Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolution

Around this time last year, i thought about ending this blog. I announced this in a post around New Year's Day, January 2008. A few friends responded by encouraging me not to stop writing. Since then i've written another 70 posts, which i think are better than the previous year's batch. Although i don't get a lot of feedback, sometimes friends or new readers send me their comments. These brief exchanges always lift me up. And when i travel, it amazes me when devotees tell me they read the blog or how they liked a particular piece. The No.1 hit was my satire on a faux GBC resolution selling samadhi plots in Mayapur. It was funny because it was pretty close to the truth. If those guys only knew how absurd they appear to the rest of the world, and especially to their godbrothers (95% of whom are no longer their "pals" in Iskcon) they would all immediately resign! They would be too embarrassed to carry on. That goes for every one of them.The fact that they are not resigning is a sign that they are shameless.

For me, out here on my own, like most of you, being able to express my thoughts in writing and instantly post them to a global audience has been a rare pleasure. But as far as i can tell, i've said everything i have to say. And reflecting on the limited time that i have in this life, i would like everyone's blessings to focus again on music. It's one of the first things i did when i started out as a brahmacari. I joined the original road show as a musician at New Vrindavan in 1971, and then i went to L.A. to work in Iskcon's first recording studio that was dedicated to preaching thru the Krishna Show and to recording and distributing Prabhupada's bhajans.

It shows just how neglectful the leaders of Iskcon are, that more than 30 years after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance, to my knowledge, there are no recording studios dedicated to kirtan. Sankirtan is music. By now, there should be 50 recording studios around the world committed to devotional music composed by devotees. Instead, Iskcon has big white elephant temples in India such as Juhu and Delhi with more on the way, and skeleton temples in North America where a handful of imported devotees keep the temples from closing. And it's not any more progressive in most of the other Gaudiya missions, with a few exceptions.

One notable exception is the mission of my godbrother, Paramadwaiti Swami. Perhaps because South America is poor, or because Iskcon failed to recognize him and kicked him out, he started his own mission where he cultivated a family spirit, promoting respect amongst devotees and between genders in his sanga. Paramadwaiti offers an example of sane leadership, a rare achievement in today's dysfunctional devotional world. Naturally, he's shunned by Iskcon.

It is a lack of basic respect for vaisnavas, a pretentious show of etiquette by grandiose leaders and the creation of an elite "upper caste" of unqualified elected gurus that has crippled the spread of Krishna consciousness. Of course, those in command will tell you how dynamic the growth has been these past 30 years. But really, what intelligent or talented person would join a society of duplicitous supervisors, petty zealots and warmhearted sentimentalists? Those who join eventually either sell out or get out. Either way, it is a failure.

It is the ultimate irony, that the movement started by the Enlightened Reformer and Bold Transcendental Pioneer, Avatari Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, has been burdened and handicapped by reactionary and conventional managers! How displeased our founder acarya must be with this result! And how painfully obvious this is to anyone who is not getting their chapatis buttered by the institution.

We, the godbrothers out there, are each in our own lifeboats now. We each must act attempting to connect our nature to the Supreme by whatever means available to us. This is not at all an easy task without association and support. Srila Prabhupada wanted us to have lots of support and association-- that was one of his primary purposes in starting Iskcon. He knew how difficult spiritual life is for neophytes. Out of his deepest compassion for us, he created Iskcon. He didn't create a bureaucracy and a politburo for a new religion! But that is how things turned out.

Prabhupada wanted us to become brahmanas. He didn't want kripanas, misers, who misuse their work for their self interest. He wanted us to work as a sacrifice for the Supreme, not for any local interest. The artificial imposition of control over devotees by ignorant leaders for their own parochial interests has spoiled Prabhupada's vision for a society of devotees!

But all is not lost. Actually, nothing is lost. Krishna consciousness cannot be checked by any infection.

One place we can always find Krishna consciousness is in the transcendental vibration of sound. Here is what Srila Prabhupada personally told John Lennon and George Harrison in 1969:

"Music -- the Vedic mantras were all through music. Sound waves are full of music....(Sanskrit verse)....Samogha means the follower of the sound waves. Gayanti, they are always in music, through musical vibration they are approaching the Supreme. Samogha.

"Gayanti means singing. So Vedic mantras are sung. This whole Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam can be sung very nicely. And this Vedic mantra chanting, simply by hearing the vibration, people will be benefited. Even they do not understand.....

"Simply by transcendental vibration of sound, everything can be achieved."

To succeed in anything requires determination and a sea change in habits. It is not easy for an old dog to learn a new trick. But rather than being unaccountable for the days speeding by, reading the news and (the mostly) depressing opinions of those on the mental platform (including the vast majority of articles written by devotees on devotee websites), or worse, falling down into anarthas, we must learn to exercise our free will. I would like to focus my attention on developing skills in music and become absorbed in kirtan. I especially would like to study the unique kirtan style introduced by Srila Prabhupada and adapt it to a contemporary form. I don't know if i have the sakti to do this, but at least i have a desire.

If i can't become a kirtaniya in this life, i would like to die trying. Prabhupada often mentioned that we should "die with our boots on." (And with so much glory he showed us how to do that!) OK, it's not possible for us to live and die with such grace and fearlessness, but at least we can try to get our boots on! Even one boot or even half a boot! The effort will count for something.

As for this blog, i've decided to press the pause button again. Maybe it's the time of year, i don't know. I just don't want to feel obliged for now. After writing and posting 180 articles here on this blog these past two years, i've said just about everything that i have to say in the way of commentary. Anyone is welcome to read my posts and come to your own conclusions. And i encourage anyone who has anything to say, to create your own blog. It's easy-- blogspot.com is a free service provided by Google-- and it's simple to set up. If i can do it, anyone can.

Giving and taking amongst devotees is an exchange of love. However tenuous my friendships with devotees are, i consider these friendships my most valuable asset. I would like to give a shout out to a few friends who are attempting to walk the walk. To Ananda Swarup in Amsterdam, who plays sweet Bengali bhajans on his guitar, and can tell you the word-for-word meaning of each song with precision and realization. To Vicaru, who wakes up at 4 am most mornings in his house near Kent, England, and does a complete morning program all by himself. To Rasacarya who lives alone in the northern boondocks of Holland and maintains tulasi devi nicely year round in an extreme climate. To Atma Vidya, who stays in a humble flat in Hamburg, chanting lots of rounds and translating Jaiva Dharma into German. These devotees around the world are quietly doing their seva and are inspirations to me.

May the coming year be kind to you. May the grace of God be with you in the form of insight and energy to act on the higher platform and to reach out to share this energy with others. May your long and at times tedious journey that found hope and good fortune when you met the devotees and bowed your head at the lotus feet of Prabhupada, not be checked by any obstacle. And may you experience inner felicity and peace-- by the causeless kripa of Sri Gaura Hari, Sri Nitai Ram and Srila Prabhupada.

your insignificant friend,

nava jauvana das

p.s. Despite my sabbatical from this blog, i welcome correspondence and i am always ready to respond and reciprocate as best i can. My personal email address is: jauvana@gmail.com At least, please send me your blessings.

3 comments:

Atmavidya Das said...

Thanks, man. This entry, or rather message, gives me the strength that I am in dire need of. Nothing needs to be added to your words of realization and inspiration. And what is more, this is the first time that I fully realize that company with devotees IS possible via modern communiction channels accross thousands of miles. I will write you an eMail in a few days. For now, please accept my humble and whole-hearted obeisances, and a big hug from this side of the puddle.
Just a little comment on your recent blog entry „Freedom Lovers“, since I never got around to posting it: I think it is a brilliant, ultra-compact philosophical treatise of the subject of Freedom, a subject that has an almost haunting quality to any thoughtful human being - following through from childhood to old age. Again, I don’t want to add anything and just like to quote your concluding sentences as a brief review of important things that I read in the past year of 2008:

„Freedom equals divine slavery equals love of God. Full freedom is found only when we fall in love with God. Freedom lovers.“

Swarup Das said...

Your writings have given a lot of us hope and inspiration. You're an unpretentious, honest and sincere devotee.

Have a healthy and happy new year Prabhu.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Carlo Ananda said...

Very inspiring and well written. What more can I say? What you write is the truth, the last leg of Dharma the bull, the leg we need to protect, the leg to start with if we want any advancement, either individually or collectively.

You compliments to me, Vicaru, Atma and Rasa are very nice and generous too. For myself, your words set the right tone for the new year.

May your writing and exceptional musical talents expand this year thus bringing pleasure to all of us, your friends and admirers.