“Sentimentalists, sahajiyas and swooning”


Srila Bhakti Kanan Giri Maharaja sent the below email to Uddharan dasa on the 21st March 2019

Dear Sriman Uddharan dasa,

Please accept my humble dandavat pranamas.

Today is very auspicious for we are just on the cusp of celebrating Sriman Mahaprabhu’s appearance.

I think I haven’t heard from you since asking you to post my email to Hrday Krishna dasa and assumed you might be facing some ill health or that your work had become so consuming it prevented you from posting the email. I assumed the same regarding your unusually late posting of our Sri Gaura Purnima celebrations.

Now I am very pleased to see you have posted that news and am responding to one point I want to make with regard to this painting you chose to use:

It is very similar to the one used by the BBT on the cover of Cc Madhya 5, which must have been authorized either directly or indirectly (via his delegation of that decision to others) by Srila Prabhupada. Therefore, I cannot rightfully criticize its use. However, it is not my preference, for it reminds me too much of the sort of posing used by sahajiyas. There is a black and white movie Srila Prabhupada criticized to the extreme for this very reason. If you’ve seen that movie you’ll immediately recognize the resemblance in the two portrayals.

At some earlier time I think you found and used this painting:

This pose of Sriman Mahaprabhu, while similar to the one in the painting you chose, is not infused with the look of swooning, which caused Srila Prabhupada to object to the movie I mentioned that has the fault of arousing the suspicion that Mahaprabhu and his followers are mere sentimentalists, rather than Vedantists in the highest use of the term.

As a guideline to what I consider most appropriate for the public display of the Lord’s Divine Form I first look to the Deities fashioned or accepted for worship by our predecessor acharyas. They were intended from the outset to represent a dignified and appropriate form of the Lord to be viewed, worshiped and adored by devotees and non-devotees alike.

Because the Lord’s pastimes are unlimitedly varied, poses other than those of a Deity are also perfectly appropriated, if conceived and reproduced in a manner pleasing to our predecessors.

The example painting I provided above does not seem perfect to me, but perfection is very rare and I think it is sufficient for our purposes. It is extremely difficult to represent a transcendental form to a material eye. Nothing will do that. We can only select the best examples known and available to us.

If you have been suffering from illness like me I hope your recovery will be quick and complete. If you have been very busy with your work I know why you are doing it.

I am not able to proofread what I have written. I hope it is alright.

I pray this finds you and Srimati Lilavati Devi in good health and spirits.

Affectionately yours,

Swami B.K. Giri