First of all..
Before telling you about what we have done and whats coming up, I would like to proudly announce that last month our Mayapuris group grew. She hasn’t debuted in a performance yet, but that’s because she is on the bench practicing her long Alaps,”Guuuuuuguuuugaaaga!”
Yes! It’s a baby! And it’s a girl!!
Her name is Naimi Sharanya Sheth
Congratulations to Vish and Vrinda!
Now prepare yourself for this months transcendental craziness
Krishna’s Birthday & Prabhupada’s too
Taken By:Krsna Katha Devi Dasi
So after this ecstatic event there has been many others, back to back actually.
We celebrated the famous Janmastami (Krishna’s Birthday) in Alachua Florida and soon after headed to the West Coast for Bhaktifest, where we reunited with many of our Kirtan friends and family. But let me not skip ahead so quickly because what was experienced in Alachua was most definitely a rarity.
The community comes together and creates something called “The Village of Vrindavan”. This village is the most popular attraction on the Krishna farm, where groups of people by the dozens go from tent to tent to see the replicas of the 7 main temples in Vrindavan. Since we don’t have the fortune to go to Vrindavan on this auspicious day, we try our best to bring Vrindavan to us. There are Pujaris (priests) at each temple to greet you with a smile and a sweet ball. The Village of Vrindavan opens up at 7 and closes 1 hour before midnight, when the main Arati (function) happens. Its a big Party and concludes with a midnight feast, where many Krsna Bhaktas taste food for the first time that day to break fast. They fast, then enjoy a warm meal in honor of Krsna’s appearance in this world a little over 5000 years ago.
It is an all day celebration followed with a half day celebration the next day. The founder of the Hare Krishna Movement, Srila Prabhupada, was born the day after Janmastami, so its basically a party…then an after party. The best feast of the year is served on Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day and lots of people like to go to the springs right after the noon feast. It has become a tradition. Dont you just love those type of traditions?
Now are you convinced to come to Alachua for Janmastami?
Bhaktifest has definitely made its stamp in Joshua Tree National Park and quickly has become the most talked about Kirtan festival in the West, well except for the Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork Utah. That Festival is just insane, a most definite phenomenon where 80,000 people gather in just 2 days. Well anyways, back to California.
The name of Shyam was being uttered through out the whole festival. Mostly because a sincere servitor of Shyam (an intimate name of God), Shyam Das, passed away last year and he was a very influential speaker and teacher in Bhaktifest and at other important gatherings. He is a true bhakta and will always be lovingly remembered by all of us. So to honor his departure along with honoring the Bhakti tradition in Bhaktifest, we had rip roaring Kirtans whenever we could.
Some other things we did were: we had some nice jam sessions for Shiva Rea’s yoga class, joined other bands for their Kirtan slots, did street Kirtan, drank Ginger Beer in the pool, met new friends and Kirtan artists and had the honor of closing the festival with a rocking set, Mayapuri Style! here is a clip of thanks to Bond Graham:)
1.(Traditional Song in honor of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, The Founder of Kirtan)
2.(Reggae Hare Krishna)
Our friend Bill was able to edit in 3 different songs in this clip and here you get the crowds point of view of what the main stage is like in Bhaktifest:
We came back home then Celebrated Radhastami with our community which was ecstatically blissful. Its been a tradition (for who knows how many years now) that Vish’s father, Bhadra Prabhu, leads the evening Kirtan and makes all of us forget this material world by chanting the names of Radhe. Radhe is short for Srimati Radharani, who is the Mother of the Universe, The One Supreme Goddess where all other goddesses emanate from. Her compassion is immeasurable and on this day it is magnified even more, so being greedy for her mercy, especially on this day, is a wise thing to do that’s for sure
Taken By:Krsna Katha Devi Dasi
Festival of Colors: New Vrindavan
Then we packed our bags and flew into Pittsburgh and caught a ride to the Hills of West Virginia where the 2nd annual Festival of Colors was held. The land where this wonderful community of Krsna Bhaktas resides is known as, New Vrindavan Dham. The headliners for this event were: Nam Rock, Ananda Groove, Ghost Brothers and us!
3,000 attended and the weather was exquisite, a little dry, but exquisite.
We returned home on the earliest flight possible, which definitely isn’t our favorite but it turned out alright since it gave Bali and Vish time to settle in at home before they dove back into household duties and their University Studies. Oh, just in case you didn’t know, we are Gators. That means that everyone else is Gator Bait! hahaha just a joke..
(Bali and Vish got color mobbed as soon as they stepped in the Color Zone!)
Then after a week of home time, Vish, Goshi and myself flew into Bloomington, Illinois for an event on Saturday. The day before however, 90 ISKCON devotees gathered in a mansion and had some spiritual discourses with Govinda Prabhu, who is an elderly monk that was visiting from Radha Gopinath Mandir (A temple under the guidance of Radhanatha Swami located in Bombay, India). Vish lead the Kirtan and afterwards there was sumptuous food, of course.
Meet Goshi. (Vish and Goshi doing the classic indian pose while rocking the Maharashtrian style hats, you guys can make anything look good)
Saturday was an all day event with different Pujas, Abhishekams, dramas, classes and dances. The venue was super nice and we got to perform in front of 500 people in a professional theater with lighting and all.
Towards the end of our set the Mayor and Senator came on stage and danced with us, what a joyous ending that was.
(sound checking while 500 people waited outside)
Bay Area Tour “The Whirlwind Tour”
On our way back to Alachua from the Bay Area Vish named this tour, “The Whirlwind Tour”, because that’s what it felt like. Getting scooped up, twirled around Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Rafael, The City, then thrown back into our plane back home. Felt like One long day and night but it was filled with so much warmth, friendliness, Kirtan and Love, that it made the whirlwind feel like comforting breezes on a hot day.
The tour started with my late arrival to the airport, having Vish travel solo and to perform at Google alone.
What a bummer. But since he is super human then it didn’t even budge his flow. But yes, he arrived at Google, as in the same Google you tell your friends to search when you want to make a point, “Google It!”
At the event Vish told the employees,
” There are many dimensions, just like the World Wide Web. It’s another dimension that is present all around us but only accessible through the proper device. Similarly the spiritual dimension is omnipresent but not easily achieved except by the simple yet scientific process of chanting mantra. Hare Krsna”
I arrived late at SFO then waited an eternity for the rental car, well at least it felt like an eternity knowing that Vish and the Kirtaniyas were performing for a large audience at Rudra Mandir. My phone died so while i was in the plane i quickly wrote the directions on the back of my ticket and had to be stealth about it since it was time for take off,
“Shut off your phones” they reminded my neighbors, but i anticipated their arrival and hid my phone under my chadar and when they would walk away would continue writing the confusing directions. Gosh, driving in San Fransisco is no easy task, especially for a simple Alachua boy like myself.
I got the car and followed the directions like a devout practitioner and made it to my destination fairly fast and with no detours. I grabbed my whompers and walked towards the building to hear Vijay Krsna chanting the names of Mahaprabhu on top of Vish’s intoxicating mridanga playing. Krsna Devata saw me and invited me to the front and I didn’t hesitate to listen and joined right in till the last beat.
It really was a pleasure to do Kirtan with our friends on stage and our friends in the audience. The wonderful thing about Kirtan is that, if the Kirtan artists have the right mood then the stage quickly dissolves and the feeling of a family unified through joyous prayer takes place.
(A short clip of Vish on guitar with the Kirtaniyas)
We enjoyed Prasadam afterwards then took rest for the next day of activities.
We ate breakfast with Lloyd then met KD for lunch at Radiance Cafe.
From there we met up with Micheal Bredan and did a Harinam Photoshoot at Golden Gate Bridge. My favorite part was when the bystanders started filming the Kirtan instead of their family and friends as they posed in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not that it was great because they filmed us instead of them, but it was great because I know now that they will have the Kirtan on their devices for as long as they live.
We headed directly to San Jose with only one stop for some lip balm and cough drops because of the change of weather. We arrived there during the yoga class and they fed us nice prasadam which was cooked earlier for Vaisheshika Prabhu’s birthday feast: Nutloaf, pokaras, mash potatoes with gravy and yummy chocolate chip muffins. How i remember those muffins dearly.
The temple room filled up as we began the Auspicious invocation. Vish sang a variety of bhajans with the Name Gopal since there were many young kids in the crowd. Afterwards he spoke about sweet pastimes of Krsna in Vrindavan as I decorated his story telling with some Bansuri. Vish seamlessly started to tell the pastime of how the Flute became the Mridanga. The crowd was enchanted and became even more so when he stood up and made the mridanga sound like an intricate flute.
After chanting and dancing for a couple hours we had to end because we are in the material world with many other responsibilities other than spending time with Krsna. But of course maybe one day we can all have that transcendental vision where we see Krsna at all times in whatever we do. That will be the day this material world becomes the Spiritual world, for all of us!
Anyway, we headed to David Estes house with a small crew and he showed us all of his studio gear and his awesome instruments. The Pakistani tabla was Vish’s favorite and my favorite was his comfortable couch. Prajna sang beautiful Bhajans and i woke up to her chanting, “Narayana Narayana Narayana Narayana!” I thought I woke up in Vaikuntha! Not my favorite place but definitely good enough, for sometime
We sang some more bhajans passed midnight then we really had to go because we had to drop off a friend all the way in Santa Cruz, then return to San Jose since we had a morning yoga class with Prajna near by.
We woke up and didn’t have time for breakfast so we brought it with us, thanks to Hamsa. Muffins, Doughnuts, Cupcakes and some Jamba Juice!
We arrived a little late so I dropped Vish off and looked for parking. I entered the yoga room and heard melodious guitar playing and singing as people slowly changed postures in unison. Quite hypnotizing the whole thing. But of course, By the end we had everyone dancing, which is the Origin of Yoga, Lord Shiva’s Dance.
We headed back towards Santa Cruz to Hamsa’s parents Hotel which is right by the beach. The water was freezing! But we got warmed up by a warm meal cooked by her mother. The prasadam was so good that we automatically took a 20 minute nap with no questions asked.
It was time for Sound check at the Cultural Center so we headed into the mountains up and down windy roads to pick up the organizer of the event, who worked really hard to make everything happen, she even got different types of flowers to add a sweet touch. Thank you Sumatiji!
We had an intimate crowd and took the chance to teach them how to play Kartals. Somehow we had the perfect amount of kartals and whompers for the whole room. We chanted and danced the night away then finished off with our rendition of “Give me Love” By George Harrison.
We Drove back to San Jose again for some short rest and woke up at 4am for an early departure out of SFO.
(Ironically there was a whirlwind device in front of our gate bidding us farewell)
So there you have it, Lets see what happens in October
& it don’t stop!
With Love and Joy, Kish