I had another thought about Kali Santarana Upanishad and its prescription of chanting Hare Krishna in Kali Yuga. There are some implications I haven’t considered before.
From a traditional vedic point of view chanting Hare Krishna has replaced the traditional sacrifices and temple worship and that means it’s supposed to bring similar results – material prosperity and satisfaction of material desires.
Forget the devotees, they are the special case, but ordinary people seeking better life in this world are prescribed to chant Hare Krishna to attain their vision of happiness – money, fame, wife, children – the whole nine yards.
I don’t think we ever treat our Hare Krishna mantra that way, not for ourselves, and not when we recommend it to other people. True, “Chant and Be Happy” was our first “marketing” slogan but we’ve grown out of that long time ago. We’ve long agreed that “happy” in this context means spiritually happy, spiritually content, not materially prosperous.
There’s also the point that since time immemorial people appealed to Shiva, Durga, Ganesh etc for their material desires, even biggest demons in the universe like Ravana worshiped demigods to attain their powers. They have never ever worshiped Vishnu, and our Hare Krishna mantra is all about Vishnu – Hari.
Even gopis in Vrindavana worshiped Kathyayini to get good husbands. They, of course, wanted Krishna, but they still went to Katyayani, not to Hari.
Even in this day some devotees ashamed of their material hankerings worship Ganesh because they know Hari is the one who takes things away, not gives them.
We also know all about offensive chanting, or do we? We know that maintaining material desires while chanting is a clear offense, but what are the results? We won’t obtain devotion that way but will our material wishes be granted? If we perform prescribed method of sacrifice, why shouldn’t they?
On what grounds do we believe that offering sacrifices to Ganesh the way it was done in the previous yuga will work better than following shastric prescriptions for this age? Are we better brahmanas? Do brahmanas able to counteract the influence of Kali still exist?
Why do we recommend worship of demigods for materially inclined persons? At least we tacitly agree that this is what they should do.
I don’t see why we shouldn’t tell people:”NO, the only yajna prescribed for this age is chanting Hare Krishna, all other forms of sacrifice lose their potency as Kali yuga progresses, engage at your own risk.”
Yes, Lord Hari is the one who takes away, but what does it really mean? If a person approaches Hari to achieve his material goals and faithfully chants Hare Krishna, why wouldn’t Hari fulfill his desires? Yes, Hari is an independent Supreme Lord, but for those who don’t see Him as such and follow vedic injunctions, why wouldn’t He behave like a Lord of the sacrifice that is obliged to give requested benedictions, why wouldn’t He play the role He is supposed to play in Kali yuga?
Hari maintains the whole universe even though He is not obliged to do anything, He maintains it through thick and thin, through creation and annihilation, and if in Kali yuga He is given the task of accepting sacrifices, why would He refuse to do so?
For all I know He doesn’t take away much even if I ask, why scare people away by telling them that if they worship Krishna they’ll lose their wealth wives and families and turn into traveling mendicants?
It’s very unlikely to happen and certainly not against person’s will.
I might completely misunderstand the advice given in Kali Santarana Upanishad, but what I see is that in this age Krishna, Hari, is not giving out benedictions via worshiping other demigods. You chant His names, He gives you what you want.
To me it looks as simple as that.