Why Are You Against the Movies?

I have read amazing articles by Hare Krishna devotees about amazing movies like Star Wars. I even read an article about the 2009 film Avatar and an editorial from an Indian BTG issue in English that was about Harry Potter. At the same time, you write articles that attack people’s love for going to the movies, thus forcing them to stop. Why are against this fun and exciting experience of going to the movies? Are you against entertainment or something? Please write back. And please don’t give me a “What do you think?” Because I don’t have a clue.
Narottam Cecil
Via the Internet

Our reply: As the editors of BTG, we’re always somewhat uncomfortable when devotees submit articles about movies. Srila Prabhupada clearly did not want his disciples to go to movies, and when a devotee writes about a movie, that suggests he or she went to see it, whether or not that’s true. We know that at least one article you mention was written by someone who didn’t see the movie but only read about it. In any case, your letter suggests that our concerns are warranted, since you seem to have taken devotees’ writing about movies as possible justification for going to movies.

One could argue that seeing a movie to write a Krishna conscious article about it is ok. Still, the general rule is that everything in a devotee’s life should be directly connected to Krishna. The purpose of the rules devotees follow is to always remember Krishna. Even if you occasionally remember Krishna while watching a movie, the practice of Krishna consciousness is to do things directly connected to Krishna, such as hearing about Him and chanting His holy names. Mundane movies are not in that category.

With few exceptions, going to movies is sense gratification, pure and simple, and serious devotees are diligently trying to replace sense gratification with Krishna consciousness and devotional service. The practice is bhakti-yoga, and it requires discipline. Neither Srila Prabhupada nor any of his disciples with disciples of their own would recommend going to movies. You might think it’s enjoyable, but that enjoyment is harmful to your real self-interest, your progress in spiritual life.

Here’s one example of the many times Srila Prabhupada spoke against movie-going:

The materialistic persons, they are simply busy for satisfying the senses. Go to the hotel, satisfy the tongue, go to the cinema, hear the cinema song, see nice girls, and so on, so on. But these devotees are not interested at all. The cinema is here, a few steps away, but you will never see a student or a disciple of Krishna consciousness go to that nonsense place. . . . It is practical. The more you engage yourself in devotional service, the more you will forget your sense gratification process. And as soon as you become completely detestful of sense gratification, then you are a liberated person, fit for going back to home, back to Godhead. This is the process. (Lecture, Bombay, 26 November 1974)

If you find these points hard to accept, we suggest you read books by Srila Prabhupada and his disciples and become more convinced of their essential message. Life is short, and success in life – attaining pure love for God – is difficult to attain. We don’t have time to waste by watching movies. Besides, once you taste the spiritual pleasure of Krishna consciousness, the so-called enjoyment of anything this word has to offer will pale in comparison.

Categories of Yoga

Thanks to Hari Parayana Dasa for the excellent analytical treatise on bhakti [Bhakti: The Only Transcendental Yoga,” Nov/Dec 2015], from both Srila Prabhupada’s and Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura’s points of view. My question: Where do ordinary sthane sthitah shruti-gatam [translated in the reply below] like us fall in this categorization, and with what level of progress/success?
Pankaj Patel
Via the Internet

Hari Parayana Dasa replies: In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.20.7) Krishna recommends jnana-yoga for those who wish to reject the material world, and karma-yoga for those who have great attachment to material pleasures. But a sadhaka, a serious practitioner of bhakti-yoga, is different – neither very disgusted with nor very attached to material life (Bhag. 11.20.8).

Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti classifies devotees who have material desires as sakama-karma-mishra bhaktas (Gita 7.16). Yet these devotees are (still) very dear to Krishna (Gita 7.18, Vishvanatha’s commentary). The condition of a devotee unable to give up material desires is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.20.27-28. Such a devotee condemns material enjoyment but cannot help partaking of it. Yet the devotee continues to worship Krishna with faith and determination. Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti writes, “He does not have inclination to unfavorable things to the same extent that he has firm determination for bhakti.”

Such a person will eventually succeed: “When an intelligent person engages constantly in worshiping Me through loving devotional service as described by Me, his heart becomes firmly situated in Me. Thus all material desires within the heart are destroyed.” (Bhag. 11.20.29) When we allow the sun of krishna-katha (Krishna discussion) to shine in our heart, darkness cannot remain.

Therefore, sthane sthitah shruti-gatam – hearing krishna-katha from devotees while remaining situated in our current position – is the correct method, and approved by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 8.68). To advance in bhakti, we need not remove ourselves from our present responsibilities. Rather, we advance in bhakti by the primary method of bhakti: hearing and chanting about Krishna.


In the Nov/Dec 2015 issue, Figure 3 in the article “Bhakti: The Only Transcendental Yoga” incorrectly indicates a progression from “Paramatma realization” to “Merging into the impersonal Brahmajyoti.” The Paramatma-realized yogi does not go on to merge into the brahmajyoti, and Paramatmarealization does not come from jnana but from ashtanga-yoga. We apologize for the error, which the author had corrected but somehow still made it into print.