Sunday, March 12th, 2017
The Birth of Sankirtan
For the occasion, Gaura Purnima, the birth anniversary of Chaitanya, two venues were our destination points for our cultural presentation. Come to think of it, we haven’t given a name to our piece, which was a narration, danced to in Odissi-style, and sung in Bengali with musical accompaniment.
Now none of us are Bengalis, but we did sing a song in that language—the language of our guru, Prabhupada—as well as the native tongue of the author of the song “Udilo Aruna.” Bhaktivinode was a song-writer from Orissa who used the Bengali medium.
Here’s the song that I narrated in English for the Scarborough and Toronto crowds:
The Birth of Sankirtan
1. When a tinge of red on the eastern horizon heralded the sunrise, the jewel of the brahmanas, Gaura, immediately awakened. Taking His followers with Him, He went all over the countryside, visiting the towns and villages of Nadia.
2. The Khol drums resounded, “tathai tathai.” The five cymbals chimed in time, and Gaura’s foot bells jingled as His golden form trembled slightly in ecstatic love for the Divine.
3. Gaura called out to the townsfolk, “Perhaps we are wasting time—sleeping? Then much time spent on decorating the body? Try this vibration, with its sweet names, ‘Mukunda? Madhava? Yadhava! Hari!’ engaging our full voices.”
4. This human body, among all collective species, is a rare gift. We must ask ourselves, “Just what are you doing?” Have you given sufficient thought to this question? If you do not see to the love of the darling of Yashoda, Krishna, it would be a great loss—a shame.
5. Each time the sun rises and sets, a day passes and is lost. Why then remain idle, and not honour the Lord of the heart?
6. Understand this essential fact: life is temporary and full of all kinds of challenges. So make it a priority by being under the protection of the sweet names and remain engaged in divine service.
7. Desiring to bless all entities, the sweet name has descended to this world as a response to the need of ending the darkness of ignorance, as this sound shines like the sun in the sky of the heart.
8. Drinking the pure nectar of the name satisfies the author of the song, Bhaktivinode. There is nothing but the sacred name within all the 14 worlds.
(End of song)
People listened to Gaura, the Golden Avatar. Why wouldn’t they? He was beautifully imposing at a stature of seven feet tall, broad shouldered, with a chest of a lion, eyes captivating, hair a-flow, as He danced with a swing and a sway.
The villagers were taken by the sight and sound. With their hearts now embraced, they were motivated to move themselves and to surrender their voices in a splendorous volume, their bodies in rhythmic back-and-forth motion.
Gaura journeyed from one village to the next, offering a new engagement, a new way of being. He made His plea. His sharing had been done and all in good fun. A mission had taken hold, one that would be rather bold in its projection throughout the globe.
To those who participate in Sankirtan, a warmth, a fullness and a love are achieved.
May the Source be with you!