I was in the health food store and a gentleman came up to me and said, “I would like to show you something. May I come to your home?” His name was Kibwe Bey and he did come one evening, sat down on the living room floor and proceeded to make a smoky little fire. I fell in love with the fragrance immediately and so began my Homa-centered life. This was 32 years ago in 1976.
I learned all about sunrise and sunset Agnihotra and managed to do it quite often during that first year or so. But I had also read that doing a small Homa fire at the beginning of meetings and gatherings was an excellent way of getting everybody to relax and to focus. So I decided to begin every adult and children’s dance class in my studio, here in Baltimore, Maryland, with Vyahruti Homa.
In the summer of 1979, when I went away to study the dance arts of Bali, Japan, Indonesia and India at UCLA, I did not take the fire with me. What a year that was! What a lesson! Upon returning in 1980, I made the commitment in my mind and in my heart…to serve the fire.
It was written in one of the early early Satsangs, that if we center our daily life around the timings of Agnihotra and the various Homa fires, we would find that our day flows more smoothly, time management becomes easier and being efficient takes less effort. It’s true, true, true. And if you cannot make all of the timings, I have found that if you begin whatever you do with a small fire, things seem to flow with ease.
So we fast-forward to 2008 and I look back and realize that I’ve taught thousands and thousands of dance classes, storytelling classes, yoga classes, workshops and staff retreats in many studios, schools, camps, colleges, universities and public office spaces. And they all began with Homa fire. And all the people, young and old, heard and often learned the Sanskrit words of the Vyahruti Mantra. Hundreds of performances with “Miss Maria, the story dancer” in schools, at festivals, in museums, libraries, prisons, at church and government events, all began with Vyahruti Homa and the fire.
It is all grace. Grace poured on top of individual effort. It is such a blessing to constantly do the work you love in Homa atmosphere. What else but grace would make the way clear to teach and perform for more than 25 years, lighting the fire, in public and private schools where no open fires are ever allowed? What else but grace would allow Sanskrit Mantras to be chanted and taught in public schools with rarely any challenge from the administration or from parents?
And now as I approach a birthday that marks the end of six decades, I find myself beholding three tremendous gifts. The first is a CD that has been created called, “Songs and Stories with Miss Maria”. It’s interactive, child-friendly and somehow appeals to teens and adults. There are three marvelous tales like, “Why the sky is far away” and “Amma and her secret dances” plus call and response singing with drumming that makes you want to dance as you listen. And there are two Sanskrit Mantras taken from the 5:00 a.m. mantras, presented in a way that children find easy to learn and enjoy chanting.
The second gift is a DVD called “Dancing at Home: with Maria Broom”. It’s a 45-minute dance class, complete with Homa fire and a guided meditation, followed by easy stretching and gentle dance movements. It ends with an encouragement for everybody to dance freestyle, from the heart, sending love and healing energy around the world to those who aren’t able to dance.
The third gracious gift has been the invitation to come teach dance and yoga classes on the grounds of the resonance point here in Baltimore, a few yards around the corner from my home. in what was the large lovely living room in the house of the Couto family, a unique space for classes and gatherings has been created… Karme’ Studio. A few weeks of World Dancing and Quiet Yoga classes this summer attracted more than thirty-five people who came and danced and did yoga, in a place where there’s daily Agnihotra and four hours of Homa, plus monthly 24 hour new moon and full moon Yajnyas. The comments of the people who came, and the numbers of those who plan to come this fall, make me even more grateful to be able teach in this special, very precious place.
So, I end by strongly cheering you on, to do what you do while making the effort to publicly include the fire whenever and wherever you can. You plant seeds every time you do. You catch the attention of those who have been looking for the gift of Homa every time you do. You create an atmosphere conducive to learning, listening and teaching.
My experience has taught me to not always ask permission to do the fire. Sometimes, as soon as people hear the word ‘fire’, the automatic response is no…not in here. But if you just sit and do it, inviting the people to rest and breathe with you, then the healing energy and love is released before anyone can object. Then continue with your class, meeting, lecture, program or performance and answer any questions as they come up.
It’s always good to bring handout information. You take one step and grace makes a way for the next ten. blessings!