Comments Posted By Manjulali dasi 1
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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 15.12.2007 @ 01:30