Milan Parmar, a member of ISKCON youth group Pandava Sena in the UK, has released an introspective hip-hop album that tracks the soul’s spiritual journey throughout one lifetime in the material world.
Out on January 29th on Pandava Sena’s own label, “When a Soul Acknowledges” features smooth production by Deva Deva Das, uplifting melodic hooks by female vocalist Sobia Khan, and Parmar’s mesmerizing unbroken flow. It’s a professional effort that clearly has its finger on the pulse of current UK rap styles.
At the same time, with tracks like “Pleasures of the World (Illusion),” “Wise Words From A Wise Man (Gurudeva),” and “Return to Godhead,” it’s clearly no ordinary hip-hop album.
“I first started to read Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is at the age of 15,” says Milan. “I found in it the deeper substance that I was subconsciously searching for. Everything, from Krishna’s words, to Arjuna’s questions, to Prabhupada’s purports made the utmost sense and gave me a new perspective on life.”
Milan began practicing Krishna consciousness, and in 2014 became more involved in the Pandava Sena. The group encourages youth to express their spiritual realizations through all mediums, and Milan soon began thinking about what he could do with the poetry and lyrics that had long been his passion.
“I have been writing lyrics for over ten years now,” he says. “I thought, ‘Why not serve Krishna in this way?’ I find my connection to God through music, through hip-hop, through poetry. And I want to share that expression with others, because they may be going through what I’m going through, and find their own connection when they hear about mine.”
“When A Soul Acknowledges” is a concept album, telling the story of an individual soul within a lifetime.
“The title refers to what Krishna teaches Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita – that self-realization is the step prior to God-realization,” says Milan. “We have to understand our true identities first and then know what and who God is. I find people lose themselves in a society that doesn’t help build them. And when you lose yourself, then you basically lose it all. When a soul acknowledges, when a living entity becomes aware and understands who they are, then wonderful things occur. And this album reflects, partially, some of those things.”
The cover of When A Soul Acknowledges
“When A Soul Acknowledges” describes a journey that starts with birth into the material world, then follows the growth of the soul’s body. The protagonist goes from experiencing the pleasures of material life and finding no deep satisfaction in them, to searching for self realization, to finding a Guru who tells him the truth. He then takes up spiritual life, and eventually finds the greatest love of the Supreme. Finally, in the track “Return to Godhead,” the soul leaves the body and goes back to the spiritual realm where the Supreme resides.
The album’s ten tracks allow listeners to immerse themselves in different stages of the protagonist’s lifetime, and find deeper meaning through each chapter of the story.
“One of my favorite tracks is the opener, ‘Here Again,’” Milan says. “It discusses how we are not these bodies but the living entity within, the soul. When we come to this understanding, then everything, inside and outside, becomes amazing. You have a deeper perspective on life. You appreciate more, cherish more, help more; but most important of all, you love more. And the purest, most untainted, spiritual and supreme love is between you and Krishna. What more could you ask for?”
All the proceeds of “When A Soul Acknowledges” go to Pandava Sena, and its efforts to help young people grow in their spiritual lives through events, seminars and projects.
“I pray that the album will inspire others to go on a spiritual journey, to find themselves and not become what society wants to turn them into,” says Milan. “I want the album to be a bridge to Krishna consciousness through hip-hop. And most of all, I pray that it brings people closer to Krishna. Because if you’re trying to find substance to life, the deeper meaning to life, if you’re trying to search out love in its topmost form -- then Krishna consciousness is the one place you will find all these things. There’s no doubt about that.”
* * *
When A Soul Acknowledges is available now from the following vendors:
iTunes: https://itun.es/gb/TIvuabalbum ] [ hip-hop ] [ pandeva-sena ] [ uk ]