Follow by Email

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Anything wrong with Public Harinām Saṅkīrtan?


This is a recent debate on Facebook with an opponent of public harinama [slightly edited for discretion and diplomatic correctness]

Advaita Das - Met a two-man harinam party in Utrecht so I put a dhoti on and joined them. Broke the place down the three of us.

RPD - Harinam is not ment for the publik

Advaita Das - RPD - Śrīmad Bhāgavat, Śrīman Caitanya Mahāprabhu and all the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas would beg to disagree with that.

RPD - We should follow what the Lord says,and not what he does.If Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his eternal associates dance on the street, this is their lila and should not be imitated. It was all started by the Gaudya Math headed by Bhaktisiddhanta who screwed up the real culture about was Bhakti is all about. Bevor that nobody danced artificially without bhava in front of the publik. Yes dancing is there in front of your personal deity but only if you have love for the Lord. This Harinam in publik which we have seen from Isckon and Gaudya Math is all about to make advertisment to make more followers and to use them for making money. This is there main motive, it has nothing to do with Bhakti.

Advaita Das - RP, Harinām Sankīrtan is prescribed in Sanātan Goswāmī's Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta (2.3.167-8) and in the ṭīkā of verse 168 the assurance is given that public saṅkīrtan will be fully protected). It was done by Narottam Dās Thākur, by Rādhā-raman caran Dās, Vijaya Kṛṣṇa Goswāmī, and the bābājīs too. Any devotional aṅga can be performed for lābh pūjā pratiṣṭhā (profit, adoration and distinction), including solitary bhajan, go seva, printing books etc. I have done harināma saṅkīrtan for 32 years and never got paid for it, nor did any of my friends. You show a very negative attitude towards innocent Vaiṣṇavas, I am sorry for you.

RPD It has nothing to to with a negative attitude, its all about education in scriptures, for the gaudyas the ulimate authority are the scriptures,from the 6 Gosvamis from Vrindavan. There is nothing mentioned in there writings about dancing in front materialistic people.How to you know about Narottama dasa Th. dancing have you seen it? Anybody can say anyhting, the guidance are the scriptures and not some uneducated babajis. And even if sombody dances in front of the publik, than only because out of pure Love (Prema) and he has no control over it, its spontaneous, you are on this level??? If you are on this level you have my blessings, otherwise just be humble and serve your Guru.

Advaita Das -"There is nothing mentioned in there writings about dancing in front materialistic people."

Advaitadas: kṛṣṇotkīrtana gāna nartana parau - the 6 Goswāmīs loudly chanted, sang and danced - in front of their own deities? How will you redeem 'materialistic people' unless you chant to them?

"otherwise just be humble and serve your Guru."

Advaitadas: It is a serious allegation that anyone who does harināma on the street is not humble. I admit that there is a challenge to the ego about posturing on the street with a musical instrument, but what if Guru orders one to do harināma? You said serve your Guru, what should I do then?

RPD - The way how to perform bhakti is mentioned in the bhakti sandharba by jiva gosvami, and other śāstras don't qoute prayers to establish siddhanta. Unless you know sanskritt you have no acsess to gaudia literature. If you want the Truth ...educate yourself.

Advaita Das - Allright then RP, how about this one then? This is from the Bhagavat (10.34.17), topmost śāstra according to Jīva Goswāmī - yan nāma gṛhṇann akhilān śrotṛn ātmānam eva ca sadyaḥ punāti - 'Whose name, when uttered, instantly purifies those who hear it as well as oneself." Those who hear it are only people in your living room perhaps?

"Unless you know sanskritt you have no acsess to gaudia literature"

Advaitadas: Which means that all translations, including that of your Guru, are useless? Why then all the book translations?

"If Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his eternall associates dances on the street,this is there lila and should not be immitated."

Advaitadas: Any evidence for that in śāstra?

RPD I am not quoting the books of my Guru. Unless you have not studied Sanskritt you cant't speak on Siddhanta,you can only qoute from this baba or that baba or this book and that book, but in reality you have no acess to the Gosvami Literature because you are not qualified, be humble and admitt it. Have you studiet Sanskritt , Chandan Vyakaran etc properly, I don't think so otherwise you would not talk like this.
re your qoute from bhagavad sandharba : it doesen't mean you go on the street and dance artifically and make a show and immitate a perfect siddha. Find out from your Guru, if I tell you the evidence you will not accept it anyway.This is the end of the topic.Conclusion: Ask your Guru about this discussion if you have on and accept his advice.

Advaita Das: And more from śāstra - yāre dekhe tāre koho kṛṣṇa upadeśa -  'Whoever you see tell him about Kṛṣṇa'
and : pṛthivīte āche yoto nagarādi grām sarvatra pracāra hobe more nāma - 'IN ALL TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF THE WORLD MY NAME WILL BE PREACHED" ...How's that done ? cupi cupi you think?

RPD Right, but it doesen't mean you go on the road and jump like monkey and artifically chant the holy name without Bhava.you just quote without understanding the inner meaning. You have not even answered my questions??? HAVE YOU ATTAINED PURE LOVE OF THE LORD???ARE YOU KNOW SANSKRITT??

Advaita Das “Unless you have not studied Sanskritt you cant't speak on Siddhanta,you can only qoute from this baba or that baba or this book and that book"

Any śāstra says that enlightenment requires Sanskrit knowledge? Quote it then. It would mean the spiritual world would be a lonely place because only a handful know Sanskrit.

"but in reality you have no acsess to the Gosvami Literature because you are not qualified"

Which means you sit in my heart and gauge my realizations.

"be humble "

Ask any reader of this debate about YOUR attitude here....

"dance artifically and make a show and immitate a perfect siddha.

Why is the dancing artificial and why only siddhas are allowed to dance? Where is this in the Goswāmīs' books?

"If I tell you the evidence you will not accept it anyway"

So far you have been very short of evidence, just very rich in beliefs.

"Ask your Guru about this discussion if you have on and accept his advice."

A bit hard if he entered samādhi 24 years ago. But he told me indeed there is a great risk of ego-tripping while preaching. He never forbade me harinām sankīrtan in public,

"HAVE YOU ATTAINED PURE LOVE OF THE LORD???ARE YOU KNOW SANSKRITT??"

Are the two linked in any way? If I had these accomplishments - prema and sanskrit - would I be modest by saying 'yes'?

RPD I guess not,otherwise your statments are just Parrot talk .You teach a parrot... one.. two.. three.. and only this he will repeat.I have to repeat it again and again study properly. You have to know for yourself.You have to be honest. Well follow your Guru and everything will be allwright, go on with dancing,chanting and be happy

Advaita Das RPD, you come crashing in here with a bold claim that public harināma is wrong, then you claim Kṛṣṇa is only available through Sanskrit but despite all intellectual boasting you provide not even one syllable of evidence, though you had plenty of opportunity to provide it.

RPD: Jiva Goswami has given a definition of sankirtana, bahubhir militva yat kirtanam tad eva sankirtanam: "When pure devotees coming together to chant the holy name. Well if your interpretation of this statement is going on the street, than do it and chant do it if it makes you happy.

Advaitadas: Not only it makes me happy - śrotṛn ātmānam eva ca - the audience as well.

RPD: The reason why pure Bhakti is so rare, not because its not available...because nobody wants it.

Advaitadas - Now here I finally agree with you. manuṣyānām sahasreṣu....


RPD: Why you put a Dhoti on,to chant the Name ??? ,what your Dhoti has to do with the Name ??? you think if you remain in your city cloth and than chant ,the name has no effect??? What kind of understanding you have? Its a Show of Devotion. And then.... Broke the place down the three of us,...what does this means maybe your chanting was so fanatic that bystanders run way ,looks like and than you wonder whats wrong with this guys. Anyway i don't blame you, because if you want to get knowledge get out of your comfort zone and study properly, what Bhakti is all about.

Advaitadas: RP, a dhoti is a sacred garment which incites sacred sentiments. Garments do make a difference. A chastely covered lady incites other feelings than a half naked prostitute, huh? In Caitanya Caritāmṛta it is mentioned that Mahārāja Pratāparudra took a Vaiṣṇava dress to serve Śrīman Mahāprabhu in Aitota Garden. Furthermore, Vaiṣṇavas need to be recognized by appearance too. I know your Guru does not wear pants either. I acknowledge that there is a risk of posturing in a show of devotion in this way but that risk has to be taken. As far as what Bhakti is all about, yuga dharma is Harināma and it is the only way - harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam.

Last exchange added October 5, 2010 at Radhakund Dham. text added to 2nd refutation 30 january 2013

17 comments:

  1. Dear Advaitadasji,
    Why did you feel that you needed to wear a dhoti in order to do public hariname kirtana in the West? Would clean western style clothes have been okay for harinam in an European city? I agree with the value of wearing orthodox clothing in Brindavan etc. and when doing bhajan at home. I would like to know your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anon
    Like Harinama Sankirtan, Vaishnava dress purifies both oneself and the audience, the eyes and the mind.
    My Gurudeva encouraged me always to wear it, also in the west.
    Though I am not always wearing dhoti in the west, harinama sankirtan is a sacred occasion in which the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya must be properly and fully represented.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! What an awful person!!!!
    I'm surprised that you even gave such a jerk the time of day!
    To think that one 'must know Sanskrit' in order to understand Krsna and bhakti seems to suggest that 99.9% of the Vaisnavas in the world are all wasting their time.

    What arrogance!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Keshava,
    Yes I gave him the time of the day to show the contrast between him and actual decent and modest Vaishnavism, and to refute the ideas of his class.

    janmaisvarya sruti sribhir
    edhamana mada puman; naivarhatyabhidhatum vai
    tvam akincana gocara -

    "Those who are proud of their birth, wealth, learning, and beauty cannot perceive you. Only the destitute and bereft can see you."

    Ironically our friend hardly even knows English, what to speak of Sanskrit, so how can he ever attain Krishna?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Somehow RPD is not motivating me to learn Sanskrit (although I would like to learn it). But he does motivate me to do a loud kirtan in front of 'materialistic people'.

    ReplyDelete
  6. RPD: "This Harinam in publik which we have seen from Isckon and Gaudya Math is all about to make advertisment to make more followers and to use them for making money. This is there main motive, it has nothing to do with Bhakti."

    While I agree that collecting followers as part of a money-making enterprise has nothing to do with bhakti, I must disagree with harinama as a means to attract a lot of followers. In my admittedly limited experience of performing naga-sankirtana in the United States, I wouldn't say that it is particularly successful as an "advertising" scheme to draw in potential converts. Most appear indifferent or simply perplexed. A handful often get confrontational, while only a few individuals seem genuinely interested.

    Please don't misunderstand me, I am not against public sankirtana, as the example set forth by Gaudiya acaryas undoubtedly support it. And, for those that do hear, it is immensely beneficial. However, I wouldn't say thxat it draws in scores of people who can then be used to boost institutional revenue.

    ReplyDelete
  7. RPD: "We should follow what the Lord says,and not what he does.If Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his eternal associates dance on the street, this is their lila and should not be imitated."

    I am curious, which other parts of the Lord's lila should not be imitated? Did the Lord and his parisadas not study the sastra? Honor prasadam? Visit tirthas? Are these also aspects of Their lila which should not be imitated? It might be a secondary or "external" reason, but why did the Lord appear as His own bhakta if not to serve as a model for aspiring Vaisnavas?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bharatiya Dinapanji, vol. 21
    Indian diary

    My first trip to India in 21 months. For this trip to Vraja I took no risks - I take a taxi straight to Radhakund from Delhi because in my last trip 2 years ago I got stranded in Vrindavan 3 out of 4 months due to diseases [see my blogs of September-November 2008] Though the connections Amsterdam-Vienna-Delhi were perfect, as soon as I arrive in tapobhumi everything becomes difficult - rain, traffic jams and Games in Delhi, and broken roads disconnect Vrindavan from Radhakund, so we must take a dust road in the middle of the night, reminding me of Radhika's krishna abhisaar. The trip Delhi-Radhakund takes about as long as the trip Amsterdam-Delhi. Three nights no sleep or hardly any sleep. The first moments I am out on Radhakund parikrama I bump into Satyanarayan Baba,in Bhakta Nivasa. He will stay until March and will resume broadcasting on his livestream site again soon.
    The changes in Radhakund I already mentioned on Facebook before -
    gates entering Mahaprabhu Baithak, and opposite Iskcon, new pavement of the Radhakund parikrama, and the disappearance of the devotees sitting place in front of Das Goswami's samadhi.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What is wrong with public sankirtana in the streets? Why it is forbidden? RPD provided no shastra evidence for that.

    I participated in street sankirtana many times and I never thought about making money this way.

    Yes, I'm not on pure bhakti level. I sang and danced without Bhava. And I don't know Sanskrit (also I don't know English well). So RDP is right, people like myself fully rely on translations (and in my case, the level of English).

    But I do believe that public sankirtana is extremely beneficial for attaining and developing bhakti, both for listeners and singers.

    Also this discussion relived sweet remembrances of harinamas in which I was happy to take part some 20 years ago, then in USSR. It was just great! It is a pity that RDP was not with us and doesn't know what it feels like! He (or she) would never talk like this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fourth full day in Vraj. Got eye-infection, but drops and pills seem to work. Feeling great to be back home @Radhakund!

    ReplyDelete
  11. 27 september, my diksa-anniversary, an uneventful day with some physical discomforts. Had an interesting debate in the evening with Ananda Hari about Guru tattva, apt on a day like this [diksa anniversary].

    ReplyDelete
  12. Chorer Desh - My box of books in Anandahari's house was broken open by workers in my 2-year absence, but nothing was stolen. It reminds me the book trunks of Srinivasacarya that were stolen by King Birhambir, but then nobody is interested in books, only in money and material valuables.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "In my admittedly limited experience of performing naga-sankirtana in the United States, I wouldn't say that it is particularly successful as an "advertising" scheme to draw in potential converts. Most appear indifferent or simply perplexed."

    I quite agree with above anon. Been to numerous harinams in USA, and found that the result was at times even counter-effective. But if the devotees are dressed in clean, ironed clothes, walk orderly, and sing melodiusly and with devotion, then harinams have huge effect on both the performers and the public. As everything else, it depends on the consciousness.
    But the argument that it shoudn't be done in public is wrong (needles to say he couldn't prove from the sastra a single idea of his).
    Interestingly, the vaishnava you call RPD reminds me on some of the antagonistic characters from C.C. or Bhagavatam, who at the end get his pride crumbled, and become a saint. Hope this will happen.

    jaya sacinandana

    ReplyDelete
  14. While I do not agree with RPD's arguments, I will admit that I do feel uncomfortable performing Nagar Sankirtan in the West and thus refrain from doing so, though in Braj, Navadweep or Puri I feel very comfortable and natural doing it.

    However, there is a huge "kirtan movement" going on in the USA right now, not related to ISKCON, Gaudiya Math or any Vaishnava tradition.

    Yoga centers now perform kirtan along with yoga and they are very open and welcoming to Vaishnavas of any stripe who perform Kirtan.

    Therefore my hesitancy to perform Nagar Sankirtan or public kirtan in the West has lessened.

    By the way, is this RPD the same RPD who is recently divorced and looking for yet another wife, even though he is well into middle age?

    ReplyDelete
  15. "27 september, my diksa-anniversary, an uneventful day with some physical discomforts. Had an interesting debate in the evening with Ananda Hari about Guru tattva, apt on a day like this [diksa anniversary]."

    If it's not too much to ask, what were some of the more interesting points that you covered during your debate?

    ReplyDelete
  16. " By the way, is this RPD the same RPD who is recently divorced and looking for yet another wife, even though he is well into middle age?"

    Please refrain from such personal comments. This is not a gossip tabloid. AFAIK RPD is a young man.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anon" "what were some of the more interesting points that you covered during your debate?"

    They were of a personal kind, involving some prominent Gurus, including my own.

    ReplyDelete