The magic Journey of Indian music
in its different styles and presentations
shared by someone who grew up in this culture and has been learning for 40 years indian music, naad (sound) and mantra.
Manish Vyas was born in Gujarat, India in a hindu family. Since his childood, he was related to music, having learnt singing, tabla, harmonium and santoor along his life in India with different maestros at different stages. He also pursued a spiritual life starting with Osho who he met when he was 7 years old, and later co-conducting retreats all over India with his guru Gurudev during 20 years - for which he also made the music.
Although he makes different types of Indian music, a lot of his music is sacred and devotional Indian music, like mantras and kirtan. He was touring many years in the west in US and Europe and currently he represents one of the few mantra singers in the west who has kept the authenticity of this ancient Mantra tradition.
He lives in St. Gallen since he got married to his Swiss wife, and gives concerts and conducts workshops and retreats about Indian music and its mythology, yoga and the power of sound - which he relates to Indian sacred music. Manish composed and launched about 15 albums... the latest in 2018 under the title Mangalam, "Auspicious" a collection of auspicious mantras and kirtan music.
Naad Shakti, The Power of Indian Sacred Music
MANTRA is a sound, a vibration - and the correct vibration is created only when it is recited correctly because it is a key which can unlock a higher dimension. The meaning is not as significant as reciting the mantra correctly. That’s why there is a lot of significance and importance given in India to study and learn Sanskrit properly (sometimes a lifetime) to be able to pronounce correctly and understand the sound/energy relation. Sanskrit is not only a language, but it embraces the power of sound.
Indian music has evolved from the meditative people who have been able to express their higher state of consciousness through the classical music – that’s why India has the highest music to bring people into meditation.
But the discouraging truth is that most of the mantra supply in the west just replicates this music in a pop, lullaby and sometimes even rock-style just putting the mantra text in a melody. This is not how this works!
So my purpose through my workshops is to teach and explain the proper music related to mantras as well as the study of the mantras themselves. It makes a big difference of understanding and of its effectiveness.
Mantra is a call - like a codified code - and it is important to do the right call. This is what we learn in my workshops, with all the respect and deep admiration that this tradition deserves.
"Namaste, Thank you with all my heart for the beautiful workshop in Geneva. It meant a lot for me to chant with you, I had the chance to discover your music not long time ago. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I really enjoyed the time, the vibrations, the calm, the chant.... That time filled me up with light and love. So precious, and I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of that experience." N. L.
"Thank you for the wonderful afternoon mantra workshop at Namaste Spa. I haven't stopped listening to your latest CD "Auspicious". Thank you for your beautiful sacred music." Tracey, UK
"Salute your devotion to your Guru and expression of gratitude to the source. You relentlessly make efforts to convey the message and teaching of Advaitha philosophy with your powerful instrument - Music. More importantly your honesty in acknowledging the teacher and ensuring you remain as messenger reflects your core values and personality. Thank you for composing scintillating music which is enabling thousands of listeners to deepen their meditation experience." Sanjeev
Indian Music and Harmonium Workshops
IN INDIA, harmonium was introduced by the missionaries who brought instruments in the 19th century. Since the instrument was portable and relatively easy to learn and handle, it became quickly popular and is being used in different genres of music across India. The hand-pump version was introduced in India since the European harmonium had a foot pedal instead This is because the foot pedals required one to sit in a chair; something which is unusual for an Indian musician - besides authentic Indian music has no chords, so there was no problem to have only one hand available to play the keys and blow the air with the other. Notice that what we see in western-mantra singers is not the real playing of harmonium for Indian music, kirtan and mantras.
THE USE OF HARMONIUM in Indian music is immense. The discovery of its affinity between reed and vocal timbre most likely was the prime motivation for singers to use and establish the harmonium as an accompanying instrument and it has actually helped people to create music. Harmonium is considered to be one of the most versatile instruments in Indian music usually used as an accompanying instrument for vocalists.However, some incredibly talented musicians, play it as a solo-instrument, such as Pandit Tulsidas Borkar from Mumbai (these style of players are extremely talented and spend a lifetime of study of Indian music and the depth of Indian ragas.) Indian music generally is melodic and usually Indian musicians don’t play cords on their instruments. When teaching in the west, Manish teaches a mix of cords and melodies (raga), to keep the Indian element alive and authentic.
MANISH VYAS who currently lives in St. Gallen, was born in Gujarat, India and as a player of harmonium since a young age where he learnt from the so-common and frequent music home-gatherings, the interaction with music Maestros (pandits) and singers like Jagjit Singh, and his own concerts and compositions; Manish leads concerts, lessons and workshops to help understand and learn the use of harmonium and its chanting practices as conceived in India and as utilized in Mantra, Ghazal, Sufi and Kirtan and other styles.
SINGING with HARMONIUM : The benefits of singing Indian devotional songs can be quite broad: it can serve as a protection from typical thought patterns; it gradually increases the awareness, it heightens the quality of thoughts, it stimulates the use of the non-reactive-neutral-mind, it balances the left and right side of the brain, it lifts the stagnant energy, it brings into a state of pleasant relaxation. Also, according to the meaning and
purpose of the mantra, as explained in Indian sacred texts, it can work or stimulate different aspects, energies and planes in a subtle way, like: clarity, intuition, protection, willpower, healing, harmonization, creativity, confidence, potentiality, focusing, etc. Manish teaches the meaning and mythology behind each mantra, the right Sanskrit pronunciation, its properties and the right musical approach, and suggestions on how to use a mantra.
Yoga - Pranayam - Meditation with Music
Manish has been conducting retreats for many years, following his spiritual Guru across India. In these retreats he learnt meditation techniques and how to use a combination of music and silence to produce an uplifting and meditative effect in the practitioner.. He and Sa his wife are both certified as yoga teacher from the Association for Yoga and Meditation, Rishikesh. Additionally Sa is certified hatha yoga asana-teacher and they combine yoga activities and meditations with live music, meditation techniques and other activities based on the yogic path.
Manish has released a CD with music for pranayam (PRANA) which he composed to accompany the breathing sequence that he teaches.
This workshop is usually a whole day. Starting with an introduction to indian music, singing, and tuning in the healing energy of sound. Then, it moves into the pranayam practice and the meditation. It continues with mantra singing, a yoga kriya (set) and it concludes with a final meditation. The explanations and inputs or Manish are really deep and interesting, including the mythological stories from India behind each subject, and there is an open space for dialogue and communication to ensure the right understanding.
The atmosphere is relaxed, easygoing, flowing, unserious. It creates a beautiful space just "to be" .. that's always one of the main inputs from the participants. Also , practical tools are provided to continue the practice in our busy lives.
“I went to a retreat of a well-known American Yoga teacher and Manish Vyas happened to be there in Mexico co-conducting the music and the meditations. It was amazing how the genuine element of these practices was so present in the way he was conveying it to the participants. After doing the sessions with him there was a higher quality of peace and silence. Most of the group agreed that he had that knowledge of yoga and music deep in his being. We couldn’t find the same feeling in the western teachers, despite of maybe being popular. He delivers ‘the real stuff’ and not the commercial stuff. His workshops I would recommend to any true seeker of the yogic path and of course the music… which is out of this world. He is also a simple being with great energy and bright vibrations.” Anna Frisch, US
"This was just great. I was fascinated all through. Thank you. Seriously thinking of attending one of his retreats." Johanes, a participant in Luxemburg workshop 2019
"First of all thank you very much for coming to Luxembourg and as I mentioned it after 10 years following you and listening to your chanting to be able to meet and chant with you was a delight 🙏🍀It was also beautiful to see how you are open to different mystical traditions such as sufism..." Bob, Bulgaria
"Magic! ... a pure moment of happiness ✨ I came out of it all zen and deeply peaceful." Christine, FR
"Merci d’avoir rendu ceci possible avec la venue de Manish Vyas. C’était notamment très bien d’être en groupe et de pouvoir méditer et chanter ensemble." AN, Lux
"A big thank you for the amazing Pranayama Workshop last Saturday; without overstatement, your workshop really changed my perception of this practice." Larisa, CH
There are higher levels of meaning in our language and there are deeper levels of sound. The primal sounds of mantras are not mere ordinary words, they contain entire spectrums of meaning from the physical to the spiritual and reflect various qualities of energy. Primal sounds are connected to primal meanings, which go back to the universal sense of the sanskrit language. Mantra is a vehicle to bring our minds, hearts and prana to the level of both primal sound and primal meaning, in which we can return to the original state of unity with all.