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A native of Chennai, South India, Russill Paul began playing stringed instruments from the age of four. In his teens, he was already playing music professionally. Although he was born and brought up in a Christian family, from childhood he developed a keen interest in Indian spirituality. In 1984, Russill underwent a powerful spiritual transition due to his meeting Dom Bede Griffiths, the pioneering Benedictine monk and revered sage who directed Shantivanam, a Christian monastery that expressed itself through the spiritual and yogic culture of India.
Russill trained simultaneously as a monk and yogi under the direction of Bede Griffiths. During the five years he spent as a monk, Russill immersed himself in the sacred culture and spirituality of India's esteemed heritage, studying traditional Sanskrit chanting and South Indian classical music as well as yoga, meditation, philosophy, and cosmology. In addition to his training at the monastery, Russill was initiated into the sacred learning of Sanskrit and Indian music in several ancient temple cities of South India.
These experiences led him to develop the ideas contained in his groundbreaking literary work The Yoga of Sound: Tapping the Hidden Power of Music and Chant. The American folksinger Arlo Guthrie, who has performed with Russill, wrote, “His fusion of the sounds of India with the energy and technology of contemporary Western music produces a sound unequaled since George Harrison collaborated with Ravi Shankar in the late 1960s.’’
Russill has presented his unique style of music at many prestigious concert venues such as the premier European classical music venue Propstei Sankt Gerold in Austria, Chicago's Grant Part and Medinah Temple, The Sports Auditorium in Sheffield, England, and the Music Academy in Chennai, India. He has also performed on several occasions for His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India as well as in America. As well as playing with Arlo Guthrie, Russill has shared the stage with music greats such as the British rocker Arthur Brown. Carolyn Myss, bestselling author of Sacred Contracts, writes, “His music is delightful—a spiritually uplifting experience.”
In additional to presenting live performances, Russill has been involved with the music industry for over two decades. He has recorded movie soundtracks under well-known music directors in South India. He has also recorded and produced a wide selection of his own world-class recordings in the US. These recordings have been distributed worldwide. Russill has taught in graduate and postgraduate spirituality programs for 17 consecutive years. From 1992 to 1996, Russill offered courses in the master of liberal arts spirituality program at the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality at Holy Names College in Oakland, California. He was affiliated with the masters of liberal arts program at Naropa University's Oakland, California, campus from 1998 to 2006; he was a member of the faculty in the doctor of ministry program at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California, from 1996 to 2006; and he has served on the faculty of Wisdom University in San Francisco since 2006.
Russill presents his work on sonic mysticism at prestigious retreat and learning centers nationwide. He has given workshops and retreats throughout North America at leading-edge institutions such as the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, the Omega Institute of Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lennox, Massachusetts, and Hollyhock in Cortes Island, British Columbia, Canada.
Russill Paul is also the author of Jesus in the Lotus: The Mystical Doorway between Christianity and Yogic Spirituality. He directs the Mystic Heart School of Transformation, an online yogic mystery school, teaches widely across North America, and facilitates an interspiritual chanting pilgrimage in India each January.