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Comments Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa

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Serpents be Damned! Addressing ISKCON Concerns About My New Kirtan Book

Dear Devotees:

For those who may be concerned about the intermingling of ISKCON kirtanyas with those of other sampradayas and understandings, here is an example of how I am using Satyaraja prabhu’s book as part of a preaching strategy to draw people who like contemporary kirtan into our orthodox tradition:

I’ve spent the better part of the last year cultivating a relationship with my local yoga studio to the extent that I now lead a morning kirtan 3 days a week that has attracted a steady and growing following. I often bring Satayaraja’s book with me and pull out a salient quote from both ISKCON and non-ISKCON interviewees. I also talk about how the book highlights the people, like Yamuna and Agnidev, who were the first westerners doing public kirtan and who influenced more familiar kirtanyas like Krishna Das and Jai Uttal. The people who are coming are excited to learn about the history of kirtan and that there is a book out there about it. I don’t know if any sales have resulted but I do know they’ve gone to the web site.

An important point here is that if the only kirtanyas in this book were ISKCON devotees then it would have no credibility with the yoga community that many of us are now cultivating. Odd though it may seem to some, Vaiyasaki’s credentials are established by his inclusion in a book with David Newman because David Newman is better known and accepted as the real deal.

When I started doing kirtan at the yoga studio I began with Vaisnava mantras sung to simple melodies that the participants could easily latch on to; ones that resembled what they had already heard from Krishna Das, et al. I gradually oriented the kirtans toward our orthodox trajectory to the point where I am leading Vrindavana style kirtan with melodies straight from Aindra’s repertoire and everyone is really into it. But if I had begun with an attitude of poo-pooing every popular kirtaniya on the yoga circuit who isn’t a Gaudiya Vaisnava then this would have gone nowhere. Having Satyaraja’s book to lean on while I developed this service made it a lot easier to establish my own credentials as a kirtan connoisseur.

So kudos to Satyaraja prabhu for providing us with a great strategic resource that will help put us back where we should always have been: at the forefront of the public’s consciousness when they think of kirtan.

Your servant,
Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 15.08.2008 @ 21:26

We need a new website!

Om das Prabhu:

Please offer some urls for the sites you are referring to so that we can see first hand what you are talking about. Thanks.

Your servant,

Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 12.03.2008 @ 14:59

When Bad Chanting Becomes the Norm, You’re in Trouble

Dear Devotees:

The Japa Retreat did wonders for my chanting and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to attend, but it did nothing to help me do math in my head: for the record, I joined ISKCON 30 years ago - in the Spring of 1977 - and was initiated the following Summer. My arithmatic failure notwithstanding the substance of the quote attributed to me by Mahatma Prabhu remains an accurate description of my experience and a reasonable prediction of what yours will be.

Your servant, Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 02.09.2007 @ 23:32

In Rememberance Of Puru Das Prabhu

30 years ago my first service as a new bhakta at the W. 55th Street temple was to transfer the sweets from the morning offering and deliver them upstairs to the Bhakta Program office. This would have been a simple service for a diminutive new devotee but for one formidable challenge to my authority over the destiny of those sweets: Puru das. I learned quickly that Puru prabhu was an expert at timing his arrival downstairs to coincide with the arrival of Their Lordship’s plates and that he was expert in the art of persuasion (or, in his case, Vaishnava intimidation) when it came to securing his share of Maha burfi. In this way I got my first experience of how to navigate sensitive Vaishnava relationships of unequal standing. I also learned how to do my service very, very quickly. From this beginning of testing my powers of reasoning, negotiation and, when required, cunning in order to successfully execute my service, I grew to have a very nice relationship with Puru prabhu for many years. He was always kind and encouraging to me and I appreciated his devotion to Srila Prabhupada, his honesty, and his directness. I’m sorry to know that I will not have his association again in this life and will remember him with fondness and gratitude.

Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 26.04.2007 @ 17:30

Out of the Woman Comes the Man, Spends the Rest of His Life Getting Back When he Can

Hare Krishna, Praghosa Prabhu:

I appreciate the motives and content of your article. I would like to suggest that you consider the possibility that a crude song lyric makes for a crude headline that does an injustice to the devotee whose photo accompanies it. I’m sure that this rasa bhasa was not your intention, but it is the affect you achieved, at least in my case.

Your servant, Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 21.11.2006 @ 16:29

A response to Hari-kirtana prabhu regarding my article

Dear Hari-sauri Prabhu:

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

At the moment I clicked the “Say It!” button I realized that I had forgotten (AGAIN!) the very valuable instruction given to me years ago by my friend and (when I am exceptionally fortunate) mentor, Lakmsi Nrsimha Prabhu: if you think something’s amiss, always ask questions before you make a comment or a criticism. I should have written to you directly to ask about your sources before publicly offering my own. And your reply shows me that I should take my own advice: though qualified to offer one of many opinions on this controversial area of science as she may be, my friend is a practitioner who does not have the same research credentials as the sources you have cited and therefore does not publish such research herself; offering her name would have done nothing for the reader looking for authoritative published sources. In the interest of brevity I lifted the essense of her reply to me without citing her sources: my objective was not to trump you on sources but simply to demonstrate how one may paint one’s self into a corner by playing the “science” card. Having done more homework than I, you have clearly played the “science” card appropriately so I respectfully fold my hand.

Please accept my sincere expression of gratitude for acknowledging my intent insofar as being careful when citing scientific evidence in support of sastra is concerned and for taking the time to provide all of us with the extensive background material that provided the foundation for your excellent extemporaneous presentation.

Your humbled servant, Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 08.08.2006 @ 15:55

Srila Prabhupada said that women are less-intelligent than men. Can we support this?

In the interest of maintaining our credibility among the intelligent classes, particularly those who are enamored of the wonders of science and the advancement of social justice, I like to double-check references to material science cited in support of sastric truths before I repeat them. So I asked a trusted friend who happens to be a medical professional and a reliable source of information concerning biochemistry (she is an RN, BSN, ACRN, COS-C, and a staff development educator at a facility that treats HIV/AIDS patients in New York City) to verify Hari-sauri Prabhu’s assertion that the generation of oxytocin in women and its suppression by testosterone in men explains why women are more satisfied to speak about sources of stress while men are more satisfied by taking immediate action on them. I was careful not to skew the question; I simply asked for a true or false analysis of his premise which I extracted directly from his article. The answer I received may be an indication that, while Srila Prabhupada has encouraged us to use science in Krishna’s service, we need to be very careful before we make authoritative statements concerning scientific evidence:

“…I did some research on your question and your thesis appears to be false. While women do indeed produce somewhat more oxytocin than men, testosterone does not inhibit production. As a matter of fact men need to release their own oxytocin in order to ejaculate. Testosterone clearly ain’t gonna get in the way of that. I’ve copied below some factoids regarding oxytocin that you might find interesting:

“Males synthesize oxytocin in the same regions of the hypothalamus as in females, and also within the testes and perhaps other reproductive tissues. Pulses of oxytocin can be detected during ejaculation.”

“Plasma concentrations of oxytocin have been reported to be higher amongst people who claim to be falling in love. Oxytocin has a role in social behaviors in many species, and so it seems likely that it has similar roles in humans. It has been suggested that deficiencies in oxytocin pathways in the brain might be a feature of autism.”

“Oxytocin (OT) is traditionally thought of as a ‘female’ neurohypophysis hormone due to its role in parturition and milk ejection. However, OT is recognized as having endocrine and paracrine roles in male reproduction. At ejaculation, a burst of OT is released from the neurohypophysis into the systemic circulation and stimulates contractions of the reproductive tract aiding sperm release. Interestingly, OT has also been shown to modulate androgen levels in these tissues via stimulation of the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestostone (DHT) by 5-reductase.”

“Oxytocin also acts on the nucleus accumbens and amygdala in the brain where it enhances:
bonding between males and females after they have mated;
bonding between a mother and her newborn;
and, in humans, increases the level of one’s trust in other people.” …”

None of this disproves the main point - that women and men process information differently and that, all other factors being equal, the underlying psycho/physical differences between the sexes makes the whole notion of transcending material nature -the natural action to be taken on the strength of real intelligence - a bigger challenge for women than it is for men. My point is only that one small slip on the scientific slope (in this case, asserting that testosterone suppresses oxytocin to prove that a man’s biological response to stress is different than a woman’s) is enough to undermine our credibility with educated people and, with it, the credibility Vedic scripture as axiomatic, infallible, and of Divine origin.

Submitted for your consideration by your servant,

Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 01.08.2006 @ 16:30

Missing the Forest for the Trees-A reply to Satyaraja Prabhu’s “Truth Is Many-sided”

If his dialogue with Satyaraja Prabhu is any indication, Badrinarayan Prabhu has convinced me that the leaders of our Society are not going to consider Dhanurdhara Swami’s case either dispassionately or objectively. I will cite one excerpt from Badrinarayan Prabhu’s first post as an example of why I have come to this conclusion:

“.As late as April of 1995, against ISKCON policy and despite his personal public promises, Dhanurdhara Maharaja continued to covertly instruct teachers at the Vrindaban gurukula to beat students with sticks. Again, there are firsthand adult witnesses, photos of students covered with black-and-blue welts, and Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s admission of guilt. These events are not in doubt.”

This is a collection of truths strung together to create an impression that is untrue: that Dhanurdhara Swami has admitted to covertly instructing teachers in April of 1995 to beat students with sticks. What’s true is that there is evidence and witness testimony to support the conclusion that in the Spring of 1995 a student was hit with a stick by a teacher at the Vrndavana Gurukula. However, though he has admitted to many things worthy of his atonement, Dhanurdhara Swami has categorically denied having given this instruction, covertly or otherwise, to the teacher who administered the punishment in question. So a “fact” being characterized as “not in doubt” is actually an allegation very much in dispute.

Also, please note that I am referring to the incident in the singular – one teacher, one student – which is consistent with the conclusion of the CPO investigation of the incident being referred to. Badrinarayan Prabhu’s use of the plural implies a very different situation than the one described by the CPO report.

Based on this example I’m obliged to suspect that, when subjected to closer scrutiny, many of the “facts” Badrinarayan Prabhu has offered as the foundation for his opinion may similarly turn out to actually be allegations in dispute embedded within established facts. At the core of his arguments one will certainly find kernels of truth. My concern is that, with all due respect to his sincere efforts over many years to resolve this case fairly and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, in this instance Badrinarayan Prabhu appears to have taken a few kernels of truth and heated them up to make a bowl of popcorn. And as we know, popcorn, though appearing to be voluminous, is actually not very substantive when subjected to closer scrutiny.

As Badrinarayan Prabhu points out in his second reply to Satyaraja Prabhu, we should not “divert attention from the essential by focusing on the detail”, or, “lose sight of the forest for the trees”.

I agree. And I am compelled to point out that, while comparing Satyaraja’s attention to detail to a magicians use of misdirection, Badrinarayan Prabhu employs his own sleight-of-hand by describing a forest while asking us to forget what a forest is made of: trees! And our perception of a forest is determined by the varieties and placement of those trees: Move the trees around and the forest looks one way, move them again and it looks another. Change a few species of trees and – wait a minute: is this a Tropical forest or an Alpine forest? The “essential” forest is composed of and supported by the details – the trees. And the details to be found in a thorough reading and analysis of the case material does not, as I see it, add up to the kind of forest Badrinarayan Prabhu would have Dhanurdhara Swami cop to.

By casting allegations in dispute as indisputable facts Badrinarayan Prabhu has engaged the rhetoric of politics in the service of making exculpatory details disappear. I doubt that such rhetorical contrivances will turn the albatross that flew out of the GBCs sleeve into the rabbit they need to pull out of their hat. If the GBC intends to consider this case by construing indisputable truths from disputed allegations then the logic of applying a sastric basis for a final decision is lost. Rather than balancing the scales in service to the essence of Dharma, I must respectfully propose that Badrinarayan Prabhu has rendered them further askew in the service of political expediency.

Humbly submitted for your consideration by your servant,

Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 26.07.2006 @ 14:12

The Essence of Dharma is Truth - a response to "Time to be Dharmic"

A Bowl Of Popcorn In The Magic Forest

If his dialogue with Satyaraja Prabhu is any indication, Badrinarayan Prabhu has convinced me that the leaders of our Society are not going to consider Dhanurdhara Swami’s case either dispassionately or objectively. I will cite one excerpt from Badrinarayan Prabhu’s first post as an example of why I have come to this conclusion:

“.As late as April of 1995, against ISKCON policy and despite his personal public promises, Dhanurdhara Maharaja continued to covertly instruct teachers at the Vrindaban gurukula to beat students with sticks. Again, there are firsthand adult witnesses, photos of students covered with black-and-blue welts, and Dhanurdhara Maharaja’s admission of guilt. These events are not in doubt.”

This is a collection of truths strung together to create an impression that is untrue: that Dhanurdhara Swami has admitted to covertly instructing teachers in April of 1995 to beat students with sticks. What’s true is that there is evidence and witness testimony to support the conclusion that in the Spring of
1995 a student was hit with a stick by a teacher at the Vrndavana Gurukula. However, though he has admitted to many things worthy of his atonement, Dhanurdhara Swami has categorically denied having given this instruction, covertly or otherwise, to the teacher who administered the punishment in question. So a “fact” being characterized as “not in doubt” is actually an allegation very much in dispute.

Also, please note that I am referring to the incident in the singular – one teacher, one student – which is consistent with the conclusion of the CPO investigation of the incident being referred to. Badrinarayan Prabhu’s use of the plural implies a very different situation than the one described by the CPO report.

Based on this example I’m obliged to suspect that, when subjected to closer scrutiny, many of the “facts” Badrinarayan Prabhu has offered as the foundation for his opinion may similarly turn out to actually be allegations in dispute embedded within established facts. At the core of his arguments one will certainly find kernels of truth. My concern is that, with all due respect to his sincere efforts over many years to resolve this case fairly and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, in this instance Badrinarayan Prabhu appears to have taken a few kernels of truth and heated them up to make a bowl of popcorn. And as we know, popcorn, though appearing to be voluminous, is actually not very substantive when subjected to closer scrutiny.

As Badrinarayan Prabhu points out in his second reply to Satyaraja Prabhu, we should not “divert attention from the essential by focusing on the detail”, or, “lose sight of the forest for the trees”.

I agree. And I am compelled to point out that, while comparing Satyaraja’s attention to detail to a magicians use of misdirection, Badrinarayan Prabhu employs his own sleight-of-hand by describing a forest while asking us to forget what a forest is made of: trees! And our perception of a forest is determined by the varieties and placement of those trees: Move the trees around and the forest looks one way, move them again and it looks another. Change a few species of trees and – wait a minute: is this a Tropical forest or an Alpine forest? The “essential” forest is composed of and supported by the details – the trees. And the details to be found in a thorough reading and analysis of the case material does not, as I see it, add up to the kind of forest Badrinarayan Prabhu would have Dhanurdhara Swami cop to.

By casting allegations in dispute as indisputable facts Badrinarayan Prabhu has engaged the rhetoric of politics in the service of making exculpatory details disappear. I doubt that such rhetorical contrivances will turn the albatross that flew out of the GBCs sleeve into the rabbit they need to pull out of their hat. If the GBC intends to consider this case by construing indisputable truths from disputed allegations then the logic of applying a sastric basis for a final decision is lost. Rather than balancing the scales in service to the essence of Dharma, I must respectfully propose that Badrinarayan Prabhu has rendered them further askew in the service of political expediency.

Humbly submitted for your consideration by your servant,

Hari-kirtana dasa

Comment Posted By Hari-kirtana dasa On 27.07.2006 @ 14:38

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