Musician performs Sanskrit chants |

Musician performs Sanskrit chants

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Growing up in Long Island, musician Krishna Das had no idea that a first-time visit to India when he was 23 would be a huge catalyst to his future career.

“Everything was pulling me – the music, the spirituality – to India,” Das said Tuesday from Arizona where he had two performances. “India totally changed my life – I was very depressed, very unhappy, I couldn’t find any reason to live, and I felt I could find something in India.”

Acquiring that different context for life, Das stayed in India from 1970 to 1973 until Maharaj-ji, his Ashram teacher in the Himalayas, sent him back to America “to do my work.”

That work would be to chant before audiences in the States, which Das will do Sunday at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, accompanied by his tabla player.

Sunday’s concert will consist of chants in Sanskrit and in the language used by villagers in India, rather than the traditional music of priests.

“I give out word sheets. Most of the people who come to see me already know what the music is. They’ve already seen me or have the CDs,” said Das when asked to describe his music. Since 1996, he has released four CDs.

Possessing a great sense of humor, Das jokingly said Sunday’s audience can expect a good sleep before explaining, “They can expect a call and response – I say a line, they answer and it builds in intensity. They’ll definitely feel lit up, peace of mind, happiness.”

Now living in upstate New York, Das is on the road 10 months of the year throughout the United States and Europe.

“This is what I like; I was surprised anyone else liked it,” Das said. “This is not Indian music. The music is very Western, the lyrics are Indian.”

Das has outgrown his early venues, when he performed solely at yoga centers in the 1970s.

“Too many people come to the events,” said Das, who usually attracts between 300 to 500 audience members.

“Definitely the halls are getting bigger, the crowds are getting bigger,” Das said. “I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done, which is sit down in front of the harmonium and sing. I think with all this stress today, people are looking for a way to live with it without being destroyed.”

His music is nondenominational.

“This is not about religion, it’s about individual peace of mind,” Das said. “I’m not a Hindu. I don’t belong to any organized religion; I’m just trying to be a human being.”


WHAT: Krishna Das in concert

WHEN: Sunday at 8 p.m.

WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets at Herb Shop Records, BriarPatch, Book Seller and on-line at


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