I first met sacred music artist Ambika more than 20 years ago in a dive bar in New York City’s East Village. She was standing in front of her band at the mic, singing in a hypnotic Siouxsie Sioux kind of way, clad in black PVC clothing, driving the audience wild.
Finding Devotion in India
Fast forward to the present moment after many trips to India to be with her beloved teacher Sri Siddhi Ma at the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram. And now we have a compelling kirtan album in Mother’s Calling. When they first met, Siddhi Ma asked Ambika to chant at the temple; her voice went out through the loudspeaker system in the afternoons.
I believe it was typically the Hanuman Chalisa, a 40-verse chant to Hanuman. This was the only sadhana Ambika’s teacher permitted her. As per her teacher’s request, Ambika let the mantras move her; the temple-goers benefitted.
Over the years, this inward sadhana has combined with Ambika’s musical background to bear the ripe fruit of devotion.
Mother’s Calling by Sacred Music Artist Ambika
Brooklyn Yoga School Director Lily Cushman produced the album and her brilliance permeates the recording. She mixes the sounds of locals chanting in India, women chanting in Brooklyn, and all kinds of people chanting with Ambika in NYC. They all shine.
The collection Mother’s Calling begins with danceable Durga incantations before segueing into a slower mantra invoking Tara. A beautiful Devi Puja Mantra is sung with Sanskrit expert Manorama. After the Goddess Chants, the listener is led through a series of Ram mantras, most notably Ambika’s beautiful rendition of the Hanuman Chalisa. It’s a tune she discovered at the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram. The Hanuman Chalisa seems to have found its way into every fiber of her being, and pretty soon it will be in yours too.
Ambika’s soulful voice penetrates every song. Each chant leaves you with the feeling that the blessings of the great saints are alive and well. Listen–and join in–from your home, car, headset, or while on your yoga mat. I can assure you that you will experience a little piece of the magic.
Sarah Tomlinson is a British born Yantra expert, internationally acclaimed Yantrika (Yantra teacher and practitioner), yoga teacher and artist, with renowned fans across the globe including Elena Brower and Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga. Sarah worked extensively with her mentor Harish Johari in India, he initiated her into the spiritual practice of painting Yantras. Sarah is the creator of the Yantra Bliss Oracle Deck, 2017, and author of Coloring Yantras (Shambhala Publishing, 2017). She leads retreats and Yantra workshops around the world and enjoys lots of time by the ocean with her husband and two young boys.