Braja Raja – “The Dust of Braja”


shyam1
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!

Jeanine

Did you know Sanskrit was the first Pop Music?


“It’s Sanskrit Pop Music! Did you know Sanskrit was the first Pop Music?!” Bob Thurman, author, teacher and father of my beloved friend Dechen, once said to me, referring to the songs I’d just played for him.  “Sanskrit is meant to be sung!”

If you think Sanskrit is not your ancestral language, think again. Sanskrit is the parent language to all Pan-Indo European languages and so basically, first there was no language, and then there was Sanskrit. It was a gift to the world from the Divine and the early Sanskrit writers knew that. Each symbol is designed to represent an aspect of the Divine light that stands in all of us, not just symbolically but also vibrationally.  Sanskrit is an “invocational” language, which means the word is the form. By saying the word we “invoke” it to exist. The vibration of the sound isn’t just referencing the Divine. It IS the Divine.  So if we sing the words for the Divine, in Sanskrit, we create the Divine around us. First there was the Word and the Word was God.

After teaching thousands of yoga classes at Jivamukti  Yoga School in New York City and beginning each class with a Sanskrit chant, I have learned one thing to be universally true.  People like to sing. When we sing, we’re usually not angry (well, Johnny Rotten was probably angry). When we sing we can’t be worrying. The whirling fluctuations of our mind, the chitta vritti in Sanskrit, have to stop. Singing makes us feel good.  If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you may be surprised to know that hundreds of people in New York City, fresh from a busy day’s work doing all kinds of things, come and sing with a group of strangers.  I have heard many students come to me and say how much they love it, that while at first they were wary and worried they ‘d sing badly, they now look forward to it in every class. I say everyone is designed to sing. We all sang in Kindergarten, and when we did we became a pure channel for receiving and transmitting the light of the world. Try to remember what a group of sincere five year -olds singing sounds like. And then know that’s what God hears when he listens to you.

If Sanskrit, like Dr. Thurman says, “was the first Pop Music”, then Krishna was the first Rock Star.  Krishna played the flute so beautifully it mesmerized the Gopis (sounds like “groupie” to me!), the young girls who milked the cows. They would drop their milk pails in the dirt and go to Krishna, bathed in divine bliss. It is said that Krishna plays a special song for each and every one of us to call us home to the Lord.

I’m not Indian. I like Rock and Roll. I don’t get as excited to hear the harmonium as I do 4/4 time. The special song that Krishna plays for me sounds like Keith Richard’s guitar. Most especially, the opening riff to ‘Beast of Burden”. It never fails to wash me with bliss. We all have music that calls us, elevates us above the mundane and makes our hearts burst with love.  I’m usually called by Keith’s kind of groove.

You would think that makes it a bit awkward to spend time with him in real life, but it doesn’t. He once said to me, years ago when I was more likely to be playing at CBGB than yoga class, “You know Kelly, there’s only one song, and that was the first song and it was written by Adam and Evil. I don’t write songs, I just receive and transmit.”

If its all the same song and Adam and Eve were the first people with language, they probably spoke Sanskrit. So sing your ancestral language, maybe in the way I have received and transmitted the melodies to you, maybe a bit more traditionally. But whatever you do, don’t forget to sing, any way and any language you want. Sound creates form, and when you stop worrying and sing you add positive forms and peace to the world. It has been scientifically proven that the delicate sound of a butterfly flapping its wings affects the stratosphere on the other side of the world.  Imagine what happens when you sing loud and strong with a heart full of love.  Just like in Kindergarten.

Kelly Britton http://www.kellybritton.com/blog/my-first-blog-post/

Now please listen and sing along http://www.reverbnation.com/kellybritton/song/4622485-shri-krishna

Swept Up in a ‘Tidal Wave of Bhav’ With Shyamdas: Epic 45-Minute MahaMantra (VIDEO)


“We’re going to end on this,” Shyamdas said, as he launched us into the final powerful crest of an epic Hare Krishna chant that undulated like the waves of an ocean for 45 ecstatic minutes (two-part video below).  It started as

via Swept Up in a ‘Tidal Wave of Bhav’ With Shyamdas: Epic 45-Minute MahaMantra (VIDEO).