Adidam and Music

The best music draws attention directly to the Spiritual Reality. That is what makes it enjoyable.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Ed. Note: Adi Da playing the tamboura (in the above picture) is one of the rare occasions where He "used His own hands" to play music (rather than using the hands of His musician devotees). The recording of this extraordinary occasion is available on the audio cassette, Nada Dhyananta. The CD, Da Mahamantra, combines Adi Da's tamboura playing with His chanting of one of the Mahamantras: "Om Ma Da".

This section is about all the different roles music has played (and continues to play) in Adidam. It is organized as follows:
    1. Diverse Devotional Music with a Common Inspiration
    2. A Culture of Invocation
    3. Name and Mantra Invocation
    4. Chanting as a Discipline
    5. Swadhyaya Chanting
    6. Ordinary Chanting versus Kirtan
    7. Drawing Upon Traditional Musical Genres and Creating New Ones
    8. Musical Settings for the Poetry, Literature, and Leelas of Adidam
    9. More Examples of Adidam Music
    10. Sacred Offerings and Chanting Occasions
    11. Music as Sacred Art and Means for Growing in the Relationship to Adi Da
  1. Participate in a Sacred Musical Occasion

1. The Restoration of a Culture of Sacred Music

Virtually all music these days is secular in both character and purpose. We might listen to it on our iPod to "escape" from the world around us. We might use it to stimulate us: by itself, or as we work, eat, exercise, or have sex. We might use it to channel and release pent-up emotions, or relieve stress, or help us fall asleep at night. Or it might be part of a shared social context — which might include participation through singing or dancing — that makes us feel a part of a social group (an ethnic or religious group, a group dedicated to a social cause, etc.).

All these ordinary uses of music have their place in ordinary life. But in many traditional cultures (and even earlier in the history of Western civilization), music was not exclusively (or even mostly) dedicated to materialistic or social purposes.[1] It was primarily created to serve a higher purpose: a sacred purpose.

Johann Sebastian Bach

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.

Johann Sebastian Bach

With Bach, and composers previous to Bach, we can talk of the sacred, of music and musical form that evokes some feeling of orientation to the Divine, and toward an aesthetic expression that transcends mere human content. Haydn and Mozart are transitional figures in an event in the West of historical significance. It was the turning from a Godward culture to an ego-assertive culture, or from the sacred to a secular culture. This kind of change could be seen in music, but it was also seen in all of the arts, and also in politics and even in religion. In the West this is so, and it is also becoming more and more true of the entire world. I am here to serve in a time when the effects of this change have become potentially devastating for the world as a whole. It is time to make much of the sacred, and deal with the past with much more discrimination.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
June 28, 1989

And so, to this end, Adi Da has integrated sacred music in many different parts of the new culture of Adidam that He has created. As you will discover throughout this section, the result is an extraordinarily rich new musical tradition that supports a culture purposed toward Divine Communion.

Jonathan ConditOne of [Adi Da's] great missions relative to human civilization is to restore the deep purpose of art — art in all forms: visual art, literary art, musical art, architecture — all of that can be made to support the life of resort to the Divine, the life of Communion with the Divine. . . . He has encouraged all of His devotees to create beautiful environments, to create beautiful music, to create beautiful artistic works.

Jonathan Condit
(Adi Da's chief editorial assistant)

Music is a cultural device to sensitize people to the physical and emotional dimensions of their existence, so as to realize a feeling of balance and well-being. . .

Music is a way of tuning in to the elemental harmony of the natural world, and the process of music has its own laws, which are the subject of study in a sacred culture. Fundamentally, the sacred process of composing and making music and the experience of listening to music should take place in the context of a sacred culture. . .

Neither music nor any other art has anything directly to do with Divine Self-Realization. But, properly used, the arts serve the sacred culture that is devoted to Divine Self-Realization. The highest and most proper use of the arts is to serve the sacred culture of those who are devoted to Divine Self-Realization.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

2. Devotional Music as a Regular Element in the Practice of Adidam

Music moves the heart. This is well-known, even in non-spiritual culture. It is not surprising, then, that music plays an important role in the culture of the Way of Adidam (also known as "the Way of the Heart").

Music works upon our nervous system, our feeling of life, and creates a symphony out of our emotion. In other words, a summary of feeling is somehow gestured out of us through the impact of music, whereas a note-by-note analysis of it would have no meaning. You cannot somehow find out how music has that emotional effect. It is more magical, more arbitrary, more free than that. It is not discursive and it is not picture-making. Music undermines your effort to make a picture. It also undermines your effort to make sense, to make meaning and order out of it. So you are left with what it is all reduced to when meaning and pictures are not your capacity. You are left with this emotional impact that seems profound and beautiful, but it is not reducible to meaning. It is reduced to the feeling that you cannot put on the page.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
February 17, 1983

2.1. Diverse Devotional Music with a Common Inspiration

Throughout the years (since Adi Da began the culture of Adidam in 1972), the devotional music used for chanting — or, more generally, as a devotional expression of musically creative devotees, whether used for chanting or not — has been remarkably diverse.[2] To a great degree, this is because Adi Da's approach to it was an ongoing, highly experimental consideration, that continued right up to His Divine Mahasamadhi, and which His devotees continue now, after His human lifetime.

The music of Adidam draws upon many musical genres and instruments, from the oldest to the newest, from the most traditional (tablas and didgeridoos) to the most technically sophisticated (electronic synthesizers of all kinds).

swadhyaya chanting with didgeridoos, tamboura, and harmonium

swadhyaya chanting with didgeridoos, tamboura, and harmonium
Da Love-Ananda Mahal

Some pieces are highly scripted, while others are improvisational. Some are contemplative, while others are energetic, often depending on the context in which the piece is being used. Some are set to words by Adi Da, while others contain lyrics written by the composer.

What do all these forms of devotional music have in common? They all are devotional responses to the Divine Presence of Adi Da Samraj. For this reason, Adi Da directed devotees in a wide variety of musical experiments, to see what would actually work to magnify the devotional response to Him.

Music speaks for itself. For this reason, we've provided you with a few musical samples in the following sections. Click the links marked to hear the individual pieces. Or scroll down the page a bit and listen to them all together, using our Music Player, to participate in a Sacred Musical Occasion.

These samples are just a small taste of all the devotional music that has been created in Adidam over the years.

2.2. A Culture of Invocation

Adi Da has described Adidam as "a culture of invocation". The practice is all about recognizing and invoking Him in every moment, ever more profoundly.[3] For this reason, we always begin our formal cultural occasions with a specific Invocation ("The First Great Invocation") and close with another Invocation ("The Second Great Invocation" or one of the Sat-Guru-Naama Mantras).

Because Adidam is a culture of Invocation, many of our musical compositions are created as Invocations of Adi Da, as in the following example.

Antonina RandazzoInvocation — Contemplative chant, composed and sung by Antonina Randazzo. From her album, Come To Me.
 other examples — Sally Jamila, Invocation.

2.3. Name and Mantra Invocation

In the great spiritual traditions, it was always understood that reciting or chanting the Names of God or one's Guru had a special "mantric" Force, beyond the communication of the words themselves. Adi Da has confirmed this, and for this reason, many of our chants focus on His Names, as a potent means for Invoking Him.[7]

[In the] Reality-Way of Adidam Ruchiradam, chant, rather than song, is the principal mode of vocal Invocation of Me, or the active exercise of worship in devotional recognition-response to Me. In the Reality-Way of Adidam, chant is continuous Invocation of Me via My Divine Avataric Names. Such Invocation steadies and purifies the body-mind-complex.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

The musical style through which this is done can vary widely, as the following two examples illustrate.

Ram Krishna Das bowing to Adi DaDevotional invocation — Improvised by Ram Krishna Das, a learned singer of Indian ragas. From the album, The Sacred Names and Mantras of Parama-Sapta-Na Adi Da Samraj.

Phyllis AddisonOm Sri Da (excerpt) — By award-winning composer and musician, Lis Addison, from her album, Seven Gifts.


2.4. Chanting as a Discipline

Adi Da's time in human form is now over. But because He is eternally present, the practice of devotional chanting to Him remains as powerful a means as ever for serving the connection with Him and the magnification of devotion to Him. Like all the other forms of whole bodily engaged devotional activity, chanting serves the purpose of turning all the faculties of the body-mind (attention, feeling, body, and breath) to Adi Da Samraj, in a single heart-based gesture of devotional response:

Physically (and Formally) Engaged Sacramental Devotion Involves The Externalization Of attention Via Intentional Activation Of the body-mind (or frontal personality). In Contrast To This, Formal (and Deep) Meditation Involves Progressive Relinquishment Of physical and other outward-Directed frontal activity. Generally, daily Practice Of The Way Of The Heart Should Involve An Appropriately Balanced (and Formal) Measure Of Meditative and outward-Directed activities, but Even all outward-Directed activities Are To Be Realized As Forms Of functionally Expressed Heart-Practice.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Dawn Horse Testament

People have to be instructed in devotional chanting in My Company. It is a means for devotional Contemplation of Me, it is not a sing-along. It is a way to focus attention on Me and invoke Me and open to and receive My Blessing. It is a devotional practice of self-surrendering, self-forgetting, and, more and more, self-transcending feeling-Contemplation of Me.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, August 2, 1993

True devotional chant in the Reality-Way of Adidam is a practice that transcends the mind. True devotional chant Invokes Me and turns to Me, and stays steady in that turning to Me. Thus, in the Reality-Way of Adidam, true devotional chant is a mode of the moment-to-moment practice of whole bodily devotional turning to Me. You must enter into that Divine Process through right and true practice, and through all the formalities that manifest the ecstasy of devotional Communion with Me.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Sacred Space of Finding Me

Devotees in Seattle, Washington chanting to Adi Da

Devotees in Seattle, Washington chanting to Adi Da

Chanting is a form of practice of the Way of Adidam. You are not supposed to be chanting to Me to provide a musical atmosphere or entertainment for Me. Chanting is not done for My benefit. Chanting, like meditation, is a form of your sadhana, and, rightly done, it is a form of feeling-Contemplation of Me. You do not chant to entertain or amuse Me. You chant as a means to feelingly Contemplate Me.

Chanting is not to be done self-consciously, as if you are listening to your own voice. However, I have noticed self-conscious articulation, obvious attention to correct pronunciation, and the attitude of performance. When done properly, a chant is harmonious and it has an agreeable sign, not, however, as a result of your being self-conscious about your voice. It is not even a matter of your listening to the chant, since awareness of the chant is a very peripheral aspect of chanting. You are not to be preoccupied with the musical or vocal aspects of the chanting . . .

I have also noticed that in some people, chanting seems superficial. Some are just looking at the scene around Me. Attention in them is scattered, and that is not the proper disposition for chanting. When you are chanting, you should hold attention to Me, not staring at Me, but feeling Me. If chanting is occuring in My physical Company, you should keep attention on My bodily (human) Form. If it is not done in My physical Presence, then you should keep attention on My Murti. Do not let attention, or mind, fall back on the ego-self or wander.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, September 13, 1991

2.5. Swadhyaya Chanting

Swadhyaya chanting — the musical recitation of sacred texts — is both a longstanding tradition, and an important practice in the Way of Adidam. Adi Da has emphasized many times that listening to His recited Word can have a far greater (whole bodily) impact than simply sight-reading His Word on the page (or the Web).

He also evolved a particular musical form for swadhyaya chanting:

Traditionally in India, the Guru Gita and other recitations are sung in this manner of a very simple, few-note melody in order to allow for a deeper reception of the Sacred Text. . . . I've established (years ago) a format for that, for the chanting and recitation of My Teaching Word. . . . that may have a repetitive, several line form.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, April 27, 2005

The specific musical "repetitive, several line form" with the "very simple, few-note melody" used for swadhyaya chanting in Adidam is illustrated in the following example.

Naamleela Free JonesRuchira Avatara Gita (The Avataric Way Of The Divine Heart-Master) — Adi Da's daughter, Naamleela Free Jones, chants the text of Ruchira Avatar Adi Da's Source-Text, The Ruchira Avatara Gita (which began as Adi Da's Free Rendering of the principal passages in the traditional Guru Gita).
 other examplesThe Teaching Manual of Perfect Summaries Recitation and Chants.


2.6. Ordinary Chanting versus Kirtan

Devotional singing, particularly in the form of kirtan, is particularly useful if one tends to be "in one's head" (rather than being fully, whole bodily incarnated), or if one has difficulty feeling.

If you are too rigid to express your devotion to Me, you should be breaking through that rigidity by engaging more in demonstratively expressive devotional practices (such as pujas, full feeling-prostrations, chanting, and all the forms of ecstatic devotional singing, including vigorous kirtan). . . .

If you are to transcend your presumptuous ego, you must animate your devotion to Me. Devotion to Me is something you must do.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
"Throw your body to the Floor, and Yield your Heart"
The Love-Ananda Gita

Adi Da distinguishes ordinary chanting from kirtan in the following way:

There is a difference between chanting and kirtan. Kirtan is when you use a song and chant in a rhythmic, musical manner in which people are very active — sometimes rising up from their seat, dancing and jumping and spontaneously being moved. Chant, on the other hand, is different. It is quieter in tone, and it is musically less elaborate and less rhythmic. It is, instead, repetitive. It is made up of repetitive lines, even words that are repeated over and over again called by a chant leader. It does not, in general, suggest the kinds of responsiveness as in a kirtan. It is not physically motivating. People, of course, may make sounds or kriyas, but, in general, it is more calming.

When chants are being done, they should be done for an extended period of time repetitively, whereas, in kirtan there can be several songs and chants done — not in a repetitive fashion, for brief periods of time.

People look for chants to be bodily and vocally interesting. The chanting mode is not interesting. It is calming and conducive to dropping bodily and mental activity in a calmer sense.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, March 26, 1992

2.7. Drawing Upon Traditional Musical Genres and Creating New Ones

Adi Da has always encouraged the musicians of Adidam to study and draw upon a wide variety of devotional music traditions, as well as experiment with creating new musical genres.

And it's not just about imitating traditional modes of it either. If there are people creative with music, they can come up with new forms unique to Adidam.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, April 27, 2005

The purpose behind this was not the conventional one of idolizing variety or novelty in art for its own sake. Rather, the point was to study, learn from, and build upon time-tested means for magnifying devotional expression; and to evolve new forms of musical expression most suited to a new and unprecedented Spiritual Revelation.

The Indian tradition of sacred music — A significant portion of the music of Adidam has been drawn from or inspired by traditional Indian devotional chants and other forms of traditional Indian music. Here are some examples.

Adi Da and John MackayDanavira — In the experimental Adidam album, Danavira (The Hero Of Giving), professional jazz composer, John Mackay, drew from a wide variety of musical genres — from Gregorian Chant to Christmas carols — in creating new forms of Adidam devotional music.

Rejoice — a choral piece that draws from the modern tradition of atonal choral works (Charles Ives and others).
Interlude — a short instrumental piece drawing on the classical music tradition, with symphony clarinetist Bill Somers playing.
There Is Only Light — draws on the Qawwali tradition of Sufi devotional music (exemplified by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan). Read Adi Da's appreciation of the Qawwali musical tradition below.

Jaya — On another innovative Adidam album, Jaya, the musicians experimented with taking traditional Indian devotional chants and embedding them in the context of "world music".

ParamahansaMel McMurrinParamahansa — based on a traditional chant, combined with the Way of Adidam. Sung by Mel McMurrin (right).

Facing East — The group, Facing East, led by devotee, John Wubbenhorst, continually experiments with new musical possibilities that often seamlessly combine Eastern and Western musical traditions.

John Wubbenhorst, Subash Chandram, Ganesh Kumar

Facing Beloved — From the album, Facing Beloved, by group Facing East, with John Wubbenhorst (bansuri), Subash Chandran (ghatam) and Ganesh Kumar (kanjira). This piece is based on a melody from J.S. Bach (siciliano) with elements of Raga Kirwani.

2.8. Not Getting with the Program (or self): Improvisation and self-Transcendence in the Music of Adidam

Because the whole point of music in Adidam is to magnify the devotional response to Him, Adi Da was always sensitive to when the musical expression of devotees would become rigid, programmatic, "institutionalized", boring, or automatic in its expression, undermining its purpose.

[In 1973, Adi Da and devotee Gerald Sheinfeld travelled to India. These comments were from a period when they were visiting a traditional Indian Ashram they are visiting.]

Gerald Sheinfeld:

The first couple of days we attended all the chanting meetings, about four each day. When we found out which of these were mandatory and attended only those. By the end of the stay, Bubba [Adi Da] had stopped going to any chanting meetings. He said that all this chanting was simply a form of "crowd-control." It was the external representation of the internal sadhana of attention to God.

Adi Da's further comments:

Chanting has its place as a moment, not as a perpetual attempt to become absorbed. It is an occasion, a pleasantry. It's enjoyable from a genuine point-of-view, but once it becomes repetitive and constant, it is another method. It should only be used to the degree that it is natural, functional and appropriate.[6]

[Adi Da caricaturing devotees talking to each other:] "So what's on the program? Do we get a Darshan now? What do we do in a Darshan?" "Well, you bow down. You offer a flower. This is the routine. If you hear somebody chanting, just imitate that." . . . .

I do not want to be confronted by programs. . . . That's not Adidam. It's not My Teaching. . . It's simply egoic behavior, and it's taken on an institutional form. . . .That's what passes for a culture of "Divine involvement" all over the world, in fact. That's what conventional religiosity does. It creates these substitute performances that really do not involve the transcending of egoity at all, that are making references to God or Spiritual teachers or whatever, but they're not about anything at all.

True chant is something else. It's part of a devotional environment of profound contemplation of Me, that's necessarily associated with a renunciate life. It can't be otherwise because it's a different kind of concentration than what a non-renunciate life is about. . . .

When you see true devotion exhibited, it's a vision you can't forget. . .

[The singers'] practice has to coincide with the singing, meaning it's got to be the sign of mature practice, true recognition of Me, not just "you know how to sing". . . .

So those who do chanting as a service usually have not only training, but they have some disposition toward it that at least has some level of authenticity. It doesn't mean it's the same kind of depth motivation in every case, but of course, they have to serve the gathering, to make the participation of others right, and not just a kind of sing-along. Really, it's part of something that people should study in the gathering — everyone. . . .

There are "programs" in [other] Ashrams too, different from place to place. There was a certain level of what you could call "programs" at Baba Muktananda's Ashram in those early days [when I was first there]. But it was rather loose in some fundamental sense also.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
March 7, March 31, April 8, May 12, May 16, and June 1, 2005

Because the ego so frequently falls into programmed behavior, Adi Da sometimes encouraged musicians capable of it to engage in musical improvisation — particularly when playing music for Him — so that they could stay loose and open in their feeling-expression. Based on recognition of Adi Da as the Divine Person, such improvisation is, Adi Da says, a kind of spontaneous "exclamation".[4] Without such recognition:

. . . they don't exclaim. They don't recognize Me. . . . It's formulas of speech. . . . It's not recognition speaking [or singing, or playing] to Me.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
April 12, 2005

Are you counting up all My Sayings so you can remember what to do? I told you "It" Is My House. All you have to do Is heart-recognize Me. And, the next thing you know, you Are in My House, singing to Me.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
"The Concave Cube Of Normals To The Curve,
Or, A Horse Appears In The Wild Is Always Already The Case"
The Happenine Book

Devotional, musical improvisation in Adidam is always a matter of staying turned to Adi Da, and not falling into either the pitfall of programmed musical expression or the pitfall of egoic "self"-expression. Adi Da describes this second pitfall:

People can get off the wall with [chanting], and self-involved and wrapped up in crazy behaviors — that's possible too.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
May 17, 2005

Anciently, all arts were forms of ritual. The artist submitted to a master of his or her craft or art, by whom he or she would be schooled in the culture — in other words, the tradition, the limits, the techniques, the purposes of the art.

By submitting to this demand of the culture in general, the artist transcended his or her own ego-possessed motivation. An artist was not permitted to paint, sing, or play an instrument until the master could attest to the artist's preparation and affirm that he or she was capable of serving the community, serving the culture.

The artist was capable of this because not only had he or she learned all the techniques — not only did the artist know how to awaken in his or her audience all the imagery to which they were devoted and by which they might transcend themselves — but the artist had mastered himself or herself in the process.

In modern time, the arts have ceased to have a cultural purpose that is acknowledged to be necessary. The arts become mere entertainments.

The arts become ways of expressing yourself, your contents, your insides — your aberrations. In fact, the arts become the very means for expressing the problems you have, because there is no culture, no center, no society, no necessity to what you do — the failure of the social order, the failure of the demands within an artistic discipline that you transcend yourself, that you master yourself, that you provide something within the social order that is valued by others, that has intrinsic value, that has fundamental value, that is not just decorative or entertaining, but that is part of the sacred purpose of the community.

Find a way to submit yourself to the function of art within the true culture of Adidam Ruchiradam. That is how you will transcend yourself in this process and make your art more than ego-possession, "self"-expression, Narcissistic "self"-reflection.

Find a way for your art to be ecstatic and find some way for it to serve, even in ordinary ways. Give pleasure through it and have that pleasure serve the appropriate mood of devotees. And then, perhaps, find some higher purpose — find a way for your art to be ecstatic in the Spiritual sense.

That is a discipline. Perhaps, it will take a long time to do that.

But one's struggle is not to fulfill oneself and make that "self" lovable by the "world". The struggle is to transcend oneself in order to enter fully into the Divine.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
September 17, 1980

You can tell when improvised sacred music is not falling into the pitfall of egoic "self"-expression because it is turning the listener to the Divine, rather than to the performer or to the form of the music.

Someone being musically expressive or improvising in an egoless fashion, while turned to the Divine, is not a blank slate. Rather, he or she is creating in accord with the aesthetics of Reality Itself, and is doing so in full relationship with any other musicians improvising with them. Here is one of the most succinct summaries Adi Da has ever given of the aesthetics of sacred, ego-transcending art of all kinds, including sacred music:

My true devotees give living human form to the Indivisible Presence of Reality Itself . . . My true devotees "create" according to the aesthetic logic of Reality and Truth, and (thus) they turn all of their living into limitless relatedness and true enjoyment. They constantly remove the effects of separative existence and restore the inherent form of things. They engineer every kind of stability and intrinsic beauty. They give living human form to My Avatarically Self-Transmitted Divine Transcendental Spiritual Presence of Love-Bliss and Infinite Peace. Their eye [or ear] is always on the integrity of inherent form, and not on egoically fabricated (and, necessarily, false and exaggerated) notions of artifice. Their sense of form is always integrated, stable and whole, and always in present-time, rather than gesturing toward some "other" event.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
"I Have Come To Found A Bright New Order of Global Humankind"
Part 25, The Aletheon

"Baba Da's Great Tradition Improvisation Orchestra" was an experiment in improvisational devotional music directly encouraged by Adi Da in the musicians who were playing for Him. As one of them put it, "There was no plan except to play for our Beloved Guru in the great joy of His Presence."

John Wubbenhorst, Michael Sheppard, Byron DuckwallBaba Da's Great Tradition Improvisation Fusion Orchestra — Ecstatic improvisations in the Presence of Adi Da Samraj, at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary, California, in 2005. John Wubbenhorst (flute), Michael Sheppard (keyboards), Byron Duckwall (cello). From the album, Baba Da's Great Tradition Improvisation Fusion Orchestra.

 other examples — John Wubbenhorst and Otto Probst, Breath of Devotion. This music was improvised for Adi Da Samraj on occasions during which He created His Divine Image-Art: "There were no plans or rehearsals; all the music was a spontaneous response to His Presence."

2.9. Musical Settings for the Poetry, Literature, and Leelas of Adidam

Over the years, Adi Da has written poetry, literature, and evocative sacred texts that naturally lend themselves to musical composition and innovation.

Crazy Da Must SingThis book of Adi Da's poetry was published in 1982, and devotee musicians have been setting its poems to music ever since.


Crane KirkbrideI am as one — Adi Da's poem, "I am as one who left his home to do a thing for man", set to music by Ray Lynch. Sung by Crane Kirkbride, on his album, An Infinite Well.


Crane KirkbrideMy loved one sits upon my knee — Adi Da's poem, "My loved one sits upon my knee", set to music and sung by Pauline Chew, on her album, Songs for Baba Da. . . and the World.

 other examples — "Mornings, No", "Forehead, Breath, and Smile", and "When Things Have Left Him" from Eyes In Other Worlds; "I’ve Grown Used To Miracles" and "I Am As One Who Left His Home" from the album, A World More Light.

Chris TongThe Mummery Book The Mummery Book (Book One of Adi Da's Orpheum trilogy) is a sacred theatrical enactment that combines acting, images, and music. Much music has been written for The Mummery Book over the years, often completely new with each year's performance. Here is just a small sample, composed and sung by Chris Tong for Adi Da at the 1995 performance of The Mummery Book on Naitauba, Fiji.

The Mummery Book: excerpts (9 tracks)
 On Pleasing the Guru and Composing Music for The Mummery Book — Chris Tong tells the story of creating the music for The Mummery Book in 1995, and of his desire that his music "please his Guru", in the traditional manner.

Leelas — The world's religious traditions are full of religious stories being set to music: from Christmas carols, to Passions (e.g., Matthew's Passion), Easter hymns, and Pesach music in the West, to the tradition of Harikata in the East: a form of Hindu religious discourse in which the storyteller explores a religious theme, usually the life of a saint or a story from a religious epic using stories, poetry, music, drama, dance, and philosophy. Adi Da has also recommended that the leelas of Adidam be set to music and dramatized (particularly for instructing children being raised in the culture of Adidam):

It's the application of the arts, sacred theater and so on to communication of leelas and instructional texts. And it should be done on a regular basis in all the regions. . . Plus, there are other texts to be recited or dramatized, sometimes put to some kind of musical setting for the recitation, or the words themselves chanted or recited in a kind of musical manner. Leelas dramatized. The arts have got to be brought to these matters for children and adults, a regular part of the sacred domain.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, April 14, 2005

2.10. More Examples of Adidam Music


I Am With You Now

Composed by JoAnne Sunshine and produced by Billboard award-winning New Age composer, Ray Lynch. From the double CD, May You Ever Dwell In Our Hearts.

By Ray Lynch. One of our most ecstatic chants. Ray Lynch composed many of the earliest devotional chants used by devotees.


Ray LynchRay: My relationship with Adi Da Samraj over more than 25 years has only confirmed His Realization and the Truth of His impeccable Teaching. He is much more than simply an inspiration for my music, but is really a living demonstration that perfect transcendence is actually possible. This is both a great relief and a great challenge.

Ray Lynch singing with Adi Da
Ray sings with Adi Da (1975)
JoAnne Sunshine

I Am Who You Are

JoAnne Sunshine composed many of the early devotional pieces, including this exquisite piece (produced by Ray Lynch), here sung by Crane Kirkbride in operatic style (from his devotional album, An Infinite Well).

Crane and Adi Da singing "I Am Who You Are"
Crane and Adi Da singing "I Am Who You Are" (1992)

I Am The One Who Has Always Been Here

Contemplative chant, composed by Rosa Guilfoyle, and sung by Rosa and Elaine Dixon, from their album, A World More Light.

Rosa Guilfoyle and Elaine Dixon
Alexandra Fry

Naitauba, Naitauba

Composed by Jeff Hughes, played and sung by Alexandra Fry, singing about the Spiritual purpose of the island of Naitauba. (The words of the song are "in Adi Da's voice" — in other words, they are written as though He Himself is speaking about Naitauba, but He never actually spoke these particular words.)

Many talented and creative musicians have created the full body of devotional music in Adidam to date.[2] Only some have been mentioned or represented in the above examples.

2.11. Sacred Offerings and Chanting Occasions

In addition to music created specifically for the devotional context of Adidam, many traditional pieces (Western and Eastern) have been performed for Adi Da in the context of a Sacred Offering. This was a specific way through which devotees with musical talents could deepen their relationship with their Spiritual Master, in person. Sacred Offerings continue after Adi Da's human lifetime, offered by devotees to Adi Da's eternally accessible Divine Presence.


He Felt the Divine Avatar Singing Him — Ram Krishna Das and the story of his visit to Naitauba, where he sang for Avatar Adi Da Samraj, shortly before Adi Da's Divine Mahasamadhi.

Ram Krishna Das singing for Adi Da


Katya Grineva playing for Adi Da
World-renowned concert pianist, Katya Grineva,
playing for Adi Da, at The Mountain Of Attention, August 2005
(and in a tribute concert dedicated to Adi Da in Carnegie Hall, June, 2009)

All devotees, musicians and non-musicians alike, have been able to express their devotion through music by participating in chanting occasions where they sang to Adi Da, as in the occasion in the video below on June 29, 2005, at The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary.

2.12. Music as Sacred Art and Means for Growing in the Relationship to Adi Da

Devotees in Washington, DC chanting to Adi Da

Devotees in Washington, DC chanting to Adi Da

I play music all the time. I just use someone else's hands.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

In the Ruchira Avatara Gita not every word or line of it is supposed to be the Guru Himself speaking; it's the voice of the devotee. But the devotee is able to sing rightly about the Guru, having been inspired by the Guru, so that the Guru in effect is singing the devotee.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, April 27, 2005

All devotees are called to take up one or more sacred arts, as an integral part of their practice of the Way of Adidam. Unlike "conventional art", sacred art is precisely not "self-expression": projecting the contents of one's ego (generally, one's unconscious) onto canvas if one is a painter, onto sheet music if one is a musical composer, or into one's singing if one is a singer.

Before all art started being reduced to self-expression in the last few centuries, there was a shared notion (still intuited by many) that the best state for an artist to be in was to be "inspired" (a word which shares a common root with "spirit"), or "possessed" by a Force or Presence greater than oneself, and to allow one's art to flow from that possession or inspiration. (Done right, one's "Muse" is the source of one's music. "Music" literally means "the art of the Muses".)

That traditional viewpoint is shared by Adidam, and "taken to the limit", in the sense that the "Force or Presence greater than oneself" is the Very Divine. In Adidam, sacred art has two aspects:

  • Its end or purpose is to transport the viewer (if art) or listener (if music) into the Divine Domain, or at least help them intuit or connect with It.

  • Its means is the artist (if art) or the composer and performers (if music) becoming instruments of the Divine (through contemplation of Adi Da).

In this sense, practicing one's sacred art as a devotee of Adi Da is not different from what all devotees are called to do as they grow in the practice of Adidam altogether: to become instrumentality for Adi Da's Spiritual Transmission — where the means is surrender to the Divine, and the end (from the Divine Viewpoint) is to magnify the Divine Transmission for the sake of the Divine Enlightenment of all beings.

Devotees in Melbourne, Australia chanting to Adi Da

Devotees in Melbourne, Australia chanting to Adi Da

Many artists, creative people, spiritual Realizers, spiritual seekers, and social activists, resonate with this notion of becoming instrumentality — of giving oneself over to something greater than oneself, for a higher purpose than self-fulfillment:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

As practitioners of the Way of Adidam, we are called to give ourselves over — through our sacred art and through our practice altogether — to the very Divine, to serve the Ultimate Purpose of the Divine Enlightenment of all beings, through our becoming instrumentality for the Divine.

To grow in one's sacred art certainly involves becoming more proficient in all the technical dimensions of that art. If one's sacred art is chanting, certainly singing off key does not help the listeners connect with the Divine![5] In general, lack of proficiency draws everyone's attention to the deficiency rather than to the Divine. This applies to the chanter's (or musician's) own attention as well. If one is not highly proficient technically, then much of one's attention will be going toward "getting it right", and there will be that much less free attention to devote to the Divine.

Antonina Randazzo leading a chanting seminar in New Zealand

Antonina Randazzo leading a chanting seminar in New Zealand

But growing in one's sacred art is only secondarily a matter of technical mastery. Primarily, it coincides with growth in one's devotional practice and one's ability to invoke Adi Da as the Divine. The key then is to have enough free energy and attention to invoke Adi Da, so that one is practicing one's art in the self-forgetting, Him-remembering disposition.

It is important to understand that the matter of sacred art is a profound discipline. In the conventional setting, to be an artist, you must be technically competent and creatively enthusiastic. In the sacred context, though, you must also, at the very least, be someone who is really doing sadhana and be active from the real depth of devotional Contemplation. In sacred art, you are required to press beyond your usual tendencies, what you are assuming yourself to be all the time, and all of your presumed limitations . . . The doing of sacred art requires not only full capability and competence relative to the technicalities of the art and real creativity of course, but the performance of sacred art requires the fullest development of sadhana and submission to the Divine.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

You have to understand that sacred music is not a performance. It is not about how good you can do it. It is a sadhana. Chanting and sacred offerings occasions are not for the individuals who are actually making the vocal [or other musical] offering: these occasions are for everyone else there as well. The person making the offering has to be very sensitive to the fact that it is his or her function to make a devotional offering and pull everyone into making that offering to Me. The offering and chant being done have to effectively do that, so that everyone is participating. Really, the person making the offering becomes invisible. . . . These offerings are participatory occasions in devotion to Me.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, May 2, 1992

It is presumed that those participating [in a Sacred Music Offering] will be entering into Divine ecstasy. That is the whole purpose of the music, to serve the ecstasy of all present.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

When performing music is our sacred art, we not only master a musical instrument; we also allow the Divine to master our body-mind, and transform it into an instrument that the Divine can play.

Devotees chanting to Adi Da at Adi Da Samrajashram

Devotees in Adi Da Samrajashram chanting to Adi Da

On the Celebration of Adi Da's Jayanthi [birthday] in 1993, devotees were invited to a sacred performance offered to Adi Da by the music guild at Adi Da Samrajashram. Before the musicians began to play their instruments, Adi Da inspired them with instruction relative to sacred art and its traditional origins:

For those of you who are going to celebrate the sadhana of music here tonight, do so in this spirit. Do it as a means of ecstasy, not self-conscious, full of thought, but as devotion to Me, beyond thought, to become ecstatic and to serve all your fellow devotees here in their ecstasy, their movement beyond themselves. Do not allow it to be a concert with boring middle-class people watching or listening, while you, as boring middle-class people, sing or make music, sounds of one kind or another, and everybody contributes another $50 to the Ladies Music Society at the end, you see! Do not let it be that. Make it more like what in the Sufi tradition of Islam is called "Qawwali".

Those who perform music in the Qawwali tradition observe all those participating. It is presumed that those participating, just sitting while others play and sing and so on, wiill be entering into Divine ecstasy. That is the whole point, that is why they do the music, but they observe everyone present. If someone enters into ecstasy during a particular passage in the music, in the song, with the instruments or whatever, the musicians observe the discipline of continuing with that until the person comes out of it. If they are somehow the cause of that ecstasy, they must serve it until the person returns to a more normal attitude. So the musicians are there to serve the ecstasy of all present, and they observe the discipline of observing [the participants] to serve in that process, and will not leave them, will not break off, saying, "Well, we have had five minutes of music and that's the end of it." No, they just go on and on until everybody who has gone into the fullest ecstasy has done so and come back and resumed their normality.

You Westerners have this concert mentality, egos getting up to be praised for their performance. Music, from the traditional point of view, is only for ecstasy, only for self-transcendence in Divine Communion. Music is a means for it in the context of the whole culture of Divine Communion, which everybody knows about and is practicing as well. But that is the point, that is what they are there to serve. They will not interrupt it or stop it as long as people are in that ecstasy.

So they do not do "concerts" in the sacred traditions. They do not expect praise. They are not there as egos expecting to be honored and so forth. Honors are given, of course, but that is not the point. The point is God-Communion. That is the traditional point of view of the arts. And they are there to serve that in everyone and through these unique means, which are part of the collective culture which adds something to the daily practice of every individual, provides occasions of this unique means of Divine Communion. It is not ego games, it is not a mere concert, it is not a civilized performance. It is just to enhance what everyone is struggling to do every moment, which is to enter into most direct Communion with the Divine and lose egoic self in order to do so.

You are here to serve My devotees, their Communion with Me, their going beyond themselves. Be sensitive to them in the process. You, yourselves, enter into it without self-consciousness. The notes are not the point. They are not an end in themselves, they are strictly, or only, means. You are not here to be praised or accepted, you are here to serve My devotees in My Company, to ecstatically be in My Company through this unique service at this moment.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, November 3, 1993

So in addition to technical mastery of voice or musical instruments, and in addition to one's personal expression of devotion through the music, the sacred musical performer must also become adept at using his or her craft to help draw out the devotional participation of everyone else in the room:

In a secular situation, the focus is on the performance and on the ego. In the sacred situation, the focus is on the Divine, on the Realizer. The Realizer or the Divine is the subject of devotion. Therefore, this requires self-transcendence, not self-presentation. This is the most difficult aspect of the art to learn and it requires maturing in the process. These offerings are participatory occasions in devotion to Me. Part of the training is to be able to perform in these sacred occasions and this requires great skill in order to provoke participation on the part of everyone. These occasions are not just for the person making the devotional offering to express his or her own devotion.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

The Divine Master of hearts and voices
The Divine Master of His devotees' hearts (and lungs)
listens astutely, having called His male devotees to a heartfelt rendition
of Puccini's Nessun Dorma (Spring, 1993)
The Divine Master of His devotees' hearts (and lungs)
listens astutely, having called His male devotees to a heartfelt rendition
of Puccini's Nessun Dorma (Spring, 1993)

(click picture for enlargement)


Singing as a Mindless and Ecstatic Contemplative — Crane Kirkbride tells how, using skillful means, Adi Da drew on Crane's two lifelong passions — as singer and spiritual seeker — and transformed Crane into an ecstatic devotee of the Divine.

Crane Singing "I Am Who You Are"

Antonina Randazzo

Devotional Singing: "The Focus Is On The Divine" — Antonina Randazzo describes how Adi Da taught her the sacred art of devotional singing.

Antonina Singing "Invocation"


Club Rat — Chris Tong tells the story of how Adi Da created a most unusual evening, and how He used music to open Chris's heart.

Chris Singing Excerpts From The Mummery Book

Club Rat
Bill Somers

I Realized That I Was "Playing for God" — In the early 1980s, Bill Somers had already realized what he had held to be his life's ambition: to be principal clarinetist in a symphony orchestra. But this accomplishment was not enough for Bill, after all; his heart was not satisfied. And that was a good place to be! It led him to his Spiritual Master.

Bill Playing "Interlude"


"This is the God for me!" — In this radio interview (with Aaron Joy), rock musician Theo Cedar Jones describes how he became Adi Da's devotee; how Adi Da transformed his entire manner of singing and his craft of songwriting; and the creative challenge of communicating Adi Da's Presence and Teaching through the medium of rock.

This Is The God For Me!

3. Participate in a Sacred Musical Occasion

Enjoy over an hour of the devotional music of Adidam — you can listen to most of the examples presented above in our Music Player below.

We have organized it as a Sacred Occasion. First, while you are settling into your seat, Baba Da's Great Tradition Improvisation Fusion Orchestra plays some transitional music to help transport you into the Sacred context. Then Antonina Randazzo provides a formal Invocation of Adi Da. All the subsequent pieces continue to magnify that Invocation, reflecting in many ways upon Who and What Adi Da Is — the Wonder, the Blessing-Power, and the Happiness of the Divine appearing in the world in human form — as well as the nature of egoity ("May Your Radiant 'Bright' Blessings Awaken me, whose eyes are covered over by the images of a separate self") and of Reality Itself. On the more lively tracks, feel free to get out of your seat and "Dance Down The Light"! The Sacred Occasion closes in the way devotees of Adi Da often close their weekly Guruvara occasions: with the singing of Gurudeva Hamaaraa Pyaaraa ("To Our Beloved Guru"), and closing with the recitation of the Sat-Guru-Naama Mantra.

For those tracks that have associated albums, you can click the album cover to find out more about the album.


In including "religious music" here, we are making Adi Da's distinction between "social religiosity" (wherein people go to church or temple, sing together, etc. — and they get a good feeling that comes not from actually connecting with God for real, but from being part of a larger social group, as at a rock concert or a sports stadium) and esoteric spiritual practice (and any musical practice that is a part of it), which actually is purposed toward spiritual Realization.

The motive to reduce the religious life to such terms is ingrained in you all — politically, socially, culturally and by your religious experience, by upbringing and so on. Common religiosity is social religiosity. It is purposed to improve the social personality sign in human beings. It not about God-Realization. . . . It is basically a political and social matter just determined to govern human behavior according to moral principles, which ultimately are legal and political principles and so forth to make you all better citizens, productive citizens, benign characters in relation to others.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Absorptive Samadhi of Devotion to Me
December 29, 1995

[2] Many CDs and audio cassettes of such devotional music are available from The Dawn Horse Press.

When the word, "invocation", is used conventionally, it is often associated with images of conjuring up a spirit or deity in the room — bringing a "someone" or "something" from "somewhere else" to "here". "Invocation" has a very different, non-separative meaning in Adidam. The One we are invoking is the Very Divine, Who is All-Pervading. In other words, the Divine is already "in the room"!

There is no separation from God, not even in the slightest! It is impossible to be separated from God, absolutely impossible. We exist in the Great One. It is an obscene suggestion that we could ever, even in a fraction of our being, be removed from the Room of the great Lord. It is absolutely impossible. I am certain of this. I hope you will also understand yourselves and Realize this.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Dreaded Gom-Boo

We don't actually bring Him "into the room", although experientially (i.e., reading the changes in one's body-mind) it can sometimes feel that way. What is really happening when we recognize and invoke Adi Da is that we are leaving "our room" (of egoity) and entering His (always already present) Room.

My devotees must devotionally recognize Me and whole bodily turn to Me and forget about themselves. . . . It is about transformation in My Person. It is about coincidence with Me. . . . Any time people are turning to Me, they are in the Room with Me. How profound it is is up to them. It depends on the maturity of their participation in the Process, of course.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, October 10, 2008

So "invocation of the Divine" in the Way of Adidam is not a conjuring act but a "self"-disappearing act, as the words of the Second Great Invocation suggest:

Bless me now with True self-Forgetfulness,
By The Seven Gifts Of Remembering You,
That my Heart May Grow In "Brightness" and Be Gone.

The Divine Emerges more profoundly when the "hole in the universe", or zone of egolessness, is expanded via the egolessness of devotees of the Divine in any given moment.

[4] Of course, as Adi Da has humorously pointed out, one can't egoically try to be spontaneous or non-programmatic, when improvising or at any other time. Spontaneous response is one of the fruits of recognition of Adi Da as the Divine and the egoless state associated with that recognition.
[5] Although Adi Da has sometimes even used just such a circumstance to create a lesson. On one occasion, a devotee who was a professional singing teacher complained to Adi Da about another devotee's poor singing of a sacred text. Adi Da, in turn, blasted her for her "musical righteousness" with these humorous words: "Even if it was a zebra sitting up there strumming a guitar, My Words being recited by a devotee in sacred fashion should be sufficient basis for your devotional response." So even the mis-steps in someone else's practice of sacred art can serve as a mirror for reflecting (and circumstance for transcending) our own egoic reactivity.
[6] Note the contrast between this instruction from Adi Da, "[Chanting is] enjoyable from a genuine point-of-view, but once it becomes repetitive and constant, it is another method. It should only be used to the degree that it is natural, functional and appropriate." and His instruction that we presented earlier on this page, "When chants are being done, they should be done for an extended period of time repetitively . . . People look for chants to be bodily and vocally interesting. The chanting mode is not interesting. It is calming and conducive to dropping bodily and mental activity in a calmer sense." The two comments illustrate the balance one must strike between rightly engaging a modality of devotional music that is inherently designed to not be stimulating; and yet not falling into an unconscious stupor, as one engages it. It's similar to the balance one must strike in extended periods of meditation, where again there is no stimulation in the meditation hall, but the purpose of that lack of stimulation is undisturbed, conscious, and deepening contemplation of the Divine — not falling asleep. Of course, the occasional sounds of snoring in the meditation hall during morning meditation demonstrate that not everybody always finds that balance!
[7] However, it should also be noted that, when devotees were only creating sacred music with His Names as the words, Adi Da told them that was uncreative (if that was all they ever created), and encouraged them to use greater creativity in writing the words for sacred music.
Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
© Copyrighted materials used with the permission of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. None of these materials may be disseminated or otherwise used for any non-personal purpose without the prior agreement of the copyright owner. ADIDAM is a trademark of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as Trustee for the Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

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