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Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the modern world. Dealing with the varieties of challenges we face as practicing Gaudiyas amidst Western culture.

Designing a raganuga-freebie - What'll it have?



Madhava - Fri, 27 Aug 2004 19:01:50 +0530
I like Brian's mantra-kit program at Namahatta.Com, and I would like to start working on putting together some kind of free kit for those interested in our way of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. I am looking for feedback from our audience. Ideally, the package would be something that would appeal even to those with practically no background in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Rasaraja suggested bundling together Manjari-svarupa-nirupana, a snippet of Radha-kunda tilaka and a saree. Personally I don't think that's a good idea, unless we bundle in a bit of lipstick too.

But seriously, would you come up with ideas on some helpful introductory content that is both easy to assimilate for the receiver and cheap for us to produce and mail en masse. I am thinking along the lines of a softbound book of ca. 50 pages, an audio-CD and a video CD. The production cost would come to around $1 to $2 USD, the weight would be below 100g, and the bulk (with slim CD cases) would be about 6-8 mm, making it cheap to mail both inside US and abroad.

The book is still a bit open. The video CD would have some shots of Vraja and Navadvipa, and short clips of interviews with my Baba and possibly some other sadhus commenting on some basic questions. The audio CD would have some daily songs to sing, along with simple melodies of maha-mantra, and a small booklet with words for them. We need simpler melodies, though, than the current recordings at Raganuga.Com

What would you like to see in such a package?
Openmind - Fri, 27 Aug 2004 19:50:53 +0530
Gorgeous idea!

Ananga is working on the recording of some bhajans with simple melodies. A CD with the daily songs+lyrics would be very useful. A beautiful set of pictures could also be part of the kit.
DharmaChakra - Fri, 27 Aug 2004 20:00:20 +0530
QUOTE (Madhava @ Aug 27 2004, 01:31 PM)
I like Brian's mantra-kit program at Namahatta.Com, and I would like to start working on putting together some kind of free kit for those interested in our way of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. I am looking for feedback from our audience. Ideally, the package would be something that would appeal even to those with practically no background in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Rasaraja suggested bundling together Manjari-svarupa-nirupana, a snippet of Radha-kunda tilaka and a saree. Personally I don't think that's a good idea, unless we bundle in a bit of lipstick too.

But seriously, would you come up with ideas on some helpful introductory content that is both easy to assimilate for the receiver and cheap for us to produce and mail en masse. I am thinking along the lines of a softbound book of ca. 50 pages, an audio-CD and a video CD. The production cost would come to around $1 to $2 USD, the weight would be below 100g, and the bulk (with slim CD cases) would be about 6-8 mm, making it cheap to mail both inside US and abroad.

The book is still a bit open. The video CD would have some shots of Vraja and Navadvipa, and short clips of interviews with my Baba and possibly some other sadhus commenting on some basic questions. The audio CD would have some daily songs to sing, along with simple melodies of maha-mantra, and a small booklet with words for them. We need simpler melodies, though, than the current recordings at Raganuga.Com

What would you like to see in such a package?

Madhavaji:
Great idea! I know for one I would love to see something like this, mainly because I fit the demographic. Actually, while something like a CD for a total beginner would be nice, I would think something for those coming from ACBS/GM books and background would be much more helpful.

I know I have been struggling with the vast amount of information available just on this site alone. Nevermind trying to sort the different lineages, the differences in sadhana and so on. So, while I (for example) know the rudiments of the philosophy, I find myself with little or no direction. I think I'm a little lucky in that I have taken no initiation in any 'camp', I also have no base point to start my explorations...

However, I have to say the book 'Sri Guru Tattva Vijnana & Sri Bhakta Tattva Vijnana' by Ananta Das Babaji was very eye-opening. I feel I have a much better grasp on Guru Tattva from reading those 30 odd pages than from all my ACBS/GM exposure.

Even some kind of 'Recommended Reading' list, esp. for those of us with some background in Vaishnavism, but little direction in learning about raganuga would be very helpful.
Madan Gopal - Fri, 27 Aug 2004 21:20:29 +0530
Maybe you should make a Gaudiya beginners kit and in it you could include video dvd questions and answers with Ananta Dasa Baba that you could interview him for when you go.

Then you could also make another kit for "refugees from other Gaudiya groups" with articles from Jagat's site, like introduction to controversial issues in Gaudiya Vaishnavism...

For kit one you could have ADB's siksastakam.
For kit two - Raga Vartma Candrika.

I like the picture idea. A little lipstick is always good just to freak people out! blush.gif
Madhava - Fri, 27 Aug 2004 22:39:03 +0530
Yes, I also thought of the picture idea. I wonder why I didn't write it in my initial post.

I agree that we should have two kits. Certainly there is great potential among those who have come in touch with the Gaudiya tradition through some modern groups and are seeking for something more or something different, but we cannot go on feeding off their remnants forever. We need to open a new market, for those interested in India, yoga and whatnot. There is a great potential there that goes practically untouched among us. I feel we should take steps to that direction, too.

At any rate, the audio and video CDs could go into both kits. The softbound book would be different. This book, in both cases I am thinking we may need to compile it from a scratch to make a good overview. Especially in the book for the brand new market, we need to have something very carefully thought out and specifically directed for them. Something informative and inspiring, yet not too detailed or confrontational. We should put these together as a joint effort, text we would go over and over until every sentence is ironed out into an optimal presentation, if such a thing exists.

And yes, we should give suggestions for further reading.

In the video CD, I would like to edit roughly an hour of content together, content I will be filming during my upcoming visit to Vraja. Perhaps Nabadip might come up with some interesting video content introducing Navadvipa-dhama. I fear going there might be a bit outside the scope of my upcoming trip, though I would also love to shoot some video of Q & A with Madan Gopal Goswami and others. In addition to Q & A, the video will contain footage of different holy places around Vraja as well as people engaged in various devotional practices.

This would also go together with a website from where people can order kits, and where we'd also have a small forum for questions and answers. Not a forum like Gaudiya Discussions, but a forum strictly for questions and answers, with a couple of editors who would take care of the answering aspect. Not for debates, not for creating communities, just for Q & A. For other discussions, we could just send people over here.
Madhava - Fri, 27 Aug 2004 22:41:38 +0530
In regards to the question someone will inevitably come to ask, why not include a book already written by some sadhu or acarya, the response is that we want to put together a book specifically directed to our target audience, in which the entry threshold is minimized, and the content is presented in their terms so to say, not forcing them to adjust to a new genre of literature, but rather presenting something very easily digestable which will provoke them to seek out further literature (from our list of recommended books).
Jagat - Fri, 27 Aug 2004 22:43:56 +0530
I don't think that "controversial issues" should really form any part of such a kit. We should try as far as possible to avoid defining ourselves in contrast to the Gaudiya Math, which is what tends to happen when we raise these controversial issues.

Madhava - Sat, 28 Aug 2004 00:39:48 +0530
I agree. I believe it is possible to present the positive without commenting on the negative. I believe we could touch on the topic of initiation, and in fact we should present some history on diksha-paramparas and the vamsa-traditon, but I believe it is quite possible to do that without contrasting it with anything.

The book/(let) oriented towards those with prior contact and history with Gaudiya Vaishnavism should probably include adequate scriptural references, as I'm certain there is concern over authenticity. However, I believe it would be best done by adding the references (verse numbers etc.) as end notes, and offer the full references online on the website, as we should really not make that too bulky either.
Rasaraja dasa - Sun, 12 Sep 2004 09:01:27 +0530
Dandavats. All glories to the Vaisnavas.

I have been discussing with Madhava the idea of putting together a package in which can be sent to those interested in Raganuga-bhakti. We envision to distinct types of packages:

A. Newcomer to the precepts of Raganuga-bhakti Highlights the texts, practices and histories for those interested specifically in the practices of Raganuga-bhakti as understood and practiced outside of ISKCON/GM. I would see a booklet explaining and highlighting what differentiates these precepts from the ISKCON/GM teachings with a focus on the positive aspects of the more traditional parivars. Then we would include one or two books in which best highlight the nuances and practices of Raganuga-bhakti.
B. Newcomer to Gaudiya Vaisnavism This would be somewhat similar to the first package but with more background on Gaudiya thought, tradition and history. It would also possibly include mala, tilaka, pictures, etc.

My question would be what would the Vaisnavas here see as important additions to these packages. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Always aspiring to serve the Vaisnavas,
Rasaraja dasa
DharmaChakra - Sun, 12 Sep 2004 17:26:45 +0530
Rajarasa dasaji had started another thread asking for a book bundle (coming out of a desire to send some books to the esteemed Gopidustji & Bhakta David-ji) to be put together... one thought would be to seek premission from Gadadhara-prana dasa-ji to publish his appendix to Sri Sri Prema-bhakti-candrika. I think this is a pretty good introduction to raganuga bhakti, along with sastric quotes & vocabulary. And its pretty short to boot... anyone else agree?
Madhava - Sun, 12 Sep 2004 20:22:18 +0530
QUOTE (DharmaChakra @ Sep 12 2004, 02:56 PM)
one thought would be to seek premission from Gadadhara-prana dasa-ji to publish his appendix to Sri Sri Prema-bhakti-candrika. I think this is a pretty good introduction to raganuga bhakti, along with sastric quotes & vocabulary. And its pretty short to boot... anyone else agree?

I haven't seen this one. How long is it? Does it have something that isn't covered in this (PDF) text? Though I have the greatest respect for Gadadhar Pranaji, I am a bit uneasy about directly associating him with our endeavors due to the Gaura-nagari connections.

At any rate, I personally envision the books in both packages to be tailor-made for the audience we are faced with, ie. nothing already made, to fit the purpose in the best possible manner.

Some further thoughts to follow.
Madhava - Sun, 12 Sep 2004 20:30:52 +0530
In the book for existing Gaudiyas, I would envision the following topics covered:I would imagine we could stuff all that into ca. 60 pages.
Madhava - Sun, 12 Sep 2004 20:39:57 +0530
In the book for newcomers, I would envision the following themes covered:Admittedly, my thoughts on this are more scattered than on the previous title.

Both texts would be worked on by a group of people who twist and turn around the text until it has precisely the message we wish to convey, expressed in a clear and appealing way.
Madhava - Sun, 12 Sep 2004 20:51:30 +0530
QUOTE (Rasaraja dasa @ Sep 12 2004, 06:31 AM)
I would see a booklet explaining and highlighting what differentiates these precepts from the ISKCON/GM teachings with a focus on the positive aspects of the more traditional parivars.

I really do not see a need to contrast the positive with the ISKCON/GM way. For three reasons that I can think of:

1. I would expect that people know the precepts they have already assimilated, and are bright enough to contrast them with the new information without our spelling it out for them.
2. We don't want to appear like we were fishing people out of any given group or movement, nor do we wish to appear preachy against anyone, an anti-anything bunch.
3. There are myriads of different (mis)conceptions among those two groups, so we would have to make a separate edition for each of them to contrast the tradition with their specific group, or otherwise people might feel we are making strawmen, not representing their views adequately.


QUOTE
B. Newcomer to Gaudiya Vaisnavism This would be somewhat similar to the first package but with more background on Gaudiya thought, tradition and history. It would also possibly include mala, tilaka, pictures, etc.

Mala and tilaka are traditionally items that the guru gives at the time of initiation. I don't think they are really very essential in the very very beginning, especially tilaka. Once a devotee sent in a question I conveyed to Baba, inquiring what is important for newcomers, whether they should focus on chanting or something else. Baba then emphasized that it is of utmost importance that they understand our theology, the "why" of why we do things, and that other things would eventually fall in place as a proper conception was cultivated.


QUOTE
My question would be what would the Vaisnavas here see as important additions to these packages. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I might add that we wish to try to keep it light and low cost to make true mass distribution easily possible, without making it a burden to anyone.

I have already mentioned the audio and video CDs that would come along with the package. I am waiting for a reply from Vrindavan Das on using his art on this, both for making bigger prints available for sale at Loi Bazaar and some small prints to go along with the kit.
DharmaChakra - Mon, 13 Sep 2004 01:30:16 +0530
QUOTE (Madhava @ Sep 12 2004, 10:52 AM)
I haven't seen this one. How long is it? Does it have something that isn't covered in this (PDF) text? Though I have the greatest respect for Gadadhar Pranaji, I am a bit uneasy about directly associating him with our endeavors due to the Gaura-nagari connections.

At any rate, I personally envision the books in both packages to be tailor-made for the audience we are faced with, ie. nothing already made, to fit the purpose in the best possible manner.

Some further thoughts to follow.

Madhavaji...
Its eleven pages long, and covers the basics... quotations mostly from BRS, CC & SB. I thought also about the Gaura-nagari connections, so if not reprinting, I think it serves at least as a good stylistic guide for the kind of information to be presented. I'll read through the pdf tomorrow at work & compare it to Gadadhara-prana dasa-ji's introduction...
Kamala - Mon, 20 Dec 2004 03:30:40 +0530
These two booklets look like great ideas to me, and seem relatively easy to translate into reality. Could Madhavaji provide an update on progress?