By Madhava Smullen
For devotees and spiritual people looking for devotional music in a different genre than kirtan, but just as transformational, Russian husband-and-wife duo Nilambary’s debut album, the lush film-score-like “Eternal Prayers,” could be the answer.
The record is out on February 10th. And from the sweeping strings of opener “Mangalacarana” to the classy swing of “Jiv Jago,” to the cleansing, pure chorus of “Tulasi,” to the thumping crescendo of closer “Sita Ram,” it’s a skillful orchestral offering that goes beyond album to full-on spiritual experience.
Both Nilambary Dasi – whom the group is named after – and her husband Sundara Govinda Das come from a rich musical background. Born and raised in a family of musicians, including great-grandfather Leonis Sobinov – a famous opera singer in the Bolshoi theater – Sundara Govinda taught himself piano from the age of 12 and began composing his own music at 14.
Starting an indie rock band in 2005, he eventually became disenchanted with the music business and relinquished his career dreams to become an ISKCON devotee in 2010.
Nilambary, meanwhile, grew up with an elder sister who was studying music, and played violin herself from the age of five, before moving on to piano and opera singing. Because her sister became a Hare Krishna devotee in the 1990s, she was familiar with the practice of Krishna consciousness from a young age, and joined ISKCON herself in 2004 at the age of just 17.
The couple met in 2013 at Sundara Govinda’s family home, a large 1913-era flat in downtown Moscow where he would host weekly kirtans that sometimes drew as many as 100 people.