I Am Your Neighbour and Want to Share Something Beautiful
I am professional classical and opera singer with many degrees and diplomas, and with many concerts worldwide from my childhood, 6 years of age. But when I became a devotee for 15 years I was learning to sing only for Krishna, the Lord, and nearly did not open my mouth. I thought that to sing for Krishna you must learn to sing so beautifully that Krishna would like to listen. Devotees were telling me that only devotion matters, not the voice, but for me devotion means to attract Krishna and melt His heart with the beauty of my heart and voice. So all those 15 years I was studying: studying harmonium, caratals, mridanga and mainly vocals by myself (with my previous skills), then perfected my voice in one Music Academy, another, later with famous classical and opera singers, also Conservatory, paying a lot of money and time, and of course the most important thing – endeavours. My aim was to attract Krishna, His devotees and make people to love Krishna with my devotional singing. I knew that I was doing it for Krishna. But first I had to like my own singing, only then others and Krishna would like. I was very motivated and self-rigorous. Finally the inner voice (I think it was Krishna) told me to start to sing – in the beginning alone, just for the Deities, when nobody could hear, then for devotees, afterwards devotees started to record my singing and asked to release devotional CDs. I did it in very famous studio. Krishna is not cheap, so His bhajans must be recorded in the best studio with the best equipment and 20.000 dollars microphones and with the best professionals. I found one, maybe not the best, but also good for the beginning. I did not have lakshmi, but Krishna sent lakshmi through devotees, because They liked my plan. When devotees listened to the recordings (it was in Atlanta, GA, US), because I recorded my bhajans and maha-mantra in Richmond, VA studio, and Atlanta devotees supported me for this release, they immediately asked me to distribute my CDs together with the books to the people. I asked them: "How to do that?" They said: "Just tell that You are the neighbour, and are famous lithuanian singer, so maybe my neighbours would like to have my CDs?" I was thinking: good idea, because not many famous neighbours from foreign countries are so friendly to bring to their neighbours the most valuable thing they have.
Devotees brought me to one rich area to be more comfortable that people will be supportive and intelligent not to deny my art (my heart). I knocked at one door, the lady came out, and I told her my learned mantra: "I am Your neighbour, I stay with my friends. I am from Lithuania, Europe, and I am famous singer there. Just few days ago I recorded my CDs in very good studio, so I was thinking that maybe my neighbours would like to have them?" I was holding my two CDs raised in front of her. This lady looked smiling brilliantly: "Oh, so sweet from Your side!" She asked me to come in, take a seat and asked if she could listen before purchase. "Of course, please," I replied. The first bhajan was "Gopinath" of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. She listened few notes and started screaming: "Oh, so beautiful, divine, cannot find words!" And tears started to flow from her eyes. "Is it really Your voice?" I explained her that this song is about divine lover who attracts all women. He attracted me too. She was listening and listening, then gave me nice donation for the CDs, some presents just for me. I gave her the translation of the bhajans in the CD, written on the paper. Before leaving I also presented her one of Prabhupada's book telling that it describes the pastimes of the most beautiful couple. She was so happy that when I went to other neighbours everyone could hear my songs played loudly from that lady's house. Again I told my mantra and showed the CDs. It was a man. He told: "Interesting, where do You stay?" I told: "Few blocks from here." He became enlivened and asked me to come in, putting his big dog aside. I was shyly standing near the door. He put my CD into his very expensive equipment, and it started playing. "I take it!" He told. "But at home I do not have money. Could You, please, wait at my house till I drive to the bank to take-off money?" Then suddenly he started to think: to leave me in a stranger's house alone with his big dog… If he has a wife, what would she think finding me there when she returns home? Then he changed his talk: "Wait outside for 15 minutes, I will come back from the bank machine, it is not far." Then again he was thinking: "Ok, come to my car, and together we will go to the bank machine." "This was better idea," I thought. "Than to stand next to a rich person's house for 15 minutes. Neighbours or even his wife could become suspicious." We went to the bank, the man gave me nice donation, took also a translation of bhajans, a book about divine couple and brought me back to my sankirtan field to visit his other neighbours.
I was going from house to house telling everyone the same mantra and distributing my CDs and books. Finally nearly every neighbour was meditating on the Lord with beautiful music played with seven instruments. First I was giving them my CD of "Saints' Bhajans" that they could not hear the word Krishna in my singing. At least not as clearly as in maha-mantra, where every second word is Krishna. One neighbour was listening to my bhajan "Radha-Krishna prana mora" "very attentively" and finally said: "I heard the word "Krishna." Yes, He is the most attractive God. And I glorify Him." She took the CD, and the book. It became very dark to continue sankirtan, people did not like to open the door, and already late. But I was so inspired by my sankirtan success to over-flood people with love to the Lord through their ears, hearts, eyes and intelligence that I tried one more house. But in the darkness I could not recognise that at that house I already was and left "spiritual bomb". The man came out: "Oh, You are again here! You are really very good singer. But it is very dark already and not safe to be here. Would You like me to bring You home?" I told "yes" remembering that devotees surely left to the temple. Actually I lost my time and head in transcendental Lord Caitanya's bliss visiting my excited, supportive and very friendly neighbours. He took me to the car and was driving. "What is Your address?" Now I started thinking: "I cannot tell that I go to Hare Krishna temple", someone inside me was telling. I told that I stay with my friends. Of course, devotees are my best friends. But still…if he will not understand? And what if he likes to become friends with my friends I stay? And they will come out in dhoti and japa-beads… "For the first time it is enough", I thought remembering the situation how I met devotees when I first time came to the temple. The door opened middle-aged brahmacari nearly completely naked, just out of the shower with a big white string on his big ear and body. I did not know that he was wearing gamcha and brahmana thread. "Oh my goodness", I pronounced, my eyes became big, I immediately turned and ran downstairs. Another old brahmana (that was temple president) quickly understood what was happening and appeared in the door and nicely called me in, pushing that "crazy" brahmacari behind. So he returned to the bathroom. This nice brahmana called me in and was so kind and patient, for two hours answering my questions – silly and non-silly – that I was looking at his blue and shining big eyes that were so good, showing good heart of the person, and thinking: "This man is like my grandfather, but he is much more kind and knows just everything." Therefore I stayed to be with him in the temple all the time and followed him everywhere, in every his step of devotional service. Of course, at that time I was just a child, but still the first impression about the devotees is very very important. What if this receptive old brahmana would not come out and called me? Then most probably I would run away and would not become a devotee. Or maybe not so soon. Therefore I was thinking again: "What if the door opens not the right devotee?" While I was deep in my thoughts the neighbour again asked me where I live and where he has to drop me. I told him: "Please, stop to this house," seeing that there are no lights in it's windows. This house was few houses from the temple, so I could walk. At least the neighbour will not like to come to the dark house together with me. "Ok", he stopped, I got out, and he left friendly – my friendly neighbour. I left him with Prabhupada and my CDs: "Saints' Bhajans" and "Meditative Maha-mantra". If he likes Prabhupada's philosophy and finds the address of the temple in the book he can come himself, on his own responsibility. But the devotees must also be responsible to receive guests.
By Jagat Kirti Devi Dasi from Europe, Lithuania (JPS)