A Welcome Gift For The Elderly—An MP3 Player
By Ananta Sesa Dasa
The Vaisnava answer to Weird Al Yankovic, Yama Niyama Dasa Bramanchari, sings: So, go out and get yourself one big, fat iPod with so many gigabytes everyone will say, “Oh, my God”. Don’t fill it up with silly songs by bearded men with cheap sunglasses. You should be downloading Bhagavatam classes.
While a silly lyric, it has a very important message, and that is that technology, like all things, can be put to a spiritual usage. In the past, if a devotee were to live in isolation, far from a temple or the association of other devotees, it would be very difficult to hear the spiritual message of the Lord. However, technology has united the world and given us so many wonderful ways to receive sastra.
For many senior devotees, health problems have forced them into isolation, and for them, this new technology is crucial. This story helps to explain why:
Once upon a time back in Singapore, we gifted an elderly Mataji a tiny mp3 player with headset preloaded with our Gita mp3’s – sung in Sanskrit & recited in English + our real-time Mangalarati program! She simply fell in love with it! She had weak eyes so could not read for long hours any longer… Next time I saw her, she grabbed my hand and enthusiastically kept saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for the mp3 player – it is LIFE!”
Many senior devotees have found themselves in nursing homes and hospice facilities where they are surrounded by karmis. This can have a devastating effect on the spiritual well-being of the devotee. However, the simple gift of an MP3 player pre-loaded with Kirtan, Hari Katha, and so forth, can benefit the spiritual well-being greatly.
In the Introduction to Sri Isopanisad, Srila Prabhupada states:
The Vedas are not compilations of human knowledge. Vedic knowledge comes from the spiritual world, from Lord Kṛṣṇa. Another name for the Vedas is śruti. Śruti refers to that knowledge which is acquired by hearing. It is not experimental knowledge.
Vedic knowledge is called śabda-pramāṇa. Another name is śruti. Śruti means that this knowledge has to be received simply by aural reception. The Vedas instruct that in order to understand transcendental knowledge, we have to hear from the authority. Transcendental knowledge is knowledge from beyond this universe.
So, when we consider that knowledge of the Absolute Truth must be received aurally, it becomes clear that MP3/IPOD technology is a gift from the Lord Himself to allow us to constantly hear about Him and to help us keep our minds firmly fixed upon Him.
This technology is available at a very small cost, and one devotee has given access to three free downloads which can be used to cast out all negative non-Krsna-nama-lila thoughts and focus the elderly devotee’s mind solely on harinama. These downloads are available at:
Given the ease of this exercise, it has been requested that anyone who has access to an elderly devotee in need should give a loaded MP3 player to that person. When purchasing the player, please keep in mind that many people are not tech-savvy, so make sure that the player is easy to use. Generally speaking, the fewer buttons the better.
The ideal model could simply be turned on to listen and turned off to stop without the need to search or set. Whichever model is gifted, please take the time to explain how to use the device, and make sure that the devotee understands how to set the volume. Playing at a high volume can lead to deafness, so stress the importance of finding the lowest volume at which it can be heard and comprehended.
Srila Prabhupada understood the value of technology when used for the highest purpose, and took advantage of it to spread Krsna Consciousness all over the world. He recorded his talks, lectures, and classes on the best quality reel-to-reel recorder that was available in 1965. Now, 50 years on, devotees can still hear the voice of Prabhupada as he chants the Holy Names and discourses on topics of great importance.
All devotees should seek to fill every hour of every day with “hearing and chanting about Krsna”, but this is even more important for the devotee in old age. The gift of a pre-loaded MP3 player would allow the devotee “to hear the voice of Srila Prabhupada, or to mentally attend Mangal Arati at Mayapur just by closing their eyes and hearing the recording of it.”
As one devotee wrote, “we need to make it as simple as possible for them and thus empower them in their fragile old age, to fully benefit from this most important moment of their lives—the Final Examination—to fix their minds upon the lotus feet of Sri Krsna by the Mercy of Sri Guru.”
PS. Please donate generously for our MP3 program here. Thank you!
Arnold A. Smith II, M.A.;D.D. (Ananta Sesa Dasa)
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Youngstown State University
401 DeBartolo Hall
Youngstown OH 44555
“Religion without philosophy is sentiment, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.”