Deva Premal & Miten
Deva Premal & Miten began their journey into love and music in 1990 when they met at an ashram in India. Their worldwide concerts and best-selling albums have since introduced millions of Westerners to the joy and deep relaxation found in chanting mantras from the Eastern meditation traditions.
Deva’s debut album The Essence, which rocketed to the top of New Age charts around the world when it was released in 1998, introduced a unique musical genre, offering the ancient mantras of India and Tibet in contemporary musical settings.
Since then Deva & Miten have released a string of acclaimed CDs with sales of nearly one million, and their concerts have moved from small yoga studios to audiences of thousands in concert halls, cathedrals and music festivals around the planet.
Their music transcends all the usual musical boundaries, receiving accolades from such luminaries as best-selling author Eckhart Tolle, who calls their music “pure magic.” Hollywood icon Cher cites Deva’s The Essence as “My favorite CD to do yoga to.” Motivation guru, Anthony Robbins, describes their music as “Passionate and powerful.” Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama is reported to listen to their music during his private time and, when hearing Deva & Miten chant his favorite mantra at a private audience, exclaimed, “Beautiful music, beautiful…!”
German-born Deva Premal is a classically trained musician who grew up singing mantras as bedtime songs. Her mother plays viola da gamba and her father was an artist and a devotee of the spiritual path, including Zen and Yoga. He taught himself Sanskrit and Deva notes that “When my mother was pregnant with me, their welcome was to sing the Gayatri Mantra throughout the pregnancy.
“As I grew up we continued to chant the Gayatrii 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.”
As a teenager, she moved away from the confines of both her classical music training in voice, violin and piano, and the mantra practice, and began to explore on her own. At age 11, her search brought her to become a disciple of the enlightened mystic Osho, and later, she went to the ashram in India to begin studies in body work, including massage, shiatsu and cranio-sacral therapies.
It was in Osho’s ashram that she and Miten met. “Although I was 20 years old and he was 42, our hearts immediately connected,” she says. “I knew he was one of Osho’s musicians, but that was about all I knew–apart from the fact that I felt good whenever we were together. We laughed a lot… and still do. He writes the most beautiful songs, some of which I knew from the ashram celebrations.”
Miten was born in London and grew up in the 60’s. “At that time, England was alive with rock ‘n’ roll music and the sound of The Beatles,” he recalls. “Everywhere you went it was on the street. It was a time of innocence, a time when you could sense the possibility that life has no boundaries.”
He later went on to establish a successful career for himself in the 70s as a singer/songwriter, touring with such bands as Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed and Ry Cooder. During this time he released two well-received albums, one produced by The Kinks, another by noted Los Angeles producer Bones Howe for Ariola Records. This period of his life was exciting, but left him unfulfilled: “I had a couple of album deals, and moved into writing music for other people, then radio and TV work, then eventually found myself in my 30’s asking questions — I was looking for something more substantial in my life than the usual diet of sex, drugs and rock and roll.”
Miten left everything he had known before, even selling his guitars, and after discovering Osho when a friend gave him a book on Zen, dropped out of his career and into a life as a member of a meditation community. Here he found a new approach to music: “It was an amazing revelation. I wasn’t prepared for the healing power of the music that was happening around Osho. This turned my head to what real sacred music was – even though it was western in style, it still had the most uplifting and spiritual nature, especially the ‘Music Groups’ and the Sufi dances. I was hooked on Sufi dance and never missed an opportunity to participate. All this music, along with a life of communal integration, deeper relating, and Osho’s discourses and meditations, healed me from whatever wounds I’d been carrying around music, and life in general.”
By 1990, when he and Deva met, he was leading the music for thousands of people attending the evening meditations at the ashram in India, and eventually invited Deva to join. Later they began offering voice workshops and concerts in Europe. Deva recalls, “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.
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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!”
The Essence soon topped New Age and Alternative music charts worldwide, and Deva and Miten became planetary gypsies, bringing the ancient healing power of mantra into the 21st century. Their concerts and workshops are more than music – they are invitations to share in a deep moment of meditation.
As Deva says, “Without the silence that follows the chants, you get only half the story. It’s like the climax of a good story. The silence is there because it exists in the music. It just needs to be exposed and acknowledged. It’s so easy to overlook the silence inside the music… and it’s that which is healing us… if we allow it to be there. This is really one of the main reasons Miten and I sing – to bathe in Silence. It’s our nourishment. It’s what keeps us on the road. For me there is nothing more precious than having sung with an audience, ecstatic with bliss, and then entering the deep silence that the mantra brings… so deep, that with closed eyes you really feel there is ‘nobody’ there at all… all personalities dissolved for a tiny sacred moment.”
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