It Happened At Bloor
It was a small chanting party that enthused the public at the business and shopping area of Bay and Bloor. We were a lively bunch. We looked happy. One of our monks from the ashram, Maha Mantra by name, is particularly good at playing the mridanga drum. Pedestrians would light up when passing our jolly crew, although you could see the occasional nose in the air kind of response.
One particular fellow took us by surprise. He was obviously drunk. At the same time, he would not be in the category of being a total loser. He was dressed very spiffily even.
“Sixty-nine!” he slurred, “It was Sixty-nine I first met you guys at Rochedale.” Rochedale was an experimental cooperative high rise where you found intellectuals, hippies, beatniks and even Hare Krishnas who are living on one floor. At that time there was rampant drug usage, sex orgies, people jumping out the windows while tripping. Of course, the Krishna’s were exempt from those habits. It was cheaper accommodation so they found it favourable for residing there.
In any event the elated chap kept talking, embracing, and handing us cash, even though we never asked for any. It was hard to comprehend what he was saying at times, he just kept rattling on as we enjoyed his spontaneously warm reception. He kind of made our day you could say by the way that he was so overly accepting of us. At least we could decipher when he said, “Group hug, group hug,” to which we responded. Indeed he was the strongest character we met of all the people there, and he left an impression.
Now, if someone asks why are we out here in the first place, singing and playing all this music, how to respond? Are we a band of street musicians out here to entertain?
The answer to this type of question actually surfaced in our morning discussion when we explored what sacred space is. The sage, Narada Muni defined pilgrimage space in the book Bhagavatam as an area where spiritual activity is enacted.
For those of us who processioned our way from our ashram to Bloor Street, we no doubt benefitted from the workout, and especially for Dharma, a monk in his 60’s who has some disability. We feel that chanting in various public locations offers the space a transition of spirit. It is meant to be an act of magnanimity that great kirtan yogis have made as a contribution to the world.