Miten is interviewed in Corfu where he held a concert and the singing workshop together with Deva Premal and Manose.
Miten, I always think of you more as a magician than as a musician because at the end of your singing groups and concerts you manage to create such a long and deep silence in the audience. Although I have often been standing behind you, playing in the percussion section, I have never detected your trick. Tell me, what is it?
Punya – it’s Osho…it always was and it always will be!
I remember you saying once that you felt more like a sannyasin playing music rather than a musician who happens to be a sannyasin. At the time I was not aware that you had been a successful musician before. In essence, how did you come to Osho?
I came to Osho in mysterious circumstances – just like every one else. We all have a story. Mine is too long and involved to get into here but I can tell you that music was my life until I took sannyas. Then I dropped music. Well, I didn’t actually drop music, I dropped the concept of being a ‘musician’. It was a cross I carried and when I moved into the commune I didn’t need it any more. What a relief!
I loved to dance and to sing and to dive into the Sufi dances… and I loved to hear the muscians play. I’d never heard music like Anubhava’s. It was a revelation to me. Gradually, as the healing began to kick in, I started to pick up the guitar again…
My life before sannyas was that of a struggling musician, ambitious, living in London, trying to make his way in the music business. I was a singer-songwriter and was fairly successful – I made an album with the Kinks! – and another with a big record company and they sent me out on tour with big stars (Fleetwood Mac, Ry Cooder, Lou Reed etc..) but after a while it all seemed worthless.
I needed more than music… well, I needed REAL music. That’s what Osho gave me – real music.
It appears to me that it is Deva Premal who has brought Indian mantras to the attention of contemporary audiences; so much so that in all the singing groups nowadays the mantras are a ‘must’. How do you explain that?
Well, mantras are powerful medicine. Once you come under their spell, they can change your life. They are much more than they might first appear. They open a door to the beyond. Our experience is that as more and more people heard them, so the desire and the quest to embrace them grew. They wanted to chant, they wanted to sing them, they felt uplifted, they felt inspired.
In the ashram, we all focused more on Sufi chants – because they were closer to Anubhava’s heart. Mantras have the same power, of course. All Deva and I are doing is to carry the flame of Anubhava’s music groups…
The last time I saw Deva Premal she was playing the tamboura for the White Robe meditation in Pune and singing the harmonies in your songs. But already then you had warned me that she was working on her own CD! Now there are 8 CDs to her name alone (without counting those where she sings and plays with you).
We recorded Deva’s first CD in two weeks in her mothers apartment, the same apartment where her parents chanted mantras at her birth and for bedtime stories…! Rajrishi and Maneesh de Moor worked with us. We worked fast, we wanted to see if we could capture the essence of Deva’s voice. She was so innocent and so without any musician’s ego…and she had something so clear and clean in her voice – a quality that just brought tears to our eyes… It was so refreshing.
When she finished singing the Gayatri Mantra during those sessions, we felt the room was filled with light. That was the beginning. After that we went on a never-ending journey.
I have heard Deva Premal tell the story about how she came to know the Gayatri Mantra in a video. Could I hear it again?
Deva came to Osho as an 11 year old. She saw a video discourse. She couldn’t speak English at the time, but something in her – her inner voice let’s say – said “Here is my master!” She began joining in the Dynamic Meditations (at 11 years old) and before long Osho had given her the name Deva Premal (divine loving).
The Gayatri Mantra was chanted at her birth and through the pregnancy. It is the most powerful of all mantras. She chanted it every night before sleeping; it’s in her blood.
It was fate that she rediscovered it when we were touring around the Osho centers about 10 years later. Once she began to sing it everything changed. It was way more than music. Like I said, it was in her blood, it was like waves of love pouring out into the audience, and being sung back to us. Everywhere we played people were touched. It felt like a divine blessing, nothing to do with us – it was beyond personal. We just sang it and loved it like a rare and precious plant. We watered it and took care of it… and celebrated it’s flowering
Manose has been the third member of your band for quite a few years – so much so that your songs are almost unthinkable without his flute. How did he become a permanent member of your band?
Manose came to us in the same way we discovered the Gayatri Mantra. He just appeared…! At first he was a session musician – he played on a CD (Embrace) which we were recording in San Francisco – which is where he lived. He played so great, we loved what he did on that CD and he loved our music too… so, it was already potentially potent.
A year later we invited him to play some concerts with us. It took a few years before we actually became a trio.
Deva and I never really expected it to grow like it has… neither did Manose..! But, like everything else that has happened to us on this journey – it was meant to be. We could never have dreamed Manose up! He’s too perfect to imagine: not only an inspirational musician – the right instrument – but he’s a beautiful man and a shining spirit.
We just fit together – it’s a love affair… that’s all there is to it. We know each others groove so well now, so it is an effortless experience to play / live together.
Although he never met Osho he has become a lover, seeing him through our eyes for so many years, and meeting Osho’s people. He is Krishna reincarnated…!!
You have been together for over twenty years – playing music together, travelling, working and living together. Has this anything to do with Tantra? And how did the idea arise to combine Tantra with singing retreats? I see you have offered one with Rafia here in Corfu.
I see our concerts as Tantra with clothes on! It’s the same expression, it’s making love, it’s breathing, it’s respecting, it’s orgasmic… so yes, it is Tantra.
The ‘Tantra Mantra’ programme came about because we saw that chanting and singing turned people on. When couples began telling us they’d gone home after the concerts and made love, we saw the potential of how we could help people by combining a group which consisted of chanting and sacred love making.
We saw Rafia as the perfect co–leader. We were good friends, we’d worked together – and we knew he could bring in some great Tantric meditations. He said yes, but on the provision that we worked with couples. Since then we have shared the programme twice a year – on Corfu and in Mexico, next year also at the Blue Spirit Retreat Resort in Costa Rica.
It is an beautiful process – very powerful, and transformational. We see all variations in the couples – some newly together, some 30 years together and we have watched people rediscover each other and rekindle their love for each other.
Do you have an idea in which direction the caravan is moving? New ideas? New ventures? Also, you travel most of the time, how can you manage to remain so fresh and relaxed?
Deva and I are a work in progress, we see everything is evolving all the time. Yes, we have new albums to record – more music coming through.
We just finished a CD where Deva chants with the Gyuto Monks of Tibet (Tibetan Mantras for Turbulent Times). It is quite incredible to hear the low intense voices of the monks and Deva’s together: ethereal and yet completely of the earth. Powerful medicine! We added some great musicians (David Darling and Kit Walker) and it sounds like a great movie soundtrack!
Life is one long vacation for us. As musicians, we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. Who would have thought that the music groups we all loved in the ashram would be received in theaters and cathedrals all over the world?
It would be a fairy tale if it wasn’t Osho…! We love to be together, we love to play music together. We love to travel, we love to share the mantras with so many open hearted people… We love to take care of the gift that Osho gave us…
We are carried on the wings of song, Punya, it’s an easy ride!
Miten has sent a beautiful quote by Osho on the Om Purnam Mantra (Dakshina)…