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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ssp COver

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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Jan
20

In loving, devotional memory…

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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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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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Aug
10

Bhakti Immersion 2010, Ananda Ashram

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Bhakti Immersion

Annual Bhakti Immersion Weekend with Shyamdas at Ananda Ashram

Radhe Radhe! If you are in the New York area don’t miss this intimate devotional retreat at the serene Ananda Ashram. I consider Ananda to be my home-ashram, where I have been visiting and leading programs for decades. We will have plenty of time and the lovely space to explore bhakti teachings, stories, mantras, songs, and more. anandaashram.org

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Jul
13

Arjun Bruggeman

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Arjun Bruggeman is featured on Shyamdas’s Songs of Sweetness album and joins him for several events every summer. Shyamdas and Arjun combine their passions for rhythm and improv to create spontaneous bhava well worth witnessing — and taking part in!

Arjuna is Krishna Das’s primary touring and recording tabla accompanist. He studied classical percussion under Michael Frashe and tabla with Zakir Hussain, Ty Burhoe, and Benjy Wertheimer.

Categories : Musicians
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Jul
10

Adam Baba

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Adam Baba — doesn’t this photo say it all? A blissful, benevolent being who loves to “bhaj.” His humor and goodness are matched only by the spiritual funk he conjures up with his bass, enough to get anyone in the divine mood. Connect with this soul brother at one of Shyamdas’s many New England events, like the Boston Chant Fest, Omega, and others. Sample Adam Baba’s groovy bhajan bass from Shyamdas’s Songs of Sweetness album, below:

Categories : Musicians
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Jul
07

Steve Gorn: Bansuri

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We are fortunate to have a musician of the caliber of Steve Gorn (stevegorn.com) in the U.S., offering virtuoso bansuri flute performance and accompaniment. Shyamdas and his audiences are thrilled by Steve’s presence in a number of Shyamdas kirtans every year, as he accentuates the devotional heights and depths of the divine praise that is kirtan. Steve G offered this hauntingly beautiful finishing touch to the “Grace Goddess Yamunaji” track of Shyamdas’s Beloved Chants.

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Quotes

O Gopis! When Mukunda, the Lord of Liberation,
Rests His left cheek on His left shoulder,
He raises His right eyebrow and places the flute on His lower lip.
He then gently runs His fingers along its path of holes and plays enchantingly.

When the wives of the gods, the devis, who are coursing through the sky in their
Celestial chariots with their perfected husbands hear Krishna’s call,
They become spellbound. They dedicate their minds and hearts to the path of love,
Experiencing shame as the ties at their waists loosen.
They are distraught and swoon.
— transl. by Shyamdas, Ecstatic Couplets