In contrast to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of Miten, Deva Premal was raised in an atmosphere of mantra and spiritual discipline.
Born in Nürnberg, Germany in 1970 of a mystic/artist father and a musically talented mother, she was taught violin, piano and received voice training. By the time she was five years old, she was already chanting the Gayatri Mantra daily, and since that time she continues to integrate meditation into her life.
She has studied Shiatsu, Reflexology, CranioSacral Therapy and Massage, but music remains her first love. The influence of Indian classical music is evident in her singing, although she has never attempted to copy or steal from the tradition.
“It just comes naturally, as if I’d heard it all before, in another life.”
Among the numerous letters of appreciation she has received since the release of her albums, many describe how her music has been used to accompany and enhance the sacred passages of birth and death. In fact, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the world famous author of On Death And Dying, requested that Miten and Deva bring their music to accompany her passing. “We have played for many people,” says Deva, “but to play personally for Elizabeth was something I will never forget.”
If ever proof was needed that meditation could save a life, then you’d need to look no further than Miten’s story.
Here was a young English musician high on sex, drugs and rock’ n roll, and groping through a life of un-fulfilled potential … touring in the 1970s as an opening act for so many, including Fleetwood Mac, Hall and Oates, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, The Velvet Underground etc etc… recording albums with The Kinks and legendary Los Angeles producer, Bones Howe…
Superficially, a great life for a young man in the heart of the London music scene – and yet it was not enough – nowhere near enough – all he had to show for his ‘success’ was a heartache and a hangover.
Desperate, one morning Miten woke up and with a resolve he didn’t know he possessed, walked out of his world, never to return. Record company, managers, publishers, band members, friends and family… all became history in one single flash of insight.
Of course the psychological implications of such an intense life-changing upheaval came with a price – he had to live with the pain and guilt of leaving behind a wife and a young son. Later, he would say that he felt like he’d been swept along on a tidal wave, guided by an unseen hand into the wild and tempestuous world of the notorious Indian mystic, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
Discarding all his guitars, he entered his new world psychologically raw, naked and with the innocent eyes of a child. His fellow ashram-ites had no idea of his previous occupation and he had no intention of letting on.
Adopting a Gurdjieffian-type outlook, he chopped vegetables for a year in the ashram kitchen, healing his anguished heart, learning how to meditate, and gradually reconnecting with his ‘original face’ as the Zen people say.
Slowly but surely the sun rose, the mist cleared and one fateful day our hero stood alone in the light of a brand new morning, re-born, transformed, re-booted and ready to participate in life’s great chaotic extravaganza.
He picked up a guitar for the first time in years and began to sing simple songs of redemption, gratitude and devotion. Then in 1990, he met a beautiful 20 year old German girl who had been living in the ashram in India since she was a teenager. That young lady happened to be Deva Premal. Not the Deva Premal of the mesmerising voice and the ancient mantras. This Deva Premal wasn’t even singing when they met. But with Miten’s gentle coaxing and guidance, the young Deva began to find her voice…
These days Miten continues to chop vegetables, but since then, has re-integrated music back into his life. Together with his beloved Deva, he travels the world sharing what he calls ‘the master’s grace’ through music, mantra and meditation.
Footnote – happy ending: Miten’s son, the one that he left in London all those years ago, recently invited his father to be his best man at his wedding and has since named his second son after his father – ‘Miten’.
Manose’s hometown, Boudha, Nepal, stands on the ancient route leading from the Himalayan mountains down into the Kathmandu valley.
It is just upriver from Nepals most holy Hindu temple, and is home itself to an important Buddhist shrine. An influx of Tibetan refugees who congregated around the great Boudhanath shrine, and the outward growth of Kathmandu city has created there a nexus where everyone from religious pilgrims, to enclaves of traders, and Western adventurers converged to meet, mingle, haggle, and gawk. It is dusty and colourful, a Babylon of languages and traditions.
Here eight-year-old Manose fell in love with the bamboo flute one night when a fortuitous breeze wafted its song through his bedroom window.
Manose’s real relationship with music began when Manose heard about an old man who played the shenai. That man, Madan Dev Bhatta, a disciple of Ustad Bishmillah Khan, initiated Manose into the study of classical raga music, often known as North Indian classical music.
From the demanding study of raga music, Manose has acquired technical mastery and an astonishing ability to improvise. At the same time, we find him wonderfully free to draw inspiration from wherever he finds it, be it the swaying sweetness of a samba, or the lightening fast lines of Celtic masters.
When asked what or who has had the greatest musical influence on his playing, he thinks for a moment and says “this very moment of existence and silence”.