Monday, May 24, 2010

Voyage to India

Several days ago, my father sent me a rough draft CD that he recently recorded of his bansuri flute ragas. When I heard the first note, memories of growing up with my father's flute-playing washed over my mind in soft waves.

I realize that Vrindavan draws me more powerfully than any other holy place in the world because of my father's flute. Often he would play a full moon raga on the porch as I fell asleep, or he would bring his flute to play in a bamboo forest, or I would hear the echoes of his bansuri in an empty templeroom.

Each and every time I heard my father play, my thoughts would wander to my mind's vision of Vrindavan... to a little blue boy playing his flute along the banks of a sacred river.

In 2008, I visited India - and Vrindavan - for the first time in my life. I don't know when I'll return, but I hope that when I do, I'll return with my father and listen to him play along the banks of the Yamuna.

Below is a slideshow of my photography while in India, accompanied by the music and poetry of my father. [e-mail subscribers need to click through to, or visit:]

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dance on the Edge of Life

(© all photos by Adideva das)

My story begins several months ago, when Malati devi asked me to organize the entertainment for the Festival of Inspiration. With caution (and naivete), I agreed.

At last, in the culmination of months of work, I traveled up to New Vrindavan for the final showdown.

Saturday morning dawned very cold and very, very windy. So windy, in fact, that the gigantic rented tent was on the verge of blowing to the sky and a crew of men dismantled it mid-morning.

There went the prasadam and entertainment facility.

A crew of us regrouped in Malati's office and mapped out Plan B - we decided to move the entertainment to the templeroom.

Little did I know that we'd get to Plan-freakin'-Z by the end of the night.

A little while later, I was absorbed in bhajans in the templeroom when every single light flickered off and died. Pujaris brought out hurricane lamps to light the altars, and seminars made do with lamps and flashlights. The entire temple complex had not a drop of electricity.

We would have to run the entire evening program off of a generator.

A very dinky generator.

I began to feel anxious. Two hours before showtime, the hired sound people told us that we couldn't plug in our mics and speakers to their sound board. The generator could surge and blow the whole, expensive thing.

Translation: "Go find your own sound system."

A half an hour later, because of some 'family emergency', the light and sound people vanished without a goodbye. I never saw them again.

A cold sweat began to form on my brow. Mic channels? Wireless and cordless mics? Sound boards? Generators? Surges?

Oh God, help me!

Ha! And God helped me! He sent Govinda Ghosh and Krishna Balaram, two talented gurukulis. They smattered together a sound system of several sound boards, CD players, and wireless and handheld mics, all connected to our one power source - the generator.

By the time the first act began, we were running an hour late... but we had full light and full sound.

Performance after performance we danced on the edge, playing everything by ear in the dark. At one point, I moved out from behind our side wing curtain and looked out onto a sea of people. A SEA. People stood up two or three deep on all edges of the templeroom. The crowd roared and watched spellbound every moment.

At the conclusion of the final act, a wave of relief and triumph crashed over me. My friend Jvala and I hugged each other. "We DID it!" I cried. "And we did it with bliss."

"Girl, you just got a degree in Crisis Management," she laughed.

At 2am, I finally laid my head to my pillow in the women's asram on the third floor of the temple. I wondered to myself: "Bhakti, would you do this again? No, seriously?"

Suddenly, I heard shrieks of glee from down the hall. I blearily opened my eyes. And there - from the hallway, a bright stripe of light shone through the bottom of the door.

I closed my eyes and grinned. 

I would live it all over again, every single insane moment. 

Life is nothing if not an adventure, a risk, a dance on the edge of life for Krishna.



The beautiful Gopal Nathaji deity in New Vrindavan - the King of crisis management.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.