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Capture logoKrishna Das will be there. Jai Uttal will be there. Deva & Miten too.  Even Shyamdas, the bhakti world’s most beloved Ambassador of Bhava, will be there, in all his bhavalicious glory.  Journey OM: Into the Heart of India, the cinematic masterpiece in the works from veteran filmmaker and original bhakti bhaiya John Bush, promises to be the bhakti movie of the year.

Right now, you can be a part of this film’s development by pre-ordering the DVD and soundtrack featuring Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Deva Premal & Miten and more.  ACT FAST! The campaign ends at 1:19 a.m EST on Friday, April 24.

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There’s a certain mystique about India that can be hard to define.  For many in the bhakti world, the pull is strong, like that of a mother beckoning her children home.  There’s an almost inexplicable longing that cuts straight to the soul, not unlike what we imagine the Gopi cowherds felt for their sweet Govinda.

Journey OM aims to capture that elusive quality that makes India unlike any other place in the world.  But don’t mistake this upcoming film for some ordinary travelogue cataloging must-see pit stops on a well-trodden tourist path. Journey OM, according to filmmaker John Bush, takes you off the beaten track.  Way off.

Focused on ‘Places of Passage’

Bush focuses his camera on so-called tirthas, holy “places of passage” that are believed to be sacred sites where the veil between worlds is thin, where it is possible for even ordinary humans to cross over from worldly materialism to spiritual nirvana with relative ease.  (Tirtha is a Sanskrit word that translates to “ford,” or a shallow part of a body of water that can be easily crossed.)

Mother India is rife with tirthas — legendary places with thousands-years-old histories in Hindu scripture and mythology. For example, at the very Southern tip of India is the island of Rameswaren, said to be the place from which Hanuman and Rama’s army built the bridge to Lanka to rescue Sita from the evil king Ravana, as is written in the Hindu epic, “The Ramayana.”  In the holy land of Braj there is Govardhan Hill, the mountain that Krishna, as a young boy, lifted high to protect the people of Vrindavan from the torrential rains that the god Indra had let loose in his anger.  And the list goes on…

“These are power spots,” says Bush. “They’ve been identified over thousands of years as places of transcendence, where one can go from earthly consciousness to celestial consciousness.”  Journey OM will take the viewer on a magical mystery tour of a dozen or so of these sites, with the intent of conveying a feeling of the sacredness of these places.

Bush at RanakpurJain Temple in Rajasthan“Each place has its own story, its own flavor,” Bush told The Bhakti Beat. “The revelations along the way are really geared to have a transformative effect for the viewer, to impart that ‘inner-journey’ experience of a sacred pilgrimage.”

Bush, the inspiration and perspiration behind Journey OM, is the real deal. He didn’t jump on the mantra bandwagon yesterday; his bhakti roots are deep — more than 40 years deep to be exact.  He was with Ram Dass back in the days of “psychedelic evangelism” of 1960’s America.  Like Ram Dass, he traveled to the Far East in search of that same feeling of transcendence, of divine consciousness, sans LSD.  He met Shyamdas when Shyamji was just 19, and developed a deeper friendship with him in the weeks before he died. The night Shyamdas left his body, they had been in satsang together, and Bush was in the car that, mere minutes after it happened, came across the scene of the motorcycle accident that claimed Shyamdas’ life.  They had planned for weeks to shoot footage around Shyamdas’ home in Braj for Journey OM, which is dedicated to Shyamdas.

On the Bus with Maharaji

John Bush 1971Along with  Ram Dass, Krishna Das, Daniel Goleman and a host of others, John Bush was on “the bus” — the one that Krishna Das has told the story of countless times — that arrived at its destination at precisely the same moment that the elusive Maharaji, Neem Karoli Baba stepped into the street, leaving the bewildered Westerners on board scratching their heads with mouths agape.

That moment — the first time Bush met the Indian Saint — was a turning point for the long-haired hippy from America.  “My life changed dramatically at that point,” Bush says.  He had been on his way back home after a series of meditation retreats in a remote Burmese monastery.  Instead, he spent the next couple of years following Maharaji in a kind of ongoing pilgrimage.  It was when the young Bush first connected with the age-old tradition of spiritual pilgrimage, and became fascinated by it.  It was also the period where Bush connected with kirtan, taking his turn as one of the Western wallahs in Baba’s entourage.

Later, back in the States, Bush roomed with Jai Uttal in Berkely for a period, and joined with Uttal, Krishna Das and Bhagavan Das in a bhakti band called “Amazing Grace.” They made a kirtan album, played at festivals and toured the Pacific Northwest, essentially launching the careers of three of the bhakti world’s best-known wallahs.  But unlike his bandmates, Bush — a new father at the time — decided the life of a professional musician was not for him.  He moved to Cambridge, Mass., and settled into a more traditional lifestyle, albeit one where kirtan and satsang continued to have a strong presence.

Fast-forward to the year 2000 or so.  Career finished, Bush returns to his “long-deferred dream” of sharing with the world, through film, the sacred cultures he fell in love with as a youth.  He filmed and produced an award-winning trilogy of pilgrimage films to Southeast Asia and Tibet, which were aired on PBS and around the world.  His documentary feature film, “Vajra Sky Over Tibet,” is endorsed by the Dalai Lama and has been screened as part of the official program of His Holiness in more than a dozen cities.

Bush describes Journey OM as “wall-to-wall bhakti.”  Not only does the soundtrack feature Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, and Deva Premal & Miten, but the entire film is steeped in the bhava of the devotional journey.

“Pilgrimage is part of the yoga of devotion,” he says. “My hope is that through the cultural immersiveness of this film, the viewer has their own transformative experience, their own inner journey.”

Journey Om cover shot

 

 

Contribute Now to JOURNEY OM’s kickstarter campaign.

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The Bhakti Beat needs your support!  We are non-commercial and not-for-profit,  a free service to the bhakti community that is completely self-funded save for the loving contributions of Bhakti Beaters like you.  Your support is critical — please share the Beat with your bhakti peeps, connect with us on social media (links below), and consider a one-time or recurring donation (DONATE HERE) to help us keep this bhav boat afloat.  Thank you from the bottom of our bhav brain, heart and soul. In loving service...

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
 
Dear Lord, kindly engage me in your service.
 
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BW BrainEpidemiologists with the Centers for Disease Control have issued a national health advisory that a brain disorder first identified last year is on the rise.  At current rates, it may affect 10 million by 2020.

The previously rare condition, dubbed kirtananandanitis by its discoverer, is commonly known as “bhav brain.” It seems to be caused by prolonged periods of chanting kirtan, an obscure practice popularized in 15th century India that, like yoga, has gained a huge  following in the West. The CDC issued the alert after a team of scientists discovered evidence of the condition in every town and village.

While the highest concentrations were found in and around spiritual hot spots such as temples and ashrams, chant festivals, progressive universities and Jivamukti yoga centers, there was also startling evidence of the condition in living rooms across the nation, where people are increasingly gathering to chant in community, for free.

A CDC spokesperson emphasized that there was no imminent danger associated with the increasing incidence of bhav brain.  In fact, he called it an encouraging trend, given the stress-reduction and brain-health advantages of participating in a community-oriented spiritual practice involving singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. He cautioned, however, that practitioners of kirtan tend to do a lot of hugging.

“We just thought the public should be aware that this is increasing, and if they notice these kinds of gatherings where people are chanting and dancing and generally loving one another, that there’s nothing to be concerned about,” he said.

Symptoms of bhav brain include markedly decreased attachment to one’s self-identity, blurring of the demarcation between “self” and others, disillusionment with materialistic gain, and reduced anxiety about what the future may bring (see bhakti scholar Shyamdas explain it in the video below).  Some people report experiencing a sense of divine union under the influence of kirtan.  In extreme cases, bhav brain can produce symptoms suggestive of intoxication or drug use, which might include inexplicable elation, stumbling or wandering aimlessly, or general “spaciness.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, experts suggest you immediately assume a lotus position and repeat your mantra of choice 108 times.  Do not — we repeat, do NOT — attempt to drive.

The Bhakti Beat broke this story a year ago, when Dr. Baba Bhavakirtanananda first reported the results of his multinational brain-imaging study.  Read the full story here.

Here is an explanation of the bhav from a leading scholar and practitioner of bhakti yoga, the late Shyamdas, who described what it means to be “in the bhav” during a workshop at Bhakti Fest, one of the Western kirtan world’s largest gatherings.

If you like this, you might also like “10 Signs You Might Be a Kirtan Addict”

The Bhakti Beat needs your support!  We are non-commercial and not-for-profit,  a free service to the bhakti community that is completely self-funded save for the loving contributions of Bhakti Beaters like you.  Your support is critical — please share the Beat with your bhakti peeps, connect with us on social media (links below), and consider a one-time or recurring donation (DONATE HERE) to help us keep this bhav boat afloat.  Thank you from the bottom of our bhav brain. In loving service...

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Dear Lord, kindly engage me in your service.
 
Follow The Bhakti Beat on facebook
Follow The Bhakti Beat on twitter
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Find us on Google+

 

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Gratitude, Mountain Tops and Grains of Sand: The Bhakti Beat’s Wish List, by Request

March 25, 2015
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Do you know the story of Hanuman and the spider? The short version goes like this: When Hanuman was building a bridge to Lanka so Ram’s army could march across the ocean and rescue Sita from the evil Ravana, Hanuman was lifting entire mountain tops and making stepping stones of them. Meanwhile, a tiny spider […]

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I, Vrinda: True Confessions of Kirtan Pusher, And 8 Signs You Might Be One Too

December 17, 2014
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(Wondering who the hell Vrinda is? Read to the end…) It’s true. I, Vrinda, am a kirtan pusher. I mean, I’m already a self-diagnosed “kirtan addict,” and we’ve established that there are a lot of those out there. I’m okay with that. But a pusher? Well, this just, ahem, pushes it to a whole different […]

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Krishna Das Goes to Prison for Call and Response (Video Interview, Photos)

November 24, 2014
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Video interview at the bottom. Yes, it’s true.  Krishna Das went to prison for Call and Response. The Call and Response Foundation, that is. For the least few years, the nonprofit foundation has been arranging for kirtan wallahs to chant in prisons, psychiatric facilities, children’s hospitals, and other places where people might benefit from the […]

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Kirtan Represents in Grammys First-Round Ballot as Nominations Voting Wraps Up Nov. 5

October 28, 2014
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Grammys season has officially begun, and more than ever before, the world of mantra music represents.  More than a dozen artists in the “non-genre” of kirtan/chant/yoga music are on the first-round ballot for consideration to be among the 57th Annual Grammy Award Nominees for Best New Age Album. [Yes, “New Age” is what the non-genre […]

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I, VRINDA: Finding Irony in the Passing of B.K.S. Iyengar, as the Popular Press Credit Him with a ‘Yoga Craze’ that Ignores Its Roots

August 20, 2014
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B.K.S. Iyengar, the great yogic master who pioneered a system of yoga and is credited for helping bring yoga to the world, died Wednesday morning, August 20, in Pune, India. Editor’s Note: “I, Vrinda” is a new, occasional first-person series on TheBhaktiBeat.com in which I, Vrinda (aka Brenda Patoine) say what I’m thinking, whether you […]

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CROWDFUND THIS! (NOW!!) Final Week For Bhajan Belt Favorites & Shyamdas Compatriots SRI Kirtan’s IndieGogo Campaign for CD No. 3

July 14, 2014
Sruti Ram & Ishwari of SRI Kirtan are working on their third CD -- and need your help to make it happen.
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Project: Full-length Studio-Recorded CD Fundraising Goal: $13,000 Deadline: July 19, 2014 @ 11:59 p.m. PT Contribute  Here NOW!   Ed. Note: This is part of our ongoing series on Crowdfunding Kirtan, in which fans and friends contribute money for new recording projects in exchange for “perks” ranging from free downloads to private concerts.  The trend […]

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Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe Show How Juicy You Can Get at Shakti Fest (Photos, Set Review)

June 6, 2014
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There is nothing traditional about Larisa Stow & Shakti Tribe.  And that’s just fine with us. Larisa and the Tribe deliver unapologetic Mantra Rock.  Quite unlike anything we’ve seen anywhere else. The first time we experienced their edgy urban-laced brand of bhakti, our jaw dropped, and they just keep get juicier each time we see […]

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‘Too Much Talking’ from a Kirtan Wallah? Hmm. Bhakti Quotes Worth Repeating-Shakti Fest 2014

May 25, 2014
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At one point during the weekend-long love feast that was Shakti Fest 2014, I ran into Vijay Krsna and his beloved, Sarasvati Devi, the couple who lead the Kirtaniyas.  It was the day after their late-night set,  and I was gushing to them about how deeply touched I was by their kirtan and teachings (I […]

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