Back to the Mother: The Life of Sacred Music by Kalidas
I had humble beginnings. My grandmother raised me in a tiny village in India. With her kind and gentle nature, she embodied the best virtues of Mother India. After I went to America at the age of five, I eventually lost sight of those virtues in my quest to be someone great. In college I wanted to be a great writer. Many of the artists I emulated were bleak in their outlook, so I began to unconsciously associate bleakness with greatness. My world view became very bleak as well, but my writing did not become very great.
When I graduated, I realized that there was a burning restlessness I could not shake. There was something missing in my soul. Thus began my spiritual quest to find that something that I had lost. One day I chanced upon some books about Eastern mystics. Their lives of simplicity and purity seemed like a fairy tale in our modern world. Could it be true that there was a path to God? I had to find out or at least make an attempt.
The next ten years involved working in a Tibetan retreat center, a Zen monastery, a yoga community and Hindu ashrams. When I was not making beds, washing dishes or cleaning laundry, I read about as many saints as I could. Finally my path led me to the feet of Sarada Devi, a humble compassionate saint who was an embodiment of the Divine Mother. She too had grown up in a small village and exemplified the virtues of village life just as my grandmother had. Sarada Devi once said, “If a thorn hurts the sole of your foot, I feel as if a ploughshare has gone through my heart.”
Rooted in the Bhakti yoga tradition, my music became a way to honor the lives of some of the great beings that has made my life rich and meaningful. Bhakti yoga consists of channeling all of one’s energy to the Divine. The theory is simple: by thinking of the Divine, by contemplating the Divine, we can become Divine. Bhakti yoga sees the different religions as various paths to God. There are infinite paths actually because there are an infinite amount of beings in the universe. In this tradition, all are embraced. Every one of us has the seed of divinity, no matter how deeply it may be buried.
Anandamayi Ma once said, “Suffering is sent to turn your thoughts towards that which is real-to God who will give you solace.” I agree with her comment based on the experiences of my own life. Everyday I try to be grateful for my journey back to the light, back to the Mother.