All relationships are opportunities to serve.

Spiritual vision transforms ordinary experiences into extraordinary and the mundane encounters into opportunities to serve and act out of Love.

Something extraordinary occurred last night, as I was walking with a friend down a London street.

We were approached by a homeless guy who was asking for some spare change.
I said: ‘Sorry, mate! We don’t have any!’
Then he replied, while walking away: ‘Oh, that’s alright! Thanks anyway, usually people curse me before I finish asking!’
I replied: ‘Well, Hare Krishna to you!’
At that moment he turned back and said to us: ‘Hare Krishna!’ Well, that took me by surprise! I thought he was going to walk away but he stopped and came back and said: ‘You know, I am Christian but I know that Krishna is the name of God! Also, I always chant Hare Krishna, before I pray to God. It sort of keeps my mind clear and helps me focus! The Hare Krishna is not a religion, it’s a lifestyle.’
He carried on: ‘I was wondering what does ‘Hare’ mean, I understand Krishna is God, but what is this ‘Hare’?’
While he was speaking, I was thinking-‘Krishna Caitanya, Your Mercy has no limits indeed! No matter what position and situation one finds him/herself, Your Holy Names somehow always find a way to touch their heart!’
I said: ‘Well, ‘Hare’ is the Divine Feminine Energy…
I wanted to add something else but something immediately cliqued in his heart, evidenced by his facial expression. He had a moment of realisation right there!
He said: ‘Oh, that makes sense… so ‘Hare’ is the energy of God! ‘Oh, thanks, I understand now!’- as he lifted his fist waiting for me to fistbump him, which I did!
He walked away being grateful…

We also headed our own way home but this brief exchange was something extraordinary indeed! It made me realise that every encounter with any soul is an opportunity to serve, to act out of Love and transcend any material limitations such as social status, body, birth, gender etc. It also reminded me that Krishna is always present in the hearts of others, waiting for us to turn to Him. It also humbled me and made me aware of my limited vision, focused on the externals (the fact that this person was homeless), something to work on. Finally, I was amused to realise that Krishna is the greatest of playwriters- always putting us in the right place, at the right time, in the right circumstances, to serve/act in His Divine Plan (lila).

Radhe, Radhe!

Hari Om Tat Sat

Continue reading “All relationships are opportunities to serve.”

Radhadesh Mellows 2019- Every kirtan tells a story.

Every kirtan tells a story.

            Stories underpin the human condition at every step. Stories are the fundamental building blocks of our identities and relationships. We are who we are because we tell ourselves the stories of who we are. Over time, we start believing these stories and in turn, we start living them. Ultimately, the stories we expose ourselves to through culture, society, and art, create our sense of self and of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness.’ In this way, we get our sense of proprietorship and control. Then, all kinds of anxieties arise, as we delude ourselves that we are in control of anything. In reality, there is only one person in control- Sri Krishna.

Fortunately, kirtan (congregational chanting of the Holy Names) is rather a purifying process, reminding us, so to speak, of the Actual controller. Indeed, kirtan cleanses the heart of all the materially binding stories. Kirtan allows us to transcend the sense of ‘I-ness’ and ‘mine-ness.’ It allows us to open our hearts to the Divine and to embrace Him with our whole beings. Kirtan does not tolerate any petty criticisms and lamentations coming from our story conditioned minds. The way kirtan destroys all these conditionings is by telling a better story, a story of a higher taste, indeed. In reality, kirtan tells the real story of the relationship between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul-and of course, it is a story of mutual Love. Only in a loving divine union (the actual meaning of yoga), can the individual soul transcend the petty sense of proprietorship and control and simply experience the ecstasy of loving exchanges with Krishna.

Of course, for a good story we need good storytellers. In terms of kirtan, the kirtaniyas engage us in their loving stories and personal relationships with the Divine, Sri Krishna. At least that seems to be the case on the surface. In reality, kirtan is such a powerful and subtle act of worshipping the Divine that every single participant contributes to the telling of the kirtan love story, so to speak. This realisation came to my mind during this year’s kirtan festival- Radhadesh Mellows. Yes, there were incredibly talented kirtan leaders that we all love to hear and yes, all of them carry in their hearts the kirtan love story and share it with us. In this sense, they perform incredible service for the rest of us, for which we should be extremely grateful. However, being in the kirtan hall, with additional 300 people or so, made me start noticing aspects of the kirtan, I did not appreciate before that moment. I started realising how the mridanga and karatals were nicely illustrating the dynamic relationship between Krishna and the individual soul. The harmonium was dictating the movements of the kirtan leaders’ fingers. The violin and the flute were nicely inviting all of us to come to the transcendental platform. Then, the smiling faces of all around me, gave me a sense of Krishna’s presence in the hall. Indeed, He was present in the hearts of everyone. Jumping up and down of people was adding yet another layer of ecstatic expressions. Even the walls and the paintings on the walls were telling their kirtan love stories. In moments like these, one forgets all of one’s stories that conditioned his/her sense of identity. In moments like these, the mind quits lamenting and starts hearing the flute, or Krishna’s Divine Calling to join the eternal dance. In moments like these, the individual soul remembers that the Divine has always loved her/him. Ultimately, kirtan tells the story about our long forgotten lover, Sri Krishna, Bhagavan!