A the start of this new year, I am praying to be resolute. Resolute means to be ‘marked by firm determination’, something often very elusive, for me at least.
There are so many things in my life which have great importance, yet I am not resolute in my determination to dedicate quality time and attention to them. Whether it’s my spiritual life – chanting rounds, reading; my education – music, dance, university work; even the other creative activities that I love – all are withering without my continued, focused attention.
It is painful to face your own faults. Everyone wants to feel that they are really doing their best in life. But I know I’m not, and I can’t pretend to be. Even if I could fool everyone else, it’s impossible to fool Krishna. So at the start of 2008, I pray to be resolute.
Luckily for me, I have the most wonderful role models, to whom I can look for inspiration. It is impossible to count them all, but each one has such special qualities that I admire and aspire to cultivate within myself. Inspiration has come in expected and unexpected places over the last year:
This devotee (I can’t remember his name) – in charge of the ISKCON Goshalla in Vrindavan. His dedication is admirable, striving to maintain and build something important but often overlooked.
In Belvan, Vrindavan, we shared an afternoon with this wonderful family. Seeing the simplicity of their life, but the joy with which they lived it and their sincere hospitality to us humbled me.
Watching the youngest gurukula boys just before the morning program in the Krishna Balarama temple, Vrindavan. They sang in kirtan so enthusiastically, loudly shouting ‘Haribol! Haribol!’. Surrounded by the potent atmosphere of Vraja, they reminded me of the cowherd boys and how enthusiastically they must be singing about Krishna always.
My sister Tulasi always inspires me to try and have a sunnier disposition 🙂
I was blessed to be travelling with forty talented and inspiring friends this summer. Over almost two months, I learnt something valuable from each one.
In LA, I had the chance to re-connect with Guru Nistha, who studies Hindustani violin – we excitedly got out our violins and spent a wonderful hour under a tree, comparing notes and playing together.
Also in LA, I met James, who came up to me one night outside the temple after we had done our bus tour performance. He said he had missed it, but caught the end and saw me playing the violin. He said he goes out every week with the devotees and plays in the harinam. He plays a violin that he built himself, from reading books about old Stradivarius models in the library – the day I was leaving, we got a chance to play together…
In Alachua, Florida, I met Vani. She is learning violin by the Suzuki method and I was amazed to hear her playing so beautifully. She’s definitely a rising star in more ways than one…
As always, my friends here in England inspire me more with every year. We are a family, and this year has been more special than ever as we have grown together in commitment to coming together and performing kirtan, doing service – we are even hatching new plans as this new year starts to try and be more involved in preaching.
Sarva inspires me for too many reasons to count. I was lucky to spend two days with her, as she lives in Australia right now.
I was amazed to see the number of people, enthusiastically lining up to eat prasadam at the Krishna Lunch program, University of Florida. It is incredible to see how something that starts so small, can become something so successful – they now serve five days a week I think and serve out thousands of plates to the students who all give donations. I really realised the potency that prasadam has through the seeing the enthusiasm of everyone present.
As in 2006, I was ever inspired on the bus tour by Dravinaksa prabhu, one of our drivers. He drives for the bus tour voluntarily year after year and puts up with noisy teenagers for two months, just to give us the opportunity to have such a Krishna conscious experience. As ‘driver keeper uppers’ sometimes we had to stay up late, talking to whoever was driving to keep them awake. It was always an enlightening experience speaking to him, whether about pineapple farming, or Srila Prabhupada’s books…
I was over joyed to visit Yamuna devi (top) and Dina Tarine (bottom) in their ashram in Saranagati, B.C. I have only ever been there for two days total, but those days have fuelled me in so many ways. Being in their company is special and priceless – from attending their morning program for their deities -Radha Banabihari, to cooking with them – everything they do is driven by sincere devotion to Krishna. So rare.
I was equally inspired to visit Yadubara and Visakha prabhus. I am always quite awestruck to think of their incredible combined effort during the time that Srila Prabhupada was present – photographing and filming his activities for the eternal benefit of the entire world. They are wonderful artists and they continue to produce beautiful films, books and other media on Krishna consciousness.
In Saranagati, Radha (second from right) was our guide, taking us around the valley to meet everyone – at one point we got to meet her family, who were loving, welcoming and inspired me in their way of life. Saranagati has only generator run electricity and can be an austere place to live (everyone there had a different bear encounter story to tell) – but they live simply and sweetly and seeing them, I felt convinced that this in this simplicity, it is easier to be Krishna conscious.
I was so lucky to travel all summer with Anapayini, who is one of the most beautiful, sincere and gifted people I know. Being with her rekindled my enthusiasm and belief in the importance of cultivating classical art forms like dance and music as a wonderful way of glorifying and serving Krishna. She runs her own dance school – Bhaktikalayam in Alachua, Florida and together with her equally inspiring senior students, we choreographed a performance together for Janmashtami. Every moment with her was truly a blessing.
Performing with the Bhaktikalalayam girls at LA Rathayatra, L-R, me, Prtha, Sita, Jahnavi, Kalindi, Nadia – ‘The Nine Processes of Devotional Service’.
These two people – Jaya Radhe and Manu, inspire me unbelievably. Their determination, sacrifice, effort and wonderful vision in motivating and engaging devotee youth – whether on the annual Krishna Culture Festival Tour, or in other projects throughout the year is something that I aspire to develop. They are extremely special souls.
As ever, last year the beauty of Krsna’s creation and his presence everywhere inspired me almost daily.
Photo by Radhanath Jakupko
Somehow I had the good fortune to be somewhat synchronised in my movements across the globe with Radhanath Swami. First in various places across North America on the bus tour, then in Alachua, Florida, and finally in England! I had never really spoken to him before, although I had seen him many times. His kindness, sincerity, devotion and clarity of purpose left a great impression on me and I was equally impressed to see how he took time to connect with everyone, whether he knew them or not. When he was in England, he attended our weekly Friday ‘gurukuli bhajans’ evening and afterwards sat, speaking to each of us one by one. I saw some of the younger boys sitting with him, their faces completely lit up – and normally they aren’t so enthusiastic. It was wonderful to see.
Undoubtedly, my most inspiring experience last year, has to be visiting Vrindavan.
So. I have do something with all this inspiration. What use is being inspired if it does not become the catalyst for positive action? I have to be resolute. This is my resolution.
P.S. I wrote this post on New Years’s Day and I’ve been adding to it ever since. When I tried to remember everything that had inspired me over a whole year, I realised it was nearly impossible. I’m sure I’ve missed out several hundred things…