Singing to God

Spirit Voyage is a record label that focuses on spiritual and yoga/meditation-related music. SV also sponsors the global meditations I participate in from time to time. They recently solicited bloggers to post reviews of their new albums on their blogs. So, without further ado…

Since delving into the world of kundalini yoga, I have found a large measure of peace in meditation. In the past, as I’ve mentioned before, I could not focus enough to meditate. Mantra has helped me to find that focus. Often I listen to music with a particular mantra I want to focus on at the time. One of my first experiences with this was when I was participating in the “Burning Inner Anger” global sadhana. The second part of the sadhana involved meditating to the mantra “Guru guru wahe guru, guru ram das guru.” There is a very beautiful version of this recorded by Snatam Kaur. Snatam is one of the stars of the kundalini yoga music world. Her voice is very pure and, dare I say, angelic. Most of Snatam’s music is meant for meditation, yoga and prayer, and the words are generally mantras and prayers in the language of Gurmukhi, which itself means “from the mouths of the gurus.”

Her latest album is called Ras-a word basically meaning “sublime essence of God’s name,” and believe me when I tell you that Snatam fulfills this album title’s meaning perfectly. Every track on this album is a platform for both her musicianship, and her utterly open, honest show of devotion to the spiritual.

The album opens with So Mai Visar Na Jaa-ee. These words come from the sacred prayer of Japji, and translate to, “May i never forget this.” The deeper meaning of this is that, once one has recognized that they are one with God, they want never to lose that realization. It is so hard to hold onto that knowing, but the reward of doing so creates blessings in your life that you could never have imagined. Exotic flutes and drums play…I can imagine sitting around a drum circle, the kind we have at one of my friend’s patio parties, as the pure tones of Snatam’s voice and the sweet whistle of the flute weave through and around us. The insistent rhythm of this song really gets me dancing, but also takes me within, meditating on my oneness with the universe.

The second song is entitled Tithai Too Samarath. In this age of technology, both wondrous and provoking of fear and ever-higher levels of anxiety, there is not much to hold on to. In fact, you can truly rely only yourself-and the knowledge that you are one with God. The words of the title, per the Spirit Voyage website, mean, “Where You are, Almighty Lord, there is no one else.” In this knowledge, from birth onward, we are protected…as we cross over the “terrifying, treacherous, impassible world ocean.” I love the heart-aching harmonies of this song. I like to harmonize along with Snatam, whose voice is so bright and clear that it lends its beauty to my own. Simple guitar strings plucked, the light tapping of drums…voice, here, is the star. Snatam employs her strong lower register, while her high, clear tones harmonize in the ether above.

The third track on Ras is Earth Prayer, and is one of Snatam’s own lyrical compositions. “To love with our love, for our love, we shall rise above,” she sings, the notes of a flute weaving through her words. Further words are borrowed here from the prayer of Japji: “Pavan guru, panee pitaa…maataa dharat mahaat.” The beautiful meaning of these words is, “Air the guru, water the father, earth the mother.” This song is indeed a heartfelt prayer that we care for each other and planet earth, but to me it also feels soothing like a lullabye. “Let us care about each other, see the earth as our mother.”

Next is Aap Sahaa-ee Ho-aa. It is lilting, rhythmical, swaying. Snatam’s sweet voice sings “aap sahaa-ee ho-aa”, gently, gratefully. These words mean “He himself has become my only refuge, my only help and support.” She then sings, insistently, “har, har, har,” as one firm in a moment of meditation. “Har” refers to creative infinity-the creative life force-in a word, God. There is such longing in Snatam’s voice, a longing for spiritual peace that I understand so well.

The fifth track is Chattr Chakkr Vartee. This mantra is taken from the last four lines of a prayer written by Guru Gobind Singh, one of the Gurus of the Sikhs. It is a mantra used to quell fear and anxiety. On this song, Snatam sings, once again, so longingly, accompanied by the urgent sound of a tambourine-like instrument, that I imagine she is praying as hard as I am to be released from her earthly fears. Or perhaps she is expressing her thanks for already having been given some relief? This track really showcases the loveliness of Snatam’s high soprano voice, and in it, she uses a much more Indian-flavored vocal style than is typical of her, I think. This may be my favorite of the album. It is so pure in its prayerfulness.

Ras closes with Mere Raam. A gentle beseeching to God, this tune. The words, from what I have read, come from a song sung during Sikh wedding ceremonies. I have definitely seen the influence of family in Snatam’s life on this album. I see her devotion to God, and also to her husband and little daughter. Above all, I see the deep peace that I associate with Snatam. She seems so happy. If you search for this album online, and see the cover, you can see this deep peace reflected in Snatam’s blissful face. Oh, what the heck, I’ll post if for you-see what I mean?

And I do recommend that you look up Snatam Kaur’s new album, Ras. It is indeed sublime. Her music is a blessing to me as I continue on my spiritual journey, attempting to assauge my ever-yearning heart.

You can find out more about Snatam Kaur and her music, and download her album, at SpiritVoyage.com.

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