Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Night

I went from the concrete world of New York City to the emerald world of New Gokula. I'm breathing in jasmine, cow dung, the river, and now the rain. I can feel it all on my skin, in my lungs. The day was hot and sweet, and now the night and rain is falling and it's cool and sweet.

Here in my room, I can hear sashes of kirtan from the temple wind down the hill and tickle my ear. My life has boiled down to one directive: chant the holy name. For someone who has been religiously tending to her agenda, juggling a dozen duties every day, I find myself unarmed.

My only agenda is to chant. Eat, sleep, then chant more. And dance.

When I'm in kirtan, I just want to stay, stay, stay. I am discovering an addictive peace. I have to tear myself away to eat. Life literally melts way and I am right here, right now.

A couple hours remain in 2014. Dear reader, I'm glad we got to spend the year together. I pray that wherever life takes you, life takes you to love.

The ticklings in my ear are getting so insistent!! Oh my God. I must run up the hill and dash into the templeroom because I know some crazy dancing is going down.

Gotta go party with God.

Happy New Year ;)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

That´s a Wrap!

2014, what a year! Only one day left. What's gone down in the past 364 days? 

Flew into Hawaii to spend time with my parents

my parent's deities, Sri Radha Raman

 Honolulu Rathayatra!

Ghanashyam came to Hawaii in February to seek blessings from my parents

I moved to upstate New York with the wonderful Mother Kaulini while I did my Yoga Teacher Training with Raghunath and Sondra

from beaches to snow!

Yoga Teacher Training

I got to live next door to Satsvarupa Maharaj for several months

dressing Satsvarupa Maharaj´s Gaura Nitai deities

visits to New York City and Sri Radha Murlidhara

spring is in the air 

moved to Brooklyn New York

Got accepted into the Master´s in Education program at Brooklyn College

a bridesmaid at the wedding of my dear friend Syama (photo by Sharon)

Kartik in New York (photo by Francesca)

taught an 8-week course in kirtan with 14 sincere students

Christmas spirit in New York

One year of being together

 I write this now in Sao Paulo Brazil, as I am here for Kirtan Fest. I am realizing that this year has been challenging and blessed in a thousand ways. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, in every way.

May the holy name ring in a rockin´ 2015!   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Your Shore

Below is a poem I wrote several years ago. These words came to me very strongly this evening, and I have been deeply absorbed in what it truly means to return once more, once more, once more to my spiritual teacher and my spiritual path. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Lovely Evening

In the hot summer evening, I stepped onto the cool marble. The cavernous, circular hall echoed with the soft tones of Bengali. Pillars ringed the hall, and the ceiling vaulted high, high up. I lifted my gaze up to the domed ceiling, which was decorated with mosaics depicting scenes of the life of the great saint and missionary, Srila Prabhupad. Below, in the center of this domed, cathedral-like space, stood the altar, which held a golden murti [sacred statue] of Srila Prabhupad.

I settled to a marble step and pulled out my long bamboo flute. I had been taking lessons, and I was such a novice. But here in this grand space, my simple flute playing echoed and echoed and filled the air and filled my body. The flute became my voice to sing a lullaby to Srila Prabhupad.

I had been living in the holy village of Mayapur in India for about 6 months, and recently I had begun to come every evening to the samadhi to play flute. Often, I would fall quiet and gaze up at the mosaics, lost in thought and lost in the glory of everything Srila Prabhupad had done for the world.

I prayed that somehow I would assist him in some way, even if small. But I was open to big, too!

I played my flute until the pujari swished closed the red velvet curtains. I took the flute from my lips, and in the sudden quiet I fell to my knees to the cool marble and offered my respects. The sound of the flute feathered away to silence.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Long-Awaited Bath

June 20th, 2013

I lived in the holy village of Mayapur, India for 8 months and I had never taken a sacred bath in the waters of the River Ganga. My very last day in Mayapur, I was on a mission to submerge my chanting beads in the Ganga. I had thought that maybe I would also bathe, but now that time was ticking closer and closer to my departure, I started to chicken out. It was impractical; I would have wet clothes, I'd need to take a shower and pack up...

Finally, at 1 in the afternoon with the sun high in the sky, I made my way to Prabhupad Ghat between the tall waving grasses. I approached Mother Ganga reverently and offered my obeisance, the silky mud pressing against my knees, palms, and forehead. 

I stood up, folded my palms and offered prayers. Then I crouched down and submerged my beads in the river, chanting the holy name. I swished the beads in the golden brown water, the sun glinting off of the surface. Reverent pilgrims were offering beautiful Sanskrit prayers before bathing.

I prayed to Mother Ganga to please support me in my vows on the path to the Lord.

I waded my way out of the shallow water and stood on the bank, gazing at the beautiful, sacred river. My heart began to pound. I should just leave, it's too late now, too much of a hassle...

Then I thought, "I would never forgive myself if I had come all this way across the world, lived in Mayapur for 8 months, came to her waters the day I left... and never took bath."

With that, I set my beads aside on the bank, took off my shawl... and wearing my full salwar top and pants I waded into the waters. The water was cool and sweet. The mud squished between my toes.  I was grinning, giggling. 

When I reached a spot about hip-deep, I slid back and dunked all the way down! Woo-hoo!! Cool water washed over me. I dunked again. I was immersed in cool golden sunlight. I dunked a third time and came up, palms folded, grinning, laughing. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for giving me the courage, thank you.

May I go out into the world now and share Your love. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Journey of Service

Last year when I was living in the holy village of Mayapur, I would visit Srila Prabhupad's samadhi and pray, pray to be of service. I passed many evenings of prayer in that great marble hall surrounded by the glory of Srila Prabhupad's life. The whisperings of my heart crystallized: go to New York.

When I moved to New York City last summer, I was on fire with so many services! One service offered to me was to teach Kirtan Connection, which I formulated into an 8-week course on how to lead kirtan. 5 students enrolled.

Teaching Kirtan Connection was profound. After every class I taught last year, I kept sensing that "this is why I came. This is why I came." Whether the class was a trial or a triumph, that sense of unconditional service persisted. Four students graduated by leading a full Hare Krishna kirtan in the templeroom, in front of Sri Radha Murlidhara and Srila Prabhupad.

This year, I taught Kirtan Connection once again. The class size tripled. So did the triumphs, so did the trials. Every single day when I chanted my morning japa meditation, I would be flooded with insecurities. As a teacher am I being too controlling? Unclear? Inconsistent? I kept returning to the thought: I have no qualification to teach kirtan, what am I doing?? There are others way more qualified. 

I wrote about it, talked about it, I appealed to mentors for counsel. Solace came in trickles, soothing the burning in my heart.

When graduation came, students lead their individual kirtans, bhajans, and group kirtans. Each kirtan was a gem. Chills raced up my spine with every person who lead. When kirtans had concluded, completeness settled into my heart. Everything I felt that I had been missing through teaching, all my insecurities, everything just filled or vanished and all was quiet and joyful.

In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for deliverance than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name.  

I pray that I may continue to be of service with humility and love.

To write is to dare the soul. So write.