East meets West through Music

edited by Madelyn Miller, the TravelLady

Perched at the leading edge of the rapidly evolving global economy, ancient India is now as well known for its technological prowess and Bollywood’s prolific reach as it is for its place as a spiritual center for billions of seekers. With the subcontinent’s emergence on the 21st century stage and its accompanying newfound wealth, India is embracing all the conveniences of modern life that the West has to offer. At the same time, the West looks to India to satiate a different type of need—a spiritual hunger.

A child of this modern era of East-meets-West sensibility, Manish Vyas knows well the inherent contradictions between the secular and the spiritual. Manish’s considerable musical talents place him at the forefront of a new generation of Indian artists who have come of age with an abiding and intimate connection with their guru—and a high-speed connection to the internet.

Manish Vyas’ Prasad: a classical music for modern India—that speaks to western audiences                                              

Manish Vyas’ spiritual and musical training are inseparable, each serving the other. As a disciple to some of India’s most esteemed musicians (most notably the late Ustad Alla Rakha, father of Zakir Hussain), Manish came to understand that his musical gifts alone will only gain access to the listeners’ ears; it is the intention behind the music, the idea of infusing it with the divine, that allows him to reach beyond, touching their hearts.

Themes of devotion, meditation and celebration are the common threads running through Manish’s new recording, Prasad (available June 24th from White Swan Records). His compositions and arrangements exude a beauty born of patience and maturity and, true to the title’s meaning, animate the grace Manish receives from his guru. Featuring Bikram Singh on gorgeous bansuri (bamboo) flute and Manish displaying equal expertise on tabla, santoor and vocals, these songs move with focused, steady exhalations and inhalations, providing the soul-stirring anecdote sought by the Western listener while remaining true to Indian music’s ornate classical forms. Indeed, it is the rare artist who can strike this difficult balance. Grammy nominee Anoushka Shankar was moved to state that Manish “makes Indian music very accessible to people.”

 “Manish Vyas is the new avatar of Devotional Pop music.” –Yoga Journal

Prasad is the result of decades of dedicated musical and spiritual practice, performance and prayer from which Manish has gained an insightful grasp of the complex architecture of Indian music. This knowledge has served him well along his life’s musical path, leading to opportunities to compose for and tour the world with such artists as Deva Premal, Prem Joshua and Snatam Kaur. Through these encounters, he broadens his musical perspectives and, equally as important, sees the world outside of India.

Manish’s travels, encounters and collaborations in the West, his spiritual approach to his music and the many mediums—folk, classical, kirtan, sikh, sufi, jazz—in which he’s worked all contribute to his holistic worldview. From this, Manish has developed a unique voice that eloquently balances his musical gifts and deep spirituality with the time in which he lives, resulting in a classical music for modern India that speaks to western audiences.



Madelyn Miller is a travel and food writer who loves yoga music. Read her stories on www.travellady.com, www.yogayaya.com, www.carladynews.com, www.chocolateatlas.com, www.cocktailatlas.com, www.teaAtlas.com, www.coffeeatlas.com