This post is part of a series: Snapshots of the Eco-Village.

It’s 4:15 AM. The sleepy murmur of chanting fills the temple as devotees sit in early morning meditation. Although many remain asleep, those who have awakened early are alert and focused on their precious moments of silence with their meditation on the Holy Name. Elsewhere, the predawn silence of the starlit forest paths is punctuated by the whirr of bicycles and the swish of cloth as devotees rush to reach the temple before 4:30 AM. Although temple services occur regularly throughout the day, the 4:30 AM service is often a favorite of devotees due to the intimacy of the service and tenderness of the morning hour.

As the clock ticks closer to 4:30, the numbers in the temple swell. Devotees begin to cluster towards the front, awaiting that special moment when the horn blows and the doors swing open for the first darshan, the first viewing, of their beloved Lords. Latecomers run up the stairs, huffing and puffing, and hurry to join the crowd, angling for the best position for a good view.

The horn blows – one, two, three times. The priest begins to ring his bell whilst slowly opening the doors. A loud Hari Bol! Jai Sri Krishna! Praise God! comes from the mass of devotees. A lone voice begins to sing.

Samsara davanala lidha loka

Tranaya karunya ghaghanatvam

The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the world by extinguishing the blazing fire of illusion. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is an ocean of auspicious qualities.

As they gaze at the beautiful deity form of the Lord, the devotees join in a call and response song expressing their love and gratitude for the spiritual master. Each know in their hearts that none of them would be there without the mercy of the spiritual master, and may be remembering a special blessing that he has given them, or thanking him for giving them the opportunity to see and serve the deity. This song, sung in the tender morning hour, is the sweetest part of many devotees’ day.