Welcome to Episode 29 of The Mindful Initiative. This episode was recorded during the pandemic. Our guest for the podcast is Krishna Das – a Grammy Award Nominee – Kirtan Singer. We are grateful that we could have him as our first guest for the video series. Since this is our first video podcast – so you can listen to it on YouTube.
I first heard Krishna Das live in 2015 during his annual Kirtan event in New York in a church on Thanksgiving night with Manaswini.
There were people from all faiths. The gathering had new mothers, to people in wheelchairs.
All seats were taken, people were standing on the balcony, and we were fortunate to get a spot on the floor right in front of him.
It was not only mesmerizing to hear him live but also to see so many sing, dance, and meditate, all at the same time.
There is no one else like Krishna Das – there is no one else who sings like him – there is no one whose music touches you like his.
During the podcast, Krishna Das I talked about what it means to practice and how to deal with death and his teacher Neem Karoli Baba.
I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation.
About Krishna Das:
Krishna Das began leading chanting in 1994 in NYC, and has been traveling all around the world ever since, developing his signature style, fusing traditional kirtan of the East with western harmonic and rhythmic sensibilities. The audiences have been ever growing, responding to his remarkably soulful voice, which touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener. He’s taken the call-and-response chanting out of yoga centers and into concert halls, is a Grammy-nominee and has become a worldwide icon. He continues to travel and to share online his chanting and stories of his guru Neem Karoli Baba. and the best- selling western chant artist of all time. Krishna Das has released over 15 albums, authored 2 books, has his own podcast and is the subject of the documentary – One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das. More information on https://www.KrishnaDas.com
Show Transcription >>
Nitesh Batra 0:21
Hello, and welcome to our first video podcast. This is The Mindful I nitiative. So far you have been listening to us on audio. And what an honor to have Krishna Das as our first guest.
Krishna Das 0:41
It’s our responsibility to deal with our stuff. Nobody can deal with it for us, we have to enter onto the path we have to start learning how to release the negative stories we tell ourselves and all the things we think and how everything we think we are. We have to begin let go of those. Samsara is the flow of attachment, no attachment, samsara cut them.
Nitesh Batra 1:11
Thank you so much, Krishna, das for being here. Thank you for accepting our invitation to be on The Mindful Initiative Podcast.
Krishna Das 1:22
Thank you for inviting me. Funny that you should invite a mindless person to a mindful podcast. But, you know, I’ll pretend I have something up there. I don’t know.
Nitesh Batra 1:36
So Krishna Das does doesn’t need any introduction. But there are people who may not know much about his life. He’s a rock star. Layering traditional Kirtan with instantly accessible melodies and modern instrumentation. Krishna Das has been called Yoga’s Rock Star. With a remarkably soulful voice that touches the deepest chord in even the most casual listener, me being one my family, my friends, being so many others, Krishna Das known to friends, family and fans as simply KD has taken the call and response chanting out of yoga centers, and into concert halls, becoming a world wide icon, and the best selling Western chant artists of all time. In 1994, KD started leading chanter Jeevan Mukti Yoga Center in New York City, with an ever growing audience of yoga students that has led him to chant with people all around the world. As we know, rest is history. And we’ll cover that history in today’s podcast. His album, Live Ananda, which was released in 2012, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age album category. In February 2013, KD performed at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Thank you, again for being here. Krishna Das and may I call you KD, I read from your bio. But is it okay to call you KD? Or would you prefer Krishna Das?
Krishna Das 3:19
Absolutely. You can call me whatever you want, actually. But KD is good.
Nitesh Batra 3:23
So one of the first things that we do in our podcast is get to know a little bit more about our guest, especially about their upbringing. And during the upbringing, if spirituality was part of their life, and if it was, in what form? So if you can tell us a little bit about your childhood and your upbringing? That’d be great.
Krishna Das 3:49
Yeah, There was no, my parents were raised Jewish in New York. And, but I never felt any. It was it was a family thing was a cultural thing. That wasn’t a religious thing. Nobody in my family believed in God. And so I never had any understanding that there was anything to find in life at all. And yet, I had this like a hole in my heart that was not being filled. And I didn’t know I just felt I was searching for something. Some kind of happiness, but I didn’t know what it was, you know. And so it’s very difficult time growing up and my teenage years were very difficult for me because everybody around me was seemingly okay. And outwardly I looked okay, but inwardly I wasn’t that I was talking to an old high school friend not too long ago. And she said to me, so, and they, you know, they know what I do. They know about it, but she was so why did you go to India? And I went, Whoa, You know, no, none of this group of friends have ever asked me that question. So I said, Well, you know, I felt that I was missing something. There was something. It was like a hole in my heart and needed to be filled. But I didn’t know what to do. So I went to India. And she said, Oh, I never felt that. And, you know, my heart just broke at that moment. Of course, she never felt that longing. She never felt that lack of fullness. And so she never searched for anything. Even to this day, it was really powerful moment for me, you know, and it just showed me how different I was even way back then, you know. So it was really, in those days, I just ran around after any Swami who came to America, there were only a few at that time, who had come. But it wasn’t until I met Ram Das, who was known as Richard Alpert, who came to India and met our Guru Neem Karoli Baba, and then came back to America. It wasn’t after I’m till I met him, after he came back from his first trip that my life really took a very different turn in the right direction. I walked into the room where he was sitting. And without eye contact without a word being spoken, just walking into that room. All of a sudden, I knew that whatever it was I was looking for and life was real. You could find it, it was in the world. This is what went into my head came into my head. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what to call it. But all of a sudden, I knew Oh, yeah, it whatever it is, is real. It’s not just something in books. And so that led me to become very close with Ram Das. And then after about a year and a half, I came to meet the guru and the hills. That was in Nainital.
Nitesh Batra 6:55
Thank you. For that, that background and, and Ram Das being such a part, you know, we can we can talk for hours and hours about him and your interaction. And you mentioned that you got to know of Ram Das, so I couldn’t find how did you get to know about Ram Das. That’s one one thing that I was not able to find out.
Krishna Das 7:21
I was living on this farm in upstate New York. And it was owned by some friends of mine who were wild, crazy. Mountain climbers and psychologists and professors and what they call acid heads. They used to take LSD and climb huge mountains. They were wild people, great people. So they had heard about him. And they knew about him from his days at Harvard as a psychologist. So they went to see him. And they asked me if I want them to go and sit in there. I don’t care about white American Yogis who care about those people, you know, bullshit. So they went, and they were supposed to come back the next day, they didn’t come back for like three days. And when the guy came, he drove up and got out of the car. And he turned around, and he looked at me, and there was light shooting out of his head, you know, I went right down the directions I’m leaving right away. And I ran out to my house, I got my stuff together and drove all night. It was a real pilgrimage. So that, that changed my life that everything came from that.
Nitesh Batra 8:27
So you talk a lot about heart in almost everything that you do your, your book, your film, and you sing from the Heart. And even in the first conversation, it was the Longing of the Heart that you bring up. And given the age that you were, at that point of time, a lot of people are disconnected from the heart, even if you look at current generation, we are very away from the heart very, very mind sort of mind sort of a generation. And you mentioned that you were very different or you were different. And to get to that level. You know, there is I think there is that some karma that comes along as to who you are as an individual. And many people are not fortunate that way. And if you’re not, what is that you recommend for for such a group? That how do you connect your heart rather than from the mind?
Krishna Das 9:23
One has to be a little bit particular when one uses these terms. We have to know what we’re talking about. Heart doesn’t mean emotion. And it doesn’t mean love in the usual sense that the word is used. And mind doesn’t necessarily mean thoughts either. ‘Mann’ actually means heart and mind. In the deepest sense, it’s the center of consciousness in your being. It is the center of awareness. It’s the connection to the universe, the place where we are connected. We are not connected in our thoughts and emotions and in the stories we tell ourselves all day long about who we think we are, we’re connected on in a deeper place. And you can call that heart, you could call that mind with a capital M. And what we really want looking for is connection. That’s where reality is, that’s where our true nature is. It’s always connected, but we’re turned away from it. So whether you call it heart or call it, mind, it’s not thoughts, it’s not emotion. It’s a deeper presence within us. So it’s not always necessarily like, what we talk in the world as love between two things. That’s not love. Real love is it’s not between two things, it’s actually our true nature. And in some traditions, that’s called Natural Mind. And in some traditions, it’s called Heartfulness, the heart. Everybody wants to same thing, but not everyone knows where to look, most of us don’t know how to look or where to look. But we everybody has the longing to be happy. It’s just that we don’t truly believe that there is a happiness within us, and a love that’s within us, and a connection that’s within us that our true nature, you know, our soul, so to speak. So we try to plug in all these external pleasures to take the place of that, but that it doesn’t work. And unless a person has the presence of mind or presence of heart to see, number one that those things don’t work, but also have the understanding that the desire to find, if there is something that does work. But most people don’t ask that question. They just keep plugging in external things. Relationships, jobs, stuff, houses, cars, you know, all that stuff that we do in worldly life, but that will never be enough. And you said karma. So you could possibly say that people who have a kind of karmic ripeness, you know, are riper, more ripe, recognize, number one, that stuff will never be enough. And two, that well, what is enough, they ask, they know enough to ask that question. And that leads them on a spiritual journey. What’s really heartbreaking and what really pushes the compassion button, is when you see people who don’t know enough to look for something deeper, and they suffer needlessly, or they at least they suffer with no, no positive result. Because sometimes suffering can bring you closer to that, because you need to relieve, you know, if you’ve stepped on a nail, or you’ve stepped on a splinter, you know, you got to get it out of your foot. But some people don’t recognize that. And so they keep suffering. All of us with we keep suffering, and it doesn’t wake us up enough to really look for something deeper.
Nitesh Batra 13:15
I think you touched the core that we don’t look deeper. And for me, I think in the initial years before I was on the path, I was one I didn’t know what it meant for me personally, to look deeper. And second, I think looking deeper made me fearful. Because it showed me the reality. And I think for you what I’ve loved always is you finding Maharaja. Your first trip to India, and I think I’ve heard that story multiple times. But I would love to hear it again. Someone who is a guru who’s a teacher, who can take away some of some of the fears. Probably.
Krishna Das 14:03
Maharaj ji was not a teacher. He didn’t teach he didn’t preach. He didn’t write books. He is a Siddha. And he just changed things. He just said, I only know when things I know how to change hearts. And he just could light you up. You know, and when I first met Maharajji the day that I met Ram Das when I understood later, that’s what I felt. You know, I didn’t know what it was at that point. But when later I realized that that’s that was Maharaji. And he was transmitting through Ram Das very strongly. And that’s what I felt. And then when I went to see him for the first time, it was actually confusing for him in it because I had felt he had been with me ever since that moment when I met Ram Das a year and a half before. And then I walked into this room and there’s this little little guy in a blanket. And I thought, wait a minute. How does the whole universe fit into that blanket? You know, how does that work? It was like it past, you know. And then I began to see how about the whole universe fits into that blanket. But at first it was it was like a shock, because he had been so present with me and so much a part of my life and my inner life. Now I can see he talks. He moves, he, you know, was like, wow. So it was, it was, it was a big moment. But it was also, it felt like a continuation, it didn’t feel new. Actually, I felt like I had come home. And it wasn’t new. It was some feeling that I recognized already.
Nitesh Batra 15:39
You know, when you talk about Maharaj ji, we would love to go a little bit more deeper in your first interaction, know a little bit more. And if you remember Swami Atmananda ji from the Sivananda tradition?
Yeah, yes, yes, yes, yes. I haven’t seen him for many years. He’s still with us, or has the passed.
Yes, yeah, I just spoke to him about you. And he’s like, “accha gaata hai” (Krishna Das sings very well).
Krishna Das 16:05
He was fine. I loved him so much. I looked for him some years ago, but I couldn’t find him. He had been staying in Minneapolis. But he left that place. And I had no way of getting in touch with him. I just wanted to be in touch with him again.
Nitesh Batra 16:20
Yeah, I’ll let you know after the interview. But he said ask him about Maharaj ji. So that’s what I’m doing.
Krishna Das 16:29
You know, someone wrote the Maharaj ji is nothing special. But his body fills the universe. It’s like trying to explain the sun to somebody you can’t explain. How is that light permeates everywhere. And all the darkness disappears, the minute the sun arrives. And Maharaji is is just, you know, from a Westerner’s point of view, we, as we spent time in India, I spent two and a half years in India, the first time I came, he kept me here, he allowed me you know, he, he got my visa extended. But we began we went well how do you do this? You know, what, how do you relate? And we saw that the Indian people, His devotees, related to him as as if he is Hanuman. But some of his older devotees, they treated him as if he was Shiva, himself. And, of course, you know, Hanuman ji is a form of Shiva. And so it was, the more we got, you know, we wanted? How do we do this? You know, how do we how do we get closer? And how do we relate, you know, we needed to learn, you know, in a certain kind of way… how to be a part of the Satsang? And, you know, all his temples are Hanuman temples. And so we got with the program, you know, we learned Hanuman Chalisa. And, and we used to sing to the Maharaj ji, and he loved that. And that’s how that’s the only reason I’m singing today is because we learned to sing, to chant, because he liked it. And if he liked it, then he would call us and we would get to spend more time with him. There was nothing spiritual about it. You know, we didn’t think of it as a spiritual practice, we just thought, he likes it, we’ll do it, he’ll call us and then we can be with him more. And that’s what happened. So, but of course, after he left the body, it became obvious to me that the chanting was the only thing that I could do to bring myself back into that presence. Even though he was not in the body. At that point, at least, it seemed that way. I had lost my connection. So I knew that chanting became my way of entering more deeply again, into His presence into that presence. That’s what it is, for me. It’s nothing else. I don’t know anything about anything. I mean, I know the basics of, you know, the deities and this little things here. But coming from the west, it’s very hard to really see it with Indian eyes, so to speak, you know, but for me, it’s about being in his presence. Because his presence is the whole universe. Everything is God for me. And that’s how, that’s what’s chanting does for me, and it’s obvious that some people also feel something when we chant together, which is him. You know, it says he’s transmitting. He’s opening hearts, cleaning out the garbage.
Nitesh Batra 19:40
So you talked about singing and chanting is has been part of all of our lives. And when you were in Stony Brook, that’s where you wanted to be a singer and there was a band that you were a part of. So the intention came in while you were at college, or was it even before that?
Krishna Das 19:59
No, I was always singing, music was instilled, obviously is a big part of my life. But it wasn’t because of Maharaji ji. Those karmas of becoming a musician and maybe even being famous as a musician, in a worldly sense, those karmas were transformed into a spiritual practice into a spiritual reality. So, growing up in the West, all I knew was rock and roll music. So I wanted to be a rock star singer. And now I’m getting everything I would have gotten from accomplishing that, but I’m getting it in a way that’s actually good for me, and good for other people. If I had gone that other direction, and joined that band, I would have been dead a long time ago. No question about my very destructive, self destructive tendencies, and that would have fed them all and I would have been gone. But he took that karma and transformed it. So it’s incredible. It’s a miracle. If you really look at it. It’s a complete parallel universe to what could have happened. And he changed all that karma. And he just created this whole Lila was amazing.
Nitesh Batra 21:17
So it’s the Prarabdh, karma, the karma that you came in and pureness of your heart, probably moved you in that direction. And that reminds me a story in your book and about this- I think it was after passing of Maharaj ji, you were playing on on a rooftop with a young child who was playing tabla or I don’t think it was a child. Who was asking you, “Do you have a family? Do you have a house?” Do you remember that story?
Krishna Das 21:44
Yes, this young Vaishnav Drummer, Mridanga player from the you know, Maharaj ji always had my mantra chanted at the temples that he would his temples, as long as they were open every day, all day long. So one day, I was on the roof with one of this incredible mridang player. And he just was asking me about my life, you know? He said, Oh, you know, are you married? I said, Yeah, thinking about the divorce that was coming up. Do you have a house? Yeah. Anyone? You have a house? And I’m thinking about the mortgage that has to be paid. Do you have car? Yeah. Oh, you have a car? And I’m thinking that, you know, yeah, I have to pay for those, you know, and I’ve worked so hard. It was everything I had he wanted. And I said to him “arrey bhai tum pagal ho kya” (are you mad?). What is this? You want these things? All you do…… You’re so lucky. All you do is you wake up in the morning you sing Hare Krishna, you go to sleep, that’s all you have, what more could you ask? And he thought I was crazy. And I thought he was crazy. You know, I don’t know where he is now. But I’m sure he doesn’t have a car and a wife and a mortgage. And that was the other sad thing. He had these desires. But there was no way that they were going to be able to be fulfilled in that in that life. As far as it looked like to me at that time. He was just a poor simple kid, you know? And he’d never had the opportunity to satisfy those desires. But on the other hand, he could sing you know, Ram Naam all day. So very, but look what happens. So now what do I do I wake up in the morning, I sing Hare Krishna, I go to sleep. So that’s nice.
Nitesh Batra 23:21
I think sometimes I find that to be the epitome of life. What we have is what we don’t want, and what others have is what we desire. And, and I think from that perspective, the attachment comes in. And I think in, in the talk that I heard, or when we heard you live, one of the extraordinary thing was, KK, if I’m not wrong, was the name of the person he was there. You had brought him from India at that point of time. Oh, he was there that day. Yeah. And you shared some stories and about how you met him and how he introduced you. And then after you guys met Maharaj ji, for the first time and Maharaj ji told him “ache ladke hai”. Something of that. That’s something of that regard. So it’s a beautiful thing, that what we feel that what we have is not enough. So there is this longing of more and more. But that begs a question in my mind that when we sing for Lord, when we sing for our guru, when we go beyond the natural thing, how do you keep yourself motivated day in and day out to keep doing that? I’m not specifically talking about you, per se, but you know, people who are doing that spiritual saints and, and to that regard, I’m asking people who live in a regular life, we feel that we get stuck sometimes .
Krishna Das 24:49
Everybody’s stuck. We’re all stuck. But for me, you know, I’m in the water up to here. I’m in the water right? Immersed in the water right up to here. So, if I stay like this, I can breathe. Chanting keeps me right here. If I don’t sing, I go down. And I am finished. So I have to keep chanting, just to be able to stay alive and breathe. And what you’re saying is, you know, this is what Buddha said, he came out of the jungle, and he said, Yo, monks, there is suffering, inherent in everything in this world. And if you’re not paying attention, you get born, you mess around a little bit, and you die. And you’re never here for a moment, you never wake up. But if you pay attention, then you see that everything, for instance, you say you, we look at other people, and we want what they have, that’s only our projection, if we could feel what’s in their minds, and in their hearts, how they’re not happy, even though they have that, then that would change the way we look about things. And we look around and we’d see, you know what, there’s nobody out there that’s happy, satisfied, the people who have a lot are worried about losing it. And the people who don’t have a lot want to get more same problem. So that’s the recognition of the samsaric reality. And that’s what keeps you doing practice. You recognize there’s no hope out there, for any kind of peace of mind, or any kind of real connection and real love, and real happiness. There’s nothing out there, you look around, and everyday gets worse looks like these days. So it’s a recognition of that, that forces us to look within, if we’re ripe enough, if we have that grace, to recognize that and look within and begin to look within and start to look at our thoughts and start to learn how to release our thoughts. And certainly our thoughts and emotions that cause us suffering, the same thing can happen to two people, I know, two women, each one of them lost a child to disease, sickness. One of them was destroyed by that and just her life was destroyed. The other one, managed to embrace that and deal with it and overcome the sadness, and find a way to live with it in a way that really helped her develop as a person, the same event happened to two people, but the results were very different. So if we look at that we see it’s our responsibility to deal with our stuff, nobody can deal with it for us. We have to enter onto the path, we have to start learning how to release the negative stories we tell ourselves and all the things we think and how everything we think we are, we have to begin to let go of those little by little so that we can become more familiar with sitting more deeply in ourself, and the chance. And these names of God were the things, the names of them, not the names of something out there. They’re the names are our own true nature. Our own soul is not different from the Atman is not different than from the parmatman, it’s essentially the same, the same light, not as you know, huge in some sense, but it’s the same, the quality is the same. So this is the name of the our own true nature, these names. So by the repetition of the name, we’re pulled into ourselves, and we get the strength to release everything that keeps us glued to the external world and the thoughts and emotions and stuff like that. Little by little practice. That’s why they call it this you have to do it. You don’t do it…Kuch nahi hoga (nothing will happen), Krishna Das, Thank You,
Nitesh Batra 28:46
You know, you you brought in death and given we’re in the still in the middle of pandemic after a year I can, you know, hopefully we’re getting to the, to the end part with vaccinations and some of the other things. And I think the impermanence of life, is something that we’re all aware of, but we ignore, and we move away. And I think especially in the Indian tradition, I’ve seen that as kids, we were never talked to about death. Or even when family members and friends passed away, we didn’t go to cremations, or, or even, you know, it was not even talked about, but this has become so real. And Ram Dass passed away last year, as well. And your relationship goes so many years. You mentioned about that, that woman who dealt with it and God chanting, but some people are not able to overcome you know, there are phases in your own life and in your own thoughts, what are some of the ways that the world should deal with death at this point of time because it has come to every doorstep it’s hard to meet someone who has a has not seen it. We lost three family members in the past year. And, four in fact, I just thought about that, four family members.
Krishna Das 30:09
It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult, obviously very, very painful. I still feel tremendous sadness Ram Dass leaving and KK also left the next month and in the last few years, almost all the my elders, every one I went to for sustenance and teachings, they’re all gone. I’m the elder now. Oh my god, how horrible is that? I feel sorry for other people, you know that I’m the one. But at one point in India, in the old days, in the temple with Maharaj ji, I had had a girlfriend in America before I came to India, and we had broken up. And while I was in India, she actually killed herself. And I was very upset about this. I mean, it really struck me very hard. I was very, very, very upset. And anyway, Maharaji was he was teasing me a lot those days about getting married. And I didn’t want to get married, because I saw with the other Westerners. You know, as the days went on, couples would form. Two people would get together Maharaj ji would look like, oh, they’re friends, they are friends? Oh, very good! You’re friends. That’s great. You are friends now. A couple of days later, you go, Oh, they’re good friends. They’re very good friends. So Oh, my goodness. They’re very good friends. Very good. Very good. Few days later. Shaadi ho gaya (you are married). You’re married. Now go back to America. See your parents, right? No way was I going back to America. When I left America. I gave everything away. I sold everything that could be sold. I was never going back. That was my idea. I was never going back. And now I saw it. You know, if I got pulled into a relationship, I saw what was going to happen, you know, boom, back to America. So I avoided like the plague. So he was always teasing me, you know, knowing of course, he knew everything. He knew how much I wanted to avoid that. So then, when my ex-girlfriend died, my former girlfriend died, I was very shaky, and a whole bunch of things happened and I actually began to have a whole nervous breakdown. Right there in the temple. I was living in the temple, really a psychological breakdown, I was hallucinating. And I was out of control. There was nothing about this, that I couldn’t do anything about it, I was going down into this black hole. And in fact, I was sitting in a room in the back of the temple and in the floor in front of me this slow moving, black, cloudy, black Whirlpool started to open up. And it was going around like this. And I was being pulled down into it and I was helpless. There was nothing I could do. I wasn’t even fighting it. I was just going down. And somebody came to the door and said “Krishna Das”… What? “Maharaj ji is calling you. Come.” Okay!…. And I got up. I went to the front of the temple. And it just fell in his lap and I just cried. And I just completely fell apart and cried. Funny thing was years later, that guy who called me he said to me, “Did I ever tell you what Maharaj ji said that day?” And I said no. He said, “Quick, go find Krishna and ask before he kills himself.” So I’m just weeping, weeping, weeping, crying, my heads in his lap, and he’s just sitting there really quiet. And which was unusual, he was always moving around throwing food around talking to people, when I was crying, he was absolutely still. And I could feel inside of me. This deep, deep, quiet feelings starting to grow. It was really powerful. And then he just started talking to me, he had asked me to read the Gita. And I had been reading the Gita when that Whirlpool opened up. And he started to quote from the Gita from the very chapter I was reading and the soul is not born, soul doesn’t die, etc. Can’t cut it can’t let it. He said, “What are you going to do? Jump in the river?” He laughed. You know, the river was like six inches deep, you know? But I figured if I got my head down under a rock, I could you know, I could probably do it right. Now we’re gonna do a jump in the river. And he said, You can’t die. Worldly people don’t die. Then he looked at me said only Jesus died the real death. What is he talking about? He said, he never thought of himself. The real death is the death of the ego. He said a person dies and people cry and mourn they don’t eat but after a few days, laughing and drinking and eating again. One attachment replaces another attachment. One after the other after the other. He said… “Samsara is the flow of attachment, no attachment… samsara khatam ho jayega (Samsara will finish). So what we call life. is just the flow of attachment, daily life samsara life. And he’s saying that’s not the real death is the death of the ego, the death of separateness, but worldly people just keep coming and going. That’s a tough one, you know, because we are emotionally attached and involved with people, and it hurts when we when we not seeing them anymore. But like my friend, Bob Thurman, who’s great Buddhist scholar, and practitioner, very close with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, he said, there are no dead beings, bodies come and go, but beings do not die, it’s hard. The only thing can do is recognize that the love is still here, that the love never dies. And that’s the connection with that being just took off a suit of clothes, and now he’s wearing a different suit of clothes, is not something that you can talk yourself into, nor should you try to talk yourself out of feeling sad. But you can try to expand your perspective a little bit. And that’s because all the great religions, all the great teachers that have ever lived, have talked about this. And by the way, every single one of them has died. There’s not one person. Well, except for some Yogi’s who might be pretty old. And there’s not one person who was around 100- 200 years ago, who’s still around. So everybody dies, everything dies, it changes, but it comes back again, you know, just like the fall, the winter, the spring, the summer, and the fall, winter, the spring in the summer. It’s hard. And I don’t, I’m not saying that I don’t feel I feel a lot of sadness these days really, is a heaviness in my heart about all the great beings that I’m missing, that I love so much and love to visit and pisses me off actually, the idea is we have to find out something, we have to find something that’s real. And that’s something that’s real is within us. And until we find that we’re just adrift on the ocean with no paddle, no oars, no sense of direction. We have to find something inside ourselves. That’s deeper than our thoughts and emotions. That’s something that we can experience directly ourselves and not not take anybody else’s word for it. We have to taste it ourselves. And it’s absolutely possible. And sooner or later it will happen because we’re all going in that direction. It’s just a question of when you could say, and it could be right now. It’s up to us.
Nitesh Batra 38:01
Again, thank you for that. Love is the answer, as you mentioned, and with love in the foreground and background. Why don’t we move on to towards the end of of our podcast where we ask a few questions, which is about your life
Krishna Das 38:20
More me. I love talking about me more me
Nitesh Batra 38:25
One word, one sentence, one paragraph, whatever you want. So the first question is one place that you would love to visit that you’ve not visited so far.
Krishna Das 38:37
Tibet, Mount Kailash. I would love to have gone there, but I think I’m too old now. Certainly, I can’t track the Mount Kailash anywhere I’m not, I can barely get out of the house. And I’ve never been to Tibet. I would love to go. Although these days, it’s obviously very difficult there. But I’d like to spend, you know, really, wherever Maharaj ji wants me that’s where I’d like to be. That’s what it comes. One time Maharaj ji you actually turn to dada, one of his great devotees and he said dada. “If I’ve done one thing in this life, I’ve remained wherever Ram has placed me.” That’s Wow. And there’s something and there’s a line in the Ramayan that goes something like….a person remains wherever Ram places and that’s where we are. So yeah, ultimately, I would like to be able to surrender any of my own desires, and be at ease wherever Ram places me.
Nitesh Batra 39:37
The next question, one childhood memory that brings a smile to your face, or that brings joy to your mind.
Krishna Das 39:45
How young a child?
Nitesh Batra 39:47
You can choose any.
Krishna Das 39:48
I remember sitting in a car coming back from day camp, when I was probably eight years old, and the Sun was coming in and the windshield and came right on my face. I remember without feeling even now, there was something about that moment, even then I felt something is some special moment that I can still feel it right now. And it was, it was a few years ago, 65 years ago, something like that. And I can still remember that moment was like a moment of here and now, that age.
Nitesh Batra 40:22
One person that you would like to meet in history, and what is that you would say to them now?
Krishna Das 40:28
One time I came to the temple in Brindavan, I had been in Allahbad at the Kumbha Mela, no it was Magh Mela in 1972, and I came to Brindavan. Maharaj ji, was there in the temple. He wasn’t seeing Westerners, at that time. He kept us away for a while. So in the Ram Charitra Manas, when Vibhishan comes to Ram he leaves Lanka and says सुजसु सुनि आयउँ प्रभु भंजन भव भीर। त्राहि त्राहि आरति हरन सरन सुखद रघुबीर॥45॥ Vibhishan says to Ram, hearing of your glory and your renowndness, I come to you. Save me Save me oh one who removes the sorrows. I wrote it on piece of paper and I gave it to the chowkidaar(guard) and I said, please give this message to Maharaj ji and I’m gonna wait here. So the chowkidaar goes in and he comes out again he said Maharaj ji says he’s considering it and I’ll let you know later. I would just want to meet him again, physically. And that’s what I would say to him – Save me.
Nitesh Batra 41:34
Gave me goosebumps… A message for the future generation
Krishna Das 41:41
Well, if there is a future generation. It’s the same message that you have for anybody and even for yourself, don’t give up trying to find something real in life and try to treat other people the way you want to be treated become a good human being. That’s what the spiritual practices are for. Give us the strength to overcome our selfishness or greed or shame or fear anger, so we can become good human beings, members of a good family or family of beings.
Nitesh Batra 42:12
This is our last request. Your favorite chant if you can sing that for us to close our time together Sure..
So a few months ago I started biking and I was very close to our house I started going out of the campus that we live in once things started getting better, and I found this little temple next to a pond then I drove by like a cycled next to it a few times and then it was a calling as if I something was there and it was, I could see the Hanuman with a very small temple. And I could see the the picture of Hanuman there. And I went in, and what I heard is what you sang, and I drive by it almost every other day when I go out and bike and try and stop and surreal that you sing the exact same thing that goes on there all the time. Beautiful! Well, thank you so much. Thank you. It couldn’t have been a better way for us to start a video podcasting and to end the show with this beautiful chant in your soulful voice of the God, voice of Ram. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us from the bottom of my heart. And thank you everyone who has tuned in today to listen to us to our podcast, and especially to Krishna Das. I hope you keep chanting keep singing keep listening, and be safe. Thank you so much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai