A Rocking Mantra Saturday
In different corners of the city, mantras were heard. At the Urban Edge Yoga Centre people signed up for a walk with the Swami (me), so at 10:30 AM I headed a crew of walking enthusiasts through one of the green trails. We began our walk of friendship or bonding with mantras to invoke an auspicious event – to make it a pilgrim’s walk as differentiated from just a happy stroll with nature lovers in Toronto’s central park system.
By that time a 24 hour kirtan, traditionally known as Astha Prahar, was well underway. The biggest pull here comes from the Bengali community. It is the 18th year for this event. It’s the one place in the city where you will be sure to hear women ululating. By the time I reached there in the evening, that high pitched sound permeated the atmosphere along with the beat of the drums and the power of the mantra. That happened in the north-west end of the city.
In the city’s east end, Scarborough, our visiting monk from Germany, Bhakti Vaibhava Swami, who has been around and active in Krishna Consciousness since 1970, facilitated a satsang, devotional gathering. There the main feature was the Maharaja himself, singing up a storm. He’s a gentle soul and despite a serious headache, he managed to charm all in the sound of mantra.
Not a mantra chant but very much related was a seminar conducted by a visiting couple, Partha and Uttama. They were extolling the glories of family values. Their emphasis was on the unique role of grhasta as opposed to grhamedi. Grihasta refers to the life of a Godly-based family person. Grhamedi is defined as a person whose foundation is more ‘me’ centered, a sort of ‘keep up with the Jones’ syndrome. Partha and Uttama delivered the good message of wholesome family life, which in some way is a form of chanting since that is what rich family values are all about. The seminar took place in a humble corner of ISKCON’s basement floor in town.
But perched on top of a glorious hill in posh Forest Hill neighbourhood, 130 early rising Girl Guides ranging anywhere from 6 to their teens, woke up after a day in Canada’s famous castle, Casa Loma, to be entertained by a bhajan group, Gaura Shakti. Those girls, I was informed, took to chanting like ducks in water. “It was so exhilarating,” said a member of the band. Where are you going to see young kids up at 7 AM on Saturday morning in their pajamas dancing in circles and reciting mantras with full enthusiasm?
So it was a Saturday that knew how to rock the mantra.