Friday, March 11, 2011

Perfect Words

I attended my first 24 Hour Kirtan over the radio.

In 2008 I was in Hawaii at my parent's, where I had just undergone foot surgery. I was bedridden. So I tuned into a rather thin online broadcast of the 24 Hour Kirtan in New Vrindavan; I expected a bunch of fancy melodies and fancy drum beats, and I was ready to tune out again.

But what came out of my speakers was the first time I ever heard a kirtan by Madhava. Goosebumps ran down my arms. The holy name was for real.

As I lay there in my bed, I wondered when I would attend a 24 Hour Kirtan. What would I do? I cringed at the thought of only going to socialize, like any other festival. I wanted to absorb myself completely in the holy name because after all, it IS a festival of the holy name.

I decided that I would take a vow of silence, mauna vrata, and speak only the holy name.

Over the past two years I have attended half a dozen 24 or 12 hour kirtans, and each time I have taken a vow of silence. Each festival, my experience of the holy name becomes more profound.

It has always been my dream, though, to share the beauty of this experience with others. But it's kind of a hard sell, if you know what I mean - silence for 24 hours at a major festival?? Impossible!

But last October, my friend Nanda Priya finally decided to take the vow with me at a 24 Hour Kirtan. Our experience was beautiful, and I felt so amazed to share this depth of the holy name with another person.


Last weekend, 30 youth boarded the Youth Ministry bus to head down to Miami for Rathayatra and the 12 Hour Kirtan. A bunch of us girls gathered around our bunkbeds and discussed the upcoming kirtan festival. I didn't even bring up the vow of silence - Nanda did.

"Mauna vrata is amazing," she said. "Someone asked me last October if I had had fun, but I just thought, 'No!' I didn't have fun. It was deep and profound,"

"I agree," I said thoughtfully. "It's not fun, it's deep."

We all engaged in lively discussion and suddenly - everyone decided to do it.

So when Sunday morning rolled around, six of us tied on our little wristbands that said, "Vow of Silence."

In all of my experiences of mauna vrata, the vow has been austere, deep, profound, and it has moved my soul. But suddenly, the vow DID become fun.

I had the time of my life!

Whenever the six of us would convene after hours and hours of kirtan, we would all just call out, "Krishna, Krishna! Radhe Radhe!" in varying tones of question or exclamation. We would laugh and gesture and say the Lord's name some more. At one point, it truly struck me how this is the spiritual world - everyone only wants to talk about Krishna.

And it never gets old.

On the bus ride back that evening after the festival, the six of us gathered around our bunkbeds to share our realizations. Everyone had had their own challenges, but we all drew a unanimous conclusion: We had not wanted the Festival to end. We had all wanted to keep saying only the Lord's name...

...if just for a while longer.

So, my dear reader, maybe the next time I see you at a festival of the holy name, feel free to come up to me and show me your wristband. I'm sure our conversation will be perfect.    


Mukutesvara dasa said...

That sounds like a beautiful experience. Big up to you for taking a vow of silence and staying absorbed in the nectar of the Holy Name.

Taste for chanting the Holy Name of the Lord is illustrated as follows:

“O Govinda! Today the young girl with the sweet voice, whose lotus eyes are streaming with tears of honey, is singing Your names.” [Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.3.38]

We had a couple of 24 hour kīrtans in our small asrama. I also found the effect was tremendously deep; especially in the hours we are usually asleep. When we chant a lot (such as 24 hour kīrtans or 64 rounds daily for a while) the mind admits defeat and we have more access to our hearts (where Kṛṣṇa as Supersoul resides).

I've never been to a large 24 hour kīrtan but I hope to one day (I attended one in Māyāpur but there weren't many devotees); I'm sure a large chorus of the Holy Name for long periods is powerful.

Constant chanting in the association of other devotees is the essence of spiritual life in the Kali-yuga. Thanks for sharing; I'll be sure to show you the wristband if we ever cross paths during sankīrtan.

“O King, constant chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.1.11]

Kṛṣṇa says in the Ādi Purāṇa:

“By singing My Holy Names, a person will attain a position close to Me. I make this promise. That person, O Arjuna, purchases Me.” [Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.231]

Love and respect,

Mukuteśvara dāsa

Rukmini said...

Krishna Krishna! Radhe Radhe! What an amazing experience. That day was also the first day I chanted 16 rounds in my life and I did so for another 4 days straight :)

I think the jaganath wristbands are going to be a tradition.

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