What is the use of writing insubstantial articles in newspapers that don’t even mention the name of Krishna once?
From Amoghalila P
In a times of high talked personality and related events many will read this article (This comment refers to this article published in The Speaking Tree, Times of India.). Though well intended, looks shallow and poor in KC perspective. As there is not even once the name Krishna is used. You may say that you have emphasis on BG, but it ultimately misleads if not BG As It Is – pre1977.
Transcription by– Keshav Gopal Das & Ambuj Gupta
Question: This is a question based on my article on Modi’s swearing-in ceremony “The substance underlying the form”.The question is that this article lacks in substance and because it talks about a very well-known media personality, it is going to be very widely read and when in such a widely read article we don’t even mention Krishna once then it is poor, lacks substance, and it is not of much use? What is the use of writing articles in big newspapers if we can’t even give Krishna consciousness substance and mention the name of Krishna once?
Answer: There has to be always consideration of time, place, circumstances regarding how the message of Krishna is to be presented. If some devotees have objections to the way in which some other devotees are trying to present Krishna consciousness then rather than criticizing, it will be better if they do according to their definition of how Krishna consciousness should be presented and show it. Let these devotees write articles in main stream newspapers and get published in newspapers that have thousands, lakhs and millions of readers at times and use what they consider as uncontaminated, where you are putting name Krishna everywhere. If they can get it published all my good wishes are there for them and I will follow their example also.
At the same time, following Srila Prabhupada is not as simple as some people like to make out. Prabhupada himself was dynamic. We see Prabhupada using scientific terminology in his book “Easy journey to higher planets”. There he uses “matter” and “anti-matter” and that’s a classy example of presenting spirituality in the language of the contemporary people. If you see that way, Isopanishada, which Prabhupada targeted for the impersonalists, he uses the word Krishna much lesser than he uses in his other books because he is targeting the impersonalists and they don’t want to focus so much on personal aspect of God, so he doesn’t use Krishna so much. He uses Lord, he uses God. He does use Krishna but if we compare percentage wise he doesn’t so much in that book as he uses in say Chaitanya Charitamita or Bhagavad Gita or other places like that.
Similarly Prabhupada had devotees who were distributing books, they said if you have to wear the clothes that are considered in the main stream in society today, so that you don’t have unnecessary distance between yourself and the preachers, then you can do that. Prabhupada started Bhaktivedanta Institute for what? To tell people about the essential principles of Krishna consciousness in the language of science. It is not that the devotees scientists in every scientific paper that they publish, are going to bring the name of Krishna and if we are going to judge the success of devotee scientists writings by how many times they have used Krishna then we have a tragically, pathetically, narrow understanding of the success of Krishna conscious out reach.
Devotees like Sadaputa Prabhu, Druta Karma Prabhu, Rasa Raja Prabhu, Bhakti Swaroop Damodar Maharaja, they have done much service in bringing respectability within the scientific community for the core principles of Krishna consciousness. But if we count in their books how many times will you find Krishna in those books. It very-very less and there are sometimes full papers where there is no mention of Krishna. Bhakti Tirtha maharaja specially specialized in this type of preaching. In his books “Leadership for a higher age and for higher consciousness” he brings in the principles of Krishna consciousness but he practically never uses the word Krishna but the end result was that many people were becoming devotees and many people have become devotees. Prabhupada himself when Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja was on the planet appreciated that he is creating sankirtan in the way he was innovatively distributing the message of Krishna.
There are precedents within our tradition and within our movement also for presenting Krishna consciousness sensitively. What to speak of not using the name of Krishna, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur in Chaitanya Shikshamrita, even to some extent accommodates the academic communities dating of the Vedic literature and the dating of the Vedic dynasties. He did not accept it entirely but he accommodates it, especially in Krishna Samhita. For what purpose? So that people can move forward and come to the essential message.
Today no newspaper would like to become a mouth piece for any institution. If newspapers start seeing that some institutions are simply using us as a forum for proselytization, then they will give very little or any coverage to that institutions thoughts and writings. We have to present ourselves in a way that is intelligible and acceptable to the media through which we are publishing. India is a secular country and in a secular country certain standards have to be followed. Newspapers are expected to follow certain standards. Now whether the way secularism is implemented in India is right or wrong that’s an entirely different discussion. But here we have to understand that there is a particular way things work and if we want to work through that system then we will have to adjust our presentation according to time, place, circumstances. I have written many articles in “Speaking Tree” in the past. There is a article I published on Gaura Purnima. On that occasion I quoted Chaitanya Mahprabhu directly and I quoted trnadapi sunichena tarorapi sahishnuna verse directly over there. There are other places when Janmashtami is there, Rama Navami is there, many times direct Krishna conscious philosophy with the open name of Krishna comes in over there.
If you just search on my web site for “Speaking Tree”, you will find many of these articles. The point is that when it is appropriate as a devotee I would want to present Krishna but it is not that we have to be thrusting Krishna into every single thing that we are doing. Yes, that was one definition of success that Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur used. He would look at a publication when an article would have come and see how many times the name of Krishna is mentioned. He would recommend the name of Krishna then he would say that is good and you should publish it. But he would publish it in his own publication and even if some articles come about Gaudiya Matha in main stream newspaper than also he would appreciate if the name of Krishna was there more frequently. But that was not the only way he wrote. For example, if we read his essay “Vedanta ontology and morphology”, we don’t find the name of Krishna too many times over there in his own writings. That is one standard of success. How many times we get the name of Krishna but we shouldn’t make one standard of success as the only standard of success. If people get a generic appreciation for Bhagavad Gita then they will explore, where is Bhagavad Gita available more, where we can I know more about Bhagavad Gita. Then people come to know, because in English language specially the most widely distributed Bhagavad Gita is “Bhagavad gita as it is”. There people will come to know about it, about Prabhupada and about Krishna and even I have got web site “Gita Daily” where I daily write an article on the Bhagavad Gita and I bring in Krishna quite frequently in those articles.
There has to be a bridge. If we don’t have that kind of bridge, if we just try to thrust what we consider as the central principles of our philosophy down the throat of people, basically people will vomit us out over a period of time. We have no presence in the main stream media which has been the reality for many-many years in ISKCON. ISCKON’s presence in the main stream media is primarily in terms of events. We open some new temple or we have some big rath yatra festival and that creates a profile of us simply as a cultural organization. If we want to be seen in the main stream media, not just as a cultural organization which does religious festivals, but as an intellectual organization which has sensible and valuable things to say, when we talk on social issues, then we have to present ourselves appropriately.
Now the Catholic church has got a whole wing of intellectuals called Jesuits. When the Catholic church issue statements on social issues it is not that they are bringing in Jesus in every statement. No, they present the principles that make sense and gradually they bring in principles of Christian morality and Christian spirituality. We have to present Krishna consciousness according to time, place, and circumstances.
Those devotees who don’t want to do like this that is perfectly ok. They don’t want to be concerned about time, place, circumstance and presentation according to that. That is perfectly fine. They can present and they will have a particular reach and they will not be able to reach through the main stream forums. If they think that those who are not ready to accept Krishna consciousness in the form that they want to present and we don’t care for those forums and that is their opinion.
Yukta vairagya principle means that we use what is relevant in Krishna’s service but when we use what ever relevant in Krishna’s service then we have to use it according to the constraints of that forum which we are using. If I decide that I want to do online courses and then I insist that the student should be there at a particular time and we should have only live classes. That is not possible in online courses most of the time. So I have to adjust myself. So the traditional way of teaching or discussing Krishna is that the speaker and the audience assemble together and they sit in front of each other and discuss. That is not possible then what do we do? Because both of them are not seeing each other and that is the traditional way of doing it and because that is not being done so there is no use of reaching through the internet. That would be childish. Or we can say that traditional form is we should read with books. Now whatever is written in internet that does not have any value because that was not in the book form. Only what comes in the book form is spiritual, nothing else is spiritual. We should not look at the form, we should look at the substance and substance is also to be presented gradually. Not that we can crush people down with our whole philosophy in one dose. I have been working on writing articles slowly. I have got a fortnightly column in one newspaper and another column of irregular frequency in other paper. Gradually when our penetration increase then gradually people will come through this towards Krishna.
When we are building a bridge we can’t expect that the first brick of the bridge will extend all the way from one end of the river to the other end of the river. In newspapers basically, we don’t get much space. If we are writing a book then usually it is good to have some element of Krishna in it, but it also depends on the kind of book that one is writing. But if it is just one article and expecting that we have to put in something which doesn’t fit into the flow of the article then that is like expecting one brick to do the work of a bridge and that is simply unrealistic. As more and more bricks are built together then the bridge is formed and gradually people come towards Krishna. We shouldn’t have just one definition of success within Krishna consciousness that just the name of krishna comes, its successful. Yes, that is one definition of success but that is not the only definition of success.
If people become more interested in Bhagavad Gita and want to know what is it. “Oh, Bhagavad Gita has things to say on social issues also. I thought Bhagavad Gita is just a religious book or I thought it’s just a metaphysical book which has got nothing to do with social issues.” If people are appreciating the Bhagavad Gita and then they become more inquisitive then they naturally come to know more about Krishna. So showing the social relevance of Bhagavad Gita is also one definition of success in Krishna consciousness. If in showing the social relevance of Bhagavad Gita within the flow, the Krishna doesn’t come into the picture that is not a major issue because Krishna is the speaker of the Bhagavad Gita and once people become interested in Bhagavad Gita then naturally they will become connected with Him and they will come to know more about Him. Thank you.