Srila Prabhupada wanted kirtana as an act of devotion
Posted on April 12, 2017
Laksmi Nrsimha: Gurupuja was about to begin and I had positioned myself half way between the singer and Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada’s vyasasana was to my left and the microphone was twenty feet in front of Srila Prabhupada’s direct sight. I won’t say the name of the devotee, who was leading the kirtan for posterity sake, but they had a reputation for having a kind of orchestrated kirtan approach and they were proud of their kirtan. The singer, who did have a good voice and was a good performer from that perspective, stepped up to the microphone as Srila Prabhupada sat on the vyasasana in a very meditative mood. The devotee began to sing very melodically, “Sri guru carana padma.” (sings melodically)
He was totally into it and all the kartal players and mridanga players were also totally into it. Srila Prabhupada was sitting there and his eyes opened up and he said, “Stop the kirtan.” Everybody froze. The kartal players froze. The singer froze. Literally his mouth was open. I was at such a great vantage point as I was not far from him and not far from Prabhupada. It was just like, “Stop the film right there on that frame”. Just for a moment it seemed like an eternity and I’m sure that was the case in the mind of the singer. Prabhupada then said to Nitai Chand Goswami who was standing right in front of me, “Nitai Chand, you lead kirtan.” Nitai Chand said, “Okay, Srila Prabhupada”. Someone handed him the mridanga and he started to lead the kirtan.
What I took away from that experience, as that visual is permanently in my heart, because I like to lead kirtan, was that Srila Prabhupada first of all was very particular about our mood in leading kirtan. I could see that Prabhupada did not like any trace of pride or any kind of orchestration or seeing it as a musical performance. He wanted it as an act of devotion.
From Srila Prabhupada Remembrances ch. 51