The Journey Continues …

by Ong Puay Liu, The Buddhist Channel, June 29, 2011; Album Review: M.V. Nathan’s Om Mani Padme Hum – An Enduring Journey (2011)

M. V. Nathan’s “An Enduring Journey” is so uplifting that it can even charm the “tone-deaf, tune-mute and the musically illiterate,” so says album reviewer Puay Liu

Kajang, Selangor (Malaysia) -- ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ is an album whose music seems to linger and takes on a life of its own after you have played it for a while. Put the disc inside a CD player and before you know it, you will be humming along with the three tracks, tugging you to recite mantras or chanting the vandana.

The launching of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum - An Enduring Journey’ on Wesak Day was indeed timely and fitting. Timely as it commensurate with the 2600th Anniversary of Buddha Jayanti, i.e. Buddha’s Enlightenment. Fitting as the title aptly evokes the symbolisation of moving from impurity to purity, from ignorance to wisdom.

The newly launched album is the sixth by M.V. Nathan. Bro Nathan is renowned in his endeavour to spread the ancient message of the Lord Buddha through music. Seeds of this vision were sowed back in 1992, when he was a member of the group “The Wayfarers”.

While it may have taken some time to bloom, nevertheless, through endurance and personal persistence, the shining light of the Buddha Dhamma gave Nathan the drive and inspiration to produce his own albums. As a result, his first, called Journey to the Temple, was produced with the group The Xpounders. At that moment, the momentum was set and Nathan followed up with a second album called Love, Kindness and Forgiveness – Transcending Boundaries, in 2004.

In 2005, he produced his third album, Ti-Sarana – Taking the Three Refuges, and his fourth Journey – Bondage and Freedom came along in 2008. The last album he did before this was Namo Buddhaya, produced in 2010.

Om Mani Padme Hum – An Enduring Journey, has three songs: Om Mani Padme Hum, Atthavisati Paritta and Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha Vandana. Selections of these three songs were not made in random, as there is a connecting theme running through them.

The first song, Om Mani Padme Hum, calls to mind the process of transformation, from the state of ignorance to enlightenment, from being an ordinary human to a Fully Self-Enlightened Buddha. Om Mani Padme Hum which means ‘the jewel is in the lotus’ or ‘praise to the jewel in the lotus’ is a beautiful rendition, combining the vocals of  Nathan and his back, D2Y and Friends. With the accompanying flute by Sonia Croucher and keyboards by Greg Henderson, the music has a meditative effect, especially at the start of the first syllable, OM and towards the final syllable, HUM. As the rhythmic streams of ‘tuk tuk tak’ (as defined by my musically-uneducated ears) meanders in the background, the mantra seems to resonate in the head, inviting the listener to reflect on the ancient code of Om Mani Padme Hum, while visualising the emergence of the jewel from the stone, or the lotus from the muddy pond. 

The second, Atthavisati Paritta, invokes the reflection on the virtues of the Twenty-Eight Fully-Self Enlightened Buddhas. From Tanhankara Buddha to Gotama Buddha, this Atthavisati Paritta pays homage to each of the twenty-eight Buddhas and their respective virtues. It serves as a gentle reminder that Enlightenment is not an illusion. It is a goal that we can all achieve. While the journey of enlightenment can be long, winding, exhausting and frustrating, nevertheless, with unshakeable faith in the path of the Buddha Dhamma and taking that path as our personal living roadmap, this “many-lifetime journey” could well be the antidote to our many illness and pain. In this track, flute (Mohar) and strings combination - guitar by Jamie Wilson and sitar by Kumar Karthigesu - adds to that optimism of walking the path of Buddha Jayanti.

The third track, Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha Vandana, or Tiratana Vandana, pays homage to the Triple Gem. It is a culmination of mantra and paritta, as embodied in Om Mani Padme Hum and Atthavisati Paritta. This track is like the golden thread that connects all three songs.

Buddha Vandana pays homage to all the Buddhas – the Blessed Ones, the Holy Ones, and the Fully-Self Enlightened Ones – Teachers of Gods and men. Dhamma Vandana pays homage to the Teachings of the Buddhas. Sangha Vandana pays homage to the community of disciples and learners of the Buddha Dhamma.

Nathan’s expert rendition of this Tiratana Vandana was thoroughly uplifting. Listeners will be moved to chant together with the soothing rhythm while relating personally to the calming acoustic of Mohar’s flute, Kumar Karthigesu’s stirring sitar and Jamie Wilson’s guitar.

Some may find Nathan’s music a little slow, but do look for those moments when Nathan catches you with his high notes, tempered with his soothing and calming vocals. All in all, listening to "An Enduring Journey” is such captivating an experience that I am certain it can even charm the “tone-deaf, tune-mute and the musically illiterate. May M V Nathan continue to use his musical gifts and deliver the teachings of the Buddha to a wider, younger audience.

To get the CD, please contact:

Sukhi Hotu

Petaling Jaya Branch
D9-6-1, Block D9, Dana1 Commercial Centre
Jalan PJU 1A, 46, 47301 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia
Tel & Fax: 603-78426828

Penang Branch
1-T Jalan Gottlieb
10350 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: 604-2294811; Fax: 604-2294811