Durga Das (making a peace sign; Mira holding Tulsi) with participants of his Kirtan College at Yogaville, late-2010s.

With heavy hearts and profound sorrow, we bid farewell to a luminary of spiritual music, David Newman, known fondly as Durga Das, who transitioned from this world into the eternal realm on April 18, 2024. He was diagnosed five weeks prior with Glioblastoma (brain cancer). His departure leaves a palpable void in the hearts of countless devotees, friends, and admirers worldwide.

David Newman was much more than a musician, song-writer, author and spiritual teacher; he was a beacon of light, spreading the message of love, peace, and devotion through the powerful medium of kirtan. Born with a natural gift for music, his journey as Durga Das began with a deep spiritual awakening that transformed his life and inspired countless others. Through his soul-stirring chants and melodies, he transported listeners to realms beyond the mundane, invoking a sense of transcendence and unity with the divine.

His devotion to the practice of kirtan was unparalleled, reflecting his unwavering commitment to the path of Bhakti Yoga. With each strum of his guitar and each note of his soulful voice, he effortlessly led his audiences into a state of blissful meditation, where hearts opened and spirits soared. His kirtan sessions were not mere performances; they were sacred ceremonies, inviting all to join in a collective celebration of love and devotion.

Beyond his musical prowess, Durga Das was a humble and compassionate soul, always ready to extend a helping hand to those in need. His presence radiated warmth and kindness, touching the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing him. Whether through his music or his actions, he embodied the timeless teachings of compassion, service, and selflessness.

Durga Das’s legacy will continue to resonate in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to experience the transformative power of his kirtan or the Kirtan College that he conducted for more than 10 years at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville. He was supposed to conduct a Kirtan College this August (2024)—his first in Yogaville post-pandemic. Whether he was teaching, sharing his wisdom and music, he was always brought inspiration from his generous heart. His melodies will linger in the air, his words will echo in our minds, and his legacy will remain a guiding light.

As we mourn the loss of a beloved friend, mentor, and inspiration, let us also celebrate the profound impact he had on the world. Let us honor his memory by embracing the principles of love, unity, and devotion that he so passionately embodied. Though he may no longer walk among us, his spirit will forever live on in the sacred vibrations of his music and the countless lives he touched.

In the words of the Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, “Na jayate mriyate va kadacin nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah” – “For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does the Self ever cease to be.” The one we have known as Durga Das has transcended the boundaries of time and space, merging with the eternal melody of the cosmos. In this moment of profound loss, let us take solace in the knowledge that his spirit now soars freely, enveloped in the divine embrace of the universe.

Beloved Mira (wife of Durga Das) and Tulsi (their daughter) we are with you, holding you up in love and support as you go through this most challenging of times. Dear spiritual brother Durga Das, your music will continue to resonate in the hearts of all who cherish the gift of kirtan. Thank you for sharing your light with the world. Your physical presence will be deeply missed, but your legacy will endure.