Stole the Show
If you are an outdoor kirtan enthusiast, you really must try the following, given the circumstances apply:
Find an urban river or a creek with a bridge structured over it, and if there’s a good trickle of pedestrians taking advantage of its walkway, plant your kirtan party at the base of one end of the bridge, and chant away. At the Jaipur bridge from Calgary’s downtown that connects to Prince’s Park, our colourful chanting group positioned ourselves, where bridge walkers could clearly see us below in musical array.
One person was pumping the harmonium. Two were on mrdanga drums. One took to playing karatalas (hand cymbals), one struck repeatedly a tambourine, while all of us used our voices to chant the popular mantra Hare Krishna. It was a powerful presentation and a perfect venue with rocks, water, autumn bushes and trees as a natural setting. Ducks and geese came swimming towards us to hear us, and humans promenading were halted by what they saw and heard. Leaning at the edge of the bridges rail was our spontaneous audience. But the most astounding aspect of our devotional show was when Lyle came into the picture. Who is Lyle? Well, he introduced himself to us and said, “I’m Native, eh?” I stay at the home shelter. I’ve had it rough all my life, eh?” He looked a bit weathered, and had a deep scar on his left cheek. He abruptly left the rock where he sat to speak to us, and came back 10 minutes later with a gift. The gift was a tiny bouquet of wild flowers, hand picked, held together with a weed twine. He casually placed it in front of Gaura Chandra, our harmonium player, stepped forward to sip water from the Bow River in front of us, and then raised his arms in the beautiful ritual style. He returned to his rock, pulled out his harmonica and played with us, or tried.
If you ask me, Lyle stole the show. He demonstrated real bhakti, devotion, without having read anything about it. Bhakti is of course an innate thing, and after we took a break playing, and let him play solo, he terminated by saying, “You know we’re all connected, there’s no separation between us.” We couldn’t argue with him on that.
This touching encounter happened at the base of the bridge, the bridge called Jaipur Bridge, in Calgary. Somehow, Lyle showed us how to enhance our Thanksgiving.