Monday, December 10, 2007

Tour of Alachua (5 of 5): Where Love Resides

"Whenever you give your time, you are making a sacrifice, and sacrifice is the essence of love." Unknown

I remember the very night that Sayana Arati flew into my heart like a swift bird and has lived there ever since.

I had just moved to Alachua two years ago, and the gurukulis were holding a meeting in the lobby of the templeroom, discussing our involvement in the upcoming celebration of Srila Prabhupad's Appearance Day. And then, a conch shell clarioned through the evening.

"What? What is that?" I asked, taken aback.

"Oh, it's the last arati of the day before the deities go to sleep," Raghu explained. We all flowed into the templeroom.

In that warm cocoon, the only lights on in the room were shining from the altar, illuminating quiet faces. Someone was singing a bhajan a bit off-key, with only kartals to accompany his song. Radha Shyamasundar were wearing gentle, flowing clothes, with no jewelry or garlands.

I remember the feeling. Something blossomed in my heart - a tenderness for deities of Radha and Krishna that I had never really felt before in all my life growing up around Them.

When the curtains closed, I wanted to return the next night. And the next. But being the new kid on the block in Alachua with zero form of transportation and few connections, several months passed. When I had settled into my own home and bought a car, one evening I wandered over to the temple to chant japa.

And Sayana Arati caught me by gentle surprise once again.

Like chanting my rounds, Sayana Arati has become a part of my life. I give this time to bidding goodnight to Krishna and I feel as though Krishna reciprocates with this sacrifice of time by giving me a foundation to love Him. Although I love the discipline of chanting my rounds every day, which is also a sacrifice of time, Sayana Arati is completely on my own whim.

When I miss too many nights, I feel as though something is missing in my spiritual life.

Ah, yes, the essence of love.


madhavi said...

Lovely post.. I can totally relate to your sentiments about Sayana Arati. Fortunately, I live within walking distance to the Radha Gopinath temple here in Toronto, so usually after work, I try going for the arati. Some how Sayana Arati is so blissful, almost relaxing. I believe tht it is as relaxing as mangala arati is inspiring. thnks for shring your thoughts and gorgeous pictures !!

hare krishn

Jahnavi said...

This is so beautiful Bhakti - you've inspired me to try and attend evening arati more - I'm only a 5 minute drive away but I don't take advantage of it...

Vinod said...

Long Long ago perhaps when I was about 5yrs old I can remember my village would assemble for the morning puja have chandan anointed on our foreheads before beginning the day later the same evening all folks having returned 4rm work having bathed assembled 4 d evening arati and the anointment again before the dinner and retiring for the night

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