After reaching the quarter finals in the Russian edition of hit talent show The Voice, ISKCON devotee Premamaya Vasudeva Das (Pierre Edel) is continuing to use his newfound fame to deliver a Krishna conscious message.
While on The Voice – which is viewed by millions – Premamaya wore his kanthi-mala (sacred neck beads) during performances as well as Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Jagannath t-shirts. During one performance, he wore a t-shirt featuring ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada, and when asked by a judge who it was, he replied, “My grandfather.”
"This is my grandfather."
He gave singer Pelagaya, his coach on the show, Srila Prabhupada’s biography. He also distributed prasadam (sanctified food) cooked by his wife Maharani Radhika Dasi to all his fellow contestants, and often discussed spiritual topics and vegetarianism with them. He used his Facebook account to tell fans of The Voice about his spiritual lifestyle. And when asked on prime time television what he does to keep calm during live performances, he said, “I chant Hare Krishna.”
For his last performance at the quarter finals on December 12th before being eliminated, Premamaya sang a Russian version of “Gethsemane” from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. He was glad to get to play the role of Jesus, respected in the Vaishnava tradition as an empowered representative of God.
“It was very satisfying not to sing some random mundane song, which I often have to do in this business,” he says.
Premamaya's performance of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar
After his final performance, Premamaya thanked his guru Jayapataka Swami on live TV watched by 40 million people, and ended his concession speech with the words, “Hare Krishna.”
“I wasn’t that excited about the show in itself,” he says on leaving. “It was just a nice experience and a good way to do some service for my guru and talk about Krishna consciousness openly on TV. It was cool, now it’s over, moving on!”
Premamaya thanks his guru Jayapataka Swami on live TV
So what is “moving on” for Premamaya Vasudeva? Well, he’s been playing concerts and sometimes giving talks on Krishna consciousness at venues all over the country.
His first live concert after leaving The Voice packed out Moscow’s popular 16 Tonnes nightclub despite consisting solely of rock versions of classic Vaishnava songs from his album “Mantras,” including Sri Rupa Manjari, Narasimha Pranam, Jaya Radha Madhava, and the Hare Krishna mantra.
Explaining that he loved languages and had studied many, Premamaya told the audience that he had discovered one of the most ancient, Sanskrit, and liked to sing all his songs in it. During his set, he also told puranic stories showing how chanting such mantras and following the lifestyle they prescribed was advantageous to one and all. At the end of the show, which featured several of his fellow Voice contestants, he had the crowd chant “Om Namo Narayanaya,” slowly building to a crescendo of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra which everyone sang along with with great gusto.
“What an artist,” says fellow Krishna devotee and professional musician Jayadev Das, who was in attendance. “In my eyes, he is such a hero.”
Premamaya Vasudeva performing mantras at Moscow's famous 16 Tons club
Since that first show, Premamaya Vasudeva has been touring cities across the country like St. Petersburg, Novorossiysk, Magnitogorsk, Kazan, Belgorod, and Kaliningrad, playing for crowds of 250 to 6,000, from small private shows for government ministers to huge halls.
In Semfiropol, Crimea, he performed at ISKCON’s Goloka Fest as well as at his own solo show. In another small town with a suffering infrastructure, he gave a press conference about Vedic culture with other devotees, hoping to give people some help and spiritual relief. In Moscow, he performed in front of the Bolshoy Theater in freezing weather at minus fifteen degrees Celsius. Every week, his regular shows at Moscow’s Jagannath restaurant are sold out.
Poster for solo show in Semfiropol
Sometimes Premamaya is hired to play classic rock and blues songs such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix covers, which he says feeds his family and pays the rent. But whenever the show is his own, he always gives a talk about Krishna consciousness and includes a kirtan as well as his mantra compositions and spiritual songs by artists like George Harrison.
Ocassionally, he’s still invited onto various TV shows. And Premamaya, who hit rock bottom before Krishna consciousness changed his life, continues to use them as a way to attract people to a lifestyle he finds extremely beneficial.
“Any opportunity is good to talk about Krishna,” he says. “And so many people are attracted to this culture in Russia. It’s amazing.”
Premamaya Vasudeva is excited about the future of his career as he continues to fill a unique and much needed space in music – melodic guitar rock with mantra lyrics that are infused with a deep meaning. His recently released tracks Hare Krishna Jam, Jaya Radha Madhava and Radha Tattva are inspirational rock anthems, sung with such feeling that it’s obvious they mean a lot to him.
Premamaya Vasudeva's album 'Mantras'
“This is a great mercy from the Lord,” he says, speaking about the opportunity he’s been given. “Krishna gave me a chance to become and remain a professional performer, while none of my former bandmates made it to that point although many of them worked harder and are more talented. So I understand it’s the mercy of guru and Gauranga and the blessings of the vaishnavas [that this happened].”
Thus, he explains, “As well as to make my family happy and express myself, I want to use this opportunity for spreading Krishna consciousness. God conciousness is the goal of life, and the only real state of consiousness. Some people are completely materialistic or do not believe in the Supreme Personality. I feel just as fallen and miserable as these souls, but I have something they don't have: I have tasted the nectar of sankirtana. And because of that I feel like the luckiest of all the fallen souls in this material world.”
“Krishna consciousness,” he concludes, “Is my life.”
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To see Premamaya Vasudeva’s videos for his songs Jaya Radha Madhava, Radha Tattva and Hare Krishna Jam, visit his Youtube channel www.youtube.com/mrpierreedel. He plans to release videos for all seven of the tracks on his “Mantras” album.
To listen to the full Mantras album for free, visit www.soundcloud.com/pierreedelmusic
See him say that he chants the Maha-mantra to keep calm during live performances here: http://youtu.be/zZCULI5knFU[ pierre-edel ] [ premamaya-vasudeva ] [ russia ] [ voice ]