Couple weeks ago, we had the good fortune of meeting H.H. Danavir Goswami Maharaja at ISKCON Karuna Bhavan temple, Lesmahagow, Scotland. On the first day of his visit maharaj gave a talk on Hare Krishna maha mantra at Salisbury Centre, Edinburgh. He also went on a harinama sankirtana along with devotees on the busy streets of Edinburgh city. After listening to his talk and taking his association at Salisbury centre on Saturday, we were tempted visit Karuna Bhavan benefit more from his satsanga at the Sunday feast.
There was something that Maharaja did and said that held great importance to me. Firstly, he sang the famous Hare Krishna tune that Srila Prabhupada immortalized at No 26, Second Avenue and at Tompkins Square Park. Even today when we look at the red tinted videos of those recordings, our hair stands on ends surcharged with spiritual potency.
Srila Prabhupada had great gravity in his chanting and kirtans. His kirtans assumed musical quality not for the sake of music but for the sake of the holy name. Similarly Danavir Maharaja sang the same tune for almost 45 minutes with identical solemnity. He sang only the aarohan (upscale) version and sustained it for long without slightest variation in his enthusiasm.
My observation and appreciation may not look relevant to many but it taught me to primarily appreciate the holy name in the kirtan and take music as its secondary accompaniment. Our contaminated ears are craving for different melodies and beats all the time. We are, but a victim to a disease called variety. Where there is no variety boredom sets in. This constant hankering for pleasing the sense of hearing has not spared even the harinama. There is, of course, nothing wrong in singing the holy name in wonderful tunes. But being satisfied and content in a simple tune and immersing oneself in the holy name requires advancement.
Secondly, Srila Prabhupada always maintained straight forward and to-the-point preaching. An anecdote of Srila Prabhupada preaching at a school where he practically demonstrated the soul concept to children by inviting one of them for an experiment in which he hypothetically asked a child to disengage his body parts from the self to prove that, even after the body is removed ‘I’ the spirit soul remains as the self that holds the body. He established Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead even to the newest of the visitors. The readiness of the crowd or the visitors was not a point of consideration; to him every soul is ready to accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Hence he never altered his words and delayed or set grounds before giving the ultimate knowledge of the soul and of Krishna.
Danavir Maharaja was naturally inclined towards giving the truth and the essence of spiritual knowledge in its pure and palatable form. Living in this part of the world I had come to, kind of, sadly accept that new bhaktas have to be lured by Indian festivals, mehndi tattoos, bharatanatyam and other Indian stuffs. Listening to Danavir Maharaja preach was like fresh air infusing life. His clear message on the Supremacy of Lord Krishna, absoluteness of harinama, and authenticity of the Hare Krishna movement did not only create faith in the hearts of new bhaktas but also invigorated the service spirit in practicing devotees.
While answering a question put forward by a follower of another religion, Maharaja provided reasoning to establish the supremacy of knowledge in Vedic literatures and also carefully avoided the “holier than thou” message. It is a valuable lesson that every preacher should learn.
I thank Danavir Maharaja for giving his mercy to me by teaching these two important lessons during his short Scotland visit. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and his sincere followers who are working day and night to continue and grow his glorious legacy.