Season 3: Ep. 2: Loving Intimacies and Interconnected Being with Dr. Jeffery Long

 

My conversation with Dr. Jeffery Long explores delicate balance, love, longing, devotion, intimacy, and compassion in Hindu texts. The conversation begins with the story of Ushas and the arrival of dawn from the Rigveda. We then journey to discussions of form and energy in the dance of Shiva and Shakti and understandings of love and longing within Radha and Krishna. As we explore love, we encounter Bhakti and Bhajan, and the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh and Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr. Jeffrey Long
Das-SarangiSmall.jpg

Dr. Jeffery D. Long, Carl W. Zeigler Professor of Religious Studies
and Asian Studies, specializes in the religions and philosophies of India.  He is the author of several books and numerous articles, as well the editor of the series  /Explorations in Indic Traditions/  for Lexington Books.  In 2018, he received the Hindu American Foundation’s Dharma Seva Award for his ongoing efforts to promote more accurate and culturally sensitive portrayals of Indic traditions in the American educational system and popular media.  He has spoken in numerous venues, both national and international, including Princeton University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, and Jawaharlal Nehru University (in India), and has given three talks at the United Nations.

In this episode, we extend our first podcast with Sandeep Das to approach stories that inspired Mr. Das’ album, Dehli to Damascus.  We also embrace this journey as interfaith curiosity that might deepen our understandings of diverse traditions and of  ourselves. Leaning into these stories, we explore delicate balance, love, longing, devotion, intimacy, and compassion. 

Listen on Apple Podcasts
 
 

Discussion Questions

1. Talk about the importance of cycles and balance in forms of hope and renewal.


2. Shakti is the application of energy of creation. How does the building of peace balance form with the energy of creation?


3. How is the fullness of our presence an act of peace? How might we bring the fullness of our presence into spaces and communicate intentions of presence?


4. Long notes that longing, or that “sense of missing someone” is one of the most profound acts of love. How do we embrace the energy of our longings?


5. Schweig notes levels of love that increase in intimacy. What are the different intimacies of love that we bring to our work? When is a reverential love necessary? Passionate love?


6. What are the practices, mantras, or rituals that help us to remember to search for the divine, the dignity, or the sacredness within every being? What rituals might support us in conflict situations?


7. Gandhi ’s ritual with Vaishnav Jana To was a day-to-day, lived expression of empathy and a sense of belonging within interconnected being.  How do our daily rituals remind us of the interconnectedness of our care and being?

Podcast Chapters:

2:09 Ushas
6:07 Shakti
11:39 Thich Nhat Hanh
12:56 Longing
15:13 Krishna and Gopis
17:34 Bhakti
21:28 Longing
24:10 Bhakti and Bhajan
27:48 Vaishnav Jana To
28:15 Gandhi

Resources

Hanh, T. N. (2011). True love: A practice for awakening the heart (Trans. Sherab Chödzin Kohn). Boston: Shambhala.

Long, J. D. (2011). Historical dictionary of Hinduism. Toronto: Scarecrow Press, Inc..

Long, J. D. (2020). Hinduism in America: A convergence of worlds. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Mukherjee, A. (2022). Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo: Reconstruction and reformation of philosophical traditions. In Ananta Kumar Giri (Ed.), Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo (pp. 86-96). New York : Routledge.

Schweig, G. M. (2005). Dance of divine love: India’s class sacred love story: The rasa lila of Krishna. Retrieved from doi:https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv301g6v.13

 

Vaishnav Jana To Videos

 

Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

krishna, shakti, shiva, hindu, longing, called, gandhi, peacebuilding, story, bhakti, people, hindu tradition, song, god, deity, goddesses, form, saraswati, love, sense

SPEAKERS

Kevin Shorner-Johnson, Jeff Long

 

Jeff Long  00:00

longing itself is seen as a particularly powerful form of bhakti. Because when your loved one is, let's say traveling and you're you can't be there. That's that sense of missing the person is a very powerful expression of love. And it's said to be one of the sweetest forms of bhakti that someone can feel that deep longing for God. There's story after story of Hindu saints, who in the mold of Radha cried out with longing for God,

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  00:30

you are listening to season three of the music and peacebuilding podcast, a professional development network at music peacebuilding calm, exploring intersections of peace building, sacredness, community, creativity and imagination. Through research and story. Dr. Jeffrey D. Long Carl W. Ziegler, professor of religious studies and Asian Studies at Elizabeth town college specializes in the religions and philosophies of India. He is the author of several books and numerous articles, as well as the editor of the series explorations in Indic Traditions for Lexington books. In 2018. He received the Hindu American foundations Dharma seva award for his ongoing efforts to promote more accurate and culturally sensitive portrayals of Indic Traditions in the American educational system and popular media. He has spoken in numerous venues, both national and international, including Princeton University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, and he has given three talks at the United Nations. In this episode, we extend our first podcast was Sandeep Das, to approach stories that inspired Mr. Das, his album, Delhi to Damascus. We also embrace this journey as interfaith curiosity that might deepen our understandings of diverse traditions and ourselves. leaning into the stories, we explored delicate balance, love, longing, devotion, intimacy, and compassion. I first asked Dr. Long about the arrival of dawn and Ushas

 

Jeff Long  02:09

so Ushas is one of the oldest goddesses in the, in the Vedic pantheon. And she's she's mentioned early on in the Rigveda. She's a very, very important Goddess, and you see connections between her story and her description and other indo European stories. You know, Homer talks about Rosie fingered Dawn, right, the the new the dawning of the new day, and Ushas represents that dawning of the new day she clears out the darkness so that Suriya, the sun can then rise. And this whole cycle repeats again every single day, of course, and Ushas as you said, she she's a symbol of hope. Because again, there's always there's always a new day that will dawn, no matter how deep the darkness is, no matter what happens, a new day is on its way. And she represents that and symbolizes that. And you talked about cycles actually and music and it's interesting that the text in which we hear about Lucious, again, we hear about her from the Rigveda. And the Rigveda itself is divided into 10 sections that are called mandalas, which the technical I guess you could say literal meaning of that is circle, but you could easily translate that as cycle and it means something like a song cycle, right? That a collection of songs. And each of these mandalas is made up of mantras, which are not mantras of the short kind that people would later meditate on, and use in yogic practice. But these are longer songs. And so the very earliest accounts we have of Ushas are in the form of songs. So she's very intimately connected with music in that sense as well. Yet another connection yet another association between Ushas is there's another Vedic goddess Saraswati and there's a sense in which all of the goddesses are seen as ultimately, manifestations of one supreme goddess, one supreme principle, what we call the Shakti and Saraswati is also very closely connected with music. She's depicted usually holding a Veena, a musical instrument, and she is associated with art and learning. Though in the beginning she was connected with a river. There was a Saraswati River that flowed through northwestern India, that later changed course and dried up. And we think this is a big part of why the Indus Valley civilisation declined over time. We're not entirely clear what the precise relationship is between the Vedic culture and the Indus culture. But we know that these goddesses played an important role in both because you see, Goddess is also represented a lot in the Indus inscriptions. And around that same period, we're getting the songs dedicated to Ushas and Saraswati in the Rigveda. So that that association, what going back to your original question of Ushas with with hope and with, as you said, a kind of cyclical sense of hope that that the sense of a kind of inevitability of a new day is again very much what what she's associated with

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  05:23

Revealing herself and the daily dawning of the world. Kinsley writes that Ushas rouses life and sets things in motion, drawn in 100 chariots, she brings forth light participating in cycles of cosmic order as the foe of chaos, light and darkness, dawn and dusk, wave and particle, feminine and masculine. Dharma traditions embrace balance, personified in the next segment, in the relational dance of Shiva and Shakti. As male consciousness and form dances with feminine Shakti, Shiva and Shakti balanced form with creative energy.

 

Jeff Long  06:07

Shiva and Shakti are represented as husband and wife. And Shakti as I said before, she in one sense is all of the goddesses because Shakti means power, it means energy or creative force. And so all the various Goddesses are Shaktis. In that sense, they all each represent the creative power of the male deity that's associated with each of them. And it's said that the male deity cannot do anything without the Shakti, the Shakti is, the male deities represent you could say ideals or forms. And those cannot take on any embodiment they can't be effective in the universe without the Shakti that accompanies them. So Shiva and Shakti are no different. So Shiva is the, the infinite consciousness, the pure mind that is seen as foundational to all existence in Hindu traditions, the ability of that mind, that consciousness to manifest in and as the world and as creation, that all comes from Shakti, Shakti is that power. So the two of them are both absolutely necessary for anything to occur. And there are a couple of different versions of the story of how the two of them become one. They are sometimes illustrated, are depicted in both both paintings and also in statuary, as one composite deity with a male half and a female half, this is called Ardhanarishvara,  that is the the Lord that is half male, half female. So Ardha means half nara is male. And then Ishvara is word. So you're the half male, half female, Lord. And so one half is a depiction of half of the body of Shiva. One is half of the body of Shakti. And the oldest reference we have to this is in the Upanishads. In the later Vedic literature, in the ??? Upanishad, there's a description of the original being. And the original being is both male and female. And then the original being divides, and then continues to divide and become all of the various male and female forms of all the various types of living beings that exist. And so originally, the idea is that they they were one and then became seen as two, but there are other versions of the story where they are two, and then they become one. There's one that's actually quite amusing about someone who is very deeply devoted to Shiva, and he refuses to pray to any god other than Shiva, and in the Hindu tradition, refusing to pray to any other deity because deity takes on so many forms, is seen as sort of narrow minded and you know, not the ideal. And so Shakti becomes very upset that this person is honoring Shiva but never pays her any respect. And, you know, without Shakti, Shiva can't do anything. So, Shiva comes up with the idea that they should merge and be present, present themselves to this man as one deity so that he'll respect both of them. But the man is so dogmatic that he he takes half the offering and gives it to the Shiva half and then he just throws away the other half right he he still refuses to acknowledge Shakti. So she's not very happy about this, but eventually the man sort of realizes that what the lesson that Shiva is trying to teach him right if he if he's Shiva servant, he needs to do what Shiva is commanding and Shiva is saying and if you if you're going to honor me, you have to honor Shakti because we are one without without her. I don't exist without me. She doesn't exist. And so the the the, the merger of the two is seen as sort of teaching a lesson against being overly dogmatic or sectarian in one's affiliations. So that's that That's what the most famous version of the story of how they become one, you have this idea too that, because the deities are all represent the inner self of all beings that we all carry within us, both male and female aspects where there's sort of an androgynous conception of both of divinity, but also of the soul of each individual. And sometimes students will ask me why, why many of the male deities in the Hindu tradition have a very feminine aspect. And many of the goddesses are depicted doing traditionally very masculine things like fighting in battle, typically, you have Durga, with all her arms with her various swords and different weapons and so on. And the ideal here is that the more the more godlike we become, right, the more evolved we become, the more we will exhibit the good qualities that are traditionally associated with both of these two genders. So a male would become intimate, in a sense more feminine and a female would become more masculine, you would you would be drawing from the positive qualities of both of those aspects of the self, because the self ultimately is not gendered at all right? It's beyond all such distinctions. Those are distinctions in the physical plane, and we make those distinctions in society and so on. But the idea is that in spiritual life, you're trying to transcend all of that and go beyond all that. So that dual form of Shiva and Shakti is a powerful way of expressing that idea.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  11:39

The late Thich Nhat Hanh opened his book on love with a chapter titled, love is being there. He writes that the intimacy, intention and fullness of our presence is one of the greatest gifts we offer another in love. Hanh urges us that while we sit at the breakfast table with our loved ones, we might connect mind and body through the bridge of mindful breath. The words that we utter in this state become a mantra. He suggests one of the most loving phrases or mantras of presence. As "dear one, I am here for you." As we move deeper into Hindu stories of Radha and Krishna, bhakti and bhajan, I understand that the intimacy of our love and presence, are surrenders of loving kindness to the divine within others, and ourselves.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  12:57

So I want to move to, to this idea. And I feel like the more that I'm studying the Silk Road and preparing this podcast season on the Silk Road, I'm finding the resonance of this idea of the longing caused by separation and whether it be in a Sufi tradition or a Hindu tradition, this, this idea of this longing between lovers also becoming a metaphorical sense of a longing between the self and the divine. Can we talk about Virah? If I'm pronouncing that right, yeah. And how this is colored by the story of Radha and Krishna.

 

Jeff Long  13:28

Yes, yes, that's, that's a very powerful story. And so, Krishna, when we look at Krishna, we're kind of shifting to a different Hindu tradition, right. So Shiva and Shakti are part of what we some calls, sometimes called the Shiva or Shakta traditions. In Krishna, we're looking at the Vaishnava tradition, it's another stream of Hindu thought and practice. And so Krishna is seen as sort of the supreme embodiment of Vishnu have the highest from the Vaishnava perspective, the highest form of divinity. And Krishna, of course, also comes to earth and lives as, as Krishna as one of the avatars of Vishnu. And the story of Radha and Krishna is a very powerful one, because it breaks traditional social conventions in order to show the depth and the extent of the love that these two have for one another. Initially, Krishna is taken and he's hidden away, right? He's a prince, he's supposed to live in the palace, but he's taken out to the countryside, and he lives with the people who tend to the cows. I guess the the more Western equivalent might be shepherds. But in India, it's the cows more than the sheep that people are looking after. So he lives with the cow herds basically, and grows up as one of them. So he lives very simply out of the out of the forest in the countryside. And it's a place that's supposed to be very beautiful, very idyllic, it's called Vrindavan. And it's an actual place it's in northern India. They're trying to keep Vrindavan beautiful today, but in the modern era, you know, all kinds of of industrialization and things going on. But in the minds of devotees, the ideal Vrindaban is this is as it was when Krishna was there eons ago.

 

Jeff Long  15:14

As Krishna is growing up when he's an adolescent, he plays a lot of tricks on a group of young women who are the female cowherds. They're called the gopis. And the gopis are all in love with him. They all think he's he's very handsome, and he's very charming. And, and, of course, the secret of his charm is that he's actually the divine in human form, right, and Krishna, the word itself means someone whose dark complected dark in color, it also means the one who is attractive, not just in the sense of physically attractive, but attracting all beings to himself. So this is the idea that of God in the Vaishnava tradition that God is drawing all of us to, to himself. And so that's reflected in this name Krishna. So the gopis are very drawn to Krishna. And he's always playing joke's on them. And they've been very, you know, sort of fun time. And one of the gopis in particular, Radha is very deeply in love with Krishna. And so they become involved with each other, they have an affair. And it's a bit scandalous, because Radha is actually married and she has a husband, but she falls in love with Krishna. And the fact that she's married is significant, because marriage traditionally in, Not, not only in India, but in much of the world was a social and economic arrangement, primarily, and it wasn't always seen as the kind of, you know, romantic love between two people that has become common in the Western world, and now globally, but that's really just been a development of the last couple 100 years or so. So, your husband is someone you're supposed to, you know respect and love and be with, but there's a kind of conventionality about that arrangement. Whereas, because Radha's and Krishna's love violates that. It's there's a kind of wild spontaneity about it that goes beyond convention. And the spiritual lesson is, you know, Krishna is God. And this is how we should love God wildly, spontaneously, with deep enthusiasm not in kind of a boring conventional sense

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  17:32

in a text on the nature of love and devotional love, or rasa and bhakti. Schweig relase five primary types of loving relations, a reverential love refers to a distant God in which love is, quote, quiet veneration and admiration. With each successive type, reverential, subservient, mutual, nurturing, and passionate, love and relations become more intimate. The most intimate, passionate love, quote, "is characterized by total self surrender of the lover, and an exclusive passionate union with the divine, often heightened by periods of intense separation." From a music and peacebuilding perspective, we might reflect upon the interplay of love, intimacy and presence, especially as we perform musical sound to enter a sense of closeness with others.

 

Jeff Long  18:37

That is the idea of Bhakti In Hinduism, it's a devotion to God, that really it's so transformed you you'll be you become someone who's just full of nothing but love for God. And it's one of the paths to liberation, one of the paths to salvation in the Hindu tradition, and it's considered the easiest one right? You don't need to be deeply educated or spend hours meditating, you know, you just become full of love for God. And you know, anyone, even a child, you know, can can experience that. So Radha is seen as the perfect bhakta and she is someone who is completely full of love for Krishna. She doesn't care if it's going to get her in trouble or if it's going to go against social convention or anything of that sort. But ultimately, Radha and Krishna have to be separated. And the reason is, because Krishna's destiny comes calling, he is supposed to be the king, and he needs to go and overthrow his uncle who is beginning to oppress the peoples, been oppressing the people. And we know from later stories, that he will also be the great ally of the Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata War. And of course, very famously, in the Bhagavad Gita, he teaches Arjun you know, the the path to to liberate the paths to liberation. And so, you know, Krishna has all of these things to do. So he can't stay in Vrindavan and enjoying life with the gopis forever and it's kind of a story of growing up That Vrindavan in one sense represents a kind of period of childlike innocence that you then leave in order to go and be a responsible adult, right, follow your dharma. So Krishna has to leave and Radha is heartbroken. She asked Krishna, she says, What sin did I commit? What thing did I do wrong, that I'm having so much pain right now that you're leaving me in this pain of separation. Krishna says something very profound to her. You know, we talked about how her love for Krishna was kind of in violation, really of social convention because he was not her husband. And Krishna says, The the flaw that you have, the sin you committed, he said was that you could not see me in your husband. So he's now he's speaking as God, right. He's speaking as, as the divine Beloved. And there's this lesson that you see in a lot of Hindu stories that the love we feel for family, for our our partner in life for our children, for, you know, even things as simple as just the good things that we enjoy, you know, food and music and so on. That the real source of joy, what what the real love that is really happening, there is the love between the soul and God. And God is present in all those things. And it is God that we're loving, in and through and as those things. And so Krishna saying, you know, you found me only in this form, but I'm in all of these forms.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  21:28

Longing is one of the deepest forms of love, as explained by Dr. Long.

 

Jeff Long  21:33

And the longing itself is seen as a particularly powerful form of Bhakti because when your loved one is, let's say traveling and you're you can't be there. You know, they you know, they've gone to a conference or something or you've gotten to a conference or whatever it might be, that sense of missing the person is a very powerful expression of love. And it's said to be one of the sweetest forms of bhakti that someone can feel that deep longing for God, right God, where are you? Why can't I see you? Why can't I feel you what where is your presence? There's story after story of Hindu saints, who in the mold of Radha cried out with longing for God. In more recent times in the 19th century, the Hindu saint Ramakrishna was very famous for his longing for God and His devotion. And he wanted to have a vision of the Divine, he wanted to really sense the Divine Presence, and every day that it would not happen, and he would weep and he would cry out to God, he would say another day has passed. And I've not seen you, you know, and the idea being any, any day that we don't see God is a wasted day, right. And so, and eventually he did have the vision he was seeking, according to his teaching, and you see this in many of the Hindu saints, the key to seeing God is just wanting that more than anything else, right, wanting God to the exclusion of everything else, then you will get God right. And so, God is merciful, God appears to those who call out with sincere longing.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  23:02

Longing is a path to searching for, and finding the divine within all beings, a return to and search for the interconnectedness of all things.

 

Jeff Long  23:15

Her task is then to learn to see Krishna, everywhere, and in all beings. And so that's that's the basic symbolism, the basic idea, and this, this Virah concept. One of the very beautiful things, and you've probably noticed this in some of the Silk Road music that you've you've been exploring is that the it's not always clear, necessarily, if we're talking about two human beings who are in love, if we're talking about the soul and God, and the idea is, it's the same basic emotional quality, often the the songs and the stories will have a double meaning. And so you can see it as the soul longing for God. Again, you, this is prominent in the Hindu context, it's prominent in the Sufi context, as you mentioned, but it could also just be a love song, you know, and you can take it either way. And Either is acceptable, because God is in all beings. So it's ultimately all one.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  24:10

So if we open up the whole idea of bhakti. And I think that kind of leads us to our next question about bhajan. Maybe I could have you first start by explaining to our audience what a bhajan is, and then we can get into this particular one that was a beloved bhajan by Gandhi, which is Vaishnav Jana To?

 

Jeff Long  24:29

Yes. vaishnav jana to. Yes, yes. So the word Bhajan goes back to the same Sanskrit root as the word Bhakti. The they they they mean the same thing, essentially. So a bhajan is a song that both expresses and also evokes the sense of bhakti that is, they were written by poets and singers who were feeling a very powerful sense of bhakti. And if you're feeling that one way to express that is to sing those bhajans. It also evokes that sense, you know, you might just be feeling, you know, you'd might just be in a very mundane mood, but then you start singing one of those songs. And it gets you into that more that that sense of connection with God. And that sense of devotion starts to arise. And bhajans are usually fairly simple, you'll have a their sung, that it's, this is part of congregational worship. So you'll have a lead singer, who will sing, there'll be a call and response. So the lead singer will sing a verse, and then the audience will repeat the same verse back. And then the singer will go through several verses, and again, in a call and response fashion, and then you have that original verse, the refrain keeps coming back again and again. And as the song progresses, the tempo gets faster, most of these start in a very slow, serene kind of stately fashion. By the time you get to the end, it's really, you know, moving right along, right, it just kind of, you know, gallops along, if you have a percussion accompaniment like a tabla, well, you know, it'll get, it'll start off, you know, like slow. And then by the end, it's just really moving right on. After the first after the verse, main verses have been sung. Basically, the refrain is just repeated again and again, and again, and again, at a greater and greater speed. And, you know, by, you know, people are clapping, and you know, everyone's getting very excited. And then suddenly, it will stop. And then the leader will, again, sing the verse slowly in the tempo that you started with, and then everyone will repeat that and then it comes to a close. And so it's, it's a very effective musical way of, I don't want to say manipulating people's emotions, basically, it gets you gets you riled up, it gets you excited about that. And the main, the refrain is typically the names of God right, whichever form of deity is the main focus of that. So, you know that you have the very famous the Maha Mantra of the Vaishnava tradition. Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hari Hari, Hari, Rama Hari Rama, Rama, Rama Hari Hari, like that might get repeated again and again and again, and faster and faster and faster. And then at the end, you know, the, it's repeated, but at that original slow tempo and it sort of comes to a resolution. So bhajans evoke bhakti and express bhakti, bhakti itself again is devotion. That complete devotion to God. In terms of Gandhi's favorite song was a famous Vaishnav bhajan. And the refrain has a very interesting meaning. Where it says that everyone is a Vaishnava in anyone you meet, assume they're also a Vaishnava

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  25:34

the text Vaishnav Jana To, notes that one who is a devotee of Vishnu, knows the pain of others, embraces a purity of thought, promise and action. utters no untruth, renounces lust, insults and anger, and does good without letting pride enter the mind. several videos of this bhajan have been posted to our website.

 

Jeff Long  27:51

Now what that means, of course, the people are quite aware that not everyone is a Vaishnava, right? Not everyone is a Hindu, and so on. But the basic idea is, you know, if you're singing this within the Vaishnava community, the basic idea is, you know, look, most communities have an idea of inside and outside, right? You're a member, you know, of the community, or you're not, right, you're an outsider. And the song is saying, See everyone, as one of us, see everyone as a fellow Vaishnava, again, whether whatever creed they profess, whether they're Shiva, or Jain or Sikh or, or Muslim or Christian. They're all Vaishnava right. See, everybody as one. And, you know, it's, it's interesting, like, if, with our sort of sensibility today, someone could get offended by that and say, Well, I'm not a Vaishnava, why do you have to see me as evasion about it. But this comes from a period when people are sort of identifying their, their people they feel fellowship with, as their own immediate community and what the song's trying to do is really to try to extend that to everybody extend that to the whole world. See, everybody as one of you. And, in fact, it's really funny. I'll tell you a little story, a personal story. My grandmother, of course, was from an older generation. And my family were, were Christian. My father's side of the family were Roman Catholic, but my mother's side were Protestant. So my grandmother, I'm talking now about my mother's mother, in her mind, and she came from a small town in Illinois.  The word Christian just meant a good person. Right. So you know, if you did something good, you know, that was very Christian of you. Now, again, if you want To see it from today's sensibility that could be very offensive because you can say, well, a Jewish person can be good a Hindu could be good and non religious can be good. You know, what do you mean? But it's just the way people spoke at that time. And so she told me once because I, I've been practicing Hinduism now throughout my adult life, and my wife grew up Hindu. My grandmother just adored the two of us and it was entirely mutual. And she said to me one day, she said, I think you're both Christian. And I said to her, I said, Well, grandma, we think you're Hindu. So and everyone, we just laughed. And the basic idea was, I see you as part of me, I don't see you as alien, right? I don't see you as different. So that was her way of saying that. And so this favorite song of Gandhi is saying the same thing from a vaishnav, Hindu perspective. And it really is, you could see why Gandhi would love that because his whole philosophy to was of including everyone, and not not seeing others as Other in the sense of something alien that I need to feel threatened by, but emphasizing the oneness, the interconnectedness. And there's a Buddhist expression that probably probably is a better fit for today's sensibilities. But it's it's used in a lot of Buddhist Dharma talks, Buddha's sermons. And it says, We are all human beings, right? And so all of Buddhist talks will actually start with that. It's very traditional expression, which means we're all human beings. It's basically saying, We're all basically the same for whatever differences we have. And now let's talk about what we share in common. So yeah, that's that's what Gandhi's favorite song is all about.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  31:43

In his text on comparisons of Gandhi philosophy with that of Sri Aurobindo, Mukherjee writes about the role of this passion Vaishnav Jana To, in Gandhi's life and philosophy, sung as a daily prayer, Gandhi's practice of ahimsa or non harm, quote, surpassed all boundaries of the self. Gandhi believed that the very essence of being can be experienced in the here and now, the very opposite of withdrawal. Gandhi moved, acted and resonated compassion into the world.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  32:22

Special thanks to Dr. Jeff Long for his time and expertise in this podcast. To learn even more, I highly recommend another episode in season two of this podcast with dr. long as he describes ahimsa. After you listen to this podcast, I recommend returning to the podcast with Sandeep das or listening to his album Dahli to Damascus.

 

Kevin Shorner-Johnson  33:08

This is the music and peacebuilding podcast hosted by Kevin Shorner-Johnson. At Elizabeth town College, we host a Master of music education with an emphasis and peacebuilding. thinking deeply we reclaim space for connection and care. Join us at music peace building.com