Spent much of the weekend floating on the gently healing ripples of sound offered by a trio of musical devotees Deva Premal, Miten and Manose as they descended on Philadelphia. I was enticed by the music from the very first note of the Gayatri Mantra which is a sacred Hindu chant, that flowed from my radio 5 years ago on a show called Echoes. The sweetly heart-penetrating voice of Deva carried me to such a state of transcendent bliss, that I knew I wanted more. And there indeed was more to be had this weekend.
My friend Mahan Rishi Singh Khalsa who is a dedicated Kundalini yoga teacher and chiropractor, hosted the concert last evening and chant workshop today. 600 or so singing souls took their seats in the Philadelphia Cathedral last night eagerly anticipating the treat that awaited them. Voices uplifted, filling the sanctuary to the rafters with the names of the Divine, offered in call and response manner known as kirtan.
Each of them is a talented musician in his or her own right, but together, they create such an intricate weaving of beauty. As I was telling friends in a late night email after returning home from the concert: “the music was heaven sent and the silence after each chant, allowed for reverberations of peace to wash over us. At most concerts, people are accustomed to applauding. At a kirtan, although it is entertaining, it is also sacred ritual, so clapping after each piece is discouraged. What magic these folks are…Deva is from Germany, raised by parents who were disciples of Rajneesh (also called Osho) Miten is from England and his background is rock and blues. Manose is from Nepal and his specialty is Indian bamboo flute. The feeling of the evening, was, at turns, devotional, sensual, rowdy, still, meditative, playful, bluesy…all together amazing. I laughed, cried, danced, prayed, meditated, chanted, sang, all in a 2 1/2 hour period. I so love this kind of music….it is most certainly a way of feeling connection with all that IS.” Deva and Miten as partners in music making and life, have been together for 19 years and their ‘home’ is wherever they happen to be. Today, as Miten shared with a laugh at the workshop, it was Philadelphia. As they told me two years ago when I had the pleasure of interviewing them, the world is their home. Manose joined them on the road 4 years ago and his contribution to the trio is more than just support; it seems an essential component to their signature sound. He is indeed God’s flautist, or perhaps the hollow reed itself.
The four hour workshop (not nearly long enough) held at The Elkins Estate in Elkins Park, PA, was a multi-modal experience, in a much more intimate gathering. Eighty of us sat on a colorful sea of yoga mats, zafus (meditation cushions) and blankets as we took the chanting to a deeper level. As preparation, we did breathing and movement exercises; tuning the instrument, as it were. For many of those present, chanting is part of our yogic practice; equally as sacred and supportive to our well-being as asanas (postures) on the mat. What I can say, is that it feeds my soul and in this case, this weekend, healed my tired and cold-symptomatic body.
At one point, we moved into a marble floored grand entrance room that had a domed ceiling and sculpted figures; appearing as if they were outstretched in ecstasy, embellishing the railings that hovered above us. We offered Sufi prayers, acknowledging the oneness of all life, offering and receiving compassion and doing Sufi circle dancing; twirling and spinning, holding hands, gazing into each others’ eyes, bowing and stretching in honoring the blessings in our lives, deeply grateful for it all. Love is the message in each syllable. The familiar chant ‘om’; which is considered the sound of the Universe, is also, according to Deva “The cosmic yes!”
One of my favorite chants is called “There Is So Much Magnificence” and we sang it together as we closed the day.
There is so much magnificence
Near the ocean
Waves are coming in
Waves are coming in
The men were asked to sing the first part of the lyrics and the women, the hallelujah’s. What a divine delight to be serenaded by the Shiva’s (Divine masculine) in the room and for them to be showered in love by the Shakti’s (Divine feminine) in the room. I cried during both parts, feeling overwhelmed with joy,
You can see the youtube video and have a vicarious experience of the wonder here.
By the end of the workshop, we were all aglow; some ‘strangers’ in the beginning, now family, brought together by a common desire to live the love that we are.
Visit Deva and Miten’s website and Manose’s website and join them on the road or ‘take them home’ with you by getting their celestial CD’s.