I am writing the following in the evening after Durga and I arrived at the home of K.K. Sah. We sit down together as if no time at all had lapsed since our last meeting, continuing our conversation of hearts. I share with you some thoughts that come to me as we sit here together, trusting that this little sketch will make sense to you in some way across time and space and cultures.
“You should not drink what only intoxicates you for a little while. Drink what intoxicates you for all time.” This is what K.K. replies when I jokingly chide him that even before dinner he is getting us drunk.
And drunk we are, sitting here with him in his tiny study, immediately falling into the exquisite songs of devotion K.K. extrudes from his tablet. We listen and sing along and he translates the meaning, and between the words we fall into a deep stillness in which the subdued sounds of life on the street become like a hum talking of the love of God that is in play here and everywhere.
We listen to Pandit Jasraj (one of the greatest singers of India today) singing “Bharata Bhai,” one of Durga’s favorites. As you listen to this melody at first, is something touching you in the singer’s voice?
The song comes from the profound devotional tradition of the Ramayana, this epic of our own transformation, played out in this fantastic tale of God and monkeys and bears. The setting takes place in the end of the story.
It tells how Sri Ram (the true Self in us), upon returning home from his exile (in the world of illusions) and defeating Ravana (the demonic force of ego), meets his brother Bharata who has minded his kingdom for him during his absence. (Bharata symbolizes the part of us that retains the deep essence of the heart and does not fall into delusion). He praises Bharata’s great love – “…and yet, if it wasn’t for that monkey Hanuman (who is the simple, one-pointed mind of devotion and faith in us, active in the world) I would not have been able to defeat Ravana and would not be standing here now.”
This song of love of incarnation, of the admiration of the pure faith in us that wins the day, aims to have us feel the depth of our hearts so all else, all worries, all inconveniences, all troubles, can drop away into insignificance.
It is the voice of an enlightened one (or the enlightened Self in us) telling us that faith and devotion are all important because their force can literally move mountains – as well as the mountains of obstacles before and in us. But how dry it seems for me to write this, compared to the moment – now – when the melody provokes such richness in us.
After sunset we hear the bells ring for evening puja (worship) in various homes surrounding us in this Indian maze of houses, where everyone lives in a natural, uncontrived intimacy, their lives shared in many ways, in the presence and grace of God, whether one believes or not.
Now K.K. plays a song from a 1944 movie.
It is a dialogue between a king and his wife. The king stands before her in robes of a sannyasin (a monk), telling her that it is his time to renounce his worldly life in search of God. His wife tries her best to dissuade him (as the forces of the world pull us in the direction of our comforts and desires), but he stands firm in his decision, telling her that the call of destiny cannot be changed.
“This is making me crazy…” K.K. says, smiling. It impacted him deeply when he saw the movie as a young man.
The calling to devote one’s life to the pursuit of divine truth and love was so impelling in this old movie that many village people who saw it in ’44 indeed left their families and took to the holy life, so many that the movie has to be forbidden for some months… This is India.
Of course the deeper understanding is internal; it is not a call to break up families, but to have us realize that the devotion to liberation must be most important for us. That, in turn, is the secret that allows relationships of all kinds to flourish and reach their potential height!
What cannot be told in words is the feeling in the room as we absorb the music, so deep in devotion, sensing the call of the timeless that reaches to all beings who are prisoners of time in one way or another.
It is K.K.’s love, the accumulated shakti (power) of prayer and devotion of a lifetime, the stillness of the lingering presence of great saints in his humble home and his open and soft heart, that transmit the true meaning, and the bhav (elevated feeling) of devotion, the receiving of grace in the fullness of the divine presence of the moment.
I am writing you this in the hope that even a little of this experience can transmit itself from our hearts to yours. This cannot be made to happen and words by themselves are powerless to give it to you. Words are simple instruments like a wire; it is only when the electricity flows through that wire that something else, beyond the instrument that transmits, can occur.
I know that in you has grown a receptivity for that which words cannot contain, the secret bond of lovers of God. This secret code may seem unintelligible to the world because the mood of devotion, the essence that is derived from the heart, transcends a life that knows only the concerns of matter.
Just a few days ago I read what Guru Padmasambhava said, the second Buddha, this tremendous being who is mostly depicted in a quite wrathful expression as the one who frees the world of demonic forces. He said: “For those who have devotion, I sleep at their doorstep.” He evokes the power of a pure heart, the highest blessing we can strive for, because the guru, and love, cannot refuse such a heart.
So we sit here, present, aware that all is in the hands of destiny that are filled with love.
And in this love we meet,
KK Sah is a long time devotee of Neem Karoli Baba, Maharajji and a close friend of Ramgiri and Durga. In the early 70′s he was instrumental in building a bridge between the Westerners who wanted to meet Maharajji and Maharajji himself. A beautiful soul whose love and devotion have touched many, both in India and in the West. He is currently writing a book about Sombari Maharaj, one of the great Siddhas (enlightened master) of the Kumaon Hills, this area in North India where we are currently living.