PHOTO: Eluv & Krishna Das
Krishna Das takes time to speak with me about his life, with stories of his adventures. He has a great sense of humor and it was a delight to interview and spend time with him. Ram Ram Ram.
Sharing his heart through music and chanting is the basis of Krishna Das' own spiritual work;his way of serving the Divine within himself and others.
In the winter of 1968, Krishna Das met Ram Dass, who had just returned from his first trip to India. After living and traveling with Ram Dass in the U.S., and hearing Ram Dass' many stories about Maharaj-ji, Krishna Das traveled to India, where he was blessed to meet and stay with this extraordinary guru.
While living in India for almost three years, Krishna Das' heart was especially drawn to the practice of Bhakti Yoga—the yoga of devotion. Fanning the flames of his inner longing, Maharaj-ji led him deeper and deeper into the practice of kirtan—chanting the Names of God. As an appointed pujari (priest) for the Durga temple in Maharaj-ji's ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas, Krishna Das immersed himself in the worship of the Divine Goddess.
Krishna Das spent as much time as possible with Maharaj-ji over the years in India, opening himself to the flow of Grace and purifying his heart. Early in 1973, he was asked by Maharaj-ji to return to America.
Krishna Das says,
'At what would turn out to be my last darshan of Maharaj-ji's physical body, I was petrified with fear about returning to the U.S. after so many years. I hadn't worn a pair of jeans or shoes for such a long time that I couldn't imagine what it would be like. I didn't want to ask Maharaj-ji what I should do in America, but all of a sudden I blurted out in anguish, 'Maharaj-ji! How can I serve you in America?'
'He looked at me with mock disgust and said, 'What is this? If you ask how you should serve then it is no longer service. Do what you want.' I couldn't believe my ears. How could doing what I wanted to do be of service to him? I didn't have that kind of faith. I just sat there, stunned. Then after a minute or so he looked over at me, smiling sweetly, and asked, 'So, how will you serve me?'
'My mind was blank. It was time for me to leave for Delhi, to catch the plane back to the States. He was looking at me and laughing. I bent down and touched his feet for the last time and when I looked up he, he was beaming at me, 'So, how will you serve me in America?' I felt like I was moving in a dream. I floated across the courtyard and bowed to him one more time from a distance. As I did, the words came to me, 'I will sing to you in America.'
Soon afterwards, during the full moon in September, Neem Karoli Baba left his body. Now he had to be found within. The chanting, the meditation, the puja and all the wonderful time spent with Maharaj-ji turned out to be seeds that he himself had planted in my heart... seeds that would keep growing and blossom by his Grace.
Over the years Krishna Das has made numerous pilgrimages throughout India, meeting teachers and saints of many spiritual traditions on his quest to open and purify his heart. Living in jungles, in ashrams, and in holy places throughout India, he has had an opportunity to absorb the ancient truths that have been held by the Indian culture for thousands of years. He has studied Buddhist meditation practices with Anagarika Munindra and S.N. Goenka, and has been initiated into Tibetan Buddhist practices by lamas from various lineages.
Krishna Das has been chanting on a regular basis in yoga centers all over the world. He has taught with Ram Dass and sung for many saints and yogis here and in India.