“We are the people,
the people of love,
let us, people, love today.”
Those words are an affirmation given by Yogi Bhajan (the master who brought Kundalini Yoga to the West), and they announce the uplifting message of this album: Love is the answer. Fortunately, the message comes, not from a lofty, didactic place, but from the expressive, get-up-out-of-your-seat, heart-opening space that GuruGanesha Band is known for…rock-n-roll.
“The Soul Within,” an English track on the album with a soft, relatable sound, addresses a big question: Who am I? Who am I when all is stripped away? This is what we endeavor to experience as yogis. The song contends, “I’m not my hair. I’m not my skin…. I’m not my body. I’m not my mind… I’m not this life. I’m not this death. I am the Soul Within.”
This could feel like a heavy idea, an idea that forces us to look at attachments and small mindedness. But it doesn’t feel that way. Instead it’s effortless — we can just drift into the melty-ness of the song, sing along, and be eased into the teaching: I am the soul within.
The teaching that each of us is a soul, the divine spark, Sat Nam, is such an important one in Kundalini Yoga and for the theme of love. If we relate soul to soul, we will relate from a place of love. But sometimes, as fallible human beings, we don’t.
Luckily, there’s a Kundalini mantra for that, “Hummee Hum Tumee Tum,” and it’s featured on People of Love. In its upbeat, toe-tappin’ way, this song delivers the magic of the mantra which directs us to acknowledge the depth of our own spirit, the depth of spirit in another, and then the great Infinite wisdom. With a smile on our faces, we can chant and feel a little closer to that state of consciousness in which “we are one” actually means something.
We are one, and we need each other more than ever now in our chaotic, often divisive world. “Troubled Times” takes that on in the final track on the album. “In these troubled times, we look to find the way to heal our world, heal our hearts. In our confusion when we don’t know what to do, can we live for each other. Come together for each other.”
Naturally, brilliantly, and what feels like inevitably those lyrics give way to the words of “Longtime Sun,” the traditional closing song of a Kundalini Yoga class. This is perfect… a chance to send our rock-n-roll blessings out to all beings everywhere with a wonderfully mellow vibe.
Of the other rockin’ tracks on the album (Aad Guray Nameh, Adi Shakti, and Mul Mantra), I’m personally most moved by Mul Mantra. Of course, this mantra is special to many of us who love the practice of Kundalini Yoga because it’s the root, the foundation, of all of the mantras that followed. It already had a special place in my heart. But the way that GuruGanesha Band has re-interpreted Mul Mantra for People of Love has opened me even more to its power.
The song begins with a relaxed, folksy, harmonized acapella section, and it would have been satisfying, gorgeous, and complete to continue in that way. But halfway through the first repetition of the mantra the instrumentation begins, and the infectious rhythm seeps in adding a visceral layer to the experience.
What shifted me most, though, is their translation of the mantra:
“Love is all creation.
Love is in all hearts.
Beyond your fear and anger.
Love is the light in the dark.
Shines True through all time.
Here and now.
Yours and mine.”
Other translations are more complex and less accessible and don’t even mention love. But of course, the root and foundation of it all is love. The practice of Kundalini Yoga and chanting grows out of those roots. So too, this album, GuruGanesha Band’s People of Love, grows out of those roots and branches out into joy and healing. Let us, people, love today.
Cate Baily discovered Kundalini Yoga by accident nearly 20 years ago and was surprised and thrilled by how engaged, energized, and inspired it made her feel. She’s been practicing ever since and now co-owns Montclair Kundalini Yoga, a yoga studio in New Jersey dedicated to community and keeping up. Cate is grateful to her teachers and to all of her students who show up to find inner peace and connect to their inner wisdom.