Sounds of Vrindavan and Japa?
BY: MADHUHA DASA
Sep 30, 2011 SANDY RIDGE, NORTH CAROLINA, USA (SUN) I recently returned to Prabhupada Village, a rural community of devotees in Sandy Ridge, North Carolina, after being on the North American Festival Tour for four months. During the tour my sadhana is usually weak and unregulated, so I always look forward to getting back to the regular morning program: Mangal Arati; Tulasi-puja; Srila Prabhupada's Guru-puja; Srimad Bhagavatam class; and chanting Japa, all in the association of devotees.
On my first day back during japa time, there was a CD playing, that was supposed to have been recorded in the forests of Vrindavan. This CD is comprised of nice sounds of peacocks and other exotic birds in the forests of Vrindavan. It even has what sounded like a kirtan party, first off in the distance, then it came closer and again faded out. It is a very nice recording that will remind many of Vrindavan.
Upon inquiring about the CD, and why we are relinquishing the tradition of listening to Srila Prabhupada chant japa, I was told: "These are the sounds of Vrindavan, they remind us of Vrindavan, and Jayadvaita Maharaj doesn't like to listen to Srila Prabhupada chanting japa because it distracts him from hearing his own japa. After all, we are meant to really hear our own japa, and focus on that…"
Japa, according to the Nectar of Devotion, is "chanting a mantra or hymn softly and slowly". If we are to follow this logic, shouldn't all music or sounds of any sort be eliminated?
I understand the point that we are supposed to meditate on our own Japa, but at least in my case, focusing the mind is still very difficult. When my mind wanders, which happens often, if I hear Srila Prabhupada chanting in the background, it gets me back on track. He has never been a distraction, at least not for me.
So I have a few questions for all the devotees, that I hope can at least help me understand these matters:
Are other temples also playing nice background music instead of hearing Srila Prabhupada chant japa?
Is listening to a Maha-bhagavat devotee like Srila Prabhupada chanting during the japa period "living in the past" or "something that only neophytes do?"
After practicing Krishna consciousness for many years, does one come to the point that hearing the Spiritual Master is less of an assistance to our japa meditation when compared to the cawing of a peacock?
Is it ill-conceived or fanatical to follow this long-standing ISKCON tradition of always hearing Srila Prabhupada during the japa period?
And, finally, is replacing Srila Prabhupada chanting japa with the sounds of the exotic birds in Vrindavan, or whatever, another subtle change or deviation which is becoming commonplace, and which could ultimately result in diminishing Srila Prabhupada's position amongst the devotees?
If you feel these issues hold any relevance, then please give us some feedback. It can only add to our Krishna consciousness movement, that we all love.