Traveling along the west coast of the US has been on my top priority of things to rekindle since I experienced traveling sankirtan to some extent back in Portland Oregon many years ago. We’d drive down to Los Angeles for Ratha Yatra and along the way distribute books, picnic, swim, and have wild car kirtans. We were a ragtag band of transcendentalists and as we drove along I would make a mental note of those places we didn’t visit and hope to see it someday. I have that opportunity now as I have embarked on a journey to reconnect, encourage and be encouraged, meet new people to share Krsna consciousness with, and most of all gain inspiration to deeply surrender to Krsna by taking the association of those who are surrendered to Krsna.
Two major places I have had the fortune to give and take association has been giving association to a group of yoga teachers in Arizona, and getting association and recharging my spiritual batteries in San Jose through the mercy of HG Vaisesika Prabhu and the devotees of ISKCON Silicon Valley, ISV, or as I like to call it, ISKCON Sankirtan Village. For this blog I will focus on the recharge part in San Jose.
It is said that association is like a crystal and that one begins to reflect the qualities of those one associates with. ISKCON San Jose reminds me of that abode made of transcendental gems emanating from conscious devotees who churn out the nectar of Krsna consciousness daily and practically. I have always envisioned this kind of association where the songs of the Vaisnava acaryas are sung regularly, reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books done with a deep study- in association of devotees, which make the churning part more enjoyable, especially when philosophical points come up and people have different opinions on the subject matter. Srila Prabhupada used to do this with his disciples; engaging them in spiritual debates, mock arguments, careful study, all with the aim of polishing and raising fine Vaisnavas who can present Krsna consciousness nicely not just through philosophy, but also personal action.
And although the program may last for three hours or sometimes more, I never feel tired! I can say, by my experience in San Jose, that when the crowd is right for hearing about Krsna, time stands still, and fatigue never shows its face. Its a mixture of singing, discussion, putting some people on the spot (like Vaisesika prabhu making me act out the Dasavatar strota), sloka learning, great food, happy faces, you name it, its here for the experience. There’s a room available to me when I do visit, but I fear the wrath of HG Giri Govardhana Prabhu, Braja Kishori and Lali Gopi if I didn’t stay with them. What to speak of the prasadam made by Hansapriya devi, or those devotees in the back ground who make the Sunday feast! So all in all When I leave San Jose I am recharged in many ways to get to my next destination and give Krsna to someone else.
This is indeed a personal philosophy, transferred from person to person through the method given by Srila Rupa goswami in the Nectar of Instruction, so the whole show rests on the head of our leaders to imbibe personal experience of Krsna consciousness. I must say, Vaisesika prabhu and Nirkula mataji embody leaders who are excited about Krsna, and their energy definitely rubs off on the whole community. What to speak of the distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books; I could write a whole book about that one. How could His Divine Grace be anything but pleased with these people!
I have a bit of difficulty articulating how wonderful this community is, but I can say how exciting it is to come here, get association, recharge on spiritual energy, and then go out to give it to whoever might be willing to take it. I pray that I may stay in the shadows of such devotees so that when Krsna looks and smiles at their endeavor, by default, I may also get the mercy.
All glories to the devotees of ISV, Iskcon Sankirtan Village.