It’s not always easy to find rock music that tackles spiritual themes, much less Krishna conscious ones. But Australian alternative funk rock band Supersoul does just that, wrapping deep philosophical concepts in funky rhythm sections, soaring harmonies and ripping guitar solos.
Hailing from ISKCON New Govardhana in Murwillumbah, the band consists of four devotees, all family men – singer and guitarist Deva Gaura Hari Das, bass guitarist Laksmivan Das, rhythm guitarist Svetadvip Das, and drummer Yadunandana Das. Starting out in 2016 as “Transcendance,” they released a four-song EP in 2017, changing their name to Supersoul later that year.
Their first EP as Supersoul, entitled “He Can Dance,” was released in September 2020, while follow-up “Rukmini’s Ecstasy” has arrived almost exactly a year later, on September 15th 2021. The cover art, used with permission, features renowned ISKCON artist Puskara Dasa’s painting of Rukmini Devi, Lord Krishna’s eternal consort and Queen in Dwarka.
Inspiration for the EP and its title song came from reading the scriptures. Deva Gaura Hari was struck by the pastime, recounted in Locana Dasa Thakura’s book Chaitanya Mangala, where Rukmini tells Krishna that He can’t understand how devastated in spiritual separation His devotees are when He is away from them. “Only Radharani understands this ecstacy,” Rukmini says. The book then goes on to explain how Krishna appears as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to experience the love of His devotees, and particular Radharani, in separation from Him.
“When we started jamming on this mellow song together, I found myself singing about this pastime,” Deva Gaura Hari says. “Its melancholy mood seemed to suit the song.”
“She was welcoming her Lord / But down her cheeks her tears they flowed,” the song begins. “She said only Radha knows how our hearts break when you go / Rukmini’s ecstasy / He could see / He thought I’ve got to know this love / The sweetest thing in existence / I’ll come to earth with golden dress / To taste her mood / her sentiment.”
“We all loved the song, and so we agreed to call the EP Rukmini’s Ecstasy,” Deva Gaura Hari says.
The cover of Supersoul’s new EP
The other tracks on the EP express similarly deep themes. Funky stomper ‘Hole in My Heart’ draws from the phrase “we have a God-shaped hole in our hearts,” coined on the Wisdom of the Sages podcast. In the song, Deva sings about all the things he tried in the hope of finding satisfaction and meaning in his life — education, intoxication, infatuation – and about how he only found peace once he filled that God-shaped hole with Krishna consciousness.
In the soaring, propulsive “Jealousy,” the band meditate on how much jealousy binds them to this world, and pray to be able to give it up: “Jealousy, set me free,” Deva calls. “Let me be, a friend in need, a friend indeed, free from greed and envy.”
Away From You, meanwhile, grew from a band jam session and a cool blues riff by bass player Laksmivan. Drawing from Narottama Dasa Thakur’s bhajan Ista Deva Vijnapati, a favorite of Srila Prabhupada’s, the track laments wasting the gift of a human birth, and not taking the bhakti process seriously enough.
“In my dreams I’m running around with You / but down here I keep turning my face from You,” goes the earworm chorus. “If I’m serious about Your sunny playground of Truth / Lord tell me why I keep running away from you.”
Finally, “Will Be Done,” which emerged from one of the first rehearsals with drummer Yadunandana Das, and is built around his funky beat, features lyrics inspired by a class from Devamrita Swami. “He was saying that as devotees we shouldn’t think, ‘Let my will be done,’ but rather let ‘Thy will be done,’ meaning, ‘Let the Lord’s desire be done,’” Deva Gaura Hari explains. “That line just kept going around my head and I thought it would make a cool theme.”
The Rukmini’s Ecstasy EP was recorded, mixed and mastered at Deva’s home studio. “We jammed most of the songs out together and built them up from there, so there is more of the band on this EP,” he says. “I think that comes through when we play them live.”
It’s been a tough time to be a band for the past couple of years due to the pandemic. However, during the period when restrictions were eased in New South Wales, Supersoul did get the chance to play at a local benefit show, as well as at the Krishna Village yoga retreat center at New Govardhana.
“We got a good response at Krishna Village – they are a young yoga crowd and we played a mix of originals and electric mantra chants,” Deva says. “They really like to be able to get into mantra chanting to the funk and reggae vibes they relate to, and they also appreciate our originals.”
While there have been no music festivals in New South Wales since early 2020, Supersoul hope to eventually get the chance to play some festivals in the area when restrictions are lifted.
“Beyond that, we’re looking forward to writing and recording again,” Deva Gaura Hari says. “There are so many things to learn, and new ways to write and record songs, so it’s always interesting. It’s nice to have this type of artistic outlet in addition to our regular activities of chanting Hare Krishna, maintaining our families etc.”
Listen to Rukmini’s Ecstasy here: https://soundcloud.com/user-268367088-917658237/sets/rukminis-ecstacy
The EP is also available on Apple Music, Spotify, and You Tube Music.
Jan 22, 2023
Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies