Sunday, June 29, 2014


Growing up, I had intense issues with my skin. Rashes, lesions, weeping. One evening when I was around 14 or so, I ate something that disturbed my system, and the next day my face, neck, and chest were covered in searing rashes.

The pain was immense. Stinging, stabbing, red knives. I was screaming and crying, and my mother was also freaking out. I tried to drink water, I tried various salves on my skin, but each salve only escalated the pain. I tried ice, I tried showers. I may have tried some over-the-counter drug.

My mother was on the verge of calling the hospital.

Then something happened, and the moment is forever imprinted upon my memory. I was drinking a glass of water, and at the very bottom of the glass there was a black speck that was slowly, slowly drifting down.

I even stopped drinking - I just watched the speck drift. In those moments, I accepted my pain. The whirlwinds seemed to still be going on, my mother was still trying to call the hospital, but I became still.

My mother came over to see me and my face was utterly calm. She was bewildered at my shift in mood.

"Do you still want me to call the hospital?"

"No, mom, it's okay,"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, it's okay."

The rest of the day I was nearly silent. When the stabs of pain would come, I would let them come. I didn't fight them. Just accept. I felt like in that strange moment of watching the speck float in my water glass, the Lord had given me a moment to regain some sanity.

This was not the last time I was faced with intense and powerful pain on my skin. I faced a similar trauma several years later - my whole face swelled, and I didn't even look like me. The pain, the sores, and the weeping lasted for several unending days. Drugs and cold baths and salves didn't work.

Only silence. And accepting the pain. Sometimes I would cry, but it would hurt to cry. So I just let it be.

I am realizing so much in my life now that when I surrender to what is going on for me, observing the motions of my life and heart and those around me, I find peace. I feel like the Lord in my heart protects me in those moments, he holds me and carries me

I want to take shelter of Him so much more. Every day. Not just for the pain, but for the joy and the peace and the love.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


February 2013

I rarely sing kirtan nowadays. You know, with instruments, call and response, people. For some reason I'm avoiding kirtan situations where I could be asked to sing. I guess I feel this fear of failure - that I'll sing and feel incomplete at the end. Like I didn't connect, others didn't connect, I looked like a fool.

This morning, though, before class Adi Purusha Prabhu just walked right up to me with a pair of kartals in each hand.

"Yes?" I said.

"You can choose your pair to lead the morning kirtan," he said.

"Oh!" I said. I slowly reached for the pair in his left hand. "Okay..."

So I sang. My voice was low from being sick, and I ended up dropping into a tune that I had never sung before and had had no plan of even singing. It just came out.

Everyone was singing, I felt all of us in class calibrating on the holy name. I felt a lightness and peace in my body. I felt grateful to be surrendering to the random flow of the kirtan.

When the kirtan ended, Srimati Mataji came up to me and gave me a big bear hug, just enfolding me in her love. She murmured, still embracing me, "Never stop singing. Always sing, Bhakti lata,"

"Oh thank you, mata, thank you, I feel so blessed," I said. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and I gave her a kiss on the cheek.

Srimati Mataji sat  back down in front of me and I felt so moved. So moved. I feel moved right now. Krishna has given me a gift, and giving that gift as a service to others is the perfection of that gift. I've been selfish with this gift that Krishna has given me, avoiding kirtan because I'M scared of failure and not being seen as an expert musician and kirtaniya. But maybe that gift can become perfect if I'm willing to just let go. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Love Letter for Radhe Shyam

My Dear Radhe Shyam,

Oh magnificent Shyam! My gorgeous, life-giving Lord. Your Radharani is a moon in the dark night of my mind. Her beauty is unrivaled in this world.

I want to share that You both are my inspiration for connecting with God as a person. You have inspired me for so many years to connect with You through intimate singing, dancing in kirtan, everything to do with worshiping the Lord. You are woven into the fabric of my soul. When I am in Your presence, all worries dissolve, all of my wishes seem to be granted. I am at peace, satisfied.

You are the reason I attended Mayapur Academy in India to learn the highest standard of worship. You are the reason I received second initiation, so that I could step upon Your altar to worship You. I just want to worship You, care for You, learn how to love You.

When all seems lost in my connection to Krishna consciousness, I have only to sit before You and sing for Sayana Arati and the well of my soul fills with the sweet water of nourishment and realization.

You both are the monarchs of my heart. Always. Forever. You are so, so high above, commanding such presence and high level of worship. And yet You are also so divinely soft and loving - You allowed me to step upon Your altar a year ago to touch Your feet for the very first time. Absolutely mind-blowing.

I have sat before You literally thousands of times to chant, sing, and absorb Your gorgeous forms. A year ago I sat before you, writing in my journal. You were on the other side of the curtains, getting ready for bed. I did not know when I would return to You to sing You another lullaby. I still don't. My destiny is in Your hands. I am now in New York, praying that I may be an instrument of Your grace.

I love You. I miss You. May I eternally return to reside at Your feet, singing lullabies.


Bhakti lata dasi

(photos courtesy of Ragunath das) 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Evolution

Tonight I've been meditating how I've been keeping Seed of Devotion going for over seven years. With the advent of Facebook and the mechanism to "like" a post, writing for Seed of Devotion has evolved a lot over the years. The reality is that I find myself often thinking in terms of how a post will be liked, how its value will increase or decrease according to how much feedback I receive. So many times it has happened wherein I bare my soul in a post and only receive a couple random likes or hits.

I want to be conscious and considerate of an audience, and yet I crave to just let go, let go, let go.

In fact, when I have spoken with other blog stalwarts over the years who have decided to stop writing for their blogs, the number one reason I have found for bloggers to stop blogging is that... well... it just gets too personal. It gets hard to keep sharing the heart.

I now find myself in that space. I find myself struggling to keep my heart open, to keep sharing vulnerably. And that is simply where I find myself today, where I have found myself for quite some time now. I am committed to keep writing for the rest of this year, and then we shall see where the writing road goes. 

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, June 7, 2014


On my evening walk, I reveled at every step the poetry and power and perfection of nature. I marveled at the red-brown leaves of the maple tree and how when the sun shone through the leaves the tree seemed to be made of glowing embers. Or a field splashed with the soft white globes of dandelions. The towering castles of clouds in the distance made bright by the evening sun. The air was intoxicating - the fragrance of life. New leaves, flowers, grass, earth... Truly, God is a genius. I bent towards a bush covered in thousands of little white flowers. Each one was so perfect, delicate, exquisite in color and design. The only proof that I  need that God exists is to take a walk down my road. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


"Where are you from?" I'm asked sometimes.

Sigh. I can see that they're puzzled by my name, dress, accent, and/or hairdo.

"Do you want to know where my parents are from, my ethnicity, my nationality, where I grew up, or where I live now?"

In fact, none of these categories really give a sense of where I'm from, because I don't identify with any of them. What often follows is my declaration that I'm a second-generation devotee of Krishna - or, a gurukuli.

Everyone is searching for who they are, where they're from. Everyone wants an identity. I'm no exception, struggling and slipping upon words and definitions, searching for something to hold onto to keep me from being a nobody from nowhere. So I sometimes I grab ahold of being a gurukuli.

Gurukulis can be found in almost every country in the world speaking almost every language in the world. We sometimes get drawn to each other, like flamingos, eagles, penguins, and sparrows who all flock to one place with only the basics in common. Wings. Beaks. Feathers.

Boiled down to one thing, we have parents that are devotees of Krishna. Of course, nowadays its becoming complex to even define gurukuli. We all seem to struggle with that question, "Where are you from?" because we all have a long list of possible answers. We all seem to slip and slide upon definitions.

But one thing I know for sure is that when I'm with gurukulis, I have this experience of unconditional acceptance - I'm accepted, I accept others. Family. That sense of belonging transcends all cultures, languages, countries. And when the motley crew of us birds gather in one place, my own experience is that deep down, our wings are Krishna. We seem to all be connected to Krishna in some way - whether we accept Krishna as God or not. Krishna seems to be that gene that we were born with, and whether we like it or not, we've all got wings.

And ultimately, don't we all have wings? Don't we all yearn to shed our identities - even of being a "gurukuli"? Doesn't every soul long to fly?

"This sky 
where we live
is no place
to lose your wings

- Hafiz  

To write is to dare the soul. So write.