A Canadian Bhakti yoga teacher and founder of a Nova Scotia yoga retreat offers an in-depth debut guide to the Indian chanting practice of kirtan.
In the mid-1970s, the 28-year-old author experienced a spontaneous spiritual awakening that inspired her lifelong pursuit of yogic chanting. Her book explains how to chant Hindu names and mantras and how to set up a kirtan chanting group with a leader and musicians. Prabha intersperses insights she’s gained from a lifetime of practice with personal anecdotes illustrating particular points. For example, she emphasizes in great detail the seemingly exceptional benefits of chanting: “If anger or worry overwhelms you,” she writes, “wield the great sword of chanting and swiftly annihilate it.” During kirtan chanting, she says, some devotees reach soaring heights of trance-induced ecstasy. She tells of one occasion when she chanted with one of her teachers, Swami Gyanananda, and she started dancing complex Indian dance moves that she could have only known through years of study, including intricate figures that experienced Bharata Natyam dancers recognized. In mostly clear and engaging prose, she reveals many of the philosophical underpinnings of Bhakti yoga and offers an interesting, detailed exploration of the relationship between Sanskrit sacred chants and various aspects of “the divine.” Overall, this book offers a thorough introduction to its subject. For example, it delves into Hindu sacred texts to talk about Hindu deities, their attributes, and stories that reveal their characters, their significance, and how, through chanting, devotees can realize the divine in themselves. The author also stresses the importance of correct Sanskrit pronunciation, including a pronunciation guide and glossary.
An insightful, detailed look at kirtan chanting and Bhakti yoga.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)