May your heart be like a river: New Year’s wish for 2016

My new year’s wish for you: May your heart always flow, like a river to the sea. May your heart always be like a river of grace flowing through you.

A bittersweet first song for 2016, about the dying environment and the strength of love to renew it: Like a River by Jahnavi Harrison

About the song, Jahnavi writes: “Like a River is the title track from the debut album of Jahnavi Harrison, ‘Like a River to the Sea’, released on July 24th 2015.
The track features a refrain from the Govinda Damodara Stotram by medieval saint-poet, Srila Bilvamangala Thakur and is a meditation on protecting sacred environments internally and externally.

The film features the landscape and people that live alongside the holy Yamuna River. After years of constant protest and petitioning, as of March 2015, the Indian Government has promised to make drastic changes to divert industrial waste and sewage, and restore the purity of the water. For more updates and info on the Save Yamuna campaign: http://saveyamuna.org/

LYRICS:
(refrain) Govinda! Damodara! Madhaveti! He Krishna! He Yadava! He Sakheti!

The well I drank from has run dry; the river bed has moved over years,
Now cell phones ring instead of bells; the sacred hill has almost disappeared.

Prayers and ashes at the river’s edge, drifting side by side;
sun rises over new hotels; sages close their eyes…

(chorus) My heart, flows like a river to the sea,
May it always be, may it always be
A river of grace flows through me,
May it always be, may it always be

Will I always be a stranger here, in the heart of sacred beauty?
You say this road can lead me home, so I’m following your footprints in the sand.

I see the chaos and the barren trees, maybe I am blind,
crowds of people falling to their knees, is this place divine?

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I wrote these lyrics when I visited Vrindavan in 2006 after a 14 year gap. With my immature vision, I struggled to see past the pollution, traffic and commercialisation, to the untainted spiritual essence of the place.

We learn from great teachers that material eyes allow only limited vision – real sight is with spiritual eyes that are opened only by the guidance of a genuine guru. Though our vision may be clouded, we make progress by humbly following our teacher’s ‘footprints in the sand’.

The refrain ‘Govinda Damodara Madhaveti’ comes from an exquisite prayer called the Govinda Damodara Stotram, written by the blind saint-poet, Bilvamangala Thakur. Though his physical eyes were useless, he was blessed with spiritual vision to see his Lord during his final days in Vrindavan. The chorus alludes to the famous prayer of historic saint, Queen Kunti, who prayed that her attraction be ever drawn to the Lord, as a river forever flows to the sea.”

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