While there is an ongoing social media storm about the apparent use of ‘satanic’ elements in Doja Cat’s music videos, we have a story about an institution tucked away in the hills of California where she spent her early years and learnt to perform bhajans and Bharatnatyam!

Before we get to that, let us take you back to the 1960s when legendary jazz musician John Coltrane met pianist Alice Mcleod at a jazz club called Birdland. They bonded over their mutual interest in exploring Eastern spiritual philosophy and ended up getting married in 1966.

It was this quest for spirituality that she turned to when John passed away in 1967 leaving 30-year-old Alice a single mother raising four young children. Alice’s connection with Hinduism began in the early 1970s when she was deeply grieving and searching for meaning in her life.

A mutual friend introduced her to Swami Satchidananda, a Hindu guru who was teaching in the United States. His teachings resonated with Alice, and she began to study Hinduism with him. She was drawn to yoga and meditation, which helped her to find solace and peace in her grief.

In 1975, she traveled to India with Satchidananda on a five-week pilgrimage. The trip was a transformative experience for her and deepened her understanding of Hinduism. She also began to incorporate Indian instruments and musical elements into her own music.

When she returned to the USA, she founded the Vedantic Centre in ’75 and Sai Anantam Ashram in 1983, a community in Santa Monica dedicated to the study and practice of Hinduism. She began to be known as Swamini Turiyasangitananda, the Transcendental Lord’s highest song of Bliss, ‘Turiya’ in short.

Alice also began to record albums of Hindu devotional music, such as Turiya Sings, Divine Songs, and Infinite Chants. The cassettes were exclusively available in the ashram until 2017 when a New York based record label called Luaka Bop released a compilation of her music.

Blending elements of jazz, classical, and Indian music, she became a pioneer of spiritual jazz, and inspired people around the world, including one Deborah Sawyer, later known as Ishwari, who is the mother of Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, better known as Doja Cat.

When Doja was around eight, the family moved to the ashram where they spent a few years indulging in various spiritual activities. While Doja Cat is no longer a practicing Hindu, she has said that the religion continues to influence her music and her life.

Unfortunately, the Ashram, built in the beautiful landscape of Agoura, lost its popularity after Alice Coltrane passed away in 2007 and was eventually destroyed in the Woolsey Forest Fires in 2018. Coltrane’s legacy still survives as a versatile musician and a great humanitarian.

In various interviews, Doja Cat has mentioned that they “practiced Hinduism, wore head-covering scarves and sang devotional songs called bhajans at temple.” She also trained in Bharatnatyam, which in her own words, taught her “to be emotive and control [her] body in a special way.”

This influence would cause her first controversy, in 2014, when the use of certain Hindu imagery in her “So High” music video was severely criticized. She had then said, “When something is so sacred to many people, I think it’s good to be more sensitive about it and just kind of back away.”

Since then, controversy has followed her around consistently, and this year she has found herself in the middle of yet another. This time it’s around the use of satanic symbols in her music videos for the songs “Paint the Town Red” and “Demons”, from her album Scarlet, releasing today. (September 22, 2023)

Many people have interpreted the visuals as a promotion of Satanism, while she has chalked it up to free expression and challenging traditional beliefs. Whether Doja Cat’s provocative music videos are actually satanic or not is debatable, but we can all agree that she has had a huge impact on the music industry and is continuing to do so.


E.J. Dickson. Doja Cat DGAF If You Read This* (*Or, at least, that’s what she wants you to think). Rolling Stone, December 16, 2021.


Gil Kaufman. Doja Cat on ‘Growing Up’ in California, Her Embarrassing First Song & ‘Unbelievable’ Next Album. Billboard, April 23, 2021.


Meaghan Garvey. CAN’T STOP THE FELINE: HOW DOJA CAT TOOK POP TO A NEW DIMENSION. Billboard, April 24, 2021.


Sophie Miles. Alice Coltrane’s Devotional Spirit Lives on Through the Sai Anantam Ashram Singers. Vice, August 2nd 2017.


Mike Rubin. Alice Coltrane’s Ashram Recordings Finally Have a Wide Release. The New York Times, May 2nd, 2017.


Alicia Adejobi. Doja Cat unveils terrifying Demons transformation into devil despite backlash. Metro News, September 1st, 2023.


Amrita Das. “Officially married to the devil”: Doja Cat Paint The Town Red music video sparks controversy with demonic imagery. Sportskeeda, August 4, 2023.


Image Attribute:

Wikimedia Commons (Author – LavishRuby)