Nina Rao visits the Mindrolling Podcast for a chat with Raghu about the transformative power of mantra and the fruits of pursuing a spiritual path.
Nina learned traditional chants from her grandfather in a village in south India when she was nine years old. The chants quietly stayed with her until she rediscovered chanting with Krishna Das in New York in 1996. For many years Nina has been Krishna Das’ business manager and assistant, often touring with him playing kartals (cymbals) and singing. In January 2013, she released her debut album, Antarayaami – Knower of All Hearts and her sophomore album, Anubhav, in 2018. Nina regularly leads kirtan, chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa, and sings for yoga classes in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY and beyond. Keep up with Nina Rao at ninaraochant.com.
Links from this episode: The Near and Dear
Anubhav (Opening) – Nina shares the story behind the title of her newest album, Anubhav.
“The literal translation of anubhav is spiritual experience or perception or understanding, but it is on the inside. It is not necessarily something that is taught to you, it is like a spontaneous arising.” – Nina Rao
Family Values (6:00) – We learn about Nina’s background and she talks about the difference in family life in India and in the West. She shares her first experience playing harmonium and learning to chant from her grandfather. Nina talks about meeting Krishna Das and coming to know Maharaj-ji through him.
Sitting with Ma (23:05) – Raghu and Nina reflect on their experiences in India with Siddhi Ma. Nina shares her first encounter with Siddhi Ma and the connection she developed with her. She shares a new track off of Anubhav, “Amma Sita Ram.”
“I still don’t understand the presence of Maharaj-ji necessarily. I did not see him in the body, but he has got a hold of me – no doubt. It came though Krishna Das’s first Sri Ram and took me to India. The way I see it is that he is that presence, she is that presence too; she happens to also be inside of that and I am inside of that too with you and everybody else.” – Nina Rao
Hear more of Nina’s experiences with Siddhi Ma on Ep. 14 of the Shakti Hour Podcast with Melanie Moser.
Guarding the Heart-Mind (42:30) – Nina shares here wisdom around the practice of mantra and how the practice can provide refuge for our Heart-Mind. She and Raghu talk about dedicating ourselves to the different practices available for transforming our lives. We close with another song from Anubhav, “Tashi Lama Chenno.”
“I feel that the energy that is carried in mantra is an energy that passes through each one of us. We happen to resonate with whatever that is at that moment and it is healing, I really think mantras are healing. I don’t know how it works, I am sure someone has figured that out, but I know that it works” – Nina Rao