Monday, January 25, 2010

Radha Madan Mohan, January 24th

Yesterday morning I dressed Radha Madan Mohan, the installed deities of the gurukulis Ragunath and Yamuna here in Alachua. While I dressed, I turned on a random lecture by Radhanath Swami; the end deeply moved me, so I transcribed it here for all of you.


One of the most beautiful things I appreciate about flowers and garlands is how within a day, they wilt and become soggy and lose their fragrance… lose their color, lose their texture, and nobody wants them.

Isn’t that wonderful? It’s so metaphorical to our life. Everything in this world, like the flower, begins as a seed; every living being begins like a seed, starts to grow as a sprout, then blossoms, then wilts, and dies.

But Krishna accepts the essence. This body doesn’t last much longer than a flower garland, from the perspective of eternity. The amount of time that a flower garland wilts and is no longer nice in our vision is really a long time compared to our life from the perspective of Lord Brahma. Our whole life span – all the aging and wilting and everything – is not even a second from his perspective.

So a devotee is saragrahi, always concerned with the essence, seeking the essence of life, seeking the essence of everything we see. And what is the essence? The essence is everything’s connection to Krishna. The essence is eternal. The essence cannot be wilted by time. And every time you place a flower on a garland, that act of devotion is eternal.

Whatever you offer to Krishna – that investment of devotion – will never wilt, will never grow old, will never be lost, is ever fresh, and forever.

That is the beauty of bhakti.
- Radhanath Swami
 January 13th, 2009

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Mystery of Mercy

Not so long ago, I had a dream that I was lying on the side of the road, immobile, hidden from view.

I was dying.

My mind was scattered and fear seeped through my veins. A call for help was lodged in my chest, unable to move because of my numbered breaths.

Then, from down the road I could hear the faint ting of kartals and a distant thrum of mrdanga. The party approached; a dozen people danced by, only yards away. But they didn't see me and I couldn't get their attention. The holy name rung through the air.

I wept and wept; I felt peace filter into my heart. Then the kirtan party moved on down the road, and I breathed my last breath.

I awoke.

The dream haunted me for weeks, for I realized that at the time of my death my mind was not on Krishna. I had been abandoned by everyone and everything, and the dying process had submerged me in fear.

And yet, although I had forgotten Krishna, He had remembered me. The holy name had come for me.  


On the first day of the Winter Bus Tour, we pulled into the city of Houston. Our stay was short, so that morning some temple devotees invited several of us on the Tour to sing at a hospice.

When we arrived to the hospice in the cold afternoon, we filled the quiet halls with our laughter. Our arms were loaded down with a mridanga, portable harmonium, and karatalas, and our faces shone with tilak.

Moshumi, our host, addressed us in welcome. “Thank you for coming. This first floor is for those who are to leave this world soon. We have two women especially that we would like you to sing for.” We all quieted and followed Moshumi down the hall. “We were thinking that first you can sing in the hall, and when the time is right we’ll usher you into each room.

“Please keep the music soft,” she continued. “We just had a death on the second floor,”

The gravity of this experience settled on our shoulders. Akinchana began a soft, lilting kirtan and passed the lead on to each of us. Several minutes later, Moshumi ushered us all into the first room.

Singing, we fanned out in a ring around a woman in a hospital bed, her body laced in tubes. When we entered, she sat up in bed, and her eyes lit up. She smiled, as if the sun had entered her room.

Then Akinchana gestured for me to sing; I closed my eyes and sang, and here in this room with a woman whose days were numbered, my own moment of death felt so close, as if I could reach out and touch it.

Suddenly, I remembered my dream, and how I had been so helpless and undeserving at the time of my death. But by the mystery of mercy, Krishna had come for me. The devotees of Krishna had come for me.

It was as if I had become one of those devotees on the road passing by a dying woman. I could sing and I could dance, whereas in my dream I had been paralyzed. This time, I could be an instrument of peace for the holy name.

I sang and tears fell from my eyes.

When I opened my eyes, the woman had raised her arms in the air, her face beaming. Everyone in the room was dancing. I wept.

I write this now over a month later, and I believe that the woman at the hospice has left this world. I don’t even know her name.

But before she left, she knew the holy name. Somehow, on that cold afternoon in Houston, we had all been instruments of the holy name, and that is a mystery of mercy I shall never unravel.

Thursday, January 21, 2010



Peer inside
my kaleidoscope
and you will find
of stained glass

God is the hand
that twists
the barrel
and the shards
of glass
tumble inside of me

the designs
are a dance
of pain and beauty,
made symmetrical
by the lens
of God.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Windows to the Bus Tour

For the first time in a year, I tapped into my photography passion full-tilt, for three weeks. Travel is always incredible inspiration for photography, to capture moments of explosive and also quiet splendor. As an amateur artist, I cordially invite you to view my albums from this year's Winter Bus Tour. Copy and paste the following links into your browser. Enjoy.

Bus Tour Photos:

Bus Tour Portraits

Also, below is the video that Manu Prabhu edited on this year's Bus Tour - a small snapshot of what we do, and the hearts we touched. [e-mail subscribers will need to click through to, or follow this link:]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Secret to Silence

I arrived into Mexico City silent, and I left silent. I had made a vow that for one day, I would devote my voice to Sri Krishna.

It was my third 24 Hour Kirtan; in each of these three events, I have committed myself to mauna vrata, or a vow of silence. And each time, my experience of the holy name goes one notch deeper. All day long, only the holy name cycles through my mind - over and over and over. In all shapes and forms and sizes, the holy name swirls around me - around and around and around.

By the end of the day, the power of the holy name has soaked into my skin, into my mind, into my heart.

Mauna vrata for a 24 hour kirtan is so beautiful and so powerful that I wish others would try it. Of course, the question is: How to only chant the holy names when I'm surrounded by such amazing devotees, by my friends? What if I have a service? What if I just need to ask for directions? 

I have several techniques which involve a notepad and plenty of hand gestures, but here's my secret to survive a vow of silence for 24 hours when you're surrounded by the whirl of a festival: stay in kirtan.

That's it.

Maybe you're immersed in a beautifully sung kirtan. Wonderful, stay there. Maybe the kirtan is off-key, or off-beat. Wonderful, stay there. Maybe you get up to dance, maybe you cry.

Stay there. Maybe the holy name will decide to dance upon your tongue.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Interview

I was invited by Mahattma Prabhu to participate in his Live broadcast on December 9th, 2009. [e-mail subscribers need to click through to You can also click through to and go to Episode #6]

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Last Knot


The bus has wound its last knot upon the ribbon of highway of the Mexico Winter Bus Tour.

If I ponder too deeply how this experience whirled by in a blur, an ache will enter my heart. Just like the folding of a very long sari - both ends are so far apart, but with one quick fold, the ends touch.

Right now I sit on a whirring bus at 3am, wearing the same blue sweatpants I began this Tour in. It seems as though only moments ago I boarded a whirring bus in the night. It's like the first and last threads of this sari of a similar pattern, and now that they're touching, I feel this jumble in my senses, a disorientation of my heart.

This Bus Tour has breathed golden air into the lungs of my spiritual life. I've taught literally hundreds of people how to dance the Swami Step in kirtan; upon the encouragement of Gopal I've actually distributed some of the first books of my life; and every morning I would wake up to the adventure of jungles, oceans, pyramids and lost civilizations, which all prompted me to deeply ponder Krishna in my life.

Most of all, the mood of kirtan and service of the Vaishnavas on the bus has reached past my selfish shell and touched my heart.

I'm home, it's good to be home, but I'm still living in the phantom motions of the bus. I don't want to step off.

Not yet.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.