Krishna Das (singer)

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Krishna Das
Krishna Das in 2005
Krishna Das in 2005
Background information
Birth nameJeffrey Kagel
Also known asKrishna Das
Born (1947-05-31) May 31, 1947 (age 76)
Long Island, New York, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, record producer
Instrument(s)Harmonium, vocals
Years active1994–present
LabelsKrishna Das Music, Nutone Music, End Hits Edit this at Wikidata

Krishna Das (born Jeffrey Kagel; May 31, 1947) is an American vocalist known for his performances of Hindu devotional music known as kirtan (chanting the names of God). He has released seventeen albums since 1996. He performed at the 2013 Grammy Awards, where his album Live Ananda (2012) was nominated for the 2013 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album. He's been described by the New York Times as "the chant master of American yoga".[1]


In June 1967, a small group of high school and college students on Long Island formed a rock band that would eventually become Blue Öyster Cult. For a brief time, Jeff Kagel, then a student at State University of New York at Stony Brook, was the band's lead singer, but he quit.[2]

In August 1970 he traveled to India,[3] where, as Ram Dass had done, he became a devotee of the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji). He consequently began to use the name Krishna Das, given to him by the guru.

He was referred to as the "Rockstar of Yoga" by the Grammys, when he was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award.[4]

Krishna Das at Bhakti Fest West in 2014

Krishna Das has been associated with many other artists. Two of his albums have featured Hans Christian as a multi-instrumentalist, and Sting appears on the album Pilgrim Heart. He has also appeared on an album with Baird Hersey & Prana, a group combining Western music and overtone singing, entitled Gathering in the Light. Walter Becker of Steely Dan plays bass guitar on, and co-produced, All One (2010), which also features Rick Allen of Def Leppard on drums and Steve Gorn on flute. Ty Burhoe plays tabla on several albums. Rick Rubin produced Breath of the Heart.[5]

His album Live Ananda (2012) was nominated for the 2013 Grammy Award for Best New Age Album.[6] He performed at the Grammy Awards ceremony as well.

In April 2014 his album Kirtan Wallah was released under his own label Krishna Das Music.[7]

In 2014, Krishna Das helped to form the Kirtan Wallah Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, dedicated to spreading the teachings of his spiritual teacher, Neem Karoli Baba.[8]

Anusara Yoga invocation[edit]

Krishna Das composed the melody for an Anusara Yoga invocation, Om Nama Shivaya Gurave, at the request of John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga. Friend describes this composition as having been written during a summer night at a secluded mountain retreat center in Utah, in 1998.[9]

Zen Peacemakers chant[edit]

In the early 2000s, Bernie Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers, asked Krishna Das to compose a melody for the chant "Gates of Sweet Nectar", a traditional Japanese buddhist chant that had been translated to English by Glassman.[10] After composing a melody, Krishna Das realised it would work well with the Hanuman Chalisa both melodically and lyrically, since the former is a desire to offer one's heart and the latter gives one strength to follow through on a task.[11]


  • 1996: One Track Heart
  • 1998: Pilgrim Heart
  • 2000: Live... on Earth
  • 2001: Breath of the Heart
  • 2001: Pilgrim of the Heart
  • 2003: Door of Faith[12]
  • 2004: Greatest Hits of the Kali Yuga
  • 2005: All One
  • 2007: Gathering in the Light with Baird Hersey & Prana[13]
  • 2007: Flow of Grace: Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa[14]
  • 2008: Heart Full of Soul[15]
  • 2010: Heart as Wide as the World[16]
  • 2012: Live Ananda
  • 2014: Kirtan Wallah[17]
  • 2015: Laughing at the Moon[18]
  • 2017: Trust in the Heart[19]
  • 2018: Peace of My Heart[20]


  • Flow of Grace: Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, Sounds True, 2007. 100 pages. ISBN 1-59179-551-6.
  • Chants of a Lifetime: Searching for a Heart of Gold, by Krishna Das. Hay House, Inc, 2010. ISBN 1-4019-2022-5. (Memoir)

Other appearances[edit]

  • Open to the Infinite: Live at the Inner Directions Gathering (video), with Ram Dass, Bertram Salzman, Matthew Greenblatt. Inner Directions, 1999. ISBN 1-878019-11-2.


In 2011 and 2012, a documentary was made about Krishna Das called One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das.[21] It was directed by filmmaker Jeremy Frindel, and features interviews with Krishna Das and others, commenting on his life and spiritual quest. In late 2012, the documentary was picked up by distributor Zeitgeist Films for US distribution,[22] and it came out in the US in May 2013. The soundtrack includes tracks by Krishna Das, and the film score was by J Mascis and Devadas.

Money laundering[edit]

In 2002, Krishna Das pled guilty to a federal charge of money laundering and was sentenced to three years' probation and six months' house arrest.[23] In a 2013 interview, the singer recounted how he had introduced some old friends who imported hashish to a banker, and many years later was contacted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the matter.[24] Krishna Das has described the experience as "one of the most liberating experiences of my life... I don't have to keep any secrets anymore".[25]


  1. ^ Powers, Ann (June 4, 2000). "MUSIC; Tuning in to the Chant Master of American Yoga". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Ex-Rocker Finds a Different Path to Fame, Chanting All the Way". September 12, 2012.
  3. ^ "About Krishna Das". February 2012. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  4. ^ "Krishna Das, The Yoga Rock Star". April 17, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  5. ^ Wiser, Carl (March 27, 2015). "Krishna Das : Songwriter Interviews". Songfacts. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  6. ^ "55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Winners:Nominees". February 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "New CDs in stores this week". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. April 14, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  8. ^ LA YOGA, Amy V Dewhurst (August 31, 2015). "Township Krishna". LA YOGA. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  9. ^ Ty Burhoe, Invocation, CD liner notes, Sounds True Records, 2006.
  10. ^ "Gates of Sweet Nectar". November 7, 2018.
  11. ^ "Ep. 27 | Spiritual Experiences, Auschwitz and Bernie Glassman". June 15, 2020.
  12. ^ "Door of Faith". Spotify. August 26, 2003. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  13. ^ "Gathering in the Light". Spotify. September 21, 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  14. ^ "Flow of Grace". Spotify. May 8, 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  15. ^ "Heart Full of Soul". Spotify. September 16, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  16. ^ "Heart as Wide as the World". Spotify. March 2, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  17. ^ "Kirtan Wallah (Bonus Version)". Spotify. April 15, 2014. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  18. ^ "Laughing At The Moon: A Collection of Classics 1996-2005". Spotify. March 3, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  19. ^ "Trust in the Heart". Spotify. October 6, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  20. ^ "Peace of My Heart". Spotify. October 19, 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  21. ^ "Official Website for One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das".
  22. ^ "Zeitgeist Grabs Krishna Das Documentary 'One Track Heart' for April Release". December 11, 2012.
  23. ^ "Krishna das: 'I Feel Like I'm the Same Jerk I Always Was, but I Don't Think About Myself as Much as I Used to.'". May 14, 2012.
  24. ^ "Teachings".
  25. ^ "Teachings".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]