Braja Raja – “The Dust of Braja”

courtesy of the Shyamdas Foundation

When I was a child growing up Africa,  we called all friends of our parents ‘Auntie’ or ‘Uncle’ (in french ‘tantine’ or ‘‘tonton’) which was an honorific and considered respectful. And among the aunties and uncles, there were those you wanted to be related to: Too cool not to be yours. And they actually didn’t care for honorifics. Heartbreaks, delights, anything: you could call them and they would always be there for you. You would never feel uncomfortable around them.

Shyamdas – affectionately and respectfully called Shyamdasji – belongs to that category, as a spiritual teacher. He had dedicated his life to the music, literature, and people of Braj. He spoke Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, and Brajbhasha. He was a scholar who insightfully translated and commented many of the songs and writings of saints from the Pushti Marg tradition (Shri Vallabhacharya, Govinda Svami, Raskhan, Surdas and others). His immense knowledge was only surpassed by his joy  – ananda.

Shyamdasji lived in the bhav, mad in love with God and in service. He left his body in January of 2013.

Regular students of my classes are familiar with his voice … and his laughter!

Today, I’d like to share Braj Raja with you.

All these sacred and ancient teachings are preserved and distributed through the wonderful work of the Shyamdas Foundation.

As Shyamdasji would say: “It’s all Hari’s grace

Radhe, Radhe!


Story 12

I could listen to Shyamdasji all day long.

There is a single essence that permeates everything … To taste that essence that exists everywhere and is also within every heart, is what the Bhakti Yoga experience is about. Everyone who understands it will love it. Because Bhakti promotes in you, the thing that is most important, which is the joy of your own soul.Shyamdas-ji (1953 – January 20th, 2013)

.. however a blessed soul may be, she is definitely accepted. Within the Path of Grace, Hari does not judge the actions of the soul; she is uplifted through the power of grace. The soul’s spiritual dharma is to take Hari’s refuge. Shri Mahaprabhuji says in his “Krishna Ashraya”,
“I pray to Shri Krishna. He uplifts everyone who takes His shelter.”
In the Path of Grace, the main thing is Krishna’s grace and not the worthiness of the soul. Those who take refuge receive grace – Excerpt from 252 Vaishnavas, translated by  Shyamdas-ji

For introducing me to the practice of Āśrayarefuge; for the gift of mantra, for his contagious love of God, for his eternal teachings … I am forever grateful to Shyamdasji.  Shyamdas was a great bhakta. He was the embodiment of Hanuman. He was a saint. He showered love on Earth.

Radhe, Radhe!