Dancing For Krishna

radhanath kirtan.jpg

(fall 1984)

by Premarnava

“The present Krsna consciousness movement follows the same principle, and therefore simply by chanting and danc­ing we have received good responses all over the world. It is to be understood, however, that his chanting and dancing do not belong to this material world. They are transcendental activities, for the more one engages in chanting and dancing, the more he can taste the nectar of transcendental love of Godhead.” (Adi-lila chap. 17, verse 22)

Once in Detroit, Srila Prabhupada was staying at the apartment of Navina Krsna dasa. During a darsana, Srila Prabhupada was discussing with some senior devotees the use of various musical instruments for arotik kirtanas and kirtanas performed in public places. During the discussion, Srila Prabhupada said, “Just try this Bengali style, the Amer­icans will like it.” He also said that Lord Caitanya’s style was “Kohl and karatalas.” As we know, Sri Caitanya was the originator of the Bengali kirtana tradition.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains in his Anubhasya, “A person who has attracted the attention of the spiritual master by his sincere service likes to dance and chant with similarly developed Krsna conscious devotees.”

Dancing together during the arotik ceremony is not a mundane thing. Even though we may not feel enthusiastic, or we may even feel self-conscious, we simply have to do it and Krsna will give us enthusiasm. This activity is pleasing to the spiritual master as confirmed in the Sri Sri Gurvastaka: “Sri-vigraharadhana-nitya-nana. The spiritual master is alwavs engaged along with his disciples in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. Congregational chanting and dancing before the Deity are an integral part of the temple worship.

In the Adi-lila, Lord Caitanya says, “I never chanted and danced to make an artificial show; I dance and chant because I firmly believe in the words of my spiritual master. Although the Mayavadi philosophers do not like this chanting and dancing, I nevertheless perform it on the strength of his words. Therefore, it is to be concluded that I deserve only very little credit for these activities of chanting and dancing, for they are being done automatically by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

Of course, we are not on the level of Sri Caitanya Mahap­rabhu, but we can take instruction from His statement. Lord Caitanya performed chanting and dancing on the strength of his guru’s order, so we can follow in His footsteps and chant and dance enthusiastically at mangala arotik for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada and [then current guru].

Krsnadasa Kaviraja further states in the Adi-lila, “When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great gardener, sees that people are chanting, dancing and laughing and that some are making loud humming sounds, He smiles with great pleasure.”

We are still on the level of sadhana bhakli. Therefore, we cannot expect to experience or display various ecstatic symptoms, but sadhana bhakti means to practice regulated devotional activities. If we regularly practice dancing nicely before the Deity and please the spiritual master in this way, eventually we will get the higher taste.

Fellow Brijabasis, Godbrothers, and countrymen, don’t forget that the real party is at the kirtana (sankirtana party). So, don’t be late, and don’t be a wall flower. Hare Bol!!

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