 years old, the body is not 15 years old. But if you do catch yourself saying something like that, something misleading like a 61 year old body, you can say, ‘actually I just said the wrong thing. There is no way this body is 61 years old. Parts of this body might be as old as ten years, and other parts may be as young as ten seconds. But there’s no such thing as a 61 year old body. If you can make that point.
Then, if my body of 45 years ago is dead and gone, then I’ll ask them ‘Ok, if that body is dead and gone, and everything to do with that body is dead and gone, what is still here’ Something is still present in this body. All the physical things have changed, but there’s something present that was present in the former body. It’s not anything physical. Neither is it the same mind. If I’ve changed my body five times in the last 45 years, I’ve changed my mind five thousand times in that period. The body and the mind have changed, but something is still exactly the same. What is that”
They say ‘Your soul.’ And I say ‘Correct’. Although, let’s put a finer point on it and let’s not say ‘Your soul’. I don’t have a soul, I have a body. I am a soul. I am a soul that has a body. So I don’t actually want to say ‘your soul’. Because if it’s your soul, who are you’ Are you something beyond the soul’ No. You’re the soul that has a body. And so in answer to the question ‘What’s still here” ‘ME.’ Thus haven’t I reincarnated’ And you can just stop there. Let them think about it.
Have I not reincarnated, have I not survived’ This body is gone, have I not transmigrated to this present body, and will I not also appear in several different bodies during the duration of this present lifetime’ So that’s basically what reincarnation means. ‘Carne’ means body, and ‘re’ means change. The body changes but I’m still the same person. Forty-five years ago I was looking at the world through different eyes. I was hearing through different ears. Just like you look out a window. The window is not seeing, the person behind the window is seeing. So it wasn’t these eyes of 45 years ago and the eyes now that are seeing, it’s me looking out through the eyes, seeing. And because the eyes are less strong now, I don’t see as well, or hear as well as I did. But that’s just the condition of the eyes, I’m the eternal spirit soul.
And then I point to the last phase and I say ‘If we’re comparing the body to a vehicle, say, and then I point to the old, old man, well then the vehicle would have 300,000 miles on it at this point. Do you really want to keep it, is it worth it’ It becomes very expensive to maintain, practically every day you have to be changing a major part again. And so, at best it’s embarrassing, and at worst it’s downright painful. I mean, to hang around old people a lot, and all you hear about is their recent surgeries. So it’s good, it’s actually good that we’re going to get rid of the body at the end of life, because it’s pretty useless. And we’re going to get another body. Just like at every stage, there was always a body waiting for us. Right now there’s another body waiting for me. There’ll be another body waiting for me at the time of death. Now, whether that body is going to be a spiritual body or a material body is up to you. It’s up to you.
Now everything that we do here in the temple complex is meant to spiritualize our consciousness, so we get a spiritual body in our next life, and don’t have to repeat the cycle of birth and death. Failing that, you’ll have a material consciousness, and the complement for a material consciousness is a material body. You have material desires, you get a material body. If you have spiritual desires, you get a spiritual body. And the benefit of getting a spiritual body is you don’t have to come back again. We’re originally spiritual beings. So when we perform spiritual activities, we’re really reawakening what’s already there. We’re actually not getting something that’s alien to us, but we’re regaining our eternal spiritual form. That’s pretty much all I say about that. I ask if there are any questions. You get some very good questions. People want to know about the lower forms, animal life, whether you can go back to being an animal, and so on and so forth. It’s a good point to stop and ask for questions.
That’s two stations.: the lobby and the reincarnation. Now we go to Prabhupada’s murti. I say ‘How many of you have ever heard the term guru”. They use it as an advertising term in America: sports guru, business guru, golf guru. I say that guru is actually someone who is free from the cycle that we just described. He’s (or she) not coming back. He’s (or she) like the lotus flower. You’ve seen lotus flowers all over the architecture, you may have wondered what is the significance of it. Lotus flower grows in water but it never gets wet. If you splash it the leaves remain dry. The guru is like a lotus flower. He’s physically present before us, which is to our advantage, but he’s actually a denizen of the spiritual world. So he’s here and he’s not here. And if you are interested in getting out of the cycle of birth and death, or even getting a start, because it needn’t be accomplished in one lifetime, then you seek the association of a guru.
If you’re interested in making that kind of progress, then you need to go to a perfected master. You need to take the guidance of someone that’s already done it, under the guidance of his master, and so on and so forth. This is the system. And if you want to finish your reincarnation, then you have to become his disciple. If you want to finish in this life you have to become his disciple. You have to do it seriously. If you’re not that keen on finishing up, you’re not fully realized, then you just want to get as much of their association as you can without making necessarily that formal a commitment. You have to let people have outs, otherwise they’re going to feel backed up into a corner. You say, this is what the committed people do, this is what the laity do. Always do that. So if you are interested in surrendering, giving your time and energy to a realized soul, then you have to make sure it’s someone who’s the real thing. And so there are three criteria by which you can test who is a bona fide guru.
One is that they are pure in character. There are four principles that in India, no one’In America I say no one accepts anyone as a guru in India who does these four things. That’s not true. But there’s no use in confusing them about all the weird things going on in India. But I just say ‘In India, no one accepts as a guru anyone who takes intoxication, gambling, has illicit sex, or eats meat.’ Eating meat is a big shock to them, how one can’t be guru while eating meat. But they have to be free of those four, materialistic activities: no intoxication, no illicit sex, no gambling, and no meat-eating. That’s the first thing.
But, there may be someone who doesn’t do any of those things, and who’s not a guru. So you have to apply the second test. And that is that they know the scriptures. Say you want to go from Salt Lake City to New York, and you’ve hired somebody to navigate you.
The second thing is that the guru should know the scripture. If you’ve hired someone to navigate you to how to get to New York, whatever they’re telling you should be found in the Rand McNally (map book). It should be exactly what’s in the Rand McNally. If it’s not, then this person is not what they purport to be. Whatever a guru speaks should be from the scripture, and the guru themselves, you should feel that you’re in the presence of someone who’s living the scripture. Not just someone who knows the scripture, but is living the scripture. That’s the second qualification.
Still, even if someone is pure in character, following those four principles, and knows the scripture, and even lives the scripture, still, they may not be a guru. Now can you tell me what the third qualification is’ And I’ve never gotten the answer from anyone who hasn’t taken the tour before. Although it’s very obvious.
We have the poster of the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya Parampara, all the 32 representatives. We have, on a tripod, we have from Danavir Maharaj, from St. Louis, he publishes that. So they’re standing right in front of it, we’re in front of Prabhupada’s murti, and besides Prabhupada is the paramapara. And still I ask, what is the third criteria’ And nobody has ever guessed correctly. And I tell them the third qualification. ‘A bona fide guru has to be a disciple of a previous guru. Just like you can’t declare yourself as a lawyer. You have to clerk for two years in order to get certified. You can’t declare yourself as a doctor. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have. Still you have to be an intern in order to be a doctor. Those two examples are really good. Then they all start nodding in agreement. No one can proclaim themselves as a guru. You can only become self-realized by approaching a self-realized person. There’s no other way to do it. Unless you associate with a self-realized person, you’re not going to get self-realized. Every guru has to have a guru.’
‘And look, here’s our guru, Prabhupada, and here’s his guru Bhaktisiddhanta’Gaur Kishore das..Bhaktivinode Thakur… ” It’s good to name names, it always impresses them. And it goes all the way back to Brahma who created the universe under the direction of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
And because each guru, there’s only one disciple pictured, it’s good to say at this point, that it’s not that each of these gurus had only one disciple. Like Bhaktisiddhanta, our guru’s guru, had hundreds of disciples. But Prabhupada was the one who came to the West. He was the one who fulfilled his guru’s innermost desire to open centers in the West. So for disciples in China, Russia, South America, North America, and even India, he’s pictured there, because he’s our link. It’s entirely conceivable that someone else, like some other of his Godbrothers would have someone else pictured there, and that’s fine, because, that Godbrother would have saved him. But Prabhupada was the one who saved people all over the world. That’s why he’s there. Prabhupada had five thousand disciples, and some of his disciples now have thousands of disciples.
If they’re really interested, now you can say, in 1936 his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta asked him specifically to go to the Western countries, and spread the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. It was generally known, among all of Bhaktisiddhanta’s hundreds of disciples that that was his dear most wish, the mission in the Western countries, Krishna Consciousness being spread in the English language. It was an open secret, really. There were many missionaries who didn’t even marry, who foreswore marriage in order to give their full energy and time to the preaching mission. And I guess it was assumed that one of those would establish an opening in one of the Western countries. But it didn’t happen. And Prabhupada couldn’t go in his youth because he had a family which he had to raise and educate and so on and so forth. But when he’d done that, discharged his family duties, and reached the age of retirement, none of the other full-time sannyasis had fulfilled the innermost wish of their spiritual master.
So he thought ‘I’ll try’. Everyone discouraged him: ‘In your old age, you can’t go to a foreign land with no resources. You’ll die there.’ And Prabhupada said ‘I may die, I may well die, but it will be in the service of my spiritual master.’ And so he started making preparations and at the age of 70 he set off on a boat to America. And in those days, India had currency restrictions. You couldn’t take any more than 40 Rupees out of the country, about seven dollars. And he had two heart attacks on the way over. He arrived in Boston Harbor in the winter of 1965, with seven dollars and very weak health. He didn’t know anybody in America. He didn’t know whether to turn left or right. But he put his life on the line for the sake of the truth.
Flash forward twelve years to 1977 when he passed away. He had succeeded in establishing 108 centers all over the world, circled the world 13 times. He had initiated 4,500 young people, all of whom followed those four principles’no illicit sex, no gambling, no intoxication, no meat-eating’for one year before they were eligible to be his disciples. He translated about 60 books with commentaries, published and distributed about 15 million copies.
Then I say, keep in mind these are people who have never been to a Krishna temple before half an hour ago, I let them think about that for a second, then I say ‘Do you think he was a bona fide guru”. And they all say ‘Yes’. Everyone goes ‘Yeah’, you can just see their heads nod. So ok, that’s the guru station.
We did the lobby station, we did the reincarnation station, we did the guru station. Then the deity, we come before the deity. Now the biggest problem for Westerners is idol worship, now what’s this all about. Especially if they’re Christians. Now our Krishna is black. So that’s also another thing you have to deal with. So I say, Krishna is the central figure there playing the flute, and beside him is Radharani, that’s the topmost devotee. Radha means to worship, and Rani means queen. She’s the best devotee of Krishna. She stands beside him and conquers him with her love.
Now Krishna is sometimes seen as blackish, as in this form, or bluish, as in these pictures on the wall. His actual skin, his actual hue, is described by a Sanskrit word which we really can’t translate, it’s Shyam. S-H-Y-A-M, which means the color of a monsoon cloud in the rainy season. He’s a bluish-black color.
And some of his expansions, the Absolute Truth is of such a nature that he can expand. Just like a candle can light ten other candles, and all the subsequent candles are as powerful as the original. God can expand himself into what’s called plenary expansions. We’re also expansions, but we’re partial expansions. We’re like little sparks from the sun. But He can also fully expand himself and those expansions are God basically. I point to Rama, ‘here’s one of the expansions, and he was a greenish color. Here’s Nrsimhadeva, he was a brownish color. Lord Caitanya’s there, I just call him one of the ten avatars. Lord Caitanya’s golden, White Kalki. All the colors are represented in the ten expansions, but because Krishna is the reservoir, the source from which they come, he keeps the best color for himself. The bluish-black color.’ That explains the color.
Then I say, this is the same God that you read about in the Old Testament, except here he’s in a much better mood. And they all laugh. All the tension about idol worship just goes out.
Then I say, it’s just like the high court judge. You’ve heard that example before. The High Court Judge, during his working hours, is dealing with the criminal element. As such, in order to discharge his duties, he scowls, dresses in black, sits up on a dais, sends people to jail all day long. That’s the way you deal with that type of people. But when the day is over, and the work is done, he may put on a Hawaiian flowered shirt, a pair of shorts, do standup comedy in a club somewhere, or go play with his grandchild. It doesn’t mean he’s a mean guy. He’s a very nice guy.
People ask sometimes ‘why do bad things happen to good people”. God seems mean, because a bus full of pilgrims drives off a cliff. The judge is not a mean guy, he could be the nicest guy in the world. It is really the criminals themselves who send themselves to jail. They’re ultimately responsible.
It’s up to each person how they want to see God. If you want to transgress his rules, take an antagonistic role, then he’ll be your enemy, come to take everything away. Just like a policeman, every time the criminal sees the policeman his heart starts beating faster. But when an innocent child sees a policeman, he runs up, grabs his leg. He’s his best friend. Because he has nothing to fear from him. So God can either be like the Old Testament, and sometimes I point to a picture of Vishnu. Krishna is a cowherd boy, and then He becomes all these Vishnu forms, during the lunch when Brahma steals the cowherd boys. We have that big picture. So I say, the Old Testament God is more like Vishnu. And I point to Vishnu with four arms, very intimidating, whereas when He lets his hair down then He’s known as Krishna. So that pretty much covers deity worship. If you want to explain more things about aratis and the different ways we do that’s fine.
That’s lobby, reincarnation, guru, deities, that’s four stations, we really have five stations. And the fifth one is over where the instruments are. I say we have our services Sundays at five o’clock, and everyone’s welcome to come. You’ll see the mantra, above the altar. There are many names for God, and I might speak about the Vishnu-sahasra-nama, briefly, just to jolt people out of their complacency. People do this by memory, chant a thousand names of God. But actually it says that the name of Krishna is equal to all those thousand. Because Krishna means ‘all-attractive’. And whether a name refers to God’s beauty or wealth, at the end of the day, he’s all-attractive. So great saints and sages, they prefer chanting Hare Krishna.
Krishna means God, Hare refers to the energies of the Lord. Like you can’t thing of the sun without thinking of the sunshine. You can’t think of the sunshine without thinking of the sun. But if you’re going to think of the all-powerful Lord, you need to acknowledge that everything are his energies. It’s not God, but it’s the Godhead. God and his multifarious energies. Earth is an energy, air is an energy, these are all energies of God. And so when you say Hare Krishna, it’s a complete mode of address. O Lord! O energy of the Lord! And the purport is to be engaged in his service. Not to take something from God, but to give service to him.
Then I’ll sit down at a harmonium and chant, or I’ll pick up a mrdanga and chant. And I always make this joke, because I’m just a marginal singer. I say ‘I’ll just give you a little solo demonstration.’ Because these people are not going to chant with you (at least not in Utah), not their first visit to the temple, and to even ask them, it’ll be negative. But I just say I’ll give you a little demonstration here, and I might have said before that the chanting is so important in India, that God is non-different from his names, you’re associating with him, purifying yourself, that in many temples in India the chanting will have gone on for 500 years, nonstop. They’ll have a shift from 8 am to noon, from noon to four, four to eight, this way it goes on twenty-four hours a day. So I’ll give you a little solo demonstration here for a minute or so. But I have to warn you before I start chanting, now I’ve got the mrdanga around my neck or something, that in all the 38 years I’ve been a devotee, and of all the thousands and thousands of gatherings I’ve been present at… I have to warn you, before I start, that over all the years I’ve been a devotee, 38 years, in all the hundreds and even thousands of gatherings I’ve attended, I’ve never been asked to be the lead singer.’ That gives a joke. Anytime you can use humor, humor is golden. Humor is just golden. Not only will it relax people, but being relaxed, they’ll remember it a lot better, they’ll retain a lot better. So then I chant.
I’ll explain kirtan, I’ll explain japa, We have a japa bead bag just on display there. I’ll explain how japa is for individual purification, then how if you get together with other people it becomes even more powerful. Every religious tradition has some sort of version of it. I’ll refer to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, in our own area. Then I say are there any questions’ I don’t want to take them out of the temple room. So I say if you want to linger, look at the pictures and browse, you’re welcome to do that. I’ll be downstairs. I’ll see you down there if you’ve thought of any other questions.
Successful churches and retail stores like Wal Mart always have Greeters at the door, people to make visitors know they are welcome. Inside the store if a customer wants to know where to find an item the employees at more successful chains don’t just tell the customer where to go, but they will actually take the customer to the item, even if it means stopping what they are doing and walking all the way across the store.
Advertising tour hours lets people know they are welcome to come in to visit, and that there will be a qualified person to guide them and explain as well as answer their questions. Without a clearly defined sign on the outside of the building, people don’t know what they are getting into by crossing the threshold. In America, some are scared they will never get out again (joke, but not far from the truth). This way, they will be comfortable. There is a structure. Even if you charge (which we don’t) most will not mind paying for the tour, which is something they can understand and relate to. At the end of the tour, the visitors will be so enlightened and happy to know Hare Krishnas are intelligent and articulate. They will be sympathetic to the movement ever after.
Prabhupada said, “Everybody is a devotee, they just don’t know it.” If we thusly awaken sympathy to Krishna from within their hearts, they can do great things to help promote Krishna Consciousness.