Suddenly and quite unexpectedly I find I am going to India to help out with the devotional singing component of “Enstasy,” a meditation and yoga retreat presented by Dandapani.
We met Dandapani years ago as a Hindu monk at the Kauai Addheenam, a Saivite Hindu monastery founded by Gurudeva Subramuniyaswami in Hawaii. Monks in this order “re-up” several times before taking final vows. Dandapani left after 10 years and currently teaches yogic techniques to seekers and CEO’s all over the world.
We’ve traveled all over India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand with him, both on monastery-sponsored “Innersearch” trips and on private retreats. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
I deeply admire and respect Indian culture but didn’t think I’d ever go back (so many other places in the world!). But when Dandapani phoned to say his musician had dropped out at the last minute and would I please come instead, what could I do?
I guess all that ecstatic howling last time was an audition because, ready or not, India here I come.
It’s all rather mysterious and strange because, although I used to do kirtan (Hindu devotional singing) quite a bit when I was young, I decided it wasn’t culturally supportable and stopped. I really missed all those old country gospel hymns and black praise songs. When I discovered my true emotional attachment is with the Western musical tradition I left kirtan singing behind and devoted myself elsewhere.
I openly declare a hybrid sort of faith. Hinduism provides the roadmap for mysticism, but Christianity holds the utopian blueprint for humanity which I find so valuable and dear. On my altar, Jesus and Mary share space with Shiva and Shakti and get along just fine.
The retreat will be held at the Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kerala, apparently a paradise of ocean, beautiful waterways and lovely bungalows.
I leave for India on January 8th and return on the 15th. How God must be laughing! I’m being invited to throw myself into a musical genre I haven’t thought about in years and to perform it before lord knows how many people on the other side of the world. In an instant I have been changed from a plodding, barely successful artist into a jet-setting-kirtan-singing-Hindu-Hillbilly. Knock me over with a feather.