Are Prabhupada’s standards being diluted by, say, singing mahamantra in Bollywood song tune?

by Chaitanya CharanJune 13, 2015

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Chaitanya Charan
  • nimai dasa
    June 13, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Hare Krishna Prabhu

    I have came across some times in some Iskcon temples and in some concerts led by hare krishna devotees, devotees have invented some new techniques while chanting hare krishna mahamantra. I agree that ,we should not be judgemental,and shouldn’t try to think as if we are the self appointed wotch dog as you described, but still there are always some areas of improvement in the way kirtan has to be done,so at an individual level and also at a collective level by the concerned authority there should be consideration on such matters, it should serve as a responsibility for all devotees to preserve the standards of the kirtan. Changes as per the time place and circumstances may be fine and acceptable,since tradition is living not frozen. Its not that we all have to do everything precisely as in the 1960s and 70s ,but it should not be that “anything goes” Srila prabhupada made same statement,which each of us as a devotee should remember,in the matter of standards of chanting and kirtan.

    “In our temple, strictly Hare Krishna chanting should be given more importance. There is no harm in this mantra you have heard, but it is not very important. There are many such common songs composed by common devotees out of sentiment. But our principle is to stick to the authorities, and always remember that Hare Krishna is the prime authorized mantra.” ( Letter to: Malati—Los Angeles 28. January, 1969)

    ” When chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one should also chant it fully: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. One should not foolishly adopt any of the slogans concocted by imaginative devotees. If one actually wants to derive the effects of chanting, one must strictly follow the great acaryas” ( Caitanya Charitamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter seven, text one-sixty-eight, purport.)

    Now there comes a story. I happen to have the version told by Ravatinandana das in the excellent book “Srila Prabhuada and His Disciples in Germany” .Ravatinandana says “one devotee had picked up a chant in India, ‘He Krishna Govinda Hare Murari, He Natana Narayana, Vasudeva.’ When Prabhupada heard it, He called us into His room and said, ‘This is not a Vedic mantra. This is a cinema song. An intelligent devotee just takes whatever his Spiritual Master provides for him. Considering that to be sufficient. There are many Names of God you can chant, but its best to take whatever comes in Disciplic Succession and what the Spiritual Master introduces.”

    Actually, this song is quoted in a purport to… in Prabhupada’s purport in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. But its not quoted with the intention that the devotees should sing it. And when Prabhupada, one time on 26 Second Avenue, came down and this mantra was going on, Prabhupada said “What is this Krishna? Govinda?”

    The devotee said “Its not authorized Prabhupada?” Prabhupada said, “This is chanted by the Mayavadis”. Even though the devotee had picked it up from Prabhupada’s book, its not something that Prabhupada had taught us to chant. And when we did chant it Prabhupada disapproved.

    So certainly there are certain standards that one need to follow,and sometimes devotees due to excitement ,or due to outflow of emotions ,may chant radhe radhe .or some other versions like bhaja nitai gaura, radhe syama, japa hare krsna hare rama or sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda hare krsna hare rama sri-radhe govinda. srila prabhupada said that “Such chants may be good poetry, but they cannot help us to go forward in devotional service”

    Bhakti Vikash Maharaj who has written about this topic says that there are some catchy jingles that are introduced to Kirtan nowadays.
    For eg:
    “Bolo Govinda Hari, Bolo Gopala Hari”

    “Radharani Ki jai Maharani Ki Jai” (its a Brajavasi folk song)

    “Jaya Radha Ramana Hari Bol, Jaya Radha Ramana Hari Bol”

    Another one. This is very popular in Goverdhan is, “Radhe Radhe Shyamiladhe”

    So we should be careful ,and try to follow certain necessary standards set by our acharyas. Such songs may be appealing, but as Srila Prabhupada often says ” mahajano yena gatah sa panthah”

    I have taken certain points from the seminar given by H.H. Jayadvaita Swami named “Kirtan reform workshop”. I don’t intend to offend the emotions of any of the sincere devotees who absorb in kirtan with full devotion, but certain care must be taken,and it should be a responsibility of every devotees,and should be done at a collective level by discussion amongst devotees and giving sufficient instructions to all as per the standards set by the acharyas to the devotees before performing kirtan.

    • Chaitanya Charan das
      June 13, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      I agree – as I mentioned in my answer too – that there’s a core that shouldn’t be changed. Obviously, anything and everything can’t be accepted in the name of being flexible. In my answers I stick to principles. For specifics, if we feel that something might be a deviation or dilution, we can directly ask the devotees who are doing those things, as I mentioned in my answer.

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