Om Sweet Om

Om Sweet Om


Get Him to the Hindu? On Russell Brand’s Sanskrit Brand

posted by Vineet Chander

With Russell Brand’s highly-anticipated (and raunchy) comedy “Get Him to the Greek” hitting theaters right about now, the controversial British comic is becoming quite the talk of the town this side of the pond. He even graces the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, in a shirtless kinda-Jim-Morrison-esque pose:

shirtless-russell-brand-rolling-stone-cover.jpgWait, did you catch that Hindu-looking tat on Brand’s inner bicep? Yup. He and fiancee Katie Perry actually got matching ink with a Sanskrit phrase.  Here’s a closer view:

tattoo_katieperry.jpg   

tattoo_russellbrand.jpg
What does it mean? And, really, what does it mean? Is bad-boy Brand officially declaring himself a Hindu convert? Or is this just another case of a celebrity dabbling in Indian exotica because its trending right now (cough, cough, Rihanna, cough, cough)?


Of course, Brand’s tattoo is far from his first contact with Hinduism. For years , the comic has said goodbye to his audiences by chanting the mantra “Hare Krishna,” leaving some to wonder whether the comic is seriously invoking the name of Lord Krishna, or merely setting us up for another gag (a gag with an X-rated punchline, no doubt).

When it comes to Hinduism his interest seems to be sincere. According to a piece in the Guardian a few years ago, Brand’s affiliation with the Hare Krishna movement, a Vaishnavite Hindu tradition, is more than just a publicity stunt:

Was Brand, who waffles about spirituality almost as much as his
sexual conquests, mocking his moral guardians in the media or saying
something more heartfelt?

“I’m a spiritual gent and increasingly
that’s the level I want to vibrate on, were it not for my crazed lust
for sex and glamour,” Brand intoned earlier this month. “I say Hare
Krishna as often as possible, sometimes even when I’m not being filmed,”
he wrote in his Guardian column 18 months ago, soon after the press
discovered his sporadic visits to the Krishna temple in Watford (George
Harrison’s home until he handed his door keys to the Hindu movement in
1973)…

Kripamoya Das, a priest at the
Watford temple…believes Brand takes the religion seriously
and was not using the chant frivolously. “We feel that he was saying
‘Hare Krishna’ in good faith and that there are two sides to everyone -
their external public life and their internal, spiritual life.”

(source)

According to other reports, Russell “feels indebted” to the Krishna movement for helping him to beat his notorious sex and drug addictions. 

In fact, Russell apparently even considers one Hindu master — Radhanath Swami — his spiritual mentor.

In an interview with the Observer Magazine, Brand recounted his first meeting with the Swami:

He had an encounter with a swami in Soho Square and it spun his head
around. Russell looked into the swami’s eye and the world dissolved, and
he became aware that everything is connected, atomically, and it’s
ludicrous to imagine we are separate from anything, when we are all just
vibrations. ‘I felt the absolute certainty that consciousness is in
tune with enlightenment, and I could access it. In the same way I feel
desire for a human, I felt desire for that; it was something that I
wanted, and it kind of made me blush.’

(read the full, bizarre interview here)

Russell also expressed his admiration for Radhanath Swami in other interviews, calling him a “beautiful fellow” who has “got the answer.”

(Full disclosure: Radhanath Swami, whom I have blogged about before, happens to be my own spiritual mentor… which would make Russell and me sort of, kind of, maybe god-brothers?!)

russell-brand-and-katy-perry-india1-300x275.jpgSo is Brand the real deal as far as being Hindu? Well yes and no. Yes, if we’re going by sincerity of purpose and genuine interest. No, if we’re expecting him to live up to some kind of Hindu poster-boy image. Brand struggles with his vices, habits, addictions, and drama. His interest in Hindu spirituality is one aspect of his persona. He’s got others. In other words, he’s human.

No doubt, some of the more conservative Hindus out there might still feel like distancing themselves from Brand or even speaking out against him. For them, his spiritual interests and moral transgressions or bawdy antics may seem impossible to reconcile. 

And it is an annoying but undeniable reality that there are certain opportunistic “leaders” in the Hindu community who seek to piggy-back on a celebrity’s flirtation with Hinduism in order to catch their own 15 minutes of fame. Such self-acclaimed “spokespersons” get to work pumping out press releases, condemning the celebrity for his or her “inappropriate use” of Hinduism… as long as it gets them quoted in some tabloid article as an authority on the faith.

Such critics might benefit from a less judgmental view, such as the one offered by Kripamoya Das, the Watford temple priest who was inclined to give Russell the benefit of the doubt. His take on Brand:

“He’s a unique character. He gives a certain amount of pleasure to a
certain amount of people. Like all of us, he is evolving the way that
his spirituality and sensuality mix.”

Well said, Kripamoyaji.

Oh, and as for those still wondering what Russell’s Sanskrit tattoo actually means… it’s supposed to say anugacchatu pravaha. Loosely translated, that means “Go with the flow.” When it comes to figuring out Brand’s relationship with Hinduism — and giving him the space to figure it out for himself — that may prove to the best advice of all.     



  • Anan E. Maus

    I just saw Get Him to the Greek. It was very funny. But I certainly will not be taking advice on Hinduism from Russell Brand anytime soon…
    well, thanks be to God that we can look to Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and all the Hindu saints for guidance in how to live our lives.
    I am pretty sure that if we started taking comedians as spiritual teachers we would all wind up in a deep hell pretty quickly.

  • Susan

    I can only state that Geneisis 1;1:, John 1;1:, Rev. 1;1: Still remains His Word.

  • Jade

    Not for me Susan. I gave up Christianity a long time ago. Very contradicting, controlling and chauvinistic that religion is!!

  • Leah

    Hi Vineet, Brand lives in the harsh light of fame. His sense of humor offends uptight people. And, uptight people come from all sects. My soul deems Brand human, flawed, and absolutely real. Discussing Hinduism with Brand would be thrilling; and, it might even be educational for a man like you Vineet. I would never discount a man’s faith or sincerity, as I could never know what is true in his soul. Alot of people assume that I am not trully Hindu because I have blond hair and blue eyes, but I did my research and I am absolutely Hindu in my soul, so Namaste is all I can say now.

  • Guy

    Humor and taste is a matter of perception as is what is and is not our own realities. We all come into this existence with our own gifts and purposes in life. If his gift to others is laughter then who are we to judge on how he does it or what his motives are. Behind closed doors he may live by the principles of all the prophets. Religion is about seperatism and judgement of others. Sprituality is about seeing all human beings as divine and connected not judged. Only in ourselves do we know if we walk the walk or talk the talk. And even then it is not for me to judge. I find him funny PERIOD. Namaste to all.

  • Corinne Myers

    I like him more and more.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/omsweetom Vineet Chander

    Great comments, everyone. I must confess that I haven’t yet seen “Get Him to the Greek” but I’m planning to. I also find the relationship between spirituality/religion and humor very interesting.
    @Leah… I agree 100% I would love the opportunity to sit down with Brand and talk about this stuff. Oh and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not Hindu because of your blond hair and blue eyes. Spirituality has nothing to do with skin color, eye color, hair color, or any other label connected to the material bodies we happen to be inhabiting at the moment. :-)
    @Susan… I’d welcome your comments and insights, but please stay on topic. I’m likely to consider random Bible verse postings to be SPAM or proselytizing, both of which are no-no’s here.

  • Leah

    Hi Vineet, thank you so much for your reply. I do often feel alone in my faith. My Christian mom-in-law lives with us, and she thinks I am going to burn for all eternity. She does not understand the Spiritual Path I have found; and she discounts my faith because all of my knowledge on Hinduism comes from books (it also comes from meditation, but she’ll never understand that). I do not know other Hindu people or where they go to worship. If you could get back to me & maybe let me know about Hinduism in my community on fb that would be awesome, I am on your friends list there. Peace be with all who see this…

  • dropadi

    Very nice.
    egards
    dropadi

  • http://www.clickastro.com Varsha

    I liked him too much now….
    really gr8

  • Danny

    I think this guy kinda wanker or jerk depending on your point of view. He can be rude and crude. I do not think that would please any religion.
    Is not true those Hinduism is Connected with Indian people as well as culture. I just ask this, since I have read and heard this. It like being a Jew in sense as well, so bit more then religion perse. Leah i just want to say that, I am sorry your mother in law feel this way. As a Christian, I understand where she coming from. Our tradition teaches only Jesus is the way and for many of us. We can not change that, but I want to tell I pray for you and your family. Maybe over time your show her more and she will be more respectful. I can tell you I am protestant and was raised catholic and me and my mum do not always agree even as fellow Christians.

  • V. Mac

    My God!, this has been here for much too long. Don’t you have anything else new to add? It seems like ages.

  • diasu nakh

    Mr. Brand did a great mistake by converting to hinduism.
    hinduism has more than 3 million gods. who is he gonna pray?
    there is no god except ALLAH. and MUHAMMAD S.A.W is his messenger!!!

  • NG

    Why is this article now becoming a religion bashing place? you guys are insecure and ignorant of the Hindu religion. Hinduism has no problem with the concept of one God, infact that is what is preaches. I have no idea why there is so much insecurity in you when it comes to idol worship. if you guys do not like idol worship then why bow to towards Kaba, where the square block is…Or is Allaha only in one place? yu are a looser if you make fun of other religions and remain ignorant!

  • Pearcie

    I am glad that Brand has shown a leaning towards Hinduism. I think that anyone who imagines a religion should distance itself from those whose “spiritual interests and moral transgressions or bawdy antics may seem impossible to reconcile” does not know enough about God. God, who is all-powerful, is well able to cope with loving all of the human race. We all struggle. Unfortunately for Brand, his struggle is out in the public domain, so he is open to all sorts of ignorant judgements. Christianity, Hinduism and Islam all contain within them the concept of struggle, and mastery over one’s demons. Those whose hearts are set upon the Divine will know that Love will overcome this. Those religions also warn that when one judges other people, we lay ourselves open to further judgement. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded a religious discipline within the Christian tradition said that every moment of every day, God is trying to initiate each of us to have a relationship with HIm. For me, watching Brand (and others) trying to respond to that “prodding” is great. God bless you Russell – and fellow pilgrims on life’s journey! Hare Krishna.

  • M.V.

    This article has been rotting here for ages. Is there a way that Beliefnet can remove this guy and get us something more refreshing.
    Thanks.

  • Dee

    The most obvious misconception about Hinduism is that we tend to see it as just another religion. To be precise, Hinduism is a way of life, the oldest proven faith in the world!
    Christianity and Islam are in a rush to convert every living being where as Hinduism doesn’t want to takeover the world. Instead its more focused on karma and peace.
    Hindus don’t believe in just one god because god to them is within everything.

  • Keshav Acharya Das

    Hi Guys
    Hari bol
    From the very beginning of Russell Brand’s Sanskrit Brand comming down on the page I found very nice and wonderful things.I Really like that he was very happly accepting ancient Sanskrit language and culture with.which is very glorious after Prabhupada distrubuted it to the world.
    I could not understand why there is not open heartedly discribed just to become Hindu,of course there nothing bad.Here I mean to say that The Krishana Conscious movement is far higher than the recent term hinduism. this movement hage huge GLOBE of it’s defination.
    which is directly God’s movement…isn’t it? isn’t it A ETERNAL RELEGION, the supreme occupational duity to be performed by living being? Then this term hindu is good but seems very narrow.I’m I not incorrect?

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