The sound yogi
Nada Yogi Rivesh Vade shares with Rishi Rathod the science and ‘beyond science’ of sound therapy, which he has been practising and promoting the world over
I went to meet Rivesh Vade at his new office in Borivali’s Gorai area, which is the farthest corner of Mumbai’s western suburbs. The office is a spacious row house converted into a cosy little office. Inside the hall-cum-waiting area, there were singing bowls of different sizes and a huge gong that stood tall in the space. To my right was a small and sleek shelf with a few books, including the Dnyaneshwari, the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Sant Dnyaneshwar of Maharashtra, a great Nath yogi and devotee of Lord Vitthal. Also visible was a copy of Osho’s commentary on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. The entire place was bathed in white. A couple of minutes after I seated myself, Rivesh appeared, wearing a stylish hat and simple cotton pants and shirt. He greeted me in a deep, full, and reverberating voice even as his team set the chairs to create space for the interview.
You were in the corporate world, making decent money and leading a good life. What prompted you to become a nada yogi? Where did it all start?
Well, I did not do anything as such to become a nada yogi. Nada means journey, a flow. It just happened in the flow. In my childhood, I was exposed to many sanyasis and gurus. My mom had six children before me. When she was carrying me (the seventh one), the family asked her to abort the child. Unsure about what to do, she visited a Nath yogi, who told her that this baby is going to be a special one.
Since childhood, I was an average student. I was not intelligent and had a difficult time dealing with other kids my age. But somehow, I managed to complete my studies and got into the corporate world. Since my childhood was not so good, I started to read lots of self-help books and even started attending the programmes of self-help gurus. That helped me to some extent. Later, when I got into the corporate world, I realised that all this was not helping me. My fears and insecurities were much deeper than I thought. So, I was looking for answers all around.
I knew there was something more to life than this, but I did not know what. I was growing restless. Family and friends were proud of me as I was doing well in my job. I travelled a lot and was well paid, but I was feeling an emptiness within me.
Then, in 2011, I met with an accident—a turning point in my life. While I was bedridden for three months, a number of revelations unfolded for me. I was emotionally neutral about everything, including food, reading books, and listening to music. These revelations were about sound vibrations. To be precise, it was about Spanda Shastra, the science of vibrations, which I came to know a couple of years later. I became aware of subtle vibrations and started working on sound. I started developing this special music series and began delivering lectures and conducting workshops. I even started counselling people and pursued the research and development of various sound therapies.
This was the time when I was exposed to singing bowls. I started practising singing bowl therapy on myself and others. Singing bowls were given to us by the Nath yogi (Gorakhnath lineage). One very strange phenomenon happened: when I used to play the singing bowls, as the external sound stopped, my internal sounds used to start. That was the nada, and from there on, my involvement with Nada Yoga started.
Who do you think has indirectly or invisibly provided guidance? Any guru who mentored you without your knowing?
Frankly speaking, till 2015, I never believed in a guru. Whatever had been happening, I considered as a near-death experience. Because I happened to access some knowledge by myself, I took credit for all the success coming my way. But in 2015, things changed. The Bhagavad Gita was revealed to me and, for the first time, I understood that it is all about the guru. I realised that whatever had happened to me was due to guru kripa (guru’s grace). I started contemplating and went into my past, where I realised that in 1989, I was initiated into Siddha Yoga. This is one of the most powerful types of yoga where you don’t have to do anything. Asanas (yogic postures) start happening to you. The kundalini (latent energy) starts rising, and it has been recorded in Siddha Yoga that bhajans and poetry are spontaneously sung and written. So, I went back to my guru, only to realize that the Spanda Shastra that he revealed to me was written by him.
You say your philosophy or path is Bodha Marg and, specifically, you refer to it as Gyanottar Bhakti Marg. I understand that there is gyan marg (path of knowledge) and bhakti marg (path of devotion), but what is this Gyanottar Bhakti Marg?
For me, till 2015, Buddha’s path of awareness was the answer. I was practising it, but there too, I realised that you can’t fully be aware. Our emotions drag us away from our path. My students reached a certain level of awareness in their daily lives, but after that, the question was “What next?” They were aware, but a kind of boredom started engulfing us. So, one day, I went to Vrindavan, and there I received the one-stringed musical instrument called ektara. I would play the instrument and would go into a deep samadhi state. I would sing and the audience would go into a deeper state with me. I was preaching the Bhagavad Gita, which, again, was revealed to me, but at the same time, I was unsure if I was playing around with our very own scripture.
Finally, I was led to the Dnyaneshwari, wherein he talks about gyanottar bhakti. He says that first, you have to develop in gyan and then, in bhakti. According to him, if at all I am falling in love, then it is important to know with whom I am falling in love. Because others are doing bhakti, you too do it too, but till the time gyan has not been revealed to you, the real bhakti cannot happen. Till that time, it is just pretence. Once knowledge is revealed, the love or bhakti comes naturally. But to reach there, you have to become aware of your own vibration and senses. This is why we refer to the path as Gyanottar Bhakti Marg. First, you know what is there within you; then, bhakti is natural. Without bhakti, you won’t reach your ultimate goal.
The singing bowls you use are often understood as belonging to the Tibetan singing bowls healing modality, but according to you, they are part of Siddha tradition. Please explain the difference.
Unfortunately, sound therapy seems so easy to practise. It seems there is no shastra involved in it, but there are various scriptures that talk about sound as therapy, such as the Ras Shastra in ayurveda and the Brahmavidya Upanishad, where it is mentioned for the first time. The Shiva Samhita and Yogashikha Upanishad too talk about nada.
In 1960, when China annexed Tibet, many monks migrated to Europe and America with these bowls. They came to be called ‘singing bowls’ as they produced interesting sounds. Buddha used to carry this bowl around with him; it was called ‘ghosh pushp’ (‘ghosh’ means sound and ‘pushp’ means flower).
How to play the bowls and who plays them also makes a huge difference. Only masters are supposed to play the singing bowls because the emotions of the player are manifested in the playing. So, for example, if I am calm while playing it, everyone around me listening will become calm; but if I am lustful while playing it, then they too will become lustful.
Singing bowls belong to the Siddha Yoga tradition. Goraknath Babaji developed many methods for Self-realisation, the playing of singing bowls being one of them.
Why are singing bowls or sounds used as tools to help oneself? How fast can this help anyone?
Sound therapy is one of the greatest tools available to us today as is evident through epigenetics, which tells us about how genes are impacted in certain environments. Singing bowls create specific sounds by which your DNA gets transformed. There are other sound instruments which are somewhat helpful, but they are for entertainment purpose only. Singing bowls that are made according to ayurveda, have divine power. They are made of copper, tin, and certain proportions of other metals as prescribed by ayurveda. The singing bowl is more of an energy object than a physical thing. On the other hand, there are many people who make it with seven metals, but this is detrimental to health.
What is the science behind singing bowls healing?
The first thing I must tell you is that it is beyond science. Since I come from a science background, I will try to give a few reasons. So, the first thing the singing bowl does is it alters your brainwaves. If you are in a beta frequency or hyper, it makes you calm; it will put you in alpha or theta brainwave frequency. It will happen immediately, and this can be verified with the help of an EEG (electroencephalogram). And when your brainwaves are reduced or they shift to alpha or theta, then your hormones and your physical body come into harmony.
Secondly, your breathing and your heartbeat get harmonised. This is called cardio-synchronicity, and when you get into this state, a number of illnesses can be taken care of. Generally speaking, most people have a challenge getting into cardio-synchronicity. Singing bowls help by changing the vibrations of the surrounding environment.
There is another angle to it, which I feel is beyond science and which even I can’t explain: When an evolved person plays it or a master plays it, it puts you into healing mode immediately. Whereas if the person is new to using singing bowls, then the healing will take time as first, the person who is playing will be healed and then later, other people.
Singing bowls make the sounds of the planets and we are all on the planet. All the planets are following some mysterious order. So, it puts us also in order. We move from disorder to order and hence feel harmony within.
You mentioned a couple of times in your workshop that without the guru’s grace, nothing can happen. Can you explain this phenomenon? How does one recognise that one has the guru’s grace or not?
We are basically talking about vibrations. We go to some place or something happens and we become angry, or sad, or happy. Then we transfer these vibrations to our surroundings all the time. Similarly, there is something called guru tattva (guru principle) which is nothing but a vibration. In the Gita, Krishna says, “If at all you want to know me, know me from the tattva.”
Whoever is tuned to guru tattva will start to see the guru outside. So, actually, the guru awakens within and then outside.
This is the reason I say that the guru finds us, we don’t find the guru. Frankly speaking, we are not capable enough to find the guru. Our minds are so full of biases and conditions that we continuously think about how our guru should be. We evaluate gurus from how they speak, dress, their background, lineage, and colour, but these things really don’t matter. What matters is the presence of the guru. The presence of the guru will change something in you.
When the guru tattva is awakened and he is sitting next to you without uttering a word, much exchange will happen. Conversely, if the guru tattva is not awakened, and the guru is sharing gyan (knowledge) with you, nothing will move within you.
What according to you is the method to awaken the guru tattva within?
Seva (selfless service) is the single most valuable act to awaken the guru tattva. Seva has four wings like a plane has four wings: two big and two small. The first two are faith and patience. One must have tremendous faith and patience to awaken the guru tattva. It sounds odd, but when you have faith you will have patience too. Truly speaking, it is the deep belief in your guru where you feel “Yes, whatever happens, someday I will get it.” The other two are surrender and offering. You surrender to the guru tattva, and whatever you receive in your life, you offer it.
When you do your seva and grow in these four wings, gradually, your guru tattva is awakened. Finally, remember that the guru’s presence in your journey is a must to do seva.
According to you, everything is vibration, whether it is poverty or wealth, sickness or wellness. How can one change one’s vibration to remain healthy and wealthy?
Vibrations are actually running our lives. As per the Spanda Shastra, we have laharis, which means waves—the waves of emotions, desires, and thoughts. These laharis come and go, but whenever they come, we drift away from the present. Today, humanity is suffering because a dense network of waves has overcome us.
Sometimes, we inherit certain types of waves from our ancestors. It could be that some waves occur due to our ancestral patterns. These waves are passed on through vibrations to our DNA. So, these vibrational patterns run our lives. You are not these waves. You can get rid of these waves by removing them. Spanda Shastra says that if you remove these waves, you can reach something called ‘Hari,’ which is one vibration, as per quantum physics. Just one vibration which is inaudible, intangible, and invisible, and yet, omnipresent. When you touch that one single vibration, you become powerful.
To reach there, you need awareness. We are not aware of our own body and our own sensations. Our body is continuously talking to us, but we are not present. Since we are not listening to our own selves, many of us suffer perennial pains. To remedy this, we need to start with meditation. The meditation I am talking about is the one given to you by the guru or adhikari (person who is bestowed the right to instruct). This is because we all carry a number of vibrations, and if it comes from anyone but the master or adhikari, then it would not help. It might possibly harm. That is one reason why many people who try to do meditation, get back pain or throat pain, or thoughts pour in while they try to meditate.
What is the DNA activation process?
There is a shloka (a couplet of Sanskrit verse) that says “Yatha pinde tatha brahmande, yatha brahmande tatha pinde” which means “As is the human body, so is the cosmic body; as is the cosmic body, so is the human body.” In other words, microcosm is equal to macrocosm. I explain this further: whatever is there in the universe is also there in your DNA. The DNA, today, is considered to be the biological internet. Your DNA carries the depth of information.
There is something called the phantom DNA, which tells us that the environment brings changes in our DNA. When we go to satsangs or meet masters, our DNA gets transformed. Russian scientists have done research which says that sound frequency can change our DNA. So, this DNA activation is nothing but releasing all that unnecessary information which is holding us back from reaching our Self. It is the process whereby, by using the divine sounds of the singing bowls and other instruments, we help you cleanse the unwanted baggage that you have been carrying in your DNA for a long time. Before the cleansing, you feel heavy; but once the process is done with, instantly, you start feeling light and begin to see other changes that come into your life.
What is the navel activation process? How does it impact one’s life?
When the umbilical cord is cut at the time of birth, we immediately get connected at our navel to the universal cord. Those who are able to feel their connection with the navel, are able to get the right information to move forward in life. 72,000 meridians (naadis), which are pathways of energy and vibration, meet at our navel centre. In other words, these are 72,000 places of information. These vibrations are information of all types: subtle to dense. They all come to the navel from where they are processed or thrown away. It’s like a heart. The navel is nothing but the other heart. The heart processes the blood, and the navel processes and purifies energy.
Many people have issues with processing the dense energy which they have in their body. This causes illness and pains. People who are not connected with their navel are the ones who feel contracted breathing or shallow breathing, feel tired without doing much, or are suffering from low immunity. Navel activation helps people to reconnect themselves with their navel by releasing the negative emotions which hold them back. All the energy they need comes from the navel, and it is not accessible to them. The major reason for this is overuse of the brain and a lost connection with the navel.
Once it is activated, you come in the flow and start attracting the right people in your life. If you are stuck somewhere on your journey, you start moving. People start becoming fearless. It helps you get overall prosperity in life.
In the workshop, you said that to lead a balanced life, we need to work on the vagus nerve, the voice, and the yin-yang balance. Can you explain?
In our body, the brain, the heart, and the navel are connected to the biggest nerve called the vagus nerve. The role of the nerve is to keep our nervous system, heart, and navel in harmony. But the current situation is such that we think a lot—we only use our brain. Thinking, planning, and logic are what we do all the time because of which all our energy goes to the brain, and we lose connection with our vagus nerve.
The more the energy going to the brain—and less to the heart or navel—the more the yin-yang imbalance. Energy going to the brain is masculine, and energy going to the heart or navel is feminine. That’s when our heart and navel is disconnected. This is one of the reasons our voice sounds like a pretence rather than the original one. Our own original voice is nothing but medicine for us; it is like a frequency key. Work on your voice and you will start attracting the right people at the right time and at the right place. The voice has to come from the navel and not the throat. When it comes from the throat, it is diluted with many emotions attached to it.
We teach adults and school children to find their own voice, through a kriya (practice) called ‘Vitthal Nada Kriya.’ In this, I teach you to chant ‘Vitthal’ in a way that hits your navel centre. Just try this for five days and feel the difference.
It is tremendously powerful and helps you get back your original voice. People have noticed that after regular practice, the functioning of their vagus nerve improved.
Can you suggest some techniques that our readers can do at home to improve their personal and home vibration?
We think that what we eat is the only cause of diseases, but what we listen has a major impact too. There are tamasik sounds, rajasik sounds, and sattvik sounds. We cannot avoid completely listening to all the sounds (TV and movies), but we can consciously make efforts to listen to sattvik sounds. Listening to someone who has a sattvik sound makes us feel good. Practice the technique I suggested, of chanting Vitthal. After chanting, become aware of the sensation and whatever happens to you. This will also raise your general awareness of yourself. For more information, you can visit my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaTapUfSaksEvoz9QcZnMIg/videos
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