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How does one describe the sound of a soul’s yearnings?

That’s how it feels to try to describe “Radio Nada,” the latest album from the Maine-reared, Brooklyn-ripened singer/songwriter who is known simply as Devadas. The name, given to then Andrew Labrecque by his guru, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (aka Amma, the “Hugging Saint”), means Servant of God.

Somehow “Servant of God” seems far more fitting here than singer/songwriter, as “Radio Nada” seems to scrape a little dust off your soul with every track.

Released February 23 and now available in all the usual places (see links below), “Radio Nada” is a study in contrasts, standing out both for its striking simplicity and its unobtrusive intricacy.  It is  simultaneously stripped-down and complex. Dark yet hopeful. Its shadowy nuances reveal an understated, almost inexplicable radiance. Like light emanating from a dusty bulb.

With an even split of ancient mantras juxtaposed with inspired modern lyricism, Devadas guides us along an undulating river of slow, steady traditional chants interspersed with a Ferris wheel of English songs spun from swallowed moons and wretched roses.  If you really listen, “Radio Nada” will bend your mind, then crack open your heart. Then it will do it all over again.

“I don’t want to live forever, I’m just waiting for the sun. I have seen a million moons and I’ve swallowed every one…”

 

One of the things we love about this album is how Devadas has intermingled traditional call-and-response kirtan with original songs culled from the depths of his own seeking soul. He has resisted the overplayed urge to shoehorn English lyrics into the middle of sacred mantras and has instead effectively integrated the two forms while keeping them separate.  This lets these powerful mantras speak for themselves without being muddied up with someone’s English interpretation of them.  And it lets his fantastical dream-like poeticism shine, in all its shadowy spin-your-headiness.  This is a good thing.

We asked Devadas what compelled him to make a hybrid CD like this, which is not nearly as common as the mantra-fusion trend where English and Sanskrit try to coexist within a song.

“The songs seemed to fit together well with the traditional kirtan and I thought they might give a clearer picture of who I am and where I’m coming from, and maybe make the whole story deeper,” he said. “Not that my story’s so important; it just happens to be what I’m burning through and what I figure I ought to be showing.”

“Sleep sleep wounded child. Sun in your mouth, stars in your eyes. The world awaits like a lioness pacing, so dream dream dream.”

 

It could easily fall apart into a disjointed mumbo-jumbo of maniacal musings mingled with mantras, but somehow it all works.  Maybe it’s the steady underlying rhythm and bass that reappears track in and track out like an old friend greeting you, whether the subject is Radharani, Queen of the Gopis, or a wounded child with the sun in her mouth and stars in her eyes.  Maybe it’s the recurring soundscape of hypnotic electronica and understated guitar.  Or maybe it’s the constancy of Devadas’ haunting vocals, rife with the earnestness of a young Bob Dylan or a less raspy Tom Waits.  Something, somehow, keeps the brilliance of these disparate tracks from dissipating into the brooding dreamscape on which they appear to be built.

It’s one of those things that’s hard to put your finger on, but in the end it really doesn’t matter because you know it’s in the right spot by the way you feel afterward…

“Through darkest shadow I disappear, through smoke and dream I ride. Where all angels fear to move in the wastelands I do hide. Built up a fire and I burned it all down. Slept in a bed built under the ground. Waiting still, this weary heart…the wretched for the Rose.”

 

There’s an unmistakable darkness to this album, a ruminative mood that bleeds through on every track. Even the chants to Radharani, Narayana, and Amma, with so much potential for ecstatic abandonment and joy, are grounded in a heart-felt melancholy, a yearning that seems never quite fulfilled, a seeking not quite satisfied.  One cannot help but be affected by it.

Does “Radio Nada” represent the dark side of this urban Jedi hipster-wallah? Here’s how Devadas responded to that query: “To me, they’re songs about searching, about questioning, about falling down, trying to get back up, trying to figure things out. It’s hard to say if that’s a ‘shadow-side’… Maybe it is? To me I’m just trying to show my ‘human side’ in a truthful way.”

Ah, authenticity.  How very refreshing…

All we can say is Bravo, Devadas.  You’ve done it again.

 

We say this because his last album, “Brooklyn Mellows,” is one of our all-time favorite kirtan CDs.  So much so that it literally got stuck in our car CD player from playing it so much.  “Brooklyn Mellows” is pure bhakti brilliance — a thoroughly delicious double-disc set that devotes an entire CD to iterations of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra in the style of the late great vaishnava Aindra Das, who famously started the 24-hour kirtans in Vrindavan, India and published an epic series of live CDs called “Vrindavan Mellows.”

“Radio Nada” picks up where “Brooklyn Mellows” ended and dives deeper, revealing more of the humanness of the God-Servant than even he may realize.  We even detected a subtle sonic nod to the carnivalesque theme of “Brooklyn Mellows,” which featured soundbites recorded at New York’s legendary amusement park, Coney Island.  Listen carefully and you’ll hear the tinkle of the carnies’ bells embedded in “Radio Nada’s” tracks …

“Rain …it keeps falling it’s filled the canal where we used to play, tossing coins in a well. All of that’s gone now, it’s a different world changing. It’s midnight and soaking, the streets are all empty.”

 

Devadas has just launched a rare little tour in Northern California before he heads back home to the East Coast for gigs in his home ‘hood of Scarborough, Maine and other New England hot spots.  If you get a chance to sing with him live, don’t miss it: it will be some of the most moving kirtan you will experience.

But don’t take our word for it, take this for as example, recorded a few years ago at Vermantra:

See also: www.devadasmusic.com
Buy “Radio Nada” at CDBaby, Amazon, or iTunes (way better for the artist than streaming!)

___________________

The Bhakti Beat welcomes your support!  We are non-commercial and not-for-profit,  a free service to the bhakti community that is completely self-funded save for the loving contributions of Bhakti Beaters like you.  Your support is critical — please share the Beat with your bhakti peeps, connect with us on social media (links below), and consider a one-time or recurring donation (DONATE HERE) to help us keep this bhav boat afloat.  All contributions are used exclusively to cover the direct expenses of bringing you News, Reviews, Interviews and Videos from the kirtan and mantra-music world.  Thank you from the bottom of our bhav brain, heart and soul. In loving service...

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Dear Lord, kindly engage me in your service.
 
Follow The Bhakti Beat on facebook
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Ananda Ashram Shyamdas Tribute by TheBhaktiBeat.com
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The First Annual Shyamdas Foundation Retreat kicks off this weekend (September 25-27) at Ananda Ashram in Monroe, N.Y. for three days of intimate song and satsang with Shyamdas’ closest friends and followers.  You should come.

 

Why? Well, because it’s the FIRST ANNUAL SHYAMDAS FOUNDATION RETREAT.  Do we need to say more? Okay, fine. This is THE retreat in honor of Shyamdas, the beloved bhakti scholar, author, kirtan wallah, respected teacher and friend to all, who left his body — along with a huge hole in the heart of the bhakti world — in January of 2013.  His inimitable spirit and legacy endure thanks in part to the Shyamdas Foundation, which is hosting this intimate retreat at the Bhajan Belt ashram that was so dear to Shyamdas’ heart.  In fact, Ananda was often the first place Shyamdas would go to share kirtan and satsang when he returned to the States after winters in India.

“One of the most important things Shyamdas imparted to us was to keep good association. Part of that is in the kirtan, but part of it is hearing the teachings.  This is an opportunity for a more intimate setting to get fully immersed in not just kirtan, but in the teachings.  There is a particular vibe at Ananda because it is an Ashram, so this has that energy with all of these people coming together to really get drenched in the nectar.” 

~ Ishwari of SRI Kirtan

Need more?  Did I mention there will be kirtan — lots of kirtan — with Shyamdas’ tribe of musician-gopis.  We’re talking Gaura Vani, Adam Bauer, Prema Hara, Steve Gorn, Nina Rao, SRI Kirtan, Devadas, Karnamrita Dasi, David Newman, Vrajdevi from Vraj, India, Arundhati and Prema from Woodstock, Yogi P from Vermont for starters…and we imagine there might be a surprise or two in store.

But wait, there’s more. Jivamukti yoga co-founder Padma Sharon Gannon herself will be leading asana practice, along with her nephew and protegé Jules Febre.  There will be stories and teachings and satsangs with Shyamdas’ dearest scholar-friends, including Radhanath Swami and David Haberman, and Vallabhdas, Shyamdas’ student/co-author and the founding director of the Shyamdas Foundation. There will be readings from Shyamdas’ books.  There will even be an “enchanted forest walk” with Gaura Vani and Vallabhdas that is sure to be…well, enchanted. We’re hoping Gaura brings his flute…

“I see this gathering at Ananda Ashram—a place Shyam loved and where I remember countless great moments shared—as a chance to continue deepening and nourishing what I love best about my experience with Shyamdas and indeed the broader Bhakti lila: meaningful time with friends and family, practicing the Bhakti yogic arts, joining hearts and voices together in the Divine Names, and enjoying the inspiring company of other seekers of love and truth. Plus, a bunch of good prasad! What’s not to love?”

~ Adam Bauer

But wait, you haven’t heard the best part of all. What makes this weekend realllllly special is the rare opportunity for satsang with one of Shyamdas’ own gurus, Shri Milan Goswami, grandson of his original Pushti Marg guru, Shri Prathameshji. These teachers are direct descendants of the 15th century bhakti philosopher Shri Vallabhacharya, the founder of the Path of Grace, who is considered by Pushti devotees to be a manifestation of Krishna and Radha, as well as a witness to the divine couple’s loving plays. Shyamdas was the first western initiate into the Pushti Marg and devoted his life to translating and sharing Vallabhacharya’s teachings.

Did you catch that?  That’s satsang with a living, breathing soul who is believed to be a direct descendent of Krishna & Radhe incarnate.

 

Go ahead, take a moment to wrap your brain around that concept.  We are.

 
Then check out this YouTube playlist of Shyamdas kirtans and teachings.


—————————————————-

Here’s the latest schedule of what’s happening (subject to change of course).  Learn more and get tickets at www.shyamdasfoundation.com

COMPLETE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

FRIDAY:
4pm Check in
5:30 pm dinner
6:30 pm  Welcome/Shyamdas video
7 pm Pushti Kirtan: Vrajdevi, Ishwari & Vallabhdas
8 pm Bhakti Satsang: Radhanath Swami w/ Gaura Vani
9:30 pm Kirtan: Prema Hara

SATURDAY:
9 am Kirtan: Nina Rao
10 am Kirtan:  Devadas
11-12:45 Jivamukti Yoga w/ Sharon Gannon and Jules Febre
11 am Kirtan Workshop: “Singing for the Beloved” w/ Karnamrita Dasi, Vallabhdas, Martin Brading
12 pm Shyamdas Foundation Roundtable w/ Vallabhdas and Board members
1:30 pm Bhakti Lecture “Life Lessons & Vedantic Love” by Prof. David Haberman
3 pm En-chanting forest walk w/ Vallabhdas, Gaura Vani et al.
3:45 pm Bhakti Satsang: Shri Milan Goswami w/ Vallabhdas
5:15 pm Dinner
6:15 pm Kirtan: Arundhati w/ Prema
7:15 pm Shyamdas Archive audio clip
7:30 pm Kirtan: SRI Kirtan
8:30 pm Kirtan: Gaura Vani
9:30 pm Kirtan: Karnamrita Dasi

SUNDAY:
9 am Indian Classical Music: Steve Gorn
10 am Kirtan: Yogi P
11-12:45 Jivamukti Yoga w/ Sharon Gannon and Jules Febre
11 am Satsang Workshop: “Find the Beloved” w/ Ishwari, Vallabhdas, Premdas
12 pm Shyamdas Foundation Roundtable w/ Vallabhdas and Board members
1:30 pm Yamunashtakam Dance: Aarati Spadea w/ Vallabhdas, Ishwari, John McDowell
1:45 pm Pushti Bhakti Satsang: Shyamdas book readings w/ Padma Sharon Gannon, Vallabhdas, Ishwari
2:45 pm Kirtan: Adam Bauer
3:45 pm Kirtan: David Newman (Durga Das) w/ Mira
5 pm Multi-musician Finale

BONUS FOR READING ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM! USE CODE “BHAKTI” AND TAKE 15% OFF YOUR WEEKEND PASS OR DAY TICKETS!

_____________________

The Bhakti Beat welcomes your support!  We are non-commercial and not-for-profit,  a free service to the bhakti community that is completely self-funded save for the loving contributions of Bhakti Beaters like you.  Your support is critical — please share the Beat with your bhakti peeps, connect with us on social media (links below), and consider a one-time or recurring donation (DONATE HERE) to help us keep this bhav boat afloat.  All contributions are used exclusively to cover the direct expenses of bringing you News, Reviews, Interviews and Videos from the kirtan and mantra-music world.  Thank you from the bottom of our bhav brain, heart and soul. In loving service...

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Dear Lord, kindly engage me in your service.
 
Follow The Bhakti Beat on facebook
Follow The Bhakti Beat on twitter
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Follow Bhakti_Beat_Brenda on Instagram
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Krishna Das: On Board

How does one person in suburban California manage to raise $20,000 to fight sex trafficking in India? 

Enlist the kirtan troops!

That’s been a big part of the winning strategy for Srutih Asher Colbert, a Palo Alto yogi mom and hair stylist who is now within sight of meeting her ambitious fundraising goal by the end of the year.  The troops who signed on to help include none other than the Chant Master himself Krishna Das, who contributed his share of the proceeds from NYC’s Bhajan Boat charity cruise in late September (check out the video here).  That pledge alone added $3,000 to Colbert’s coffers. 

Coast-to-Coast Kirtan Fundraisers

The drive also benefited from a gathering Oct. 20 at Brooklyn Yoga School when the best known bhaktas in the borough, Nina Rao, Devadas, Ambika Cooper and friends, joined forces to lead a four-hour kirtan in support of the project.  The chants to fight sex slavery continue this weekend, back in Colbert’s home ‘hood in the San Francisco Bay Area, with Prajna Vieirra and David Estes leading the call.  Local favorites in NoCal, Vieira and Estes are among the rising stars on the national kirtan scene as well; each had a debut set at Bhakti Fest West in September,Vieira with producer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Leinbach and Estes with his band Ananda Rasa Kirtan.

"Kirtan is not about getting blissed out and escaping life..."

Both jumped at the chance to help raise money.  Vieira told us:  “As kirtan leaders, we’re here to serve the devotees in their practice and help provide the conditions for exploring the depths of love and devotion. To me, expanding that sweetness of devotional service into the world is the whole point.”

“As a woman,” she added, “sex trafficking is an issue that is very dear to my heart, and I wish I could do a thousand kirtans for it…If we have an opportunity and the means to contribute even a little bit of time, energy or resources toward the solution, it’s a great blessing. Kirtan is not about getting blissed out and escaping life’s problems. It’s a call to wake up, to broaden our capacity to love and our willingness to serve.”

Off the Mat Into the Bhav

Colbert’s funding drive is part of the Global Seva Challenge, a worldwide service project created by Off the Mat Into the World (OTM) that has raised over $2 million since 2007 for a range of international humanitarian causes.  The 2012 campaign is focused on battling sex trafficking in India through locally based empowerment and rehabilitation programs, and Colbert is one of about 200 yogis who have taken the $20,000 challenge this year; so far about half a million dollars has been raised, collectively.  (OTM is the charitable organization founded by Seane Corn, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling with a mission to “use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.”)

Suzanne Sterling: Not resting

Colbert got involved with Off the Mat at Wanderlust Festival three years ago, where the OTM session is always a favorite.  (No wonder: two years ago at Wanderlust VT, Michael Franti and his band joined Seane Corn on stage for a rockin’ 2-hour party-for-a-cause.  This summer, MC Yogi riled up the troops with a rousing rendition of “Give Love” (watch it below), then Suzanne Sterling knocked it home with a foot-stomping, soul-stirring rendition of a civil rights anthem called Ella’s song  — “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes” — that flowed right into the yogi’s anthem, Om Namah Shivaya.)

A top fundraiser for OTM three years running, Colbert kept earning herself a free ticket back to Wanderlust — and doing it all over again.  When she heard that the 2012 Global Seva Challenge was directed at helping the young victims of sex trafficking in India, she signed on. 

 ‘We Live in This Little Bubble’

“I have two daughters myself — 5 and 8.  I just felt moved to try to help these girls, and inspired to show my own girls how important it is that we help people who can’t help themselves,” Colbert told The Bhakti Beat.  “We live in this little bubble.  There’s so much suffering in the world and we can do something to help other people.”

OTM works with six different charities in India that are working in local communities to rescue, rehabilitate and empower women and girls affected by the sex trade.  “They [OTM] talk to people who are already doing this work to create sustainable change, instead of just throwing money at the problem.”  The funds might be directed, for example, to build a new wing on a safe home, or to teach women self-sustaining skills. 

Nearly $2,000 was raised at a Brooklyn kirtan (Photo by Srutih Asher Colbert)

Reaching out to friends in the yoga and kirtan worlds to support the drive was natural, she said, because “those are the two things I love and practice regularly.  It’s been an amazing blessing to reach out and have people say, ‘absolutely, how can I help?'” 

People like Krishna Das.  Not bad.

Colbert first met Krishna Das at her Yoga Teacher Training at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas, at a time when she “didn’t know anything about chanting and thought it was weird.”  After five straight nights of kirtan with KD, “it really clicked for me,” she said.  “I totally fell in love with chanting.  It completely changed my life from that moment forward.” 

Ten years later and $3,000 away from her goal, with bhakti yoga strongly at her side, Colbert is paying it forward, hoping to help change the lives of girls trapped in India’s sex trade, from this moment forward. 

“It’s been quite a journey,” she said. 

Links
TO DONATE to Srutih Asher Colbert’s Global Seva Challenge (Type “SR” in the first box to support her project)
Srutih Asher Colbert’s Global Seva Challenge on Facebook
Chanting for Change w/ Ananda Rasa Kirtan & Prajna Vieira, Nov 10 in San Francisco
Off the Mat Into the World
www.prajnavieira.com
www.anandarasa.com
www.chantkirtan.com (Nina Rao)
www.devadasmusic.com
www.krishnadas.com
 

 

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There’s a lot of talk these days about a “mantra revolution,” and enough action in the chant world to back up the premise.

Witness: chant festivals that attract thousands, “rock-star” wallahs, new music expanding in every direction, community kirtan rising…even mainstream media coverage of mantra music (gasp!).  Yet it’s an undeniable truth that the bulk of the action is coastal: California and the northeastern seaboard are leading the charge, with some kirtan hotspots scattered in the midwest and mountain states. 

When mantra mania hits Vermont, a state known more for maple trees and mountains than mantra music, you’ve got to believe there’s something to this movement.

Boundaries dissolving

Enter VerMantra, which for the second year now — thanks to the nonprofit Call and Response Foundation — has brought 12 hours of nonstop multi-flavored kirtan to a state that is just barely on the kirtan map.  No, there were not thousands of people in attendance, and no rock stars or divas on the bill.   Instead, there was a solid line-up of 10  great bhakti bands, each one having signed on for peanuts, driven the extra mile to be there, and bringing with them an attitude of genuine service and devotion to the spirit of the gathering. 

The ingredients for Mulligan Stew, VerMantra style

You had luminaries like Gaura Vani and SRI Kirtan. You had up-and-comers like Devadas and Kirtan Soul Revival.  You had mantra warriors Keli Lalita and Adam Bauer and regional favorites Dave Russell and Tom Lena.  And you had a taste of the local talent in Yogi Patrick & the Funky Shanti, and the incomparable kirtan jam collective, the Kailash Jungle Band

‘Where this Movement is Going’

The “stage” was the center of the room, and everyone circled ’round the musicians like bees to nectar.  Collaboration and community were key:  everyone — musicians and ticket-holders alike — was in everyone’s band.  It was, by design, the kind of environment where the boundaries between performer and audience evaporate.  Where callers and responders meld together in a circular flow of rhythm and song, united as one voice calling out in joyful abandon.   The kind of environment where magic happens.

Gaura Vani: Delivering Nectar

“This is grassroots community kirtan at its best,” Gaura Vani said during his set at VerMantra, adding,  “and that is really where this movement is going.”

Brooklyn-based wallah Devadas used the analogy of a “Mulligan stew” to describe the gathering — the idea that each band, each musician, brings something unique to add to the bhakti soup.  “We come from all these places — different paths, different teachers — and we each bring our own ingredients, our own styles and perspectives.  In the end we have something like Mulligan stew that feeds us,” he said.  

For a full review of the VerMantra line-up, read:
“Making Bhakti Soup: VerMantra Serves Up ‘Mulligan Stew’ of Mantra Music” (coming soon!)
 

Devadas, a devotee of Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) who has sung at her darshans in the Northeast U.S., warmed up the stew-pot early in the day with the recitation of the 1,000 Names of the Divine Mother.   He stuck around to stir the pot throughout the day, playing mridanga or hand cymbals or just singing.  Twelve hours later, he was back at stage center to serve up the feast and close out the fest.  “To play clean-up,” the other musicians teased him.

Clean up he did.

Time to savor the stew...Devadas

With an unassuming grace, Devadas effortlessly elevated the delicious mood of devotion that had been simmering for nine sets to a whole new level.  Backed by a core band of Gaura Vani (mridanga & vocals), SRI Kirtan’s Ishwari and Sruti Ram (vocals), KC Solaris (tabla), Adam Bauer (bass), Richard Davis (guitar), Rasamrta Devi Dasi (cymbals) and Louise Ross (flute), he steered us right into a slow-building bhajan learned from his guru Amma that gradually but inevitably peaked in a tidal wave of ecstatic crescendo. 

The room was an ocean of motion.

People were dancing, clapping, spinning, singing out the Names like “souls crying out for our divine home,” in Gaura Vani’s words.  The mantra seemed to take on a life of its own, letting us surf the crest of the wave just…long…enough before settling us down ever so gently on the shores of our souls, as Kahlil Gibran might say. 

And then we did it all over again.  And we soared even higher…

Soaring...

Radhe Govinda Bhajo, the first chant Devadas led, is a traditional melody that Amma “has been singing for a very long time,” he said.  She taught it to him and he spoon- fed it to us.  It was delicious. 

You can taste it here:


 

The second chant Devadas led was a complex MahaMantra melody straight from the temples of Kainchi, India, the sacred land where Neem Karoli Baba often hung out and where his ashram stands today.  But that’s another story — and video — coming soon…

Toe-curling

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this was for me one of those peak experiences in kirtan that just doesn’t happen every day.  Maybe it was the fact that we’d been there for nearly 12 hours, simmering in the stew, steeping in all the flavors of bhav.  Maybe the group was really “on” after singing together all day, as the boundaries dissolved and egos melted away and the energy rose.   I don’t pretend to understand the magic that happens in kirtan.  I’d reallllly like to, but I think it’s beyond intellectual comprehension.  It defies logical explanation.

The power of mantra, as Dave Stringer has said, is not something you have to “believe in” or even understand; it is something that must be experienced.   

Simple as that.  All you have to do is sing the Names.

All that bhav and free chai too

Special thanks to director Jennifer Canfield and co-founders Susan Murphy and Ed Ritz of the Call and Response Foundation, whose programs support community kirtan events and bring mantra music to populations in need.  Please visit their website, www.callandresponsefoundation.org, and consider donating to support their efforts.  

Also see:
www.devadasmusic.com
www.callandresponsefoundation.org
www.gauravani.com
www.srikirtan.com
www.tomlenamusic.com
www.facebook.com/KirtanSoulRevival
www.daverussellkirtan.com
www.dharmaboutique.com (Adam Bauer)
www.mantralogy.com (Keli Lalita)
Yogi Patrick & the Funky Shanti
Prem Prakash
 
 

 

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Shyamdas & Krishna Das on the Bhajan Boat, by TheBhaktiBeat.com

Captain Shyamdas & First Mate Krishna Das

With the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, a few hundred people crowded the upper deck of one of NYC’s Circle Line cruisers to chant with an all-star line-up of musicians on the 2nd Annual NYC Bhajan Boat, a fundraiser presented by the Mantralogy record label.

The four-hour joyride circumnavigated the City That Never Sleeps, passing under iconic bridges, getting up close with Lady Liberty, and offering stunning panoramas from every direction.  But for all the world-class sightseeing outside the ship, the real magic was happening right on the cramped and crowded “stage” in the bow of the boat. 

Rockin’ & Rollin’ on the River

Gaura Vani

Shyamdas, who has really pioneered the kirtan cruise, captained this showboat as he has many in the past.  He warmed us up with Radhe and got us off the Pier 83 dock with Krishna. Then Gaura Vani put some wind in our sails with his crew of kindred spirits from New York as the boat headed north up the Hudson River, culminating in a rousing Krishna-Radhe mantra by NYC bhakta Acyuta Gopi that ended way too soon.  See it here, at about 15:40 into this clip from Gaura Vani’s set, posted by Om Factory NY.)  

SRI Kirtan, the Woodstock, N.Y.-based divine duo of Sruti Ram and Ishwari, took over just as the George Washington Bridge loomed overhead, and rocked our bhakti all around the northern tip of Manhattan with their signature Chalisa and a new anti-fracking rap they played live for the first time. Kamaniya Devi and Keshavacharya Das, aka Prema Hara — who have just launched an ambitious 12-state tour — accompanied SRI Kirtan and others.

SRI Kirtan rocked the boat

Now we were rockin’ and rollin’ down the crowded East River, with Roosevelt Island and Queens on our port side, midtown Manhattan’s cityscape starboard.  Nina Rao, the first mate of Krishna Das’s organization, took the helm at her boss’s harmonium (he sang back-up) and offered up a preview of her own upcoming debut album, Antarayaami – Knower of All Hearts, a 12-track double CD that will be released this fall.  (As one might hope, the CD will be heavy on Hanuman Chalisas, including a duet with KD, Rao told us.) Sign up to receive CD news and more at www.chantkirtan.com

Excerpted in the video below is a track from the upcoming CD (“Bhajagovindam/Narayana”) that melds three traditional chants in a slow-starting, fast-finishing fusion of mantra melodies.  Don’t miss little Bodhi, nestled in Grandpa KD’s lap, tapping right along on his own mini-drum (watch how he studies Arjun Bruggeman’s hand gestures on the tabla and mimics them).

 

Lady Liberty Dancing With Shiva

Lady Liberty: serenaded by Shiva

The special guest of the day, Krishna Das, had his chance to lead kirtan as well, just as the Williamsburg Bridge dominated the view ahead.  (Bodhi kept right on drumming, this time from the lap of Devadas.)  We all did the Krishna Waltz as we passed under the three massive spans bridging the lower East River, then Shiva danced with Lady Liberty as we rounded the iconic statue of the Roman goddess of freedom — symbol of chains unbound — while chanting Om Namah Shivaya to the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. 

Captain Shyamdas, dressed in a traditional dhoti kurta and a blue Nantucket baseball cap slightly cocked to one side, returned for the final leg up the West Side to seal the journey with a kiss to Radhe.  Krishna Das sang right alongside him as the boat steamed north again, the two occasionally exchanging private laughs like schoolboys with a secret.  Pier 83 appeared far too soon, but Shyamdas promised that the next boatride would be longer — to the Caribbean perhaps.  The crowd cheered.  With a final Radhe Shyam, the boat was docked, and the crew forced us to leave (they had to shoo a lot of us out…)

Charity Cruise Trend Setting Sail

This was the Bhajan Boat’s second cruise in Manhattan, but Shyamdas has been organizing kirtan cruises on the mid-Hudson River for a few years now as benefits for Food for Life Vrindavan, a non-profit organization that feeds poor children in India.  Three other charities — Share Your Care, The Seva Foundation, and Off the Mat Into the World — also benefited from the Sept. 30 NYC cruise.

As word gets out about these charity cruises, it seems that everyone is clamoring for one of their own.  Boston wants one on the Harbor, Toronto wants one on Lake Ontario, Midwesterners want one on the Mississippi, California wants more than one…this is the beginning of a trend folks.  Look for it to grow. 

Ki JAI to that.

The Bhajan Boat back-up band, the musicians and vocalists who supported various wallahs, reads like a who’s who of East Coast kirtaneers:  Arjun Bruggeman (tabla), Steve Gorn and Sundar Das (flutes), David Nichtern and Richard Davis (guitars), Adam Bauer (bass), Devadas (cymbals), Ananta Cuffee (mrdanga), Janaki Cuffee, Acyuta Gopi, Kamaniya Devi and Keshavacharya Das (vocals), Jaya Sita Lopez (cello), and more…Who have we left out?

More photos in our Bhajan Boat Photo Journal on The Bhakti Beat’s facebook page.

Stay tuned to The Bhakti Beat’s YouTube channel for new uploads from the Bhajan Boat and more.

More links:
www.shyamdas.com
www.gauravani.com
www.srikirtan.com
www.chantkirtan.com
www.krishnadas.com
www.premahara.com
www.mantralogy.com
 
The charities: 
 
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Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Feb. 24-26

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It’s a “Wallahs-to-Watch” kind of weekend:  Five rising chant artists — Gina Sala, Irene Solea, Prajna Vieira, Larisa Stow, and Eddy Nataraj — lead the bhav this weekend coast to coast.  Plus, the party of the decade at Exhale Venice; Sean Johnson immerses NOLA in bhav; Bodhi Fest brings Jai Uttal, Dave Stringer and Deva Premal & Miten to Australia, and Brenda McMorrow sings in Estonia.  Yes, Estonia.

Best of the Weekend Bhav

Gina Sala, Prajna Vieira

GINA SALÁ plays in her home ‘hood of Seattle for Singing Satsang at Samadhi Yoga Friday night. Sala, who was introduced at Bhakti Fest 2010 as “the best kirtan artist you’ve never heard of,” facilitates “wholeness through voice” as a vocalist, teacher, composer and sound healer. She began chanting at age 3, living in a Hindu ashram in Canada. Today her music blends original lyrics and compositions with traditional chants from Hindu, African and Tibetan cultures, among others. If you can’t be in Seattle Friday, how about joining Gina in Mexico in March? Her Ocean of Devotion Sound & Wellness retreat holds court in Yelapa, a boatride away from Puerto Vallarta, March 17-24. (Use the code on the link to save $75, for friends of Sarah “Bhakti Babe” Garney.)

Irene Solea, Om Trinity

IRENE SOLEA, a favorite throughout the Northeast, takes her bhav West to Colorado this weekend for a series of events starting with the popular FRIDAY NIGHT YOGA CLUB in Denver 2/24, where she’ll play for yoga with JEREMY WOLF and ASIANA HARPER before kirtan.  Irene will be joined by Colorado kirtaniyas DAKINA MA JAEGER, JIM BECKWITH and DAMAN GROSSMAN.  Saturday morning, there’s more live-music yoga with Irene at Karma Yoga in Denver, and on Saturday night Irene is joined by local wallah MIRA GALE for an evening of devotional chanting at Yoga That Heals in Boulder. Word is that Irene’s new CD will debut in the spring: eight original chants set to pop/rock, Latin and reggae beats. GIRISH and JONI ALLEN are guest artists. Download a teaser track here, a luscious medley of uplifting original lyrics and Om Namah Shivaya.

Speaking of CD’s we can’t wait for, the long-awaited duet release by PRAJNA VIEIRA and BEN LEINBACH is coming soon. There’s even a date for the mandatory CD Release Party: April 20 at Rudrimandir in Berkeley, Calif.  “Amrita” represents “almost two years of hard work, love, devotion, laughter, tears and deep friendship,” Prajna said in an email. This Saturday, Prajna reunites with DONALD FONTOWITZ and RAMANA ERICKSON, aka the MUKTI KIRTAN ENSEMBLE, for a benefitconcert in Pacifica, Calif. (South Bay area) in support of Dyllan Kianna Wicks, a 2-year-old who was born with a rare heart defect and received a heart transplant a year ago. Call Ocean Yoga to pre-register: (650) 355-9642. But hurry, this event is likely to sell out.

Larisa Stow, Bhakti Fest 2011

LARISA STOW & SHAKTI TRIBE continue their quest to transform the world, one soul at a time, with love and mantra rock. Described by the Tribe as a “raise-the-roof celebration of unity-in-community,” Soul Transformation hits the Orange Coast U.U. in Costa Mesa, Calif. on Saturday 2/25. The Love Fest continues in Temecula, Calif., where the Tribe will be rocking the mantras at Living Yoga Sunday night 2/26.
And, on Sunday morning — we love this! — Larisa & Tribe are performing for Reverend Pat Campbell’s services at the Center For Spiritual Living in Temecula Valley. Sunday service with Larisa Stow?  Wish my parents had taken us to that kind of church…

Eddy Nataraj, 700 Voices

Returning to the theme of “best kirtan artists you’ve never heard of,” have you heard EDDY NATARAJ? We caught up with him last Spring at 700 Voices in Connecticut, where he “opened” for DAVID NEWMAN and SNATAM KAUR, and thought he pretty much blew everyone away with his phenomenal Spanish gypsy guitar-strumming and soulful vocals melding Spanish, English and Sanskrit.  On Saturday 2/25, Eddy will be singing at Dharma Yoga of Central CT in Meriden, Conn., so if you’re in the Northeast, go see him.  You will not be disappointed.  (Next week he’ll join up with BARRY RACCIO for Bhakti Shakti, a kundalini yoga workshop and kirtan in New Haven.)  How does he do all that with a brand new baby?

Those are 5 Wallahs to Watch this weekend.  Lots more below…

 

More of the Bhav

Yoga Bash of the Decade?  Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, Calif., is celebrating 10 years as a mecca for SoCal yogis with a birthday bash Saturday 2/25 featuring a live music all-star jam and dance party with SAUL DAVID RAYE and the RED MUSETTE ENSEMBLE (aka MICHELINE BERRY, DJ DREZ, JOEY LUGASSY, DEEPAK RAMAPRIYAN, CARLOS TORRES, YEHOSHUA BRILL and others to be announced.  Music is from 8-10 p.m. (apparently there’s a curfew), and there’s YOGA WITH SHIVA REA & FRIENDS from 5-7 p.m.  Oh, and it’s all FREE.  Beam me there Scotty.

Gwendolyn Colman, Sean Johnson

Show Us Your Chants: Trade in the Mardi Gras beads for a mala, and join SEAN JOHNSON & THE WILD LOTUS BAND as they kick off their BHAKTImmersion retreat in New Orleans this weekend . The 8-day intensive starts with a full-on kirtan celebration in their home ‘hood on Saturday 2/25, and fills the week with ecstatic interactive chanting, dancing, storytelling, mythology, “bhaktiful asana practice” with live music, journaling, and love poetry from the Bhakti tradition. Sounds better than Mardi Gras, doesn’t it?

Gone Down Under: The Aussies’ itch for kirtan is being scratched this weekend with BODHI FESTIVAL in Newcastle, Australia, which claims to have “the finest kirtan (devotional) musical line-up ever seen in Australia.” U.S. headliners DEVA PREMAL & MITEN are ending their Australia tour there; DAVE STRINGER is beginning his there, and JAI UTTAL is…flying out for the weekend. (He’ll be joined by the Queen of Hearts Orchestra Oz.) Plus dozens of other artists, yoga and meditation teachers, and inspirational speakers. And get this: admission is by donation, a policy the festival’s spiritual director, Shakti Durga, said “liberates us to
dance together in truth and deep harmony.” This is a trend we’d like to see spread to the U.S., wouldn’t you?

Kirtan College Connection: So, maybe we missed something, but Estonia wasn’t at the top of our list for bhakti hot-spots. In fact it wasn’t even on the list. Well, guess what? Kirtan’s thriving there too, and thanks to a connection made at one of DAVID NEWMAN’S Kirtan Colleges, BRENDA McMORROW is in the former Eastern bloc country for two workshops and concerts in the capital, Tallin, and in Tartu. Palju õnne Brenda!  Meanwhile, DAVID NEWMAN is busy creating more connections: his first 2012 Kirtan College is going on right now at Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Florida, and KC students will be showcasing their talents at a free public concert Friday 2/24 at the ashram.  More Kirtan Colleges with David coming up in greater Toronto (April 27-29) and Satchidananda Ashram in Yogaville, Va. (September 27-30).

Northeast Region

Bhav in Brooklyn: In New York City, AMBIKA COOPER holds space at the Brooklyn Yoga School Friday 2/24 for the ongoing Friday Night Kirtan series that features a rotating cast of bhaktas. Stay tuned for the live CD recorded Feb 10 at BYS featuring Ambika and the rest of the Brooklyn bhavsters (e.g., NINA RAO, DEVADAS, ANJULA PRASAD, SHYAMA CHAPIN, JEREMY & LILY CUSHMAN FRINDEL) singing the Hanuman Chalisa.

Helping Hands in Harlem: ANJULA PRASAD sings at Interfaith Chanting for Forgiveness, a benefit on Sunday 2/26 at the Harlem Holistic Center that will raise money for Def Dance Jam Workshop, a Harlem-based non-profit performing arts troupe and academic program serving deaf, hearing and physically or  developmentally challenged youths and their families.  Anjual tells us she’s got not one, but TWO new CD’s in the works.  Her current CD, “Anjula,” is available here.

Calling All Wallah Wannabe’s: It’s open-mic kirtan night for the BOSTON KIRTAN & SATSANG gang, who gather monthly at Yoga & Nia for Life in West Concord, Mass. for “kirtan for the people, by the people.” JOHN CALABRIA starts off the chanting, then passes the mic to any wallah wannabe’s or budding musicians trying out their tunes. But if you’re like me and would rather have a root canal than lead kirtan, just soaking in the bhav is also permitted.

Sundays in the Sanctuary with Dave:  In Northamptom, Mass., DAVE RUSSELL leads weekly Sunday night kirtan sessions at the Yoga Sanctuary.  Dave’s been chanting for like 40 years, and going strong.  Check out his schedule for deets on the Sundays in the Sanctuary and lots of other gigs throughout the Northeast.

Left Coast

Wah! Bhakti Fest

Wah! for MA: In Los Angeles (Granada Hills), WAH! is leading kirtan at the “Day of Healing,” a day-long conscious living expo to help launch the MA center in L.A.  Wah! sings for Amma at 1 p.m.  Her new album, Loops n Grooves is now out!

Psalms to Ma: In Santa Monica, PSALM ISADORA is back from India and back at Bhakti Yoga Shala for Jai Shakti Ma: The Power of Devotion. The workshop, described as a “celebration of the Mother through prayer and devotion,” includes chanting, ecsatic dance to open the heart, and a Tantric Goddess Ritual to awaken grace.   Jai Ma.

Dance Divine:  In the Bay Area, the now-weekly DEVOTION DANCE at Yoga Tree Telegraph in Berkeley, Calif. starts Saturday at 7 with an hour of kirtan led by STEPHANIE WINN and SHARAN PAL (tabla).  Devotional DJ Dance Party with DJ OSHAN ANAND rocks till 11.

Sacred in Sacramento: MARTI WALKER is presenting Nada Yoga: Mantras and More Made Easy at Rise Yoga in Sacramento, an experiential workshop where students will learn basic concepts and practical uses of four primary aspects of Nada Yoga: Vedic and tantric mantras, kirtan/bhajans, and pranayama sound techniques.

DC and South

Ten Years and Counting:  That’s how long SACRED CHANTS KIRTAN has been bringing together chanters in the D.C. and Maryland area, and they’re at it again this Saturday 2/25 in Columbia, Md.  And on Sunday 2/26, BE Yoga in Sterling, Va., is hosting a vegetarian pot-luck and community kirtan at the studio’s backyard Yurt.  Eating starts at 4:30 p.m., singing at 6.

Texas Tunes:  More Wallahs to Watch:  The BHAKTI HOUSE BAND, fresh from a gig at the Texas Yoga Conference last weekend (along with DAVID NEWMAN, SEAN JOHNSON & THE WILD LOTUS BAND, and SUZANNE STERLING & THE DESERT DWELLERS), is right back at it with “an evening of sacred sound and devotion sharing the practice of Nada Bhakti Yoga through a very east-meets-west sound in music.” Friday 2/24 at Aledo Yoga, outside Fort Worth.

Mountain Time

Colorado Crooners:  In addition to the IRENE SOLEA tour in Denver and Boulder, TOM FUHRMAN is hosting an all-Shiva night of community kirtan on Saturday 2/25 at his home in Littleton, Colo.  More details at the Colorado Kirtan facebook page — a great source for all things kirtan in Colorado.

Arizona Energizers:  Local band the KIRTAN WALLAHS are leading ecstatic-chant call-and-response at the Yoga Shala in Prescott, Ariz. Saturday 2/25.

If you made it this far, comment here and tell me which of these events you’d like to be beamed to. One person will be randomly chosen to get their choice of the 3 new CDs mentioned.

Don’t forget to send events to bpatoine@aol.com, post them to The Bhakti Beat’s Facebook page., or Tweet us!

THANK YOU FOR SHARING THE BHAKTI BEAT WHEREVER YOU SOCIALIZE, ONLINE & OFF!

 

 

 

 

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Where’s the Bhav? Maha Shivaratri 2012

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Maha Shivaratri, the Great Night of Shiva, is upon us.  Said to be one of the most sacred and auspicious nights on the Yogic calendar, Maha Shivaratri honors Lord Shiva, one of the three energies of the Hindu trinity (the trimurti).  Of all the Hindu dieties, Shiva’s pretty intense.  He’s the  “god of yogis,” both creator and destroyer,  timeless, formless, nameless.  Shiva is consciousness and bliss.  He wears a cobra for a necklace.  And he really likes kirtan.

Maha Shivaratri can be intense too.  It’s traditionally celebrated with a series of elaborate pujas (sacred ceremonies) that pay homage to Shiva (in the form of linga) with offerings of flowers and incense, baths of milk and honey, and non-stop kirtan that goes all night.  The ritual culminates in the marriage of Shiva and Parvati (Shakti), which is symbolic of the union of consciousness and matter — the dance of universal creation.  As dawn breaks and a new moon rises, a sumptious feast of prasad is shared as a final offering to Shiva.

Wait a Minute, Did You Say Linga?

In case my Dad is reading this (unlikely), or anyone who is new to Hindu culture or Maha Shivaratri, I know what you may be thinking.  Ritualistic worship of linga?  Bathing them in milk and honey?  Marriage, union and creation?  Some people go right to the gutter with this, like there’s some kind of cultish sex worship going on (not to be confused with the cultish sex worship allegedly going on in the Anusara kula).

Indeed, a friend once described a Shivaratri event he attended in Colorado as “beautiful young women pouring yogurt over a huge stone phallus.” Huh?  At the time, I had just registered for a Krishna Das retreat at Sivananda Yoga Ashram in the Bahamas and had decided to extend my stay to experience Shivaratri at the ashram.  Frankly, I knew little about the significance of the night; I just saw “all-night chanting” and signed up.  My friend’s description of his experience made me wonder what I had gotten myself into…

Samadhi By Sunrise?

Shivalingam puja at Sivananda Ashram, Bahamas.  March 2009

I can assure you that there wasn’t anything remotely sex-cultish about the Sivananda celebration.  It was sacred, beautiful, and profoundly moving.  As my first introduction to a “real” puja — performed by a bona fide Tantric priest from South India in the ashram’s little open-air temple — it made an impression on me.  If felt authentic.  And powerful.

The legends surrounding the significance and power of Shivaratri as a holy night for spiritual purification and rebirth are many.  It is said that those who please Shiva on this night, worshiping him in accordance with the rituals set forth in Hindu scripture, will be freed from all past sins, dwell with Shiva in enlightened bliss and be blessed with moksha, liberation from the cycle of life and death.

Freedom from past sins? Dwell in enlightened bliss? Who doesn’t want that?

I don’t know if that’s all possible, but it makes for good story-telling.  And when it’s 5 a.m. and you’ve been chanting every incarnation of Om Namah Shivaya for eight hours straight and haven’t eaten or slept for 20 hours but somehow are feeling incredibly clear and energized and ready to jump right onto the “shiva train” that is about to slither its way through the ashram grounds in a joy-filled chant-along version of the dorky wedding chain-dance, you might even start to believe it.

Where’s the Shiva Bhav?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

India would be a good place to start.  Just about anywhere there will do, neighborhood Shiva temple or home puja.  Or, you could celebrate with SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR, (NOT the sitar maestro; the founder of the International Art of Living Foundation), who will be leading the festivities at his organization’s headquarters in Bangalore.  If you can’t be there, you can still be there (sort of) through the magic of LIVESTREAM.  The broadcast starts Saturday 2/18 at 8 a.m. EST (6:30 p.m. IST).

Sivananda Yoga Ashram (Paradise Island, Bahamas) continues their annual Maha Shivaratri tradition with pujas throughout the night by Ashram priest Krishnan Namboodiri and continuous Shiva chants from dusk until dawn led by senior staff.  The prasadam buffet served at dawn is a feast fit for Lord Shiva himself.  Festivities begin Monday night, 2/20 (the astrologically correct day of observance).  Here’s a sliver of the festivities from last year:


Sivananda has a worldwide network of ashrams, and many others will be marking Shivaratri as well.  At the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Marina Del Rey, Calif., festivities and chanting begins at 9 p.m. Monday 2/20.  And at its Hollywood and Santa Barbara locations, the Vedanta Society of Southern California hosts celebrations Monday 2/20 beginning at 6 p.m. till 1:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m., respectively.  These are described as traditional fests marked by fasting, meditating, praying and singing to Shiva. (Hat tip to Joni Yung, deva of yoga events tracking in L.A., for posting these.)

In Venice, at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, superstar yogi SHIVA REA is joining forces with superstar kirtaniya DAVE STRINGER for what I’m guessing will be a somewhat UNtraditional initiation to the auspicious period surrounding Shivatri.   The event starts with “body mala-based yoga” led by Shiva (all levels) and ends with ecstatic kirtan.  Sunday 2/19, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.   (If you can’t make it to LaLa Land, you can join a free Shiva meditation led by SHIVA REA via teleconference on Monday 2/20.) Also on Sunday at Exhale Venice, SAUL DAVID RAYE presents Shiva Nataraj, the Cosmic Dance of Shiva, an immersion in Shiva teachings and practices that includes Shiva mantras, meditation, kirtan and a flowing asana/pranyama/mudra practice.  1 p.m. to 4:30 Sunday 2/19.

Way up the coast in San Francisco, CHRISTOPHER “HAREESH” WALLIS will lead Shiva-focused satsang, kirtan and storytelling at The Center SF, Friday 2/17 beginning at 9:30 p.m.

The Shiva bhav starts flowing early in Colorado too.  At Boulder’s Studio Be, Colorado’s vibrant kirtan community joins up for ecstatic chanting and shivalingam puja with BHAKTI SHAKTI, Friday 2/17, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

In New York City, the place to be for Maha Shivaratri is the Broome Street Temple, which kicks off the celebration Saturday 2/18 (4-10 p.m.) with a SIX-HOUR KIRTAN (part of the Bhakti Center’s monthly chant marathons) featuring SRIKALA KEREL ROACH, ACYUTA GOPI, ANANTA GOVINDA, special guest RAGHUNATH and others .  Festivities continue Sunday, 2/19 (8 p.m.) with an all-night puja consisting of a series of abhishekas, or ritual baths of the shiva linga.  Kirtan will be provided all through the night by NINA RAO, DEVADAS, ANJULA PRASAD, SHYAMA CHAPIN, AMBIKA COOPER, JEREMY & LILY FRINDEL, and other special guests.

Ananda Ashram in Monroe, N.Y., about an hour north of NYC, will mark its fifth annual Maha Shivaratri All-Night Music & Dance Celebration from 9 p.m. Saturday 2/18 to sunrise Sunday.  DEEPAK KUMAR PAREEK has organized a “Concert for Positive Change” with a line-up of musicians including NAREN BUDHAKER (tabla), KEDAR NAPHADE (harmonium), ANDREA BRACHFELD (flute), KRISHNA DEVI (leading kirtan), MITALI BHAWMIK (vocals), AMIRA DVORAH (bansuri flute), INDRAJIT ROY-CHOWDHURY (sitar), STEVE GORN (bansuri flute), SHEETAL KARHADE (vocals), SRI KALIMA (dance), AQUEEL BHATTI (tabla), and DAVID KEEN (violin).

Not to be outdone by New York or L.A., the little Hridaya Hermitage in Industry, Maine will be marking the occasion with an open forum on the meaning of life, from the yogic perspective.  The 5-hour program on Sunday 2/19 includes bhajans from the Hermitage’s high-energy house band SHIVA LILA, shivalingam puja and dinner, concluding with an intention-setting ceremony to alleviate suffering in the world.

Where are you getting your Shiva Bhav this weekend?

 

Learn More About Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri: Celebrating Lord Shiva.  Glimpses of Divinity

Maha Shivaratri Significance (a secular overview from the India tourist board)

Who is Shiva? (from the Chopra Center, Archetype Series)

Shiva Linga and Its Significance (from Rudraksha-Ratna)

Maha Shivaratri Puja Overview & Shiva Symbolism

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Where’s the Bhav This Weekend? Feb. 10-12

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What’s in store: rocking buttes in Colorado with Dave Stringer, bhaktas band up in Brooklyn, Deva does Down Under, and Gurunam Singh sings for peace.  Plus Irene Solea, Jai Uttal, Girish, David Newman, Wynne Paris, Satya Franche, and regional kirtaniyas to watch!

‘BEST’ OF THE BHAV

Colorado Rocks Its Butte

DAVE STRINGER will be rockin’ the bhav in Colorado this weekend, finishing out the “Dave-Joni-Patrick Utah-Colorado Kirtan Tour” with long-time accompanist JONI ALLEN on vocals and guitar and PATRICK RICHEY performing his percussion magic.  Next stop: Friday Night Yoga Club in Denver, Friday, 2/10, where the Dave Trio will be joined by local musicians Dakini Ma, Kate Drazner & Kendall Perry.  Live-music yoga at 6 p.m.; concert at 8.

Then, on to YOGA ROCKS THE BUTTE, a “snowga” and music fest in Crested Butte, Colo. with the requisite line-up of big-name yogis (including SHIVA REA, SARA IVANHOE and MICHELINE BERRY, among others).  STRINGER headlines Saturday night, 2/11.  GOVINDAS AND RADHA, JOEY LUGASSY, DJ DREZ, and STEVE GOLD will round out the bhakti love on the butte with performances throughout the weekend.

Brooklyn Bhaktas Band Up for BYS

JEREMY FRINDEL and LILY CUSHMAN FRINDEL have made the Brooklyn Yoga School, which they co-founded, a regular destination for Brooklyn bhaktas with their ongoing Friday night kirtans (this Friday’s features SATYA FRANCHE and friends).  On Saturday, 2/11, Brooklyn bhaktas give back with a 4-hour kirtan with everyone from the Friday night series taking a turn at the call.  That includes NINA RAO, DEVADAS, ANJULA PRASAD, SHYAMA CHAPIN, AMBIKA COOPER, TERRENCE POMPEY, AND SUNDAR DAS along with JEREMY & LILY.  Whew! The whole thing will be recorded and edited into a CD to raise funds for BYS programs, so you can get your Brooklyn bhav on no matter where you are.

Deva & Miten Dive In Down Under

Photo Credit: Deva Premal & Miten

Have you noticed that Australia is the new hot destination for kirtan wallahs?  DAVE STRINGER was there last fall, JAI UTTAL is heading there soon, KRISHNA DAS will be there in April…  Right now, DEVA PREMAL, MITEN and MANOSE are gracing the Aussies at the Ecstatic Chant Retreat in Byron Bay.  Retreatants got a special treat on night 2 when the GYUTO MONKS OF TIBET stopped by to offer puja (sacred ceremony) and in return, were serenaded with Om Tare Tuttare, the beautiful Tibetan mantra invoking compassion and liberation.  The retreat was sold out, but the trio’s tour Down Under continues, culminating with the Bodhi Festival Feb. 25, which also features JAI UTTAL and DAVE STRINGER.

Gurunam Singh Sings for Peace

In Boston, a workshop to invoke power, peace and prosperity will feature the divine melodies of GURUNAM SINGH.  The Friday evening session begins with a 75-minute live-music-powered vinyasa class, then a meditation to dissolve energetic blocks in order to live with prosperity, followed by kirtan to enter into a place of peace.  Sounds perfect to us: Gurunam’s 2008 CD The Journey Home is a favorite, especially Dukh Par Har, a chant subtitled From Pain to Peace.  Works every time.

THE ‘REST’ OF THE BHAV

Boston Metro Leads

Tons of bhav flowing inside and outside of Boston.  In Byfield to the north, IRENE SOLEA is at Roots to Wings Yoga on Saturday, 2/11 for a kirtan concert with her rockin’ band, EZRA LANDIS (guitar), OWEN LANDIS (drums/percussion) and DANNY SOLOMON (keyboards/bass).  We’re in love with Irene’s rich harmonies and soulful expressiveness — a joy to chant with.  On Sunday 2/12 Irene plays for morning yoga in John Calabria’s class at Yoga & Nia for Life in West Concord, Mass.

In Malden, Mass., the place to be Friday 2/11 is the Grand Opening for the new Hridaya Hermitage Kaya Kulpa and Yogic Healing Center.  The benefit kirtan starts at 8 p.m., and we know it’s going to be good, promising “lots of full volume-kirtan” and dancing with the SHIVA LILA BAND, TOM LENA and others.

In Cambridge, JAISHREE & PREMA BHAKTI will be chanting at Dazza’s Urban Ashram on Friday 2/10.  On Saturday 2/11, the band heads to S. Portland, Me., for a kirtan at Sadhana.  Check out their sound here.  Me like.

And, in Brookline, Hebrew chants with Boston’s HEBREW KIRTAN BAND, who will open the festivities at Dance Friday (1615 Beacon St.) Kirtan from 7:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., followed by DJ dance party.

California Calling

In Oakland, a special treat when JAI UTTAL teams up with his beloved NUBIA TEIXEIRA for “The Alchemy of Yoga and Kirtan,” a workshop described as a “heart-opening adventure through breath, movement and sacred sound, blending those traditions in a deep and playful way.”  Namaste Grand Lake hosts the three-hour afternoon workshop and kirtan Saturday 2/11.  Deets here.

In Sherman Oaks, DANIEL STEWART & FRIENDS present ecstatic kirtan at his studio, Rising Lotus Yoga, Friday 2/10; 8:30 p.m.

GIRISH’S tour schedule shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.  This weekend he plays in Corono Saturday 2/11, at the Yoga Den Health Spa, then heads to Santa Monica to chant with the kirtan junkies at Bhakti Yoga Shala, Sunday 2/12.  Next up for Girish:  Pittsburgh.

L.A. take note: The KIRTAN WALLAH’S (aka ARJUNA O’NEAL & FRIENDS) and BHAKTI DANCE are having a kirtan LOVE FEAST, and you don’t want to miss a single course.  At Core Power Yoga on Wilshire.

Southern Kartals

Two events to note:  WYNNE PARIS is leading kirtan in Alachua, Fla., Friday 2/10 at the Ayurveda Health Retreat, with VISVAMBHAR SHETH of the MAYAPURIS joining in!  Wynne never fails to bring it; have you heard his masterful collaborative CD, Om Spun by Groovananda?  Good stuff.  And rumor has it he’s working on a new live kirtan CD.

And, a Georgia band that just came into my consciousness, RAHASYA, is spreading the bhakti love throughout the Southeast.  This weekend they’re chanting at the Yoga Room Healing Arts Cooperative in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Friday 2/10 and at Open Heart Yoga School in Carrboro, N.C., Saturday 2/11.  Check out their music here, and catch them live if you can.  They are going to be at Chantlanta, the sacred music festival in Atlanta March 9-10 that features WAH!, DAVID NEWMAN and SEAN JOHNSON AND THE WILD LOTUS BAND.

Northeast Notes

Speaking of DAVID NEWMAN, he’s back east after a mini-California tour, playing in Westmont, N.J., Friday 2/10 at a concert at Anjali Power Yoga to benefit Africa Yoga Project.  On Saturday 2/11, he’s chanting back in Pennsylvania at the Shri Yoga and Wellness Center in Reading, Penn.

In New York City, DREAM TIME is back!  The event that was born on New Year’s Eve lives on, and has now morphed into a two-day conscious-living extravaganza that includes (among LOTS of offerings) ecstatic kirtan, dance-party kirtan with SRIKALOGY, contact improv with JESSE JOHNSON, a tantra workshop with RAN BARON, and tons more.  Friday 2/11 starting at 8 p.m.; Saturday 2/12 Noon to 6 a.m. Sunday.

Maine Kirtan Soars

PREMA BHAKTI is in S. Portland at Sadhana Meditation Center for kirtan Saturday 2/11, preceded by a Chakra Shakti Yoga class with JAISHREE.

In Portland studio Bhakti in Motion, TODD GLACY and KALEE COOMBS weave sacred tones of gongs, singing bowls, flute, voice and other sound remedies in a feast of sound at the Be-Loved Valentines Concert Saturday 2/11.  Best thing about it?  You don’t need to be a couple.

Elsewhere in Maine, ANANDA BHAKTI is playing at the new 6-S Yoga in Manchester, Me. (near Augusta) on Saturday 2/11; and ShivaShakti School of Yoga in Rockland, Me. hosts kirtan with AIYANA & KRISHNA on Sunday 2/12.

Maine kirtonaholics have a great Facebook page: Maine Kirtan.  Subscribe to it to stay on top of the Pine Street State’s bhakti flow there.

Where do you find out about kirtan or yoga in your community?  The Bhakti Beat wants to know…

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Tell us where you’ll be chanting.  Email us, post links on our Facebook page, or Tweet us.

Thanks!

 

 

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