Deva Premal & Miten
Deva Premal & Miten began their journey into love and music in 1990 when they met at the ashram of controversial Indian mystic, Osho. Their worldwide concerts and best-selling albums have since introduced millions of Westerners to the joy and deep relaxation found in spiritually based songs and chanting mantras from the Eastern meditation traditions.
Deva’s debut album The Essence, which rocketed to the top of New Age charts around the world when it was released in 1998, introduced a unique musical genre, offering the ancient mantras of India and Tibet in contemporary musical settings.
Since then Deva & Miten have released a string of acclaimed CDs with sales exceeding one million, and their concerts have moved from yoga studios to audiences of thousands in concert halls, cathedrals and music festivals around the planet.
Their music transcends all the usual boundaries, receiving accolades from such luminaries as Eckhart Tolle, who calls their music “pure magic.” Hollywood movie icon Cher cites Deva’s The Essence as “My favorite CD to do yoga to.” Motivation guru, Anthony Robbins, describes Miten’s Songs for the Inner Lover album as “Passionate and powerful.” Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama is reported to enjoy their music during his private time and, when hearing Deva & Miten chant his favorite mantra at a private audience, exclaimed, “Beautiful music, beautiful…!”
German-born Deva Premal is a classically trained musician who grew up singing mantras as bedtime songs. Her mother plays viola da gamba and her father was an artist and a devotee of the Eastern spiritual path, including Zen and Yoga. He taught himself Sanskrit and meditated daily.
Deva notes that
“When my mother was pregnant with me, their welcome was to sing the Gayatri Mantra throughout the pregnancy. As I grew up we continued to chant the Gayatri Mantra together regularly before sleep. I didn’t really know what I was singing… and why. I just did it because I was told to! It wasn’t until much later that I came to appreciate these precious times and what my parents wanted to give me.”
As a teenager, she moved away from the confines of both her classical music training in voice, violin and piano, and the mantra practice, and began to explore on her own. At age 11, her search brought her to the enlightened mystic Osho, who gave her the name ‘Deva Premal’ meaning divine loving when translated from the Sanskrit. Later, she studied body work, including massage, shiatsu and cranio-sacral therapies in the ashram in India.
It was in Osho’s ashram that she and Miten met. “Although I was 20 years old and he was 42, our hearts immediately connected,” she says. “Miten was one of Osho’s musicians, but that was about all I knew-apart from the fact that I felt good whenever we met. We laughed a lot … and still do. He writes the most beautiful songs, many of which I knew from the ashram meditations and celebrations.”
Miten was born in London and grew up in the 60’s. “At that time, England was alive with rock ‘n’ roll music and the sound of The Beatles,” he recalls. “Everywhere you went it was on the street. It was a time of innocence, a time when you could sense the possibility that life has no boundaries.”
He later went on to establish a successful career for himself in the 70s as a singer/songwriter, touring with such bands as Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed and Ry Cooder. During this time he released two well-received albums, one produced by The Kinks, another by noted Los Angeles producer Bones Howe. This period of his life was exciting, but left him spiritually unfulfilled:
“I had a couple of album deals, and moved into writing music for other people, then radio and TV work, then eventually found myself in my 30’s asking questions — I was looking for something more substantial in my life than the prescribed diet of sex, drugs and rock and roll.”
After reading a book of the discourses on Zen, of Osho (No Water No Moon), Miten had an epiphany and left everything he had known before, even selling his guitars, and travelled to the feet of the Master, embracing a life as a member of the community that had gathered around Osho. Here he found a new approach to music:
“It was an amazing revelation. I wasn’t prepared for the healing power that music contained. This turned my head to what sacred music was – it was a mix of eastern and western in style, and had the most uplifting and spiritual nature. I became hooked on a meditation known as ‘Sufi Dance’ and never missed an opportunity to participate. All this music, along with a life of communal integration, deeper relating, and Osho’s stimulating discourses and meditations, healed me from whatever wounds I’d been carrying around music, and life in general.”
By 1990, when he and Deva met, Miten was co-ordinating the ashram music, taking responsibility for all the evening musical meditations in which thousands participated. Eventually he invited Deva to join. This was the birth of their musical and intimate partnership. Later they began offering voice workshops in Europe with Deva in a supporting role, singing second voice, playing keyboards, and co-leading the workshops. Deva: “I was very shy to sing alone, but encouraged and tutored by Miten, I became more confident and eventually discovered my natural singing voice”.
On an auspicious day in England while participating in a music festival, Deva and Miten heard the Gayatri Mantra being chanted. Knowing the text so well, Deva immediately re-connected with this sacred mantra; “This time I could feel the power of the mantra as never before, the strong effect it had on me, and the sacredness of it…”
The duo began featuring it in their concerts and for Deva, it felt like at last she had found her song.”I had found something that felt like ‘mine.’ I felt at home with it, and I watched as it touched people whenever we introduced it into our program.”
She then began searching out more mantras and soon had enough for her first album: “Miten and I recorded it in my mother’s apartment in Germany-the same one I was born in, where the Gayatri Mantra had been chanted continually, all those years before. Our objective was to make an album for friends who attended our workshops and who needed music for their massage sessions. We gave it the title, The Essence. We never expected much – so how it was received was beyond our wildest dreams. We were soon receiving floods of orders, and had to continually replenish stock!”
The Essence soon topped New Age and Alternative music charts worldwide, and Deva and Miten became planetary gypsies, bringing the ancient healing power of mantra into the 21st century. Their concerts and workshops are indeed, more than music – they provide an invitation to share in a deep moment of meditation and celebration of life.
As Deva says,
“Without the silence that follows the chants, you get only half the story. The silence that follows the music is like the climax of a good story. It is there because it already exists within the music. It just needs to be exposed and acknowledged. It’s so easy to overlook the silence inside the music … and ironically, it is that silence which contains a potent healing power. This is really one of the main reasons Miten and I sing – to bathe in Silence. It’s our nourishment. It’s what keeps us on the road. For me there is nothing more precious than having sung with an audience, ecstatic with bliss, and then entering the deep silence that the mantra brings … so deep, that with closed eyes one really feel there is ‘nobody’ there at all … all personalities dissolved for a tiny sacred moment and only peace remaining.”