The inspiration of Baba Ram Das, Richard Alpert's 1971 book of hipster mysticism Be Here Now, Bhagavan Das (born Michael Riggs) has continued to share his vision of music and spirituality. "Singing and chanting the divine mantras repeatedly," he told an interviewer, "creates a heightened ecstasy that leaves the mind behind and brings pure stillness of the heart." The son of an Irish Catholic father, Das attended an episcopalian church as a child. As he reached his teens, he began to be drawn to other points of view and became fascinated with beat poetry and folk music. Leaving the United States in December 1963 with 40 dollars and his acoustic guitar, he busked his way through Europe and North India. Settling in India and Nepal, he began a seven-year study of Hinduism, Buddhism, Transcendental Meditation, and the life of the sadhu (aesthetic holy man). He received his Hindu name, which translates as "servant of God," in 1966. Das had little idea of the impact of Baba Ram Das' book. One of the must-read tomes of the hippie '60s, Be Here Now transformed Das into a major celebrity. Returning to the United States in 1971, he toured on the "guru" circuit and appeared with late beat poet Allen Ginsberg. He retired from touring to "begin the integration of spiritual experience into modern Western society" in 1976. Despite his efforts to withdraw, Das has continued to chant and lecture about Nada Brahma, a path of aesthetic devotion.