Saturday marked the finale of the grand ten day out-reach festival, "InSpirit" organized by couple of the local Toronto Devotees as a forum to do active preaching to the Yoga and the Student Community.
His Holiness Devamrita Swami was the guest speaker for this festival and it was organized by the Bhakti Yoga Club and the Urban Edge Yoga, two outreach projects undertaken by the Toronto temple devotees.
Needle less to say, I am yet to come down for the whirlwind of the past ten days. It was an amazing experience, watching how powerful the Holy name and the teachings from Srila Prabhupad's books and see it being understood and experienced by a completely different audience.
To me, that is where InSpirit inspired. Every evening Maharaj gave interesting classes which were food for thought on different areas ranging from understanding "real" relationships, to spiritual economics to understanding environmental issues from an ecological stand point to understanding power of sound and Mantra meditation. Each of these talks were interspersed with unbelievable kirtan, led for the first few days by HG Bada Hari Prabhu and after he left for the Japa Retreat, Vinodini led the kirtans.
During these times of kirtan, I would look around the room, and often along with the foot tapping and clapping sounds coming from people who have never heard the maha mantra, I would see people totally moving into ecstasy at hearing the holy names.
At one particular program during InSpirit held at a popular Yoga studio in Toronto, the JivaMukta studio, I realized that this new generation of Yoga enthusiasts are not interested in Yoga because of Lulu Lemon, but because they are looking for something more. And this was evident during the kirtan session. As Bada Hari Prabhu started off with mellow chanting of Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, the holy name echoed in the main meditation hall and it seemed like one very powerful voice was chanting these names in harmony. And as Bada Hari Prabhu picked up pace as Keshav and Vinodini gave the beat and rhythm with the Mrdanga and Kartal respectively, one by one people stood up and joined us in dancing! By the end of Prabhu's kirtan, close to 30 of the attending 70 people stood up with arms high in the air, dancing and singing with us.
Speaking to a few of them during Prasad, they all expressed their joy and happiness and excitement saying that they have never experienced Yoga like this. They wanted to come back and do kirtan with us! After the program got over, while we were clearing up, so many of them stayed back to ask us questions and see how the instruments are played. And they were all so good at playing our traditional instruments!
As we were done cleaning up, I had rounds to finish, so I walked around the room and as I did my rounds, I could still feel the energy that had been created in that space due to the chanting of the holy name.
As I saw the smiling faces of the guests who had come for the Mantra meditation workshop, a smile crossed my face, as i clutched my japa bead harder, realizing how lucky I was to be given the chance to chant the holy names of the Lord.
InSpirit was named such that we are able to tap into that very being of our existence and try to understand our relationship with the supreme. It was truly an InSpirational ten days and I am really looking forward to more inspiration to come in the following days!