Devotional practitioner, translator, author, speaker and musician, Shyamdas (1953-2013) brought India's ancient Vedic literature and medieval devotional renaissance to life in the West. An accomplished practitioner-scholar and guide to the 16th century philosopher Vallabhacharya’s Pushtimarga tradition, Shyamdas published more than 15 books on Bhakti Yoga and the Path of Grace. Shyamdasji’s overflowing good mood and ability to relate to every individual and situation with bhāva (divine, good mood) made him an instant best friend to so many. His profound contributions live on in their hearts, and in his audio and written publications.

After being called to India in a dream encounter with the famous Vrindavan saint Neem Karoli Baba, in 1972 Shyamdas travelled to India and took up residence in the sacred city of Vrindavan. Soon thereafter he began to receive bhakti teachings from his guru of the grace filled path, Shri Prathameshji. Shyamdasji’s was truly addicted to satsang—association with fellow truth seekers. He regularly led kirtan and satsang programs at yoga studios and retreat centers in America, Canada, and Europe. Of late he was a central figure in the burgeoning kirtan festival movement, headlining at events like Omega Institute’s Ecstatic Chant Weekends and the regional Bhakti Fests.

Shyamdasji’s love and commitment to the sacred region of Braj and its inhabitants inspired him to dedicate his time, resources, and connections to various charitable works, including environmental cleanup efforts in Braj, cow protection, architectural restorations, direct support to schools, musicians, and temples, and of course, feeding people. The Shyamdas Foundation established in his honor supports charitable works, devotional projects and musical studies, in the spirit of Shyamdasji’s amazing life and legacy.

“Jai Shri Krishna…What a lila! To my entire family as well as to my circle of satsang friends and teachers: it was an honor to have been a part of it. Know that the soul is eternal and plays onwards, always reaching for the Beloved.” —from the Last Will and Testament of Shyamdas

Jan
19

Shyamdas Foundation

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The Shyamdas Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to the charitable purpose of preserving and advancing the legacy of Shyamdas, who dedicated his life to the music, literature, and people of Braj, a sacred region of North India. The foundation aims to preserve, publish and distribute his writings, translations and music. As Shyamdas was a talented and prolific linguist, the foundation will continue his legacy by advancing the study of Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati and Brajbhasha, classical Indian and temple music, yoga, and Indian religions and spiritual practices. Lastly, the foundation works on environmental issues, such as reforestation, in the Braj region.

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Shri Harirayaji (1590-1711) composed this series of Sanskrit letters sometime in the 17th century and mailed them to his younger brother, Gopeshwarji. When his wife suddenly passed away, Shri Gopeshwarji was plunged into grief and became unable to focus his mind on his Beloved’s worship. As he reviewed and wholeheartedly embraced the teachings found in Harirayaji’s letters, Gopeshwarji’s grief was sundered. He decided to compose a commentary on his brother’s Sanskrit letters in the vernacular Brajbhasha—a mystic, poetic language still spoken today in Braj and considered to be Lord Krishna’s own mother tongue. The 41 Letters cover a vast array of spiritual subjects, but recurring themes are how to live a devotional lifestyle that will transform our lives and consciousness towards God, how to live the lila of life, the play of reality with consciousness, and also how to make the necessary adjustments to the various situations that arise in the course of the embodied soul’s personal journey.

This English edition of the Shikshapatra is the fruit of Shyamdasji’s lifelong engagement with sacred literature and is the last fully completed translation he has left us with. It includes the most extensive and personal introduction of any of his books. Your purchase of this volume is a full contribution to the Shyamdas Foundation established by his family. The Foundation aims to preserve the legacy of Shyamdasji’s life and works through charitable donations in India and sacred music, literature, and environmental projects dear to his heart.

This and other sacred texts translated by Shyamdas are available now at sacredwoods.net

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Hari OM…Beloved friends and loved ones of Shyamdasji and bhaktas and kirtan lovers. Our priceless friend Shyamdasji left this world last night. He spent his remaining hours, as usual, in satsang and bliss with a group of dear friends. On this night in particular they were reading Shri Vallabhacarya’s teaching “Krsnashraya” and reflecting deeply on and repeating the refrain, “Krsna eva gatir mama…Krishna is my refuge and destination.” He has arrived at his final refuge and destination now.

 
Though nothing can replace this loss for us, he left us with so much, so many teachings, reflections, and memories, and most of all, the example to live a divinely inspired life, in constant search for bhava and in appreciation for one another. He loves us all very much and would love nothing more than for us to continue our own journey towards eternal bliss and appreciation for satsang and kirtan of all kinds.

 
To support one another as Shyamdasji’s loved ones grieving around the globe, please feel free to share any inspirations, memories, or special ways you are commemorating Shyamdasji’s ecstatic lifetime and his return to the divine abode, by posting comments here (To comment, click on the title above, “In loving devotional memory”

Jai Shri Krishna

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Jul
28

2nd Annual NYC Bhajan Boat

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Jul
11

Shyamdas at Bhaktifest Midwest

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Check out this great post and video from the Bhakti Beat. Also, a big thank you to all of our fans at Bhaktifest Midwest!

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Apr
26

Summer 2012 event schedule now available!

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Summer is upon us! Shyamdas has returned from India and is on the road again to bring us the ecstatic chanting and teachings that we’ve missed during the winter months. Feel free to browse our summer events for concerts and teachings in your area. Also, don’t forget to “like” Shyamdas on Facebook to keep up-to-date on all the latest news, last-minute events and announcements throughout the year.

Some upcoming events include:

April 28 – An Evening with Shyamdas – Ananda Ashram, Monroe, NY
April 29 – The Joy of Service and Desireless Action – Om Factory NYC, New York, NY
May 4 – Spring Ecstatic Chant – Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY
May 11 – Satsang and Kirtan with Sadhu Maharaja – Yoga Mandali, Saratoga
Springs, NY
May 12 – Sacred Conversation and Bhajan – Euphoria Yoga, Woodstock, NY
May 17 – A Taste of Vrindavan: Stories and Kirtan – Yogamaya NYC, New York, NY

 

We look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks!
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Oct
01

Shyamdas appears in new film, “Yoga Is”

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“Thirty million Americans and countless millions worldwide have taken up a practice that is transforming their lives. Follow filmmaker Suzanne Bryant as she meets with the most prominent Yoga Gurus and teachers in the west and travels to India to explore the power of this ancient practice. Along the way she discovers what YOGA IS.”

Look forward to the premier of the new film featuring interviews with Shyamdas, Krishnadas and many more next week when “Yoga Is” premiers next week!

For more information about the film and filmaker and to request a screening, please visit http://www.yogais.com.

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Feb
09

Ecstatic Couplets: The Yugal Gita

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This and other sacred texts translated by Shyamdas are available now at sacredwoods.net

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Sep
14

Shri Prathameshji

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His Holiness 108 Goswami Shri Prathameshji

I had the extreme pleasure of living with His Holiness Goswami Prathameshji, a direct descendant of Shri Vallabhacharya and the head of the first seat of the Vallabh Sampradaya, for eighteen years. Although his physical form disappeared from this world in 1990, Prathameshji’s devotional teachings remain with us. His knowledge was vast. He was a pundit of Ayurveda, Vedanta, as well as the Shrimad Bhagavatam. He was a master of Sanskrit, Urdu, Gujarati, and Vrajbhasha languages and an accomplished classical musician.

Prathameshji masterfully played the tabla and pakhavaja drums, harmonium, sitar, flute, and even sarangi, but most of all, it is the way he sang Dhrupada-Dhamar devotional kirtan songs that still resonates throughout my being. He was a master of “Lila kirtan.” His life and songs emerged from the eternal realm and somehow manifested here in this world. His being was full of Lila-mood. He often sang, in total ecstasy, poems written by great bhaktas who had actually seen and experienced Shri Krishna’s Lila.

In this recording, His Holiness Shri Prathameshji ends one of his amazing teaching sessions by leading the audience in the traditional concluding kirtan, the following poem by the famous blind bhakta-poet, Surdas:

I have firm faith in Shri Vallabh’s lotus feet.
Without the moonbeams that shine from His toenails,
the entire world falls into darkness.
In this age of struggle, there is no other practice
by which to attain true liberation.
Sings Sur, I may be blind in two ways,
but I am His priceless servant.

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Aug
23

Shravan

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During the month of Shravan, occurring roughly in August, Shri Krishna plays with all of His bhaktas in Vrindavan by the door of His Lila bower, filling them with His inner nectar. During Shravan, Shri Krishna daily swings in a Hindola, which can be painted, studded with jewels or mirrors, decorated with fruits or flowers, or can be made of silver or even gold. Shri Harirayaji explains in a kirtan:

Swing, swing, swing – Beloved Krishna, swing!
A golden Hindola stands by Yamuna’s banks,
surrounded by lovely blossoming trees and vines.
Rasika Pritam sings, “When I see this, the pains of my heart are relieved.”

[excerpted from Path of Grace by Shyamdas]

They swing together, arm in arm.
Look by the door of the fresh forest bower – see the splendor all around!
Krishna first plays a full scale on His flute, then plays a protracted tone, and then softens the note.
Sings Swami Haridas, “Radha plays in Krishna’s bower.
When I behold that divine beauty, I give everything else away.”

Categories : Festivals
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Quotes

Krishna has appeared from Mother Devaki’s womb.
Devaki also means “the sky,”
And Krishna has become its moon.

“Worldly afflictions strike the body, senses, and soul. Divine anguish is felt in the fire of God’s separation. The moon removes all these miseries and showers delight. Lord Krishna appears as the lila moon, the lord of the stars, and rises from behind the eastern mountains. He is not only the husband of the constellations but also grants us soulful ecstasy.

“This moon’s special virtue is that it can remove, from great distances, the afflictions of all. Moon Krishna is the lord and the husband of the sky. The stars are the moon’s wives and, like us, reside very close to the Beloved. When Lord Krishna stands with us in our dance circle He is simply outstanding!”
— transl. by Shyamdas, Ecstatic Couplets