Dhanurdhara Swami August 4th, 2001
New Ekachakra Dham
This is our second attempt at organizing a weekend retreat. Our prime objective; to give devotees living in the world concentrated periods for Krishna consciousness beyond just hours during the day or week. We also tried something new this retreat, a visual art show of community devotees. Our general objective was to make Krishna consciousness more inclusive. I divided this into three specific objectives:
- To encourage individual devotees with artistic talents in the community of Vaisnavas.
- To encourage the community of Vaisnavas at large that Krishna consciousness is inclusive of individuality and creativity.
- To make Krishna consciousness more accessible to the general public, specifically artists.
Many people who could appreciate the wealth of culture and wisdom in Krishna consciousness perhaps never do because of preconceived notions of what Krishna consciousness is based on the history and how it has been presented. They see it as too restrictive, conformist, or cloistered. Artistic devotees and their visual art, or art in general, could serve as a bridge to communicate Krishna consciousness to such people, especially in the general area around New York City, a region that produces and attracts creative people.
A question arose: Does the art in our show have to be directly Krishna consciousness and traditional? My general opinion: No, although in many ways that’s ideal. Devotees are of different levels of commitment in different stages of their spiritual journey. To restrict their form of visual expression to traditional Krishna conscious art could be repressive to their creative expression, and might alienate those who need such an outlet for their innate creative impulse.
The essence is chanting and hearing about Krishna, but to make people comfortable to interact and participate in a community based on those ideals, they need to see the Krishna conscious community as inclusive, or at least supportive, of their essential – not illicit – attachments.
After the art show and the superb feast we were scheduled to have a discussion about the art show. Mahatma Prabhu was singing beautiful kirtans in the temple to help congregate the devotees. The consensus of the devotees and the artists (let’s do kirtan), however confirmed a certain inkling I had about today’s program. When a religious community takes care of the needs if its members the members become much more serious about their religion.