Bhaktimarga Swami, also known as The Walking Monk is a very busy fellow. Not only has he walked across Canada four times since 1996 (see CNC story Walking Monk passes through Wpg on 4th trek across Canada) as well as Israel, Cuba, Trinidad and other countries (his latest walk is from Boston to San Francisco), but he also finds time to write and direct dramas and plays based on ancient Vedic (East Indian) philosophy.
These theatrical performances have been staged all around the world in places like Brazil, Australia, India and Poland. As well, he has traveled with youth across North America for many summers over the years.
This year the youth bus will be visiting Winnipeg once again (they last visited us two years ago) for a very interesting evening which includes Kirtan (meditative call and response singing of ancient mantras), a magic show and a theatrical performance.
The theatrical performance this year will be “The Gita” which is based on an ancient Vedic text called “The Bhagavad Gita: As It Is” by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Bhaktimarga Swami first wrote the script in 2003 for a children’s group at a Hindu Temple in Brampton, ON. Since then he has revived the play many times over the years where it has been performed worldwide.
The first time I saw the play was in Halifax in 2006. A friend (Vrnda) and I had flown from Winnipeg to Halifax for an ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) festival where the drama was being presented as part of the festival.
We were greeted at the airport by the organizers and Bhaktimarga Swami. The Swami informed us that two of the actors were unable to perform and asked if the two of us could fill in. I had very little theatre experience and was very hesitant, but he assured us that it would be no problem as it was performed in a narrative style with him talking and we would just have to do the actions.
Needless to say, a few rehearsals later Vrnda and I found ourselves on the stage later that day. It was quite the experience (and a lot of fun).
On the flight back to Winnipeg, on a whim, I decided to get off the plane in Toronto with the Swami where the play was being performed at a temple there as well as at a Yoga Convention twice. I also performed in those ones as well.
I must say, the Yoga performances were quite interesting, as The Gita, which highlights philosophical points in the Bhagavad Gita, also talks about various yoga practices.
So, here we are on the stage in front of these yoga people on their yoga mats and there is a verse in the Gita (chapter 6 verse 13) in which the Swami, in his narration stated, “One should hold one’s body, neck and head in a straight line” (describing the meditative yoga posture). So, as he’s reading these lines and all the actors on stage are assuming the position, the whole audience assumed the position at the same time. It was quite surreal to say the least.
As well as doing the performances, the bus load of 30 boys and six chaperones (or arch angels as the Swami calls them) also go on outings like swimming and hiking adventures (kind of like a rolling summer camp).
I spoke with the Swami on the phone the other day who said he is very excited to be presenting the play all across North America this summer. They were at the Amethyst Panorama Mines (the largest mines in North America) near Thunder Bay.
The Swami told me that the play is “a humble attempt by some youth to present a profound, philosophical message.”
Where: Unitarian Church 603 Wellington (by Maryland Bridge)
When: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 @ 7pm
Cost: admission by donation
Entertainment includes kirtan, magic show and play followed by light refreshments