Wow, what a whirlwind year this has been. Last January, three days after we returned home from our amazing Kirtan Camp at Haramara, Mexico, we unpacked our warm weather clothes and packed up our instruments and winter clothes and flew to Rishikesh, in the Indian Himalayas (#miracleinrishikesh #fifteenchapatis) to meet a bunch of dear friends and film a music video for my new double album, ROOTS ROCK RAMA, that hadn’t yet been released. (Don’t you love L O N G sentences?) Nubia, Ezra, Gaura Vani, Vish, Gui and Marcelle (from Brasil), Kimberly Leo and Prajna Vieira (from the Bay Area), and I gathered on the banks of Ma Ganga to take our freezing holy river baths and sing God’s warming divine names. Hosted by the lovely Swamis of Parmarth Niketan we created and filmed a concert with the most exquisite backdrop in the world — the red sun setting behind snow capped mountains, reflected in the rushing and undulating Ganges River. Filmed by a a local wedding photographer, this was the material that was transformed into the music video ‘S.A.M.B.A.’ (Thank you video geniuses Todd and Andrea Boston!)
Being in Rishikesh also gave us the opportunity to visit our Guru’s Ashram and spend beautiful time with our dear Indian mother, one of Maharajji’s oldest devotees. She’s not seeing many people these days so we were really lucky to have had so much quiet and intimate time with her. She seems to be half in the vast heavenly realms and half here with us. Precious and indescribable moments….
As if that wasn’t enough, we made time for river rafting, hanging out with elephants, Polaroid adventures and photojournalism, and, well, just plain old fun with friends and family.
Then we came back home, but things didn’t quite go back to normal. (Actually, what IS normal???) In March, Mantralogy released my double album, Roots Rock Rama! I LOVE THIS ALBUM!!! To me, it’s a full and rich expression of my fifty years of experiences singing kirtan. Then album release concerts and small tours and on and on…..
I don’t ever want to forget to mention my awesome family. This was a year of huge growth for Ezra Gopal — twelve years old and so strong, balanced, creative, loving and super funny. His band, EMPIRE, is totally taking off and this poppa is very very proud! My beloved Nubia is the rock of our family. She keeps me together, healthy, and true, and she supports Ezra like the true Divine Mother she is. Her work in Yoga and dance is expanding and deepening as she shares her skill and wisdom with soooo many very devoted students. Plus, and this is sort of a secret, Nubia is working on an incredible book for Mandala Press.
The dark side of the year has been evident in every edition of The New York Times that I read on my iPad. Whew…. As many have so eloquently said, now is the time to intensify our practices, to stay even closer to our truth, to stay engaged and to give and help in any way we can. This is the hidden secret of Bhakti Yoga: our ecstasy, our spiritual development, our ‘samadhi’, — they mean nothing if we don’t share them with our fellow beings. Love is an action!
Well, I hope this wasn’t too long a year-end catch up. Really, there was so much more. And now we’re packing for our Annual Winter Bhakti Kirtan Camp at Blue Spirit in Costa Rica. When we return it will be 2018. What’s going to happen??? Let’s pray for happiness, peace, abundance, and love for all beings.
See you on the other side!
Lots of love,
P.S. Please enjoy this live video of “Heart of the Gopis”, from a house concert as part of Ken Martini’s Sacred Music Series. My sweet band that night was:
Prajna Vieira on vocals, Radhanath Das on mridanga, Ben Leinbach on drum set and Greg Barnett on bass. Sing along and be happy!!!!