Deva Premal, Miten, Manose: Expanding the Enchantment
A few years ago when Deval Premal and Miten came to Escondido we interviewed them beforehand. Tamara Guirado did our interviews then and we titled the article “In the Flow with Enchanting Music.”
Discovering what they are up to now and listening to some of their new music we have to say the enchantment continues and is expanding.
Sitting down to write this I felt compelled to play one of the albums I picked up at a concert they did here. We’ll see if I can play it and remain focused enough to put down a few thoughts.
If you haven’t experienced a concert with them or heard them, put that on your recurring bucket list, i.e., whenever you can.
It is the energy shift or inspiring, calm influence that I think most of us would love to slip into the collective consciousness and see it penetrate and dissolve some of the rigidness—the anger and contentiousness—we see and hear so much of these days.
The promotional material for their upcoming event in Escondido describes the evening of music and meditation as a gathering that “offers a joyful path to centering in these turbulent times, creating moments of what Deva describes as ‘ecstatic silence’—or in Miten’s words, ‘luminous pools of deep celebration.’”
From my past experiences I’d say they’ve always accomplished that mission.
They recently received the 2017 Mind Award for Art & Culture (www.mindaward.com) in recognition of their work bringing “heart to the mind” and creating paths for inner peace through their albums and worldwide concerts.
The award was created in 2009 to honor activities that support education and conscious development in an increasingly interdependent world.
An interdependence that some people think is better ignored—but, thankfully, an evening of their mantras and songs of bliss and connection can transmute that.
In addition, their music is expanding its reach and audience.
The couple have now released 16 albums and have reached millions in their worldwide concerts.
Deva was raised in a German home permeated with Eastern spirituality; she was chanting the Gayatri Mantra by age five and has practiced meditation throughout much of her life.
Miten was born in London and grew up influenced by the ’60s music scene. He established a successful career as a singer/songwriter, touring with bands like Fleetwood Mac and Ry Cooder.
They met in India, in the ashram of Osho, also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Osho is the honorific title for Zen-master or teacher.
Once asked for his “Ten Commandments” by a reporter, Osho responded that he was against any kind of commandment, but then, “just for fun,” came up with ten.
The four on his list he underlined were: Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere. Live wakefully. Die each moment so that you can be new each moment. And, Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see.
One more not underlined was, Never obey anyone’s command unless it is coming from within you also.
Looking back at that time learning at the ashram, Deva said their focus was not about becoming teachers: “We never saw ourselves as gurus—what a scary thought!—but we are messengers. That’s all. We have no expectations to fulfill. We are just fellow travelers on the Path—we bring the word, we sing it, and then we keep moving. Of course we approach the role (that’s all it is), with the utmost love and respect—we do everything possible to create an aesthetic, uplifting space that not only nourishes and inspires ourselves, but also the people who come to sing with us.”
Miten recalls: “Everything you hear in our music comes from our connection to Osho. We met in his ashram in 1990. I had thrown away my guitars and Deva wasn’t even singing. [She was studying bodywork and healing modalities in the ashram] Osho brought us together in his mysterious way and what you hear now is the flowering of that union. Through Osho we learnt how to recognize the silence spaces in music, where real healing happens. Before that, music was just my vehicle for expressing emotional angst. He helped us tap into the essence of music.”
The fertile musical collaboration of Deva and Miten began in 1991 and the enjoy and live the moment approach they have is an essential quality of their music.
Through the years they have attracted an impressive group of admirers. Eckhart Tolle called their music “pure magic.”
Cher played their version of the Gayatri Mantra on her Farewell Tour.
HHDalai Lama is known to relax to their music in his personal time.
Deva and Miten now tour with Manose, a Nepalese bansuri maestro. His joining them was described when Deva talked about one of her favorite mantras, “Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra” (Om Tryambakam Yajamahe).
“This is one of the mantras that has accompanied me since I was a child. I remember walking with my father and my sister chanting it in rhythm to our footsteps.
So it felt like an old friend when it came back into my life at the end of my twenties.
“There are so many versions of it and melodies for it and I love the two versions we already recorded on other CDs. But when Manose came to Miten in Mexico with a Sansula in his hand (a modified version of the kalimba—the African thumb piano), playing a rhythm in 7/4 time, which is quite unusual, and singing this haunting melody with Om Triambakam along with it. It was irresistible and we simply had to record it. It’s different to all the other tracks on the album [A
Deeper Light] since it’s much more sparse in instrumentation, but it still enhances the mood of the whole.”
When describing their creative process of fitting a mantra with music, Miten said, “We were looking to create ‘tantric’ music—meaning music you could make love to—and also that you could wash dishes to! Every moment can be tantric when you’re in tune.”
Devotional chanting, he says, goes beyond the ‘emotional.’ “The sheer energetic power of Sanskrit text creates the potential for transformation and healing. The Sanskrit language is medicinal; it’s medicine in sound. Soul food. It creates a certain response on our physical and subtle bodies, so when used in a conscious way, with pure intent, it actually brings more clarity and unity. And integration of more clarity and more unity equals a more balanced response to life’s challenges.”
Rather than boring, what they experience singing the same mantras is a deepening.
Deva explains, “It is our spiritual practice. What we look for in music is the quality to bring more silence or ‘inner peace’ to our life experience. It’s double sided—the music arises from our meditation practice, and at the same time, it deepens it! To come to a place of silence and stillness without effort—a silence that is alive and vibrant—is, for us, absolutely necessary in the face of 21st Century existence.
“This expression can never be boring. It’s vital, just eating and sleeping never become boring, if you approach it with clear intention and gratitude!”
Temple at Midnight is their new album and features songs written by Miten and includes their version of Norwegian Wood. They report that songs from it are now being played on the radio, reaching more people.
“My roots are in rock music.” Miten says. “I grew up in the ’60s getting crazy to the sounds of The Beatles, Dylan, The Stones, The Who and The Kinks, who I recorded an album with, many years later!” The Temple at Midnight album brings him back to his roots, he says.
Not exactly, of course, it’s a fusion that’s true to the purpose they have always had together over the last 26 years.
While their existence is often nomadic, it’s not chaotic. “It is very blissful being with Miten!” Deva says. “I never imagined that it would be possible to be with someone for 26 years pretty much 24/7.” What contributes to the “harmony and love between us” is their bigger journey.
“Our spiritual path keeps us facing the same direction. We understand that this life is all about growing and realizing our authentic inner nature, and this has become our main focus.”
Their musical journey shares the result of that, enchanting and expanding those who hear it—and remains true to another of Osho’s “commandments”—Do not swim—float.
Deva Premal and Miten with Manose will begin their Temple at Midnight Tour:
An Evening of Bliss this spring that will take them to 20 cities across Mexico, the United States and Canada.
On May 26 on a Friday evening, they have a concert at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.
This article was written by Steve Hays and included some quotes from their previous interviews in TLC as well as new material from their site and news releases.