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Gil was born in 1951 and grew up in San Francisco, California. He witnessed the birth of the hippie movement and acid rock, and was involved with the freak collectives Family Dog and Sons of Champlin. Feeling that the San Francisco musical scene was falling apart, he took off in 1969, going first to Amsterdam and then to India, settling in Goa. Here he discovered the sadhus wandering holy men living off the forest, covering themselves with ash, and drinking the "elixir of the gods." Soon, Gil himself became a Sadhu, Baba Mangalanand, in the order of the Juna Akhara, under the Guru, Mahant Nirmalanand Saraswati.
During the early 1980s, many Goa hippies were becoming increasingly fascinated with early electronic music such as Kraftwerk. Gil and his friends soon gathered some equipment and started DJing and playing live music all night long on the Goa beaches. The mix of outdoor electronic dance parties with Eastern mystical and spiritual overtones came to define the aesthetic of the psytrance movement. For Gil, dance is an active form of meditation and the use of trance music is a way to "redefine the ancient tribal ritual for the 21st century". During the 1990s, the aesthetic of the Goa trance movement spread by way of European and Israeli backpackers who attended parties in India. He was interviewed for the 2001 documentary Last Hippie Standing which explored the scene in Goa. In January 2006 Goa Gil DJ'ed the all-night closing party of the three-day LSD-symposium at Basel, Switzerland, in honor of LSD-inventor Albert Hofmann's 100-years birthday January 11, 2006, after Hofmann himself had delivered the closing speech of the symposium. Gil is married to Ariane MacAvoy. Together they formed the band "the Nommos".
- Goa Gil Biography, Artistdirect.com
- "In 1969, Gilbert Levy left the Haigh Ashbury district of San Francisco and took the overland trail through Afganistan and PAkistan, first to Bombay and then to Goa...Throughout the 1970s, Gil organized legendary parties at Anjuna- moonlight jams of non-stop music, dancing and chemical experimentation that lasted from Christmas Eve to New Year´s Day for a tribe of fellow overland travellers who called themselves the Goa Freaks...In the 90s, Gil started to use snippets from industrial music, etno techno, acid house and psychedelic rock to help create Goa Trance, dance music with a heavy spiritual accent...For Goa Gil, Goa Trance is a logical continuation of what hippies were doing back in the 60s and 70s. "The Psychedelic Revolution never really stopped" he said, " it just had to go halfway round the world to the end of a dirt road on a deserted beach, and there it was allowed to evolve and mutate, without government or media pressures". Time Out: Mumbai and Goa. Time Out Guides Ltd. London. 2011 pg. 184
- Michael Gosney. Radio-V interview with mangalanand Gil, Beam Magazine, accessed Nov 16, 2010.