Helen of Marlowe's Blog

A harmonium, a chant, and a lesson

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on October 5, 2011

We removed our shoes in the foyer and walked into the large living room of this family home in a residential part of the city.  Several people were sitting either on the floor or on chairs or sofas or couches.   I chose a seat on the floor.  There were eight plump white cushions, each with a folding Indian Rosewood  book-holder, each bookstand holding a Bhagavad gita.  A poodle gave me more of a welcome than I wanted, and then the woman whose living room floor I was sitting upon  asked if I wanted a glass of water, and I did.  She brought it.  Bob sat on the couch behind me.  She gave us each a book with the chants that we’d be hearing and participating in – Sanskrit – and said that we should  join whenever we want to.

And then the evening started.  She began by playing on a harmonium, and then in a musical voice, began a melodious chant of  lovely tones and rhythms.  By this time there were fourteen of us, and all joined in the chanting.  English interpretations were printed below each chant, but I was concentrating on the Sanskrit.  This lasted half an hour.  At the end of this, we all chanted
    Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna,
    Hare Hare,
    Hare Rama, Hare Rama,
    Rama Rama, Hare Hare
as a call and response, with about six repetitions.
I’m surprised that I found it pleasant, but I did.

For the next hour there was a lesson from the Bhagavad gita.  I listened intently.  Although there was much that I rejected intellectually, I did find the stories interesting and the ethical lessons worthwhile.

It was an evening with a congenial group. And new experiences.  And it’s the first time I’ve seen a harmonium.
And the seldom-used right side of my brain got a welcome workout.

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