We recently caught up with Ashana, crystal bowl musician and incredible singer, about her new album “River of Light”, the first fushion of crystal singing bowls and Kundalini Mantra. Here is our conversation:
Q: What is this album’s feeling or inspiration?
A: Each album I have recorded has been a journey to open a portal and define a path for me to make a deep and profound shiftin consciousness and awareness. River of Light is about compassion and devotion — the devotion to love, self-acceptance, living a kind-hearted life and celebrating the sacred beauty within ourselves and all of life. Each song holds a reflection of this in its own special way. Ong Namo is the whisper of the Soul in the etheric responding to our prayer to merge and live as One. Mere Man Loche is a prayer of divine devotion; Aad Guray Nameh is a wave of compassionate protection to surround us in an ocean of peace. Ek Ong Kaar/Golden Amrit is the experience of expansive Creation and the immersion into the Void of stillness. Sat Narayan is the feeling of the light that courses through all of life, alive in us, as us. Sat Gur Prasad is the celebration of life’s many blessings and Guru Ram Das is the grace of the gift of healing that comes when we open ourselves to Love, in every part of our being. Each mantra on this album can help heal the wounds of the heart and lead you Home into the arms of your most precious Beloved — a love that is patient, kind and forever yours.
Q: How did you discover kirtan?
A: I discovered kirtan many, many years ago when it was simply called “devotional singing”. I was living in San Diego and had just gone through a very painful divorce. I was invited to a spiritual gathering one Sunday where they had group chanting. A lot of the songs were in english and were chants of affirmation. At the time, I was pretty arrogant and judgmental. These songs were so simple and I thought they were very innocuous. Here I was, a music conservatory graduate and a classical singer!! I didn’t really understand or appreciate how powerful and life-changing the repetition of mantra could be. It took years for me to gradually let go of my pride and surrender to chanting. I think the first time this really happened in a significant way was when I went to hear a talk by the spiritual teacher Ram Dass in Santa Fe. He was amazing and that’s a story for another time. But what awed and transformed me was chanting with Krishna Das in a room with 800 people. I had never experienced anything like that before. I was in ecstasy. I cried. I laughed. At the very least, chanting has taught me about humility.
Q: What is your favorite song on the album?
A: Mere Man Loche. I have had such healing through this shabad. A couple of years ago, Ramdesh Kaur sent me the Shabad Hazaray and suggested I think about recording it one day. I looked at it and then promptly tucked it away. But it kept haunting me. Finally, I pulled it out and read the words again. I broke down and cried; I thought then (and even moreso now) that these words are some of the most beautiful love poetry ever written. It opened something deep and vulnerable inside of me. So I began listening to different versions that have been recorded and I found Prabhu Nam Kaur’s version on her CD, “Seasons of the Soul.” What a healing that was for me! I must have listened to her Mere Man Loche for weeks. I felt as if I were wrapped up in a Mother’s arms and something core inside, some old childhood wounds, simply dissolved. My husband tells me that he literally watched me change through this process. Shortly thereafter, I went into my music room, sat down and wrote the Mere Man Loche that I eventually recorded. It took all of 5 minutes. It was as if the song were sitting in the ethers waiting to come through, that’s how fast it came in. And the version on the recording is virtually unchanged. It is a love song. A pure love song, sung for my Beloved, in all the miraculous forms It takes. It is my gift to all of you, with all my love, all my love. May it nourish each of you with the pure and impeccably tender love of the Divine alive within your beautiful hearts.
Q: What is one of your sweetest mantra chanting memories?
A: I was living in Espanola, NM. My dear friend, Sangeet Kaur Khalsa was leading sadhana and she invited me to come sing with her. I had gone to sadhana and chanted with everyone but I had never sat with the musicians. When the time came, I sat a little behind and to the right of Sangeet, next to the guitarist and tabla player. It was very dark. We began the Wah Yantee and in the diffused pre-dawn light in the Gurdwara, my heart opened; I felt a wave of light surround us and I saw and felt in the etheric all the Gurus standing and holding space. It took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. This was my first tangible experience of the Golden Chain. I felt the responsibility of the musicians to hold space for this lineage, for the people, just as the Gurus in the etheric were holding space for us. I felt honored and blessed to have been given the experience of this teaching. It completely changed me.