Summer reappeared here at Ananda Ashram in upstate NY. I can smell fresh cut grass and the crickets are basking in the early evening sunshine. Scarlet and gold trees transform the forest and create incredible impressionist designs on the surface of the lake.
We’re up here for the first ever Kirtan festival at this well known spiritual centre. My parent’s guru, Srila Prabhupada stayed here when he first came to the west, and I feel his presence here. It’s been a great way to reflect on how his actions have given me life, and how I hope to share those gifts, as sincerely as possible.
Today I led my own ‘slot’ for the first time at a festival like this. I was sort of strong armed into it. A few years ago I was too shy to even sing in front of my parents, let alone in a microphone, but today I found myself surrounded by the sweetest group of devotional musicians, all helping me to make this offering. I was scared but it was fun. We made up a little arrangement for the bhajan – Sri Kevalashtakam, just before we began. Richard Davis, a film scoring professor from Berklee college played banjo as we sang the chorus – harer nama eva kevalam – there is nothing else but the name of Hari.
These kind of festivals can be simultaneously energizing and exhausting, but it’s always encouraging to see more and more faces of people who lead other wise ‘normal lives’, blissfully singing sacred mantras at the top of their lungs. This, and so many other events make up small pieces of the big picture – the mantra revolution that is catching fire like dry grass under a magnifying glass.
Over the weekend I’ve met artists and musicians, psychotherapists and lawyers, hippies and straight-laced housewives – all drawn to this joyful practice from an understanding that there is more to life than possessions, status and career.
I could go on and on, but blogging by iPhone encourages you to keep it short. God bless you Mr Jobs – Hare Krishna!