So, how will an Indian react when he/she sees a foreigner chanting “Om Namah Shivay”, some of us might be familiar with the thought of foreigners being attracted to India’s ancient culture or its various gods or its diverse people or religions. India is not just a country of snake charmers they know that, so let’s keep those cliched thoughts at bay and talk about the spiritual enigma of Krishna Das’s music, the power of music itself.
Jeffrey Kagel better known as Krishna Das was born and brought up in the states, he travelled to India seeking the spiritual balance, like many before him had done. Studied with a Guru and followed him on the path of meditation, who taught him bhakti yoga.
Krishna Das has written about how his Guru put him onto the path of Kirtan, and a quotation follows
‘At what would turn out to be my last darshan of Maharaj-ji’s physical body, I was petrified with fear about returning to the U.S. after so many years. I hadn’t worn a pair of jeans or shoes for such a long time that I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. I didn’t want to ask Maharaj-ji what I should do in America, but all of a sudden I blurted out in anguish, ‘Maharaj-ji! How can I serve you in America?’
‘He looked at me with mock disgust and said, ‘What is this? If you ask how you should serve then it is no longer service. Do what you want.’ I couldn’t believe my ears. How could doing what I wanted to do be of service to him? I didn’t have that kind of faith. I just sat there, stunned. Then after a minute or so he looked over at me, smiling sweetly, and asked, ‘So, how will you serve me?’
‘My mind was blank. It was time for me to leave for Delhi, to catch the plane back to the States. He was looking at me and laughing. I bent down and touched his feet for the last time and when I looked up, he was beaming at me, ‘So, how will you serve me in America?’ I felt like I was moving in a dream. I floated across the courtyard and bowed to him one more time from a distance. As I did, the words came to me, ‘I will sing to you in America.’
‘Soon afterwards, during the full moon in September, Neem Karoli Baba left his body. Now he had to be found within. The chanting, the meditation, the puja and all the wonderful time spent with Maharaj-ji turned out to be seeds that he himself had planted in my heart… seeds that would keep growing and blossom by his Grace’.
We are well aware of the track “Om Namah Shivay” sung by Krishna Das, I know half of you tap your feet at the spiritual Kirtan after some dose of you know what, for some who are living under some rock this is the link, give it a listen.
People all around the world are drawn to the sheer pleasure of being present, or listen to Krishna Das’s kirtans. I recently saw a video on youtube of Mr Das singing to a bunch of foreigners, who were reciting along with him to the bhajan “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna”, they were just enchanted by the spiritual energy flowing around in that space, to my surprise this kirtan program or concert, should i say, was held in a church. Well, aren’t you mesmerised by the juxtaposition of the overall, Bhajan kirtan at a church? But the energy was enticing enough to make me stay and listen to the track, I had goose Prix!
Music has the power to touch any individual on an emotional or spiritual level, especially when it rhymes along your emotional state of mind and beliefs, which happens most of the time.