Singing is Free!

Not long after I arrived here in Banaras I stopped in at Indica Books and my eye was immediately drawn to copies of the new printing of Transcendent Journey, the autobiography of Swami Jnanananda Giri, a narrative that well deserves to be read. Unfortunately it is currently only available in India; copies can be ordered from Indica itself.

Swami Jnanananda, who left his body last year, was a native of Switzerland who made his home in India for six decades; I knew him for a full thirty years, our first meeting transpiring in 1985 when I spent that Ashwin Navaratri with him at his cottage near Barlow Ganj, where he was once interviewed for the book New Lives.

Swamiji, a few of whose videos are available on YouTube, conducted satsang almost every evening, and much preferred singing to talking; in fact, I more than once heard him say, “You have to pay for every word you speak, but singing is free.” Not all singing is free, of course; only the singing of the sweet name of the Supreme, using whatever sacred song that comes to you & asks to be sung through you.

Singing being one of my favorite things, I always enjoyed satsang with Swamiji (especially when his dog Dharma was policing the devotees), and many of Swamiji’s words and songs have remained with me, as also his example of a life dedicated to the pursuit of Reality, a life lived simply and gracefully. Today, Vijaya Dashami, the culmination of Ashwin Navaratri, day when Durga killed the Buffalo Demon and Rama killed Ravana, I salute Swamiji, and pray that the Great Goddess will bless him abundantly.

Jaya Ma Durga!