In this page I have tried to not exclude anything, or
anyone who with relevant words can support the philosophy of Krishna consciousness,
consequently there are many quotes and names unfamiliar in devotee literature.
As gold can be extracted from a dirty place, a good wife from that of a
lowly family, so similarly wisdom and wit can be found in the words of
In London 1977, at Bhaktivedanta Manor a skit was enacted depicting Bhakta Burfi, the new Bhakta who had just wrecked his fifth car that week. He was hauled into the Temple President's office to account for his actions. "Bhakta Burfi," said the T.P., "What have you been doing? This is the fifth car that you've smashed up this week. Didn't you read the 'Highway Code'?" "Er, sorry prabhu," replied Bhakta Burfi, "but....you er, told us not to read anyone else's books except Srila Prabhupada's........!!!"
The art of telling a story or anecdote is possessed by
few true artists. It is an art I would dearly love to possess.
You know, .....the ability to tell a story crisply, make all the points that are necessary, may adopt any accent compatible with the situation, even present a parody of something known, then hold your audience waiting, and enjoy the roar of laughter that goes up on the punch line.
"Humour, is the contemplation of the finite from the point
of view of the infinite" (Christian Morgensten, 1871-1914); "For a man
learns more quickly and remembers more easily that which he laughed at,
than that which he approves of, and that which he approves and reveres"
(Horace, B.C. 65-8). Humour often involves seeing the unexpected in expected
situations, or even the ridiculous occurring in place of ordinary events,
i.e. doing something quite normal in a funny way, and often very predictable.
It was quite common in days of yore to use various forms of humour to cover a multitude of ends. Even it is said, "Jesters do often prove prophets........frame thy mind to mirth and merriment, which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life" (Shakespeare 1546-1616). "It better befits a man to laugh at life than to lament over it" (Senaca 3-65 A.D). "It is a great loss to a person when they cannot smile and freely laugh. Laughing is the best tonic to keep one healthy" (Shivananda born 1887). "That older and greater church to which I belong; the church where the oftener you laugh the better, because by laughter only can you destroy evil without malace, and affirm good fellowship without mawkishness!"(George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950).
In different circles different humour was used for different
purposes. For the Brahmins, points of philosophy were brought out, and
truths allowed to reveal themselves etc.; for the Kshatriyas managerial
scenarios, and weaknesses of enemies revealed, and even made the brunt
of the joke. For the Vaishyas ploys of cheating in business, 'the spinning
of a good yarn', so to speak, that those cloth, gold and grain merchants,
and other traders are so good at. Although the Shudra community's humour
was and is usually centred around women, sex, or forms of intoxication,
or their particular chores or work, or the irony of their position etc.,
........still the same ends were achieved by one and all, in each of the
varnas. Humour is funny because people can identify with what is being
portrayed, which is why different people find different thing funny or
Sometimes there are ways of putting over humour that can express feelings, or say things that couldn't be said directly, or reveal the short comings of real life situations, that cannot be said otherwise. "Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only one intelligent enough to be struck by the difference between what things are, and what they might have been" (Hazlitt, 1778-1830).
There is an old saying, "Humorists are those persons who talk sensibly to the masses with a wit about a controversy"(unknown origin).
With many, humour and sharp wit have become almost like
a sub-culture in themselves, and so enjoying rasas (mellows) with friends
in an 'in house' sporting repetior of fast comments which are relevant,
funny, enlivening and enlightening give great pleasure.
Observations taken from incidents that happen to us, or around us, form many of the funniest jokes known to us. The innocence of childhood, attributes and antics of animals, and ridiculous situations that occur in life we have all experienced, and the realisations gained often graphic beyond belief, scenes taken from abject social convention, and expectation.
One liners too, have their place in teaching us the oh too necessary lessons to be learned. There is also what is termed as black humour, like sardon, sarcasm etc., and which show the ironic, cynical or even bitter side of life. But there is a protective valve of ethics too, "A laugh costs too much when brought at the expense of virtue"(Quintilian, 35-90 A.D.) and, "A bitter jest, when it come too near the truth, leaves a sharp sting behind it" (Tacitus, 55-117 A.D.) consequently, "Thou can'st not joke an enemy into a friend, but thou may'st a friend into an enemy"(Franklin, 1706-1790), so be careful in one's wit and intent.
"I have observed that in comedy, the best actor
plays the part of droll,
while some scrubbed rogue is made the hero, or fine gentleman.
So, in this farce of life, wise men pass their time in mirth, whilst fools only are serious."
Humour is not only confined to side splitting invocations, or frivolity. Humour has all the subtleties of deep philosophical debate, when in the hands of an artist of that discipline. Humour does not only mean that which makes one laugh, for introspection, and realisation too, are often gained forthwith. On analysing the word humour it is very broad in its connotation. From fun; amusement; raillery; pleasantry; merriment; entertainment; and facetiousness it can also mean as in rasa or mellow; mood; disposition; fancy; temperament; tendency etc.
Lord Sri Krishna is called by Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami the Supreme Joker (N.O.D. Ch 30.), and we see how He taunted, teased,
joked and had great fun in general with the young cowherd girls of Vrindavan
to their hidden delight. And with his childhood friends the cowherd boys
of Vrindavan jocularity took unlimited forms. The same is found with the
Lord's humour that Krishna used towards His wives in Dwaraka.
As we look through our Vaishnava Sampradaya also we see many of the devotees mentioned there, were of great intellect and sharp wit. Sri Narad Muni, Srila Vyasadeva, Sripad Madhwacarya, Sripad Tikacarya Jaya Tirtha, Sripad Vyasa Tirtha, Srila Baladev Vidyabhusana, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura, and our Srila Prabhupada. For instance in "the little Red Prabhupad Nectar books" there are so many little words of wisdom, and humorous stories etc. In fact there are so many examples of amazing wit and depictive skills, that they are too numerous to include all here, some of the lesser known ones I have included. But where others have done an expert job in their portrayal, we humbly stand and applaud at the work that others have done, and retire to depict some more.
Many of you would have read the little "Prabhupada Nectar," series of red books which were a collection of Srila Prabhupada's sayings, instructions, light hearted remarks, stories and interactions with devotees. Personally I enjoyed them very much. Srila Prabhupada's wit is so down to earth, yet transcendentally situated. From the appreciation of Charlie Chaplain's coat tails being ripped up the back, to intricate or cultural humour of Gopal Bhan, Birbal and Hitopadesh. 'Though a very serious, and pure devotee, he found ways to enliven others, embellishing stories, analogies etc., through his own special brand of Vaishnava humour. When listened to on audio tape, the sound of Srila Prabhupada chuckling as he tells a story, imitating the noises of yogis snoring 'in meditation', or more seriously as he makes the philosophical point, so hilariously profound............is nothing short of infectious.
Feeling inspired by such a wonderful and yet funny devotee
we have compiled this little "joke page" called "Hasya Rasa" hoping that
devotees can use it to assist their preaching, if they feel so inclined.
We do not agree in the slightest with the second part of the statement of Mark Twain, "The secret source of humour itself is not joy but sorrow, there is no humour in heaven," although sometimes the first part is true in some cases, or at least in regard to seeing our short-comings in a different light, which we can handle!
My biological father was a very clever, witty and funny
and yet very real man, an intellectual, yet simple. I like to think much
of my conditioning and humour came from him, as well as my genes. Many,
and quite rightly would say.......does he have a lot to answer for. Specifically
in this case we are talking of humour.
I am not perfect, by any means, and these days I am honest enough to not profess to be so (like I used to). The objective is still in sight and the path well trod, the difference today is that I don't live to try to falsely impress, or try to live another's life. Be as they may these are some of my many faults, but I am a happier man today ! "The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none"(Carlyle, 1795-1881) "Folly loves the martyrdom of Fame"(Byron, 1788-1824), then what to speak of infamy......!
Unlike the humour of persons like Vivekananda, we are not just out to tell some nonsense jokes, attracting the minds of elderly widows and children (A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad, Mayapura, Feb' 18th 1976), although some of the material herein are real corkers.
In the words of an old friend, H.H. Vipramukhya Swami from his booklet, "How to give a good class," he says how a devotee once told him, "To give a good class quote a shlok and crack a joke !"
A smile costs nothing, but gives much
It enriches those who receive,
without making poorer those who give,
it takes but a moment,
but the memory of it sometimes lasts for ever.
The same is to be said of philosophy, allegories,
analogies, parody, etc., portrayed through the medium of humour. Many persons
throughout history both devotee and non-devotee have realised the power
of humour. There is a saying, "You can't hold back a good laugh anymore
you can the tide, or as I have sadly proven in my time, amoebic dysentery.
They are controlled by the forces of nature!"
In fact the Ayurvedic medical texts suggests to live a healthy life certain things cannot and should not be held back. They are; yawning, passing air, passing urine, passing stools, the shedding of tears, and laughing. Any one if restrained/suppressed or repressed will cause sickness latter on, be it mental or physical. Although there is a time and place for everything!!!
"As the face is the index of the mind"(unknown), "Laughter is that sensation of feeling good all over, and showing it principally in one spot"(Josh Billings, 1815-1885) "How much lies in laughter; the cipher key, wherewith we decipher the whole man" (Carlyle, 1795-1881).
As with health, so similarly with Krishna consciousness,
there are many examples to be found which bring about a good belly laugh
to us all, and in other places humorous, yet thoughtful contemplation.
Seeing our own frailties, short-comings and materialistic traits exposed
through humorous situations, and to laugh at ourselves openly, helps has
been proven to be one of the least painful ways to invoke the much needed
humility sought by good and pious souls in this mayic world, .........to
get through to us past the barrier of false ego, as well as to develop
the detachment which is so necessary in spiritual life, to keep us from
seeing this world as being the all in all.
Some people take things so seriously that they cannot share relationships of any manner of interactive humour, ..........their poor hearts so heavy with the burdens of material life, and the reasons that they are here to exploit, that envy like a volcano rises to interject and cough up even the punch line to ruin the fun of others.
Where ever I go I keep my eyes and ears open to what I can use in the future, it's just the way I am. And I write them down, take them home and store them amid megabytes of little bits of nectar, be they examples, analogies, or "the writings on the wall." Once I saw the following rhyme scribed on a wall where poets, graffitite's and other lost souls spend much of their time waiting for a local bus.
With a dagger poised I could poke
The man there's no defending,
Who, when I'm telling folks a joke
Supplies the funny ending !
Anyway............each of us, I'm sure, will get something out of this book according to our particular nature and development of our Krishna consciousness.
Although it is true that there is an adult section in this book, and it may have been the reason for your selection. Do not fear, you could tell them to your grandmother. Our purpose is not to be course, smutty and thus offend, and I hope that nothing in this book will be taken that way. Rather if something does come close to the bone, reflect and see why it disturbs you - could it be, maybe that something is being revealed, or something hiding that has not yet been worked through.
It has been said that God Himself appears like a great comedian; it's only the audience who are afraid to laugh.
On that note, "Laughter is an internal convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises"(Ambrose Bierce, 1842-1914), I worry about that man.....!
Rest assured everyone will get a little fun poked at us
in this book, if you are sensitive on topics touched on in this book, I
suggest you read them with someone who has a good sense of humour (rasa).
Try and see the nature of this world, please don't get too caught up in
what we all think we are, our little illusion of grandeur. The jiva soul
in its pristine state is none of these things; man, woman, brahmin, sannyasi,
white, black, Indian, Australian, Hindu, Christian, Moslem, clever, thick,
cat nor dog, nor cow! Yet, due to our attachment for a particular type
of pleasure separate from the service of the Lord we have taken, been given
these forms. So, ride the storm, see who we really are, and remember -
Just as a passing piece of information; Did you know also, that it takes 32 muscles in the face to create a frown, and only 16 to smile. So lighten up, conserve energy, relax, and smile.
Let's hope and pray that this book gives some pleasure and realisation to you all, the readers. But Lo..........even if that doesn't happen, I will have had the last laugh of selling this non-refundable book to you.
So let's see if anything happens here, and what the reaction
is! Hare Krishna.
Jaya Tirtha Charan dasa ? ??