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Comments Posted By ananda devi dasi

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A Bridge Too Far?

I am not sure if there is a precedent for this, but this post is really a Thank You. I just really enjoyed every single one of these posts, and somehow especially the preaching stories. I am just itching to work with that crowd in KC as much as possible!

Anyway, this really (as far as I know), is the first time in the west for Kirtan to be something that is done in non-secular settings, as a somewhat popular movement not always headed by deeply committed spiritual practitioners, and sometimes headed by music marketers (?!?). Oh! I must admit I used to sell kirtan music before I was devotee (some of the people in that book were around back then too) as my first job out of college for the biggest new age/world/yoga music distributer around…(ha! I just remembered as I was writing that thing about marketing).

Anyway, it was still more innocent back then and with the kind of material profit, adoration,distinction territory that is coming up these days with this, it is so important that the subtelties are discussed and understood without being too territorial nor too compliant.

I feel much clearer in my position now and it helps gives me some fighting strength, even as I work to reach out with patience and respect. Even I, someone who used to be “one of them” once upon a time, really dread some kirtans by some famous chanters. Even one of those people is on the CD. I know the person and the approach to Nam Prabhu and the person just seems too impersonal to me and it is painful to hear the music. But others seem to be hitting something…

I love the emphasis on real Nam as a living expression of a persons devotion. The sweetness of true devotees in pure service is unmatched and is such an inspiration. And it is so nice to reminded of this selfless, gorgeous devotional quality that seems to just pop up so much in our movement in such a very special and pure way! Our movement is spefically designed to get us there again and again until it is fully fixed in us. All glories to the path Srila Prabhupada gave us. Hare Krishna!

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 29.08.2008 @ 01:41

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

I just saw the mention from Akrurantha Prabhu, about ISKCON and how women were treated in terms of some public opinion. What Krishna das said was a common perception/concern among people of his generation, who were seekers/spiritualists outside the movement.

When I left my old teachers, their main concern was the same, and it was not a spiritual criticism, but a social one- “how would I be treated as a woman in this spiritual movement- “The Old Indian Way” was how they put it? My old teacher had met devotee women who had been through an awful lot and some of them had what KD said happen. As I would call the Yogis/chanters/and spiritualists outside of our movement as sometimes a landing pad for those who leave our movement, at least that’s the way it might have been back then. In this way, that community heard some sad stories.

Our movement is quite large and revolutionary and in the beginning it was struggling with implementing and integrating ancient/eastern spiritual and social practices- to a very modern audience. Also, most of the teachers in the west were also new to the teachings (at least in this life). There is bound to be mistakes and conflict and confusion as things get worked out and mature, balancing strict following of sastra with a gentle and awakened, sensitive, loving truly braminical heart.

I really appreciate the most recent statement as the guiding principles on the treatment, guidance, empowerment and protection of women, presented by the GBC. I feel that this as it isincreasingly implemented, will go a long way in gaining trust among the larger spiritual community.

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 23.08.2008 @ 15:13

“Simply by remembering the Lotus Eyed Lord, one becomes purified from within and without’

Iskcon devotees have been spreading holy names successfully and powerfully, now and from the movements inception..
I think this is the wake of that,
A wake that waters dry fields,
of people who for reasons not necessarily having anything to do with their relationship to Krishna, just were not attracted to hear the message from US, at this time, yet..

I think that having lots of Western people come together to chant the Holy Names, independent of us, is a great boon for our movement.

When I moved out of the temple, even though I am not a trained musician, I wanted to share the Maha Mantra to the Yoga community, (even though I am not a trained musician at all.) People loved chanting, but introducing the Maha Mantra was always very delicate. It always took time and the building of trust and taste from other mantras first and also getting to know me and seeing that I was open minded and respected their own path and unique callings.

Our family moves a lot so I get to see trends starkly. We moved to a new town around the time that Krishna das’ CD became very popular 4 years ago. This time when I visited a studio to introduce one of my workshops, the Yoga studio owner greeted me with the Maha Mantra playing (by Krishna das), to honor the visit!

I think that this phenomena shows Lord Krishna’s independent sweet will to move whoever is open, from anywhere, and to use whoever is willing, wherever to help Him do what He wants.

Isn’t it great that the power of Nam is real, it contains within it the highest philosophy, and also gives experience and realization.

I have heard that some gurukuli Kirtaniyas are now traveling in the summer to lead Kirtan in Yoga studios. This is possible because people are waking up to the fact that they love to chant the Holy Names. I think its fine to give these other chanters credit too. So often, they are participating, helping us. And all of them that I have met so far, love prasadam.

Wouldn’t it be great if it was normal to chant in the West. We could just walk down the street with our japa bag, would walk by the Post Man and he say ‘Oh, hey, Hare Krishna’ to us.

I think that by displaying appreciation for the devotion people have, and respecting their freedom of choice, we will get out of our own way and more who are called to really take to the whole KC lifestyle deeply, and fully will come to us.

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 22.08.2008 @ 19:43

This is in reference to Akrurantha Prabhu’s comment that Krishna das had been critical of our movement. I want to mention that he actually came to the Japa retreat level 1 led by Sacinandana Swami at Menla a few months ago and chanted with the devotees a little, (my husband showed me his video of it)..so I think the rift is healing. People grow, on all sides. Also my experience in general of the kirtan leading community is that all I have met, love prasadam.

I didn’t plan this at all, but last month, I met someone who had been with Srila Prabhupada at Thompkins Square Park in the very beginning, when things were very, very small and just beginnng. He told me he was not ready, or it wasn’t his path I guess to follow Prabhupada in everyway, but he was so moved by the Holy Names and by the deities and the program enough to want to keep coming back sometimes and bring others. This man ended up going to India and meeting Neem Karoli baba the Brij Basi who is KD’s guru. Anyway, at one point in the early 70’s he had brought Ram Das and Krishna das to the Krishna temple (I can’t remember which one), at which point when the devotees found out Ram das was there, well you can kind of guess what happened. According to this person’s account some devotees surrounded him and told him his guru was bogus etc., (devotees told me this when I came to the temple for the first time too, so it’s beleivable to me).

Anyway, its hard to hear bad things about someone, like a Guru, who you admire so much and love and expecially if he taught you to chant Hare Krishna, for anyone I think. It causes an emotional reaction and protectivism, that though delicate can be healed but takes the right circumstances, which includes of course lots more chanting on all sides, understanding and knowledge of what is actually true, and of course sensitivity and grace too!

Which brings me back to the book. I have only read the free excerpts so far and though I feel like it reflects my life in some ways, I still have to order it, (eagerly). But let me tell you, some of the people in the book whom I have met, are PROUD to be in that book, and mentioning it on their websites and that’s a really good sign and very exciting, since the perspective of the Editor is open minded, but pure Vaisnava.

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 22.08.2008 @ 17:02

I grew up with an uncle Govinda in the Sikh tradition, but Jai Uttal got me really chanting the Vaisnava songs with regularity & passion in the early 90’s when I was a student at Naropa in East/West Psychology. I wish I could chant now like I did then, with simplicity. Back then all I knew was that I was singing to God personally, that this was a devotional practice and that it was more fun than any other activity I had ever done!!! It was so fun, it scared me and I had a sense there were serious implications. At that time, I told God I would prepare myself to overcome this fear and surrender to Him in the way the Names required as best I could. I remember I would just put Jai Uttal on loudly and drive and sing and sing my heart out. No matter what was going on, I felt better after chanting. Back then I also got to meet spiritual teachers from many different lineages all the time at Naropa and in Boulder, and hear many different ways of singing to God, sometimes chanting with my teachers and advisors in groups and even had an Ethnomusicologist named Kabir teach me a Braja Raga (about Madana Mohana) for college credit! So its clear to me we don’t own the Names, we just have the mercy and dispensation to chant and share Them.

I met the ISKCON devotees 6 years later and it was there I felt like settling. I wanted the purification and direct path that the ISKCON package and SP offered.But it’s been a rough ride and I had to give up many of my old (chanting) friends to join (I miss them so, but they are afraid of us!) And unfortunately after 12 years in ISKCON, I don’t have that simple passion for the names any more! What happened? Maybe I need to simplify again?

My experience if that influence happens through friendship and that some of those chanters from outside of ISKCON who used to be afraid of us, are starting to open. This book is an answer to a prayer and I see it is definitely helping.

What a great job this chanters have! A few years ago, I was speaking with Krishna das (a close friend of my Yoga teacher Dharma Mittra) about his approach to chanting, because it moves me so. He said, that he learned from the Tibetan Lamas to chant in a meditative way- to ask the names to reveal Themselves rather than imposing his ideas on Them. That really helped me. And now I don’t feel like as big a heretic, thanks, prabhu.

Pls pray for me that I can chant with that simple innocence again and that the Lord will reveal himself to me.

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 17.08.2008 @ 16:25

Thank You Satyaraj Prabhu for this nice offering and bridge building,

Dandavats. Maybe others, not just me feel it can build bridges not just between communities but also inside our own hearts. Lord Krishna is so powerful and unlimited and he can move anywhere through anyone really, even with just a little inner willingness, even if we are born without being given an idea what we are suposed to do or not do. Even if our hearts are so dirty. Just a little bit of real innocence and sincerity goes a very long way. Its more powerful than any external and total lack of training too. That’s my experience.

Sometimes we convince ourselves we are open to Krishna because we have the externals right.Maybe we try to even convice others too!

But I think its natural to be attracted to devotion and the indivuals souls true calling to connect to God, where ever it arises, in whatever faith,and whatever outer dress- but also to be most grateful for its emergence in its most clear and pure/authentic manifestation. More in the next post. But thank you so much Satyaraj Prabhu.

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 17.08.2008 @ 15:45

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

I really appreciate everyones interest in this topic, since it is such an important and far reaching one. As an aspiring Vaisnavi, I seek out information from the Vedas and from Srila Prabhupada’s example, that motivates me and gives me the knowledge I need to live in grace, in Faith and from an empowered place under sadhu and shastra. The politics involved (like statements of our subordinate position and the emphasis on shyness) sometimes helps but not always. To be properly situated and protected is a major way to help these qualities arise, as they are considered to be natural feminine traits. But also, I find more is needed. What I really seek is positive example. I like the image of powerful women, (nurturers and inspirers) who appreciate protection and understand scientifically how to live in a way that maximizes their benefit to society.

Right now I am teaching Yoga and meditation to inner city preteen age girls from rough backgrounds and for them I am seeking a way to translate Vedic knowledge to help them find their grace, gain self esteem as women that is based on the real (rather than the superficial body image) and come to a place of strength and even leadership (helping other girls) in such a dangerous world. Some Yoga groups emphasize the image of the sacred feminine. This has helped women and I think even men.

If a man doesn’t really understand the value of a womens qualities when turned in a devic way, how can he really respect, cherish and protect from a deeper heartfelt place the females in his life . And also, if we as women don’t understand this, then how can we who are in the world, fight with grace to live and work from a devic place as the pressure of kali yoga around us tries to convince us to do otherwise.

What I mean by devic qualities are the female qualities that bind us to this world but also make us strong stable adults, and motivate us to achieve (also to create a stable and balanced society of KC), also the broad vision women tend to have where we may get lost in forest where men tend to see the trees, but sometimes these details give important imformation to dicision makers (especially in terms of looking at the human aspect of things). For instance women who are in touch with their instincts and have that confidence are better able to protect and nurture their children…

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 29.11.2006 @ 22:29

Hare Krishna. I was really excited when I saw the first part of this quote “Out of a woman comes a man.” I think that is one of the keys to understanding the value of putting a lot of energy into protecting and caring for women. And I think it could be potentially very empowering to women. Why? Because this gives room to highlight the fact that when saints are born, they are born through woman. So then what a sacred to duty it can be to put energy into protecting women, through the right care and nourishment, education and protection! Also, one of the ‘down sides of a woman’ her soft side, and sentimentality is also a blessing in this context. It is an important aspect that can make her a good mother and this softness can be learned through experience by sons, in her lap, tempering them. This is a wonderful way for men to experience and then become compassionate themselves.

Comment Posted By ananda devi dasi On 28.11.2006 @ 22:30

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