Gauranger Duti Pada: Song and Purport

March 9, 2012 |

English; Damodaradesh

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Question: Recently I was shocked to learn that few of ISKCON temples around the globe celebrated Christmas by dressing Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities Santa Claus styled outfits. Is it acceptable to dress the Lord in such a non-traditional style or it is just a speculation?… Expand>

Question:

Recently I was shocked to learn that few of ISKCON temples around the globe celebrated Christmas by dressing Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities Santa Claus styled outfits. Is it acceptable to dress the Lord in such a non-traditional style or it is just a speculation?

 

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami:

So, I’ve been informed that some temples in Europe in the Christmas season dress Kṛṣṇa as Santa Claus, and that one temple, ISKCON temple (we are talking about ISKCON temples here), is dressing Kṛṣṇa as Santa Claus. And one temple in India also did this. And what do I think about this? 

Unfortunate…is one word I could use. Nonsense is another.

In one letter Śrīla Prabhupāda was informed that devotees sent some Christmas cards with a picture of Krsna. Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote that we are not for Christmas greetings. In another or several times, Śrīla Prabhupāda also spoke about speculation in Deity worship… So, there may be various reasons given. In India, the reason was given that Christians come to our temple. Well, in that case you can dress Kṛṣṇa as cricket star, maybe the cricket fans would come. Or you can dress Kṛṣṇa like some famous film star, then maybe people interested in movies, they would come. 

But the whole idea…Deity worship is to dress Kṛṣṇa as Rādhā likes Him, and dress Rādhā as Kṛṣṇa likes Her, according to the directions of great ācāryas. Getting mixed up with this Western culture…as far as possible we should try to avoid that. We have our own festivals. Why adopt this Christmas, which is supposed to be a birth of Christ, although they don’t actually know when Christ was born? The main feature of Christmas in the modern world is killing lots of birds, especially turkeys in England, drinking lots of alcohol…

Especially, dressing Deities like this, all I can say is- unfortunate. My saying so won’t stop it going on. There are so many great ācāryas in our movement who are introducing things that none of our previous ācāryas was doing…So, what to say? Whether to laugh or to cry?

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Should devotees observe a full fast of abstaining from water on Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi? Some devotees, don’t go to bed on Ekadashi, they stay awake all night and as soon as the night is over, they go to sleep. What should our attitude be?

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami: 

Observing jagarana – staying awake at night on Ekādaśī is the proper way to observe Ekādaśī, or if you want to observe it fully as in sastra, one should do that. Actually, there are many rules to follow. One’s last meal before the Ekādaśī should be at midday on the day before - on the Daśamī; and that should also be a very simple meal, according to sastra. And we have our daily duties and services to do in Kṛṣṇa’s service, so if just we go to sleep after staying awake all night, then in the name of extra service, we are cutting down our regular service. It’s like some devotees chant 64 rounds a day, but then they miss maṅgala-ārati, or they’re chanting their rounds during maṅgala-ārati… You’re trying to do something extra, but you’re cutting down on some of the basics. So, what’s the benefit? It’s best to stick to the basic things that Śrīla Prabhupāda gave us. If you want to do something extra, that’s nice, but we shouldn’t promote as if: “This is the great thing!” Prabhupāda already gave us all that we need for going back to Godhead. So, if we can just follow the basic things - that’s more than most devotees are doing. We always have to do something different. Or do something to show that we are better than others because we are doing something different. If you don’t do what I’m doing, then you can’t go back to Godhead. I’ve discovered the great secret. I’m the messiah for the present age. Hare Kṛṣṇa. If you go out and distribute books all night - that would be more pleasing to Śrīla Prabhupāda than staying awake. And a lot of this staying awake, I see actually they’re half-asleep anyway. So-called staying awake.

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