Krsna Consciousness a Transcendental apprenticeship program

November 20, 2020 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

by Ishan das

Krishna Consciousness, a Transcendental Apprenticeship Program

In 1972-73 Srila Prabhupada arranged for some professional mridanga makers to make drums right on our newly acquired land in Sridham Mayapur. He felt that it was a dying art and he wanted some of our boys to learn the process. When I saw that airmail letter on the desk of the temple president in Toronto, Canada, my first thought was, “That’s for me.” A few months later I was crossing the Jalangi River on my way to Sridham Mayapur.

The mridangas are made by two different men. The potter who makes all varieties of clay utensils, makes the shells; and another man does the leather work. In India, learning these processes was an apprenticeship program. This means one has to become the humble servant of the master; there is no other way. Also there’s a very heart-centered aspect of the process; the exchange of knowledge and service is an exchange of love. As the apprentice serves the master with feelings of affection and respect, the master is moved to share the knowledge of his craft, knowledge that has been cultivated for generations.

Serving these men meant doing the most basic of chores, such as digging clay out of the earth and removing every grain of sand by hand, and staking out freshly removed cow hides in the field, and scraping the skins.

The mridanga hut was a bamboo structure, about 10 feet square, set on a slightly raised structure with an earthen floor. I was not the only western boy there with the desire to learn the art; there were some half dozen others. But there was a difference. Whereas I was on the inside of the hut scraping skins, the other boys sat outside with clipboards and note pads, making notes. With the help of a Bengali interpreter they would put their questions to the mridanga mistri (mechanic).

Boy with clipboard: “Why does he do such and such part of the process in that way? Why does he not do it……etc, etc.?” There is a silence as everyone waits for his answer. “My father did it this way.”, he says quietly, and continues his work.

In this way the learning process continues. The clipboard team make their notes. And I do whatever little task that is given to me by our teacher, like a hungry dog that is thrown scraps from the table. And then one day, our teacher pauses. Hunched over in squat position, leather-cutting knife in hand, he looks up from his work. With a very quiet and calm voice, he points his knife, one by one, at the boys on the clipboard team, and in a quiet and calm voice, he says, “Mridanga mistri nay. Mridanga mistri nay. Mridanga mistri nay.” There is a stillness in the hut. And then our teacher points his knife at me, and says with a gentle smile on his lips, “Ishan Prabhu, mridanga mistry.” Then, knife in hand, he draws a map of the world on the dirt floor of the hut indicating that my drums would one day be all over the planet.

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Benefits of joining Sri Krsna Caitanya’s movement

November 20, 2020 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Adi 9.51—The great gardener, Lord Caitanya, personally eats this fruit, and as a result He constantly remains mad, as if helpless and bewildered.

PURPORTIt is the mission of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to act Himself and teach the people. He says, āpani ācari’ bhakti karila pracāra (Cc. Ādi 4.41). One must first act himself and then teach. This is the function of a real teacher. Unless one is able to understand the philosophy that he speaks, it will not be effective. Therefore one should not only understand the philosophy of the Caitanya cult but also implement it practically in one’s life.While chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu sometimes fainted and remained unconscious for many hours. He prays in His Śikṣāṣṭaka (7):yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam śūnyāyitaṁ jagat sarvaṁ govinda-viraheṇa me”O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from My eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.” This is the perfectional stage of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and eating the fruit of love of Godhead, as exhibited by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. One should not artificially imitate this stage, but if one is serious and sincerely follows the regulative principles and chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, the time will come when these symptoms will appear. Tears will fill his eyes, he will be unable to chant distinctly the mahā-mantra, and his heart will throb in ecstasy. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says that one should not imitate this, but a devotee should long for the day to come when such symptoms of trance will automatically appear in his body.

Adi 9.53—Persons who had formerly criticized Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, calling Him a drunkard, also ate the fruit and began to dance, saying, “Very good! Very good!”

PURPORT-When Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu started the saṅkīrtana movement, even He was unnecessarily criticized by Māyāvādīs, atheists and fools. Naturally we are also criticized by such men. They will always remain and will always criticize anything that is actually good for human society. But the preachers of the saṅkīrtana movement should not be deterred by such criticism. Our method should be to convert such fools gradually by asking them to come and take prasāda and chant and dance with us. This should be our policy. Anyone who comes to join us, of course, must be sincere and serious regarding spiritual advancement in life; then such a person, simply by joining us, chanting with us, dancing with us and taking prasāda with us, will gradually also come to say that this movement is very good. But one who joins with an ulterior purpose, to get material benefit or personal gratification, will never be able to grasp the philosophy of this movement.

Sept 21 1970 letter to Isana...In my books I have tried to explain clearly this simultaneously one and different philosophy acinta beda beda tattva propounded by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. But sometimes it happens that this philosophy is given a self-interested interpretation. As soon as personal motivation comes in it is not possible for one to understand our Krishna Consciousness philosophy

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