01/29/98 - 1550
To Rock or Not to Rock?
USA (VNN) - Letter from Hansadutta das and Krishnakant das
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila
Prabhupada. I have noted the controversy regarding "Rock and Roll"
type music. Since I was perhaps the first devotee to seriously
venture into this orbit of activity I thought I would say a few
words from an experienced perspective.
I have heard and understand all the arguments for and against
this phenomenon of devotees engaging in Rock music for preaching
K.C. But they all seem to miss the essential point which is simply
this: If someone is a successful professional Rock musician, as
was George Harrison in Prabhupada's time, then such a person should
be encouraged to use his talent to serve Krishna by employing
him to dovetail his musical talent, money, and fame in the service
of Krishna. This is what Prabhupada did on many occasions , some
of which I was personally present.
So this is PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUAL ENGAGEMENT and absolutely in
keeping with our philosophy of Yukta Vairagya. However if a person
who has already embraced the philosophy and life style of Krishna
consciousness, initiated by the Spiritual Master, chanting 16
rounds , 4 regulative principles, sankirtan etc., living in the
temple with shaved head, dhotie etc., then although such a person
(devotee) may be very talented musically, it would be a REGRESSIVE
MATERIAL ENGAGEMENT for him. Which would eventually drag such
a person more and more into material activity. This is practically
what happened to me, even though at one point I had a record in
the top ten over in the Philippines. It is not a question of whether
Rock music is good or bad, it is a question of PROGRESSIVE OR
REGRESSIVE ENGAGEMENT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL IN QUESTION.
Srila Prabhupada engaged and encouraged Allen Ginsburg to lead
the chanting of Kirtan wherever he went, not because he thought
Allen Ginsburg was good and pure, but because for allen Ginsburg
to Chant Hare Krishna and lead his fans and well wishers was 100%
PROGRESSIVE not only for him but for his audience also. In private
Srila Prabhupada let us know in no uncertain terms that he thought
Allen Ginsburg was a debauchee number one.
When Swarup Damodar Swami (Dr.Singh) came to Srila Prabhupada
he was engaged in studying for his Phd, doctorate at the UNIVERSITY.
Srila Prabhupada encouraged him time and time again to complete
his study, because this was PROGRESSIVE forward dovetailing Swarup
Damodar's natural talent and inclination and potential credentials
as a respectable member of the scientific society. However when
Jagadisa Swami (Guru and GBC Sannyas) wrote Srila Prabhupada suggesting
strongly that he would be able to preach better if he had a college
degree (More respect etc.) and wanted to get Srila Prabhupada's
permission to go back to school and get the degree, Srila Prabhupada
said that this was maya (I was the secretary at the time, so I
remember this well ) and he added "There is absolutely no need
for a devotee to learn anything new, if one can engage whatever
one has learned to date, then he is perfect. If there is something
more that a devotee needs to know, then Krishna will arrange that".
For Jagadisa Swami to have gone back to college at that time would
have been REGRESSIVE for him, for Swarup Damodar Swami it was
PROGRESSIVE to continue his direction under the guidance of Srila
Prabhupada and thus be perfectly situated, although engaged in
a most mundane affair of so called education.
Another example is Vasudev Prabhu of the Fiji Islands. When he
came to Prabhupada he was the owner of a Bar and restaurant, serving
meat and liquor. Vasudev suggested to stop these activities, but
Srila Prabhupada said no, continue and gradually phase out the
meat and liquor.
I think Boy George chanting Hare Krishna is PROGRESSIVE for his
Krishna consciousness, and that of his fans. But for a devotee
to REGRESS to this platform of activity is a REGRESSION of Krishna
consciousness and must necessarily lead to falling away from the
standard of Krishna consciousness.
We must go forward from where we stand, and where we stand is
known to the Spiritual Master, and under his guidance only can
these things be applied practically.
I hope this letter is helpful in understanding the nature of this
problem. I hope you are well.
Your humble servant,
Dear Hamsadutta Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I would just like to congratulate you on your very logical and
precise response to the 'Rock 'n' Roll' issue. I am asked this
question often by people, and I think you have given a model answer.
I always used to say:
"If you got it, use it"
"If you ain't, don't waste your time trying to go and get it"
Also I remember the point that a devotee should not waste 5 years
going to school to be 'a lawyer etc. for krishna', when in 5
minutes a devotee can go and preach to an already qualified lawyer
and make him a devotee.
(Srila Prabhupada letter to Sudama, 72-11-5)
"So far the Road Show and this Yoga Village are concerned, these
things should be stopped. Simply perform our kirtana. If we divert
our attention in this way, the whole thing will gradually deteriorate.
He is going far away. All these things are nonsense inventions.
Such inventing spirit will ruin our this movement. People may
come to see, some will become devotees, but such devotees will
not stay because they are attracted by some show and not by the
real thing or spiritual life according to the standard of Lord
Caitanya. Our standard is to have kirtana, start temples. What
is this "Road Show" and "Yoga Village?" It will be another hippie
edition. Gradually the Krishna Consciousness idea will evaporate:
another change, another change, every day another change. Stop
all this. Simply have kirtana, nothing else. Don't manufacture
(Srila Prabhupada letter to Sudama, 72-12-23)
"And if you simply keep to our standard programme--don't try to
invent anything "Road Show" or "Yoga Village"--that means chanting
daily 16 rounds, rising early, attending mangal arati, like that,
if this progamme is strictly maintained amongst all the devotees,
they will remain pure, and if preaching is pure, automatically
leaders, managers, funds, everything will be given profusely by
Krishna, without any doubt."
Thus if rock stars are going to ADD krishna to what they are doing
anyway, then it can only help. But for devotees to get into to
this to 'preach' is something completely different. I think you
have explained it really well.
A materialist CAN dovetail his material desire to do some preaching.
But a spiritualist in the guise of preaching would simply be dovetailing
KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS to fulfill his MATERIAL desires.
Thank you and hare krishna.
NEWS DESK | WORLD | TOP