An interview with Deuter (Chaitanya Hari) by Waduda and Bhikkhu, founders of the music label, New Earth Records.
Since the Osho Active Meditations were first recorded in Pune over 40 years ago, they have inspired millions of meditators across the globe. Chaitanya Deuter, one of the first sannyasins Osho asked to record the live meditations held in Buddha Hall, recounts his memories of that time.
When and where did you first meet Osho?
I took sannyas in February of ’73. I originally met Osho in Bombay. I had been looking for a master, following a feeling of a certain something and traveling all over Asia to find it. When I met Osho, it was like this instant ‘click’ — I knew that was the guy I had been looking for. So I closed shop in Germany where I had been living and went to India. And from then on, he taught me to make meditation music.
Could you tell us about the origin of the music for the Kundalini and Dynamic meditations?
‘Dynamic Meditation’ was done to live music during the meditation camps we had with Osho. There were some Indian guys drumming like crazy — drumming and making noise! But there was no recording of ‘music’.
Then in Pune, in ’74, pretty much one of the very first things we did was to start working on music for the meditations. I remember that Osho had the idea of associating the flute sounds of a snake charmer with ‘Kundalini’. So I went out onto the streets and found this snake-charming guy sitting on a pavement behind the ashram. He did his tricks behind Lao Tzu House, and I recorded him playing while he was charming the snakes out of the basket. But it wasn’t the right thing. It didn’t work out; and so I started to compose the music myself.
Could you describe your collaboration process with Osho? Did he give you direct feedback?
Osho had the concept of the meditation. He explained to me what the meditation should do to the meditator and told me his ideas, what he thought might be good for it. And then, on my own, I either composed something new or took a piece from my existing collection. I would play it to him, and he would tell me what was not good, or that he couldn’t use some part of it. It was very much trial and error.
In the beginning when we first started, he would tell me, “I have this new meditation called ‘Mandala’. These are the stages and this is what it should do in people, and the energy should flow like this.” The goal was to try to make music for that. I would then go to him and play it.
Osho would listen on headphones, and then give me feedback. Then later, he said to just do what feels right to me, and he didn’t listen to it anymore. I guess he had to hear it anyway, once we had the big speakers you couldn’t avoid the music anymore. You had to hear it from six in the morning on – every day!
I was also editing Osho’s music. He loved Indian music and I made tapes for him. He would give me an LP or a tape and tell me he wanted this piece, and this piece behind that piece; so I was constantly working on making those special things for him.
In the beginning you’re nervous, there’s someone who you see as your master, and teacher. Someone who has something more than you have, and he tells you to do something – that creates a certain anxiety or nervousness. But it was really fun to do this also. Once the music was played and people started to hop around to it and jump, that was a fun feeling.
One of Osho’s ideas was that he wanted to have only musicians who were sannyasins, is that right?
That’s right. He wanted the whole music done in the ashram. In the beginning I didn’t have a studio in the ashram. I just had this cassette recorder; it was really hard to do anything — you couldn’t cut anything, you couldn’t edit. If you needed ten minutes of music you would have to play these ten minutes and play the next ten minutes right behind it. It was really hard.
Eventually, around 1974, or 1975 I had my own studio and that’s when I made another version of ‘Kundalini’ and ‘Dynamic’ and all the other meditations.
What other messages came straight from Osho?
He gave me very clear instructions. Osho said that once the music is done it shouldn’t be changed anymore. I had wanted to change it two years after it was first composed, because by then I had different equipment, different ideas and thought, “Now I can make the music much better.”
I went to Osho and said, “I want to do the ‘Kundalini’ again, this time differently,” and he said, “No, we have to leave it. It stays this way. It’s good. It works and it builds up every day as it connects with more people and energy, and it has to stay that way.”
He told me I could improve a little bit, maybe technically — if I had used pots [instead if music instruments] I could use something else in their place to make the sound better — but I couldn’t change the music at all.
Osho emphasized that it should stay the same music. He said that its effect in the meditation would build up over the years, that it would create its own energy field by itself. Over a thousand years the music would form a field of resonance that would deeply affect each person doing the meditation.
Do you agree that the energy of ‘Kundalini’ and the other meditations has been building up over the years?
Yes, I now know the ‘feeling’ of Kundalini meditation immediately when I hear the music.
What equipment did you have when you did the studio recordings in Pune?
The recording was very primitive because everything electronic in India at that time was very primitive. The Indian government didn’t allow electronic machines in. You weren’t allowed to import tape recorders and things like that.
As I said, I didn’t have a recording studio, just a tape recorder, and the tapes had to be smuggled in. We used to fight over tapes; we needed them for lectures. We also wanted to make music, but lecture tapes were number one. I didn’t have the right tools, the tools I would have loved to have to make this music.
In the beginning I bought thalis and pots. I went to the stores, and banged them, and bought the ones that sounded good. That is how I made the ‘Nadabrahma Meditation’.
Later, I went back to Europe, got my studio and brought it back to India. I shipped it over from Germany – it sat in Indian customs for almost a year. I had a four-track machine, a big Sony, and a mixing board and a Revox 2-track for mastering.
Were there any challenges that came with creating music at the ashram?
One thing that was certainly different was that it was much more difficult to make music, because of all the noise and disturbances — the ashram was so crowded, it was so full of people. The noise of constant construction… The ashram was constantly building one thing after another, there was always something going on. It brought me to tears a lot of the time. Jesus House, where I had my studio, was so full of people and activity.
Would you say that you enter a different dimension of ‘allowing’ music more than ‘making’ music?
Yes, and with Osho this dimension was even made more clear, because there was the personal there, the real presence of the Master — and thus there was a purpose in the music which felt absolutely right. I had had this feeling at the beginning already: that the music was doing something for me and to me, and that it was also affecting other people — healing, soothing, helping others to enter meditation.
Somehow it felt right for me to work in this way, allowing something to come through that was both touching me and others deeply. Within this context, it felt incredible to be doing this in the ashram, in the presence of a living Master, to serve the purpose of allowing it to come through – which was also Osho’s purpose.
It felt great. I loved making music for him. I always felt that music was for me the equivalent of service, the expression of the worshipful heart. In the beginning when I started making music for the meditations under Osho’s guidance, I felt this already. There was a surrendering happening, there was something greater than me going on and I surrendered to it. And I felt like I was serving.
What else would you like to say about your experience creating music at the ashram in Pune?
It was incredible. It was incredibly gratifying. I have always been playing the type of music which serves the purpose of healing or hypnosis. I love doing it.
Osho used to say that music is the last bridge into meditation. It is the highest form of art which can take you into silence. And I was always fascinated with sounds, music and silence.
It had always been a fascination to listen to where a sound comes from. Suddenly it’s there and you become aware of it, and by listening to the sound and its disappearance, its fading out, you also become aware of the silence — the silence the sound was born from and died into. When you listen to just one sound, like the gurgling of a fountain, you suddenly become aware of the silence too.
To me, music and meditation are two aspects of the same phenomenon. And without music, meditation lacks something; without music, meditation is a little dull, unalive. Without meditation, music is simply noise – harmonious, but noise. Without meditation, music is an entertainment. And without music, meditation becomes more and more negative, tends to be death-oriented. Hence my insistence that music and meditation should go together. That adds a new dimension to both. Both are enriched by it.”
Osho, The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 1, Ch12, Q 1
Chaitanya Deuter (deutermusic.com) is the composer and recording artist of many of the Osho Active Meditations, including Kundalini, Dynamic, Nadabrahma, Nataraj and more.
Deuter continues to create meditative music in his home studio in rural New Mexico. His collection of meditative healing music is presented by New Earth Records (newearthrecords.com) and is available via most streaming platforms.