On this episode of Mindrolling, profound musician, Benjy Wertheimer, shares his practice of Nāda yoga along with stories of his study under legendary Indian musician Ali Akbar Khan.
Raghu and Benjy Wertheimer discuss the consciousness changing qualities of devotional music and how those insights can be used to better interact with ourselves and the world.
A Calling to the Path (Opening) – Benjy shares a bit about his first album, “Soul of the Esraj,” and how he learned to play the unique instrument after which the album is made. He talks about stumbling into an unlikely musical apprenticeship with legendary musician Ali Akbar Khan, whose lineage is hundreds of years old.
“You know sometimes in life you get these messages that maybe you are not going down the right path. I was very happy that the Esraj pretty much found me at that point in my training.”
Conscious Shifting (24:15) – It is not common to have a connection with the kind of music that Benjy composes without it effecting one’s consciousness. Benjy discusses the many moments of consciousness shifting he experienced while training under Ali Akbar Khan.
“He opened the door to the temple room dedicated to Saraswati, and it was if these gail force winds of pure creative energy came pouring out of the room; it was mind-blowing. Then, when I stepped into the room with Ali Akbar Khan, it was as if every ounce of his intention, over decades of practice 12-16 hours a day, went straight to my heart in a fraction of a second. That to me made absolutely clear how powerful and sacred this entire practice of Nāda yoga, the yoga of sacred vibration and sound, really was.”
Reactivity and Social Action (33:30) – Raghu and Benjy discuss what masters like Ali Akbar Khan represent and what they have to give back to the world. They talk about our reactivity, especially in the political climate we live in. Benjy shares his methods of approach in dealing with social action.
“I have to admit, many times I find myself very upset about what I see going on in the world and I keep coming back to, ‘What is it that I can do that is truly most efficacious? How do I respond to violence, hatred and division?’ The answer always comes, ‘Make more beauty; pour yourself more powerfully into the music, spread the love that way. Work for what you want to see and create, not against those things you feel that you need to oppose.”
Bountiful Blessings (52:45) – In his call to service through music, Benjy feels a responsibility to keep alive and share the blessings that were given to him by Ali Akbar Khan and the Goddess Saraswati.
“My mind immediately goes to the music. That is one of the gifts of the Guru and the gifts that somehow Saraswati keeps bestowing.”
Find Benjy Wertheimer his music project, Shantala, and his complete discography online and keep up with him on Facebook. If you are interested in learning more about the Hanuman Chalisa, check out Flow of Grace by Krishna Das. You can find Raghu’s conversation with Trevor Hall right here, on the Be Here Now Network.
Ali Akbar Khan
Photo via Constant Contact