Brown Dog Lady and I visited the local Krishna temple on Sunday.
First, we put on saris at my house. Well, BDL did the wrapping. She really knows what she's doing.
It was my first time at the temple apart from some trips in the late 1980s to Govinda's, their now-shuttered restaurant.
The minute we walked in, we could hear the chanting.
BDL knew the ropes. After dropping off our shoes, the first stop was the store - where I became enchanted with the conch shells. I've been wanting one for eons. The clerk told me there's a trick to blowing it. I couldn't figure it out, but decided to buy one anyway. But the charge wouldn't go through. "Another time," I said, handing the conch back to her.
Then we went into the temple, which is large and airy, and was once a Masonic Hall.
The only other temple I've spent much time at is at the Ramakrishna ashram in Mysore. There, the women sit on the left and the men on the right in quiet contemplation. You can hear a pin drop there, even though it's in India. The Ramakrishna ashram feels like home to me.
At the Krishna temple, the men are on the right and the women are on the left. No one is sitting. Everyone is clapping and singing to Lord Krishna and dancing. The air is filled with their happy devotional songs.
I was exhausted from one of the biggest teaching (19 classes) and social (many engagements) weeks in recent memory, so it was like a torture for me. Plus I'm an introvert. Sitting and going within feels natural. Singing and clapping requires a lot of energy.
Bhakti yoga tends to attract the more emotional personalities. Since I've been advised to channel my desires into chanting, I thought it would be good try the thing that is more difficult.
The body and mind were sooooooooo tired.
But as the Gita says, What is poison in the beginning becomes nectar in the end. That is the definition of sattva.
I think this applies when one is fully awake.
After the singing ended, there was a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita. I enjoyed sitting still and looking at the colorful deities on the altar while I listened.
Later there was sattvic (no onions, garlic or heavy spices) food.
Little Miss Pitta Dosha loved that, too.
While eating I asked Shiva if he knew how to blow a conch. Of course he does.
So before we left he helped me choose one - and showed me how to use it.
It feels AWESOME to blow it.
(Not sure if the neighbors agree).
And BDL and I will be at the temple again next week, for another festival.
Well-rested of course.