Isn’t it distasteful for brahmacharis to be watching and quoting movies when people come to them to hear about Krishna
Transcription by– Keshavgopal Das & Ambuj Gupta
Question: Isn’t it distasteful for brahmacharis to watch and quote movies in their spiritual articles when people are coming to hear about Krishna from them?
Answer: First of all it is not necessary for the preachers of Krishna consciousness to be ignorant of the culture around them. In fact, I know one senior devotee, very senior Vaishnava, one of the spiritual leader of our movement, sannyasi and guru. He was telling me, he appreciated the book which I written “Oh my God” and he told me that he addressed some questions based on it. Then he in his talks and in his answers he made some references about the movie and he said something about the movie which were actually not depicted in the movie and because the audience had seen the movie, they all pointed out what he is saying is wrong and is not in movie at all. So he said that it is important that when we are commenting on social events we should be properly informed about the social events.
Those of our movement leaders who are focused on cultural trends and responding to the cultural trends they are aware of the way the modern mind or the post-modern mind thinks so that the people respond more appropriately to it. Even if we look at Srila Prabhupada, Srila Prabhapuda will quote William Blake, Srila Prabhupada will quote even from hippie articles for example, phrase “stay high for ever”. Now “stay high” is not a very dignified phrase even in American culture. The whole idea is one is taking lot of drugs in order to go high. That the extent of the drug user is frowned upon by main stream American society at that time. But Prabhupada used that and then he added “stay high for ever”. So he appropriated the hippy phrases that could be used for conveying Krishna conscious message. In fact the name Sunday Love Feast is also like that. The whole idea of love and feast was very trendy in the hippies and that is how Prabhupada gave the concept of love-feast. So using contemporary phrases is something which Srila Prabhupada has also done whenever he came across phrases he felt appropriate, he did use them.
Second thing is that it is not that one has to watch movies in order to quote from them. I neither do have time or interest to watch movies but I do stay informed about cultural trends and I do so mostly by asking devotees or reading reviews about movies on some media web sites where they give some objective review. So reviews help not only know about what is being liked by people today but what the critics, what the movie reviewers, those who are opinion leaders of the culture today, what they think about it.
Now regarding this specific dialogue the devotee who suggested that I write the paper, write the article on this topic that he himself suggested this dialogue to me and I used it. Srila Prabhupada always advised us to present Krishna consciousness in a way that is interesting to audience without screwing out any unintended unscrupulous meaning. If Krishna conscious message is at this level, say at the spiritual level and people are at the material level of consciousness, so our goal is to raise people from material level to spiritual level of consciousness but in that consciousness they are caught up with something and if we connect Krishna consciousness with them then that catches their attention.
Actually knowledge always grows from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Where people are reading or hearing something if one concept seem unfamiliar, second concept seem unfamiliar, third concept seem unfamiliar then people started getting uncomfortable. Their mental door started closing and they get lost. They get stop reading the article or they walk out the lecture or they mentally walk out the lecture. Basically connecting with the audience is important. Now here this particular dialogue from movie it just talking the point of, how even today people talk about the principle of honoring one’s word. That is the concept which people can, that particular dialogue the way it is praised, by whom it is praised, where it is praised, the context as well as text, people can relate with them very easily. Once they relate with that they get related to the message which we are trying to present. So that is that we can have spiritual foundation for our integrity.
Now moving forward beyond this I quoted a similar dialogue from a movie about reincarnation “om shanti om” and then I have been asked this question also, a further extention of this question, that is by quoting dialogues from movies aren’t you encouraging devotees to watch movies to try to find some Krishna conscious content in them. No, that’s not necessary. It’s not that devotees have to watch movies to find Krishna conscious content. Whatever is there in the culture we try to find Krishna conscious content in them. We don’t go over searching the culture to get Krishna conscious content. People who want to do like that, who want to justify like that, they will do like that. I know some people who came to ISKCON temple in ISKCON Juhu and the thing they like was oh, in the guest room the furniture is so good and the main thing they did after go back home was that they decide, oh, we have to renovate our house and get furniture like that we saw in Juhu guest room. Now are we trying to say that ISKCON Juhu should not have such opulent furniture because the people who started getting attracted to Krishna, they get attracted to furniture. If the furniture had not been good then they would have nothing to attract. They just come and gone. So we can’t say that furniture distract them from Krishna. They were any way not interested in Krishna and what they were interested in, they found in the temple. Now at least even they see the furniture they will think oh, in ISKCON temple we saw this furniture first. There is also some ways small benefit that may get spiritual.
So the point is ultimately it’s up to everyone individual desire what they do. Our goal in quoting from movies is not that in every class we have to quote from movies. Where it is appropriate and where the audience not otherwise not even to relate with the message then we quote. For example, in Gita daily article in my bhakti shastri classes and in my classes which are focusing directly in shastra I have not quote this. So where the audience require it at that time we are quoting it occasionally, so that it enables people to connect with the message that we are giving. If people are going to use that to justify their remaining connected with material things then that simply indicates that their interest was never in Krishna. Their interest is only in material things and this particular material thing they found in Krishna connected things, that just indicated that they were not ready for Krishna. That’s why they don’t come to Krishna. So ultimately we have to look at what are best ways we can connect with Krishna, and we try to use them. Sometimes those ways may not work. It’s also possible that sometimes the traditional ways also may not work at all. So it’s a war for the attention of people and we have to see whatever catches the attention and attracts them to Krishna. We present it according to time, place and circumstances. So occasionally using such things as steps to lift people attention towards Krishna is something which have precedents and which also is in accordance with the understanding of realization which Srila Prabhupada has given. Thank you.