Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Be Quiet!

On the ride up to Atlanta, I had one meditation: silence. I want to listen. For once I want to just be quiet and observe. Instead of jumping at every opportunity to hammer out questions and playing deaf to their answers, I want to soak in Indradyumna Swami's association. Serve. Watch. Listen. Just be.

So one evening when Rupa, Nama and I returned from a japa walk, the street was filling with cars. A twinge of excitement fluttered in my chest. I calmed it immediately though. Just observe, Bhakti… for once in your life…

While bhajans rocked the house, I sat down modestly in the back of the room. But then, when one devotee finished singing, people started to beckon me to sing. WHAT THE…?? I had never been to Duluth, Georgia in my LIFE, I had never met 99.9 percent of these people, and they were summoning me to sing??

Rupa just grinned her huge grin and nodded her head really fast in her Rupa way. “Yeah, yeah, go Bhakti! … Hey! Bhakti’s going to sing,”

So with a smile to myself and a shake of my head, I settled in front of the harmonium. I looked across to the mridanga player and beheld a gentle, wise man that I knew but his name escaped me.

I began to sing and couldn't help but smile. The rhythm began to groove, voices rose in enthusiasm, and suddenly the most hilarious thought hit me: Quiet. ME. This is ridiculous! This is the farthest thing from quiet I could possibly get! My voice literally broke as I sang because I couldn't help from laughing. Rupa made it worse by laughing along with me.

And just as I swung into the high register, the beat went double time, and the room started to clap, Indradyumna Swami entered. In a wave, everyone offered their obeisance. I looked up to see him observing the room in his regal, serene way.

Drawing the bhajan to a tumultuous close (in which I threatened to break down laughing again), I felt the room grinning.

“Good evening,” Maharaj said smoothly. He picked up a pair of kartals and began to sing.

My eye was drawn to a lone mridanga just begging to be played. Realizing how hilarious this was getting, I motioned to Satvata that I wanted to play. He handed the drum to me. I turned to face the gentle man, and he nodded and smiled as we played in sync.

Then the rhythm picked up and with a shout, people jumped up to dance! I’m sorry, but I simply cannot watch others dance in a kirtan, and so I handed off the drum and dove right in. Out of my penchant for leading the way, I directed the women to dance in a circle, then lines, then the bridge!

Maharaj ended the kirtan in a beautiful crescendo. Breathless, we offered obeisance. Rupa, Nama, and I glanced at each other in between our hands, grinning ear to ear.

[SNORT.] So much for being quiet.

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