March 21, 2020
Invitation to Participate
Please accept my humble pranams. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
This is to inform you of a Vaishnava community writing project in which you are invited to participate. In brief, it is about sharing your thoughts, reflections, and inspirations on the basis of some portion of the Second Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, by writing (a maximum of 1200 words).
One very powerful way of fixing one’s attention on shastra is to read with the aim of responding-in-writing to what one has read. The writing process calls upon us to collect our thoughts and make them coherent, comprehensible, and interesting for others. This process can be thought of as a form of kirtanam—glorification—that can be enlivening for oneself and for those who will read your writing.
You are invited to participate in this project, with the possibility of having your writing published. Here are some details of how this will work:
1. For this project, we are concentrating exclusively on Canto 2 of Srimad Bhagavatam. Your ‘task’ will be to select some passage—it may be only one verse, or several verses, or a whole chapter, or indeed one single word of a verse—as a springboard for reflection, showing how you appreciate this particular passage. There are any number of ways you could go about this, but you may find it helpful to imagine a specific audience—a friend, relative, acquintance, or even some famous person—whom you wish to address and whom you would like to help connect to the Bhagavatam, to Krishna.
2. You are welcome to refer to specific verses as well as to a specific passage in one or more of Srila Prabhupada’s purports. Be careful not to unnecessarily copy what we can all read in the Bhagavatam. The idea is to bring forth your own voice, your own way of thinking, from your own experience. At the same time, be careful not to become self-indulgent, rambling on about yourself. Try to find a balance and complementarity between the Bhagavatam’s voice and your own voice.
3. Be coherent: try to have one single message or reflection to communicate as clearly and succinctly as possible. It might be that you want to share how a certain personality in Canto 2 gives you inspiration; or how you find it difficult to imagine such person living in the 21st century; or how after years of wondering how to grasp a particular passage, it now makes sense to you; or why you find a certain passage off-putting or troubling; or how, if you were to make a film representing a certain narrative, you would do such-and-such; or how you think some idea in this canto could be applied to resolve a problem (your own, a family’s, or of the wider public); or how a certain passage puts into perspective for you some event reported recently in the news…. These are just broad suggestions. There are no hard-and-fast rules, except to write with sincerity and for the purpose of self-purification.
4. Self-editing: After you have written a draft of your reflection, leave it aside for a few days or a week. Then come back to it and re-read it with a critical eye. See if you can improve it in any way (especially, to “tighten” it and thereby make it shorter and clearer). Next, have a trusted friend read it and give constructive criticism. After noting whatever improvements the friend suggests, go back and revise your writing (not that you have to accept whatever your friend suggests, but you can take it into account).
5. If English is not your first language but you have written your piece in English, please try to have someone whose English is better than yours go through it for language improvements. Or you can write in your own language and find a friend who could translate it into English.
6. When you have completed your piece and have edited it as best you can, please send it via email, as a DOC file, to my assistant Lalitamrita Dasi – firstname.lastname@example.org — latest by June 30, 2020. Please include your name and email address on the document. Also, give your reflection an appropriate (hopefully catchy) title. I will explain later what will happen next with your written SB-2 reflection…
7. If there are any questions, please write to Lalitamrita Dasi [not to Krishna Kshetra Swami, who is busy with his own various writing projects].
Looking forward to reading your Bhagavatam reflection!
With best wishes,
Krishna Kshetra Swami