This past weekend we spent 24 hours chanting the Mahamantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hundreds of people gathered in New Vrindaban, a remote (and that’s the nice word for it) community way up in the hills of West Virginia.
Amazing kirtaniyas and musicians such as the Mayapuris,Gaura Vani and Madhava led beautiful chanting. All sorts of instruments supported the chanting including bass, violin, cello, flutes as well as the traditional mrdanga drum and harmonium.
Every few hours a new leader would take over and so the melodies were always morphing – the energy and mood of the chanting riding the waves of the group dynamic.
It was like a pressure cooker in the temple during the festival. Dark, loud, warm and buzzing with the potent vibration of the Mahamantra. I could only stay in for a few hours at time until I needed the quiet calm of the surrounding environment where FY and I would walk, talk, chant japa and just be still.
There are peacocks that stroll (and scream) and swans that swim in the ponds. It’s a bit surreal really.
Plus there are these incredibly tall statues of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda presiding over the property.
Don’t forget the cows! Krishna loves cows. We visited the goshala one morning to see the cows being milked.
The festival was quite an experience. I was a bit overwhelmed by it all but even so, I’m grateful to have had this unique experience. I need my sleep (such a mess without it) so I didn’t even try to stay up all night the way many people did.
I’m still getting used to hanging out with Hare Krishnas (more on that another time), but even when the culture of it all is more than I can necessarily handle, I am nevertheless drawn in by the power of the sacred sounds of kirtan. There is no denying the transcendent vibration that emanates from the mantra. It pulls me in, strikes my heart, trances me out and lifts me up to a higher plane – and that is a beautiful thing.
Here’s a little video I found on Youtube that captures a bit of the festival. Enjoy.