Simple but common questions about different topics that often come up at some point of a devotee’s life.
Q:Tilaka – when to be worn, if at all?
A:Yes, at appropriate times and places, i.e. when and where it furthers our mission.
Q:Sikha – necessary? Recommend?
A:I would recommend a short, very thin sikha, so that we don’t seem strange.
Q:Harinama sankirtana (singing Hare Krishna in the street) – (how) should it be done?
A:We should do it in a time, place, and manner that is appropriate and respectable in each country.
Q:Book distribution – should books be sold on the street to people who know nothing about Krsna? How should book distribution be done?
A:In appropriate time, place, and manner, we should give people books that they will likely read and understand.
Q:Prabhu and mataji – addressing one another with these (I assume) Sanskrit words?
A:Mataji is not Sanskrit, it is Hindi. In Sanskrit one addresses one’s mother as matar. The Bhagavatam clearly shows that men did not address women in general as mother. It is Hindu, not Vedic.
Q:Brahmacari, vanaprastha and sannyasa – are ashramas necessary in Kali yuga? If so, should we try to follow the qualities and standards of the ashramas mentioned in sastra?
A:Yes, one should choose an ashrama according to one’s real nature at different stages of life.
Q:Fire yajnas – necessary (especially for initiations)?
A:Why not? We should honor the tradition.
Q:Clean cooking. Non devotee cooked food – what should be the standard of cooking with non devotees, in non devotee places or being cooked for by non devotees?
A:As often as possible, we should prepare our own food.
Q:Gamcas / being naked while showering – what should the standard be?
A:One should shower in private. A gamca is not necessary.
Q:Vedic cooking – should we cook in a Vedic/Ayurvedic style (for our own health and because I’m assuming that’s the type of food Krishna likes to eat)?
A:There is no such thing as ‘Vedic cooking.’ We should offer food in sattva-guna to Krishna. That what He teaches in the Gita.
Q:Songs about Krsna in English – is it acceptable?
A:Acceptable and necessary. But the basic morning program should be kept as is for the unity of ISKCON, and to stay connected to our tradition.
Q:Worshipping God through modern music mediums – Like Hillsong (Pentecostal) Church?
A:If you mean modern music, yes, but in the mode of goodness.
Q:I’d like to know your opinion on rap music in particular (is it Rajo guna? Should rajasic activities be avoided?), which in today’s society, a lot of people are interested in – is it acceptable to express one’s devotion to Krsna in this way and to use it to reach out to those who are absorbed in such an art?
A:It’s too passionate for me, but I’m older.
Q:Tattoos (both devotional and non devotional art) – for devotees or not?
A:I personally don’t like them, but what can we do?
Q:Mrdanga and karatalas – spiritual instruments? Should it always be used? What about the use of other instruments? Is it just a time and place for everything?
A:We should make beautiful, attractive music in the mode of goodness so that people join in.
Q:Sweets – How much, how often?
A:Speak to a nutritionist.
Q:Muci/suci – how high should the standard should be?
A:We should be clean but not obsessive.
Q:Male and female association – how closely should devotees of opposite sex interact with each other?
A:To the extent that we do not degrade our mind or body.
Q:Same sex relationships – this is something that is becoming more and more socially acceptable and fitting in with society is what Krishna West is all about, right?
A:Everyone begins their spiritual practice from their present position. People are what they are and we try to help them.