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March 31, 1972 : Bombay

Lokanath: On the evening of 31 March, there had been a temple programme at the Radha-Rasabihari temple. Srila Prabhupada had just concluded the programme and I was given the opportunity to thank everyone and announced that the next day was Rama-navami. I encouraged everyone to attend a special programme at the temple the next day, enticing them with the prospect of huge celebrations for the appearance day of Lord Ramachandra. I thought that since it was Rama-navami, we could do something different like singing raghupati raghava raja-ram, patita-pavana sita-ram and chanting of Hare Krishna. In my excitement I announced, "We will have Ram dhun tomorrow."

Almost immediately I heard Srila Prabhupada's voice objecting, "What is this Ram dhun? We will have Hare Krishna kirtana." Srila Prabhupada was not interested in Ram dhun because it had been popularized by his contemporary, Mahatma Gandhi, in the 1930's. Mahatma Gandhi had deviated from the original dhun. His new version was "raghupati raghava raja-ram, patita-pavana sita ram. isvara allah tero nam, saba ko sanmati de bhagavan." Srila Prabhupada had said that Gandhi's aim with the dhun was to appease and unite the Hindus and Muslims and to gain the support of the Indian population. This deviated dhun was not in the mood of pure devotional service.

I remember seeing a letter wherein Srila Prabhupada had indicated that he had no problem with the first two lines of the Ram dhun "raghupati raghava raja-ram, patita-pavana sita-ram." However, he always felt that it was better to adhere to the singing of the mahamantra. My spiritual master had shown me mercy by correcting me. We need to maintain the authenticity and purity of our sampradaya, as followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He always said that as Gaudiya Vaishnavas, the Hare Krishna mahamantra was a mantra for all occasions. Thus, any festival could be successfully celebrated with the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra.

Reference: In Conversation with Srila Prabhupada - Lokanath Swami