CD Reviews - December 2004

By Ramananda Das (Richard Brookens) - Enlightened Practice Magazine Column, Jan-Feb '05

Both of the CD's below are singular efforts of spiritual sounds. The first offers the Great or Maha Mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare-Hare Ram, Hare Ram, Ram Ram, Hare Hare on four different tracks. The second is almost completely the sound of one gong played beautifully.

The Kirtan CD gives us a glimpse into the world of renunciates who chant the divine name to attain an awakened state of bliss. As explained in the section of the liner notes by Shyamdas, Hari is one of God's many names, "the One Who removed all our complications," and Hare means "Oh Hari"-a calling out to Hari. Krishna, "The All Attractive One," the Lord of the Gopis, means Perfect Bliss. Rama is another name for God and is "the abode of divine refuge" and "contains the inner meaning of 'The One Who Makes Divine Dalliance.'" So, essentially, this Mantra repeats the names of God, focusing the singer's and the listener's being on that connection.

Each track features several different musical settings and that flow naturally within each track, from one version to the next [[OK?]]. I guess if you are going to sing the same words, eventually anybody would come up with distinct versions and styles. Recorded in the foothills of the Himalayas, these are raw, unedited recordings complete with coughs, microphone tests (while the music and singing continues on), and other room sounds left in. You can almost close your eyes and put yourself in one of the temples of Neem Karoli Baba where the chanting goes on all day and into the night. This is most definitely not a studio-produced effort, with all the trimmings. This is the real thing, from one of the major sources of Bhakti Yoga.

The executive producers of this CD are Mitchell Markus and Krishna Das, who also contribute liner notes filled with their insights and experiences in India with their guru Neem Karoli Baba. Distributed by Karuna Music and Triloka records (www.karunamusic.com).

The second CD is 'Resound, Meditation Gong' by Harijiwan, a Kundalini Yoga teacher at Golden Bridge in Los Angeles. The CD begins with an invocation sung by Harijiwan and, then, features 3 tracks of gongs to be used in meditation. It is a deep, mesmerizing, and cosmic sound that is found in the gongs. I have used this CD in my yoga classes during deep relaxation/meditation. It seems to fill the room with a vibration that coincides with the inner vibration after the asanas. Many students have reported they felt transported to a deeper place than usual.

This CD is produced in the context of the 3HO foundation of Kundalini Yoga master Yogi Bhajan, who recently passed on. It is Sound Yoga at its most basic. Letting the sound vibrations wash over our subconscious can change the habitual vibrational patterns of our mind. "When the gong is played, the vibration of the strings causes all thirty trillion cells of the body to resonate, to dance-forming patterns that release blockages that have prevented the cosmic pulsation to flow freely through our being. Within this creative cosmic flow we find fulfillment, harmony, and love." Contact www.yogabeyond.com.

Ramananda Das (Richard Brookens) is certified in Sivananda and Kundalini Yoga. He currently teaches Yoga at Barry University in Miami Shores, Spa Atlantis in Pompano, and Yoga Connection in Plantation. He also plays woodwinds (saxophones, flutes, and clarinets) and hand percussion (tablas, clay pot, et al), and regularly performs professionally in the local area. He has also performed throughout the United States, the Carribbean, and in Panang, Malaysia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and Europe. He has released two CDs of original World Fusion Music, and three meditation/relaxation CDs on his Yellow Bell label. Contact him, listen to free samples from his CDs, and view pictures of some of his performances and World instruments at www.yellowbellmusic.com.

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