Nitya and Ninad share their story about Mantra singing.
Nitya, your connection with music started as a child and later, as a journalist, you found yourself again involved with music because you chose to work in the music and film section of renowned Italian publishers. It seems writing and music are your great passions?
Yes, they are. I started to sing and play guitar with my father when I was twelve; he is an engineer who used to play guitar, sing a lot and paint. I also played the piano for a while, and later, at seventeen, I sang as a solo voice in church for many years. At the same time, as a young journalist I totally focused on matters ‘of the world’ and on the job, although for me to be a journalist always meant to meet the other person on a deeper level.
Nevertheless I must have realised that ‘in the world’ there was nothing which could take me deeper. I began listening to music from sannyasins such as Miten and Milarepa. I remember also that I enjoyed the company of musicians like Nivedano, Rupesh, Somesh more than that of others. As it became clear later, the fact that I quit singing for years, was caused by the shock of separating from my first boyfriend when I was 22.
How did you come to Osho?
It was around that time. I was studying Literature and Art at Uni and had this thought, “Life cannot be just suffering, there must be something more….” After I split up with my first love, I lived on my own for two years and hardly saw anyone, because all the friends I had were common friends and it was complicated to handle the situation, too many games were played. So I decided to cut off everybody drastically. I remember feeling very alone, and wondering why all this was happening to me.
I could have never imagined what would happen after that ‘neti neti’ moment! Looking for help, I met an Osho therapist and started to work on myself. Two years later I flew to Pune, on my own. I told my new boyfriend I had to go alone… and I am very happy that I took courage to do this. In return I received a lot: in Pune I found many answers to my musings if there was ‘something more’ to life.
Music, and singing in particular, came into your life again when you visited Corfu and participated in a workshop by Satyaa and Pari?
Not exactly. It happened when I participated in one of their evening events at Alexis Zorbas. I had the experience of ‘simply being’, staying in ‘that’, as Pari talks about all the time. It touched something deeper in me than any therapy, deeper than dramas with men, deeper than any idea of making efforts to reach something. It was a space in which everything was perfect. All I had to do was to stop doing and be silent… Of course I had heard the expression of ‘simply being’ many times before, but only on precisely that evening it really sank in. The mantras must have created the space for this to happen. There was a change of direction for someone like me who was always ‘interfering’ and ‘doing” something’: the ocean had broken its barriers and was calling me….
When did you meet Ninad, your partner in life and fellow musician?
I had just returned from South India where I had participated in the 21-day Deeksha process at the Oneness University. During that time, all of a sudden and after many years of ‘silence’ (as far as music was concerned) I found myself singing and playing the guitar in front of Shree Bhagavan, the initiator of this process. This was another moment when I was blessed by a guru’s grace, and experienced something the mind cannot imagine but understands when it happens. Back in Milan I met Ninad. He mirrored the space I was in and his presence was a living invitation to keep trusting this space.
Ninad, where did you meet Nitya?
I met Nitya at the Osho Meditation Centre in Milan during an evening event, where we shared some Osho songs. I remember how our voices matched and melted together from the very beginning. Straight after that event, we started singing mantras together.
I saw in her a beautiful woman, full of energy and creativity and felt she was energetically connected to me. There was this deep feeling of ‘togetherness’. At the time I was connected to another woman and was afraid to feel the pain of separation, but it was impossible not to be with Nitya.
Ninad, when did you meet Osho and what did you study?
I met Osho in my twenties, while I was still studying piano and composition at the Conservatory in Milan. I later worked as a music therapist for ten years. The work I was doing at Esagramma was very interesting, Esagramma being the first institute in Italy which uses music to help people with mental and physical problems. Together with other musicians we arranged pieces of classical music, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, especially for this purpose. Each musician supported a person in one to one sessions and then, after they had learned their piece, we all became part of an orchestra, all melting together.
The question of “Who am I?” had always been the driving force in my life, but in the beginning it had another meaning, like “Who am I in the world? Who am I between these people?” Later, when I dropped out of University (I was studying Environmental Science), I dedicated myself fully to music and meditation and this question became the central focus.
How did meeting Osho change your lifestyle?
It changed radically. I did not meet Osho in person, what I met were his words and the energy that came to me through his sannyasins. It was exactly what I needed, something to push me out from my conditionings, away from my fears and into a new life where I could start to express myself. I started with a therapy group of course, then it grew in the direction of inquiry and singing.
Ninad, years later you travelled with Nitya to Tiruvannamalai.
The reason why we went to Tiruvannamalai was to visit the ashram of Ramana Maharshi, a master I had ‘met’ years earlier and who impressed me with the purity of his teachings. Tiruvannamalai, and especially the mountain Arunachala, were a magnet to take me deeper into meditation. At the same time it was challenging for me to see life beyond the identification with my body. Many things happened there for me, including a profound insight into the practise of the Japa Mantra.
Are you singing mantras which you have composed yourselves or are these traditional Indian Mantras?
Both, but mostly composed by us. From all the mantras which are around, we feel most connected with the ones in Sanskrit. It is a language which has the power to connect directly to the soul, to the source of existence. In our workshops and events we aim that the participants experience this connection. We create the atmosphere to sink into something… We are not so much into philosophy, we are interested in experiencing the love we have inside of us – and this has nothing to do with India, Tibet or the West. It has to do with us, and singing mantras opens a new dimension in this direction, full of discoveries.
Where do you offer workshops, in Italy and also abroad? Is this the first time you will go abroad abroad?
We started singing in Milan, then travelled around Italy. The events in Italy eventually became more frequent, and then we started to travel also to Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. We enjoy seeing diverse landscapes and meeting different people. At the end of the touring season we gather in Corfu, Greece. It is now the third year that we offer ‘One Love’, our summer workshop in July, in Alexis Zorbas. It is a week in which we want to share all those things we love most: singing, meditating, sinking into the mystery, being together, enjoying nature, celebrating life!
Last question: why mantras?
Mantras are universal. They say things that no word can express. It is our heart singing, it is our innermost longing for the divine speaking up… It is refreshing, it gives you a lot of insights, it leads you exactly where you need to go, in a mysterious way… It brings balance between the left and the right side of the brain, between the rational and the emotional part, and this affects the choices we make; it directs us towards more positive things. It is the marriage between music and the divine… a tremendous help, no matter on which path you are… But then, in the end, you have to find out for yourself…
Interview by Punya
Watch the ‘One Love in Corfu’ (12-19 July 2014) video on YouTube