When I first received a copy of The Magic of Gayatri for review, I thought to myself, “Yet another rendition of the Gayatri Mantra in an already filled-to-capacity market?” Nope — I was pleasantly surprised.
First, the story of the creation of this musical CD album. It is just as fascinating as its author, Chandra-Shekar.
The story. A man of Indian origin is hiking in the Arizona Mountains, near Tucson, US. The natural beauty of life surrounding him, and the poignant memory of his wife who had died of cancer, stir in him a desire to recite the Gayatri Mantra — a mantra he had learned from his father, as a young boy in India. It was just chanting as he had always done every day; it brought him peace and took him to his roots. Yet, he suddenly and shockingly realised that he was reciting this ancient prayer, mechanically — without comprehending its true meaning and depth. It was a revelation – it set him thinking. Deeply.
Thus was born The Magic of Gayatri, a search to touch the sacred divinity within the mantra — of a desire to share this unique awakening of his own Self with others, looking for healing, peace and a way to touching the Divine in us.
Secondly, what makes this rendition unique is it instils in the listener a sense of new hope, well-being and peace, like no other version.
The CD [duration: 66 minutes] has seven tracks. The first welcomes the listener to The Magic of Gayatri experience. This is followed by nine repetitions of the Gayatri Mantra. This lead us to the history of the mantra being explained in simple and understandable terms by Chandra-Shekar. This is followed by the beautiful instrumental, Ode to Gayatri, by Tomas Michaud on his guitar. The next track provides a word-by-word interpretation of the mantra and its correct pronunciation by the author. The following track has Chandra-Shekar again chanting the Gayatri Mantra 54 times [this is traditionally done 108 times], in his soft, deep and melodious voice, creating an atmosphere of serenity. The last track completes the whole experience with an expression of gratitude.
Chandra-Shekar has been extremely knowledgeable in his selection of instruments and musicians. This is what that enables him to reach his goal of creating a transcendent version of the Gayatri Mantra that is healing and also universally acceptable.
Chandra-Shekar’s mellifluous timbre and perfect pronunciation of the mantra are complemented wonderfully by Michaud’s gentle guitar strokes and Bikram Rajkumar’s beautiful Bansuri [flute] notes.
Technically speaking, the recording and the mastering quality of the CD are outstanding and reach excellent audiophile standards. The separation between the instruments is excellent and each instrument is heard with silken smoothness and clarity. The CD sounds are equally good, whether it is played on a boom box, PC, or on a high-end stereo system.
As Chandra-Shekar recalled, in an interview, to this writer, that when he started his research for his CD, he had downloaded over 40 versions of the Gayatri Mantra. He found the Western versions ‘mispronounced’ and the Indian versions too traditional. His goal was to create a rendition that had a common, universal appeal.
This CD sure has a universally ‘common’ appeal. Regardless of one’s belief system, colour, caste, or creed, listening to the CD helps us to achieve inner calmness and peace of mind. It also provides therapeutic support and effect. It works as a guide to our inner truths and realisation. While listening, I felt like I was near the sea. It could have been anywhere — Goa, Greece, the Maldives, or Hawaii. All in my mind. It’d be yours, too.
Chandra-Shekar also told me that he was working with cancer patients and had given them the CD to listen to during surgery. Time-after-time, listeners have reported that their post-operative recovery period was reduced and their fears had diminished substantially.
The Magic of Gayatri has received excellent response in the US and Canada.
Here are a brace of eulogies:
“Chandra-Shekar’s rendition of the Gayatri [Mantra] spoke to my heart and to my sub-conscious on a vibrational level. Listening to the Gayatri [Mantra] helped me through my surgery. In the past, I have had other surgeries, but this surgery was the easiest one by far. When I woke up after five hours of anaesthesia, I felt like I had been napping. I was amazed. My stay in the hospital was supposed to be five-days-to-one-week; I was out in three. The nurses called me their star patient. I give my thanks to Chandra-Shekar and the Gayatri Mantra for my rapid recovery, both physically and emotionally. The Gayatri [Mantra] and I have become one, and as I still listen to it every day, I feel my heart beat in unison to the rhythm of his chanting.”
— Marlene Bracali, Novato, California, US.
“Something magic wished this CD into my life. I listen to and chant the Gayatri [Mantra] daily and I thank Chandra-Shekar for his soul-stirring chanting and Tomas Michaud, for his oh, so sublime, musical accompaniment. I have found deep joy in both listening and participating in the chant — and, I find myself chanting with tears of joy running down my face. The Magic of Gayatri is a gift that feeds my soul, as a banquet feeds the body. And, what an added delight to know that my purchase of the CD assists the children at the Rakum School for the Blind [in Bengaluru, India].”
— Valerie Andrews, British Columbia, Canada.
The Magic of Gayatri
Chandra-Shekar & Tomas Michaud
Starland Music, US 
Duration: 66 Minutes Price: US$17.98 [CD]