Finally, after well over 500,000 years, Yoga has made it into the modern calendar! International Yoga Day is a celebration of the dedication and commitment of countless seekers, from time immemorial, who have discovered and then shared the path of healing and realization that is Yoga. Starting in the West as a fad, the many styles and forms of Yoga (and there ARE many) have become a healing balm to our hearts and souls in these troubled times. I bow in gratitude to the United Nations for acknowledging this ancient and sacred wisdom.
Since I joined about a year ago, Patreon has been a total joy. If you haven’t heard, it’s a new web platform based upon the ancient principle of patronage, wherein fans can become an integral part of the lives of the artists they love. I feel very close with my “patrons” and I’ve been inspired to make and share countless little home movies with mantras, jams, tour videos and much more, some of them silly and some quite serious. I’m continuously touched and humbled by the support the Bhakti community is giving me and I hope to be able to return the gifts a thousandfold for many many years to come.
For the last 15 or 20 years, one of my great joys has been storytelling. This passion got a huge boost when my son Ezra Gopal was born twelve years ago. In between tales of magical eggs and mischievous mice, I always added some stories from the Ramayana. Gradually, at our Kirtan Camps and other gatherings, I began to tell the whole story, from start to finish, sometimes in an hour and sometimes over the course of seven days. As some of you may know, telling and hearing the ‘lilas’ (divine plays) of God and His incarnations is a big part of the Bhakti tradition. The stories themselves, like the mantras, are filled with inherent divine energy and presence, so the speaking and the listening seems to get deeper and more transformative each time, as well as more fun. Because of this, The Ramayana has become a full-on study for me…. I know I make about 1008 errors in every narration but, hopefully, with some help from above, I’ll learn to make only 108… Last year, as part of my “Awakening Bhakti” online course, I told the full Ramayana story in five video episodes, totaling 80 minutes. I’ve decided to offer this as a special gift to my Patreon supporters, in the form of a mini-series!
So if you’ve considered joining me on Patreon, or if this is the first you’ve heard of it, please check out my video below and get a feeling of what it’s about. Then get a comfortable chair and perhaps a cup of chai and enjoy “The Ramayana according to Jai.”
Have I told you about my wellness friend, Cathy Arce? She is passionate about helping others tap into their holistic wellness and self-healing to boost their passion and joy for life!
And because I support this vision as well, I’ve joined her in this amazing FREE event entitled: Reclaim Your Wellness: Take Charge Of Your Health And Reboot Your Zest And Joy For Life. This is a MUST if you want to have a better connection with your body, and your overall health. Get Instant Access: reclaimyourwellness.com/JaiUttal to access my video and 20 other videos featuring top wellness experts!
Many eons ago, in an age long forgotten, the Lord of Compassion took birth as an effulgent blue baby boy named Sri Ramachandra, in order to intervene in the affairs of men and Gods, and to rescue all the universes from the forces of evil. How could he who is beyond birth and death be born? And did this happen in ancient days or on THIS very day, in the palace of our hearts? Well, those questions are for the saints and sages, but for me it’s just time to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAMA!!!! Please intervene today and rescue my soul with your glorious name: RAMRAMRAMRAMRAMRAMA…..
And as my birthday gift to all my friends, here’s a link to a song from my new album, Roots Rock Rama!: “Supersonic Rescue Intervention Radiant Atomic Mantra – S.R.I. R.A.M”…
Forty-seven years ago I heard Neem Karoli Baba say that nothing is impossible when we repeat Ram’s Name. Approximately two million years ago Hanuman and an army of monkeys and bears built a bridge spanning 350 miles from the Southern tip of India to Sri Lanka simply by inscribing rocks, pebbles and boulders with Ram’s Name. In these troubled times we pray for divine intervention to save the Earth and all beings, sentient and nonsentient, from destruction.
Well, divine intervention may come in many ways. For me, one of the ways it has manifested has been through chanting the simple mantra ‘RAM’. Ever since I met Maharajji in 1971 that name has been my support, my cornerstone, my constant companion. And so I gave this recording of ‘Sri Ram Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Ram’ the acronym ‘Supersonic Rescue Intervention Radiant Atomic Mantra’, in the hope that this prayer would intervene and spread its powerful healing energy far and wide, from D.C. to Moscow to Syria, to Standing Rock, to everywhere……
I’m so excited to share with you the brand new music video for “S.A.M.B.A. (Shiva’s Adoration of Mata Bhavani’s Ambrosia)” filmed in Rishikesh, India. It’s premiering today in LA Yoga Magazine. Check it out!!!
In January, my family, a small group of Bhakti brothers and sisters, and I converged on the banks of Ma Ganga (the Ganges River) to film a video for my new album, ROOTS, ROCK, RAMA! The song we focused on was “S.A.M.B.A.,” a prayer to Lord Shiva, which brings together the ancient culture of India and the Afro-Brazilian musical expression from Bahia, Brazil.
Initially, I had been thinking of making a simple and elegant video for the song in our home area — perhaps a bit of filming on the beach, maybe some up on Mt. Tamalpais, definitely local. So we got together with our friends Todd and Andrea Boston, who, aside from everything else they do, are beautiful filmmakers, and discussed the possibilities. None of my great ideas sparked any excitement and we were sitting around the table feeling a bit perplexed. At that moment, Nubia walked down the stairs from her little attic office where she’d been listening to our conversation and said “We need to film this in India, in Rishikesh, where Ma Ganga (the Ganges River) flows out of the Himalayas. Jai, you’re 65 now and this album is a big turning point. And the video has to be just as amazing as the music. And you’ve been longing for India for the last 7 years and we can see Siddhi Ma (our Indian ‘mother’). And we can put on and film a concert and have a total blast!” Of course, my first response was “No way!!!!” Over the last several years I’ve found traveling more and more difficult and hard on my nervous system so I’ve really been resisting overseas journeys. But Nubia repeated herself, Todd and Andrea lit up like comets, and I said, “Uh…. Ok, then!”
Well, within a day we had our airline tickets. Parmarth Niketan Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh said “in the same of Sri Krishna” they’d host the concert; Sushant Mohan, our friend and local event producer said “in the name of Bholenath (Lord Shiva)” he’d promote it. Gaura Vani, Visvambhar, Kamaniya and Keshavacharya Das all said they were already going to be in India (!!!!) and, believe me, the wheels were rolling. Prajna Vieira, who sings with me almost all of the time here in California, and Gui Vitali, a great Brasilian friend and percussionist, both launched GoFundMe campaigns and had their tickets within a week. And, best of all, Ezra’s sixth grade teacher said he thought two weeks in India would be WAY more valuable than two weeks in school!!!! Me, myself and I, well, inside I was freaking out, but the call of spirit was just too strong and, despite all my fears and doubts, I couldn’t say no….
However, anyone who knows India — in fact, anyone who knows LIFE — knows that not everything goes according to plan! But after many crazy mishaps and some very serious challenges, the video was completed and is now ready to be shared with the world. And I love it!!! Aside from expressing so perfectly the feeling of the song, it gives you a glimpse into the lives and hearts of my family and my friends, and invites you to come and join us on this endless pilgrimage of love.
Wow! Even though it only took about eight months to actually make this record I feel like I’ve been working on it for 50 years!!! 50 beautiful years of practicing Kirtan, diving deep into the devotional path and studying all kinds of music, and now it’s finally coming out. I’m super excited and I really hope you all fall in love with ROOTS ROCK RAMA!
Love and peace,
P.S. If you’re in California, come celebrate Roots, Rock, Rama! with two special full band album release shows March 11 at Wanderlust Hollywood and March 18 at Spirit Rock in Woodacre! With members of the Pagan Love Orchestra, José Neto, and members of my awesome Bhakti Band!!!
I’d like to introduce you to the first single from Roots, Rock, Rama! coming March 3rd — “H.A.R.I. (Hari Awakens Radha’s Incandescence).”
For so many reasons this song is a perfect introduction to the magical world of Roots, Rock, Rama!. Weaving together musical streams from India (The Melodious Strings of Mumbai), Jamaica (The Pagan Love Orchestra!!!), 70s rock and jazz, and, of course, The Beatles, this is essential World Spirit Music, music that dissolves the boundaries of culture, time, religion, and color, bringing the family of humanity just a little bit closer together.
The lyrics are an ancient Sanskrit mantra invoking the Divine Lovers, Radha and Krishna. But there’s a slight twist: the word “Hari” literally means “thief,” in this case, “the thief of hearts!” — that mischievous rascal who steals our hearts and souls only to return them filled to the brim with love and peace. Perhaps to the chagrin of Sanskrit scholars, we took it one step further creating the acronym “Hari Awakens Radha’s Incandescence,” which can very simply be “translated” as saying “Love Awakens Love.” In these ultra challenging times, this message is so deeply essential.
I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do!!!
Pre-order the album on iTunes or Amazon for instant download of “H.A.R.I.” and “S.A.M.B.A.” or grab special bundles from MerchNow.
I’m so excited to announce that my album Roots, Rock, Rama!, coming March 3 on Mantralogy, is now available for pre-order! See special bundles of music, shirts, and accessories available from MerchNow and stream the song “H.A.R.I.”
The music on this album has been bubbling inside my heart and my soul for many many years. Like a very slow cooking pot of ghee, hundreds of songs have risen to the surface, just to be skimmed away until all that is left is the clarified and very buttery essence of my love, understanding and commitment to five decades of devotional music.
Many of you will be familiar with a bunch of these songs. I’ve performed them at festivals, Kirtans, ecstatic chant events and concerts, and every performance has been completely different! No rehearsal, no pre-set arrangements, just a sweet jump off the cliff into God’s loving arms. But, after a while, I began to feel that it was time to honor the melodies and mantras by giving them a more solid form. In other words, to record them!
The album simply DEMANDED to be called Roots, Rock, Rama!. Anyone exploring the world of Reggae walks in the footsteps of the great Bob Marley, and has danced to his breakout hit, Roots Rock Reggae. But the name of this album comes from a much deeper and more personal part of my being. Why Roots? Well, first of all, this practice of Kirtan is the very root of my life, the seed out of which everything grows, the thick cord of connection that has kept me alive. Of course, I know who planted that seed — my Guru, Neem Karoli Baba — and, believe me, I’m not much of a farmer, figuratively or literally! But I’ve been trying my best to keep watering this fragile little sprout of Bhakti and, although at times the leaves have gotten pretty dry, thanks God, they’re still growing and I can even see some small flowers getting ready to bloom!!! Why Rocks? Again, this practice is the rock upon which the whole rest of my life is built; the foundation stone; my breath; my shelter. But perhaps more crucial is this: When the monkey army needed to cross the great ocean to free Mother Sita from the clutches of the Demon King, they were perplexed and somewhat disheartened. How could this task be accomplished? Well, the answer turned out to be quite simple — create a bridge of rocks, giant boulders and tiny pebbles, and simply inscribe the name of Rama on each and every stone. And, as all the world knows, those rocks floated on the water and allowed our heroes to march across the stormy ocean of suffering and free the Divine Goddess, the source of eternal love!!! WOW! The final word in the album title is Rama. This is the mystic name that Maharajji instructed me to repeat over and over, year after year, breath after breath. That NAME keeps me in my Guru’s embrace through eternity, in times of brilliant light and in times of blinding darkness. And so it is: Roots, Rock, Rama!
Every year, at about this time, I write you a note saying how amazing Summer Kirtan Camp was and urging you to take advantage of our pre-holiday sale. Well, the very truth is that our Kirtan Camp last August at Roco in Fairfax was the BEST camp ever!! And I’m not exaggerating or trying to be a salesman. The camaraderie that was established amongst the students/bhaktas was stunning. A whole new extended family was born! I was able to find new ways of teaching harmonium and sharing my thoughts and experiences with the group, and the kirtan sessions were truly ecstatic. Daniel Paul rocked the Tablas and shared, in a very hands-on way, his deep knowledge of rhythm. And Nubia, well, she was basically the mother who took care of all of us, while teaching about the Deities of Hinduism and their captivating Mudras. Ezra Gopal took the kids on adventures all over Fairfax, catching countless Pokémon while at it!
Anyway, Summer Camp is one of the highlights of our year and we want to share it with you. If you’re just learning about it for the first time now, OR if you’ve been on the fence for some years, OR if you just want to come, now’s the time to sign up and pay the magical number of $1008!!! This discount is available until midnight of December 24th.
Whatever you all decide to do, we wish you the HAPPIEST, MOST JOYOUS, LOVE-FILLED HOLIDAY SEASON!!!!!!
FREE KIRTAN CONCERT IN RISHIKESH! JANUARY 11th, 2017 3:30pm PARMARTH NIKETAN ASHRAM Info
Here’s the story:
The creation continues!!!!
Most of you have read or heard me mention my upcoming new album, ROOTS, ROCK, RAMA!, many times, and you’re probably wondering “well, where the heck is it?” As I’m constantly needing to learn and relearn, every ‘birth’ has its own tempo and its own timeline and this one is moving at a very slow, but beautiful, pace. The double album will be released by my dear friends at Mantralogy in the first week of March. I’m super happy with the whole package — music, art, t-shirt, etc etc etc!
Meanwhile, during the recording process one of my internal questions has been ‘how do I get an album noticed in this era of downloadable and disposable music?’ So I began to think of making a simple yet effective music video somewhere in the Bay Area. After all, in all these years of performing and recording, I’ve only done ONE professional music video, aside from countless live videos. (You can see the one we made for a song from Thunder Lovehere.) So, Nubia, Todd, Andrea Boston and I were sitting in our living room one afternoon brainstorming some ideas when Nubia suddenly said: “Jai, you need to do this in Rishikesh!!!! The song is ‘Samba Sada Shiva’ so it needs to be filmed on the banks of the Ganges River in the Himalayan Foothills!!!!” Well, here I am, completely travel-phobic (yes, it’s true!) and I said “UH…..YES” and we booked our flights that day!
So here’s the invitation: COME AND JOIN ME AT PARMARTH NIKETAN ASHRAM IN RISHIKESH AT 3:30 pm, JANUARY 11th, 2017, FOR A FREE KIRTAN CONCERT MINI-MOVIE PRODUCTION!!!! DRESS IN YOUR FINEST (AND WARMEST) ROBES AND SING GOD’S NAMES BY THE SIDE OF GANGA MA, THE RIVER OF GRACE!!! This event is sponsored and hosted by BOOM SHIVA PRODUCTIONS and PARMARTH NIKETAN ASHRAM.