Tibetan Chant Master Nominated for Grammy

Grammy award nominee, Tibetan Buddhist monk Ngawang Tashi Bapu, just before leaving India to attend the Grammy award ceremony. Photo: AFP

WASHINGTON—A Tibetan master of sacred Buddhist chanting is among the nominees for the Grammy Awards, to be announced in Los Angeles Feb. 8.

Personally, I did not hope for anything and never dreamt of it.

Lama Ngawang Tashi’s album, “Tibetan Master Chants,” has been nominated in the Best Traditional World Music category for the 48th Annual Grammy Awards.

“Personally, I did not hope for anything and never dreamt of it,” Ngawang Tashi, 37, told RFA’s Tibetan service in a recent interview.

“We made the recording mostly out of fun,” he said. “When such a prestigious music forum of the world recognizes our talent I consider it as a tremendous support and recognition of the Buddhist religion.”

Lama Tashi was first drawn to the religious life, enrolling as a monk in 1983 after a visit by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to his home in the northeastern Indian region of Mon Tawang.

Trained in Buddhist chanting

“During that time the chant master of the monastery asked me to train myself in chants along with the study of five major Buddhist disciplines,” he said.

“Then from 1999 onwards I served as the chant master of the monastery until 2004,” said Ngawang Tashi, who has toured internationally performing the traditional Tibetan Buddhist sacred chants using a multiphonic “deep voice” technique.

He toured the United States, Mexico and Canada in the 1990s and has performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall alongside such singers as Patti Smith, Billy Corgan and Sheryl Crow.

“The prayers are all common mantras of archetypal deities and there is nothing uncommon, like the secret Tantra, in it. So I thought that it would be nice if the listeners would be able to benefit from it even if it is just to have an imprint on their mind stream,” he told RFA reporter Rigdhen Dolma.

Asked what he would do with any prize money if awarded a Grammy, Ngawang Tashi said he might use it to serve the community and help the poor.

“Primarily, whether a society develops or not depends very much on education, therefore, if there is a small amount of money, I am thinking of using it on education,” he said.

Original reporting in Tibetan by Rigdhen Dolma. RFA Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated by Pema Tsewang Shastri, and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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