Welcome to July 2016 Kirtan Newsletter.
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Srila Prabhupada on Japa Meditation
“After rising from bed, Lord Kṛṣṇa would wash His mouth, hands and feet and would immediately sit down and meditate on Himself. This does not mean, however, that we should also sit down and meditate on ourselves. We have to meditate upon Kṛṣṇa, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. That is real meditation.
Kṛṣṇa is Kṛṣṇa Himself; therefore He was teaching us that brāhma-muhūrta should be utilized for meditation on Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa”.
Excerpt from 1976 Conversation
Indian man (4): Śrīla Prabhupāda, you wrote a lot of books, and I’m very much concerned about the books. A lot of devotees, they never read the books, but they’re doing the chanting. It will progress them without reading the books, because they’re the most important…
Prabhupāda: But suppose one is illiterate, how he’ll read? How he’ll read if one is illiterate? That means he has no chance? Because he’s illiterate? Chanting is sufficient.
Excerpt from an Introduction to Kirtan Mela 2015
It is our sincere hope that each participant in the Kirtan Mela will experience a deep Krishna conscious state of being. This will happen in direct proportion to our effort and ability to focus our mind and heart on the Lord and His holy name. Focus on Krishna is wonderfully expressed in a prayer from CC M. 22.33: “One is immediately freed from the clutches of maya if he seriously and sincerely says, ‘My dear Lord Krishna, al- though I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your sincere and serious serv- ant. Please engage me in Your service”.
In his Harinama Cintamani, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives us three powerful meditations that help us to chant with concentration and an inner connection:
1) I am a pure spiritual soul and an eternal servant of Sri Krishna
2)The Lord is my most merciful master
3) My only purpose in this world is to glorify Him.
The experience has shown that you can attain the best results if you commit yourself to participate fully in the Kirtan Mela.
– Make a firm sankalpa (inner resolve) to be in the kirtan tent for as many hours as possible.
– Chant for the pleasure of Krishna by consciously engaging your body, voice and mind in His ser- vice.
– If you should notice that you have become inatten- tive, make an effort to bring your mind back to the sound of the Holy Name. In a humble state of mind beg for Krishna’s mercy.
Srila Haridasa Thakura says: “Simply by one’s own efforts no one in this world can overcome distract- edness. Such a victory can only come about by the merciful blessings of the Lord. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to beg for His grace with great humility.”
(Harinama Cintamani 12.49)
– Try to find a place from where you can see the deities – either on the altar or the screens
– When you are outside of the kirtan mandala, keep the focus by either continuing to sing, talk about Krishna or by serving the Vaisnavas.
The planning towards the construction of the first world wide Kirtan Retreat Centre, Kirtan Village, is under way. The project spreads over 3.4 acres in a serene setting within 10 minutes from the temple.
The facility will serve as a “chanting hospital” a place where we can heal ineffective or offensive practices in our chanting through education and association. We are already planning many different seminars of different length to accommodate visitors’ schedules and availability, both for tattva and music tuitions.
There are three areas being developed, residential area for students and staff, two different meditative areas reminiscent of Gaura Lila and Krishna Lila to facilitate remembrances and invite Gauranga Mahaprabhu and our sampradaya to take over our minds while we endeavour to chant better, and open mandaps or gazebos of different sizes for hosting classes and musical practice areas.
We are building several small self contained cottages, accommodating around 100 students onsite at a time. We are convinced that immersion in study for a shorter length of time is most effective. Teachers and staff will also stay there.
CALL FOR HELP
We have created a plan so that everyone of you can assist us. Simply become a member of the foundation. Memberships available from $10
(Rs 500) to $100 per month or anything in between, according to your means.
This project is for your benefit. Members get some free time at the centre and other preferential treatment. Gradually we may also have another 24 hour kirtan there, in the land of Mahaprabhu.
Kirtan is so versatile. It may take as simple or as complex a shape as your taste allows and still have a totally satisfying result. There were famous kirtans in ‘the old days’ where a few sincere devotees kept to one tune, accompanied by the simply hypnotic one- two-three kartal beat and the thudding BOOM of the fiber-glass Balarama, jumping, whirling in the air and singing with so much enthusiasm and love. They were, by all accounts, ecstatic.
Nowadays, in comparison, we have tunes ever-growing in their depth and complexity, sung by devotees with voices like gandharvas, expertly accompanied by low, sweet, thunder of the clay mrdanga and kartal players with fingers as fast as lightning. The dancers are skilled in their hundreds, the musicians are elaborate- even their hairstyles are fancy. They too continue to have ecstatic experiences again and again.
Though the two groups are vastly different and the latter method is sometimes frowned upon by the esteemed propounders of the first, none of that really matters. Both groups are experiencing great happiness and rewards for their service. The common denominator here of course, is the Holy Name. There is a wonderful statement from an interview with HG Aindra Prabhu in this regard:
“The most important ingredient in kirtan is the mood in which it is done. If one is either chanting the name with offenses, or chanting for liberation, one will not get bhakti, nor will one be able to offer it to anyone else.
It doesn’t matter whether one is accompanying the kirtan with kartalas, mrdangas and harmonium, using a drum set, electric keyboard and bass guitar, decorating the kirtan with flute and violin, or even just clapping one’s hands. One can chant with very melodious classical ragas, or one can sing raucous, hellacious, heavy metal chanting to attract certain people. One can sing ten tunes an hour or sing one tune every ten hours, sing in complex rhythmic patterns or simple rhythmic one. One can have jumping dancing kirtanor a very slow, contemplative kirtan. No matter what you do, no matter how you decorate the kirtan, if such chanting is not done with pure devotion, it will never ever inculcate bhakti into the heart of anyone.
On the other hand, if you are chanting suddha-nama, you will get prema, the greatest need of the soul. Such chanting is real kirtananda it gives authentic, eternal benefit, by elevating ones soul as well the souls of others. It is real welfare work, not simply material altruism or liberation from repeated birth and death. It is thus the work meant to help others reconstitute their original dormant love of Godhead and uplift their soul to the platform of real satisfaction based on unalloyed pure devotion.”
So yes, it is as simple as having your heart in the right place. Still, for those who are inclined to the elaborate, semi-classical style of today, Kirtan Academy provides some light training. Just like we learn to cook for Krsna the most tasty of dishes, or we may take training in dressing Him gorgeously, so we may also be drawn to learning how to play the instruments and sing for Him.
Having said that, it is stressed to the students of Kirtan Academy that this training is totally incomplete and useless if we are unaware of how little it matters in the face of the independent nature of the Holy Name, who looks only for your tolerance, humility and love. There is no external barometer for this; never can one person rightly say how much love is in another person’s heart. In the words of our wise teachers – “your qualification is your only disqualification.” Kirtan Academy is all about the personal relationship between the chanter and the mantra, and as a movement, the quality of this relationship affects us every day.
That is why studying the philosophy of the Holy Name is so important. We get a chance to know the Person, who is so much more than the musical ornaments He may wear to attract us. The ornaments are there for us to have an opportunity to engage in some service, they are not required in any way to make the Holy Name more appealing to ‘the people.’ I often use the example of Radha Ramanaji of Vrndavan, who during the autumn and winter is fully decked out in gorgeous dresses and ornaments, and during the scorching summer is almost totally bare but for a square of fabric at his waist. Is His great beauty diminished or enhanced either way?
In conclusion, is music important? Yes! It is very important, in the sense that Srimati Radharani never cooks the same prep twice, and that Krsna, being the Supreme Lord, deserves nothing but the very best we can offer Him. And no, it is also totally unimportant, in the sense that He will eat banana peels from the hand of Vidura and chipped rice from Sudama, enjoying it even more than the most sumptuous of feasts. Contradiction? Not in the slightest. The only thing that matters is your love.
– Caitanya Cintamani devi dasi
Music Director at Kirtan Academy Mayapur
PS Next Kirtan Academy starts in November 2017, registrations are open at Kirtan-academy.com
Sixth Anniversary of Aindra prabhu’s
move from Vrndavana to Goloka
5:30 AM, 17th July, 2010. My mind is racing, “this time, I am dedicating my life to Aindra prabhu’s service, I am joining his team, I will take his much sought after association. I am so elated. This is a huge leap for me.” I tried many a times to catch him outside his room, I knew he would be coming out as it was Saturday, he dresses Syamasundar. I kept hovering around his room, going down to temple room, and again coming back, lest did I know the biggest tragedy had already happened. Again I have been cheated, off course due to my lack of qualification.
When I came around 7:00 AM, I froze. I saw broken gate, a body clad in cloth (face hidden) and devotees crying. My mind couldn’t calibrate, I started to comfort myself, all I thought was “No, this is not possible, this is not Aindra prabhu or maybe he is unconscious, he will get up after sometime”. As reality dawned in, my hopes and prayers transformed to cries and petitions. All I could do is cry uncontrollably. I felt like being slapped on the face, Aindra left us all.
His disappeared in a mysterious way. He was fully ready to go, raring to go, Krishna wanted him back. One of his godbrothers and close friend, gave a lecture the following morning in which he explained his understanding of the sudden departure of such a great and dedicated soul. He explained how Aindra prabhu would chant 2 lahks names daily before even drinking water, after which he would do kirtan in the temple, then do his personal worship for 4+ hours, then absorbed in the pastimes of the Lord he would cook for them. This is when he would have lit up the stove that caused the explosion. The godbrother explained: “Radha said to Aindra, come with me, they don’t understand you, come with me. Radharani came right into his room, and said, “you and I will go into the nikunja and offer directly to Shyamasundar.”
This is how I like to remember his departure.
He was found in obeisances position, touching the lotus feet of his Nitai. How many of us locked inside a burning room would think to lay down at the feet of the deity?
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaḿ
yāti nāsty atra saḿsayaḥ
(Bhagavad Gita 8.5)
All his life he talked about Krsna, he chanted, heard about Krsna. He is one person who never wanted to settle for anything but the highest level of Krsna Consciousness. Because his life was one of dedication, he cultivated his intense desire to be with Nitai, with Jahnava, serve Sri Radhika and that is why when time came, the final test, like Prabhupada said Death is the final examination, he cleared it with top grades.
Aindra prabhu departed only to rise to his full glory. He is living through his teachings. Whatever he did was exemplary, his observance Caturmasya, Katyayani vrata, establishing and keeping the kirtan party rolling in spite of many struggles, his Salagram worship, his Dham Vasa, his Bhagavat Sravan, and his Nama Sankirtan. He is someone who continues to amaze devotees. In fact his followers and admirers have increased since his departure. He begged people to work on their japa and kirtan, work the process, aim for the highest, loving service in the realm of vraja. He was very direct and very harsh at times. He never compromised on principles, even the slightest. He was so strict in his sadhana. He always preached Uttama Siddhanta, no watered down philosophy. He would inspire devotees to come and reside in Vraja as much as possible. So many people want to follow him, even people who never saw him. Aindra prabhu is still here, with us, he is still preaching through his lectures, kirtans and followers. He has given purpose in Krsna Consciousness to so many devotees. Now it is up to us how long we can carry his legacy.
On upcoming occasion of his divine disappearance day I would like to appeal that we sincerely contemplate what we really want from this life. Like Aindra prabhu said: “We need to rise above mediocrity and focus, focus and refocus again. We need to see where we are aiming at, are we really aiming at attaining the service of Radha & Krsna.” He is one of the devotees in our glorious movement who showed by personal example that what it takes to make it back to Godhead in this lifetime.
If someone says what is the proof he went back, I will say, why don’t you go and find out? I am convinced. If after doing so much service, he didn’t make it then nobody did, nobody will. So much chanting year after year, hours of services to deities, chanting sudha nama, strict adherence and firm attachment to Vraja Dham, lifetime of staunch renunciation, an authority on sastra (hear his discourses). He went back to continue his service to Shyamadundar in his eternal form. Now it is all of us who are left to keep pushing his mission of putting back Harinam Sankirtan in its rightful place, in the forefront of the movement. Like he said once, Kaliyuga is very dark, it needs many moons. We all are entrusted with the responsibility of becoming hope, a moon for others. “Do the real thing, Perform Nama Sankirtan”. We all are very sick and the solution provided by Aindra Prabhu, and sastra of course, is to congregate and perform Nama Sankirtan. Doing this will be our real offering to Aindra prabhu.
Namandi Kirtan candra Sripada Aindra baba ki jai.
Tapomaya das – Kirtan Academy 2016 graduate
Kirtan Events – Not to be missed
July. 8 – 10, Kirtan with Aindra a memorial celebration at Srila Prabhupada Bhajan Kutir in Sridham Mayapur
Mayapur Seva Opportunity As we move forward towards the manifestation of the Kirtan Village, we need a lot of assistance and support.
We are interviewing anyone interested in eco-friendly construction. Cob building, solar energy, natural sewage treatment, natural swimming ponds etc… We need to build a strong team of like minded servants, creators, managers…
Construction is scheduled to start November 2016.
We need help spreading the news worldwide, as we build a fund-raising team.
Many more specific services will open up, tell us what talent you have to offer. Chances are we need you!