Tag Archives: Shiva

The Divine Love of Shiva & Parvati

Once upon a time in a magical world, the divine Shiva and his consort Parvati roamed together. This divine couple was in perfect harmony, and all of creation stood witness to their love.

The story of Shiva and Parvati soon spread throughout the universe and it seemed as if the entire world was under their influence. Couples from all corners of the universe wanted to receive blessings from the divine couple.

One such story unfolded in the foothills of the Himalayas, where Shiva and Parvati had taken form as a god and goddess. As the sun set, anticipating their tryst, the two deities danced in the light of the moon.

The stars sparkled and the night seemed alive with energy that was felt everywhere. They were immersed in their love and lost in the sublime melody of creation.

As they danced, Shiva shared his spiritual knowledge with Parvati. Through this sacred knowledge, highly difficult concepts of the Upanishads were clarified by Shiva so that even the most distant star dancing at the edge of the night sky could understand the divine secrets of truth.

With the clarity of knowledge and the language of love, Shiva and Parvati continued to share their love with each other.

With their trances soaring, their amorous tale was revealed like a script from heaven.

The couple embraced each other with passion as the sky lit up in sky blues, pinks and orchids.

The gods of the sky watched in awe and admiration as the divine pair embraced, knowing that this was a union that would forever remain monogamous to one another.

In time, Shiva and Parvati’s love story was remembered and hailed in the annals of the Upanishads and their union was celebrated by the people of the world who forever stand witness to the divine beauty and eternal resonance of the spiritual love story of Shiva and Parvati. 💞

Shiva Shakti 🕉️

❤️‍🔥🕉️🔱🌺🥚🐍⚕️

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Lord Shiva & the Holy Cannabis Plant

Once upon a time, a long long way from where we now stand, there lived a powerful and divine being known as Lord Shiva. He was one of the three Supreme Gods of Hinduism and was said to reside atop of Mount Kailash in the Himalayas.

One day, Lord Shiva set out on a journey of self-discovery and exploration. Along the way, he encountered a sacred plant known as cannabis. Feeling the plant’s pure energy, Lord Shiva was inspired and consumed the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. The energy of the divine plant was overwhelming, calming and energizing all at once.

Once the effects of the cannabis had taken hold, Lord Shiva experienced incredible visions. He saw both the depths of life and the beauty of it, understanding the intricate balance that exists in the Universe. Upon coming to the realization that each moment of life is a precious gift, he embraced all of creation – from the trees to the stars – as part of himself.

Lord Shiva’s connection to cannabis remained strong, and he is said to have invented the holy bhang, a cannabis infused beverage, to boost himself and his followers’ spiritual awareness and connection to the divine.

And, to this day, Shiva himself is often represented with a cannabis leaf over his third eye, reminding us of the importance of that plant’s power and significance. To this day, many still believe that the true path to inner peace can be found through the use of cannabis and with the blessing of Lord Shiva.

Shiva has been a part of Hindu mythology since ancient times, and he has been greatly revered by millions around the world, in India and beyond. He is the all-powerful Hindu God of destruction and rebirth, often depicted with four arms and a trident in hand, dancing the Tandava. On the other side of the spectrum, Cannabis has been widely used around the world for hundreds of years, both recreationally and medicinally, as an aid in achieving a higher state of consciousness and health. This paper will discuss the relationship between Lord Shiva and Cannabis, looking at their history and uses for religious and medicinal purposes.

History

The relationship between Lord Shiva and Cannabis has been around for centuries. As early as 2000 BC, Cannabis was widely used in India for medicinal reasons and as an aid in achieving altered states of consciousness. Culturally, the use of Cannabis was associated with Shiva, who was often referred to as the Lord of Bhang. Bhang is an Ayurvedic herb mixture including Cannabis as its main ingredient and other herbs such as rose petals and spices. This mixture was then made into a drink and offered to Shiva as a way of showing devotion.

The use of Cannabis in traditional Indian culture is mentioned in various Hindu scriptures such as the Atharvaveda and Sushruta Samhita. It is also mentioned in written records by travelers to India such as the Greek writer Herodotus who noted its medicinal properties. Cannabis was used in India in the form of Bhang as well as charas, which is the resin of the female Cannabis plant smoked in a chillum (ornamental clay pipe).

Symbolism

Cannabis was seen as a symbol of both vitality and destruction in ancient Hindu culture. Shiva’s use of Cannabis is seen as a representation of his ever-changing states from destruction to creation, from death to life. It is thought that the use of Cannabis helped Shiva to both find and maintain balance in his life, and thus provided an example of how Cannabis can be used for personal and spiritual growth.

There is also the idea of Cannabis being used as an offering to Shiva in order to obtain his blessings and bestow prosperity on a person or a kingdom. As well as being consumed as a drink or smoked, Cannabis was also used as a votive offering, where it was offered as an offering of thanks, or burned in the fire as part of a Puja ceremony.

Medicinal Uses

The medicinal uses of Cannabis are well known, and have been around for centuries. Cannabis has been used for a variety of medical conditions, including pain relief, anxiety, and even as an aid for sleep. The active compounds in Cannabis, known as cannabinoids, are known to affect certain receptors in the body, leading to a variety of therapeutic effects. Research has found that the use of Cannabis can be beneficial for a range of medical conditions, and can improve quality of life for those suffering from chronic pain, insomnia, and more.

Lord Shiva and Cannabis have a long history together, and are both actively used in various Hindu rituals and traditions. Shiva is often seen as using Cannabis to both achieve and maintain balance in his life, while Cannabis is increasingly being used in the modern world for its medicinal properties. The relationship between Shiva and Cannabis is one that is complex, but ultimately can be seen as a practical way of using a natural substance to achieve balance and better health.

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Poem for Lord Shiva

A trident held by Lord Shiva 🔱
The symbol of power and reminder of divinity

The three points that glint in the sky’s golden hue
Pointing in each direction to uphold truth

Om Shivoham, Om Namah Shivaya
Vibrations of devotion and love for Shiva

The trident’s rays of grace fire down
Piercing, enlightening the hearts of one and all

It soothes our pains and cleanses our sins
Blessings from above, blessings from within

The trident is a sign of Lord Shiva’s strength
Protector of all, the destroyer of wrongs

Om Tat Sat, all strings of life come together
By His command, He binds the universe

The trident grounds and holds us together
In His love and grace, we belong to Him forever.

Art by Art is Well 🔱🕉️🔥

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Bel – Sun God of the Druids

Bel, the Horned God, the Green Man, Sun God of the Druids. He is the same Shiva Pashupati Lord of the Animals, Osiris the Green Dying and Resurrected Lord. He is also called Pan (Peter Pan), and Dionysus of the Greeks, and Murugan or Sanat Kumara of Sri Lanka and Ancient Mu or Lemuria. Also called Baal of the Canaanites and Israelites and Balaram of the Hindus. We get the festival of Beltane from Bel as well.

I recently learned that my family ancestry on my dad’s side “The Bell’s” goes way back to Scotland and the legendary enigmatic Druids themselves, who took the name Bell in devotion to their Deity Bel when having to adapt to (in threat of persecution and death) and create a syncretism with Christianity in what became the Celtic Coptic Church. 🦚🌿🍀🐉🐍

Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) Ancient Shiva Linga in Ireland

In County Meath, Ireland, on the Hill of Tara sits a mysterious stone known as the Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny). According to The Annals of the Four Masters, an ancient document written by Franciscan Monks between 1632-1636 AD, this stone was brought to Ireland by the Tuatha Dé Danann, a supernaturally gifted people. Some speculate it was they who brought the power to make bronze to Ireland. They were the main deities of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland.

The Tuatha Dé Danann, meaning the children of the goddess Danu, are said to have ruled Ireland from 1897 B.C. to 1700 B.C. having arrived from the coast on ships. The Christian monks viewed the stone as a pagan stone idol symbolic of fertility. This stone was so important that it was used for the coronation of all Irish Kings up until 500 AD.

The goddess Danu in European tradition was a river goddess. We find her namesake in rivers such as the Danube, Don, Dneiper, & Dniestr rivers. In some Irish texts her father is said to be Dagda (the good god), a father figure in Irish tradition.

The Vedic tradition also has a goddess Danu, the daughter of Daksha, wife of Kasyapa Muni, who was a goddess of the rivers. The word Danu in Sanskrit means ‘flowing water’. As the daughter of Daksha, her sister Sati would have been married to Lord Shiva. Finally, Tara, meaning ‘star’ in Sanskrit, is another name for the wife of Lord Shiva. To practitioners of Vedic tradition the Lia Fáil matches very closely to the Shiva Linga.

Eventually the Tuatha Dé Danann were defeated in battle. According to legend, they were allowed to stay in Ireland only under the ground as the ‘Aes sidhe’ – people of the fairy mounds.

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

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.

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.