Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Yesterday while sitting in the dentist’s chair the assistant who was about to execute the cleaning of my teeth asked, “Do you celebrate Christmas?”
“Yes, I said, in a unique kind of way. We love Jesus and his teachings. We (meaning our resident monks at the temple) will conduct an extra period for chanting.” This was precisely what we did and I took the chance to sing the Hare Krishna maha-mantra to the tune of “What child is this?”, a Christmas carol. It worked perfectly. When you consider that some of the melodies applied to the Hare Krishna chant are Bollywood or romantic tunes then I have no misgivings about using a traditional Christian tune which is very devotional.
Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, did not lay hard and fast rules on melodies used. He always emphasized a devotional approach to everything. He did express some preference to traditional tunes as used in Bengal by Gaudiya Acharyas, or teachers in the line of Caitanya. Devotion or Bhakti was always the main point.
The day of Christmas was indeed serene. Hardly an automobile engine could be heard from inside the temple. The evening was also blessed with quiet. Two monks and I braved the glassy-iced ravine for an up and down walk-and-slide experience while occasionally breaking into the mantra using the “What child is this?” melody. It all fit together so well; chanting, good association, fresh air, and a great tune.