Srila Prabhupada once observed that Detroit was the important center of the industrial revolution in the United States and he wished that the city would become an important center of the spiritual revolution in the United States, as well. The metro Detroit area was host to three special book launch events for The Journey Within and special talks by Radhanath Swami.
Each talk was preceded by the serving of delicious vegetarian meals cooked with love by devotees at the Farmington ISKCON Temple, traditional Indian dance performances, beautiful kirtan led by Rupa Das, Deva Madhava das and the members of the Harmony Collective, and to a ribbon cutting ceremony for the launch of Radhanath Swami’s new book The Journey Within.
On the evening of Sunday, May 22nd, Radhanath Swami spoke at the Hindu Temple of Canton. Approximately 500 attendees heard him give a beautiful talk centered on the mood of love and tell the touching story of Sridhar, the banana seller, to illustrate pure devotion. Guests of honor included Michigan State Representative Kristy Pagan and Doctor Anil Kumar, a candidate for the United States Congress.
On the evening of Monday, May 23rd, Radhanath Swami spoke to an audience of 400 at the historic Grosse Pointe War Memorial. Situated on the shore of Lake St. Clair, the venue was the perfect setting for lessons about going deeper into our spiritual practice and beyond just the surface of our lives.
Radhanath Swami began his talk by describing a recent encounter with an atheist. At the end of their meeting, Radhanath Swami had told him “God bless you” and the man responded by also saying “God bless you”. The atheist confessed that it was the first time that he had ever said those words in his life and that it felt so good to say them. Radhanath Swami shared with the audience a humorous story about his father’s television and complaints that, despite hundreds of channels, he can never find anything good to watch. The lesson from the television is that it is important to tune into the appropriate frequencies and to find the right energies and influences in our lives because this will determine how we think, speak, and act. We should try to tune into the frequency of Grace. Radhanath Swami praised the beauty of the War Memorial building and pointed out that most people do not notice a building’s foundation. True spirituality requires us to reconnect with our foundation and to build upon that foundation.
On the evening of Tuesday, May 24th, Radhanath Swami spoke to an audience of 600 people at the historic, iconic Michigan Theater in the heart of Ann Arbor just one block from the campus of the University of Michigan.
Before the talk, author Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana das) shared with the audience some impressive sales figures from the preorders for The Journey Within (which has since gone on to make the New York Times Bestseller list).
Radhanath Swami spoke of his reluctance to write his books and shared the beautiful story of his dear friend Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s last few days. His friend had told him that the stories in The Journey Home were not his stories, that they were the story of a young man searching for meaning and that everyone needed to hear these stories. He went on to describe an airport encounter with the Indian National Minister for the Environment and Forests who challenged him that the spiritual leaders of India are not doing enough to protect the environment. Radhanath Swami shared that the root cause of environmental pollution is pollution within the ecology of the human heart, and that to make a sustainable change we must all cleanse our hearts. The topic of fear was discussed with a dramatic and humorous retelling of a story from The Journey Home about an encounter between a large European man and a group of monkeys in Nepal. Radhanath Swami’s talk concluded with a lesson of the crane who waits patiently for big fish to swim by, letting the little fish pass. The lesson from the crane is to find awareness of what is truly important in our lives and to not be distracted by the little things.
At each of the three events many in attendance had been eagerly awaiting Radhanath Swami’s return to the Detroit area and many others in attendance had no prior knowledge of Radhanath Swami or of Bhakti-yoga. Many members of the local yoga community attended the talks to learn more about yoga’s ancient wisdom. After each event, Radhanath Swami spoke personally with the guests and signed copies of The Journey Within.
These special events helped spread wisdom from the Bhatki-yoga tradition to people from many different backgrounds. They were unforgettable, heart-opening experiences for all who attended. The new spiritual revolution is growing in Detroit.
video for Ann Arbor Event: