‘Krishna Das’ to perform in Grass Valley
“Krishna Das” is certainly not a western name.
They are two Hindi (Indian language) words which mean “servant of Krishna (a Hindu divine incarnation).” And the reason why 58-year-old Jeffrey Kagel, a resident of Spring Valley, N.Y., calls himself Krishna Das is because his late Indian guru named him so in 1971.
Today Krishna Das conducts kirtan (Hindi word for “devotional chantings”) sessions throughout the U.S. and abroad. On Sunday, he will hold a session at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall in Grass Valley.
The program starts at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:30 p.m.
“It is something that cannot be put into words except that it opens my heart,” said Grass Valley-resident Linda Savitz, who has been an ardent follower of Krishna Das’s music since 1994. “When I saw him perform live for the first time in 1999, I wanted to chant with him live as much as possible because of how I was feeling.”
Savitz, who is involved in selling tickets for the Grass Valley program, said she’s had people following Krishna Das from place to place.
“I have people coming down from Oregon to see him,” she said. “People are coming up from Los Angeles. People from San Francisco are coming to see him, too.”
Krishna Das found his calling in 1994, when he “recognized that unless I sang with people, I won’t be able to clean my own heart, I wouldn’t be able to reach the dark places in my heart.”
To get things going, he contacted a local yoga center in New York and volunteered to lead chanting sessions. Gradually what began as a Monday night, 10-person singing group, expanded to its present proportions, Krishna Das said.
Today Krishna Das travels all the time on his singing tours. He has seven music CDs and two DVDs, which include documentaries about him and footages of his performances. He visited European countries and Brazil last year, according to Savitz.
His Web site, http://www.krishnadas.com, shows he is booked all the way through October and will perform in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.
According to Krishna Das, he chants not only names of Hindu divinities but also Christ.
“I don’t approach the deities as if they are outside of me,” he said. “I approach each deity as a representative of the love that lies within.”
Krishna Das confesses his kirtans – mostly composed by him – are more western in tune than Indian.
“It’s a breath for the heart,” Savitz said about Krishna Das’s songs. “The heart opens up without any kind of restriction or limitation. It is an experience not to be missed.”
Tickets for the Grass Valley performance cost $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. They are available at the Briar Patch Market, Record Connection, and The Book Seller in Grass Valley, Yabobo in Nevada City, Cherry Records in Auburn, New Moon Natural Foods in Truckee, and Sacramento Natural Food Coop in Sacramento. For more information contact, The Art of Yoga at 477-0221.
To contact staff writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros @theunion.com or call 477-4229.
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