March 14 2009
The true bliss of kirtana
Here’s a question I just got from my godsister Urmila dasi:
I just got a letter from a devotee as follows and wondered if you had any experience of this happening in Prabhupada’s presence and, if so, how he reacted.
Your servant, Urmila devi dasi
Here is the letter
Question – was leading bh’jan Gaura P. night someone went weird – he started making bharat natyam ish poses, made pranams, fell on floor, started to to shake. got back up carried on in similar way. i arranged for him to be taken out side. they tried to communicate but he was in own world.
Next day spoke to him- he said he sat down for while then went to friends house embarrased.
Its happened few times here with him – says especially when he focuses deeply on H. Name
I asked if if he had ever seen any senior devotee do that – or S.P. – no of course.
He says he feel it start but can usually control. i said if u feel start – MUST leave temp room.
and told him to ask a senior dev about it.
I hated it mother it messed up the mood of the kirtan I felt I had to stop the Kirtan, we were on web cam. lots of the Mataji’s felt very awkward. it was I felt really uneasy and annoyed. when confronted him bout it I wanted to smash him – “what d’you think your doin your just taking ecstacy and being an idiot but did’nt feel confident I was100% correct so we just had a friendly caring but serious talk.
I definately want to stamp this out if it is maya so how should I proceed from here?
Hm. Definitely something to be wary of.
I do remember an incident when I was temple commander in Vrndavana, around Janmastami time 1975. There was one American devotee who was part of the temple–let’s call him ‘Krishna Das’. One night a large group of villagers came. Remember that at that time the Krishna Balaram mandir had only just been opened some months before so most people didn’t know us, nor did we get large crowds.
During the Janmastami period we started getting large groups of people from various villages coming and checking us out. So evening aratis were usually very ecstatic, almost all the devotees were western and we would really rack it up during Gaura arati. It was a big attraction for the local villagers.
So this particular night, one young village man in his early 20s, started dancing with us. He got more and more exhuberant, starting spinning around on the spot and finally fell to the floor in a dead faint (apparently). We had never seen anything like it before and didn’t really know how to deal with it. So we just shrugged and kept on with the kirtan, figuring eventually he would just get up when he realized noone was taking any notice of him, and go on his way.
Good old Krishna Das however had different ideas. He steps forward to the prostrate body of the boy, peers right over his face, steps back — and kicks him right in the head! — several times! Then he grabs the boy by the arm and starts dragging him out the temple through the door just next to the altars, on the guest house side.
Riot. All the several hundred villagers he came with had fits. They grabbed his feet, Krishna Das had hold of his arm, the boy was straddling the doorway, and they were having a tug of war. Some of the villagers got really, really angry and couldn’t figure out why these foreigners would do such a thing as to kick a young man who was obviously in the highest ecstasy from their kirtan.
Anyway, somehow or another the devotees got Krishna Das out of the mess he had created and managed to pacify the villagers without them burning down the temple or smashing all the windows etc.
The matter was reported to Srila Prabhupada, who was in residence in his quarters. He was most upset.
Krishna Das’ excuse was that Srila Prabhupada had previously spoken about fake shows of ecstasy, and that the way to check if it was genuine or not was to give them a kick in the head; then you would see if it was real or not. Of course, he was being sarcastic and he didn’t mean this to be taken literally. Krishna Das unfortunately thought he did. Srila Prabhupada couldn’t understand how he could be so stupid and he ordered Krishna Das out of Vrndavana immediately.
After that, whenever we encountered someone rolling around in ecstasy, we just ignored them and kept on chanting and they would just get up and go their way after being ignored for a while.
Of course, having one of our own devotees doing it is pretty bizarre. I would call him in and have a talk and explain that even if you feel like this, you cannot display it in public because advanced devotees always check their ecstatic symptoms in public and externally they always behave like a neophyte even if internally they are experiencing the highest ecstasy. If he persists then I would ban him, otherwise you are likely to end up with a whole sahajiya group following his lead.
Your humble servant,
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