Stay At Home Kirtan

Karma is a strange thing. We always ignore the cause of our suffering. Yet, karma isn’t blind. Our present actions can decide the intensity of the resultant past-action karma coming to us. Right now, the world suffers a collective karma. We have the ability to impact the force of it. People all over the world chanting kirtan regularly will make a difference. The Bhakti sastras say that in this Kali yuga, chanting the Names of God is the only meaningful prayer that connects us to the Divine. Kirtan never depends on talent, musical ability, vocals or good crowd. Kirtan is yoga, the spiritual link. The Guru says, just open your mouth and sing; this is called kirtan. Our daily online kirtan is a structure that commits us to the duty of it. Else, we could easily become lazy and adjusted to our situation. Thus, if many chant kirtan at least once a day till lockdown ends, the whole planet would resound with transcendental sound vibration. Whether you think you’re good or unfit singer, even if you chant alone or w/ family, online or not, with instruments or none, one melody or different ones each day, just faithfully, steadily sing Kirtan. If we chant and hear the Name at the same time, we’ll soon attain perfection. We can all work to make the world a better place.

KIRTAN FOREVER

Thoughts

A month already, since stay-at-home kirtan. I am grateful for the internet. Scheduled Hari Kirtan daily, built a structure for sadhana practice. There are days when it’s a mental struggle. The uncertainty of suddenly fast shifting physical world is destabilizing. What is in store for the future? Will all return to ‘normal’? My limited consciousness struggles to link to the Eternal. Hence, the daily Harinama commitment keeps true our focus, at least in theory. It matters that we try our hardest to attract His attention. Validation, promotion, melody, number of viewers and even my determined effort to serve Sri Nama mean nothing if He shows no interest. Uttering the one Name can eradicate more sins than I, the finite, can ever commit; even lifetimes of them! Such a Name is Infinite, descended from Goloka. On my own I might never have the capacity of speaking such a Name. I just have to adhere to Prabhupada’s guidelines, stay in the Sankirtan mission and hope against hope that someday, through the pure, transparent line of our acharyas, we may be in presence of such Hari Nama. Golokera prema dhana, Harinama sankirtana.

KIRTAN FOREVER

A River of Happiness

A River of Happiness

Tomorrow I am leaving Rishikesh and the Ganga. This yoga festival goes on till March 22nd. For me, Hari Nama calls elsewhere. Indradyumna swami had a great vision which he actualized. 60 Hare Krishna devotees are helping out. 3000 saris were donated. Before the kirtan, guest ladies are decorated and clad in saris. One girl cried when she learnt she could keep her sari. She had badly wanted one, but money is low after wandering all over India on a budget and now, almost ready to fly out. Every day, new faces join old ones in kirtan. It has been uplifting, inspiring and deeply satisfying to talk about Krishna and His devotees to willing listeners. This river of happiness flows eternal when connected to Krishna. Amongst the Krishna devotees here, all hands are on deck early hours till night. Good organization and selfless dedication make their endeavor a success. We pray Hare Krishna Mantra comes to this festival every year. We are insignificant. Yet, in gratitude to Srila Prabhupada, we earnestly pray to be active tools in this great mission of divine love.

KIRTAN FOREVER

Rishikesh

Sitting on the banks of Ganga is inspiring and satisfying. Yet my heart yearns for Ganga of Gomukh, born from the glacier. Her steel blue dancing waters is icy and taste sweet. Every year yogis come from all over for the greatest yoga festival on the planet. It starts March 1st to March 22nd. I came a couple of days before the devotees for some alone time, to try and chant without distraction and pressure. Yet, Sri Harinama had other plans. By chance I met with people from the yoga scene and they wanted Hari Kirtan. One time we were a small group sitting in a circle on the banks of the Ganga. Everyone was absorbed until some felt the thrust of a determined want-to-be participant. A cow nudged persistently, intent to be in the middle. Her fortitude finally won her the coveted spot. We all kept chanting and she just stood there, quiet and peaceful. After a while she left to quickly return with her calf. Again, they came in the middle for a while and then wandered off to the side to stand immobile, as if intent on hearing. I was also greatly relieved we weren’t splattered with sacred cow produce. It is cold and laundry is not so easy.

Tomorrow one of the great Sankirtan stalwarts of our time is arriving. Despite a recent critical operation, Indradyumna Maharaj is behind this Kirtan festival this year. In a few purports of CC, Prabhupada states it is the duty of all members of this Hare Krishna movement to take this chanting all over the world. Maharaj is doing just that. This inspires the heart in a real, active way. I also wish to dedicate my life selflessly to the mission. Without the blessings of Vaisnavas one cannot be engaged in unmotivated devotional practices. Here the plan is Harinam every day, to chant with the crowd and invite them to our evening program of kirtan and delicious prasadam. We ardently pray to Ganga that we imbibe a little the conviction Maharaj has of Sri Hari Nama, so that we may please Prabhupada and attract Krishna’s sidelong glance.

KIRTAN FOREVER

Mumbai

Our kirtan seva in Mumbai ended at Mira Road. As usual it is one of the most inspiring and enthusiastic crowds. I’d entreated the assembly not to use mobile phones to film when the kirtan picks up as then, chanting mostly stops. Thankfully they complied and the kirtan turned dynamic. We’d also been to Surat for the first time. Though almost no one came on time and we’d start much later than advertised, many came to chant kirtan and we remembered Prabhupada’s coming to this city. Yet, at one of the venues, hearing was difficult for the crowd, thus chanting was inaccurate. I remember Aindra prabhu telling me, Krishna has delicate ears and we have to do everything tastefully. Thus, for the first time I stopped during kirtan to get almost 2000 people to chant the correct melody. Besides, the basis of chanting is proper hearing. After we left, the organizer conveyed that till next year he’ll train his flock to chant properly. We eagerly await to be part of 2000 people focused on a single goal, chant with sincere determination. Before going to Rishikesh we’re spending a few days in Vrindavan. I had forgotten how peaceful and saturated with Consciousness of Krishna, Vrindavan is. Karthik is such a different space and time zone altogether, which severely challenges tolerance. Our extra vows also tend to drive and isolate us from relationships of friends and family. Today, without any pressure or disturbance, we stay in the temple to chant after class, meet with very old friends, take full darshan of our Lords as long as we liked and walk freely on ‘traffic-less’ roads. The only ‘noise’ right now is that of chatty parrots. Next, we’re serving Sri Hari kirtan with Indradyumna swami in Rishikesh. Big crowds assemble for the annual yoga conference. We hope to become dear to Krishna by helping His dear devotees spread His glories to others, soon-to-be devotees of His.

KIRTAN FOREVER

 

 

Recreation

We are in Mauritius since about 3 weeks, balancing work w/ recreation. The Southwestern part of the island is wild, forest like, mountainous and quite in goodness. The view from our balcony is stunning. Heady jasmine scent from the bush below permeates around. A complete range of mountains runs behind in the form of a horseshoe. In front is the open ocean, translucent aquamarine blue water sparkling with a thousand dancing lights. Here the sun sets in pomp. Every evening we watch the flaming red horizon devour the glowing orange sun disk. It is a place where one rests, heals and recreates. An abundance of local fruits nurtures the body – sweet juicy litchis, silky papayas, sticky sweet pineapples, divine scented mangoes, ruby red juicy watermelons and more. An early morning dip in the warm waters of the Indian ocean revitalizes. In the evening, Hari Nama kirtan sobers and reminds of our seva. We pray Krishna is one day the center of our lives unconditionally, anywhere, anytime and always. 

KIRTAN FOREVER

 

Israel

Here, you feel the weight of history. The land is old and witness to countless conflicts. Chanting kirtan with the local Hare Krishnas, inspires and enlivens. A number of new people attended all the kirtan events. After the army, many Israelis go to India seeking something. Yoga and mantras are known. Now, we are spending a few days with friends at the dead sea, the lowest land point on Earth. On the way we drove thru the Jordan Valley, where Jesus had walked and saw signs leading to Jericho, one of the oldest places on the planet. Remains of the Tower of Jericho still exist, and they are over 8000 years old. Political hostilities deter visitors. 

We see the shores of Jordan on the other side of the dead sea from the balcony of our hotel. Since our first visit 10 years ago, the sea has receded from its former bank. Mineral extraction for cosmetics and damming the Jordan river for irrigation cause it to shrink 1 to 3 meters per year. A visible strain is the failure of humans in their dealings with nature and each other. 

Seeing all my tattoos, the 18 year old lifeguard asked me what I am. He knows about yoga, meditation and mantra chanting. For over an hour we talked topics that frees and takes us to the spiritual dimension. Everywhere, in every situation, someone is ready to hear. 

KIRTAN FOREVER

OZ & NZ 19

[Date – 2nd April 2019]

We left Oz for NZ yesterday. We’d spent the longest time in Sydney and finished our Nama seva on a high. A day retreat on Sunday brought 30 people together for 4 hours of philosophy, kirtan, karatal learning, a delicious feast and more kirtan and dancing. We’d landed in Perth end of Feb and time just whizzed by. We began 10 years ago. At one of the programs, 4 people had attended. We had wondered whether to travel so far for so little, forgetting we’ve a right to duty but not to results. Yet, the stability of steady serving seems to have pleased Sri Hari Nama. Now, many more people attend and the kirtan interaction has deepened. We are tools for Sri Nama to use as He desires. He wants His Name sung all over. We truly hope He will use us even when we are reluctant. We have formed strong bonds w/ genuine devotees over these 10 years. They have become family. Sri Nama brought us together and the unique individual service of each inspires our hearts, to keep going no matter what. Today Christchurch is cold, rainy, dreary, much like London. In a couple of days, we’ll travel to Auckland and next Tuesday we’ll be back in Switzerland already.

KIRTAN FOREVER

New Goverdhan

Last Sunday we were part of the best kirtan in OZ till now. Only Hare Krishnas and spiritual seekers living at the Krishna village attended. A packed temple room thundered with sincere and loud Hare Krishna chanting. A powerful, sublime energy prevailed. Teenagers who were still kids a few years ago are now vivacious in kirtan. Even the shy Krishna Village dwellers joined forces. Senior devotees anchored the Nama seva when they chanted in deep meditation. It is rare to be in a roomful of people w/ one strong, common interest. We were moved and comforted. Here, words were not needed. We were kindred and in kirtan, Krishna Consciousness bonded us closer.

KIRTAN FOREVER

OZ 2019

Today we begin the first Sri Nama kirtan on the Gold Coast. In Surfer’s Paradise sense enjoyment is God and weather’s always clement. Here, Subhangi and family have maintained their small Bhakti center for years. Both sincere seekers and free flowing spirits join their weekday kirtan.

Yet, up to now, no other cities comes close to Perth. There, a Krishna kirtan explosion has happened. In Fremantle, Sivananda ashram hosted Nama seva for us and a crowd 180+. Over 120 came to Gopinath dham on the last evening. Eyes closed, all chanted and when the rhythm picked up, they eagerly danced in happiness. What mostly inspired was the sheer number of ‘regular’ Australians, many of whom visited for the first time. Some even came to the temple for the Sunday kirtan. They stayed, danced and ate prasadam. Radhika also gave cooking demo for the 3 rd consecutive year and a few had attended the 2 previous ones. We wondered what causes that steady expansion. Sri Radha Raman prabhu, a senior brahmachari is tireless and resolute when it comes to spreading Sri Chaitanya’s culture of Hari Nama. His goal is clear, the practice clean, and Prabhupada’s mission is firmly in the center.

KIRTAN FOREVER