Pilgrim’s Diary 8. On the Road

We left the pilgrim at the end of the summer with his guru suddenly leaving this mortal world. The pilgrim used money earned for guarding fields all summer to buy a copy of Philokalia and went on the road again. This is where his second story begins, though it’s not marked in English translation.

His Jesus Prayer became his constant companion, it traveled with him, comforted him, consoled him, warmed him – they had built a relationship. This should not be very difficult for us either but there are obvious conditions – traveling means detachment from people and places. You meet someone, you see something, and you move on. Things, people, and words come into your view and disappear, you don’t create any bonds with them, just watch them come and go, even though in normal thinking it’s YOU who are traveling. In these ever changing circumstances the pilgrim had only one steady association – with his prayer. From the point of view of this relationship they stayed in one place and everything else traveled past them. We can and we should form a similar bond with the Holy Name, we should also find this solid ground where we stay in one place and life flows before our eyes, and eventually we should stop looking – it doesn’t require our attention anyway. We won’t stop the universe by not looking at it.

Next step for the pilgrim was to realize that this flow of people, places, and events is still distracting. He longed for solitude again but it wasn’t available. He divulged something about himself here – his left arm didn’t properly work from his childhood so he couldn’t get a job. This is interesting – if one wants to walk he will be fed as a passing holy man, but if one wants to stay in one place he has to work for his upkeep, and since our pilgrim was handicapped holding a steady job was not so easy – he lived a hundred years before emergence of “service economy”. Work meant working with your hands and hands needed to be strong. Thus the pilgrim chose walking, and he chose to walk east to Irkutsk, some five thousand kilometres away from central Russia, a city near lake Baikal. There was an apparently famous priest living in Irkutsk and the pilgrim didn’t feel the need to explain why he wanted to see him, not at this point in the book anyway. A side note – the name of that priest is interesting for non-Orthodox readers – in English it would be “Innocent” but in Russian this “c” in the middle is hard and the word doesn’t mean anything, it means “innocent” only in English and other Latin based languages but doesn’t evoke ideas of innocence in Russian even though it’s a very popular name.

The idea was to walk through Siberia, which was always sparsely populated, and there would be no distractions on the way. A look ahead – the entire book is dedicated to events of this journey to Irkutsk where the pilgrim met this “Innocent” priest, which was kind of anti-climatic, if you ask me, but that’s where the road had taken the pilgrim, so let’s go along.

He walked and walked and walked and chanted his Jesus prayer (on his beads) and then he noticed that the prayer, entirely by itself, started entering his heart. It was basically one sentence in the book, but there was so much packed into it that I have been thinking for several days about what it means in practice and what it could mean for us.

First of all – it was result of chanting a lot of names, chanting whole day through, without getting involved in anything else. The pilgrim walked, which isn’t an option for most of us, but we CAN find a way to dedicate more time to chanting. These days we often hear that it’s quality, not quantity that matters, that we shouldn’t prematurely take vows to chant more than sixteen rounds, that it should be done only on the orders of the spiritual master and only under his supervision, and so on. Well, this is also as impractical as us walking five thousand miles to Siberia. Our gurus have no time to babysit our chanting, though consulting with them is, of course, necessary. Still, I don’t see how shooting a “Can I chant one lakh a day?” email is appropriate. It’s not something that can be discussed from a distance, it’s something that should come from close heart to heart relationship, and that’s where practicality becomes a problem. I’d say that we should attain this closeness within our hearts ourselves, not necessarily by hanging out with our gurus day and night. There is much to discuss about this but now is not the time. Chanting a lot of Names has to be done, though.

One has to find a way to be close to his guru and start chanting more and, of course, one has to find a way for chanting itself. This can’t be ignored, we can’t move forward and expect the same results without these two steps. The pilgrim felt his prayer entering into his heart after maybe two months. What should be our equivalent? I once saw a quote from Sivarama Swami’s book on japa – one should get a grasp on what he is doing after five-ten years of practice. The idea is that initially the mantra has no meaning to us, it’s just sounds, but after five-ten years these sounds should start to really mean something. We’ll talk about the meaning a bit later but let’s talk numbers first.

If we gave up our jobs and replaced them with chanting we could be chanting about twelve hours a day – eight hours of work plus grooming, commute etc and two hours we chant already – we are in the region of twelve hours. With reasonably fast speed it works out to two lakhs of names, or 2×64=128 rounds. That’s eight times more than what we chant regularly. This means that what Sivarama Swami said could be achieved in five-ten years would be achievable in one year only if we chant two lakhs a day – counting by the number of names we hear. When Sivarama Swami gave this time frame he also meant “for temple devotees”. I believe he based his estimate after observing temple devotees, not “fringies”. He meant devotees who wake up before sunrise, attend mangala arati, chant sixteen rounds before breakfast, attend deity greeting and guru puja, listen to Bhagavatam classes, engage in active service, read our books one or two hours a day, attend evening Gaura arati – you get the picture. My point is that it’s five-ten years of intense sadhana, not five-ten years of working in the office, with internet and movies and all the other trappings of being “normal”. That kind of lifestyle is useless here – useless for spiritual progress of the kind I have in mind. Conversely, when chanting takes one’s entire day then intensity and purity of lifestyle will bring results faster than dictated by the number of rounds alone. In other words, what the pilgrim experienced is doable and is in the realm of possibility if we apply the same method – a lot of chanting with a lot less distractions.

Now about the meaning – in pilgrim’s words he felt like his heart started saying words of the prayer with each beat. Thus, for example: One – “Lord,” Two – “Jesus,” Three – “Christ,” and so on. Once he discovered this ability he stopped chanting orally and started listening to his heart. He felt subtle pain in his heart, similar to how he felt pain in his wrists when he started chanting on rosary, and his thoughts were flooded with love of Jesus. He felt that if he saw Jesus he would have immediately embraced his feet and kissed them with love and devotion. So we have three things here – prayer on the lips, prayer in the heart, and love in one’s mind. I’m not sure how to translate it properly into our experiences.

Sivarama Swami spoke of grasping the meaning of the mantra, though I don’t recall his exact words. The pilgrim had “Lord”, “Jesus” etc and he felt his heart “pronounce” each name distinctively. Let’s say one’s heart beats at the rate of 80 beats a minute. 80=16×5, which means at this rate we would chant 5 sixteen word Hare Krishna mantras in a minute, which means it would take almost half an hour to finish one round. Obviously, it won’t work. Even with two words, like “Hare Krishna” per one beat, it won’t work. We need to chant a bit more than twenty mantras per minute to keep a reasonable tempo and it just doesn’t resonate with heart beats. At least I don’t see the connection.

We can still approach it from the other side – never mind the hear trate, the words should mean something to us in the same way “Lord”, “Jesus”, and “mercy” mean something to Christians. We have been given the basic meaning of Hare Krishna mantra and every now and then our speakers remind us of it, but there is really a lot more to be said on the subject. Most importantly – we should find what these words mean to us. Take “Hare”, for example – it could be an appeal to Hari or it could be an appeal to Radha. Lord Hari snatches away our material attractions and Srimati Radharani engages us in Krishna’s service. These are two different functions and one should find which one has a meaning to him and in what way. Devotees struggling with life in the material world should probably find what Hari can do for them and what He is probably doing already and remember that when chanting. Our mantras should be meaningful, they should be connected to our lives and should be relevant to our stages of progress. There are so many other meanings of Hare Krishna matra, too, so we always can find something that speaks to us. Every word has multiple meanings and their combinations have multiple meanings as well. “Hare Krishna” is not the same as “Hare Rama” and not the same as “Hare Hare”. Even syllables in Hare Krishna mantra can have different meanings.

The point is that there is always something in the mantra that can speak directly to us and we can find it. It’s not a matter of giving book references but a matter of the mantra itself. If we want to know what it means to us it will reveal itself and make itself relevant. We just have to listen. Then we can start pronouncing each syllable with full knowledge and in full connection to the mantra. It will literally become our companion, become our conversation partner. We WILL see the mantra reciprocating with us, though [probably] not in the same way as conversing with other people. Personally, I experience a several day lag between expressing what I want and getting the answers. Like if I feel I want to hear something about a particular topic and then appropriate book or a video or facebook post coming to my attention. I don’t order these things, though, they must be heartfelt inquiries that rise up almost on their own and then get answered. Two-three days is a big delay, one might note, but it’s not how I see it. I rather see it as lots of useless stuff happening in between exchanges in the ongoing discourse. I pay a lot less attention to this stuff than to questions and answers. It’s “two-three days” in human calculation but this conversation is not on the human level.

I guess it could be compared to chess games played by exchanging letters in the old days. You mail your move and wait for reply with your opponent’s move, think about it, send your new move, wait for reply etc. The game can become very exciting, but this excitement should be experienced on game’s time, not on everyday’s time. If you forget the game the excitement goes away but it still exists, you just have to filter out everyday noise and concentrate on the game again. It IS possible to live in such a game but, of course, we are also forced to watch a lot of mundane stuff passing by, too. Forget chess, a very common example is people falling in love and exchanging text messages. They, too, live on a different time, barely noticing what happens to them between their texts.

There is another issue here – articulation. Desire in the heart takes time to manifest itself in the mind and it takes time to come out from the lips and, similarly, the response takes time to propagate from the layers of the universe before it materializes as somebody’s helpful Facebook comment, for example. We are mediating our conversation with God through a slow responding medium of our bodies and our universe, but that’s what we have have and so I don’t complain. This brings me to another aspect – our chanting should resonate with our bodies.

What I mean is that it takes time to say the words and it takes time to feel them. This becomes important when their meanings become distinct. Our minds need time to change their state from requests to thankfulness or to whatever the appropriate meaning should be. This time can be reduced with practice, as evidenced from experienced chanters, but we have to learn it slowly first. It takes time for the mouth, it takes time for the mind, it takes time for intelligence to switch to the meaning of the next mantra, and it takes time for the heart. When we are somehow blessed by circumstances we can find this perfect pattern and perfect tempo and feel the mantra reverberating through our entire bodies, and I don’t mean “head to toe”, I mean it from “heart to tongue”. This goes both ways, too – sometimes we hear the Name and we catch its meaning in the mind and then our heart melts, and sometimes the call rises from the heart and then reverberates through the body until it manifests on the tongue, and we hope the Lord is listening.

In any case, depending on one’s “speed of life”, it needs to take a certain amount of time and we should become sensitive to it. We should not rush the mantra before we can catch what it means and we should not stretch it so that the mind wanders away. It would wander away if we chant fast, too – because it can’t meaningfully distinguish between fast flying words. The idea of chanting audibly was to give the mind something to hear, if you remember, and evolving from hearing to listening is a natural next step.

It’s like a song on a radio – it’s one thing to hear music coming out of it and quite another to actually listen to the song itself, to resonate with its tempo, to appreciate the moves of the tune, and to absorb the meaning of the words. Our Hare Krishna mantra is not that different – there is tempo, there are words, and there could be a tune, too – our voice can rise and fall and we can change tone if we want. We already do it in kirtans, all that is needed is to drastically reduce the amount of “music” and it becomes japa.

Speaking of kirtans – I listen to a lot of Aindra playing in the background and, with time, I noticed how each tune is very personal for him. He is not singing melodies but rather the call from his heart takes shape of a song. Emotion translates to music, which is how music is created anyway. We have to feel something very very deeply to make it into a song, and that’s how most of our common kirtan tunes were born initially, before they were turned into memorized melodies with a lot of embellishments. I especially like it when “Hare Krishna” part produces a new emotion and then “Hare Rama” part is a response of amusement and appreciation. This is a special stage in a tune’s development and I think it’s very precious. Later on in the evolution the distinction disappears and “Hare Rama” part simply mirrors “Hare Krishna” – because we, the general public, do not feel the same way, we simply follow the already known music, we do not discover it, and so we do not react to our discoveries. I’m getting away from the topic, however.

So, one way or another, but the pilgrim observed the mantra entering his heart. He does not elaborate on it at this point and so he presents himself as an observer – the heart chants and the pilgrim listens. How does it work with listening, though? It’s not his ears that hear the prayer of his heart. Perhaps his sense of hearing, the actual sense as a part of his subtle body, not “sense of hearing” in a common usage, so his sense of hearing had, perhaps, detached itself from his ears. We don’t need ears to hear – senses and physical sense organs are different things. This would mean that the pilgrim is gradually moving to a different state of reality – detached from gross matter. Can it happen to us? It probably should, if we did one of the usual kinds of yoga, but since Lord Caitanya invested the “gross” sound of the Holy Name with the power to reveal itself it’s not strictly speaking necessary to detach ourselves from our bodies in order to perceive the Holy Name in all its glory. That’s His very unusual gift, probably never seen before – revealing God’s presence in common articles of matter. Traditionally, things like deities, names, books, and all kinds of sacred objects, were seen as tools and as gateways to divinity, but with Lord Caitanya’s blessings we don’t have to look anywhere else – He brought full power of Divinity right into this world.

I didn’t think much of it before but now I can’t read Pilgrim’s Diary in the same way anymore. First time around I was sure that going inside the heart was THE way but now I realize that if we can’t see Krishna in the audible name outside we won’t see Him inside the heart either. It’s not the location were we look that matters, though chanting in the heart, the way the pilgrim learned, is still a pretty useful skill to have. The pilgrim himself didn’t totally disappear in his internal chanting either and that would be the subject of the next installment in this series. Something very “external” happened to him and we will discuss it next time.

Vanity thought #1275. Off the chest

I’ve been collecting some grievances for a while now and can’t resist the temptation to spill them out in the open. It’s probably not the right thing to do but I’m going with modern psycho therapy here – it’s better to articulate your issues and start dealing with them then keep them bottled up only to have them spring out on you when you least expect it.

Practically, this means that next time I talk about these devotees my perception of them could be colored by long held biases and this might lead to some serious misunderstandings and breaks in communication.

So, in no particular order and without any names…

There’s one devotee whose dedication to service of our mission has always fascinated me. He is steadfast, unpretentious, austere, and does nothing but preaching. He also regularly runs massive kīrtana melās. It’s these long kīrtanas that I could never get so I decided to give it a go and listen carefully, maybe I missed something due to a lack of concentration.

Maybe I got the wrong recording but I it started with mahārāja constantly telling people how to sing. Turns out he has an accompanying kīrtana group that has been playing with him for some time and they have certain standards to uphold. Devotees in the audience just couldn’t get it and were out of sync (not out of tune). They were less enthusiastic when expected, overly enthusiastic when kīrtana was supposed to be slow and quiet, something was always wrong and mahārāja had to correct them nearly at every step.

All in all I got an impression that it was all about perfect performance rather than singing and listening to the Holy Name. Then there was a long riff without any singing at all that left me totally convinced that it was more of a concert than a kīrtana.

Yes, his band has mastered musical instruments and is very pleasing to the ear but I’m not sure it was equally pleasing to the Lord. I can understand playing music in front of the deities but even that is not usually practiced in our tradition. In this connection I always remember Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarsvatī interfering during one kīrtana where the lead singer extended syllables of the Holy Name to make them fit his beautiful melody. “You could have sung three mantras at the same time and gotten three times more benefit,” said Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta. I don’t think he would approve no singing at all.

And then the kīrtana went into singing Rādhe Śyāma Rādhe Śyāma Śyāma Śyāma Rādhe Rādhe instead of Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. To me it was totally unacceptable because Śrīla Prabhupāda was very srict about inventing our own mantras or copying them off god knows who.

One could say that these are still the Holy Names and so no harm is done but this argument ignores the point that the Holy Name descends to us from the lips of our guru. Our guru is the one who channels Lord’s spiritual energy for us. Whatever we imagine ourselves or take from unauthorized sources might look like a Holy Name but it will never be revealed to us. We will be trying to access the Holy Name with our mundane mind and senses and in that position we will never be able to touch even the drop of the actual spiritual truth that is fully transcendental and imperceptible for such mundane empiricists.

The idea that singing Rādhe Śyāma was somehow expressing spiritual longing for their association does not hold against “only by the mercy of the guru” principle. It is artificial just as producing sweet melodies for their own sake or for the sake of our own enjoyment. Imagining that this mundane sweetness is somehow infused with real spiritual potencies is sahajīya. We should not fall into this trap. I don’t think I will willingly listen to this kīrtana group ever again, they are off my list until they change their ways.

In ISKCON we also have no shortage of devotees who are accused of some form deviation or other. What I usually do in these cases is listen to the devotees themselves. Sometimes their honesty and devotion beat all the opposing arguments, which could be likened to compaints about foam on the surface of the Ganges. Sometimes this contrarian approach works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes, after listening to devotees, I realize that our complaints are mostly products of our imagination or results of our unrealistic demands about what it means to be “pure”. Today I’m talking about cases where it didn’t work.

There’s one mahārāja who is regularly accused of taking wrong association so I’ve downloaded a couple of his lectures to see if there is anything really wrong with him. On the plus side is the fact that he has only Kṛṣṇa on his mind, there’s nothing else there, safe for usual crap that we are forced to endure to survive in the material world. He somehow turns everything into using it for Kṛṣṇa’s service and that is enough for me. I still can’t listen to his classes, though. His expectations of how Bhāgavatam classes should go are very different from mine.

He always, always asks questions of his audience and he expects everyone to answer or raise their hands, it looks like he does actual hand counts and the concept of “rhetorical question” is foreign to him. If, in the middle of the class, he asks devotees what’s on their minds right now he’d expect everyone to immediately give an honest answer. Needless to say, it doesn’t work, and that makes him frustrated.

I’ve heard him lamenting that devotees in the audience lack concentration, then he goes off to reflect on possible reasons for it, he talks about being hungry or sleepy and he preaches against succumbing to these natural urges. He tries to wake everyone up by asking more questions or raising his voice and if people do not respond his frustration only builds up.

All we want is to sit and listen to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. It’s time for hearing, not for talking. It’s not the time to have a conversation about it, it’s not the time to express our own, inherently mundane feelings, we just want to listen to Bhāgavatam, please don’t vex our memories, please don’t demand us to guess ślokas you are going to quote, it’s no the right time for that.

During Bhāgavatam class we are supposed to sit and absorb it like sponges. Then we have to process the information and internalize it. We might not have questions worth asking until we fully digested the subject and made it part of our own intelligence. That’s when we might ask for clarifications. Either way, question time is reserved for the end of the class and it’s supposed to be short and to the point. We all know that asking relevant questions is not as easy as it sounds, certainly not when you are demanded to speak up in the middle of the lecture.

These “interactive” Bhāgavatam classes is our tribute to the modern culture and its fascination with powerful presentations. Not trying to be sexist, but it’s our female devotees who are always after innovations and improvements. Whenever I see or hear a mātājī giving a class I resign to it being presented in some new and improved format. Some introduce power point presentations illustrating the subject, some use guitars during singing Jaya Rādhā Mādhava. Some bring gurukulīs to stage short plays on the topic and so on.

Many of these mātājīs are gurukula teachers, I guess, and so they treat the audience like a bunch of six-year olds. They expect us to finish their sentences for them, for example. “And then Kṛṣṇa went to..? And the second principle of devotion is..?” I somehow find it very annoying. If I knew all the answers I wouldn’t need to learn, and if it’s a Bhāgavatam class then I’m not here for answers, I’d rather have my mind and intelligence dissolve in the background and forget they even exist. Bhāgavatam should be speaking directly to our hearts and the less interference from material body is there the better.

There’s another case that worries me and I still don’t know how to properly respond to it so I don’t want to talk about it yet, it touches on pretty serious subjects and involves probably untouchable personalities, so I’ll keep quiet for now, I’ve said enough for one day.

Vanity thought #526. Catchy tunes

Today I was half-listening to Bhagavatam lecture on MayapurTV and was surprised to hear the speaker singing Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna He to a popular classical tune. Later in the day I checked the recording again and finally learned that HG Sukreshvara Prabhu introduced it as his personal way of appreciation for Krishna, not as something we should all follow, too.

That made me think of all the times I tried to merge Hare Krishna mantra with catchy tunes that somehow get in my head and refuse to leave.

I don’t know the real cause of the catchy tunes, I don’t know what shastra says about them and the modern scientists do not have any explanations either. Some one-liners get into our heads and play on perpetual loop, everyone knows what it is and it can be extremely annoying.

One way of dealing with them is to change lyrics to Hare Krishna mantra and sometimes it works very well. Several years ago I had a bad affliction of Christmas music and almost all the songs there fit with Hare Krishna perfectly. Or I remember trying Katy Perry’s Fireworks, it was so good it could have been used for actual kirtans.

Still, I’ve never been satisfied with this practice, I perceive it as wrong and non-devotional. The best thing about it is that it purges earworms from my brain rather fast.

I reject this practice because no matter how nicely Hare Krishna fits into the melody, it’s the melody that makes it attractive to my brain, and with melody comes association of the author, producer, and the performer. These people convey certain mood and vibe that makes their products so attractive, and that attraction lies in certain forms of material enjoyment, be it feeling of power, control, hope, lust, desolation – we share their emotional state and we enjoy it.

When I transpose Hare Krishna mantra on those tunes I still don’t sing them for Krishna’s pleasure, I still enjoy the original feelings put there by materialists whose association, even subtle one, I should reject if I want to become a vaishnava.

Sticking Krishna’s Name on that subtle enjoyment doesn’t make it okay, it makes it only marginally better, and only if the goal is to get rid of the tune altogether. We cannot use Krishna’s Name to justify our continued enjoyment, that is actually an offense.

Now, Beethoven’s Ninth is probably not the worst kind of association one can get this way, it’s much better than some Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, but the principle is the same – it has to be rejected or it would become a serious anartha in our hearts. Anartha – thing without value that we keep attachment to instead of being attached to Krishna.

The mirror side of this problem is catchy Hare Krishna tunes. Over the years we’ve collected quite a library of “dhuns” and we keep adding more and there’s always one or two fashionable ones that everyone imitates in kirtans and bhajans.

I don’t think it’s a problem on the same scale as getting One Direction in your head but the mechanics are the same – we enjoy the dhuns/tunes ourselves, Krishna comes second. I don’t think that’s how the tunes originally come into existence but imitators/followers really have no choice – they like the tunes themselves and they sing them because they like them.

Does Krishna like them? We generally assume He does but we tend not to verify this with our gurus. When these questions gets passed on to Srila Prabhupada his answer was that he didn’t like any new tunes. He gave us a list for each arati service and he didn’t want to see any deviations.

We have a bit more freedom with Hare Krishna and kirtans outside arati services but one should be obliterated on the spot for starting gurvashtakam to the tune by some pop-singer. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, for example, indicated what tunes his songs should be sung to, leaving very little space for personal choice. If we sing our kirtans to the tunes of our acharyas we would get a bit of their association. Why would one replace that with the taste of Beyonce? Only for personal self-gratification.

Having said that, if a popular Hare Krishna tune gets stuck in our heads and gets replayed over and over with Lord’s Names reverberating in our minds – what could possibly be wrong about that?

In conclusion – as with all other material desires – we can avoid them only by avoiding their sources. Desires come from association, a good devotee would never get hooked on Lady Gaga if he never heard about her. Same reason why we avoid pornographic and erotic images – once you let it in it will never come out and it won’t stop until it wrecks your service completely.

Maintaining our purity should be our main concern when navigating this world.

Vanity thought #423. Deeply disturbing divergence

Thanks to that god awful Sampradaya Sun website I got a story in my head that I needed to check out, one thing led to another and now I have it – I watched a deeply disturbing video that I just can’t “unsee”.

If it was simply shocking I could easily forget it but it’s not shocking per se, it just that the more I think about it the more disturbed I become. It shows a side of some of our leading devotees that I never knew was there and this side is, frankly, unacceptable. Unacceptable on so many fundamental levels that I will never see those devotees in the same way again – “Ah, he was in THAT video!..”

It’s a promotional video for one our famous projects I’ve heard so much praise about by outstanding devotees of unquestionable character and devotion to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON, yet it undermines everything I really care about in our society. If it was a one off occasion it could have been explained, circumstances sometimes dictate us to do things we are not proud about, but this is a promo, a carefully staged performance that looks quite professional, too.

It carries the name “Bhaktivedanta” in the title but it is an affront to Srila Prabhupada and everything he stood for. It doesn’t even mention who “Bhaktivedanta” is or was, not showing even a single picture of a man it attaches itself to, and that’s just the beginning.

For a Vrindavana hospice that intends to help people transition into the next life it never shows a single picture of Krishna, never mentions the name of Krishna, not even once. Our leading sanyasi and guru who is leading this project doesn’t wear a tilaka and is unidentifiable as an ISKCON devotee, or a vaishnava at all, and to top it off – he lets a mayavadi singer perform kirtan at the bedside of a dying man!

It wasn’t a month ago when I read stories about Srila Prabhupada insisting on strict standards for our kirtans, listening to the singing in the temple room during arati from very far away, sometimes from his room several stories above. Prabhupada never hesitated to send a servant and stop the kirtan if someone inserted something tainted with apa sampradayas, like “bhaje” sang in front of Hare Krishna mantra or singing “Jaya gurudeva”. Never mind who was leading the kirtan or how engaged and ecstatic devotees were, he wanted to correct it right away.

Letting a mayavadi, a follower of Osho Rajnesh, in this case, to sing kirtan to dying people in the hospice carrying his name is like stabbing knife in Prabhupada’s heart. Is this what he established ISKCON for? To let mayavadis take over our kirtans? At the time of someone’s death?

I was always wondering why this famous sannyasi and ISKCON guru occasionally adds quotes by Dalai Lama that appear in my twitter feed, but that is peanuts comparing to what is happening in this video.

As I said, the more I think about the worse it becomes. It transcends transgressions by one man and questions the role of GBC in protecting the spirit of our movement, complacency of all the followers and disciples of that guru who, I think, are counted in thousands now. I know many of them personally but I’m afraid to raise this subject in their presence, maybe a little later when I somewhat calm down.

Overall, there’s this divergence between our mission that we take in our hearts and the actions of a very popular figure in our movement, and it’s deeply disturbing.

Why, why do they stick Prabhupada’s name on their spiritually sick and revolting enterprise? It’s one thing if mayavadis do whatever they do, but it’s a million times worse when Prabhupada’s followers engage in the same thing. Haven’t they/we learnt anything about how painful mayavada was to our acharyas and Lord Chaitanya Himself?

Why do they do this to Gaudiya vaishnavism?

You can watch the video here. I’m not going to embed this blasphemy of Prabhupada’s memory in this blog.

I’m late to the “party”, it was put up over a year ago and, apparently, no one in ISKCON have done anything about it. Makes me wonder even more what exactly is going on. There is one sannyasi and guru who has spoken against it but, as “rumor has it”, he is now prohibited from speaking at some our temples.

God, I should have never read that Sampradaya Sun, my life was relatively peaceful before that. Now I see conspiracies and failures everywhere.