Vanity thought #1704. “Problems” with music

There’s something I noticed a while ago on Sampradaya Sun and I think it deserves consideration. First there was a complaint about Mahavishnu Swami and then a couple about Sacinandana Swami. It’s a complex issue but it’s the music part of it that is undeserved, in my opinion.

Mahavishnu Swami has been in Sampradaya Sun’s eyesight for years as a “mad hatter” and this one was just a serial complaint about him. I can’t seem to locate it anymore as if it was quietly withdrawn but it’s still referred in this post here. If it was indeed deleted then I applaud this decision wholeheartedly and hope it signals a change in their editorial policies.

The video in question is this one and one can easily see why it might appear off-putting but if you listen to the lyrics there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s actually quite catchy and outwardly ridiculous style of Maharaja’s singing stresses the point that it’s a childish civilization that should not be taken seriously.

Come to think of it, we all take ourselves way too seriously here, starting with people who complained about this song in the first place. We think that we should all be proper and respect the rules of polite behavior but it has no future, as the song goes and repeats over and over again. Birth and death is our disease and we should think about curing it because that’s our real problem but what do we do instead? Worry about societal norms of swarms of lemmings falling off the cliff.

These lemmings, and materialists are no better than animals according to Bhagavatam, are going in so orderly fashion that we absolutely must conform and fit in with them, the opponents effectively argue. We must sing in a certain way and enunciate our words in a certain way but all I can remember from this crazy song is “everlasting” – a property not just of a soul but of Krishna, too.

Why can’t we be free? We actually are, it’s our own internal imprint that tells us that we must obey the norms, that we should behave according to our conditioning. When we sing of Krishna there are no restrictions whatsoever because Krishna and His name are non-different. You can do it this way or that way or any way whatsoever as long as you sing for His pleasure and He accepts it.

Oh, the singer took his dentures out of his mouth, how gross! Really? Pretending that our bodies and our teeth are everlasting by putting in dentures and implants is just another example of self-delusion that we are supposed to defeat in Krishna consciousness. The body itself is gross and old age is a disease we are supposed to cure by chanting, not by dentures.

This song is actually eye-opening in many ways and criticism of it is unwarranted. Criticizing any vaishnava singing about Krishna is unwarranted as a matter of principle and Mahavishnu Svami has proven himself plenty of times. Look at youtube comments under the video, no one seems to have anything nice to say about it but one of the posters tells a story how maharaja was doing harinama on his accordion whole night long, from 10 PM to mangala arati. It’s actually a praise and a reasonable person should accept that maharaja more than deserved his somewhat avadhuta status. He is clearly doing it for Krishna, not for himself, and at his point its too late to demand that he changed his behavior.

Second complaint was about Sacinandanana Svami and I’m in two minds about this. I don’t understand his questionable association myself but to make it a slam dunk his critics went in a roundabout way – by trying to prove that one Ramesh Baba is a mayavadi. Maybe he is, I don’t know enough about him, but it doesn’t appear so from what we’ve been presented with.

Here’s the youtube video in question and it starts with accusing Ramesh Baba of calling himself and everyone present as Krishna. “We are all Krisha. I’m Krishna and you are Krishna”, the presenter says, and then plays a short clip from Ramesh Baba’s lecture. Except that it’s not what Ramesh Baba says himself (from about 50 sec in the video).

Ramesh Baba talks about dealing with other people who come to us as if they were Krishna Himself and serving them as if they were Krishna Himself, which is a nice attitude to develop when you live in Vrindavana. Of course it could be interpreted the way the presenter does but then, if we are all Krishna and I am Krishna, too, there’d be no question of service which is the main point Ramesh Baba tries to make. And he certainly doesn’t call himself Krishna or his audience Krishna.

Serving everybody as if they were Krishna Himself is an advanced stage of bhakti but it’s a legitimate one – Krishna does not exist alone and He manifests and interacts with us through His devotees, there’s no difference between serving Him and serving them because they are all His parts and parcels. Seeing them as separated from Him is an illusion because Krishna is always in control, even when they are in the material world. A paramahamsa does not see anyone as separated form the Lord but rather he sees the Lord everywhere and in everyone. We can’t imitate this vision but we can certainly try and behave as if it’s true, especially in Vrindavana where every soul is special.

The second accusation is that in Ramesh Baba’s mayavadi camp people sing and watch young girls dance, form about 3.32 in the video. That’s not, however, what they appear to be doing. Sure, Baba’s vyasasana is facing the hall where dancing is going on but the kirtana party is not – they strategically sit with their side to them and no one is looking there. If it’s an accusation against Ramesh Baba himself, that he is some sort of a pervert, then it’s a tall one.

Girls are meant for dancing, and they are meant for dancing for Krishna, why should anyone rob them of this service? They are not doing any controversial moves either, just spinning around, and they are so young that implying that Baba has some sort of a sexual interest in watching them is product of sexually obsessed western civilization. If such thoughts could have come into the minds of younger men in his party then the arrangement was made so that they were not facing the girls and looked somewhere else instead. It’s a non issue.

Now, I could not imagine a legitimate reason for Ramesh Baba allowing his feet to be washed in full view of his guests as shown in another video and there might other valid points against taking his association but as far as to main accusations presented here they are largely groundless. It’s a nice effort to protect ISKCON form suspicious association but it’s a bit of an overstretch.

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