Below the music player you will find some basic information about the different chants, including more singer/musician track credits, as well as the lyrics and their meaning. Then following that information for each track, I add some more detail about the flow, instrumentation, etc.
This album is first and foremost a kirtan album, with the intention to inspire people to chant along with the call and response format and to invoke ecstatic, even transcendent, states of bliss in the listener, through chanting along or even simply through listening.
I’ve intentionally kept the tempos much mellower than I typically do in a live kirtan so that the music can also serve as a backdrop for yoga, meditation and general daily activity.
The album is produced by kirtan producer extraordinaire, Ben Leinbach, and features a very talented group of supporting vocalists and musicians (see credits below), and I'm extremely grateful to all of the all of them for their superb contributions that make the album so beautiful.
Here are some representative comments on the album:
"a lovely and profound offering"
"stunningly beautiful for the ear and for the soul"
"full of heart" "chock full of gorgeousness"
"a realm of enchanted Bliss"
"a joy to listen to and sing along with"
"resonates with depth, devotion and a lush organic sound"
"blissful, beautiful and a balm for the heart"
"filled with deep bhav" "truly blissful"
"a quantam gateway to a state one normally only reaches through deep meditation"
If you like what you hear, please purchase the album and tell your friends about it!
Namaste, Natesh credits released January 2, 2014
Ben Leinbach: Producer; bass guitar, hand drums and percussion, keyboard, electric guitar, response vocals
Benj Clarke: Fretless bass and acoustic upright bass
Daniel Paul: Tabla
Eddie Young: Cello
Gina Sala: Call, response and additional vocals
Joni Allen: Call and response vocals
Madan Oak: Santoor
Monnie Ramsell: Esraj and response vocals
Prajna Brianna Vieira: Call and response vocals; kartals
Steve Gorn: Bansuri
Steve Oda: Sarod
Yvette Om: Call and response vocals
Natesh: Call and response vocals, guitars, drums and hand percussion
This track is a medley of two Ganesha chants I've written, 'Vakratunda Mahakaya' and 'Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha' (which begins with the mantra 'Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha'). Lord Ganesh is of course the beloved elephant-headed deity that is considered to be the remover of obstacles. I wrote these chants within 6 months of each other, the second one written for Ganesh Chaturthi in September, 2010 and the Vakratunda chant the following March.
The track features Joni Allen and Yvette Om joining me on vocals and instrumental contributions by Madan Oak on santoor, Eddie Young on cello, Steve Oda on sarod and Daniel Paul on tabla. Ben Leinbach plays bass guitar and percussion and some keyboard and I play guitars (see ‘more detail’) and percussion.
The words are:
(1st Chant – Vakratunda Mahakaya)
OM Vakratunda Mahaakaaya Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva Kaaryeshu Sarvadaa
O, one with twisted trunk and enormous form, who shines more brilliantly than a billion Suns, please bless me that all obstacles be removed from all my endeavors, always.
(2nd Chant – Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha)
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha
Salutations to Ganapati (Ganesha).
I seek refuge in Ganesha.
I was doing some research and it seems the actual origin of this popular and ancient verse (shlok) is something of a mystery, although I found one reference that attributes it to the Sharanagati Gadyam written by Ramanujacharya and another saying the origin is unknown, among other possibilities. I first became aware of it in late 1979, when I made a deep connection with Swami Muktananda and his Siddha Yoga path. I composed this arrangement about May, 2008, which makes it the second oldest of my chants on the album (with He Ma Durga being the oldest).
This track features Gina Salá trading calls and singing responses with me as well as some exquisite vocalizing by Gina in a style inspired by her classical Indian vocal training. It also features Steve Gorn on bansuri, Daniel Paul on tabla, Monnie Ramsell on esraj, and Benj Clarke on fretless bass guitar. Ben Leinbach and I both play some percussion and I play a Tierra Negra flamenco-style nylon string guitar.
The words are:
Tvameva Maataa Cha Pitaa Tvameva
Tvameva Bandhush Cha Sakhaa Tvameva
Tvameva Vidyaa Dravinam Tvameva
Tvameva Sarvam Mama Deva Deva
Here’s one translation:
You alone are my Mother and my Father,
You alone are my Brother and my Friend,
You alone are my Knowledge and my Wealth,
You alone are my All in All, O God of Gods.
SHIVAYA NAMAHA OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
Entire treatises are written about the ancient and powerful Om Namah Shivaya mantra and its meaning(s). I've read that it originated from Shri Rudram, which in turn comes from the Yajurveda. Perhaps the simplest interpretation is “Salutations to Shiva!” Or since the name Shiva means ‘auspicious,’ perhaps “Salutations to the Auspicious One!” Amongst devotees of Lord Shiva, it is known as the Great Redeeming Mantra and also as Panchakshara (the 5-Syllable mantra, which doesn't count the 'Om', and there are also associations between those 5 syllables and the 5 elements). I invite you to do your own research for more about this mantra.
This track is unique for a number of reasons, but the main one is that it is the only track on the album where I sing all of the calls of the call and response format rather than trading calls with a female vocalist. It also has several more people chanting the responses than the usual combination of me and whichever lady is singing with me. Ben Leinbach, Monnie Ramsell, Prajna Vieira, Yvette Om and I are chanting the response vocals. The track also features Monnie on esraj and Steve Oda on sarod. Ben plays keyboard bass and a fine but subtle electric guitar part in the third and final pass through the chant, as well as some percussion. I play a ‘muted’ Gold Tone wood-body resophonic guitar and percussion. While I play the initial kartals pattern, both Prajna and Ben play additional kartals as the track evolves.
The chant itself has a very trance-like quality as it continually shifts back and forth between 2 different chords and the two lyric variations of the mantra with multiple melodic variations. We first chanted it at Mahashivaratri in February, 2009.
The words are:
Om Namah Shivaaya Om Namah Shivaaya
Shivaaya Namaha Om Namah Shivaaya
Salutations to Shiva
HARE KRISHNA MANTRA (ENCHANTING)
Much has been written about the Hare Krishna mantra, known as the Mahamantra (Great Mantra) to devotees of Lord Krishna and Vaishnavites (devotees of Lord Vishnu) generally. It dates back to the Kali-Santarana Upanishad, which is associated with the Krishna Yajurveda, and was popularized as part of the bhakti movement started by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the late 15th century, and more recently in the West by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
This track features Prajna Vieira trading calls and singing responses with me. It also features Steve Gorn on bansuri, Benj Clarke on acoustic upright bass and Daniel Paul on tabla. Ben Leinbach plays some percussion and I play a Taylor steel string guitar and percussion.
This version of the mantra has two melodic parts and it is in a time signature of 3/4 (comparable to the Indian tal of dadra, and often called a ‘waltz’ in Western music as it is the meter of that dance form). It is one of two tracks on the album in that meter, with the other being Gayatri Mantra. It happens to be the most recent of my compositional arrangements of the Hare Krishna mantra, written in mid-2012, and the only one in 3/4 time.
The words are:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krisha Hare Hare
Hare Raama Hare Raama Raama Raama Hare Hare
As I understand it is interpreted in Swami Prabhupad's 'Hare Krishna' movement, "Hare" is a form of Harā, a name of Rādhā, Krishna's beloved, and none other than Shakti. Thus Harā refers to "the energy of God" while Krishna and Rama refer to God himself, meaning "He who is All-Attractive" and "He who is the Source of All Pleasure."
HE MA DURGA
Durga is one of the major forms of Devi, or Goddess, and the name means one who is inaccessible or difficult to approach. She is typically portrayed riding a lion, or sometimes tiger, holding an array of weapons.
This track features Yvette Om (a former singer in New York musical theatre turned yoga teacher and kirtan wallah) trading calls and singing responses with me. It also features Monnie Ramsell on esraj, Daniel Paul on tabla, and, later in the track, Steve Oda on sarod. Ben Leinbach plays bass guitar and percussion and I play guitars (see ‘more detail’) and percussion.
This is the first chant I wrote to a form of the Divine Mother and, at least as far as I can recall now, the first when I started composing chants in early 2004. (I had written 3 Shiva chants in the early ‘80s and then nothing until 2004.) While the lyrics stay the same throughout, it has 3 melodic sections in the format A-B-A-C (meaning the first section repeats between the second and third sections).
The words are:
He Maa Durgaa He Maa Durgaa He Maa Durga Jay Jay Durgaa
O Mother Durga, All Victory to You!
This is a chant to Rama, Sita and Hanuman. Lord Rama was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and his incarnation is said to have been for the restoration of righteousness. Sita, his beloved, is considered to be an incarnation of Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of Abundance. Hanuman, the beloved 'Monkey-God' who served Rama and Sita, is considered to be the epitome of devotion. I composed it in 2009 but it’s one of those chants that seems like it has been a part of me for much, much longer.
This track features Joni Allen trading calls and singing responses with me. It also prominently features Steve Oda on sarod, and later in the track, Gina Salá’s ethereal vocalizing. Daniel Paul adds tabla, Ben Leinbach plays bass guitar, and I’m finger-picking a Tierra Negra flamenco-style nylon string guitar. Ben and I also both play a lot of different percussion on the track.
The chant has a section in the middle of the track that has the lyrics that are shown in parentheses below, my way of showing they happen occasionally rather than every pass through the chant.
The words are:
Bolo Raam Bolo Raam Bolo Raam
Jaya Raama Sitaa Raama Jaya Raama Hanumaan
(Jaya Raama Sitaa Raama Hanumaan)
Sing the Name of Ram! All Victory to Rama, Sita and Hanuman!
This chant combines 2 ancient mantras, or shloks, Asatoma Sadgamaya and Purnamadah Purnamidam. The first is from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, and the latter from Isha Upanishad. The meanings are shown following the words below. It is the newest of the compositions on the album, having been composed in late 2012.
The track features Prajna Vieira trading calls and singing responses with me. It also features Madan Oak on santoor and Monnie Ramsell on esraj. Ben Leinbach plays bass guitar and some percussion, and I play a muted Gold Tone wood-body resophonic guitar with muted strings and some percussion, mostly kartals and bells. (I explained the muting of the guitar in my notes for the Shiva track.)
The words are:
Om Asatomaa Sadgamaya
Om purnamadah purnamidam
Lead me from Untruth to Truth.
Lead me from Darkness to Light.
Lead me from Death to Immortality.
That is Whole, This is Whole;
From the Whole, the Whole becomes manifest;
Taking away the Whole from the Whole,
The Whole remains.
There is also much written about this ancient mantra from the Rig Veda and the first, or preceding, line which is considered to be an invocation rather than part of the mantra. I show one of the simpler interpretations following the words below. (The mantra does not traditionally close with 'Om" as I have done here, but doing so in this composition creates a powerful 'pause' between each iteration and a more relaxed flow for the chant.)
This track once again features Gina Salá trading calls and singing responses with me and also singing her exquisite vocalizing that is inspired by her classical Indian vocal training. It is also the track that most prominently features Eddie Young on cello. Ben Leinbach plays bass guitar and percussion, and I play a Gold Tone resophonic guitar (very slighted muted with the technique described in my notes for the Shiva track) and percussion.
I composed this chant in 2011 and we first chanted it at our kirtan program in June of that year celebrating the 7th anniversary of our weekly kirtan in Sedona. The meter, or time signature, is 3/4 (dadra, in the Indian system), and the composition has two melodic parts while the words stay the same throughout. In this version, after a full pass through the typical call-response-call-response form for each melody, the chant then goes to one pass through each melody, with Gina and I singing each part together. This is the equivalent of shifting to everyone singing together rather than singing call and response, which I typically do with this chant in a live kirtan.
The words are:
Om Bhur Bhuvaha Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam*
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayaat OM
* pronounced like 'Vareniyam'
O Supreme One, who pervades all matter, space and consciousness,
Whose Radiance illumines Existence, deserving all worship,
Pure and resplendent, we meditate upon you.
Lead our Intellect (towards Illumination).