Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In The Sun Magazine

I recently borrowed Parvati's copy of independent, ad-free Sun magazine to read on my Long Island Railroad ride to Dharma's. The interview with kirtan wallah Krishna Das made the ride seem short. We spoke to KD at length during Dharma's teacher training (and were also treated to a private kirtan), but writer Alexis Adams really went the whole nine yards.

A few excerpts:

In India people understand that God is within. There are Hindu images associated with God — deities like Krishna, Hanuman, and Kali — but when it comes down to it, these deities are symbols of the divine that lives inside each one of us. Indians are more creative about worship, whereas Christians are generally very tense: there’s only one right way to do it and only one God to worship. Of course, there is only one God in the Indian traditions, too, just many forms to symbolize it. It’s ok to worship anything in any way in India, because there it’s understood that nothing is outside of us. There’s only one God, and we’re all it....

[Neem Karoli Baba's] love was a light that didn’t turn off. I’d never experienced that before. When I was with him, the only darkness was in me. So I stayed in the light as much as I could. And now that he had died, what was I going to do? I stayed involved in music and even cofounded a record label, but I wasn’t ready to chant yet. I had a lot of deep hurt and anger to work through. It took me a long time. One day, twenty years after he’d died, I realized that if I didn’t start chanting, I would never be able to shed light on the dark places in my heart....

I engaged in a lot of self-destructive behavior. The overriding emotion was despair. I believed I had blown the only chance I had to be happy, so it didn’t matter. I didn’t try to hurt other people, but I was hurting myself so badly that the pain spread out from there. I became addicted to freebase cocaine for about two years. Then K.C. Tewari, my Indian “father” and the best friend I could have, came to North America to visit Maharaj-ji’s Western devotees. He was in Canada, and I went up to see him. I’d stayed up the night before smoking freebase, and that morning, when I walked into the room — keep in mind, this is the first time we’d seen each other in several years — he said, “Promise me you’ll give up cocaine.” It was either say no and lose any connection I had with him or say yes and get the help I needed. I never smoked cocaine again.

Read the entire article here.

NOTE: It is a big old time of Das for me: chanting all weekend with Bhagavan Das (the first American to sit at the feet of Neem Karoli Baba) and re-reading the Krishna Das article (he was also a devotee) - plus I'm engrossed in Ram Dass's new book, Be Love Now -which is amazing (he's the most famous of the American disciples of Neem Karoli Baba). Perhaps I'm turning from the Jnana to the Bhakti path.....finally.


  1. Good to hear of your progress towards bhakti-marg. With all due respect to k.d. I think he has projected a neo-Vedanta concept onto the deity forms. I just don’t think that a lot of Ram-bhaktas are going to concede that Ramacandra is a “symbol of the divine.” The epics and puranas do not speak in those terms. The language of bhakti is poetic, but it is also specific and full of strong spiritual sentiment for divine personalities (not symbols).

    Of course, like k.d. I have my own biases, too.

  2. I knew you'd get it (ie; the swing towards bhakti). As for my biases....I love KD but there is that distance, yes.

    Of the Das's, I lean towards Bhagavan. He's so raw and unfiltered when he chants; the big-r Reality comes through.

    Plus he really let the audience have it when he spoke, especially during the workshop. It was pure, unadulterated Truth (the kind most people don't want to hear): I think that many minds were blown.

    It reminded me of when I heard the same Truths from Chandra Om.

  3. Bhagavan Das gives me goosebumps. So many people can't handle the truth.

  4. Anonymous11:06 PM

    What kind of yogi is Dharma?

  5. Dharma Yoga is a type of hatha-vinyasa flow originated by NYC-based yogi Dharma Mittra. The foundation is its energizing, purifying Shiva Namaskar sequence, in which poses are repeated and variations are given for each level of student. It opens the hips and shoulders. There are vinyasas, but it's rather meditative, as poses are held somewhat longer than in most vinyasa flow classes. The latter half of class includes headstand, shoulderstand, backbend, back stretch and other key postures - plus there are many opportunities to learn/do the forearm stand. Each class ends with breathing and a brief meditation. Does that help?

  6. Anonymous11:55 PM

    That's helpful yes,thank you, but I meant what kind of yogi is Dharma mittra?
    In your post you talk about bhakti and jyana paths. Does
    That mean DM is a hatha yogi? Thank you.

  7. OH. Oops! I mis-read the question.

    What he teaches has been described as hatha-raja yoga. What I have learned from him includes all of the paths; I think he wants us to reach the goal as quickly as possible, by any means available.

    You may ask him what type of yogi he is. He told me he was a jnani yogi.

    But he is/was also a great karma yogi.

    Here's what he said in his most recent New Year's address:

    Although I have practiced and taught Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Psychic Development and Meditation for many years, the main focus of my practice was and remains Karma Yoga (selfless service) and Svadyaya (study of scripture). Anyone can practice these two forms of Yoga, as they require no basic level of physical or mental aptitude, special equipment or intensive preparation, just a great thirst for knowledge of the Real Self and a heartfelt desire to help and love everyone. Karma yoga is selfless work offered without any strings attached and with no expectation of enjoying the fruits of one's labor. Acting in this way, one gradually loses all selfishness and notions such as: "I am the doer." Thus comes total surrender of the ego. (Egoism is the second cause of pain and suffering.) Why do selfless service? Because without it, there will be no "Union", "absorption" or Self-realization.