Land of the Buddhas


From the upbeat and groovy, to the moody and meditative; the touching and heartfelt to the soaring and inspiring; and from the Western to the Hindustani classical, this album will allow you to travel through cherished memories of India.

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Product Description

Beautifully meditative compositions that are much more affecting than what gets classified as trance or ambient music these days; Land of the Buddhas is required listening for those wanting a multicultural, musical thesis that engages both mind and body. Take a step onto the Indian subcontinent and into the land of the Buddhas!

“New Earth has collected my most treasured pieces for Land of the Buddhas. From the upbeat and groovy (Chance Finding and Bhairavi), to the moody and meditative (Full Moon); the touching and heartfelt (Gir Forest) to the soaring and inspiring (Natrani); and from the Western (Right Samadhi) to the Hindustani classical (Shivranjani), these tracks will take you through a range of instruments and will allow you to travel through my cherished memories of India. If you’re one of the many people I met who have one or two of my albums and don’t know which to buy next, THIS is the answer! If you enjoy listening to this collection even half as much as I enjoyed making it – you are blessed indeed. Land of the Buddhas is all inspired by my love for India.” ~Chinmaya Dunster

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” ~Guatama Buddha

Track 1: Rag Shivranjani 6:14

Sivranjani is a romantic five-note minor scale (omitting the 4th and 7th). The fixed melody that repeats is my composition, while the rest of the track is spontaneous improvisation. I performed this short Hindustani classical raga live on the sarod (a nineteen-stringed North Indian banjo-like instrument). This piece is accompanied by Manish Vyas on the two-piece Indian percussion the tabla.

Track 2: Right Samadhi 5:08

In this piece, I played the santoor (its 100 strings are struck with wooden sticks) for the first and only time in my life. Shastro plays flutes. The Tibetan horn and cymbal opening was recorded in a refugee settlement in Dharamsala, North India.

Track 3: Gir Forest 6:33

I consider the melody I play on the sarod in this piece to be the sweetest I have ever written. Sangit Om supports with arpeggios on hard and Bikram Singh adds his wonderful Manipuri should on bamboo flute.

Track 4: Bhairavi 7:22

Niladri Kumar is one of India’s greatest sitarists, and his delicate touch makes an exquisite contrast to the groove and the bluesy organ and guitar I added afterwards Bhairavi raga, with four flat notes, is a scale widely used in India and the Middle East.

Track 5: Natrani 10:23

Bikram Singh from Manipur in Northeast India performs his free improvisation on the bamboo flute for the melody of a popular Indian devotional bhajan that is mixed with drum grooves and special effects. Israel-based Gerhard Fankauser, who collected the melody on one of his extensive trips around Indian temples and devotional gatherings, plays the Spanish lute.

Track 6: Full Moon 13:47

Karunesh provided the simple beat in a rare performance on a clay pot, Amano Manish (Indian slide guitar) and Bikram Singh (bamboo flute) fixed a simple melody beforehand and then improvised the rest. Afterwards I added guitar (all played as harmonics), and an autoharp I designed myself, based on the Indian swarmandel but using sitar bridges. The raga used here is Bhairagi, a mysterious-sounding five-note scale (omitting the 3rd and 6th).

Track 7: Chance Finding 6:12

This track version is from a live performance in Pune by the Celtic Ragas Band and I, featuring Tanmayo on violin and Bikram Singh on bamboo flute. Prabodh plays fretless bass, Ramadhan drums, Adarsha guitar and Manish Vyas tabla.

Track List

1. Rag Shivranjani 6:14
2. Right Samadhi 5:08
3. Gir Forest 6:33
4. Bhairavi 7:22
5. Natrani (Queen of Dance) 10:23
6. Full Moon 13:47
7. Chance Finding 6:12

Total Time: 55:39


  1. “Chinmaya Dunster was born in England in the 1950s and it was through his world travels into Afghanistan and India as a guitarist that led him to eventually discover the abundant density of the sacred stringed instrument known a the sarod. The sarod is a 19-stringed North Indian creation that could be compared in the West to a guitar or banjo, but with Shakti. Land of the Buddhas is Chinmaya’s latest release and it is an excellent piece of work that invokes the inner beauty of more than simply the instrument, as well as embracing the sacred nature of the ragas he performs with perfection.
    With every note, Chinmaya reveals a profound respect for the devotional alchemy of the music he has composed based on ancient scales. “Rag Shivranjani” is a romantic five-note minor scale that is an original composition based on improvisation and intuitive choices. “Gir Forest” delivers a synergy between sarod and a Manipuri influenced bamboo flute performed brilliantly by Bikram Singh.
    The pieces on this release are performed with what Chinmaya calls the Celtic Ragas Band which consists of tablas, flutes and additional stringed instruments. The results are gorgeous. I have not been able to stop listening to the beautiful phrases and well-arranged instrumentals found on this collectionof songs that are saturated with compassion, kindness and spirit.
    The enduring balance of the musical texture of each of the instruments and the melodic depth of the ragas will invoke sublime harmony and the integration of the inner and material nature of the world. I highly recommend this album to any fan of sacred instrumental music that moves effortlessly through the body. This is the sort of album that can be used for anything from personal enjoyment, meditation, healing environments or yoga classes.”

  2. “The odyssey that would lead British musician Stephen Dunster to his spiritual name of Chinmaya began during a post-college jaunt through Afghanistan and India, where he studied local music, eventually becoming enamored of the sarod (a kind of cross between sitar and guitar) at a performance by Amjad Ali Khan. Dunster spent the next 13 years studying the instrument, achieving mastery and earning his new spiritual name before returning to his native lands to share what he had learned. Paul McCartney heard him play and was so entranced he invited him to play at his 2002 wedding to Heather Mills.
    A collection of Dunster’s favorite tracks from his 13 albums for the New Earth label, Land of the Buddhas is a clear indicator of what McCartney was so enamored by; it’s haunting in intimacy and quietly sweeping in its breadth and scope. Ranging comfortably over an array of spiritual styles, Land of the Buddhas opens with the straightforward, spiritually rooted “Rag Shivranjani,” which blazes warmly along with the spine-tingling slide sound of the tamboura and the tablas of Manish Vyas. Dunster’s lyrical sarod later accompanies wooden flute tranquility (“Gir Forest”), classical acoustic guitar (“Chance Finding”) and ghostly Asiatic drones in the mysterious “Full Moon,” which seethes forward on nerve-tingling Indian slide guitar and clay pot percussion as Dunster’s sarod slithers and slides around the shadows, etching in barely tangible forms of divine, transitory figures in the flames.
    Whatever the accompanying instruments or style variant, Dunster’s sarod is always at the emotional center – at once rooting, homey and forever alien in its mysterious yet comforting sound. We can feel eternity stepping in and out of the river of time like a nervous bather via Dunster’s knowingly succinct instrumentation. Land of the Buddhas works both as a meditation/healing arts disc and a great introduction to the sounds of the Indian continent for anyone interested in Eastern spiritual music but not sure just where along the river to dive in. As the artist himself puts it: “If you‚ve ever wondered which Chinmaya Dunster CD to buy, this is it!” With his unerring ear for mixing eastern and western musical ideas, Dunster makes Land of the Buddhas inviting enough for even the most wayward and unwitting lost traveler.”

  3. “We find Dunster and the label taking a breather so the uninitiated can catch up with this multi-culti India infused cat. Going way beyond the world beat/chill pale, Dunster takes it back to the Paul Horn vibe and adds contemporary touches as filtered through his prism. Great for college kids or the college kid buried in your suburban patina, all you have to do is put this on and let the belly dancing and pot smoking begin. There’s no noodling here to beware of, just a rolling good time mostly from the sub-continent.”

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