Back To Prabhupada, Issue 40, Summer 2013
n the last issue we featured an article entitled "Conglomeration leads to spiritual loss", which showed how Ratha-yatra festivals, which Srila Prabhupada had introduced outside India to glorify and attract people to Lord Jagannatha, have now degenerated into "Festivals of Anything", where all manner of unauthorised activities are staged. A perfect example of how engaging in such unauthorised activities can lead to "spiritual loss" is presented herein.
Below we see a photo of devotees, as well as members of the public, singing and dancing at a Ratha-yatra festival.
Normally, such singing and dancing at a Ratha-yatra festival would be for the pleasure of the Lord -- after all, such congregational worship is the yuga-dharma, or the religion for this age. But here the dancing consists of men and women gyrating together Bollywood-style, and the "kirtana" consists of the Bollywood "mantra", "Let's go party tonight", which was part of the official Ratha-yatra program -- as can be seen in the following video from last year's ISKCON Melbourne festival:
Yet, Srila Prabhupada warns that encouraging such mundane dancing will merely entangle people further into sense gratification:
"Now culture means some dancing. Now it has become a culture. And what is that dancing? Sense gratification. Boys and girls, dancing ball dance, sense gratification. That is vikarma. But here, the same dancing before the Deity is bhakti. The same dancing. You dance in a theatrical performance, in a platform. That is also dancing. And here, in this stage, before the Deity, if you are dancing with Hare Krsna maha-mantra, then you are making bhakti, progress. And that dancing means you are becoming entangled in your karma. Because that dancing is sense gratification, vikarmanah."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 6/4/1974)
And yet, the Ratha-yatra festival, which is meant to help people become liberated from such sense gratification, has been misused to promote sense gratification!
Srila Prabhupada explains how considering ordinary songs, like cinema songs and other such songs, to be equal to sankirtana, is an offense:
"when Narada Muni was a Gandharva, he neglected the order to glorify the Lord, [...] and another offense was that he considered ordinary songs, like cinema songs and other such songs, to be equal to sankirtana."
But, by including these activities of Bollywood dancing as part of the spiritual Ratha-yatra festival, the organisers may unwittingly give the impression to members of the public who either attended the Ratha-yatra festival or viewed this video, but do not know the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, that this singing and dancing is on the same platform as the sankirtana singing and dancing which the "Hare Krsna devotees" normally perform.
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