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Buddhist monk heads for the Grammys

"I'm hopeful of winning the Grammy," said Lama Tashi. His album Tibetan Master Chants is a collection of 12 songs.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 15:29 IST

In an isolated Himalayan monastery in India's remote northeast, 150 maroon-robed Buddhist monks have been chanting and praying for something a little offbeat -a Grammy.

One of their own, Lama Tashi, left Thursday for Los Angeles to attend the Feb. 8 Grammy Awards ceremony in which he has been nominated in the Best Traditional World Music Album category. "The nomination came as a surprise and I feel lucky," Tashi said,

"I'm hopeful of winning the Grammy, but not tense," said Tashi, whose album Tibetan Master Chants is a collection of 12 songs dedicated to Buddhist themes including purification, enlightenment, wisdom, healing and compassion.

The songs are accompanied by traditional instruments like gongs, bells and singing bowls.

"I'm hopeful of winning the Grammy, but not tense," said Tashi, whose album Tibetan Master Chants is a collection of 12 songs dedicated to Buddhist themes including purification, enlightenment, wisdom, healing and compassion.

The 150 monks of Tashi's Gontse Gaden Rabgeyling monastery, perched 2,700 meters (9,000 feet) up in the Himalayan town of Bomdila, are praying for his success, Tashi said. "This is the monastery where I first began my life as a monk in 1983 after being inspired by the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama," he said.

"My fellow monks are hoping and praying that I win the Grammy," he said.

Tashi's album is the first solo album by a Buddhist monk to win a Grammy nomination. Monks from the Sherabling Monastery in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh won a Grammy Award in 2004 for their album, Sacred Tibetan Chants.

Tashi's musical career started when his compassion and vocal abilities impressed his masters at the monastery, he said. He was chosen to be part of The Mystical Arts of Tibet tour of the United States, Canada and Mexico in the 1990's, sponsored by the Loseling Institute, US, and the Richard Gere Foundation. But the globe-trotting monk wasn't always so worldly wise. Tashi, the son of a farmer from the Monpa tribe in the remote Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China, did not see a car till he was 13.

"My village did not have a road link until then," he said. Now he is enjoying his success following the US release of his album last year.

"I hear that people have liked my music. I feel good," he said. "My mother is very happy at my Grammy nomination and I wish to make everyone happy."