As I look at the events of life, there I see reflected, a mysterious and sacred treat that demonstrates how intrinsic, how important and how destined music has been for me. Born in Chile, I was surrounded by music through my culture, and at home. My family expressed themselves through music, my Father played in a jazz band and my Grand Mother was a concert pianist. I listen and feel bewildered at the strange power, joy and emotions that music can convey…this turned out to be very relevant during the painful political revolution that divided my country, and runs as a background through all my years growing up. Music was natural – community and solidarity shined as very important values.
Meanwhile a fire was burning inside of me, fueled by questions about the meaning of life, where to find peace and happiness, and how to understand the chaotic condition of the human race. After a three day silent retreat at my school at 17, I was left alone with the questions: who am I and what do I want to do with my life? A very powerful spiritual awakening occurred. It was decided: this life time was to find this union with God, and that all my actions would be dedicated to that, I promised this to myself.
In alignment with my promise, at the age of 22 I found myself in India ”The Mother Land”, meditating, and following the path traced by “Osho”, the beautiful revolutionary and controversial teacher that took me out of my country, and pushed my first steps into the mystery. Here I heard and sang songs of Love to the Guru, and to the Truth. I went on tour through Europe singing his music in communes, wherever we went, we were welcomed. After Osho’s death, I knew his dream for me was to be Free of ignorance, so I had to leave the nest of His commune in India, and continue into the unknown, feeling lighter, happier and forever grateful.
By a stroke of indescribable luck and Grace in 1991 I found myself in the town of Lucknow in North India, at the Feet of my Sat Guru Papaji, he himself, One with His master Ramana Maharishi, the Sage of Arunachala Hill. He is the one who took me, where by no means I could never have imagined; beyond all concepts and knowledge, into the ever present unknowable reality of whom I truly am. At His feet, day after day for seven years I was introduced and learned Bhajans, Mantras, Kirtan, devotional music from different traditions, and compositions by devotees themselves; I was in charge of caring for Satsang house; here I saw my Guru’s tears at the sound of music. I felt his joy and wisdom when he made us sing and sing some more. The depth of devotion expressed in the Bhajans we were taught, refreshed, uplifted me, recreated me… made me whole. It permeated through my pores, the love for music that speaks of the heart, that shares this journey and manifests into the beyond.
Papaji called me to his home and appointed me an Indian teacher to learn Bhajans (Devotional songs of India) and then told me to teach everyone else…by the end, everyone in the Satsang community was singing. During those years we recorded two CDs in local studios compiling eclectic collections of devotional songs and chants from Satsang. During one of my visits to Papaji’s house he privately whispered to me the song poem of His beloved Mystic Kabir…Ghungateke Pate ko Lare pia milenge – “Remove your veil and you will meet your Beloved…In the temple of your heart a flame is burning…Wake up and explore your internal palace and you will find the priceless jewel, there are waves of Bliss and divine music in your heart when you meet your Beloved…Remove your veil”… …So says Kabir. Years later I sang and recorded this song at a studio we had created in Lucknow, and helped to produce the compilation CD project, of which this was one of the songs. In 2010 the well known CD label “Putumayo” from New York chose this song to be part of their “Yoga” CD compilation.
I remained in India until 2003 and continued immersing myself in her sacred traditions and gifts, establishing a family home at the feet of the Holy Hill of Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. My time in India was spent in Holy company, sacred sites, ashrams, temples, singing wherever and whenever the opportunity arose, and held singing gatherings at home and publicly. Iam always surprised, grateful and delighted at the power that sharing voices and uniting hearts in sacred music have, to heal and create peace and community. I travelled around the world every Indian summer visiting friends and family, and continue to visit India every year.
In 2004, we moved to Byron Bay, Australia. Here, I was invited to hold public chanting sessions with new friends Asakti and Yantra at a local venue, and later the singing sessions happened weekly at Asakti’s home. After that, we joined with Kunda, whom I had met in India years prior, and continued to chant together with a growing number of singers at his home music studio every week.
The community of chanters is ever growing and expanding parallel to a movement that started happening in the west, where chanting is incorporated as a practice, and is gaining popularity by being recognized as a healing, inspirational and sacred modality among spiritual communities, Yoga teachers, healing centers and people from all walks of life. We as a group are invited to hold Chanting sessions at private houses, yoga centers, and local venues and have played at Brandon Bay’s retreat and other spiritual teaching events. In 2007 Asakti and I met in India and had the honor to sing for “The Ratu” and his entourage visiting Tiruvannamalai, he is the Hindu high Priest of Indonesia.
During 2007 and 2009 I had the tremendous luck to meet and befriend my dearest Kirtan leader and world sacred music hero Jai Uttal and his wonderful devoted family in India. By their kind invitation, I assisted at four of Jai’s Kirtan Camps in India, California USA, and Guatemala. I was also invited by him to sing at the ‘Ecstatic Chants Weekend’ at the Omega Center in New York, and at the first annual “Bhakti Festival” in Joshua Tree California. In the beginning of 2010 Jai and his family visited the Byron Bay region in Australia. I sang at his concert in Byron Bay, and we offered Kirtan Camp workshops together. Jai and his family’s love care and mentorship, has been essential for my surrender to follow the path to lead Kirtan, and to be committed as a Devotional music singer. He encouraged me to keep publicly singing, chanting and introduced me to the world of Kirtan and the path of Bhakti Yoga – through the love of his own guru and the Neem Karoli Baba tradition.
In the USA I befriended, learned, and was inspired by many others in the caravanserai of Bhakti – Gaura Vani and As Kindred Spirits, MC Yogi, and Shyamdas to name some.
Later this year I participated with Kunda and Yantra in “The Bali Spirit Festival” in Bali Indonesia, where we sang with Geoffrey Gordon, Punnuwasu and other heartfelt singers from around the world. We were once again invited, and privileged to sing for the Ratu of Bali, (Leader of the Hindu religion in Indonesia) this time in his homeland, and with the Balinese people.
On my return from Bali I was invited to give weekly chanting sessions at the “Yoga Peace Center” in Mullumbimby, which is now an ongoing weekly event. I began recording songs at Labyrinth Studios with Yantra de Vilder in the Central Coast of Australia. In 2010 we established “Lucknow Sankirtan” music group – collaboration with Asakti, Kunda and Dinesh, dedicated to share and spread the love for Devotional music and chanting across the world. During 2011 I have been a support singer, arranger and song writer in collaboration with Kunda for his ongoing CD project with producer Kamal Engles. I have also sung with renowned Kirtan leaders: Vayasaki and Gauravani during their concerts in the Byron Bay region. As Lucknow Sankirtan, during 2012 we maintained weekly Chantings in Mullumbimby, Festivals, private Yoga retreats, and created of “A Bird of Two Wings”, a beautiful Multimedia Presentation that joined our music with ancient Indian mysticism at the Byron Community Centre, this marked our last year of playing together as a Band, since then I had sung at Uplift Festival,in India at retreat and circles, Byron Spirit Fest 2013, The Chant Fest in Melbourne and Bodhi Fest with Jai Uttal 2013 and created “The House of Bliss, Hearts on Fire” a popular Bi-monthly Chanting Gathering Event, as Sangeeta now, in collaboration with Peter Walken-Brown and other wonderful musicians,continue expanding the knowledge and the Love for this Sacred Healing music through out Australia and the world. Giving also Chanting workshops, and continuing the expansion of Jai Ma Temple Gathering Events dedicated to awaken the Devotional Heart of woman.