I went to the temple on 9th Jan.
Did really nice kirtana.
One of the things I’ve noticed that annoys me is when some boys come in, grab a mrdanga and play without a rhythm.
If you don’t know how to play a musical instrument, play slowly, barely audible, so you don’t ruin the session for everyone.
It’s basic etiquette. But some people lack it.

I’m a self-taught mrdanga player. I learned by watching the senior devotees play.
Even to this day, when some senior devotee plays a mrdanga with me, they lead and I follow. I play whatever beats they’re playing.
I learned karatalas the same way. I watched and learned.
Some people have been participating in kirtana for years and they still can’t play karatalas well.
Maybe musical instruments isn’t meant for them.
Karatalas are representatives of Krsna, and Mrdanga, Balarama. So unless you have their mercy, it is impossible to learn how to play them properly.
Neophytes don’t understand this. They’re too enthusiastic without understanding the deeper meaning.

I got a garland from the deities and was very happy about that.
I’ve noticed a lot of devotees don’t like or want to wear a garland offered to their Lordships. It could be embarrassment or humility on a whole new level.
I’m not shy about wearing the garlands offered to the deities. I like it. I’ll flaunt it! I always wear them all the way home. People give me weird looks and stare at me. I don’t care.

I also got prasadam. Spicy rice made with yoghurt?, herbs and lemon. It was nice. But too bitter for my stomach. So I ate some white chocolate after that.

The kirtana was awesome. Especially during the end, when another brahmacari and devotee joined us with karatalas.
We were only two people. That was fine by me.
I like kirtana with few people. I can manage the sync easily. We’re on the same page. But when a bunch of kids join in and everyone wants to play mrdanga and big karatalas, then I’m annoyed.

One of the important aspects of any kirtana is the vocals. The instruments should never be louder than the vocals. If the sounds from all the mrdangas and karatalas drown out the Maha Mantra, that kirtana gets two thumbs down from me.
Everyone who plays an instrument should sing. Unless you’re so terrible that you’re out of sync and confusing everyone else, open your mouth and sing!
That’s one of the areas where I see a lot of people slacking. They’re only interested in playing an instrument. But don’t sing along.

Yesterday, 10th Jan, I went to the temple again.
But I didn’t know there was a Sanyasi guru visiting. No one told me.
The devotees at the temple have made groups on WhatsApp and Facebook, where they share everything.
I, for obvious reasons, am left out of the loop on many things.
Not that it matters.
So I did kirtana at the hall and maharaja gave a lecture. At one point he looked at me and said, “You have to set an example for others to follow.”
He wasn’t referring to me. He was speaking in general. But it struck me because I feel like many devotees expect me to be exemplary to the other boys and kids.
But I’m not into that. And I’ll explain in a minute.
After class, there was prasadam. But I rarely take prasadam during programs and festivals because there’s so many people. And I hate crowds.

Today morning, my friend messaged me to wake up and go to the temple.
That’s funny.
I know I’ve talked about the temple many times already and some viewers, just like in real life, have come to associate me with the Hare Krsnas.
I’ve said this before: I’m not a representative of the Hare Krsnas.
A few days ago, I was asked to go on Harinama; and on the way, one of the brahmacaris pointed out that I should trim my moustache and beard. Because it looks good and Srila Prabhupada wanted that.
I know what Srila Prabhupada wanted.
I have the knowledge and understand the philosophy quite well. Which is why I was asked to lead a lecture program of my own.
Knowing something and following something are two different things.
I know what is right and what’s supposed to be done.
But I don’t do it. Because, reasons.
For one, I’m not some liberated soul with no material desires.
Even though I live a content life, from a spiritual perspective, I’m not fully dedicated and surrendered to Krsna for a simple reason; I still have material desires.
And that takes time to cleanse.
The philosophy states that, to cleanse your mind and heart, purify yourself, join the temple if you have nothing better to do, do service and you’ll progress significantly.
That’s easier said than done.

I’m a seasoned man. I’ve got enough experience. I’ve witnessed what’s happened to others.
That’s why I’ve refrained from becoming full time.

Religion and politics don’t mix well. But even in religion, people push their own agendas.
One time, a temple management promoted some senior devotee to Vice President; but he had less experience in dealing with devotees and handling various situations.
Without going into the details, I’ll say that he asked me to stop going to the temple for a few weeks. He had his reasons, and while his purpose was to benefit me, the reality was, he was hurting me.
I used to go to the temple, do kirtana, and have prasadam. I was dependent on the temple for food. And he took that away in an instant.
I was immature at the time. I was angry. Previously, I’d wanted to stay in the temple, but when asked, the management gave no response. That’s the same as refusal.

I think that brought back my individuality. I used to think of myself as one of them. And then, I realized I wasn’t. I was an outsider. A lost soul who sought refuge at the wrong door.

So yeah. I’m not a Hare Krsna.
I’m just an individual who happens to practise a lot of the Hare Krsna philosophy and teachings because it suits me.
Anyone who’s joined the Hare Krsna movement will find it difficult to merge with the world outside. Because you’re different. Everything you do is different.
I’ve seen quite a few devotees leave the movement. I can only imagine how difficult their lives must become.
I read some old articles where journalists described the Hare Krsna movement as a cult.
It’s not a cult. But there’s many things that make it look like one.

I’m not initiated. I was asked to attend the disciple training course and I didn’t.
Will I take initiation and accept a spiritual master some day? I don’t know.
And that’s not a good example for aspiring neophytes.

I don’t go to the temple everyday. I like to give my hands a rest. And I have a life outside the temple.
I have things to do. That’s why, even when I was asked to come early and sing Gaura aarti, I had to turn them down. I can’t make it on time on most days.

There are many things the temple management try to keep a lid on. Things neophytes and new devotees aren’t supposed to know.
It’s a big movement. You can expect a number of f ck-ups just like every other religion.
For example, when I was searching for books and articles online, I ended up on some guru website by some former devotee; well, he’s still a devotee but one who left the movement after uncovering dark secrets.

There’s two aspects to this. One, the gurus and senior devotees are still human beings just like the rest of us. So they are affected by the modes and desires like the rest of us. So, if some sanyasi falls in love with the wife of his disciple and marries her, it’s terrible, but I understand.
You can understand that too. From the human perspective. Man make mistakes. Ups and downs in life. They fall down too. No? xD
Besides, in the current internet connected world, almost every other couple with access to the internet is flirting with or in a virtual relationship with someone else.

There’s a lot of disgusting things happening in the material world. From some nasty bastards caught having sex with dead bodies, to people frying live dogs in China, and then eating them.

All things considered, the wicked things that happen in religion are no worse than those that occur in the outside world.
From a moral standpoint, it’s sad that we have to accept such nonsense from religions. But, if the outside world can do it without anyone blinking an eye, why can’t so-called religious people too?
I guess if they’re going to sin, they can sin, but not claim to be some God-sent prophet or divine saints. That’s unacceptable.

The second aspect, is that these gurus and senior devotees are live examples to the rest of the congregation. That’s a lot of responsibility.
How can you explain pedophilia? Teachers and gurus molesting young boys in gurukulas? You can’t.
How can you explain murder? You can’t.
You can’t kill another devotee and still be regarded as a devotee. You can’t receive Sanyasa in prison.
Similarly, you can’t be a sanyasi who wears karmi clothes. What kind of example is that?
Sanyasi’s are renounced. They’re not supposed to hold any wealth or land or property to their names. But that’s happening.

I mentioned before that I don’t preach.
I don’t want to encourage someone to join the movement only for them to find out some things and get mad at me for not telling them earlier.
Yes, it’s common sense but who the heck expects this kind of stuff to exist with the Hare Krsna’s?
If you’re serious about spiritual progress, then you should join, read the books, attend the temple programs, do service and take prasadam. After that, well, if you stick around, that’s on you.

I don’t distribute books either.
I think book distribution has changed to a more forceful tactic than a simple “Hey, we’ve got a book that could change your life, want to buy it? No? Okay!”
I get the compassion thing. You’re compassionate about others and want to help them discover the truth and advance in spiritual life.
But at the cost of inconveniencing them? No.
I’d rather not be that guy who people purchase a book from just to get rid of. That’s not a good look.
My personal opinion on book distribution is this: Walk with them, people can see that you’re having some books. If they want to buy them, they will come to you.
If they’re too shy to approach you to buy a book, well, too bad!
Better luck next time.
I know that’s not the right mindset for book distribution. It doesn’t align with what the founder and senior devotees want; but it’s better than making people hate you for bugging them with your books.

So, there are many critics even within the organization. And they’re openly exposing these happenings online.
I’m not a critic. I don’t care what these senior devotees and gurus are up to. I know there’s many shady thngs going on. But who am I to criticize them?
As an independent outsider, I’d rather make my own spiritual progress and live my life.
For the things that I don’t agree with, big deal; the door’s open for me.

There’s a lot of inequality.
For example, the temple which I currently visit doesn’t allow women to serve in the alter or do kirtana.
Now I understand that the management wants to keep the brahmacaris and the matajis apart, but is it worth it at the cost of one gender’s inability to perform the same service?

I’ve heard some congregation members talking about other devotees and what they’re doing wrong. I don’t do that. It’s a waste of time.
People who have nothing better to do can play the critique all day. I’ll stick to attending the aartis and kirtanas.
When that’s done, I’m out!
Thank you very much.

Okay. Time for breakfast. I’m starving.