“Caitanya Monks” (06/11/07)
Daṇḍavats _____ Mahārāja,
I have been thinking about profile and presentation, particularly our profile and presentation outside India and to a broader audience.
Thus, I have come up with the idea to single out and try to make better known the order of tridaṇḍi-sannyāsa in the west — not watering down the rules or the conception of tridaṇḍi-sannyāsa, but simply giving it an upgrade/change of dress (monks robes) and a name that people can both pronounce and identify with.
For example, I have always thought that “Vaiṣṇava’ was awkward for people to pronounce and the holy name is not present if someone only utters ‘Vaiṣṇava’. On the other hand, “Kṛṣṇa Monks” is direct, but that leads most people to lump us in with iskcon and we spend extra time explaining that we are not iskcon (not Hare Kṛṣṇas).
I remember when Śrīla Guru Mahārāja was asked how to keep our identy separate from iskcon and he replied “Grow a beard and wear a turban.” OK, we have done that and it works to some extent. The color of our sannyāsa dress has also helped to separate us from iskcon, but I think we have to continue to hone the look of our identity a little more.
I think that our cloth color and our new ‘monks robes’ (in various colors) are good, but the quest is, who are we? What do we call ourselves? What’s our name? Every time I hear these questions answered I hear something different.
Where I am headed with this is to suggest a name by which our mission’s sannyāsīs in the west can be known. Once choosing a name I want to also register a .org domain and develop a site something like Rational Vedanta, but exclusively about our sannyāsa order.
Keep in mind that Catholic monk orders are simple like Franciscan monks, Trappist monks, Benedictine monks and so on.
The name I have in my mind is “Caitanya Monks” for the plural and “Caitanya Monk” for the singular.
When asked who you are we would reply, ” I belong to the order of Caitanya Monks.”
Of course people ask, “What’s that?” and we have to keep on explaining and educating them but at least with a name like “Caitanya Monks” we would have an identity slightly different from iskcon and a name which I think most people could easily pronounce.
I also like “Tridaṇḍi Monks” but when saying ‘tridaṇḍi’ the holy name is not present. If someone says “Caitanya Monk” then they get the benefit of chanting the holy name.
Looking forward to receiving your reply.