Keeping Srila Prabhupada in the Center

May 14, 2011 |

English; Guruvayur, Kerala, India

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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?

 

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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Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita that He knows past, present, and future. If everything is predecided then why we should try to get Krishna. In other words, if everything is already predecided then what is the point of trying to become Krishna conscious. When my time will come, then I will automatically become Krishna conscious. Before that, even if I would try still I can't become Krishna conscious because everything is already predecided, like Ramayana is written before Lord Rama descended. Please clarify my doubt.

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For a very long time, I have felt very nervous about joining devotees on Harinama or book distribution. Honestly, I feel a bit embarrassed at the thought of my friends seeing me with devotees, or seeing me distributing books or seeing me in a Tilaka etc. I am worried people will think this guy is a nut or a fool! I am worried they will judge me and I will lose my so-called social standing.

Right from my childhood, I have been a very shy and lonely person and I am always easily embarrassed. I grew up with severe inferiority complex in my childhood. Both my parents were completely uneducated, not respected, not well off etc. They passed that over to me. That low self esteem has stayed with me. Hence I am very scared and nervous of doing anything public.

Maharaja, I am very much worried that this nature of mine will interfere with my future service to you. How do I fix this issue? I really really want to make progress and I will follow any order you give me here to correct this situation.

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