Following his heart

January 30, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 02:15 am IST

World musician and chant guru Krishna Das shares what transformed him from a rock ‘n’ roll star to a spiritual teacher

Some people call him the chant master of American yoga while others call him yoga’s rockstar. He’s also a Grammy-award nominee who has collaborated with Sting on an album and he’s a world-famous musician. However, Krishna Das, popularly called KD, likes to refer to himself as a simple man who’s learnt how important real love is. The musician-chant guru was in Bengaluru recently as part of his Kirtan Wallah India Tour 2015: Love and Beyond.

Performing tracks from his latest album, which has a musical style that is decidedly western, with modern rock and country influences and instrumentation, he enthralled audiences with his soulful voice and exhilarating East-meets-West confluence.

Formerly known as Jeffrey Kagel, Krishna Das used to be the lead singer in a rock and roll band in the US before he came to the foothills of the Himalayas to transform into a chanting musician and starting a new life as a spiritual teacher and world musician.

His album Live Ananda was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age album category and the artiste performed at the Grammy Awards in 2013, as well as featured in the award-winning film One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das .

Not his first time in Bengaluru, KD says he loves interacting with the city’s people. “Bengaluru is very diverse and is open to a lot of things. While I’ve visited the city often, this is my first show here.” On his programme, KD says: “The funny thing is, because of the Internet, almost everyone who comes to the chanting already knows about it. They know all my jokes. I can’t even tell my jokes anymore. People who are coming already know what to expect and come because they want to participate. The ones who come are the ones I’ve already fooled and the people who aren’t coming are the ones I couldn’t fool,” he laughs.

On his journey so far, KD says his first visit to India was in 1970 and he stayed here for two-and-a-half years. “When I first heard about India, I was a kid. I was fascinated by the idea of all these yogis and the Himalayas. That romantic India attracted me a lot. When I came here, it was fantastic. I felt very much at home. India nurtured my heart all these years.”

While he didn’t necessarily choose his own path, KD says: “I rather followed my heart and did what I felt I had to do. Sometimes it got me into a lot of trouble. You should read my book. It also trained me to go after what I wanted to do. It’s a very strong lesson people have to learn - that if they don’t go after what they want, they’ll never get it. It’s not so easy. You need to do some soul searching to find out what you are looking for, and have a reflection of your motives.”

To those who would like to follow their hearts, KD says they need to find out what that phrase actually means. “You need to see if you are happy with what you have. The most important thing is to understand that real happiness is possible. This is what people don’t realise and they give up and settle for less. Real happiness is possible and it lives within us. You need to find out on your own. There is no shortcut and no one can do it for you. But it can be done,” he sums up.

When I came to India, it was fantastic. I felt very much at home. India nurtured my heart all these years

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