Comments Posted By vineetchander

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

The fact that Satyaraja Prabhu included non-ISKCON or non-Vaishnava kirtaniyas in his book is a strength of the book, not a weakness. It allows Satyaraja Prabhu to take the phenomenon of sacred chanting — a phenomenon that is, whether ISKCON members like it or not, electrifying yoga studios across the country — and unlock its inner significance with clarity, depth, and sensitivity to its cultural and religious roots. Rather than pontificate on what kirtan is and isn’t (a definite turn-off for most spiritual seekers in the postmodern western world), Satyraja wisely chooses to engage the kirtan singers in lively personal conversations, thus allowing the rich voices behind the phenomenon to speak (and, through the included audio CD, sing) for themselves.

Had he only presented ISKCON kirtaniyas (or denigrated other kirtaniyas), not only would Satyaraja lose credibility for himself as an author, but I think that he would have made ISKCON (and by extension Prabhupada) look insecure, out-of-touch, petty, and egoistic.

Personally, I greatly appreciate Satyaraja’s marked efforts to avoid sectarianism and his obvious commitment to presenting an honest picture of the diversity in the kirtan world. Its refreshing and says a lot about his own broadmindedness and ability to appreciate others. It also sets a good example for other Gaudiya Vaisnavas involved in this sphere to follow.

The Yoga of Kirtan , I think, is a book that thoughtfully celebrates the universality of kirtan, while still honoring our particular sampradaya and bearing testament to the impact of Vedic culture in the west.

- Venkata Bhatta dasa
ISKCON Director of Communications for North America

Comment Posted By vineetchander On 19.08.2008 @ 17:15

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