"Sacred Chants of Shiva" was the first in a series of now globally known CDs, created by composer/musician Craig Pruess, as a direct result of the deep silence, joy and upliftment he felt from his experiences on courses offered by the International Art of Living Foundation, and also by his direct guidance and profound inspiration from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, and one of the greatest and most illuminated spiritual masters of our present time.
During 1990's, Craig felt that there were few CDs in the market that genuinely induced a deep meditation state in the listener. As a serious student of Indian classical music, and practicing yogi himself, he naturally turned to the ancient Vedic tradition of India, the fountainhead of deep spiritual knowledge and awakening. Many of the ancient chants contained in this CD originated many thousands of years ago, when the sages of old understood the subtle workings of the mind and the innate power of sound and vibration.
Background to this CDs creator: Craig Pruess.
Craig is one of the few session musicians, conductors and composers active in the UK music scene who has mastered and synthesized three great musical traditions of the world: Western classical and contemporary, Indian classical, and African music. His credits are extensive and impressive: two UK number one film scores for “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Bride & Prejudice”, plus art films, “The Mistress of Spices”, “What’s Cooking?” and “Bhaji on the Beach”. He has scored some of the most successful independent TV drama series in UK history (“Peak Practice” for ITV), and arranged and conducted orchestras for Massive Attack, Def Leppard, Bond and Sir Cliff Richard, including composing the number one UK chart hit single at the Millennium, “Two Worlds” (the double A side to Sir Cliff’s “The “Millennium Prayer” - a million seller in the UK).
As a session musician and Indian music consultant, Craig has played sitar on the Manic Street Preacher’s number one UK album “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours” (on the track “Tsunami”). Craig has created the Indian music colors (playing sitar, tambura, swaramandala - zither) for the Johnny Depp, Tim Burton film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the Harry Potter film “The Goblet of Fire”, the Madonna film “The Next Best Thing”, the Heather Graham film “The Guru”, and most recently “Shoot on Sight” with Greta Scacchi. Other keyboard and sitar session work has included Elton John, Mike Oldfield, Katie Melua, Gareth Gates, Selena Jones, Joe Cocker and Japan.
Craig is an accredited yoga/meditation teacher for the international Art of Living Foundation, and regularly stages music/meditation concerts/experiences internationally. He has performed for the Dalai Lama, at the WOMAD Festival in the UK, Glastonbury Festival, and also for Prince Charles (an exclusive and private concert at the Prince’s home in 2004). His original ground-breaking albums “Sacred Chants of Shiva”, “Sacred Chants of Buddha” and “The 108 Sacred Names of Mother Divine” are sold in over 100 countries around the globe, with “Sacred Chants of Shiva”, especially, selling many millions in the Indian subcontinent.
Born and raised in Westchester County, New York, and playing music from a young age, he attended MIT studying physics and philosophy, and later traveled and became a full time member of the teaching staff at the East African Conservatoire of Music in Nairobi, Kenya (1971-1973), before coming and settling in England in March 1973. For his full professional biography and early background, see his Heaven on Earth Music website.
Besides being a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record producer and seasoned arranger, Craig is also a sound designer and sound engineer with a great wealth of experience and technical expertise, which shows in all his unique and crystal clear recordings. Indian music is a very old and powerful tradition, with intricate knowledge of the connection between sound/vibration and the human body and emotions. Craig has also studied Ayur-Veda (the science of perfect health), and his approach to music and recording is a totally life integrating and life affirming undertaking.
"The Sacred Chants of Shiva" has come to be considered a truly original and landmark recording. Originally released in 1999 throughout India, it has since expanded to over 100 countries and sold millions and millions. These deep and spacious Sanskrit chants create a settled, warm, cosmic expansive mood -- perfect for yoga, meditation, body work, message, Reiki and/or profound healing. The sound landscape to compliment the voices is well crafted, but highly unusual in its combination of subtle, moving sounds. There is the resonant drone instrument, the "tanpura", and the beautiful, glistening Indian zither, the "swaramandala", along with beautifully played bamboo flute, the "bansuri". It is definitely "eyes closed" music - not recommended for playing while driving! (sounds like a government health warning!)
The featured singers include: Bhanumati Narsimhan, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's sister; Urmila Devi Goenka, a European-based Art of Living advanced course teacher, and Craig himself, chanting with other Art of Living members on the long, slow "Om Nama Shivaya" selection. The haunting bansuri performances (Indian bamboo flute) are by Pt. Deba Prasad Bannerji, with all arrangements and recording and sound production by Craig Pruess. (recorded in the UK).
The album takes ambient world music to another level, making the heart of the Indian classical tradition easily accessible to all cultures and all musical tastes. Sanskrit is the root of all the Indo-European languages of the world and its sound has primordial resonance in the body, mind and goes right to our inner core. These ancient chants are beautifully pronounced, this CD having been created as a loving collaboration by experienced Indian and Western "yogis". It is simply and powerfully "spiritual music" at its most purely intended.
The Art of Living Foundation is a non-profit educational organisation, and one of the fastest growing NGO's (non-governmental organisations) in the world, dedicated to improving every aspect of human life on this planet. Effective programs include: prisoner rehabilitation, personal development courses, corporate sessions, poverty eradication in poor rural locations in Africa and India, natural health improvement schemes, meditation and yoga training, powerful breathing techniques for a more joyful stable and dynamic life, key post-traumatic relief work in places of natural disasters (also including 9-11), and youth training and women's empowerment programs.
Sacred Chants of Shiva: Amazon.com comments: (where is has a five star rating)
"I really enjoyed the music especially the first two tracks. They have become my favorite on the cd. I first heard it in a meditation group and "really' heard it. I have numerous chanting cd's but this is my favorite. I hear the heart and soul of the singers. Beautiful!" - Allison Chambers
"Track 6 "Om Nama Shivaya" lasts for 30 minutes, and those who are chanting in the recording are probably already in a state approaching ananda. I believe it will transport you effortlessly to a wonderful transpersonal state because that's what I experienced. Please sit for at least five minutes in silence after listening to any of the six tracks and you will deepen in the moment. Namaste." - W. Sydnor
"The approach of these singers is one focused on beauty of tone without affectation. Natural instruments enhance and combine to set a very meditative tone to this incredibly beautiful recording. The performances ring true and produces a resonance of spirit that should set the standard toward which others move. That direction of movement is into an ethereal atmosphere of timelessness whose anchor is peace. I can't get enough of this: more, please!" - Phillip Paris
"This is truly music of awakening. Listen to it in silence and stillness, and experience for yourself..." - Kaizan
"The first time I listened to this was after I went for a talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. After the meditation that he led, to listen to this CD was heaven itself. I bought this CD after completing my Art of Living Course. And I listened to it for 3 months everyday! In fact, in those 3 month, I would refuse to listen to any other music! This will take you to a completely different space!"
and more from Amazon.co.uk: (also five star rating)
"I really love this CD. The music is both mesmerising and uplifting and seems to be very well produced to my non-professional ears. I use it in complementary therapy sessions, and find that it transports both myself and my clients to the next level in relaxation. As the practitioner I find it enhances my energy and is great for mental focus.
The CD starts with themes suitable to relax into and get ones mental focus and Chi going. It then moves into some very uplifting and "spiritually" energising chants, and finishes with a very gentle and soothing chant.
I'm recommending it to most of my colleagues! Can't say better than that! " - Dan Kahn
(Please note: as far we know, none of the above people are our acquaintances, and their remarks were unsolicited, appearing on the Amazon site, where you can check them out.) =;-D