I’m often asked by students new to Kundalini Yoga how to do sadhana. They ask me how to learn the chants and which album to buy to learn them. Here’s your answer: Sadhana in the City by Sat Darshan Singh and the Kirtan Caravan.
Everybody has their favorite sadhana CD, and there are many utterly beautiful recordings with which I love to do sadhana. My choice of this album for students is not intended to take away any of the others’ magic. There is, however, something within the sacred sound current on this recording that is just right for someone who is new to sadhana. The words are pronounced perfectly and slowly enough for you to follow along. The melodies are easily chanted by those with good voices and by those less inclined vocally. Sat Darshan’s pacing allows for breathing in the appropriate places. This might all sound clinical, as if this is a straightforward album for the newcomer. Certainly, newcomers will appreciate it, but this is not a clinical album at all.
This album was created by the love and fusion of a group of friends, all devoted practitioners of Kundalini Yoga. You can feel that you, too, fit right in. If you shut your eyes you have an entire yoga class around you. They sound like old friends, and it is so much easier to do sadhana early in the morning if friends surround you. It doesn’t matter if you are alone when you do sadhana now, because the Kirtan Caravan is right there with you, encouraging you along.
Some albums are entirely about heart. There is plenty of heart here, as this is a labor of love between friends. But what is really extraordinary about this album is that it is able to balance the heart with the neutral mind. The neutral mind is a part of us that acts as an independent observer. It’s neither pro or con anything we are doing, and is a perfect space to meditate from. Sadhana is done in the Amrit Vela, or hours before dawn, because it is the ideal time to meditate. It’s also the time your meditative mind is the most sensitive. You become very receptive to the energies in the music you are singing, and if the sadhana leader is full of a particular emotion, you can pick that up in your field and begin to vibrate this way or that. Sat Darshan achieves a place of neutrality, so that you go straight into meditation during a very sensitive time and place. This is incredibly important, whether you are new to sadhana or a dedicated practitioner.
Sat Darshan has spent his entire life surrounded by the Aquarian Sadhana, and it shows. His mastery of the subtle energies of these chants and the delicate time in the early hours of the morning lends itself to a beautiful sadhana for all. His experience enhances yours.
On Wayantee, the gentle guitar by Josh Chaplin holds your hand and guides you into the sacred sadhana space. Sat Darshan’s rich and capable voice is a strong lamppost that shows you the light on the path. The Kirtan Caravan’s voices rush to greet you…you’ve come back to sing with them! They are all so happy you’ve come to join them in prayer. It is an inspiring and sweet recording of this powerful mantra.
The Mool Mantra again highlights the strength within Sat Darshan, both as a musician, a vocalist, and also a man. This mantra is a part of who is his. As the opening words of the Sikh holy book, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, they are a part of his soul’s destiny. He imparts that strength to you. The energy of his voice says, “You might be weak, you might be scared, you might be sad…but I promise you that these words will carry you through. Sing with me!” And you do. And it helps.
Sat Siri Siri Akal is a mantra that reminds your soul that it is both magnificent and deathless. You are eternal. There is no birth and no death for the soul. This version of Sat Siri maintains a neutrality and balance that allows the soul to feel and experience that place of independent observer. It’s like a long sigh after a hard day.
Rakhe Rakanahar is a song bringing in the protection of angelic forces. Sat Darshan also plays keyboards on this album, and here especially the polished choices he makes on keyboards really lend themselves to a lovely version of this mantra. This mantra is often mispronounced, so if you are learning, this is a great version to listen to in order to really pick up the subtleties of this beautiful prayer. The lovely voices of the backup singers, Bachan Kaur (who also wrote the melody) with Siri Rishi Kaur, Akalpreet Kaur, and SatJot Kaur sound like angels answering your call.
The pace picks up on Waheguru Wahejio, likely the result of Sat Darshan’s history with thousands of sadhanas. This chant can be where you loose energy, because it is sustained for 22 minutes and is nearing the end of a long sadhana early in the morning. Terrence Pompey on Dolak and Hari Atma on Bass won’t let you go back to sleep. The heavy rhythm gets you into a steady groove with this powerful mantra to connect with the Infinite.
Guru Ram Das is among the sweetest mantras in the Kundalini tradition. Arthur Knowse’s sweet violin provides the perfect addition to a lovely melody. It will help bring you back into your body after deep meditation, sealing a lovely energy into your day, and sealing Sat Darshan’s beautiful voice into your memory.
Sadhana in the City was produced and mixed by Sat Darshan as well, a labor of love and a debut album that comes after a lifetime devoted to the practice of Kundalini Yoga. It is a strong album, from talented musicians. But it becomes more than that after awhile. It becomes your sangat. If you are far away from the city, or living in a home environment where no one else shares your love for Kundalini Yoga, Sadhana in the City becomes your spiritual community, your home, your place of rest. Every morning, your friends will be there to sing with you, in your city, for your sadhana. Finally, you’ve found where you belong. In the company of your own soul. Welcome to the beauty of sadhana. Welcome to the beauty of Sadhana in the City.
- Ramdesh Kaur, Spirit Voyage Music