Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sacred Sound

The place: Gauravani Prabhu's temple room, just outside of DC
The day: April 7, 2007
The time: eternal
The crews: NYC (Ananta, Akincana), DC (Gauravani, Rasa, Manish, Vinay), Alachua (Bali and Vish), and NV (Balarama, Gauranga Kishore, the "sandwich acarya" Caitanya, and myself)

You don't quite believe what you're hearing. You want to drag the whole world inside and say "listen to this, fools!". You can't really describe it, so hear are some samples.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


For those unaware, Muktakesh Prabhu, a dear disciple of Srila Prabhupada and resident of New Vrindaban, left his body this past Friday, April 6, 2007, at 9:36pm, in a room filled with over thirty devotees, family, and friends chanting Hare Krsna at the most auspicious moment of his soul's passing.

I did not know Mukta Kesh Prabhu very well, at least on the surface. However, in being able to be one of the many devotees who helped assist him to leave his body in ideal Vaisnava fashion, I've come to understand that perhaps I've been an intimate associate of him for many lifetimes.

I know he's in a better place now, and as soon as he got there, whoever was around to greet him sure got more that what they bargained for.

The first I ever heard of Mukta was that he used to storm into the brahmacari ashram very early in the morning, pounding on doors, yelling out "Jiv Jago!" (wake up sleeping soul!), calling us monkeys, and chanting Hare Krsna in his unique high-volume fashion. I cringed at the thought of having to meet such a person.

Later, I was actually going to ask him to resume this service. I thought it might help me jump out of bed a little bit quicker, but I was told not to ask him because some devotees in our ashram may not appreciate having this extra alarm clock ringing again. Alas...I'm sure I'll get a chance to experience this lila in a more transcendental way in the future.

Mukta was kind enough to gently force me to join his daily 12:30pm Bhagavad-Gita study course. He reminded us nearly everyday that having to use this time for such a consistent study was an austerity any young devotee must undergo. After a few classes, I completely agreed with him.

Mukta's style of giving class was very typical of his personality. Instead of concentrating solely on one verse, as is standard, we would storm through 10-15 verses at a time. This method has so many benefits, for it allows one to see the main themes and lessons of a chapter unfold and connect, and it doesn't take three years of sporadic classes to get through one book.

His class became one of the highlights of the day. I learned that this seemingly intimidating devotee, whose nature of being is very much the polar opposite of my own, actually had a real heart of gold, and I'll appreciate forever his taking time out of his very important duties as head of our Prison Ministry to actually engage the young bhaktas and bhaktins of New Vrindaban in serious, engaging, and very sweet katha.

We had just finished Chapter 2 of the Gita when he fell ill. Some of the last words I spoke to him before he left was a personal vow that I will hold him to finally getting started on Chapter 3 next time I see him.

My other favorite Mukta pastimes was his early-morning habit of pulling a chair to the middle of the temple room, sitting down to chant his japa, and then getting up after about 15 seconds to go chant elsewhere, leaving the chair there for nobody and everybody. He also had a great hop-step dance he would do right before circumambulating Tulasi-devi in the morning.

Being able to be present to help him leave his body, surrounded by so many loving devotees, has given me so many lessons that I will be assimilating for the rest of my life. At least, I can understand that anything and everything we do must revolve around being able to hear the holy name of Krsna at every moment of our life, especially at the time of death.

I'll miss you a lot, Mukta. All of us will try our best to give your son all the support and guidance that you gave him. We'll see you soon.