Preaching through Attractive Presentation

Interesting talk about the term “Vedic”, the importance of clothing and of attracting people through quality rather than an exotic freak-show


There is no Sanskrit term for “Vedic culture” and yet it is frequently used, and there is no word and description in our scriptures of an ethnic tradition.

Real Vedic dress means in the mode of goodness, free of false pride and vanity. Clothes should not be sexy, to draw attention to the body and make people forget Krsna.

The problem is that we think Indian clothes are intrinsically superior. It takes much longer to put on a dhoti than pants and you can’t do practical work in it. There is superiority in Krsna Consciousness, but not in the dress or cooking. Devotees compare chaste Indian dress to unchaste Western dress. Before the Europeans came to India Indians dressed hardly at all. The idea that we have to re-ethicize the world is nowhere in any scripture. We think we have to give them a whole ethnical package.

Srila Prabhupada said Lord Caitanya’s movement was superior to Sankara, because Sankara first demanded of his followers to first take to rencounced order of life and then only you are able to practice spiritual life. Srila Prabhupada said that is not practical. Similarily we say first become ethnically Indian, then practice Bhakti Yoga. Whereas all we need to do is just add Krsna to our lives.

Are we concerned with the Indian Congregation and what they pray for? As long as we get donations they can pray what they want. What is really interesting is the spiritual science.

Superficially it creates solidarity but it makes relationships superficial. Instead of looking for character we see the dress. If you see someone doing something who looks like you it forces you to confront that activity, whereas if they look very strange you just keep it at a distance, you don’t have to consider it. If people walk down the street and saw “very normal people” chanting HARE Krsna the message would be “Maybe this is normal, maybe I should do it”. 

Q: On Harinam we don’t have to put on a freak show. We are obsessed about being different. There is a collective insecurity in ISKCON if we looked like normal people. We have bought ourselves into a psychology where we are afraid that without special advantages we can’t spread Krsna Consciousness.

If you wore normal clothes it would force you to make attractive music. Our desire to attract people would force us to improve our presentation. We make a distinction between impressing people.

People like to see exotic things, they like to clap but they would never consider doing it themselves. People should be able to identity with it and think “I can do that myself”.

The mistake is that everything Srila Prabhupada did was an eternal Vedic injunction whereas he often just tried what worked for a period of time.

Devotees go to city like Hamburg etc. and convince everybody that they are crazy and then they spend the next 20 years trying to convince everyone they are NOT crazy!