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August 13, 2017: How Krishna Led Me to All Souls
Elizabeth Terry
In January 2015, I went on a trip to southwest India led by a yoga teacher, Gopi, and a musician, Gaura Vani, both lifelong members of the Hare Krishna movement. It was billed as a pilgrimage, not a tourist excursion. I liked the idea of getting a more authentic experience. I didn’t really know what I was signing up for.

by Elizabeth Terry

In January 2015, I went on a trip to southwest India led by a yoga teacher, Gopi, and a musician, Gaura Vani, both lifelong members of the Hare Krishna movement. It was billed as a pilgrimage, not a tourist excursion. I liked the idea of getting a more “authentic” experience.

I didn’t really know what I was signing up for.

As our tour bus rolled away from the Bangalore airport, out came Gaura Vani’s drum and call-and-response Sanskrit chants. A few hours into the ride, he decided that everyone would solo on the Hare Krishna mantra. When he pointed at me, I did my best to stay on tune.

Over the two weeks that followed, I had my forehead dabbed with colored powders in incense-smoky temples. I raised my arms high in a yoga class atop the mountain where the divine monkey Hanuman was born. In a dim cave, I cried over the god Rama’s separation from his beloved Sita. Barefoot, I struggled to pull a top-heavy chariot around a cobblestone courtyard, alongside hundreds tugging on the same rope. I chanted on a beach and an airplane and a pre-dawn street. I was awestruck as two tons of roses rained from the ceiling at a temple festival. Back at the hotel that night, handfuls of crushed petals fell from the folds of my sari.

I was a bit of a spiritual wanderer at the time, having left my last congregation in a bitter rift. I knew, however, that I still belonged with Christ. Flirting with Krishna was fun, but what I was drawn to most of all was the way his followers loved him, lavishing him with mantras and sweets and flowers. Their hearts and eyes softened when they spoke of him. It was so beautiful. How could I be more like that in my faith?

I asked one of the wisest priests I know, Fr. Martin Smith, for his advice. “I have been to India. I know,” he responded when I told him that my trip had left me very confused. He referred me to All Souls, explaining, “It has a reverence I think you’ll find appealing.” He also told me, “You should keep up your chanting. I think it’s good for you.” I do find All Souls appealing—the incense, the bowed heads, the open hearts. Here, I can learn about God and love Him in the way I long to.

I also keep up the chanting. I’m going to India with Gopi again later this year. I’ll tell you all about it.  

Last Published: August 10, 2017 9:13 AM
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