Category Archives: India

Mahavatar Babaji – Shiva Siddha – Immortal Yogi Christ

THE SHIVA SIDDHAS : Babaji Nagaraj 🔱

One of the 18 Maheshvara Siddhas responsible for founding a school of yoga based upon the ancient teachings of Sanat Kumara – the founder of the Gnostic-Alchemical Path – was the Siddha Babaji. Also known as Nagaraj, “King of the Nagas,” Babaji was a student of both Agastyar and Boganathar. Babaji’s school of yoga, called Kriya Yoga, was based upon the Kaya Kalpa science of pranayama or breath control.

According to the authorized biography in Babaji and The 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition by Babaji devotee M. Govindam, Babaji was born in 203 B.C. to a priest of the Shiva temple in Parangipetttai, southern India. Within his father’s temple was a life-sized image of Sanat Kumara or Lord Murugan that had originally been a huge Shiva lingam before magically transforming into the forever young form of the Kumara, Babaji spent much of his earliest years assisting his father in the temple and immersing himself in the worship of this image of Murugan.

At five years of age Babaji was kidnapped, but then set free again soon afterwards. Rather than return to his home and family, however, Babaji decided to renounce worldy life and travel throughout India as a mendicant and renunciate. During his subsequent wanderings Babaji encountered many enlightened Siddhas, each of whom taught him some facet of Yoga. At one point his travels led him to the shrine of Murugan in Sri Lanka where he met the Siddha Bogarnath and gained instruction in both alchemy and meditation Then, following six months of intensive spiritual practice under Bogarnath’s expert guidance, Babaji achieved a deep state of transcendental absorption or Samadhi during which he achieved spiritual communion with the forever young boy.

After leaving Sri Lanka, Babaji journeyed to the Pothigai Hills with the goal of receiving the spiritual blessings of the Siddha Agastya With great determination Babaji camped at the Courtallam Falls which were nearby the sage’s secluded ashram and vowed to undergo severe austerities until he was blessed with the divine presence of the diminutive sage. Following forty-eight days of rigorous tapas (austerities) Babaji’s resolve bore fruit and the diminutive Siddha spontaneously appeared from behind a tree. Agastyar blessed Babaji and initiated him into that branch of Kaya Kalpa known as Vasi Yoga, the science of breath control. Following this initiation, Agastyar gave Babaji instructions to travel to the Himalayas and master pranayama.

Babaji immersed himself in intensive yoga within the Himalayan caves before founding an ashram near the Shiva Temple of Badrinath. In due time he achieved immortality and became patriarch of his own school of Vasi Yoga called Kriya Yoga. Through the dynamic yogis who subsequently achieved enlightenment under Babaji’s guidance, including the Siddhas Lahari Mahasaya, Shri Yukteswar, and Paramahansa Yogananda, Kriya Yoga eventually spread throughout the world. Babaji Nagaraj is said to currently be approximately 2000 years in age while continuing to anchor the high frequencies of Spirit in an immortal physical form in his Himalayan retreat.

From: The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom 🐍
by Mark Amaru Pinkham

Saint Sarah, Santa Sara La Kali, Sarah the Egyptian

Saint Sarah aka Santa Sara La Kali aka Sarah the Egyptian aka Sarasvati Lakshmi Kali, daughter of Jesus & Mary Magdalene, known by Catholics as Egyptian servant to the Three Mary’s as they fled from Roman persecution in Jerusalem to France to a place now known as Saintes Maries de la Mer in Camarque, France.

To the Romani Gypsies, she is Santa Sara la Kali, the Patron Saint of the Gypsies. To Gnostics, Essenes & Nazoreans she was actually the daughter of Jesus & Mary Magdalene, disguised as a servant to hide her true identity. It is said that, every year since their arrival the people have been celebrating the day of their arrival to France at the coast with a large pilgrimage festival. The day of the pilgrimage honouring Sarah is May 24; her statue is carried down to the sea on this day to re-enact her arrival in France.

Some authors have drawn parallels between the ceremonies of the pilgrimage and the worship of the Hindu goddess Kali (a form of Durga), subsequently identifying the two. Ronald Lee states:

“If we compare the ceremonies with those performed in France at the shrine of Sainte Sara (called Sara e Kali in Romani), we become aware that the worship of Kali/Durga/Sara has been transferred to a Christian figure… in France, to a non-existent “sainte” called Sara, who is actually part of the Kali/Durga/Sara worship among certain groups in India.”

The name “Sara” itself is seen in the appellation of Durga as Kali in the famed text Durgasaptashati.

In The Rozabal Line, author Ashwin Sanghi puts forward that Sara-la-Kali refers to the three Hindu goddesses – Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kali – the goddesses of Knowledge, Wealth and Power – symbolizing the trinity of female power.

The African Presence in India, Sambo/Shambo The Black God & Africans In Asia

By Runoko Rashidi

We are already aware… based on recent scientific studies of DNA, that modern humanity originated in Africa, that African people are the world’s aboriginal people and that all modern humans can ultimately trace their ancestral roots back to Africa. If not for the primordial migrations of early African people, humanity would have remained physically Africoid, and the rest of the world outside of the African continent absent of human life. This is our starting point.

Since the first modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) were of African birth, the African presence globally can be demonstrated through the history of the Black populations that have inhabited the world within the span of recent humanity. Not only are African people the aboriginal people of the planet, however, there is abundant evidence to show that Black people created and sustained many of the world’s earliest and most enduring civilizations. Such was the case in India.

The questions we pose here are simply these: Who are the African people of India? What is their significance in the annals of history? Precisely what have they done and what are they doing now? These are extremely serious questions that warrant serious and fundamental answers.

ANCIENT AFRICA AND EARLY INDIA

Exceptionally valuable writings reflecting close relationships between Africa and early India have existed for more than two thousand years. In the first century B.C.E., for example, the famous Greek historian Diodorus Siculus penned that, 

“From Ethiopia he (Osiris) passed through Arabia, bordering upon the Red Sea as far as India…. He built many cities in India, one of which he called Nysa, willing to have remembrance of that (Nysa) in Egypt, where he was brought up.”

INDIA’S EARLIEST CIVILIZATION

In Greater India, more than a thousand years before the foundations of Greece and Rome, proud and industrious Black men and women known as Dravidians erected a powerful civilization. We are referring here to the Indus Valley civilization- -India’s earliest high-culture, with major cities spread out along the course of the Indus River. The Indus Valley civilization was at its height from about 2200 B.C.E. to 1700 B.C.E. This phase of its history is called the Harappan, the name being derived from Harappa, one of the earliest known Indus Valley cities.

In 1922, about 350 miles northeast of Harappa, another large Indus city, Mohenjo-daro (the Mound of the Dead) was identified. Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were apparently the chief administrative centers of the Indus Valley complex, and since their identification, several additional cities, including Chanhu-daro, Kalibangan, Quetta and Lothal have been excavated.

The Indus cities possessed multiple level houses enhanced by sophisticated wells, drainage systems and bathrooms with flushing toilets. A recognized scholar on the Indus Valley civilization, Dr. Walter Fairservis, states that the “Harappans cultivated cotton and perhaps rice, domesticated the chicken and may have invented the game of chess and one of the two great early sources of nonmuscle power: the windmill.”

The decline and fall of the Indus Valley civilization has been linked to several factors, the most important of which were the increasingly frequent incursions of the White people known in history as Aryans–violent Indo-European tribes initially from central Eurasia and later Iran. Indeed, the name Iran means the “land of the Aryan.”

APARTHEID IN INDIA

The White tribes that invaded India and disrupted Black civilization there are known as Aryans. The Aryans were not necessarily superior warriors to the Blacks but they were aggressive, developed sophisticated military technologies and glorified military virtues. After hundreds of years of intense martial conflict the Aryans succeeded in subjugating most of northern India. Throughout the vanquished territories a rigid, caste-segmented social order was established with the masses of conquered Blacks (called Shudras) essentially reduced to slaves to the Whites and imposed upon for service in any capacity required by their White conquerors. This vicious new world order was cold-bloodily racist, with the Whites on top, the mixed races in the middle, and the overwhelming majority of Black people on the very bottom. In fact, the Aryan term varna, denoting one’s societal status and used interchangeably with caste, literally means color or complexion and reflects a prevalent racial hierarchy. Truly, India is still a racist country. White supremacist David Duke claimed “that his 1970′s visit to India was a turning point in his views on the superiority of the White race.”

Caste law in India, based originally on race, regulated all aspects of life, including marriage, diet, education, place of residence and occupation. This is not to deny that there were certain elements of the Black aristocracy that managed to gain prominence in the dominant White social structure. The masses of conquered Black people, however, were regarded by the Whites as Untruth itself. The Whites claimed to have emerged from the mouth of God; the Blacks, on the other hand, were said to have emerged from the feet of God. This was the ugly reality for the Black masses in conquered India. It was written that:

“A Sudra [Black] who intentionally reviles twice-born men [Whites] by criminal abuse, or criminally assaults them with blows, shall be deprived of the limb with which he offends. If he has criminal intercourse with an Aryan woman, his organ shall be cut off, and all his property confiscated. If the woman has a protector, the Sudra shall be executed. If he listens intentionally to a recitation of the Veda [a traditional Hindu religious text], his tongue shall be cut out. If he commits them to memory his body shall be split in half.”

Servitude to Whites became the basis of the lives of the Black people of India for generation after generation after generation. With the passage of time, this brutally harsh, color-oriented, racially-based caste system became the foundation of the religion that is now practiced throughout all India. This is the religion known as Hinduism.

THE BUDDHA AND BUDDHISM IN INDIA

African Black Buddha

Buddhism appeared in India during the sixth century B.C.E. and came in the form of a protest against Hinduism. Buddhism opposed the arrogance of caste, and preached tolerance. It should not be surprising, then, that it developed a large and rapid following in the regions of India where the Blacks had survived in substantial numbers. On the emergence of Buddhism in India, Diop has suggested that:

“It would seem that Buddha was an Egyptian priest, chased from Memphis by the persecution of Cambyses. This tradition would justify the portrayal of Buddha with woolly hair. Historical documents do not invalidate this tradition…There is general agreement today on placing in the sixth century not only Buddha but the whole religious and philosophical movement in Asia with Confucius in China, Zoroaster in Iran. This would confirm the hypothesis of a dispersion of Egyptian priests at that time spreading their doctrine in Asia.”

Dr. Vulindlela Wobogo, another African-centric scholar, has observed that:

“Manifestations of the Buddha in Asia are Black with woolly hair. They all appear to be Egypto-Nubian priests who fled Egypt…The priests carried their spiritual knowledge but lost much of the scientific knowledge for obvious reasons. The well-known aspects of Buddhism and its companion, yoga, are all simply Egypto-Nubian priesthood practices, meditation, and…the belief that one could attain a god-like state if the soul was liberated from the body through knowledge and denial.”

In a monumental two volume work entitled A Book of the Beginnings, originally published in 1881, Gerald Massey recorded that:

“It is not necessary to show that the first colonisers of India were Black, but it is certain that the Black Buddha of India was imaged in the Africoid type. In the Black [African] god, whether called Buddha or Sut-Nahsi, we have a datum. they carry in their color the proof of their origin. The people who first fashioned and worshipped the divine image in the Africoid mold of humanity must, according to all knowledge of human nature, have been Africans themselves. For the Blackness is not merely mystical, the features and the hair of Buddha belong to the Black race.”

In the first volume of his massive text Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins wrote that:

“The religion of Buddha, of India, is well known to have been very ancient. In the most ancient temples scattered through Asia, where his worship is yet continued, he is found black as jet, with the flat face, thick lips and curly hair of the African.”

DALIT: THE BLACK UNTOUCHABLES OF INDIA

Possibly the most substantial percentage of Asia’s Blacks can be identified among India’s 160 million “Untouchables” or “Dalits.” Frequently they are called “Outcasts.” Indian nationalist leader and devout Hindu Mohandas K. Gandhi called them “Harijans,” meaning “children of god.” The official name given them in India’s constitution (1951) is “Scheduled Castes.” “Dalit,” meaning “crushed and broken,” is a name that has come into prominence only within the last four decades. “Dalit” reflects a radically different response to oppression.

The Dalit are demonstrating a rapidly expanding awareness of their African ancestry and their relationship to the struggle of Black people throughout the world. They seem particularly enamored of African-Americans. African-Americans, in general, seem almost idolized by the Dalit, and the Black Panther Party, in particular, is virtually revered. In April 1972, for example, the Dalit Panther Party was formed in Bombay, India. This organization takes its pride and inspiration directly from the Black Panther Party of the United States. This is a highly important development due to the fact that the Untouchables have historically been so systematically terrorized that many of them, even today, live in a perpetual state of extreme fear of their upper caste oppressors. This is especially evident in the villages. The formation of the Dalit Panthers and the corresponding philosophy that accompanies it signals a fundamental change in the annals of resistance, and Dalit Panther organizations have subsequently spread to other parts of India. In August 1972, the Dalit Panthers announced that the 25th anniversary of Indian independence would be celebrated as a day of mourning. In 1981, in Bangalore, India Dravidian journalist V.T. Rajshekar published the first issue of Dalit Voice–the major English journal of the Black Untouchables. In a 1987 publication entitled the African Presence in Early Asia, Rajshekar stated that:

“The African-Americans also must know that their liberation struggle cannot be complete as long as their own blood-brothers and sisters living in far off Asia are suffering. It is true that African-Americans are also suffering, but our people here today are where African-Americans were two hundred years ago.

African-American leaders can give our struggle tremendous support by bringing forth knowledge of the existence of such a huge chunk of Asian Blacks to the notice of both the American Black masses and the Black masses who dwell within the African continent itself.”

Dravidian man of India

HABSHIS AND SIDDIS: AFRICAN DYNASTIES IN INDIA

India also received its share of African bondsmen, of whom the most famous was the celebrated Malik Ambar (1550-1626). Ambar, like a number of Africans in medieval India, elevated himself to a position of great authority. Malik Ambar, whose original name was Shambu, was born around 1550 in Harar, Ethiopia. After his arrival in India Ambar was able to raise a formidable army and achieve great power in the west Indian realm of Ahmadnagar. Ambar was a brilliant diplomat and administrator. He encouraged manufactures and built canals and mosques. He gave pensions to poets and scholars, established a postal service, and ultimately became one of the most famous men in India. 

In a collective form, however, and in respect to long term influence, the African sailors known as Siddis stand out. Certainly, Siddi kingdoms were established in western India in Janjira and Jaffrabad as early as 1100 AD. After their conversion to Islam, the African freedmen of India, originally called Habshi from the Arabic, called themselves Sayyad (descendants of Muhammad) and were consequently called Siddis. Indeed, the island Janjira was formerly called Habshan, meaning Habshan’s or African’s land. Siddi signifies lord or prince. It is further said that Siddi is an expression of respectful address commonly used in North Africa, like Sahib in India. Specifically, it is said to be an honorific title given to the descendants of African natives in the west of India, some of whom were distinguished military officers and administrators of the Muslim princes of the Deccan.

In the second decade of the sixteenth century a European traveler named Armando Cortesao noted that:

“The people who govern the kingdom [Bengal] are Abyssinians [Ethiopians]. These men are looked upon as knights; they are greatly esteemed; they wait on the kings in their apartments. The chief among them are eunuchs and these come to be kings and great lords in the kingdom. Those who are not eunuchs are the fighting men. After the king, it is to this people that the kingdom is obedient from fear.”

The Siddis were a tightly knit group, highly aggressive, and even ferocious in battle. They were employed largely as security forces for Muslim fleets in the Indian Ocean, a position they maintained for centuries. The Siddi commanders were titled Admirals of the Mughal Empire, and received an annual salary of 300,000 rupees. According to Ibn Battuta (1304-1377), the noted Muslim writer who journeyed through both Africa and Asia, the Siddis “are the guarantors of safety on the Indian Ocean; let there be but one of them on a ship and it will be avoided by the Indian pirates and idolaters.”

Siddi people of India

Leonard Howell – The First Rasta

Leonard Howell (6/16 1898 – 2/25 1981)

Leonard Howell, known as the founder of the Rastafari movement, was born in Clarendon, Jamaica. On November 2, 1930, Haile Selassie I was crowned by the emperor of Ethiopia. Howell interpreted this as a fulfillment of the words of Marcus Garvey when he said in the 1920’s, “Look to Africa for the crowning of a black king, He shall be the Redeemer!”

In 1933, Howell founded Rastafari movement in Jamaica with Joseph -, Arch Bold Dunk and others. Howell was accused of sedition due to this activity, and was captured by police authorities for 2 years, but even after prison, he fought with the power of Jamaica and developed Rastafari movement.

[Early life]

Howell was born on June 16, 1898 in May Crawle village in the Bull Head mountain district of upper Clarendon in Jamaica. He was the eldest of a family of ten children. Charles Theophilus Howell, his father, worked as peasant cultivator and tailor. Clementina Bennett, his mother, worked as an agricultural laborer.

During the First World War, Howell worked as a seaman and served as part of a Jamaican contingent sent to Panama. Before temporarily settling in Panama in 1918, he travelled back and forth between New York City and Panama several times. While in New York he became a member of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) after being confronted with his identity as a black man in Harlem for the first time and meeting Garvey, the revolutionary UNIA leader, in person.

Howell lived abroad for a total of some twenty years in his early life, during which time he was arrested and jailed for his involvement with the UNIA because the organization’s pro-black messages were viewed as threatening. After migrating to Panama and the United States, he eventually returned home in December 1932 at the age of 34 after being deported from the US. He was deported because of his involvement with the UNIA, which was perceived as threatening by the US government, due to the organization’s messages of black power and anti-colonialism. Upon returning to his homeland, he decided to leave his family home and spread the word about Rastafarianism. This decision to break away from his home was due to a conflict between Howell and his family, presumably because of his controversial belief in the divine nature of Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.

[Rastafari evangelism]

Howell’s first public articulation of the divinity of Haile Selassie occurred in January 1933. This first open deification, which proclaimed the Emperor of Ethiopia to be the incarnation of God, took place at “Redemption Ground” in Kingston but was not successful in gaining converts.

In February 1933, Howell relocated his meeting to a southeastern parish of St. Thomas and two months later, on April 18, he addressed about two hundred people at a meeting in Trinity Ville, St. Thomas. During this meeting, police were present to monitor and control the event, which they deemed to be of a “seditious nature.” Despite concerns, authorities chose not to press charges against Howell so as not to draw extra attention to his movement and decided instead to closely monitor him.

According to Howell and his followers, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was the “Black Messiah” – an incarnation of God predicted by biblical prophecy. Howell believed that the grand coronation of Haile Selassie (who was widely traditionally claimed to be the descendant of King David, King Solomon, and the Queen of Sheba, in part due to the medieval Ethiopian text Kebra Nagast), was the realization of a prophecy. The grandness of the emperor’s ascension to power appeared to validate Howell’s imperative claim.

Howell’s teachings often began with background information about the people, land, and sovereignty of Ethiopia as an unchanged land populated by original, primitive Christian people who were under direct rule of a king who was a direct descendant of King David. He idealized Ethiopia in his preaching, calling the country a land with unmatched people and a perfect language, the sole uncorrupted language on Earth. Howell emphasized the coming of a new civilization based upon and founded in the glory and power of Haile Selassie, the “Supreme Black King.” He instructed his followers to adore the Ethiopian emperor as the supreme God over all of humanity. In Howell’s view, it was through Ethiopia that the truths of good character, social order, manhood and womanhood were preserved and were unfolding for all to see. Howell preached that Ethiopian culture was re-emerging to overtake hegemonic Anglo-Saxon forces that had kept Africans enslaved.

[Core values, leadership, and social network]

Among his followers, Howell preferred being called Gangunguru Maragh or G.G. Maragh to distinguish his ritual, mystical personality from his secular identity. Howell’s ritual name is thought to be a combination of three Hindi words – gyan (wisdom), gun (virtue or talent), and guru (teacher). In Hindi, Maragh means “great kings” or “king of kings.” Howell used this name as a pseudonym when he published The Promised Key.

In a meeting at Port Mortant, St. Thomas, on September 1933, it is recorded that Howell held a meeting that began with the singing of hymns. Then, Howell reportedly taunted clergymen of other religious denominations at the gathering and discouraged people from attending church because “ministers were liars.”[11] He also spoke critically of slavery, claiming that “the White man stole Africa from the Africans, and that Black people should think that Africa is their home, not Jamaica”.

Howell’s message of praise for Emperor Haile Selassie also came with an open call for black supremacy as a way to combat colonialism and reject oppression by whites. At times, Howell would ask his congregants to join together and sing “God Save the King” – the king being Haile Selassie. Howell’s central doctrine acted as a force against white colonial ideology due to his placement of blackness as morally superior to whiteness, as is explained in his widely read publication, The Promised Key.

Howell is remembered as being a charismatic and authoritarian leader who sincerely cared about the wellbeing of his followers. In 1937, Howell founded the Ethiopian Salvation Society (ESS) whose objective was to use collective savings to better its members. A secondary purpose of the ESS was to help spread the good news about salvation and Christianity and underscore the value of self-help and good citizenship. These secondary purposes were expressly stated so as to shield the organization from suspicion that it was promoting sedition. Nevertheless, in 1940 the Jamaican governor responded to pressure from the colonial secretary and the labor leadership by officially banning a meeting of the ESS due to the resentment the organization was creating as well as its internationalization.

In addition to his leadership role in the ESS, Howell served as a role model and father figure for the growing Rastafarian community. His audacious, generous personality, combined with his well-travelled background, made early Rastafarians particularly receptive to his messages. Howell brought “the hope of a new generation, one which was inspired by the magnificence of the new Ethiopian emperor.”

To expand Howell’s Rastafarian network, he formed relationships with other black groups such as the Afro-Athlican Constructive Gaathly and the UNIA. Additionally he collaborated closely with other icons of the Rastafarian movement such as Marcus Garvey and George Padmore, a Trinidadian journalist.

Howell’s appeal for identification with Africa was in opposition to concurrent movements in Jamaica promoting a Jamaican creole nationalism. Howell positioned himself as an opponent of the labor nationalists Bustamante and Manley who had gained a substantial following among the working class. Howell preached to both the working class and the peasantry in Jamaica, attempting to unite disenfranchised black people to overcome colonial oppression. Jamaica’s independence in 1962 (which nevertheless maintained social, political and economic ties between Jamaica and Great Britain) was largely a disappointment for Howell, who had called for the complete severance of relations with imperial Britain.

[Trials and punishments]

In January 1934, Howell and Robert Hinds, another pioneer of the Rastafarian movement, were arrested and charged with sedition due to their gatherings and speeches at a meeting of 300 people at Seaforth, St Thomas, on December 10, 1933.

Howell was put on trial for sedition on March 13, 1934, and pleaded not guilty to openly expressing hatred and contempt for the Jamaican government and the King in addition to disturbing public peace on the island. Howell defended himself in court, using a photograph of Haile Selassie as evidence. During this historic trial, Howell is remembered as being the first person to declare that Haile Selassie was “the Messiah returned to earth.” Ultimately he was sentenced to two years in jail for sedition by the Jamaican chief justice, Robert William Lyall-Grant.

Later, in 1938, Howell was sent to a mental asylum in Kingston called the Bellevue Aslyum after being certified as insane for the inflammatory statements he published in his book The Promised Key. In this publication, which was released while Howell was still incarcerated, he labeled the Roman Catholic Pope as “Satan the Devil” and created the impression that war was being declared against colonialism and white supremacy – which Howell asserted should be replaced with “Black supremacy.” Furthermore, he openly objected to locally created religious systems like Revivalism and Obeah, a Jamaican folk practice. Although small, the book was powerful and very popular to the dismay of the Jamaican government.

As one of the most charismatic and outspoken of Rastafarian leaders, Howell was incarcerated at notably higher rates than other pioneers of the Rastafarian movement, such as Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert and Hinds. Described as “the most persecuted Rastafarian to date,” Howell suffered considerably under constant state surveillance because of his Rastafarian teachings. Due to his repeated imprisonment and persecution, he suffered the blow of being absent during Haile Selassie’s 1966 visit to Jamaica.

Especially threatening to the powers that be was his prophetic call for people to destroy the legitimacy and might of the British empire and international white supremacy, a message that caused people to reconsider their for identity, agency, and socio-political mobilization in Jamaica and elsewhere.

[Creation of Pinnacle Community]

Following his release from prison for his teachings of black power and denunciation of colonial rule, Howell created the first Rastafarian village in Jamaica at Sligoville, St. Catherine in 1940. The settlement was called “Pinnacle” due to its high hilltop elevation and was symbolically located in the first free village established to house former slaves in Jamaica. Pinnacle was one of the country’s first self-sustaining communities, its community members were able to meet their needs without dependence on outside resources. Some refer to Pinnacle as a commune, in which Howell’s form of socialism was practiced. Soon after its foundation, other similar Rastafarian communities were established across the country. Pinnacle was especially known for the cultivation of ganja (marijuana) that has religious significance for Rastafarians.

In efforts to shut down Howell and his followers, police raided Howell’s community of Pinnacle multiple times and labeled the community a “communist experiment” in 1941. Just one year after the creation of the settlement, government forces infiltrated and arrested many of Howell’s followers. After escaping immediate arrest, Howell was eventually arrested and tried once again for sedition and consequently was faced with two more years behind bars. Upon his release in 1943, he returned to Pinnacle once again. Howell hired guards and brought in watch dogs to protect Pinnacle from future attacks.

The police raided Pinnacle several more times in the 1950s. In 1954, militia invaded the community and almost completely destroyed the village. Even after this mass destruction, settlers returned, though the settlement was never restored to its previous thriving state. During a final raid in 1958, the police cleared out the remaining residents completely. Despite its ultimate destruction, the impact of the settlement made it legendary among other settlements around the country, who were observed to have been “miniature Pinnacles.”

[Alleged disappearance and ongoing legacy]

Some claim that Howell disappeared from public sight between 1958 and 1960, completely dropping out of his role as a Rastafarian leader. Accounts that he was neither heard from nor interacted with between this period and his death in 1981 have been challenged by historians who examined his life, however. Even after the final major raid of Pinnacle and Howell’s confinement in a mental asylum, he reportedly continued in his leadership of the Pinnacle community and as a Rastafari foundational role model, as evidenced by his role as a defendant in several cases at the Home Circuit Court, Kingston, regarding disputes about his ownership of Pinnacle.

Today Howell is remembered as a pioneer of the Rastafarian movement. Additionally, in honor of his values and persistent fight against colonial authority, he is seen as a leader of Pan-Africanism. To fight for his remembrance, the Leonard P Howell Foundation was created to “perpetuate and honor the memory of Leonard P Howell.” The Foundation calls for the restoration of a portion of the Pinnacle Property so that it can become a UNESCO world heritage site, an international Rastafarian worship and research center, and a monument in tribute to the vision and leadership of Leonard Percival Howell.

Is ‘Raca’ a racial slur used in the time of Jesus Christ?

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment’: But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment : and whosoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca’ shall be in danger of the council : but whoever shall say, ‘Thou fool,’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)

Raca : a derogatory term in Aramaic (literally, “I spit on you”) conveying extreme contempt.

Raça Negra : Portuguese for “Black Race”

Seems possible that in Jesus’ time Raca was a racial slur against black peoples.. could it have been equivalent to the N-word at the time?

Ethiopian painting of The Sermon on the Mount

Jesus spoke out against injustices, this verse is one clear example. He ministered to the sick and outcasted and to prostitutes and forgotten ones.. legends of him going to India say he spoke out against the caste system there and was met with fury by the ruling priestly elites..

“Jesus makes another point in these verses : Words are very potent vibratory actions, affecting favorably or adversely the one who uttered them and also the one to whom they are directed. To express contempt to any individual (“say to his brother, ‘Raca’”) is spiritually libelous against that individual’s soul, which is ever perfect regardless of how loathsome his egoistic expression. By scorning a fellow being, one demeans his own soul’s forbearing nature and subjects himself to the scrutiny of the tribunal of his conscience and its records of his many regrettable failings. It would be a humbling, if not horrific, experience if one had to face an archival reading of the shames in all of his past incarnations. The merciful God has forgiven so much in every man who is consciously struggling toward the light of wisdom; it is the awakening nobility of the soul that likewise feels patience rather than contempt for others whose actions show no such awakening.

Further, anyone who calls another a “fool” shall himself suffer from the fire of ignorance. Ignorance is hell, as it engenders all manner of evil and burns away wisdom. True knowledge and wisdom are the source of salvation from the miseries of the human condition. To inhibit the potential unfoldment of anyone’s soul wisdom by a strong suggestion of ineptness is to do them a great wrong. Negating anyone’s will and branding the subconscious mind with defeatist thoughts of inferior abilities is reprehensible. To foster in anyone an attitude of surrender to ignorance sets in motion the lawful principle that to pull down another human being is a sin that puts oneself “in danger of hell fire” – the fire of ignorance that consumes one’s own spiritual merit in the act of willfully demoralizing, humiliating, or denigrating another person.

It is plain that Jesus spoke figuratively in his reference to hellfire*. He did not mean that the omnipresent God of love has created leaping tongues of fire in a hell at some point of space to burn the disembodied souls of sinners, rife with bad karma. The Heavenly Spirit who is the Father of all human children could not possibly roast them alive forever because they made some temporary mistakes during their sojourn on earth.”

-Paramhansa Yogananda (The Second Coming of Christ)

*The concept of eternal damnation in hellfire, as in orthodox interpretations, is not supported in this verse or elsewhere in the New Testament. The word used for “hell” in the original Greek of the Gospel is : Gehenna, from Hebrew : Ge Hinnom, the valley of Hinnom southwest of Jerusalem, where children were formally burned as living sacrifices to the Ammonite god Moloch (2 Chronicles 28:3; Jeremiah 7:31-21). In Jesus’ time, according to Biblical historians, the valley was used as a dump for the filth of the city, where continual fires were kept to consume it – “a place,” according to commentator John Gill, “whose fire was never quenched; and in which they burned the bones of any thing that was unclean, and dead carcasses, and other pollutions.” The name was thus commonly used by the Jews to denote the after-death realm of punishment. Encyclopedia Britannica states about Gehenna : “Mentioned several times in the New Testament (e.g., Matthew, Mark, Luke, and James) as a place in which fire will destroy the wicked, it also is noted in the Talmud, a compendium of Jewish law, lore, and commentary, as a place of purification, after which one is released from further torture.”

Note that the valley of Gehenna/Hinnom, where these fires were perpetuating burning in Jesus’ time sound very similar to the burning ghats of India, where dead bodies are burned ceremonially, as a spiritual purification and their souls are thus freed from bodily consciousness.

Also note that the valley of Gehenna/Hinnom was previously the place where children were offered as living sacrifices to the god Moloch. Thus, the place was defiled and came to be known as a symbolic ‘hell’.

Ancient cult offering living children as human sacrifices to god Moloch

Today, there still exists a Satanic cult to Moloch that sacrifices children and operates in elite levels of politics, government, Vatican, Hollywood, ect.. notice how these same corrupt people, corporations and special interest groups use racism to continually & systematically downpress and suppress the people of God. Especially the black peoples of the earth. Jesus was black, maybe the Jewish and Roman elites even called him ‘Raca’??

🤔🤔

One of the oldest paintings of Yahshua the Christ

Hindu Influences on Rastafari

There is only one Jah, one God with Infinite Names.

Aristotle referred to the Ethiopians as a people of both Kush (Africa) & Sind (India).. Queen of Sheba ruled over the land of Sheba/Shiva/Saba.. the indigenous traditions of the Sabians was ancient African Shiva & Shakti worship.

To overstand the issue with iconography verses idolatry one must know the difference between a graven image & sacred murti, the ancient Egyptians had a similar practice as Hindus when they would designate specific icons for temple worship and a ritual is performed where the breath of God/Life is breathed into the icon and thus the image becomes a living deity… that being said.. when Yeshua went to India, he learned about the sacred science behind murtis, mandalas, Hindu & Buddhist symbolism and yantras, mantras and pujas BUT he also saw the corruption of the caste system & how the elite class of Brahman priests and people in general would worship and lavish great riches and honor to their stone icons but treat their fellow brothers & sisters like animals or worse.. thus Yeshua preached a razor edge distinction regarding this.. and emphasized to the people that the real deity to be worshipped is within the heart of all living beings.. the so-called low caste folks (Dravidians aka Lost Tribes of Israel) loved Saint Issa, as they called him in the East, but the elites didn’t like what he was preaching at all (threatening their hierarchy of power), and the story goes that then Yeshu had to flee from some of these areas of India to the Himalayas and stay with some Buddhist monks whom agreed with his teachings on rejecting the caste system. These stories can be found in The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, The Christ of India & various other manuscripts that have been hidden & repressed for centuries. The secret archives of the Vatican has several of these various manuscripts as well as ancient icons/murtis of these connections and sadly many of these manuscripts were destroyed in the 2 worst literary holocausts in history.. the burning of the library of Alexandria & the burning of the Saint Thomas Christian’s library in India, both burned down by the Roman Catholic Church.

When Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia was gifted with a Ramayana by an Indian sannyasi, he smiled, and said they were all descendants of Lord Rama. He explained how the Ethiopians are called as Cushites, or coming down from Kusha, a son of Rama. The country is called Kushadwip, or the land of the son of Rama.

Ethiopians admit their ancestor as Kush, and they quote the Biblical story of Cush being a son of Ham (a phonetic misnomer of Ram). This only confirms to the widespread influence of Ramayana, even in a land that is 3000 miles away from the mainland of India.

Kemetic Yoga is the OG Sanatan Dharma brought from Ancient Kush (Ethiopia) to Ancient Sind (India) by the Dravidians in the first major human migrations out of Africa, and they founded the Indus Valley Culture & city of Harappan (Hara is a name of Shiva & Pan is an archetypal god often linked to Shiva) which was one of the most advanced in the ancient world, later it was the Aryans from the north that brought in many new ideas and later subjugated the Dravidians with the caste system. The Dravidians were mostly agricultural people who worshipped the Mother Goddess & Pushupati (Lords of the Animals) aka Shakti & Shiva in their indigenous African-Dravidian forms similar to the ancient traditions of the land of Kush/Saba/Sheba/Shiva but the Aryans were hunter/gatherers & would invade and conquer wherever they went, their pantheon was more War gods & Sky Gods like Indra and Surya.. these two traditions were eventually synthesized / merged to form modern Hindu religion. But the true mystical path of Sanatan Dharma is what the Sadhus (Holy Men) & Rastafari trod.. the lifestyle and consciousness of the Natural Mystic as Buddha, Krishna & Yahshua the Christ taught us.

Watch Yogiraj speak on his rare meeting with Haile Selassie I after his supposed death :

Read about the how the Ancient Hebrews worshipped Shiva here.

Leonard Howell also known as Gong Gang Guru Maharaj aka The First Rasta

Read this thesis paper on the “Hindu Influences on Rastafari” for more relevant information about Leonard Howell’s influences on Rastafari and his connection to Hindu ideas and traditions.

Blessed are the Peacemakers commentary by Paramhansa Yogananda

Blessed are the peacemakers : for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

They are the real peacemakers who generate peace from their devotional practice of daily meditation. Peace is the first manifestation of God’s response in meditation. Those who know God as Peace in the inner temple of silence, and who worship that Peace-God therein, are by this relationship of divine communion His true children.

Having felt the nature of God as inner peace, devotees want the Peace-God to be always manifest in their home, in the neighborhood, in the nation, among all nationalities and races. Anyone who brings peace to an inharmonious family has established God there. Anyone who removes the misunderstanding between souls has united them in God’s peace. Anyone who, forsaking national greed and selfishness, works to create peace amidst warring nations, is establishing God in the heart of those nations. The initiators and facilitators of peace manifest the unifying Christ-love that identifies a soul as a child of God.

“Son of God” consciousness makes one feel love for all beings. Those who are God’s true children cannot feel any difference between an Indian, American, or any other nationality or race. For a little while immortal souls are garbed in white, black, brown, red, or olive-colored bodies. Are people looked upon as variously foreign when they wear different colored clothes? No matter what one’s nationality or the color of his body, all of God’s children are souls. The Father recognizes no man-made designation; He loves all, and His children must learn to live in that same consciousness. When man confines his identity to his clannish human nature, it gives rise to unending evils and the specter of war.

Human beings have been given potentially limitless power, to prove that they are indeed the children of God. In such technologies as the atomic bomb we see that unless man uses his powers rightly, he will destroy himself. The Lord could incinerate this earth in a second if He lost patience with His erring children, be He doesn’t. And as He would never misuse His omnipotence, so we, being made in His image, must also behave like gods and conquer hearts with the power of love, or humanity as we know it will surely perish. Man’s power to make war is increasing; so must his ability to make peace. The best deterrent against the threat of war is brotherhood, the realization that as God’s children we are one family.

Anyone who stirs up strife among brother nations under the guise of patriotism is a traitor to his divine family – a faithless child of God. Anyone who keeps family members, neighbor, or friends fighting through fostering falsehoods and gossip, or who is in any way a maker of disturbance, is a desecrator of God’s temple of harmony.

Christ and the great ones have given the recipe for peace within and among individuals and nations. How long man has lived in the darkness of misunderstanding and ignorance of those ideals. The true Christ-method of living can banish human conflicts and the horror of war and bring about peace and understanding on earth; all prejudices and enmities must fall away. That is the challenge placed before those who would be the peacemakers of God.

-The Second Coming of Christ by Paramhansa Yogananda

(Read the entire chapter for the complete commentary of the entire Beatitudes of Christ)

Jesus in India?

The spiritual training of Jesus

In India the masters initiated Jesus into yoga and the highest spiritual life, giving him the spiritual name “Isha,” which means Lord, Master, or Ruler, a descriptive title often applied to God. It is also a title of Shiva. The masters also instructed Jesus in the form his spiritual teachings should take and the specific yogic practices that should be given to his disciples. It was also decided that one of those disciples should be sent to India for the identical spiritual empowerment and instruction that was being imparted to Jesus. For some time Jesus meditated in a cave north of the present-day city of Rishikesh, one of the most sacred locales of India. In the years He spent in the Himalayas, He attained the supreme heights of realization. To augment the teachings he had received in the Himalayas, Jesus was sent to live in Benares, the sacred city of Shiva.

The worship of Shiva centered in the form of the natural elliptical stone known as the Shiva Linga (Symbol of Shiva) was a part of the spiritual heritage of Jesus, for His ancestor Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, was a worshipper of that form. The Linga which he worshipped is today enshrined in Mecca within the Kaaba. The stone, which is black in color, is said to have been given to Abraham by the Archangel Gabriel, who instructed him in its worship. Such worship did not end with Abraham, but was practiced by his grandson Jacob, as is shown in the twenty-eighth chapter of Genesis. Unwittingly, because of the dark, Jacob used a Shiva Linga for a pillow and consequently had a vision of Shiva standing above the Linga which was symbolically seen as a ladder to heaven by means of which devas (shining ones) were coming and going. Recalling the devotion of Abraham and Isaac, Shiva spoke to Jacob and blessed him to be an ancestor of the Messiah. Upon awakening, Jacob declared that God was in that place though he had not realized it. The light of dawn revealed to him that his pillow had been a Shiva Linga, so he set it upright and worshipped it with an oil bath, as is traditional in the worship of Shiva, naming it (not the place) Bethel: the Dwelling of God. (In another account in the thirty-fifth chapter, it is said that Jacob “poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.” This, too, is a traditional form of worship and offering.) From thenceforth that place became a place of pilgrimage and worship of Shiva in the form of the Linga stone. Later Jacob had another vision of Shiva, Who told him: “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me” (Genesis 31:13). A perusal of the Old Testament will reveal that Bethel was the spiritual center for the descendants of Jacob, even above Jerusalem.

Although this tradition of Shiva [Linga] worship has faded from the memory of the Jews and Christians, in the nineteenth century it was evidenced in the life of the stigmatic Anna Catherine Emmerich, an Augustinian Roman Catholic nun. On several occasions when she was deathly ill, angelic beings brought her crystal Shiva Lingas which they had her worship by pouring water over them. When she drank that water she would be perfectly cured. Furthermore, on major Christian holy days she would have out-of-body experience in which she would be taken to Hardwar, a city sacred to Shiva in the foothills of the Himalayas, and from there to Mount Kailash, the traditional abode of Shiva, which she said was the spiritual heart of the world.

– See more at: http://www.ocoy.org/original-christianity/the-christ-of-india/#sthash.jU1uzwSk.dpuf

Many Faces Many Names (Official Music Video)

Backstory: We wrote and released this song over 11 years ago.. it became and continues to be one of our fans and friends favorites. Recently, B-Still and I were together in Bloomington, Indiana where we met and originally wrote and recorded the song.. and decided to shoot a video for our underground classic. We selected several spiritual destinations in “Btown” and Gabriel Lantz shot the footage. Yamily Creative Company edited the video and Chip Reardin, the original producer of the song, Re-Mastered the track as well. Enjoy! Namaste!


I am the One with Many Faces & Many Many Names,

God & Goddess in the hearts that flame,

The rain, the sun, the stars and the moon,

The earth and universe, the song and the tune.

(Verse 1 – Sakshi Zion)

I Am That I Am, the light, shining bright tonight

Like the fire of Yahweh before Moses at Sinai

The burning bush, Ganja, Holy Marijuana

There’s a natural mystic blowing thru the air, Oh Jah

Heartbeats of freedom, Buddha, Bodhisattva Zen,

I’mma climbin Jacob’s ladder to the highest heaven,

to the palace within, I sip the chalice again,

on my flyin carpet Iyah soar Himalayan Mountains

(Chorus)

(Verse 2 – B-Still)

They call me Buddha when they know that money isn’t true worth,

they call me the Great Spirit when they can feel me from the earth,

they call me Apollo when they follow me to the west,

call me Jesus in the Middle East, that’s where you know me best,

call me the effect of drugs, when they only feel me shroomin,

call me their soulmate when they see me in a human,

call me the Self of all things when you see things clearly..

It don’t matter what you call me, as long as you can hear me.

(Verse 3 – Sakshi Zion)

I am the one in Kailash, where I smoke ganja

With my coiled dreadlocks dat dem call Jata

They call me Shiva, in Meditation,

I have been that I Am from Creation,

to the zenith of the One, all my relations,

Aho Mitakyasin to all the nations

They call me Krishna Kokopeli with the magic flute

The Kabbalic Tree of Life, with everlasting fruits

They call me Bacchus, Dionysus, got the wine of bliss,

intoxicated circle dance with the flower goddesses,

they call me Isis, Mother Mary, the Magdalene,

the Queen, Triple Goddess, Gaia Earth so Green,

they call me Allah, the Great and Powerful Source,

Kundalini Shakti coiling serpent force,

they call me Rastafari, the King of Kings

Bhakti Yoga is the path, see me dance and sing ahhh

(Chorus & instrumental solo)

(Verse 4 – B-Still)

If I came as a blind man, would you hold my hand?

If I came as animal, would you protect my land?

If I came as the tree, would you cut me down?

And if I came as the rain, would you thank me now?

I come in Rainbows, not jus one single color

So when I come in another race, will you still see me as your brother?

If I said it was you, would you stop searching for me?

I’m what you close your eyes and feel, not what you think you see

They call me 99 names cause you can only describe me,

said I had 1000 yes, Infinity you’ll find me,

call me Keeli-Ana-Kulu-Kulu if you a Zulu

Under the Bodhi tree, like the Buddha I school you

(Verse 5 – Sakshi Zion)

I Am the Omkar, The Primordial Sound

Look Around, I Surround, You’re on Holy Ground

They call me Shanti, Shalom, Pax & Peace

Zion Temple of Love, I Am the High Priest

Emmanuel, Melchizedek, Avilokateshwar

Medicine Buddha and the Green Tara

I Am the whisper of the wind and the ocean’s wave

Jah Redemption call, knowledge of Self that saves

Yeshua Kristos, Haile Selassie I

I Am the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Baraka Kirtan – The Art of Spirituality

Baraka Kirtan – The Art of Spirituality (revised)

by Antonya Wallace (Anth-E200) 12/7/2010

Introduction: Baraka: a blessing, the essence of life, soul power. It’s a Thursday night, and while most people are headed out to the bars, I’m making my way across town to Sakshi’s house to sit in during a Baraka Kirtan performance. Kirtan is an ancient Indian tradition based on Bhakti Yoga, which uses music and chanting as an avenue to spiritual enlightenment. As I enter the house the smell of roasting vegetables, marijuana, and halava fills my nose. I later learned that food is almost always present and sanctified so that it can be offered to God. They believe that when one eats sanctified food, that the food purifies the soul. Since Kirtan has roots in India there isn’t any beef (or any meat for that matter) being served, due to their animals sacred role in India. Yet, not all Kirtankars (one who practices/performs Kirtan) are vegetarian. It just happened that everyone in attendance tonight was. Another thing that everyone shares is the use of marijuana, which is smiled upon, as it is believed to promote enlightenment, drive the music, and as an added benefit, make the food taste even more divine. Smoking was also used socially to bring everyone together to prepare for the beginning of the ceremony. I was only there to observe so I did not enhance my chances of enlightenment.

I thought it was important to note that as I entered the room; warm faces, hugs, and a plate of food greeted me. That hospitality was due in part because Sakshi used to be my neighbor and he was the first person I met when I moved to Bloomington. But the royal treatment wasn’t reserved just for ex-neighbors. As I sat watching I noticed that the Kirtan community is open and loving to everyone. As each person entered Sakshi’s house they were greeted by first name, a hug, food, and an offer to play music. I decided that I would not participate in the event so that I could have an etic point of view. I pulled up a chair slightly to the side of the group and began my observations. The heavy smell of incense being burned drowned out the colorful smells of food and ganja.

I really enjoyed the scent of the incense so after the event I asked what it was. To my astonishment it was part of another practice that I was completely oblivious to. “Agnihotra is a Vedic yajna and involves the burning of cow dung and ghee butter in an inverted copper pyramid at dusk and dawn precisely, while chanting Vedic mantras. Properly performed, this ritual according to the Vedic tradition brings about enormous healing and purification of the environment. The Agnihotra is a powerful yajna that in my experience brings about a deep sense of peace. This 5-minute process feels like coming out of an hour of meditation. It’s a grounding practices and assists in uncovering the real Self, hidden underneath all of the mental chatter. The fact that the dung of the cow is such an important part of this process is really significant given the way this culture brutalizes and tortures these sacred creatures” (ecovillage.wordpress.com). It seems that this practice speaks to the Kirtan community’s “love-all” mentality.

I learned that it was a good practice to do the Agnihotra before the real ceremony began, so that everything is cleansed. I learned, “The rites of the Morning-Agnihotra are almost the same as the rites of the Evening-Agnithotra; but, in many instances, the formulas uttered by the Adhvaryu or the Sacrificer are different” (Paul-Emile Dumont). I was only there for the evening Agnihotra so I cannot compare the differences with the morning ritual.

As the musicians began to take their seats, they ditched their shoes and sat in a semi-circle. The audience comprised the other half of the circle, therefore creating an atmosphere for the call and response style of the music. The simple act of sitting on the ground in a circle is an example of universal primitive behavior. Speaking generally, almost all ancient human groups have sat communally in circles during gatherings. Circular shaped atmospheres bring the listeners directly into the experience. They stop being just listeners, and become participants. The circle encourages each person to look into another’s eyes as they are beckoned to respond to the singer’s calls.

Each “Baba” grabbed their respective instrument; Sakshi Gopal Das on the harmonium, Arun Baba on the bansuri (a type of wooden flute), Zen-G on the guitar, and Ras D Hanubaba on percussion instruments, including the tabla, mridanga, djembe, and kartals. Kirtan events can be played in any musical style with any instrumentation. Baraka Kirtan chooses to stick with more traditional instrumentation on most nights. They also perform many different styles on their CD. Some of those styles include non-traditional instruments such as, electric guitars, bass, drums sets, and digital voice alterations. The style that they choose for each performance is generally based off of their mood that day.

The music begins and the first song (always) is Hare Krishna. Hare is the feminine energy of God, and Krishna means “all attractive one”. During the opening song, “a simple melody is repeated many times at continuously faster tempos and greater volumes until a climax is reached, at which point the whole process may begin again with either the same or a new melody…commonly a line of melody was first sung responsorily four times – leader, chorus, leader, chorus – before proceeding to the next line of the melody… [then] the whole procedure would start over…but at an increased tempo” (Slawek 80). Tonight’s leader, Sakshi sang,

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

The, the audience, some with eyes closed, some staring, some praying, would all participate on during the response. Everyone was completely indulged in their own self-awareness and spiritual being. The sound of all the voices in unison had a surprisingly rich tone. It was nice to be at a ceremony where everyone felt the freedom of creativity and experimented with harmonies, and adding their own flares to each response. The allowance of creativity offers everyone a unique personal experience for his or her spirituality. In some instances if the audience is really enjoying the performance, “The chorus of talkaris (kirtan) often interrupts the kirtankar’s sermon with the singing of a topically relevant abhanga and may take over the performance of a song that a kirtankar has begun. In fact, a warkari kirtankar can easily deliver an entire kirtan and only sing a few solo lines of the song” (Shultz 309). Since Indiana doesn’t have a very large Hare Krishna movement going on underground…Sakshi was more than welcome to solo until the cows (who weren’t eaten J) came home.

Main Argument: While I sat there watching everyone divulge all their energy into devotion through song, I found myself wondering why a genre of music that provides so much peace to people is not more mainstream. In fact, I can’t recall a time that I’ve ever heard Kirtan music on the radio, except when Sakshi would call me and tell me to tune it to Bloomington’s public radio station when Baraka Kirtan was playing.

Sakshi said that Kirtan is actually becoming a new genre in popular music, whereas before it was seated in the world music category. It seems that Kirtan’s growing popularity is due to its message of love, peace, and self-awareness; which can be contrasted by the mind numbingly idiotic music blaring on B97.7 day and day out.

I don’t want to come across as a racist person but I did notice that everyone in attendance (with the exception of me) was Caucasian, and none of us were from India. So my research question would have to be, How did an Indian tradition that’s not very well known, become a subculture in the United States? What makes this music more popular than other forms of world music?

Theory: Those who practice Kirtan disregard arbitrary attributes such as gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion. Kirtan is a catalyst to deeper spiritual awakening. People are instantly drawn to the ideology of togetherness that Kirtan offers. While most religions in our society offer a “Get Saved or Burn for Eternity” methodology, Kirtan’s job is to improve each person’s relationship with their own spiritual power.

Unlike most organized religions in the world, which ask you to abandon any other religious beliefs that may conflict with their doctrines, Kirtan lets you keep any, and all your beliefs. The point of Kirtan is to deepen your own spiritual awareness, in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of the spirit, self, and even other religions. It seems that since Kirtan offers such a contrast to more popular well-known religions like Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, etc…that people are also attracted just to get a taste of something new. Kirtan differs from other world religions in that they have never gone on some “convert or die” crusade. Instead of seeking out new members, they let the members seek them out, and then welcome them into their community with open arms. This method of gaining followers actually appears to have gained more devoted participants because each person is expected to find their own path into the Kirtan realm. If you want to become a part of the Kirtan community you have to make an effort to do so, unlike getting saved at a Baptist church which could be likened to going through a “McSalvation” drive through. Literally, anyone could walk into a church at any time and get saved, as many times as they want…without any real impact on their spiritual receptiveness.

Kirtan offers a tailored experience to each person. The natural feel of Kirtan takes away the hierarchal feel of organized religion. For example, the musicians take off their shoes before they play, everyone sits on the floor together, and shares food. It seems that those actions level the playing field between audience and performer, devotee and sit in, old and young, etc. Other factors that attract people to Kirtan are their love of the environment and preservation of ancient practices.

In the days when going to church has become “the thing to do” and if you don’t then you’re damned, people miss out on a real and physical connection with their spirit. From what I’ve seen many people just go to church to maintain their reputation, or they go but don’t practice what is preached. Churches have become kind of like fast food chains, in that they cater to the masses instead of the individual. The strength of major world religions seems to lie solely in the number of followers as opposed to the devotional strength of said followers. To see devoted followers, head over to a Kirtan event. Before going to the event I had no clue why it was growing, but now I understand that the personalized feel and unique musical styles is driving it to become a more prevalent part of our society (and most likely, many others).

Methodology: Being in such a laid back atmosphere, I thought it most appropriate to just jot down a few notes here and there, and casually start conversations. I began by asking Sakshi what Kirtan means to him. I used the genealogical method in a very loose sense so that I could get a grasp on which he learned from, since he was not born into the community. He actually mentioned that he thought it was a bit funny that here are four Caucasian men observing an Indian tradition, and really using it as a way of life. They have at times been misunderstood, but they simply just want to respect and enjoy the aspects of another culture.

I only observed during the event so as to remain neutral to my experience. We also met at Laughing Planet one day so that he could clarify the words of the songs for me. After talking to an insider, I thought I would interview someone who had no previous knowledge of Kirtan. I talked to Samy Estrada, who gave me her brief thoughts on the atmosphere and preaching of Kirtan. Since she was unable to actually attend the event with me, I asked her to watch one of Baraka Kirtan’s online performances. Since she is also a dancer I asked her to describe the music. She said, “the instrumentation was really unique, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought that it might be kind of lame because it was just acoustic instruments; but toward the end when they picked up the tempo it really got funky! They have a really cool message too” (Estrada)!

The rest of my research was done on www.BarakaVision.com, the band’s official website. I used this page to access the band member’s bios, mission statement, and preferred instruments. I also read a few articles on www.jstor.org so that I could read about Kirtan from an Ethnomusicologist’s and Ethnographer’s point of view. These pages gave me insight into more of the cultural implications and history than I could have gained in personal interviews. I couldn’t find much information about Agnihotra so I used www.google.com which led me to a brief review on ecovillage.wordpress.com about the book “How to Save the World”, by Peter Proctor, a biodynamic farmer.

Data Analysis: First, I needed to satisfy my curiosity about how Sakshi even got involved with the Hare Krishna movement. He said, “I was attracted to it years ago due to its instrumentation; especially the sound of the harmonium (which looks like a Dr. Seuss instrument), the message, and the ancient prayers which made me feel in tune with my ancestors” (Sakshi). I accessed his biography on his webpage for more insight on his background. “he lived and studied with many Elders and Mystics (including Ras Pidow, Dr. James E Mumford, Srila Turiya Das Mahasaya and more). Lived and studied at several Ashrams, Temples, and Binghi Camps across North America, Jamaica, Hawaii, and India. In the summers of 2002 and 2003 he traveled across N. America with a traveling cultural festival called “The Festival of India” in which he was a main contributor of set-up and break-down, cultural plays, food distribution, chariot-parading, and sacred chanting. He has been in several musical projects, including: Baraka Kirtan, Santos and the Saints, The Nyahbinghi Livity Choir, Indiana University African American Choral Ensemble, Kuru Dynasty, La Onda, Roots Groundation Family, Parrhesia and more” (BarakaVision.com). I thought that his eclectic musical diversity alone spoke to his openness to new cultures and creativity. If we use Sakshi as an example of the average practitioner of Kirtan, we can see how interesting and appealing the community is. As a side note, he also told me that he does not adhere to any organized religion. But he also does not judge or discriminate anyone based on his or her personal religious choices. His opinion is that people have their own path to embark on to find spiritual peace.

What Sakshi and the Kirtan movement do not do is tell people that they need to submit to their code or way of life. Their message is one of understanding and compassion. In Kirtan, God appears in many forms and usually his/her appearance is different to each person, because God can have an infinite amount of forms. In Kirtan, God can manifest as any deity such as, Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Ganesha, Kali, and many more. These deities share similarities with, and are usually connected to Catholic Saints. To communicate with the deities, they use music, which can be in any genre, just like God can appear in any shape. The musical style creates an openness, connectedness, and receptiveness, among each person’s spirit as they sit in the circle. Just like the participants, each song as a different flavor and mood. To connect with the gods they try to achieve spiritual awakening. Though the Kirtan spiritual awakening may be called different things, spirit of devotion, divine connection, right brained experience, or spiritual openness, these things seem to be held as a common intention to the band members.

Another common intention among the band members is to maintain old practices, like call and response. Samy’s reaction to the call and response aspect of the event was that it was reminiscent of tribal chanting (the band’s desired affect). She also thought the music was calming and soft, until the tempo picked up and it got intense. But this particular event that she saw was calmer than others because it did not use any electric instruments, which are more stimulating to the listener than acoustic ones. She also noticed that each person seemed to be in their own world, yet at the same time connected to everyone in the room. It was almost like Sakshi’s calls put everyone in to a trance, and they could only come out of it by singing the response.

I found that their website was extremely useful for bios and band info. I chose to focus primarily on Sakshi because he is my closest friend out of all the band members. But I did make sure to look at everyone else’s bio and they proved to each have completely different yet extraordinarily interesting backgrounds. It’s compelling to see that people from such different roads can all meet in the middle and work toward a common goal of harmony. Some of the ways that the band members spread peace when they’re not performing is Story Time Yoga, a group started by Sakshi, which incorporates yoga into fairy tales. Ras D likes to change the environment by teaching sustainable farming to Bloomington’s Community. With Kirtan the sky is the limit on creatively spreading the word of peace, harmony, and love.

Conclusion: Unlike other world religions Kirtan offers more than just a guide for living which can be summed up by the golden rule. The Hare Krishna movement brings entire communities of varied people together to function as one spritual entity. Kirtan allows each person to find their own path and use Kirtan as a means to help them spread love and harmony in whatever way they choose. For example, Sakshi’s yoga, and Ras D’s farming; they are each doing what they love to do, while weaving in Kirtan to spread a message.

The beauty of Kirtan is that while it is a deeply personal experience it is also very communal. The participation of the person sitting next to you, chanting, and playing music will directly affect your experience, and vice versa. The “primitiveness” of it makes the participants feel as though they have just relived something that their ancestors probably did long ago. As the tempo speeds up, so does the heart beato f all those involved. The music literally seems to pull your body toward the instruments. Everyone in the room seems to into a spiritual trance, as they slowly forget all the hardships in life outside the Kirtan room. When I was there, I wasn’t even participating but I found that instead of thinking about my bills, homework, exams, or life drama, I was just focused on the rhythm of the drums pulsating through my body. It was as if my brain turned off, and I didn’t have a choice, it was time to meditate.

Kirtan offers an authentic feeling of togethness that people usually do not get from day to day living. After the event eveyone kind of looks around smiling, like “now what?”. In such a short time they ate, smoked, chanted, blessed, meditated, and laughed together. I can truly say that I understand now why Kirtan is becoming so popular. It is a message that can virtually be played with any instruments, in and setting, and any time. Most importantly I found out that it can be played by anyone of any color or creed, etc…as long as they embody the message of love.

Since Kirtan is so musically amorphous it appeals to a broad audience of musical tastes and can easily become a tool for social change. “[It] is an especially effective meduim for the propegation of nationalist ideas because of its devotionalized context and Kirtan music’s potential for group participation, experiences of emboiment, and multiple interpretive possibilites” (Shultz 307).

After doing this Project I think that I have learned that Kirtan has the potential to create strong and loving leaders, who don’t adhere to social convictions of discrimination. In Kirtan you can come from any background because the importance rests in the spiritual world instead of the physical. Hopefully the Hare Kirshna movement will continue to spread, and add much needed harmony to the crazy world we’re all living in.

Works Cited :

Hindu Nationalism, Music, and Embodiment in Marathi Rāshṭrīya Kīrtan

Anna Schultz

Ethnomusicology

Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring – Summer, 2002), pp. 307-322

Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of Society for Ethnomusicology

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/852784

Moi. “Cow Dung and It’s Many Wonderful Properties « EARTHKEEPIN.” EARTHKEEPIN. 27 Sept. 2007. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. <http://ecovillagelife.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/cow-dung-and-its-many-wonderful-properties/>.

The Agnihotra (Or Fire-God Oblation) in the Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa: The First Prapāṭhaka of the Second Kāṇḍa of the Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa with Translation

Paul-Emile Dumont

Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Vol. 108, No. 4 (Aug. 27, 1964), pp. 337-353

Published by: American Philosophical Society

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/985912

Popular Kīrtan in Benares: Some ‘Great’ Aspects of a Little Tradition

Stephen M. Slawek

Ethnomusicology

Vol. 32, No. 2 (Spring – Summer, 1988), pp. 77-92

Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of Society for Ethnomusicology

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/852037

Wind, Arun B., Sakshi G. Das, Ras D. Hanubaba, and Zen G. “Divine Music”. Baraka Kirtan – Divine Music. DigitalNature, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 04 Nov. 2010.