Sunday, July 08, 2007

Montreal Rathayatra

I just went for a couple of hours to the Montreal Rathayatra "Festival of India" fair. Just thought I'd note a little irony that became clear to me today, after watching the program put on by the Gurukula Youth traveling road show. I was very impressed by the quality of the performance, in particular by the young woman who seemed to lead things. The style of dance and music is Carnatic.

I bought a couple of CDs and could not fail to notice that Nitai Das sings in the Anupa Jalota style, like Haridas and a number of other Iskcon bhajan singers. Haridas even sings Hindi translations of Bhaktivinoda songs ! I also picked up another CD by Karnamrita, Dasi, which I like best of the three. But here too, I noticed that there is little that shows a direct Gaudiya influence (songs by Meera, Harivams, Bhagavata verses, etc.)

Another thing I was doing was trying to give a way a bunch of Bengali books to the Bengali speakers here, without much success. Finally one devotee kind of reluctantly took them, asking whether they were "in the right line"!!

Now does no one get the irony? Everyone will take bhakti from Anupa Jalota, from their Benares or Carnatic music and dance teachers, but when it comes to Vaishnavas in the Chaitanya tradition it is all suspicion and rejection. The result is that Iskcon culture is turning into this kind of modern generic Indian culture, with a great dollop of Western influence, all more or less without any defense mechanism questioning purity or genuineness, etc. The only thing that must be avoided at all costs is the Gaudiya tradition. Triple exclamation mark! Quadruple!!

I am all for innovation, and I really like Krishna in all forms. But...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well Jagadananda das, the real irony is to see a stalwart of the tradition like yourself still complaining about Iskcon while going there for sanga. How do you expect the Gaudiya tradition to flourish in the West if all you do is sit on your backside decade after decade? If it is up to some of us, the little girls up ont those stages are all the tradition the West is going to get.

Jagat said...

I am at your mercy.

anuradha said...

More irony...
There is many Gaudiyas who are banned from speaking within Iskcon-centres. Not only "traditionals" who cherish some criticisms about the founders, but also Gaudiya Math stalwarts who are full on well-wishers of the Iskcon mission.

In one temple in Europe you can rent the temple room for hatha-yoga sessions, didgeridoo classes and therapy. Yet many Gaudiyas are not allowed to speak in there and share their experience.

It is structural, I guess, because when an authority speaks and inpires, he might attract and initiate. That means loyalty to a different mission, Gaudiya Math or whatever. That means loss of recruits, manpower and money. If you want to speak, start your own mission, is the motto. And it makes sense. We have nothing to fear from didgeridoos, reiki one, reiki two, African bongos (instead of Mridangas) and a celestian prophecy workshop. It is the family members that are dangerous !

Why do Muslims hate the Jews so much ? The hate is almost institutionalized. Yet their faith (based on the same ancient books)and ethnicity have sooo much in common.
Well, it is a matter of succession, ... AS ALWAYS ! Parampara-Issues.

Jagat said...

Absolutely. Good observation of a general principle. Nevertheless, that does not make it right.

Rocana is always harping on about the difference between "religiosity" and what Prabhupada taught, but I don't think he really understands what it means either.

In the 19th century, when Bhaktivinoda Thakur was just starting up, there was a new kind of Vaishnava "movement" or social development called the "Hari sabhas." The Vishwa Vaishnava Raja Sabha was BVT's contribution to this movement. Basically, the idea was to create neutral sites where people from the local area could have regular kirtan. They would invite speakers from various Vaishnava families to speak regularly or occasionally. In other words, it was quite unusual in that it was not sectarian.

Of course that did not last long, as different sectarian viewpoints would dominate or be objected to and there would be conflict. However, Paramadvaiti Maharaj has this same basic idea with the revival of the VVRS (or WVA). Of course, the sectarian spirit within the Gaudiya Math has weakened the effectiveness of the idea.

The basic point in Vaishnavism is not that your guru separates you from one section or another of the "Achyuta gotra", but that it gives you entry into the clan. This means that one person, whoever his initiating guru, can still go on to associate according to his taste and inclination. I have always found it odd that Iskcon finds the fundamental benefit of associating with advanced devotees to be detrimental to their own organization. This means that they place a priority on organizational and institutional factors over the real goal of Krishna consciousness. This is what the Bhagavata calls "kaitava-dharma." Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati talked about this. Bhaktivinoda Thakur talked about this. And intelligent devotees from Prabhupada's tradition have also noticed this and talked about it.

Jagat said...

I just want to toss in a good word for Karnamrita. She has a very sweet voice and who cares if it's not Gaudiya? I'll listen to Meera's Giridhari songs sung by that pure Gandharvi any day. I love it.

anuradha said...

I agree.

And I want to add there is nothing wrong with didgeridoing and reiki-ing either. The Celestian Prophecy is probably good reading material too, although my scepticism prevented me from reading it.
African bongos... why not ?

But what is your opinion on Krishna conscious-heavy-metal-hardrock ?

It is not my taste. I completely dislike the tunes. It sounds absolutely horrible. But is there any valid argument against it ? I am looking for one, but I cannot find it.

The KCTP (Krishna Conscious Taste Police)