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By Palaka das
Many devotees within ISKCON are now chanting this Hare Krishno and Hare
Ramo style of kirtans all around the world. Most simply follow what they are
being shown by the leading men and think nothing of it. Its become the norm
as these kirtan leaders explain it away as nothing more than a simple Bengali
pronunciation, so there is no harm. Yes, it is true that in Bengali language an
a can sound like an o. However, this Hare Krishna maha-mantra is not a
Bengali mantra, it is a Sanskrit mantra. Thus an a remains an a not an o.
Our founder acharya, Srila Prabhupada, also a native Bengali, does not chant
this Hare Krishno, Hare Ramo Bengali style in any of his kirtans. Nor will we
find any examples of this type of chanting in the multitude of his recordings.
Neither in any of those same recordings do we hear his early followers respond
back with anything other than Hare Krishna and Hare Rama. And on that
extremely rare occasion where a disciple dared to deviate, Prabhupada quickly
put an end to it.
In this connection, there is a not so publicized pastime which took place
between Srila Prabhupada and his leading kirtan man, Vishnujana Swami,
which now should be told.
Vishnujana Swami was singing the Hare Krsna mantra where he had
deliberately changed Hare Rama to Hare Ramo because he had heard it being
sung that way in India. When Srila Prabhupada noticed this change, he
immediately stopped him by asking Who is this Ramo?.

Vishnujana Swami looked up and

disciple with these exact words,
that, Srila Prabhupada continued
Rama and then went on his way.

said nothing as Srila Prabhupada rebuked his

to correct Vishnujana Swami by saying, Its
(told by Vishnujana Swami to Mahamuni das)

I had heard this pastime told before, but I could not honestly write about it
until I was certain I had traced it back as close to the original source as
possible. After much research, I was lead to my old friend, Mahamuni das
prabhu. When we finaly talked, it turned out Mahamuni prabhu personally
heard this Ramo pastime directly from Vishnujana Swami himself. One day
Vishnujana Swami was glorifying the Holy Name and revealing some of his
realizations when he decided to shared this as well as other valuable instruction
Srila Prabhupada personally gave him on chanting Hare Krishna.
For the record, Mahamuni prabhu was one of the bus drivers for Radha
Damodara Traveling Sankirtana Party and had a close friendship with
Vishnujana Swami. Those who knew Mahamuni prabhu will also know how he is
very outspoken about changing Rama to Ramo especially when he hears it
happening. Having been personally told this Ramo instruction by Vishnujana
Swami, Mahamuni prabhu was one of the few devotees to speak out against it
when it first was being introduced in ISKCON kirtans back in the 80s. Thirty
years later, we see it has reaching epidemic status primarily because most
devotees just never heard what Srila Prabhupada had to say.
When we chant on our japa beads, we never chant Hare Krishno or Hare Ramo
so why should we be chanting this way in kirtan, especially now since we know
what Srila Prabhupada told his leading kirtan man, Vishnujana Swami?