Can “White” people lead Kirtan? A yogini asks
A question was posed yesterday by a dear “white” yoga practitioner “Can white people lead Kirtan?” Unlike an irrelevant question irreverantly asked, a genuine beautiful question respectfully asked warrants an appropriately loving reply ….
“Thank you dear friend, as you say it’s an intricate web of threads. Imagine if you will the following story.
In a desert far far away .. a family of yogis, by engaging in deep samadhi for several generations, persuaded mother Ganga to send a small tributary of her waters to the desert. Impressed by their devotion and their desire for the wellbeing of all, She did so and so a small spring appeared in the desert, tended to by the family. Their daily saadhana and devotion ensured that water was available to all and soon a small oasis community became established.
As word of this oasis spread, a tribe of bandits decided that they wanted to colonise the oasis and take control of the water and they set about trying to use force, stealth and cunning. For a while they even managed to take over the oasis by deceit and enjoyed the wealth and fruits of the oasis, sending much back to their own bandit hideout which to began to flourish. The secrets of the saadhana were never revealed to nor mastered by the bandits and even whilst under occupation, the yogis maintained their secret devotion and the waters continued to flow at great risk of discovery.
The bandits did not know of the connection between the waters and the yogis and they outlawed and persecuted the practices but even then in secret, the practices continued. The years passed and one day the native oasis dwellers managed to eject the bandits, who reluctantly left but whenever possible exploited the oasis dwellers, who after centuries of slavery were struggling to stand up as a free people, free to simply continue as tranquil beings serving humanity. The bandits however still nutured resentment and hatred and started to send infiltrators tasked with corrupting the yogis and with stealing as much of their wisdom so that they too could become affluent and appreciated. They even started to brand some of the practices as their own but the waters didn’t flow, and the attacks, supported by a never ending campaign of vilification, continued.
As the years passed, some childen born to the bandits, even visited the oasis and being moved by the sparkling serenity and the revitalising divinity of the waters, would take a small quantity back to their bandit camps and there they began to share it, a drop at a time. Soon they discovered the intoxication of subliminal narcissism, the high of being perceived a saviour, the rush of being the focus of adoring eyes and the visits from bandit nations increased manyfold.
Some bandits took to wearing names as though they were garments, for many these would add to the ‘authenticity’ of their persona when they returned, for others the adoption of an exotic identity was its own sensory and emotional stimulus but the trickle flow of the waters from the oasis to the bandits continued.
The bandit assaults on the oasis dwellers and the yogis also continued unabated, with hate inspired conversions rife and missionaries being sent in their millions to steal and corrupt so that their bandit fiefdoms would remain in ascendant. The yogis too sent practitioners to the lands of the bandits, so that oases could spread but this was a long term solution unable to fully arrest the immediacy of the assaults of the missionaries.
Against this backdrop a new phenomenon appeared, bandit children began to become immersed in the oasis traditions, adopting the outer behaviours, attaining a degree of ability of the language and some even began to identify with the oasis dwellers whilst internally battling with the battle of identity. Knowledge of the divine waters which dissolved all separative identity to reveal the Self became the impetus for a turmoil between multiple inner selfs.
Whilst the oasis dwellers were expending every ounce of their prana in defense of their ancestral knowledge, manning the ramparts of their cultural forts, within which were preserved their ancestral knowledge stores and memory webs, this new breed of bandit-descendant wanted to continue taking and sharing the waters with far away bandit communities, believing that by doing so they were serving the same cause and were thus entitled to be recognised as a part of the same tribe. When they were scrutinised by the now cautious oasis dwellers, the bandit kids felt hurt and rejected …. and protested. Why do you discriminate against us ? We too are eligible and worthy!
But here’s the crux … when the need of the hour was the protection of the oasis community, as a pure resource for all of humanity, ALL true members of that community knew that they needed to defend the walls and protect the source and protect those maintaining the flow. Being accepted as a part of the tribe requires there to be a resonance with the needs of the tribe and a commitment to serve the tribe. At such a time, no oasis dweller would feel that to take water to arid lands and to give drops to parched lips was the same necessaity as being able to bring Maa Ganga to those lands. And when the source itself is under siege, no oasis dweller would prioritise setting up a water stall in bandit lands over manning the walls and defending the source.
Like all lineages, being a full Hindu has multiple constituents. The spiritual and esoteric is also woven with the ancestral and cultural. The yogic with the tribal. We embrace Dr. David Frawley, Jeffrey Armstrong and Francois Gautier because of their deep devotion to the source but even more so because of their acceptance of and allegiance to the needs of the tribe, Hindu/human.
Like those of us born into lineages, they too protect the ramparts whilst recharging from the waters of the source. For such tribal elders Kirtan is the enervating spontaneous flow of Ganga which can’t be contained and the flow is beyond authentic…. it happens spontaneously when our elders gather whether there are two or two hundred. It’s unconstrained by health and safety and time and location, it’s the fire of Shakti purging the bhakti yogin and we follow Her desire for expression and manifestation….
So who are you dear yoga student? Are you a Hindu? These are dangerous questions with potentially disturbing answers… but you did invite my participation and I have tried honour the honesty of the enquiry with as unfettered a response as this medium ie chat permits.
Regarding the video… the two “white boys” below openly reject ‘being Hindu’ and are unable to accept that by their taking up valuable and limited finite bandwidth, they obstruct those native to the tradition or legitimate Hindus, from stepping into the space.
Such “devotees” are the worst, having taken living sparkling water from the source and established profitable stalls in bandit country, are now bringing back stagnant water and displacing local oasis dwelling spring devotees. .. Who are you ? A loyal servant of the source or a bauble grabbing pirate, desperate to take something back to parade at a dining table, or a fitness gym, in bandit lands like the robber Baron pirates of the East India Company of old? Or something in between Aumn.
Can they? Its not a question of can. They ARE. And they will continue. The two white boys in the video were very respectful, perhaps overly so in that annoying white liberal guilt way. Many white people like them don’t identify as Hindu out of respect to a culture not their own. Hindus have long told non-Hindu people that they have to be “born into” Hinduism. So they got the message that although they may appreciate or even practice aspects of Hinduism, such as chanting for example, to be accepted as a full blown Hindu was out of scope for them.
And interesting you didn’t take issue with a non-Indian MUSLIM trying to speak for Indian Hindus. These two white boys have more respect for Hinduism and our deities than she ever will. To her we are kafirs and our pujas are shirk.