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Shiva Ratri Festival at Ashtanga Yoga NYC

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March 3rd, 2009

Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits The Kirtan Begins

“Ganges is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta (Krishna) is the supreme among deities. Lord Shambhu (Shiva) is the greatest of all Vaishnavas and Shrimad Bhagavatam is the greatest of all the Puranas.” Srimad Bhagavatam 12.13.16

I entered the yoga studio and touched my head to the floor of the sacred temple, hearing the sounds of south Indian priests chanting prayers and hymns to lord Shiva. I could see that an abhisek or sacred bath was being given to the shiva lingam inside the temple. The room was dark and the atmosphere was charged.

Listen to the entire Kirtan!

To listen, click on the links below then press play. To download, Right Click > Save As… Having trouble downloading? Read our Help Section.
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Eddie Stern, founder of Ashtanga Yoga NYC purifies worshipers hands before they bath the Lingam. A worshiper bathes the Shiva Lingam

We started the kirtan slowly that night, adding to the strong meditative feeling in the room. The yoga studio was packed with people singing with us and the kirtan was deep and strong. I have actually never sung a Shiva bhajan before and I was a little worried as a Krishna devotee. I kept my fears hidden behind a smile and played my kartals and prayed to lord Shiva who is a great devotee of Lord Acyuta who I am named after. I prayed that he help me love Krishna, because all of the vedic scriptures state that he loves Krishna as well.

Chanting Hare Krishna Special Guest Krishna Das leads the chanting.

As I prayed, Ray played something fantastic on guitar and I turned to look over at him and smile. As I did my eyes were drawn upward and to the beautiful faces of Radha Damodara who were bundled in cute deep blue shawls for the winter. I looked at them as they smiled and gave their blessings and knew that I had nothing to be afraid of. They are happy when they see their devotees praising the good qualities of others. As the entire room joined us in a Hare Krishna Bhajan after our Shiva Bhajan I thought that this is the true meaning of celebration. What better way could there be to celebrate any event other than doing kirtan?

Hara Hara MahadevAcyuta Gopi and Ananta Govinda belt out a serious kirtan.

As Kindred Spirits was joined that night by Kesavacarya Das and Kamaniya, two of my dear friends and beloved kirtaniyas. Kesavacarya sang a wonderful Shiva bhajan in a gripping melody that had everyone clapping together and singing along. His deep voice resonated in every part of the yoga studio and I could feel the blessings of all of the deities there on all of us.

We were also joined by Krishna Das that night. I smiled as I listened to his bhajans and listened to the people responding with their full hearts. It was easy to see why he is so loved by everyone. We were able to accompany Krishna Das before doing one more bhajan of our own for the night.

The Final Offering to Lord Shiva As the night wound up Krishna Das Gaura Vani and crew chanted.

I felt privileged to be able to go and glorify such a wonderful devotee of Krishna. I prayed that night that I am able to gain some of the devotional determination that lord Shiva has. Imagine having so much devotion that your dedication grants you such a huge position not just in your personal life but in the universe. And yet, when we read stories about Lord Shiva he is always so humble. That is a true devotee: dedicated to service and humility.

Happy Kirtan!
Acyuta Gopi

Acyuta Gopi is a member of As Kindred Spirits and a powerhouse kirtan leader in her own right. Browse the Downloads page for some of her transforming kirtans.
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