Can devotees watch TV serials about Krishna’s pastimes?
Transcription by- Keshav Gopal Das & Ambuj Gupta
Question: Can devotees watch TV serials about Krishna’s pastimes?
Answer: This is not a matter of can. One cannot mandate such things. Every devotee is individual and the devotees have to decide individually how they want to practice Krishna consciousness at what intensity, at what pace. Generally any form of remembrance of Krishna is good. This is one principle which we could use and we could say that ok, if it’s a TV serial and it’s about Krishna and I am remembering Krishna by watching it. That may be because there is also the things are entertainingly depicted and attention goes more on it and I will be able to remember it more also. That could be one line of thinking. The other line of thinking could be that the remembrance of Krishna has to be devotional. Bhaktya sanjayate bhakti. We get devotional remembrance of Krishna from devotees. That’s why we should hear only from devotees. We should watch dramas which devotees perform. We should hear the classes. We can read the books which devotees have written about Krishna. We could quote that yena kena prakarena manah Krishna niveshayate, that any way one can remember Krishna, so even by watching TV serials for remembering Krishna, what’s wrong. The other way we could quote that there is Padma purana verse:
avaishnava-mukhodgiram putam hari-kathamritam sravanam naiva kartavyah sarpocchishtah yatha payah.
Harikatha coming from Vaishnava, it is nourishing like milk but milk touched by a serpent will become poisonous, similarly Hari katha is like that. That’s why one should not hear it from non-devotees. So one could quote from both perspectives. Basically the important point is that if one wants to make serious substantial advancement in devotional service, definitely one should focus on hearing from devotees. Best would be if the devotees come together and in devotee community we have some very talented devotees who make serials which get broadcasted on TV then not only can devotees watch this but non devotees can watch also. They will get not just entertainment but they will also get enlightenment, they will also get spiritual upliftment by it. Till that doesn’t happen as the devotee community expands but surely that will happen in the future. But till that it doesn’t happen, what do we do? The principle yena kena prakarena mahan Krishna niveshayate, can be definitely used to justify the sort of thing. I am not using the word “justifying” in wrong sense. The films prepared by devotees like “Little Krishna” serials then verse avaishnava-mukhodgiram verse will not apply so much. Off course we can always argue if we want to be technical that actually only the vision was given by devotees but many things were not prepared by devotees. Actually that is not necessary that has to be a case all the time. It’s not that even when we go to temples every single thing in the temple is prepared by devotees. Yes, the construction workers are not devotees. Even the contractors may not be devotees. That’s not just in ISKCON, that could well have been the tradition in the past. We don’t have to make a big issue out of that fact necessarily. avaishnava-mukhodgiram verse, what does it primarily mean. The acharyas explain that what is that visha that will come. We have to understand that visha is the bhukti and mukti. karma–kanda jnana kanda, kevala vishera bhanda, that even within the Vedic literature, which are talking about spirituality, talking about God but which are focusing on material aspects even they are vishera bhandabecause both of them keep the soul away from the nectar of pure devotion to Krishna. So from that pure devotion perspective the karma and gyana are the visha and it is that visha will come through Hari katha when one hears Hari katha from avaishnavas. We may say that we already have karma and gyana and even the devotees from whom we hear they may also have tendency for karma and gyana. But the devotees from whom we hear normally they are not aspiring towards karma and gyana. They have those tendencies to try to give them up. The point is that visha is not something which is sin over there. We have to be careful that we don’t demonize the Krishna centered productions by non devotees by using this verse. What it means is that there may be karma and gyana desires that will come through them because those non devotees they will having those karma and gyana desires but the visha is not in terms of any sinful being there. So it’s not visha in that sense. From practical perspective we may well see that there are many people who get introduced to Krishna or get interested in Krishna because of some non devotees writings or presentation about Krishna. That means if some impersonalist may written some book about Krishna or say some non-devotee yogis may have sung some song about Krishna and that’s may attract people. There interest in Krishna as a diplomat started because they saw Mahabharata and then they want to know more about Krishna. Then they came to Bhagavad Gita and then they become devotees. People may come to Krishna even through non devotees productions about Krishna. That is where we see yena kena prakarena manah Krishna niveshayate. Somehow or other one comes to Krishna, that is auspicious. That’s why I would say we have to have a broad and multi level and overall accommodating perspective to these serials. Serious devotees would prefer to focus on reading the acharyas books and hearing devotees presentations of Krishna consciousness of Krishna bhakti. Those who do it they should be respected for doing what is the focus on aspiration for pure devotion. But others who don’t do this, we shouldn’t label them or definitely we shouldn’t demonize them. There is no need to demonize the presentation by non devotees especially if they don’t have many serious misinterpretations in their primarily artistic depiction of things which are over all according to the shastric message. Then watching them is not seriously harmful in it and it will also have some level of Krishna consciousness is there. Some people who do not know about Krishna they may start coming towards Krishna and devotees can use this also as a bridge to bring people towards Krishna. Depending on each individual devotee’s level of commitment and nature of engagement with the world, one can decide whether to watch this or not. There is no need to make to campaign for it or campaign against it. Some devotees may like some TV serials very much and they may do as a sort of campaign, oh this is very good, watch it. That’s not the instruction coming from a devotee that watch this. This is good. That is just a devotee’s personal feeling and if others are inspired they can do that and otherwise they don’t have to.
Overall one should be broad and recognize the principle that any connection with Krishna is good. At the same time devotional connection with Krishna meditated through devotees is the best. So whatever level one wants to practice in devotional service that one can practice accordingly. Thank you.