Chakra Discussions

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way...

by Chaitanya Mangala dasa

Posted August 1, 2010

In his article entitled, "Mini Skirts... Skirting the Issue", Kapila, one of the lead organizers of the Kuli Mela Association, eloquently and succinctly elaborates on the moods, mindsets and intentions behind the events. He also offers more details about the Gala Evening at the Ford Theater from KulimeLA 2009. Recently we released the Ford Theater video on the Internet and it seems an elaboration is needed to explain some of the deeper contexts of the Melas, and the 2009 Gala Evening in particular. There's a lot of history contained in that video and it might be a challenge for some to understand and appreciate it without more information.

From the related articles by Madhavananda, Radhika and Maheshwar prabhus, I'm glad to see that we can view these things with a little light-hearted humor and detachment. Thanks for that. It is much appreciated.

As Kulis, we do not think we are pure devotees. Far from it. We openly say we are not. We are further from the center than some, and closer than others. Most of us are members of the wider ISKCON Community and not full-time, initiated, priestly temple devotees. At the same time, that doesn't mean we should be treated as outcasts because of it.

For the record, the Kuli Mela organizers do not promote the breaking of the regulative principles, or any other progressive guidelines set forth by Srila Prabhupada. In fact, we hold them in the highest regard, follow them as best we are able, and encourage participants at our events to do the same. Our hope is to inspire devotees, the youth in particular, to find strength in being open and honest about where they are at and to make progress from there. It is our firm belief that in such an atmosphere, real advancement can be made.

One important mission for Kuli Mela Association is to bring people together and offer them a place to share their talents with one another, regardless of the spiritual practices they may or may not be following. As a result, sometimes the offerings reach new heights and sometimes the offerings are a bit questionable. Most fall somewhere in between. The main thing is we allow people the space to express sincere offerings to their peers, the gathered devotees, their guru, Srila Prabhupada, right on up the line to Krishna. The person offering this year's "questionable" offering could very easily become the next year's "advanced devotee." Over the 21 years that I've been volunteering I've seen that happen enough times to keep me inspired in this service.

Sometimes a little controversy can be a good thing. It increases the focus on a particular issue, even if we don't want it to. Seen in the right light, it can be opportunity for us to create a space for meaningful dialog. It allows us to continue to build a vibrant community based on love and trust, with all the dynamic and diverse layers that entails. Of course, at the center is finding ways for us to connect on deeper, more spiritual, levels, which ultimately lead us back to the Source…

Yours in (imperfect) service,
Chaitanya Mangala dasa

For those who prefer a quote from Srila Prabhupada to qualify our statements, please read the following excerpt from a Room Conversation with Srila Prabhupada in Hawaii - May 3rd, 1976:

Siddha-svarupa: "There are a lot of devotees here who follow the principles but cannot completely... (break) ...shaved up, and they still wear karmi clothes pretty much, but they're clean, they're devotees, and in this way they're attracting many of the local people, because they're able to relate to them.

Prabhupada: So that...

Siddha-svarupa: They're not lowering your standard.

Prabhupada: No, naturally, but when they are initiated they must shave. They must keep to the standard. If one becomes initiated and he still keeps the hippie form, that does not look nice. Do you think that is all right? No, that is not good. So long they are coming as outsider, joining kirtana, they may have their own dress, it doesn't matter. They are coming to kirtana, that must be (indistinct). But when they are to be initiated, they must follow the rules and regulations given by the spiritual master.

Siddha-svarupa: So...

Prabhupada: Otherwise they should not be initiated. It is simple thing. Let them go on chanting, taking prasadam; we have no (indistinct). But when they are to be initiated, they must follow. This is the clear (indistinct). If you don't want to disturb them, let them come, chant, dance, take prasadam We have no objection. But don't recommend them for initiation unless he agrees to the rules and regulations given by the spiritual master. Where is the wrong? Where is the difficulty? You can talk with him like that.

Siddha-svarupa: I think they only feel that because...

Prabhupada: No feeling, if you..., when you are surrendering to the spiritual... Sisyas te 'ham sadhi mam prapannam. Find out this verse. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya.


tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darsinah

"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Enquire from him submissively..."

Prabhupada: Mm? Where are they? Mm.

Hari-sauri: "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Enquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth."

Prabhupada: You have to submit. You cannot remain independent. That is the first condition. Sisyas te 'ham,sisya. Sisya means voluntarily accepting the rules offered by the spiritual master. That is sisya: "Ah, yes, I agree to abide by your order." Then he becomes sisya. Otherwise where is the question... "I am thinking like this, I am thinking..." So long you are thinking otherwise, you don't try to become a sisya. You remain outside and you are welcome: chant, dance, take prasadam, and remain independent. There is no objection. But when you become sisya, then you cannot remain independent. These things convince him. Then you don't become sisya. Remain as friend, there is no harm. Just like so many people, they come. So if these things (indistinct). One thousand twenty, checks (indistinct). This way. What is the wrong there?"