Saturday, February 4, 2006

‘Hope the world rocks with me’

Ngawang Tashi Bapu
Ngawang Tashi Bapu

A tribal Buddhist monk from Arunachal Pradesh could well rock the world if he walks away with a Grammy award this month. Ngawang Tashi Bapu’s album Tibetan Master Chants has been nominated in the Best Traditional World Music category for the 48th Annual Grammy Awards to be given away in Los Angeles on February 8.

“I am very excited and also surprised at being nominated for a Grammy. I hope the world rocks with me while chanting the hymns,” Bapu said at the Gaden Rabgyaling monastery in Bomdila, 200 km east of Itanagar.

Popularly known as Lama Tashi, 38-year-old Bapu’s Tibetan Master Chants is a unique collection of 12 Buddhist religious hymns rendered in a sonorous voice and using just the traditional gong and a cymbal.

“Vibrating my vocal chords and producing multiple overtones with deep sounds while chanting the mantras is my specialty on the album,” said Bapu, who is now head of the Central Institute of Himalayan Cultural Studies at the monastery.

“We did some over-dubbing so as to give the feel that the mantras were being chanted by a huge group of people.” Unlike most monks, Bapu is computer-savvy and fluent in English. “I do not have much knowledge of western music though I love listening to Indian music and folk songs. The Grammy didn’t figure in my wildest dreams,” Bapu said.

The Monpa tribal monk, originally hailing from Thembang village that borders China, will leave for Los Angeles to attend the Grammy awards function. “I have dedicated my life to Buddhism and the Grammy nomination is recognition for our beautiful religious hymns that symbolise peace and love,” the tonsured monk said between his daily morning chanting.

A revered Buddhist scholar and officially recognised as a “chant master” by some of the best known monasteries in India, Bapu had earlier performed on stage alongside singers in the US.

“My album, released in the US in the middle of last year, has become a hit. It has topped sales in many retail stores with the American people buying my CD in large numbers,” he said with a smile. — IANS