Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Next Kirtan in Oxford

Our next chanting session will be on the 15th April at the Friends Meeting House, 43 St Giles (4-6pm). The kirtans are on a drop-in basis, so feel free to come along and chant. No previous experience is required.

Mother's Day Kirtan

Last kirtan was on Mother's day (18th March). Jonathan Edelmann gave the talks this time, continuing on the theme of the Yoga-sutras. He explained how the eightfold process of yoga (asthanga-yoga) gradually leads the practitioner to a state of concentrated meditation. Here are his talks: Talk 1, Talk 2, Talk 3.

Claire led the invocation by reciting a mediaeval chant on the power and glories of kirtan meditation. Here is a slightly shortened version.

Meru chanted the om namo bhagavate vasudevaya mantra, which you can find in the post below.

Gopal then led two chants - one (for us) new mantra: jaya jaya shri chaitanya, jaya nityananda, jaya advaita-chandra, jaya gaura-bhakta-vrinda, which is a very sweet and joyful chant - and our special Mother's Day chant! Gopal explained to us that not only do people in India consider us to have many mothers (mother Earth etc), but also that there is a divine Mother, Radha. This mantra thus connects us to our divine mother, Radha (as well as our divine father, Krishna). It is a lovely chant:
jaya radhe, jaya radhe radhe, jaya radhe jaya shri radhe,
jaya krishna, jaya krishna krishna, jaya krishna jaya shri krishna.

Rasasthali led the finale - the hare krishna mantra:
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama
rama rama hare hare

Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya

At the last kirtan we chanted an ancient and famous mantra: om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.

One interesting story in relation to this mantra is found in the Bhagavat Purana (also known as the Shrimad Bhagavatam). Once upon a time, Druva Maharaja, a young prince of five years, got so hurt and angry that he left his father's palace to seek God. He had heard that whatever he desired could be fulfilled by worshipping God in the forest. As he went away he met a sage, Narada Muni, who instructed him in the process of meditation, giving him the mantra: om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.

After several months of practice, Druva stood steadily on only one leg during his meditation. He then finally captured the Supreme within his heart, who then revealed himself in full.

He had gone to meditate in the forest to get an even greater kingdom than his father, but realised he had received the greatest of all gifts: 'I was searching after a piece of glass, but instead I have found a most valuable jewel. Therefore I am so satisfied that I do not wish to ask any benediction from You.’

At the last kirtan, we did not stand on one leg (promise!), but we did chant this mantra. One way of approaching this chant is by viewing it as way of acknowledging a power greater than us. This simple act of acknowledgement can be a great relief, for it allows us to let go a bit of our tendency to control. This will further help us feel at peace with ourselves.