Undercover in Manali

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Anita dasi

IMG_9042Scratch the a��80s-style sunglasses of a young Rajasthani strolling down the Mall Road in Manali and youa��ll see a glimpse of the ancient spiritual culture of India within him. People come up here for honeymoons, to get away from the heat of Delhi, and to spend money on Nepali-style hats theya��ll never wear again, but when they hear kirtan they stop, stare… and join in.

Sometimes at the end of a kirtan, when Sanatana prabhu would yell, a�?Jaya jaya Sria��a�? therea��d be a bunch of blank faces behind a wall of phones filming us. But many times theya��d yell a�?Radhe!a�? in return and smile. Theya��d chant along when we started again. The bold, the drunk and those too young to care would dance with abandon. And occasionally someone would come forward with a bhajan theya��d learned and would like to sing themselves. There are some good devotional singers hidden in the crowds.

01417992-6c4d-41b4-9ec3-76fe307a05e5A group of teachers from near Kurukshetra sat right on the ground during a kirtan, singing along while closing their eyes. When one of them checked his phone, another told him to pay attention. A troupe of little girls came many days in a row to dance along, spinning and raising their hands in unison.

IMG_8964By the table and out on the street, our crew approached people with books. With a smile and a simple explanation, they passed out Krishna coloring books, Bhagavad-gitas in a half-dozen languages, beginnersa�� books and some high-class rasika revelations. a�?Ita��s just by donation. Ap kucha bhi de sakte he. Thank you.a�?

Oh India, the reason youa��re not good at imitating the west is that youa��re better than that. Even clad in blue jeans, fake leather and fluorescent running shoes, your people still carry the current of bhakti from generations past, like a river running beneath the surface.

a08fe077-8167-4b6d-9559-17099a3396faWe also held Bhagavad-gita art gatherings at Gayatria��s cafe in Vashist. Wea��d choose a verse each week, mostly from the Gitaa��s second chapter, and everyone would try to represent it with artwork. We got some pretty interesting results, which you can see here:

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IMG_9008Hats off to the crew: Anita, Anupama, Jayanti, Kunja, Sanatana, Govinda, and special guests Sulata, Radhika, Mukunda, Sachi and Dinanath. And special thanks to those who sponsored books to make the trip possible.

Jaya Srila Gurudeva! Jaya Srila Prabhupada! Jaya Sri Rupanuga Gaudiya Guru Varga! Vashist Rishi! Jaya Sri Sri guru Gauranga Gandharvika Giridhari Radha Vinodabihariji ki jaya!