My Journey with the Gayatri Mantra
I met Gayatri Lee at a concert Miten and I gave in Asheville, North Carolina in the US in October 2000. After the concert we talked about the idea of me writing something on spirituality and creativity. As my whole life is centered around these two issues, it was no difficult task for me to say yes to her invitation.
My father has been on the spiritual path since the 50's, studying Yoga, spiritual scriptures and whatever books were available then, making it his daily discipline to meditate every morning between 3 and 5 a.m. He taught himself Sanskrit and began chanting mantras. When my mother was pregnant with me, their welcome was to sing the Gayatri Mantra throughout the pregnancy.
The Gayatri Mantra is said to be the oldest and most powerful of mantras, being thousands of years old. It purifies the person chanting it as well as the listener as it creates a tangible sense of well being in whoever comes across it. Translated, it means "May all beings on earth reach enlightenment," but as with all mantras, the meaning of the Sanskrit words isn't as important as the effect the vibrations of the words have on the body and energy centers.
As I grew up we continued to chant the Gayatri Mantra together regularly before sleep. I didn't really know what I was singing... and why. I just did it because I was told to. It wasn't until much later that I came to appreciate these precious times.
Other spiritual practices my father had me do was to say the mantra 'Om' whenever I put something down on the table, or say 'Ram' when I switched on a light. This was to increase my awareness.
He was (and still is!) definitely not the normal kind of father. He talks of himself only in the third person, and at the age of 79 is still active and creative. He is an artist by profession and a passionate drummer in his spare time. He makes the drums he plays, too!
As a child all I wanted was to be 'normal' but with a father like this I didn't stand much of a chance! As a family we were vegetarian (to this day I still haven't tasted meat or even fish) with no TV and no comfy couches. We sat on beautiful wooden meditation chairs my father had made himself. All I wanted was to be able to bring friends home to a house with leather couches, a TV, and parents who were young and groovy! My mother was 38 and my father 49 when I was born.
At the age of nine, I developed an interest in Christianity and began saying the Lord's prayer every night--secretly at first, because I thought it may be forbidden! I needn't have worried. When my terrible secret was finally discovered my parents were absolutely supportive even when I asked to be baptized! I was always encouraged to be myself.
Anyway, just before the baptism, fate stepped in: my mother went to India and returned as a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh! My interest shifted to a living master. I was 10 years old at the time and I was allowed to experiment with his active meditations. I just loved them! And although I was young, whenever I looked at his photos, I recognized what I later realized to be unconditional love. His world looked incredible to my innocent eyes (still does), and although I couldn't understand his words, I knew that I wanted to 'take Sannyas' or to become his disciple.
I had to seek my father's approval because I was under-age. Again, I received only encouragement and good wishes. He was happy for me to do what I felt was right. At that time, being a Sannyasin meant wearing red clothes and a mala, and meditating every day. So once again I found myself being different from everybody else! But this time it was out of my own choice. From then on my life became centered around my meditations and school life. The mantras and all other spiritual practices from my childhood dropped away and were replaced with something that I'd discovered for myself.
The next 10 years were a roller-coaster ride. By the time I was 15 I was spending all my time in India at the Ashram. I trained in Shiatsu, Reflexology, Cranio-Sacral Balancing and Massage. I learned how meditation could enrich life, and I learned the art of Celebration.
It was at the Ashram that I met my friend Miten. Although I was 20 years old and he was 42, our hearts immediately connected. I knew he was one of Osho's musicians, but that was about all I knew--apart from the fact that I felt warm whenever we were together. We laughed a lot... and still do! He wrote the most beautiful songs, some of which I knew from the communal celebrations. So when he began encouraging me to sing harmony with him, I didn't need a big push! I had grown up with music, playing violin and piano, so the ground work was already done. We soon began to sound pretty good!
We began offering voice workshops, using mantras and chants from different cultures to open the voice, and later we began playing concerts in Europe. At this point, I played a supporting role, singing second voice, playing keyboards, and co-leading the workshops. I was very shy to sing alone, but encouraged by Miten, I became more confident and eventually discovered my voice.
One day I heard the Gayatri Mantra being sung by a friend in England. It was a different version to the one I had grown up with, and knowing the text so well, I was touched and excited by what I heard. I felt re-connected. This time I could feel the power of the mantra as never before, the strong effect it had on me, and the sacredness of it.
We began featuring it in our concerts. At last I had found my song! I had found something that felt like 'mine.' I felt at home with it, and I watched as it touched people night after night. I began searching out more mantras and before I knew it, I soon had enough for my first album! We recorded it in my mother's flat--the same one I was born in, where the Gayatri Mantra had been sung to me all those years before.
Our plan was to make an album for people who attended our workshops. We gave it the title, The Essence. How it was received was beyond our wildest dreams. We were soon receiving floods of orders, and had to continually replenish stock! Now two years and 35,000 albums later, my next CD, Love is Space, has been received with the same love and appreciation as the first one by friends all over the world. I feel so deeply blessed and grateful that spirituality, creativity, work...and love all mean the same thing in my life. Existence has graced me with such a beautiful way to share myself and my music. I know that I am no more than a vehicle for these precious mantras, and I feel only humbled and honored to have become the messenger.
Editor's Note: Deva's father Wolfgang left his body on July 9, 2005 at the age of 83 accompanied by the Gayatri Mantra. Deva writes:
"I feel so grateful that I could be there until the moment of his death. We were singing the Gayatri Mantra to him until the end and so the circle is complete: He accompanied the beginning of my life with it and I the ending of his. I am also very touched by my family...how they were all joining Miten and I with the singing for him and how we are totally in tune with each other about how to deal with everything now..."
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