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Holy Rock And Rollers - Discussion: Religion and the Stars

Jagat - Mon, 26 Apr 2004 18:15:57 +0530
This is a discussion of the Glasgow Daily Record article, Holy Rock and Rollers.

There are a number of interesting points brought out in this article, any of which can be discussed. Madonna is particularly fascinating, as her Catholic samskara has led her to follow a variety of religious interests, including a fling with Hinduism a couple of years back. No doubt, the conservative reaction of some Hindus had something to do with her disenchantment. So all the publicity that was generated by her wearing Vaishnava tilak went for nought as her superficial aesthetic interests were not deepened by any genuine understanding. So her dilettantism has now taken her to Kabbalah. I doubt that this involvement is much more profound than her flirtations with Krishna. I think she is, like many lapsed Catholics, just trying to find something from her childhood religion. I imagine it will all end with her having an audience with the Pope and coming back home into the fold of the Mother Church.

Of course, the Catholic Church is apparently uncompromising under the present pope, refusing to bend to pressures to accept Western European and liberal American morality in matters like birth control, abortion, divorce, women priests and other predominantly sexual issues. There are reasons for this--not the least of which is the Church's internationalism. It cannot allow the First World to dictate its agenda when the First World has practically abandoned it and the Third World, with its old-style morality, is an increasingly potent force that must be catered to.

But in fact the Church, like any historical entity, does undergo change. It is like the proverbial ocean liner that takes a long time to change direction, but change it does. The encyclicals of the 19th century against all forms of modernism are laughable reading today. Teilhard de Chardin, the coqueluche of many progressive Catholics, was on the Index for years. So, it is not inconceivable that at some time in the future such changes will take place.

As to Gaudiya Vaishnavism, we have our own conservatisms. The idea of putting old wine into new bottles was something Srila Prabhupada often talked about, and Bhaktivinoda and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati were both, at least in part, ready to make certain changes in order to either retrieve a liberal spirit that they saw in an original, pristine Vaishnava religion, or ready to make the necessary adjustments to reform ancient misconceptions. This is the principal of the saragrahi that Bhaktivinoda frequently brought up.

But the tendency to conservatism comes with each generation. The Iskcon conservatives, most radically represented by the Ritviks, want to keep things just as Prabhupada left them. The Gaudiya Math wants things just as Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati left them. My guru wanted things to be just as Bhaktivinoda Thakur left them. And everybody else wants things to stay fixed in some other period of the past.

There is no doubt that there are eternal verities in every religion, but living religions are the ones that communicate these verities in the present. Of course, there must be living followers, and they inevitably live in their own past--the past of their own conversion, the circumstances which led to their insights, the world of their own practices. This is important and will surely be the first principle--no religion can survive without its siddhas. But Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was right: the creation of a community is part of the Vaishnava project.

The practice of bhajan with intensity is a necessary facet of the Vaishnava community, but it can only be a part of it and never the whole.
betal_nut - Mon, 26 Apr 2004 19:06:05 +0530
They forgot to mention Chrissy Hines who took initiation into Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
Jagat - Mon, 26 Apr 2004 19:12:05 +0530
Being a British article, it was slanted to performers from the UK. With Buddhism at the top of the agenda in Canada, we had a lot of Goldie Hawn this week, but surprsingly none of Richard Gere. On the other hand, we get a regular feed of English Montreal's favorite cult hero, Leonard Cohen, who apparently spends days on end in a Zen monastery cubicle.
betal_nut - Mon, 26 Apr 2004 19:58:18 +0530
Even though Ms. Hines was born in America, she is a resident of England and has enjoyed more popularity there than in USA. I guess she is no longer in the music world spot light there either, hence her absence in the article. Either that or she keeps her involvement in bhakti to herself.
Anand - Mon, 26 Apr 2004 20:07:56 +0530
Either that or she keeps her involvement in bhakti to herself.

A rather smart thing to do, considering the options out there.
kalki - Tue, 27 Apr 2004 11:37:52 +0530
I thought this was a Holy Rockn' Roller thread? What happened?
kalki - Tue, 27 Apr 2004 11:44:41 +0530
QUOTE(betal_nut @ Apr 26 2004, 01:36 PM)
They forgot to mention Chrissy Hines who took initiation into Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

Who was chrissy hines intiated by?
Jagat - Tue, 27 Apr 2004 17:30:45 +0530

My excuses to Dirty Hari. I split the topic, but I was unable to split the single post that divided it. So here is his original post from this thread. Madhavaji, if you know of a way to solve this technically, please let me know. The other topic is now on the Jesuits and Opus Dei/Teilhard de Chardin thread. Please direct any discussion of those matters to that thread. Thank you, Jagat.

Dirty Hari's original post
Whenever Madonna is on a talk show she always talks about yoga, yet the media always reports that she is into Kabbalah. She studies a bit of Kabbalah, but always speaks about yoga and rarely about Kaballah. My belief is that there are many Jews in the media who try and portray her as a convert to Judaism when in fact it is just a hobby. Her real passion is yoga.

Teilhard de Chardin is an icon in the Jesuit Society today. Go to their website and see how he is venerated as some kind of apostle. This shows the peculiar position of the Jesuits in Catholicism today. De Chardin preached a kind of Buddhist gnosticism that made books like the Celestine Prophecy bestsellers. It's strange to consider that an atheist scoundrel like de Chardin (who was implicated in several famous archealogical scandals, Piltdown Man and Peking Man: he was involved with both hoaxes to try and prove his evolutionary theories) is a hero to arguably the most powerful "religious" organization in the world. For all of the Vatican's dirty laundry I can't fault them from distancing themselves from de Chardin.

In fact the Catholic world is split in two: the right wing Opus Dei Vaticanites versus the left wing quasi Mayavada/atheist Jesuits and other Catholic orders like the Maryknolls as well. Essentially, the Jesuits are partial to esoteric Mayavadism (they own some of the most prestigious universities in the world and dominate Catholicism in India) while the Vatican and Opus Dei have the traditional pope as God-on-earth rhetoric. Their battles play out especially in the Third World where the Jesuits have been the financial backers and key players in Communist uprisings fighting against Vatican-backed regimes.

As far as Scientology goes, I am perplexed. If anyone does even a little bit of research they will be repelled by that cult. It only shows how foolish some celebrities can be, or how cynical they are. I suspect that most celebrities are there because they can get close to Tom Cruise, who ain't so bright.

Michael Jackson has only ever quoted Vedic religion in his works.

Terence Trent D'Arby changed His name to Sananda Maitreya.

Carlos Santana got initiated as Devadwip from Sri Chimnoy.

Grateful Dead put a deity of Narasingha on their first album cover and supported Srila Prabhupada and were probably the main cause of the 60's enthusiasm along with the Beatles and Alan Ginsberg for the interest in eastern religions.

Deadsy, a popular band among the rich and spoiled and avante garde rock world today, is headed by Elijah Blue Allman, Hare Krishna and son of Cher and Gregg Allman.

Of course the biggest Hare Krishna in the rock world since Harrision is Crispian Mills, a Narayana Maharaja initiate (son of Hare Krishna actress Hayley Mills) and leader of defunct band Kula Shaker and now leader of the Jeevas. Kula Shaker, while only making a quick smash and grab in the U.S with a big hype, were like gods in England, where they were second in sales only to Oasis.
Babhru - Wed, 28 Apr 2004 02:19:56 +0530
QUOTE(betal_nut @ Apr 26 2004, 04:28 AM)
Even though Ms. Hines was born in America, she is a resident of England and has enjoyed more popularity there than in USA. I guess she is no longer in the music world spot light there either, hence her absence in the article. Either that or she keeps her involvement in bhakti to herself.

I've seen a picture of Chrissy Hinds at an animal-rights rally in Brasil, chanting with a group of devotees. I don't know the affiliation of the devotees. It would be interesting to know from whom she accepted initiation. She's the one who introduced Harrison at that big Dylan celebration some years ago with a very entusiastic "Hare Krishna!"
Gaurasundara - Wed, 28 Apr 2004 08:02:41 +0530
Chrissie Hyndes is a disciple of Narayana Maharaja.
Jagat - Wed, 28 Apr 2004 17:41:34 +0530
Devotee actress Radha Mitchell is scheduled to appear on CBS television Late Late Show [12:35am EST, April 28] with host Craig Kilborn.

(I did not stay up for that.)
adiyen - Fri, 30 Apr 2004 14:45:28 +0530
QUOTE(Jagat @ Apr 28 2004, 12:11 PM)
Devotee actress Radha Mitchell is scheduled to appear on CBS television Late Late Show [12:35am EST, April 28] with host Craig Kilborn.

I would often meet her and her parents at the Temple when she was just a little girl with Gopi dots. Now she looks like Margo Hemmingway.

But, in what way is she a 'devotee'? Does she identify as one in any way publicly?
I would be surprised. Her family are very eclectic and were not your average mainstream devotees, more like typical celebrity bhaktas, the mother having once been a famous fashion model, quite a few years back.
Mina - Sun, 02 May 2004 03:07:53 +0530
So there are a handful of examples. Too bad it is not a higher percentage. If celebs started to gravitate to Chaitanyaism in larger numbers that would get people to take notice, just as they have with the bigger Scientology following. What we could really use is a best selling author to write something that informs people of the internals of the tradition. A hollywood movie that has a plot based on a theme of the tradition and does significant box office numbers might even be better. I noticed some HKs milling around in the background on ER last Thursday. One of them had a khol strapped on. Michael Crichton a closet HK perhaps? Probably more like some casting director trying to make the extras more colorful.
adiyen - Sun, 02 May 2004 05:55:57 +0530
QUOTE(Mina @ May 1 2004, 09:37 PM)
So there are a handful of examples. Too bad it is not a higher percentage.

No there are many more celebrities who joined Krishna Consciousness over the years, but few Americans.

In Australia, for example, big name stars created huge scandals by becoming Krishna monks, one in the middle of a contract as a star of a top-rated TV soap watched by the whole country, another, Bhurijan's wife, when she abandoned a budding movie career, having just starred opposite Mick Jagger. And Australia's Janis Joplin, Wendy Saddington, is a full time devotee who will deafen you with her singing kirtan when you visit Melbourne Temple, also the home of Radha Mitchell. Other rock celebrities such as Lindsay Bjerre spent a year or so in the Temple, and the current leader, Ramai Swami, told me he was a trumpeter in the band of Australia's Elvis: Johhny O'Keefe. Talk about Holy Rock and Rollers!

In Europe several big names joined, we met one of Germany's top actresses, Christiane Rucke, in Mayapur. Crispian Mills (above) is grandsom to one of Britain's most illustrious actors, John Mills, son of Hayley Mills, an initiated devotee who starred in Disney films. And of course, George Harrison.

What you are describing seems to be an American peculiarity, Ramdasji.
braja - Sun, 02 May 2004 06:50:00 +0530
There is a Syama Dass who lives near me. I haven't met him yet but apparently he's a Vallabhite who lived in Vraj for a couple of decades and is connected with Sting, Krishna Das, Ram Dass, etc. His books are available at Rasbihari Lal's. Anyone meet him in Vraj?

Interesting to see the popularity of bhajan here in the US but the apparent lack of any Gaudiya's "ministering" to the stars. The NY Times had an article a while back on the phenomena and the center of it, the Bhajan Belt, just the other side of the Hudson River from my home.
kalki - Sun, 02 May 2004 10:33:39 +0530
QUOTE(Mina @ May 1 2004, 09:37 PM)
A hollywood movie that has a plot based on a theme of the tradition and does significant box office numbers might even be better.

Hrishikesha das, disciiple of Bon Maharaj wrote an article in VNN about a script he wrote that is going to be in Hollywood come next year or something. He has a whole caste of people and everything with some big names. And the subplot is about he was a a budding rockstar in the band the Misunderstood before becoming a devotee.
Babhru - Mon, 03 May 2004 02:17:47 +0530
I've met Shyam das. He lived in San Diego for a while during the '90s and came to the ISKCON center there fairly regularly. I worked with him and Govinda dasi on a Back to Godhead article about Vallabha, in hopes of smoothing over bad feelings that came in the wake of the publication of the BBT Chaitanya-charitamrita. Shyam is a nice guy, very knowledgeable, and interesting to talk with. Loves bhajans. We had some very interesting conversations about the two different perspectives on the relationship between our two Mahaprabhus and, even more interesting, among their followers.
Indranila - Tue, 18 May 2004 16:18:57 +0530
Here is an interesting article from the Daily Mirror on Madonna and her involvement with Kabbalah:


By Jane Simon

IT is the trendiest faith around, endorsed by superstars
like Madonna, Demi Moore and Britney Spears. As I take
my first lesson in Kabbalah, I begin to understand why.
"By the fourth class you will learn to see into the future,"
my teacher announces confidently.

I'm in a meeting room in a smart square off Oxford Street
for an introductory session in the ancient branch of Jewish
mysticism which is enjoying a star-struck resurgence.

From the offset it is easy to see why so many celebrities
are attracted to Kabbalah, as I'm promised money,
sexual energy, passion and beauty - all for 180.

Madonna is Kabbalah's most famous devotee; other
celebrity students include Elizabeth Taylor, Jerry Hall,
Winona Ryder, Jeff Goldblum, Courtney Love and
Roseanne Barr. Now it looks as if Victoria Beckham
has become a convert after being spotted wearing
a red string knotted around her wrist - a Kabbalah
amulet to ward off the "evil eye".

As well as being able to see the future, other perks of becoming
a believer are "money, good relationships, love and happiness,"
claims my teacher, Rabbi Chaim Solomon. As if more reasons
were needed, Kabbalists say the "positive flow of energy" can
stop the ageing process. More bizarrely, they believe negative
energy can be absorbed by swinging a chicken above the head.

The 10-week course will, claims Rabbi Solomon, teach me
to tune myself like a TV set to become a better receiver of
"rays of light", the infinite joy for which we're all searching for
and, by no coincidence, the name of Madonna's 1998 album.

Kabbalah, described as "a divine system of wisdom", is believed
to have been passed by God to Abraham and to Moses.
Rabbi Solomon describes it as the spiritual laws of creation,
"like the DNA of the cosmos", but there's nothing very mystical
or esoteric about Rabbi Solomon's presentation on his flip-chart.

The word Kabbalah is Hebrew for "receive" and it's this
"gimme gimme" aspect that he decides to focus on:
"The creator wants you to have everything you want."

Later, browsing the Kabbalah Centre's online store,
it's the same story. One book, The 72 Names Of God,
promises that by meditating on the appropriate name,
you'll be able to "bring more money into your life,
ignite sexual energy and passion, meet your true soulmate
and radiate beauty to all who see you."

Followers are encouraged to pamper themselves and
pursue their own happiness - which may explain why
it has attracted so many self-obsessed celebrities.
Even the understanding of the Zohar, the 12th-century
manuscript on which modern Kabbalah teaching is based,
is surprisingly user-friendly. Rabbis at the Kabbalah Centre
insist the Zohar - said to be too complicated for the most eminent
scholars - can be "read" merely by running your hands over the text.

Which probably explains why its "unfathomable complexities"
have become fully accessible to the likes of Britney Spears,
who has also been seen sporting a Kabbalistic red-string wrist band.

"It's a bigger picture even than the Bible," she explained.
"It's so interesting to me because I've never read stuff like this before."
At the London Kabbalah Centre you can buy a red string bracelet
like Britney's for 27. Also on offer is a "blessed, restoring"
face cream at 78. For 2.80 you can buy a small bottle of
Kabbalah water, personally blessed by the movement's leader,
Phillip Berg, and said to possess "centuries of wisdom in every drop".
The spring water has supposedly been transformed by a process
called Quantum Resonance Technology, making it a "spiritual tool".
Madonna claims the water cured husband Guy's verrucas.

Also on sale is Madonna's book The English Roses (proceeds
donated to the Kabbalah Centre's Spirituality For Kids Foundation).
Her latest book, Mr Peabody, based on an ancient Kabbalah story,
nestles alongside Kabbalah texts, videos and DVDs.

You might expect London's Jewish community to be thrilled that
their ancient wisdom is now being marketed to the general public:
Jews and non-Jews, pop stars and nobodies alike.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

Rabbi Barry Marcus, a member of the Chief Rabbi's cabinet and
minister at the Central London Synagogue, says: "There's not a
single Rabbinic authority on this planet who endorses what they're doing;
the condemnation of them is universal." He points out that the Zohar -
on sale at the Kabbalah Centre for 289 - can be bought from
any religious bookshop for around 35.

But Rabbi Marcus isn't surprised Kabbalah has so many celebrity
followers. "If I'm being kind, I'll say that most of them have probably
done well in their field and have everything that money can buy.
But they don't have the one thing money can't buy and that's inner
peace, serenity and stability. So they go searching and they can afford to.

"But if I'm being unkind, I'd say that the celebrities I've come into
contact with are the most insecure people I've ever met in my life."

And what of the spiritual properties of the Kabbalah Centre's magic red string?

Rabbi Marcus snorts. "I can get you the same string in John Lewis
for 20p," he says.

babu - Fri, 14 Jan 2005 06:39:38 +0530
QUOTE(Jagat @ Apr 27 2004, 12:00 PM)
Deadsy, a popular band among the rich and spoiled and avante garde rock world today, is headed by Elijah Blue Allman, Hare Krishna and son of Cher and Gregg Allman.

How is Elijah doing? Has he finally been able to give up sex and who is his guru he is thinking of taking initiation from (or has he now taken initiation) who sold his dad Greg Allman 200 worth of books? Has he finally been given permission to wear the robes and preach the message in public?

Cher's Tough Love Turns Son Into Hare Krishna


USA, Oct 7 (VNN) A teary-eyed Cher hoped her rocker son Elijah would change his life when she gave him an ultimatum: Stop partying or move out of her Malibu estate.

And did he. The troubled 26-year-old gave up all his worldly possessions and became a Hare Krishna.

But, contrary to the religion's rules, Elijah's still having sex, he confessed to friends.

What's really bizarre is that Elijah is convinced it's pure 'karma' that he's a Hare Krishna now because his dad, Gregg Allman, bought $200 worth of Krishna literature about 30 years ago while Gregg and Cher were walking through an L.A. airport...

"Cher threw Elijah out in May because he couldn't stop partying and bring home vagrants," a source reveals to STAR.

Cher, who was tour at the time, felt that she had no choice but to give Elijah an ultimatum: Clean up your act or you're out.

But he didn't stop partying, and one night it came to a head.

Says a family friend, "At Malibu's Taverna Tony restaurant, Elijah met up with a couple of girlfriends.

"When he got home later that night, the guards told him that he couldn't bring his friends into Cher's house. Elijah moved out the next morning, leaving behind everything except a tiny TV and blowup air matress."

Friends say Elijah moved into a tiny, dingy one-bedroom apartment in Culver City a few blocks away from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, where he eats two free meals a day and chants constantly.

But Elijah, who is currently recording his second album with his band, Deadsy, tells friends that even though he enjoys a simple life, he still secretly indulges in sex with his 18-year-old blonde girlfriend Jen.

"It's sort of like Elijah wants it all. He wants to be a Hare Krishna, but he's not ready to give up everything -- especially sex," the friend adds.

"Cher's not thrilled with the idea that Elijah's become a Hare Krishna, but on the other hand, she's supportive of anything that seems to help him get his life together. In fact, Elijah calls his mom almost every day. She's still very much involved in his daily affairs. It wasn't an easy decision on her part. But her tough love was also inevitable because she was sick and tired of him partying and dragging strange friends into her home."

And it seems that the religious sect has been helping Elijah straighten up. "Now, instead of only partying all the time, Elijah prays to a picture of Krishna in his room during the day, then goes to the temple and eats their free food," says the family friend.

"He feels at home there. It's a very family-oriented community and once he advances further into their program, he'll be given permission to wear the robes and preach their message in public."

Sources say Elijah is telling pals that since he moved into the Hare Krishna community in Culver City, it's been the happiest few weeks of his life, because he feels he's connecting with his idea of God through Krishna and throwing himself into the study of the Bhagavad-Gita, a 30-volume archive of the religion.

"What's really bizarre is that Elijah is convinced it's pure 'karma' that he's a Hare Krishna now because his dad, Gregg Allman, bought $200 worth of Krishna literature about 30 years ago while Gregg and Cher were walking through an L.A. airport," says the friend.

"Now, the same guru who sold Gregg those books is teaching Elijah. The kid's convinced his spiritual pursuit was divine intervention. Elijah's very serious about this, even though he's still in the recording studio -- and sleeping with his girlfriend. Who knows if he'll stick with it? For now, it's working, and Cher's sort of given her blessing."

Star Magazine
Srijiva - Fri, 14 Jan 2005 07:55:10 +0530
That is interesting to learn about Chrissy Hyndes, as she initiated me into rock and roll....The Pretenders "Math", 1981...(at the tender age of 10-11).... due to my enthusiasm with music and wanting to become a drummer just like Martin Chambers, my mother suggested I take the name & persona Mal DeFleurs.