Monday, October 17, 2011
Sat Nam everyone. We are in Frankfurt Germany now. We just completed a three day stretch where we had a concert every night…. the first concert was in Hamburg, the second was in Paderborn, and the third was in Frankfurt. This kind of touring can be exhausting, but it has this amazing energy about it. You kind of get on a wave, where each concert merges into the next and you are working with the energy of all of the concerts together. I feel an intuitive synchronicity with the band (Ramesh and Thomas) as we have taken many of the pieces from our new album Ras and brought them forward in the live concert setting in a way that we are really feeling the energy in them. Also our sound guy who is traveling with us, Scott, is doing an incredible job. This really helps in the delivery of the music so much.
In the past few concerts we brought forward the chant “Chattr Chakkra Vaartee“. This chant is by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. I told this story last night in Frankfurt and wanted to share it with you today on this Gratitude Monday.
Guru Gobind Singh lived in a time of great turmoil and tyranny from the ruling empire of India during the 17th Century. There was incredible religious and cultural persecution. Guru Gobind Singh stood up to the empire and actually fought back, something that many of the hill Rajas of the Northern lands of India, did not have the courage to do. Because of this courage, many of the peasants and farmers of the area came to join his army. They had had enough of the persecution and the fact that someone was standing up to it was inspiring enough that they were willing to give their lives up to join the cause.
As the story goes, Guru Gobind Singh and his Sikhs were settled in a small village, preparing for a battle soon to come. One of Guru Gobind Singh’s disciples gifted him with a few thousand professionally trained soldiers to aid him in the battle. These soldiers, although they were not Sikhs, were welcomed in to the daily life of the village. It is said that many of them would frequent the local candy shop, run by a jovial man who was said to have a big belly.
It is said that the army of the empire found out about these soldiers and in secret offered them much more pay then what they were receiving. Since these soldiers had no real allegiance to the Guru or the cause of the Guru, they stole away one night and essentially switched sides.
The next day when the people of the village found out about what had happened many were filled with fear. When they approached the Guru about it, he had no fear. Their mission was simple, and pure. God would cover. When word of the Guru’s message spread through the village many of the villagers were emboldened to take action and join the Guru’s army, including the reputed candy shop owner with the big belly.
In joining the Guru’s army, the villagers embarked on quite a journey. Daily training was very intense physically, mentally, and spiritually as they learned the Sikh martial art called “Gatka.” In Gatka one learns to use swords and other weapons in a sacred way. One becomes a spiritual warrior. The spirit is called forth with the use of the “Shabad Guru” or the sound current of the Guru. As the training took place with Guru Gobind Singh his soldiers would learn the sacred chants given by him to fill their hearts with courage and give them unity of purpose on the battle field. One such chant was “Chattr Chakra Vaartee.” They would often chant even while in battle. The energy of these chants, and the presence of Guru Gobind Singh would fill them with such courage that within a matter of weeks peasants and villagers would be turned into fierce warriors.
On the day of the battle the two sides stood on either side of the battle field. The small army of the Guru and his Sikhs was on one side and the huge army of the empire stood at the other side. It is said that the professional soldiers who had left the Guru’s army looked out across the battle field and could clearly make out the big belly of the candy shop owner. Ripples of laughter spread throughout the army as they realized that the poor fellow was on the battle field. They hollered that the battle would be over in no time as it was clear that the Guru’s army was made up of a rag tag group of villagers.
The battle drums began and the two sides moved towards each other. The candy shop owner went forward with an amazing courage. It is said that as he entered into the battle field his sword swung through the air with such intensity and accuracy that the soldiers of the empire completely freaked out after seeing him. They thought for sure that with such a transformation that for sure the Guru’s army would beat them in no time. There must be some sort of magic. One by one, until it was by the hundreds the empires soldiers fled. The battle was victorious for the Guru and his Sikhs.
I love this story, because I truly believe that we can all transform powerfully in our lives. I have experienced incredible energy and courage in the chants of Guru Gobind Singh. And especially in the chant that we shared with audiences in Paderborn and Frankfurt, “Chattr Chakra Vaartee.” Ramesh plays the tabla with an incredible force that sounds like galloping horses. Thomas does a really fun groove with the piano. I really feel the presence and energy of Guru Gobind Singh and his warriors with me when I am chanting this.
So, this Monday I am grateful for the power of these sacred chants which brings forth so much healing, and transformation.
Blessings to you from the Road! Signing off.
PS – Please join us in Costa Rica, for our Song of the Self Retreat, March 10-17, 2012.